Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No.

133250 July 9, 2002

Decree No. 1594. All the financing required for such works shall be provided by PEA. xxx (iii) x x x CDCP shall give up all its development rights and hereby agrees to cede and transfer in favor of PEA, all of the rights, title, interest and participation of CDCP in and to all the areas of land reclaimed by CDCP in the MCCRRP as of December 30, 1981 which have not yet been sold, transferred or otherwise disposed of by CDCP as of said date, which areas consist of approximately Ninety-Nine Thousand Four Hundred Seventy Three (99,473) square meters in the Financial Center Area covered by land pledge No. 5 and approximately Three Million Three Hundred Eighty Two Thousand Eight Hundred Eighty Eight (3,382,888) square meters of reclaimed areas at varying elevations above Mean Low Water Level located outside the Financial Center Area and the First Neighborhood Unit."3 On January 19, 1988, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Special Patent No. 3517, granting and transferring to PEA "the parcels of land so reclaimed under the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project (MCCRRP) containing a total area of one million nine hundred fifteen thousand eight hundred ninety four (1,915,894) square meters." Subsequently, on April 9, 1988, the Register of Deeds of the Municipality of Parañaque issued Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 7309, 7311, and 7312, in the name of PEA, covering the three reclaimed islands known as the "Freedom Islands" located at the southern portion of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road, Parañaque City. The Freedom Islands have a total land area of One Million Five Hundred Seventy Eight Thousand Four Hundred and Forty One (1,578,441) square meters or 157.841 hectares. On April 25, 1995, PEA entered into a Joint Venture Agreement ("JVA" for brevity) with AMARI, a private corporation, to develop the Freedom Islands. The JVA also required the reclamation of an additional 250 hectares of submerged areas surrounding these islands to complete the configuration in the Master Development Plan of the Southern Reclamation Project-MCCRRP. PEA and AMARI entered into the JVA through negotiation without public bidding.4 On April 28, 1995, the Board of Directors of PEA, in its Resolution No. 1245, confirmed the JVA.5 On June 8, 1995, then President Fidel V. Ramos, through then Executive Secretary Ruben Torres, approved the JVA.6 On November 29, 1996, then Senate President Ernesto Maceda delivered a privilege speech in the Senate and denounced the JVA as the "grandmother of all scams." As a result, the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, and the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, conducted a joint investigation.

FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, petitioner, vs. PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY and AMARI COASTAL BAY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION,respondents. CARPIO, J.: This is an original Petition for Mandamus with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order. The petition seeks to compel the Public Estates Authority ("PEA" for brevity) to disclose all facts on PEA's then on-going renegotiations with Amari Coastal Bay and Development Corporation ("AMARI" for brevity) to reclaim portions of Manila Bay. The petition further seeks to enjoin PEA from signing a new agreement with AMARI involving such reclamation. The Facts On November 20, 1973, the government, through the Commissioner of Public Highways, signed a contract with the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines ("CDCP" for brevity) to reclaim certain foreshore and offshore areas of Manila Bay. The contract also included the construction of Phases I and II of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road. CDCP obligated itself to carry out all the works in consideration of fifty percent of the total reclaimed land. On February 4, 1977, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1084 creating PEA. PD No. 1084 tasked PEA "to reclaim land, including foreshore and submerged areas," and "to develop, improve, acquire, x x x lease and sell any and all kinds of lands."1 On the same date, then President Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1085 transferring to PEA the "lands reclaimed in the foreshore and offshore of the Manila Bay"2 under the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project (MCCRRP). On December 29, 1981, then President Marcos issued a memorandum directing PEA to amend its contract with CDCP, so that "[A]ll future works in MCCRRP x x x shall be funded and owned by PEA." Accordingly, PEA and CDCP executed a Memorandum of Agreement dated December 29, 1981, which stated: "(i) CDCP shall undertake all reclamation, construction, and such other works in the MCCRRP as may be agreed upon by the parties, to be paid according to progress of works on a unit price/lump sum basis for items of work to be agreed upon, subject to price escalation, retention and other terms and conditions provided for in Presidential

The Senate Committees reported the results of their investigation in Senate Committee Report No. 560 dated September 16, 1997.7 Among the conclusions of their report are: (1) the reclaimed lands PEA seeks to transfer to AMARI under the JVA are lands of the public domain which the government has not classified as alienable lands and therefore PEA cannot alienate these lands; (2) the certificates of title covering the Freedom Islands are thus void, and (3) the JVA itself is illegal. On December 5, 1997, then President Fidel V. Ramos issued Presidential Administrative Order No. 365 creating a Legal Task Force to conduct a study on the legality of the JVA in view of Senate Committee Report No. 560. The members of the Legal Task Force were the Secretary of Justice,8 the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel,9 and the Government Corporate Counsel.10 The Legal Task Force upheld the legality of the JVA, contrary to the conclusions reached by the Senate Committees.11 On April 4 and 5, 1998, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Today published reports that there were on-going renegotiations between PEA and AMARI under an order issued by then President Fidel V. Ramos. According to these reports, PEA Director Nestor Kalaw, PEA Chairman Arsenio Yulo and retired Navy Officer Sergio Cruz composed the negotiating panel of PEA. On April 13, 1998, Antonio M. Zulueta filed before the Court a Petition for Prohibition with Application for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction docketed as G.R. No. 132994 seeking to nullify the JVA. The Court dismissed the petition "for unwarranted disregard of judicial hierarchy, without prejudice to the refiling of the case before the proper court."12 On April 27, 1998, petitioner Frank I. Chavez ("Petitioner" for brevity) as a taxpayer, filed the instantPetition for Mandamus with Prayer for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order. Petitioner contends the government stands to lose billions of pesos in the sale by PEA of the reclaimed lands to AMARI. Petitioner prays that PEA publicly disclose the terms of any renegotiation of the JVA, invoking Section 28, Article II, and Section 7, Article III, of the 1987 Constitution on the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. Petitioner assails the sale to AMARI of lands of the public domain as a blatant violation of Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution prohibiting the sale of alienable lands of the public domain to private corporations. Finally, petitioner asserts that he seeks to enjoin the loss of billions of pesos in properties of the State that are of public dominion. After several motions for extension of time,13 PEA and AMARI filed their Comments on October 19, 1998 and June 25, 1998, respectively. Meanwhile, on December 28, 1998, petitioner filed an Omnibus

Motion: (a) to require PEA to submit the terms of the renegotiated PEA-AMARI contract; (b) for issuance of a temporary restraining order; and (c) to set the case for hearing on oral argument. Petitioner filed a Reiterative Motion for Issuance of a TRO dated May 26, 1999, which the Court denied in a Resolution dated June 22, 1999. In a Resolution dated March 23, 1999, the Court gave due course to the petition and required the parties to file their respective memoranda. On March 30, 1999, PEA and AMARI signed the Amended Joint Venture Agreement ("Amended JVA," for brevity). On May 28, 1999, the Office of the President under the administration of then President Joseph E. Estrada approved the Amended JVA. Due to the approval of the Amended JVA by the Office of the President, petitioner now prays that on "constitutional and statutory grounds the renegotiated contract be declared null and void."14 The Issues The issues raised by AMARI16 are as follows: petitioner, PEA15 and

I. WHETHER THE PRINCIPAL RELIEFS PRAYED FOR IN THE PETITION ARE MOOT AND ACADEMIC BECAUSE OF SUBSEQUENT EVENTS; II. WHETHER THE PETITION MERITS DISMISSAL FOR FAILING TO OBSERVE THE PRINCIPLE GOVERNING THE HIERARCHY OF COURTS; III. WHETHER THE PETITION MERITS DISMISSAL FOR NON-EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES; IV. WHETHER PETITIONER STANDI TO BRING THIS SUIT; HAS LOCUS

V. WHETHER THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO INFORMATION INCLUDES OFFICIAL INFORMATION ON ON-GOING NEGOTIATIONS BEFORE A FINAL AGREEMENT; VI. WHETHER THE STIPULATIONS IN THE AMENDED JOINT VENTURE AGREEMENT FOR THE TRANSFER TO AMARI OF CERTAIN LANDS, RECLAIMED AND STILL TO BE RECLAIMED, VIOLATE THE 1987 CONSTITUTION; AND VII. WHETHER THE COURT IS THE PROPER FORUM FOR RAISING THE ISSUE OF WHETHER THE AMENDED JOINT VENTURE AGREEMENT IS GROSSLY DISADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. The Court's Ruling First issue: whether the principal reliefs prayed for in the petition are moot and academic because of subsequent events. The petition prays that PEA publicly disclose the "terms and conditions of the on-going negotiations

for a new agreement." The petition also prays that the Court enjoin PEA from "privately entering into, perfecting and/or executing any new agreement with AMARI." PEA and AMARI claim the petition is now moot and academic because AMARI furnished petitioner on June 21, 1999 a copy of the signed Amended JVA containing the terms and conditions agreed upon in the renegotiations. Thus, PEA has satisfied petitioner's prayer for a public disclosure of the renegotiations. Likewise, petitioner's prayer to enjoin the signing of the Amended JVA is now moot because PEA and AMARI have already signed the Amended JVA on March 30, 1999. Moreover, the Office of the President has approved the Amended JVA on May 28, 1999. Petitioner counters that PEA and AMARI cannot avoid the constitutional issue by simply fast-tracking the signing and approval of the Amended JVA before the Court could act on the issue. Presidential approval does not resolve the constitutional issue or remove it from the ambit of judicial review. We rule that the signing of the Amended JVA by PEA and AMARI and its approval by the President cannot operate to moot the petition and divest the Court of its jurisdiction. PEA and AMARI have still to implement the Amended JVA. The prayer to enjoin the signing of the Amended JVA on constitutional grounds necessarily includes preventing its implementation if in the meantime PEA and AMARI have signed one in violation of the Constitution. Petitioner's principal basis in assailing the renegotiation of the JVA is its violation of Section 3, Article XII of the Constitution, which prohibits the government from alienating lands of the public domain to private corporations. If the Amended JVA indeed violates the Constitution, it is the duty of the Court to enjoin its implementation, and if already implemented, to annul the effects of such unconstitutional contract. The Amended JVA is not an ordinary commercial contract but one which seeks to transfer title and ownership to 367.5 hectares of reclaimed lands and submerged areas of Manila Bay to a single private corporation. It now becomes more compelling for the Court to resolve the issue to insure the government itself does not violate a provision of the Constitution intended to safeguard the national patrimony. Supervening events, whether intended or accidental, cannot prevent the Court from rendering a decision if there is a grave violation of the Constitution. In the instant case, if the Amended JVA runs counter to the Constitution, the Court can still prevent the transfer of title and ownership of alienable lands of the public domain in the name of AMARI. Even in cases where supervening events had made the cases moot, the Court did not hesitate to resolve the legal or constitutional issues raised to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, bar, and the public.17

Also, the instant petition is a case of first impression. All previous decisions of the Court involving Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, or its counterpart provision in the 1973 Constitution,18 coveredagricultural lands sold to private corporations which acquired the lands from private parties. The transferors of the private corporations claimed or could claim the right to judicial confirmation of their imperfect titles19 under Title II of Commonwealth Act. 141 ("CA No. 141" for brevity). In the instant case, AMARI seeks to acquire from PEA, a public corporation, reclaimed lands and submerged areas for nonagricultural purposes by purchase under PD No. 1084 (charter of PEA) and Title III of CA No. 141. Certain undertakings by AMARI under the Amended JVA constitute the consideration for the purchase. Neither AMARI nor PEA can claim judicial confirmation of their titles because the lands covered by the Amended JVA are newly reclaimed or still to be reclaimed. Judicial confirmation of imperfect title requires open, continuous, exclusive and notorious occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain for at least thirty years since June 12, 1945 or earlier. Besides, the deadline for filing applications for judicial confirmation of imperfect title expired on December 31, 1987.20 Lastly, there is a need to resolve immediately the constitutional issue raised in this petition because of the possible transfer at any time by PEA to AMARI of title and ownership to portions of the reclaimed lands. Under the Amended JVA, PEA is obligated to transfer to AMARI the latter's seventy percent proportionate share in the reclaimed areas as the reclamation progresses. The Amended JVA even allows AMARI to mortgage at any time the entire reclaimed area to raise financing for the reclamation project.21 Second issue: whether the petition merits dismissal for failing to observe the principle governing the hierarchy of courts. PEA and AMARI claim petitioner ignored the judicial hierarchy by seeking relief directly from the Court. The principle of hierarchy of courts applies generally to cases involving factual questions. As it is not a trier of facts, the Court cannot entertain cases involving factual issues. The instant case, however, raises constitutional issues of transcendental importance to the public.22 The Court can resolve this case without determining any factual issue related to the case. Also, the instant case is a petition for mandamus which falls under the original jurisdiction of the Court under Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution. We resolve to exercise primary jurisdiction over the instant case. Third issue: whether the petition merits dismissal for non-exhaustion of administrative remedies. PEA faults petitioner for seeking judicial intervention in compelling PEA to disclose publicly certain information without first asking PEA the needed

information. PEA claims petitioner's direct resort to the Court violates the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies. It also violates the rule that mandamus may issue only if there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. PEA distinguishes the instant case from Tañada v. Tuvera23 where the Court granted the petition for mandamus even if the petitioners there did not initially demand from the Office of the President the publication of the presidential decrees. PEA points out that in Tañada, the Executive Department had anaffirmative statutory duty under Article 2 of the Civil Code24 and Section 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 63825 to publish the presidential decrees. There was, therefore, no need for the petitioners in Tañada to make an initial demand from the Office of the President. In the instant case, PEA claims it has no affirmative statutory duty to disclose publicly information about its renegotiation of the JVA. Thus, PEA asserts that the Court must apply the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies to the instant case in view of the failure of petitioner here to demand initially from PEA the needed information. The original JVA sought to dispose to AMARI public lands held by PEA, a government corporation. Under Section 79 of the Government Auditing Code,26 the disposition of government lands to private parties requires public bidding. PEA was under a positive legal duty to disclose to the public the terms and conditions for the sale of its lands. The law obligated PEA to make this public disclosure even without demand from petitioner or from anyone. PEA failed to make this public disclosure because the original JVA, like the Amended JVA, was the result of a negotiated contract, not of a public bidding. Considering that PEA had an affirmative statutory duty to make the public disclosure, and was even in breach of this legal duty, petitioner had the right to seek direct judicial intervention. Moreover, and this alone is determinative of this issue, the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies does not apply when the issue involved is a purely legal or constitutional question.27 The principal issue in the instant case is the capacity of AMARI to acquire lands held by PEA in view of the constitutional ban prohibiting the alienation of lands of the public domain to private corporations. We rule that the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies does not apply in the instant case. Fourth issue: whether petitioner has locus standi to bring this suit PEA argues that petitioner has no standing to institute mandamus proceedings to enforce his constitutional right to information without a showing that PEA refused to perform an affirmative duty imposed on PEA by the Constitution. PEA also claims that petitioner has not shown that he will suffer any concrete injury because of the signing or implementation of the Amended JVA. Thus, there is

no actual controversy requiring the exercise of the power of judicial review. The petitioner has standing to bring this taxpayer's suit because the petition seeks to compel PEA to comply with its constitutional duties. There are two constitutional issues involved here. First is the right of citizens to information on matters of public concern. Second is the application of a constitutional provision intended to insure the equitable distribution of alienable lands of the public domain among Filipino citizens. The thrust of the first issue is to compel PEA to disclose publicly information on the sale of government lands worth billions of pesos, information which the Constitution and statutory law mandate PEA to disclose. The thrust of the second issue is to prevent PEA from alienating hundreds of hectares of alienable lands of the public domain in violation of the Constitution, compelling PEA to comply with a constitutional duty to the nation. Moreover, the petition raises matters of transcendental importance to the public. In Chavez v. PCGG,28the Court upheld the right of a citizen to bring a taxpayer's suit on matters of transcendental importance to the public, thus "Besides, petitioner emphasizes, the matter of recovering the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses is an issue of 'transcendental importance to the public.' He asserts that ordinary taxpayers have a right to initiate and prosecute actions questioning the validity of acts or orders of government agencies or instrumentalities, if the issues raised are of 'paramount public interest,' and if they 'immediately affect the social, economic and moral well being of the people.' Moreover, the mere fact that he is a citizen satisfies the requirement of personal interest, when the proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, such as in this case. He invokes several decisions of this Court which have set aside the procedural matter of locus standi, when the subject of the case involved public interest. xxx In Tañada v. Tuvera, the Court asserted that when the issue concerns a public right and the object of mandamus is to obtain the enforcement of a public duty, the people are regarded as the real parties in interest; and because it is sufficient that petitioner is a citizen and as such is interested in the execution of the laws, he need not show that he has any legal or special interest in the result of the action. In the aforesaid case, the petitioners sought to enforce their right to be informed on matters of public concern, a right then recognized in Section 6, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, in connection with the rule that laws in order to be valid and enforceable must be published in the

Official Gazette or otherwise effectively promulgated. In ruling for the petitioners' legal standing, the Court declared that the right they sought to be enforced 'is a public right recognized by no less than the fundamental law of the land.' Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission, while reiterating Tañada, further declared that 'when a mandamus proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, the requirement of personal interest is satisfied by the mere fact that petitioner is a citizen and, therefore, part of the general 'public' which possesses the right.' Further, in Albano v. Reyes, we said that while expenditure of public funds may not have been involved under the questioned contract for the development, management and operation of the Manila International Container Terminal, 'public interest [was] definitely involved considering the important role [of the subject contract] . . . in the economic development of the country and the magnitude of the financial consideration involved.' We concluded that, as a consequence, the disclosure provision in the Constitution would constitute sufficient authority for upholding the petitioner's standing. Similarly, the instant petition is anchored on the right of the people to information and access to official records, documents and papers — a right guaranteed under Section 7, Article III of the 1987 Constitution. Petitioner, a former solicitor general, is a Filipino citizen. Because of the satisfaction of the two basic requisites laid down by decisional law to sustain petitioner's legal standing, i.e. (1) the enforcement of a public right (2) espoused by a Filipino citizen, we rule that the petition at bar should be allowed." We rule that since the instant petition, brought by a citizen, involves the enforcement of constitutional rights - to information and to the equitable diffusion of natural resources - matters of transcendental public importance, the petitioner has the requisite locus standi. Fifth issue: whether the constitutional right to information includes official information on on-going negotiations before a final agreement. Section 7, Article III of the Constitution explains the people's right to information on matters of public concern in this manner: "Sec. 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions,

or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law." (Emphasis supplied) The State policy of full transparency in all transactions involving public interest reinforces the people's right to information on matters of public concern. This State policy is expressed in Section 28, Article II of the Constitution, thus: "Sec. 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements apolicy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest." (Emphasis supplied) These twin provisions of the Constitution seek to promote transparency in policy-making and in the operations of the government, as well as provide the people sufficient information to exercise effectively other constitutional rights. These twin provisions are essential to the exercise of freedom of expression. If the government does not disclose its official acts, transactions and decisions to citizens, whatever citizens say, even if expressed without any restraint, will be speculative and amount to nothing. These twin provisions are also essential to hold public officials "at all times x x x accountable to the people,"29for unless citizens have the proper information, they cannot hold public officials accountable for anything. Armed with the right information, citizens can participate in public discussions leading to the formulation of government policies and their effective implementation. An informed citizenry is essential to the existence and proper functioning of any democracy. As explained by the Court in Valmonte v. Belmonte, Jr.30 – "An essential element of these freedoms is to keep open a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government and the people. It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free political discussion be maintained to the end that the government may perceive and be responsive to the people's will. Yet, this open dialogue can be effective only to the extent that the citizenry is informed and thus able to formulate its will intelligently. Only when the participants in the discussion are aware of the issues and have access to information relating thereto can such bear fruit." PEA asserts, citing Chavez v. PCGG,31 that in cases of on-going negotiations the right to information is limited to "definite propositions of the government." PEA maintains the right does not include access to "intra-agency or inter-agency recommendations or communications during the stage when common assertions are still in the process of being formulated or are in the 'exploratory stage'."

Also, AMARI contends that petitioner cannot invoke the right at the pre-decisional stage or before the closing of the transaction. To support its contention, AMARI cites the following discussion in the 1986 Constitutional Commission: "Mr. Suarez. And when we say 'transactions' which should be distinguished from contracts, agreements, or treaties or whatever, does the Gentleman refer to the steps leading to the consummation of the contract, or does he refer to the contract itself? Mr. Ople: The 'transactions' used here, I suppose is generic and therefore, it can cover both steps leading to a contract and already a consummated contract, Mr. Presiding Officer. Mr. Suarez: This contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction. Mr. Ople: Yes, subject only to reasonable safeguards on the national interest. Mr. Suarez: Thank supplied) you."32 (Emphasis

or proposals. However, once the committee makes its official recommendation, there arises a"definite proposition" on the part of the government. From this moment, the public's right to information attaches, and any citizen can access all the non-proprietary information leading to such definite proposition. In Chavez v. PCGG,33 the Court ruled as follows: "Considering the intent of the framers of the Constitution, we believe that it is incumbent upon the PCGG and its officers, as well as other government representatives, to disclose sufficient public information on any proposed settlement they have decided to take up with the ostensible owners and holders of ill-gotten wealth. Such information, though, must pertain to definite propositions of the government, not necessarily to intraagency or inter-agency recommendations or communications during the stage when common assertions are still in the process of being formulated or are in the "exploratory" stage. There is need, of course, to observe the same restrictions on disclosure of information in general, as discussed earlier – such as on matters involving national security, diplomatic or foreign relations, intelligence and other classified information." (Emphasis supplied) Contrary to AMARI's contention, the commissioners of the 1986 Constitutional Commission understood that the right to information "contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction." Certainly, a consummated contract is not a requirement for the exercise of the right to information. Otherwise, the people can never exercise the right if no contract is consummated, and if one is consummated, it may be too late for the public to expose its defects.1âwphi1.nêt Requiring a consummated contract will keep the public in the dark until the contract, which may be grossly disadvantageous to the government or even illegal, becomes a fait accompli. This negates the State policy of full transparency on matters of public concern, a situation which the framers of the Constitution could not have intended. Such a requirement will prevent the citizenry from participating in the public discussion of any proposed contract, effectively truncating a basic right enshrined in the Bill of Rights. We can allow neither an emasculation of a constitutional right, nor a retreat by the State of its avowed "policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest." The right covers three categories of information which are "matters of public concern," namely: (1) official records; (2) documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions and decisions; and (3) government research data used in formulating policies. The first category refers to any document

AMARI argues there must first be a consummated contract before petitioner can invoke the right. Requiring government officials to reveal their deliberations at the pre-decisional stage will degrade the quality of decision-making in government agencies. Government officials will hesitate to express their real sentiments during deliberations if there is immediate public dissemination of their discussions, putting them under all kinds of pressure before they decide. We must first distinguish between information the law on public bidding requires PEA to disclose publicly, and information the constitutional right to information requires PEA to release to the public. Before the consummation of the contract, PEA must, on its own and without demand from anyone, disclose to the public matters relating to the disposition of its property. These include the size, location, technical description and nature of the property being disposed of, the terms and conditions of the disposition, the parties qualified to bid, the minimum price and similar information. PEA must prepare all these data and disclose them to the public at the start of the disposition process, long before the consummation of the contract, because the Government Auditing Code requires public bidding. If PEA fails to make this disclosure, any citizen can demand from PEA this information at any time during the bidding process. Information, however, on on-going evaluation or review of bids or proposals being undertaken by the bidding or review committee is not immediately accessible under the right to information. While the evaluation or review is still on-going, there are no "official acts, transactions, or decisions" on the bids

that is part of the public records in the custody of government agencies or officials. The second category refers to documents and papers recording, evidencing, establishing, confirming, supporting, justifying or explaining official acts, transactions or decisions of government agencies or officials. The third category refers to research data, whether raw, collated or processed, owned by the government and used in formulating government policies. The information that petitioner may access on the renegotiation of the JVA includes evaluation reports, recommendations, legal and expert opinions, minutes of meetings, terms of reference and other documents attached to such reports or minutes, all relating to the JVA. However, the right to information does not compel PEA to prepare lists, abstracts, summaries and the like relating to the renegotiation of the JVA.34 The right only affords access to records, documents and papers, which means the opportunity to inspect and copy them. One who exercises the right must copy the records, documents and papers at his expense. The exercise of the right is also subject to reasonable regulations to protect the integrity of the public records and to minimize disruption to government operations, like rules specifying when and how to conduct the inspection and copying.35 The right to information, however, does not extend to matters recognized as privileged information under the separation of powers.36 The right does not also apply to information on military and diplomatic secrets, information affecting national security, and information on investigations of crimes by law enforcement agencies before the prosecution of the accused, which courts have long recognized as confidential.37 The right may also be subject to other limitations that Congress may impose by law. There is no claim by PEA that the information demanded by petitioner is privileged information rooted in the separation of powers. The information does not cover Presidential conversations, correspondences, or discussions during closed-door Cabinet meetings which, like internal deliberations of the Supreme Court and other collegiate courts, or executive sessions of either house of Congress,38 are recognized as confidential. This kind of information cannot be pried open by a coequal branch of government. A frank exchange of exploratory ideas and assessments, free from the glare of publicity and pressure by interested parties, is essential to protect the independence of decisionmaking of those tasked to exercise Presidential, Legislative and Judicial power.39 This is not the situation in the instant case. We rule, therefore, that the constitutional right to information includes official information on ongoing negotiations before a final contract. The information, however, must constitute definite propositions by the government and should not cover recognized exceptions like privileged information, military and diplomatic secrets and similar matters affecting national security and public

order.40 Congress has also prescribed other limitations on the right to information in several legislations.41 Sixth issue: whether stipulations in the Amended JVA for the transfer to AMARI of lands, reclaimed or to be reclaimed, violate the Constitution. The Regalian Doctrine The ownership of lands reclaimed from foreshore and submerged areas is rooted in the Regalian doctrine which holds that the State owns all lands and waters of the public domain. Upon the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, ownership of all "lands, territories and possessions" in the Philippines passed to the Spanish Crown.42 The King, as the sovereign ruler and representative of the people, acquired and owned all lands and territories in the Philippines except those he disposed of by grant or sale to private individuals. The 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions adopted the Regalian doctrine substituting, however, the State, in lieu of the King, as the owner of all lands and waters of the public domain. The Regalian doctrine is the foundation of the time-honored principle of land ownership that "all lands that were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain."43 Article 339 of the Civil Code of 1889, which is now Article 420 of the Civil Code of 1950, incorporated the Regalian doctrine. Ownership and Disposition of Reclaimed Lands The Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 was the first statutory law governing the ownership and disposition of reclaimed lands in the Philippines. On May 18, 1907, the Philippine Commission enacted Act No. 1654 which provided for the lease, but not the sale, of reclaimed lands of the government to corporations and individuals. Later, on November 29, 1919, the Philippine Legislature approved Act No. 2874, the Public Land Act, which authorized the lease, but not the sale, of reclaimed lands of the government to corporations and individuals. On November 7, 1936, the National Assembly passed Commonwealth Act No. 141, also known as the Public Land Act, which authorized the lease, but not the sale, of reclaimed lands of the government to corporations and individuals. CA No. 141 continues to this day as the general law governing the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain. The Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 and the Civil Code of 1889 Under the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, the shores, bays, coves, inlets and all waters within the maritime zone of the Spanish territory belonged to the public domain for public use.44 The Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 allowed the reclamation of the sea under Article 5, which provided as follows:

"Article 5. Lands reclaimed from the sea in consequence of works constructed by the State, or by the provinces, pueblos or private persons, with proper permission, shall become the property of the party constructing such works, unless otherwise provided by the terms of the grant of authority." Under the Spanish Law of Waters, land reclaimed from the sea belonged to the party undertaking the reclamation, provided the government issued the necessary permit and did not reserve ownership of the reclaimed land to the State. Article 339 of the Civil Code of 1889 defined property of public dominion as follows: "Art. 339. Property of public dominion is – 1. That devoted to public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, riverbanks, shores, roadsteads, and that of a similar character; 2. That belonging exclusively to the State which, without being of general public use, is employed in some public service, or in the development of the national wealth, such as walls, fortresses, and other works for the defense of the territory, and mines, until granted to private individuals." Property devoted to public use referred to property open for use by the public. In contrast, property devoted to public service referred to property used for some specific public service and open only to those authorized to use the property. Property of public dominion referred not only to property devoted to public use, but also to property not so used but employed to develop the national wealth. This class of property constituted property of public dominion although employed for some economic or commercial activity to increase the national wealth. Article 341 of the Civil Code of 1889 governed the re-classification of property of public dominion into private property, to wit: "Art. 341. Property of public dominion, when no longer devoted to public use or to the defense of the territory, shall become a part of the private property of the State." This provision, however, was not self-executing. The legislature, or the executive department pursuant to law, must declare the property no longer needed for public use or territorial defense before the government could lease or alienate the property to private parties.45 Act No. 1654 of the Philippine Commission On May 8, 1907, the Philippine Commission enacted Act No. 1654 which regulated the lease of reclaimed and foreshore lands. The salient provisions of this law were as follows:

"Section 1. The control and disposition of the foreshore as defined in existing law, and the title to all Government or public lands made or reclaimed by the Government by dredging or filling or otherwise throughout the Philippine Islands, shall be retained by the Government without prejudice to vested rights and without prejudice to rights conceded to the City of Manila in the Luneta Extension. Section 2. (a) The Secretary of the Interior shall cause all Government or public lands made or reclaimed by the Government by dredging or filling or otherwise to be divided into lots or blocks, with the necessary streets and alleyways located thereon, and shall cause plats and plans of such surveys to be prepared and filed with the Bureau of Lands. (b) Upon completion of such plats and plans the Governor-General shall give notice to the public that such parts of the lands so made or reclaimed as are not needed for public purposes will be leased for commercial and business purposes, x x x. xxx (e) The leases above provided for shall be disposed of to the highest and best biddertherefore, subject to such regulations and safeguards as the Governor-General may by executive order prescribe." (Emphasis supplied) Act No. 1654 mandated that the government should retain title to all lands reclaimed by the government. The Act also vested in the government control and disposition of foreshore lands. Private parties could lease lands reclaimed by the government only if these lands were no longer needed for public purpose. Act No. 1654 mandated public bidding in the lease of government reclaimed lands. Act No. 1654 made government reclaimed lands sui generis in that unlike other public lands which the government could sell to private parties, these reclaimed lands were available only for lease to private parties. Act No. 1654, however, did not repeal Section 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866. Act No. 1654 did not prohibit private parties from reclaiming parts of the sea under Section 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters. Lands reclaimed from the sea by private parties with government permission remained private lands. Act No. 2874 of the Philippine Legislature On November 29, 1919, the Philippine Legislature enacted Act No. 2874, the Public Land Act.46 The salient provisions of Act No. 2874, on reclaimed lands, were as follows:

"Sec. 6. The Governor-General, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall from time to time classify the lands of the public domain into – (a) Alienable or disposable, (b) Timber, and (c) Mineral lands, x x x. Sec. 7. For the purposes of the government and disposition of alienable or disposable public lands,the Governor-General, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall from time to time declare what lands are open to disposition or concession under this Act." Sec. 8. Only those lands shall be declared open to disposition or concession which have been officially delimited or classified x x x. xxx Sec. 55. Any tract of land of the public domain which, being neither timber nor mineral land, shall be classified as suitable for residential purposes or for commercial, industrial, or other productive purposes other than agricultural purposes, and shall be open to disposition or concession, shall be disposed of under the provisions of this chapter, and not otherwise. Sec. 56. The lands disposable under this title shall be classified as follows: (a) Lands reclaimed by the Government by dredging, filling, or other means; (b) Foreshore; (c) Marshy lands or lands covered with water bordering upon the shores or banks of navigable lakes or rivers; (d) Lands not included in any of the foregoing classes. x x x. Sec. 58. The lands comprised in classes (a), (b), and (c) of section fifty-six shall be disposed of to private parties by lease only and not otherwise, as soon as the Governor-General, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall declare that the same are not necessary for the public service and are open to disposition under this chapter. The lands included in class (d) may be disposed of by sale or lease

under the provisions (Emphasis supplied)

of

this

Act."

Section 6 of Act No. 2874 authorized the GovernorGeneral to "classify lands of the public domain into x x x alienable or disposable"47 lands. Section 7 of the Act empowered the Governor-General to "declare what lands are open to disposition or concession." Section 8 of the Act limited alienable or disposable lands only to those lands which have been "officially delimited and classified." Section 56 of Act No. 2874 stated that lands "disposable under this title48 shall be classified" as government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands, as well as other lands. All these lands, however, must be suitable for residential, commercial, industrial or other productive nonagricultural purposes. These provisions vested upon the Governor-General the power to classify inalienable lands of the public domain into disposable lands of the public domain. These provisions also empowered the Governor-General to classify further such disposable lands of the public domain into government reclaimed, foreshore or marshy lands of the public domain, as well as other non-agricultural lands. Section 58 of Act No. 2874 categorically mandated that disposable lands of the public domain classified as government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands "shall be disposed of to private parties by lease only and not otherwise." The GovernorGeneral, before allowing the lease of these lands to private parties, must formally declare that the lands were "not necessary for the public service." Act No. 2874 reiterated the State policy to lease and not to sell government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands of the public domain, a policy first enunciated in 1907 in Act No. 1654. Government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands remained sui generis, as the only alienable or disposable lands of the public domain that the government could not sell to private parties. The rationale behind this State policy is obvious. Government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy public lands for non-agricultural purposes retain their inherent potential as areas for public service. This is the reason the government prohibited the sale, and only allowed the lease, of these lands to private parties. The State always reserved these lands for some future public service. Act No. 2874 did not authorize the reclassification of government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands into other non-agricultural lands under Section 56 (d). Lands falling under Section 56 (d) were the only lands for non-agricultural purposes the government could sell to private parties. Thus, under Act No. 2874, the government could not sell government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands to private parties, unless the legislature passed a law allowing their sale.49 Act No. 2874 did not prohibit private parties from reclaiming parts of the sea pursuant to Section 5 of

the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866. Lands reclaimed from the sea by private parties with government permission remained private lands. Dispositions under the 1935 Constitution On May 14, 1935, the 1935 Constitution took effect upon its ratification by the Filipino people. The 1935 Constitution, in adopting the Regalian doctrine, declared in Section 1, Article XIII, that – "Section 1. All agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right, grant, lease, or concession at the time of the inauguration of the Government established under this Constitution.Natural resources, with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated, and no license, concession, or lease for the exploitation, development, or utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-five years, except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, in which cases beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant." (Emphasis supplied) The 1935 Constitution barred the alienation of all natural resources except public agricultural lands, which were the only natural resources the State could alienate. Thus, foreshore lands, considered part of the State's natural resources, became inalienable by constitutional fiat, available only for lease for 25 years, renewable for another 25 years. The government could alienate foreshore lands only after these lands were reclaimed and classified as alienable agricultural lands of the public domain. Government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain, being neither timber nor mineral lands, fell under the classification of public agricultural lands.50 However, government reclaimed and marshy lands, although subject to classification as disposable public agricultural lands, could only be leased and not sold to private parties because of Act No. 2874. The prohibition on private parties from acquiring ownership of government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain was only a statutory prohibition and the legislature could therefore remove such prohibition. The 1935 Constitution did not prohibit individuals and corporations from acquiring government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain that were classified as

agricultural lands under existing public land laws. Section 2, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution provided as follows: "Section 2. No private corporation or association may acquire, lease, or hold public agricultural lands in excess of one thousand and twenty four hectares, nor may any individual acquire such lands by purchase in excess of one hundred and forty hectares, or by lease in excess of one thousand and twenty-four hectares, or by homestead in excess of twenty-four hectares. Lands adapted to grazing, not exceeding two thousand hectares, may be leased to an individual, private corporation, or association." (Emphasis supplied) Still, after the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution, the legislature did not repeal Section 58 of Act No. 2874 to open for sale to private parties government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain. On the contrary, the legislature continued the long established State policy of retaining for the government title and ownership of government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain. Commonwealth Act No. 141 of the Philippine National Assembly On November 7, 1936, the National Assembly approved Commonwealth Act No. 141, also known as the Public Land Act, which compiled the then existing laws on lands of the public domain. CA No. 141, as amended, remains to this day the existing general law governing the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain other than timber and mineral lands.51 Section 6 of CA No. 141 empowers the President to classify lands of the public domain into "alienable or disposable"52 lands of the public domain, which prior to such classification are inalienable and outside the commerce of man. Section 7 of CA No. 141 authorizes the President to "declare what lands are open to disposition or concession." Section 8 of CA No. 141 states that the government can declare open for disposition or concession only lands that are "officially delimited and classified." Sections 6, 7 and 8 of CA No. 141 read as follows: "Sec. 6. The President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, shall from time to time classify the lands of the public domain into – (a) Alienable or disposable, (b) Timber, and (c) Mineral lands, and may at any time and in like manner transfer such lands from one class to

another,53 for the purpose administration and disposition.

of

their

Sec. 7. For the purposes of the administration and disposition of alienable or disposable public lands, the President, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, shall from time to time declare what lands are open to disposition or concession under this Act. Sec. 8. Only those lands shall be declared open to disposition or concession which have been officially delimited and classified and, when practicable, surveyed, and which have not been reserved for public or quasi-public uses, nor appropriated by the Government, nor in any manner become private property, nor those on which a private right authorized and recognized by this Act or any other valid law may be claimed, or which, having been reserved or appropriated, have ceased to be so. x x x." Thus, before the government could alienate or dispose of lands of the public domain, the President must first officially classify these lands as alienable or disposable, and then declare them open to disposition or concession. There must be no law reserving these lands for public or quasi-public uses. The salient provisions of CA No. 141, on government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands of the public domain, are as follows: "Sec. 58. 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, industrial, or other productive purposes other than agricultural, and is open to disposition or concession, shall be disposed of under the provisions of this chapter and not otherwise. Sec. 59. The lands disposable under this title shall be classified as follows: (a) Lands reclaimed by the Government by dredging, filling, or other means; (b) Foreshore; (c) Marshy lands or lands covered with water bordering upon the shores or banks of navigable lakes or rivers; (d) Lands not included in any of the foregoing classes. Sec. 60. Any tract of land comprised under this title may be leased or sold, as the case may be, to any person, corporation, or association authorized to purchase or lease public lands for agricultural purposes. x x x.

Sec. 61. The lands comprised in classes (a), (b), and (c) of section fifty-nine shall be disposed of to private parties by lease only and not otherwise, as soon as the President, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture, shall declare that the same are not necessary for the public service and are open to disposition under this chapter. The lands included in class (d) may be disposed of by sale or lease under the provisions of this Act." (Emphasis supplied) Section 61 of CA No. 141 readopted, after the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution, Section 58 of Act No. 2874 prohibiting the sale of government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy disposable lands of the public domain. All these lands are intended for residential, commercial, industrial or other nonagricultural purposes. As before, Section 61 allowed only the lease of such lands to private parties. The government could sell to private parties only lands falling under Section 59 (d) of CA No. 141, or those lands for non-agricultural purposes not classified as government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy disposable lands of the public domain. Foreshore lands, however, became inalienable under the 1935 Constitution which only allowed the lease of these lands to qualified private parties. Section 58 of CA No. 141 expressly states that disposable lands of the public domain intended for residential, commercial, industrial or other productive purposes other than agricultural "shall be disposed of under the provisions of this chapter and not otherwise." Under Section 10 of CA No. 141, the term "disposition" includes lease of the land. Any disposition of government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy disposable lands for nonagricultural purposes must comply with Chapter IX, Title III of CA No. 141,54 unless a subsequent law amended or repealed these provisions. In his concurring opinion in the landmark case of Republic Real Estate Corporation v. Court of Appeals,55 Justice Reynato S. Puno summarized succinctly the law on this matter, as follows: "Foreshore lands are lands of public dominion intended for public use. So too are lands reclaimed by the government by dredging, filling, or other means. Act 1654 mandated that the control and disposition of the foreshore and lands under water remained in the national government. Said law allowed only the 'leasing' of reclaimed land. The Public Land Acts of 1919 and 1936 also declared that the foreshore and lands reclaimed by the government were to be "disposed of to private parties by lease only and not otherwise." Before leasing, however, the Governor-General, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, had first to determine that the land reclaimed was not necessary for the public service. This

requisite must have been met before the land could be disposed of. But even then, the foreshore and lands under water were not to be alienated and sold to private parties. The disposition of the reclaimed land was only by lease. The land remained property of the State." (Emphasis supplied) As observed by Justice Puno in his concurring opinion, "Commonwealth Act No. 141 has remained in effect at present." The State policy prohibiting the sale to private parties of government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy alienable lands of the public domain, first implemented in 1907 was thus reaffirmed in CA No. 141 after the 1935 Constitution took effect. The prohibition on the sale of foreshore lands, however, became a constitutional edict under the 1935 Constitution. Foreshore lands became inalienable as natural resources of the State, unless reclaimed by the government and classified as agricultural lands of the public domain, in which case they would fall under the classification of government reclaimed lands. After the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution, government reclaimed and marshy disposable lands of the public domain continued to be only leased and not sold to private parties.56 These lands remained sui generis, as the only alienable or disposable lands of the public domain the government could not sell to private parties. Since then and until now, the only way the government can sell to private parties government reclaimed and marshy disposable lands of the public domain is for the legislature to pass a law authorizing such sale. CA No. 141 does not authorize the President to reclassify government reclaimed and marshy lands into other non-agricultural lands under Section 59 (d). Lands classified under Section 59 (d) are the only alienable or disposable lands for non-agricultural purposes that the government could sell to private parties. Moreover, Section 60 of CA No. 141 expressly requires congressional authority before lands under Section 59 that the government previously transferred to government units or entities could be sold to private parties. Section 60 of CA No. 141 declares that – "Sec. 60. x x x The area so leased or sold shall be such as shall, in the judgment of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, be reasonably necessary for the purposes for which such sale or lease is requested, and shall not exceed one hundred and forty-four hectares: Provided, however, That this limitation shall not apply to grants, donations, or transfers made to a province, municipality or branch or subdivision of the Government for the purposes deemed by said entities conducive to the public interest; but the land so granted,

donated, or transferred to a province, municipality or branch or subdivision of the Government shall not be alienated, encumbered, or otherwise disposed of in a manner affecting its title, except when authorized by Congress: x x x." (Emphasis supplied) The congressional authority required in Section 60 of CA No. 141 mirrors the legislative authority required in Section 56 of Act No. 2874. One reason for the congressional authority is that Section 60 of CA No. 141 exempted government units and entities from the maximum area of public lands that could be acquired from the State. These government units and entities should not just turn around and sell these lands to private parties in violation of constitutional or statutory limitations. Otherwise, the transfer of lands for non-agricultural purposes to government units and entities could be used to circumvent constitutional limitations on ownership of alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. In the same manner, such transfers could also be used to evade the statutory prohibition in CA No. 141 on the sale of government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain to private parties. Section 60 of CA No. 141 constitutes by operation of law a lien on these lands.57 In case of sale or lease of disposable lands of the public domain falling under Section 59 of CA No. 141, Sections 63 and 67 require a public bidding. Sections 63 and 67 of CA No. 141 provide as follows: "Sec. 63. Whenever it is decided that lands covered by this chapter are not needed for public purposes, the Director of Lands shall ask the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce (now the Secretary of Natural Resources) for authority to dispose of the same. Upon receipt of such authority, the Director of Lands shall give notice by public advertisement in the same manner as in the case of leases or sales of agricultural public land, x x x. Sec. 67. The lease or sale shall be made by oral bidding; and adjudication shall be made to the highest bidder. x x x." (Emphasis supplied) Thus, CA No. 141 mandates the Government to put to public auction all leases or sales of alienable or disposable lands of the public domain.58 Like Act No. 1654 and Act No. 2874 before it, CA No. 141 did not repeal Section 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866. Private parties could still reclaim portions of the sea with government permission. However, the reclaimed land could become private land only if classified as alienable agricultural land of the public domain open to disposition under CA No. 141. The 1935 Constitution prohibited the alienation of all natural resources except public agricultural lands. The Civil Code of 1950

The Civil Code of 1950 readopted substantially the definition of property of public dominion found in the Civil Code of 1889. Articles 420 and 422 of the Civil Code of 1950 state that – "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. x x x. Art. 422. 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." Again, the government must formally declare that the property of public dominion is no longer needed for public use or public service, before the same could be classified as patrimonial property of the State.59 In the case of government reclaimed and marshy lands of the public domain, the declaration of their being disposable, as well as the manner of their disposition, is governed by the applicable provisions of CA No. 141. Like the Civil Code of 1889, the Civil Code of 1950 included as property of public dominion those properties of the State which, without being for public use, are intended for public service or the "development of the national wealth." Thus, government reclaimed and marshy lands of the State, even if not employed for public use or public service, if developed to enhance the national wealth, are classified as property of public dominion. Dispositions under the 1973 Constitution The 1973 Constitution, which took effect on January 17, 1973, likewise adopted the Regalian doctrine. Section 8, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution stated that – "Sec. 8. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, wildlife, and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State. With the exception of agricultural, industrial or commercial, residential, and resettlement lands of the public domain, natural resources shall not be alienated, and no license, concession, or lease for the exploration, development, exploitation, or utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five

years, except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, in which cases, beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant." (Emphasis supplied) The 1973 Constitution prohibited the alienation of all natural resources with the exception of "agricultural, industrial or commercial, residential, and resettlement lands of the public domain." In contrast, the 1935 Constitution barred the alienation of all natural resources except "public agricultural lands." However, the term "public agricultural lands" in the 1935 Constitution encompassed industrial, commercial, residential and resettlement lands of the public domain.60 If the land of public domain were neither timber nor mineral land, it would fall under the classification of agricultural land of the public domain. Both the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, therefore, prohibited the alienation of all natural resources except agricultural lands of the public domain. The 1973 Constitution, however, limited the alienation of lands of the public domain to individuals who were citizens of the Philippines. Private corporations, even if wholly owned by Philippine citizens, were no longer allowed to acquire alienable lands of the public domain unlike in the 1935 Constitution. Section 11, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution declared that – "Sec. 11. The Batasang Pambansa, taking into account conservation, ecological, and development requirements of the natural resources, shall determine by law the size of land of the public domain which may be developed, held or acquired by, or leased to, any qualified individual, corporation, or association, and the conditions therefor. No private corporation or association may hold alienable lands of the public domain except by lease not to exceed one thousand hectares in area nor may any citizen hold such lands by lease in excess of five hundred hectares or acquire by purchase, homestead or grant, in excess of twenty-four hectares. No private corporation or association may hold by lease, concession, license or permit, timber or forest lands and other timber or forest resources in excess of one hundred thousand hectares. However, such area may be increased by the Batasang Pambansa upon recommendation of the National Economic and Development Authority." (Emphasis supplied) Thus, under the 1973 Constitution, private corporations could hold alienable lands of the public domain only through lease. Only individuals could now acquire alienable lands of the public domain, and private corporations became absolutely barred from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. The constitutional ban

extended to all kinds of alienable lands of the public domain, while the statutory ban under CA No. 141 applied only to government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy alienable lands of the public domain. PD No. 1084 Authority Creating the Public Estates

On February 4, 1977, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1084 creating PEA, a wholly government owned and controlled corporation with a special charter. Sections 4 and 8 of PD No. 1084, vests PEA with the following purposes and powers: "Sec. 4. Purpose. The Authority is hereby created for the following purposes: (a) To reclaim land, including foreshore and submerged areas, by dredging, filling or other means, or to acquire reclaimed land; (b) To develop, improve, acquire, administer, deal in, subdivide, dispose, lease and sell any and all kinds of lands, buildings, estates and other forms of real property, owned, managed, controlled and/or operated by the government; (c) To provide for, operate or administer such service as may be necessary for the efficient, economical and beneficial utilization of the above properties. Sec. 5. Powers and functions of the Authority. The Authority shall, in carrying out the purposes for which it is created, have the following powers and functions: (a)To prescribe its by-laws. xxx (i) To hold lands of the public domain in excess of the area permitted to private corporations by statute. (j) To reclaim lands and to construct work across, or otherwise, any stream, watercourse, canal, ditch, flume x x x. xxx (o) To perform such acts and exercise such functions as may be necessary for the attainment of the purposes and objectives herein specified." (Emphasis supplied) PD No. 1084 authorizes PEA to reclaim both foreshore and submerged areas of the public domain. Foreshore areas are those covered and uncovered by the ebb and flow of the tide.61 Submerged areas are those permanently under water regardless of the ebb and flow of the tide.62 Foreshore and submerged areas indisputably belong to the public domain63 and are inalienable unless reclaimed, classified as alienable lands open to disposition, and further declared no longer needed for public service.

The ban in the 1973 Constitution on private corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain did not apply to PEA since it was then, and until today, a fully owned government corporation. The constitutional ban applied then, as it still applies now, only to "private corporations and associations." PD No. 1084 expressly empowers PEA "to hold lands of the public domain" even "in excess of the area permitted to private corporations by statute." Thus, PEA can hold title to private lands, as well as title to lands of the public domain. In order for PEA to sell its reclaimed foreshore and submerged alienable lands of the public domain, there must be legislative authority empowering PEA to sell these lands. This legislative authority is necessary in view of Section 60 of CA No.141, which states – "Sec. 60. x x x; but the land so granted, donated or transferred to a province, municipality, or branch or subdivision of the Government shall not be alienated, encumbered or otherwise disposed of in a manner affecting its title, except when authorized by Congress; x x x." (Emphasis supplied) Without such legislative authority, PEA could not sell but only lease its reclaimed foreshore and submerged alienable lands of the public domain. Nevertheless, any legislative authority granted to PEA to sell its reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain would be subject to the constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain. Hence, such legislative authority could only benefit private individuals. Dispositions under the 1987 Constitution The 1987 Constitution, like the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions before it, has adopted the Regalian doctrine. The 1987 Constitution declares that all natural resources are "owned by the State," and except for alienable agricultural lands of the public domain, natural resources cannot be alienated. Sections 2 and 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution state that – "Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other naturalresources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. x x x. Section 3. Lands of the public domain are classified into agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands, and national parks. Agricultural lands of the public domain may be further classified by law according to the

uses which they may be devoted. Alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to agricultural lands. Private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twentyfive years, and not to exceed one thousand hectares in area. Citizens of the Philippines may lease not more than five hundred hectares, or acquire not more than twelve hectares thereof by purchase, homestead, or grant. Taking into account the requirements of conservation, ecology, and development, and subject to the requirements of agrarian reform, the Congress shall determine, by law, the size of lands of the public domain which may be acquired, developed, held, or leased and the conditions therefor." (Emphasis supplied) The 1987 Constitution continues the State policy in the 1973 Constitution banning private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. Like the 1973 Constitution, the 1987 Constitution allows private corporations to hold alienable lands of the public domain only through lease. As in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, the general law governing the lease to private corporations of reclaimed, foreshore and marshy alienable lands of the public domain is still CA No. 141. The Rationale behind the Constitutional Ban The rationale behind the constitutional ban on corporations from acquiring, except through lease, alienable lands of the public domain is not well understood. During the deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, the commissioners probed the rationale behind this ban, thus: "FR. BERNAS: Mr. Vice-President, my questions have reference to page 3, line 5 which says: `No private corporation or association may hold alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, not to exceed one thousand hectares in area.' If we recall, this provision did not exist under the 1935 Constitution, but this was introduced in the 1973 Constitution. In effect, it prohibits private corporations from acquiring alienable public lands.But it has not been very clear in jurisprudence what the reason for this is. In some of the cases decided in 1982 and 1983, it was indicated that the purpose of this is to prevent large landholdings. Is that the intent of this provision? MR. VILLEGAS: I think that is the spirit of the provision.

FR. BERNAS: In existing decisions involving the Iglesia ni Cristo, there were instances where the Iglesia ni Cristo was not allowed to acquire a mere 313-square meter land where a chapel stood because the Supreme Court said it would be in violation of this." (Emphasis supplied) In Ayog v. Cusi,64 the Court explained the rationale behind this constitutional ban in this way: "Indeed, one purpose of the constitutional prohibition against purchases of public agricultural lands by private corporations is to equitably diffuse land ownership or to encourage 'owner-cultivatorship and the economic family-size farm' and to prevent a recurrence of cases like the instant case. Huge landholdings by corporations or private persons had spawned social unrest." However, if the constitutional intent is to prevent huge landholdings, the Constitution could have simply limited the size of alienable lands of the public domain that corporations could acquire. The Constitution could have followed the limitations on individuals, who could acquire not more than 24 hectares of alienable lands of the public domain under the 1973 Constitution, and not more than 12 hectares under the 1987 Constitution. If the constitutional intent is to encourage economic family-size farms, placing the land in the name of a corporation would be more effective in preventing the break-up of farmlands. If the farmland is registered in the name of a corporation, upon the death of the owner, his heirs would inherit shares in the corporation instead of subdivided parcels of the farmland. This would prevent the continuing breakup of farmlands into smaller and smaller plots from one generation to the next. In actual practice, the constitutional ban strengthens the constitutional limitation on individuals from acquiring more than the allowed area of alienable lands of the public domain. Without the constitutional ban, individuals who already acquired the maximum area of alienable lands of the public domain could easily set up corporations to acquire more alienable public lands. An individual could own as many corporations as his means would allow him. An individual could even hide his ownership of a corporation by putting his nominees as stockholders of the corporation. The corporation is a convenient vehicle to circumvent the constitutional limitation on acquisition by individuals of alienable lands of the public domain. The constitutional intent, under the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions, is to transfer ownership of only a limited area of alienable land of the public domain to a qualified individual. This constitutional intent is safeguarded by the provision prohibiting corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain, since the vehicle to circumvent the constitutional intent is removed. The available alienable public lands are gradually decreasing in

the face of an ever-growing population. The most effective way to insure faithful adherence to this constitutional intent is to grant or sell alienable lands of the public domain only to individuals. This, it would seem, is the practical benefit arising from the constitutional ban. The Amended Joint Venture Agreement The subject matter of the Amended JVA, as stated in its second Whereas clause, consists of three properties, namely: 1. "[T]hree partially reclaimed and substantially eroded islands along Emilio Aguinaldo Boulevard in Paranaque and Las Pinas, Metro Manila, with a combined titled area of 1,578,441 square meters;" 2. "[A]nother area of 2,421,559 square meters contiguous to the three islands;" and 3. "[A]t AMARI's option as approved by PEA, an additional 350 hectares more or less to regularize the configuration of the reclaimed area."65 PEA confirms that the Amended JVA involves "the development of the Freedom Islands and further reclamation of about 250 hectares x x x," plus an option "granted to AMARI to subsequently reclaim another 350 hectares x x x."66 In short, the Amended JVA covers a reclamation area of 750 hectares. Only 157.84 hectares of the 750-hectare reclamation project have been reclaimed, and the rest of the 592.15 hectares are still submerged areas forming part of Manila Bay. Under the Amended JVA, AMARI will reimburse PEA the sum of P1,894,129,200.00 for PEA's "actual cost" in partially reclaiming the Freedom Islands. AMARI will also complete, at its own expense, the reclamation of the Freedom Islands. AMARI will further shoulder all the reclamation costs of all the other areas, totaling 592.15 hectares, still to be reclaimed. AMARI and PEA will share, in the proportion of 70 percent and 30 percent, respectively, the total net usable area which is defined in the Amended JVA as the total reclaimed area less 30 percent earmarked for common areas. Title to AMARI's share in the net usable area, totaling 367.5 hectares, will be issued in the name of AMARI. Section 5.2 (c) of the Amended JVA provides that – "x x x, PEA shall have the duty to execute without delay the necessary deed of transfer or conveyance of the title pertaining to AMARI's Land share based on the Land Allocation Plan. PEA, when requested in writing by AMARI, shall then cause the issuance and delivery of the proper certificates of title covering AMARI's Land Share in the name of AMARI, x x x; provided, that if more than seventy percent (70%) of the titled area at any given time pertains to AMARI, PEA shall deliver to AMARI

only seventy percent (70%) of the titles pertaining to AMARI, until such time when a corresponding proportionate area of additional land pertaining to PEA has been titled." (Emphasis supplied) Indisputably, under the Amended JVA AMARI will acquire and own a maximum of 367.5 hectares of reclaimed land which will be titled in its name. To implement the Amended JVA, PEA delegated to the unincorporated PEA-AMARI joint venture PEA's statutory authority, rights and privileges to reclaim foreshore and submerged areas in Manila Bay. Section 3.2.a of the Amended JVA states that – "PEA hereby contributes to the joint venture its rights and privileges to perform Rawland Reclamation and Horizontal Development as well as own the Reclamation Area, thereby granting the Joint Venture the full and exclusive right, authority and privilege to undertake the Project in accordance with the Master Development Plan." The Amended JVA is the product of a renegotiation of the original JVA dated April 25, 1995 and its supplemental agreement dated August 9, 1995. The Threshold Issue The threshold issue is whether AMARI, a private corporation, can acquire and own under the Amended JVA 367.5 hectares of reclaimed foreshore and submerged areas in Manila Bay in view of Sections 2 and 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which state that: "Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. x x x. xxx Section 3. x x x Alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to agricultural lands. Private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, x x x."(Emphasis supplied) Classification of Reclaimed Submerged Areas Foreshore and

PEA readily concedes that lands reclaimed from foreshore or submerged areas of Manila Bay are alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. In its Memorandum,67 PEA admits that – "Under the Public Land Act (CA 141, as amended), reclaimed lands are classified

as alienable and disposable lands of the public domain: 'Sec. 59. The lands disposable under this title shall be classified as follows: (a) Lands reclaimed by the government by dredging, filling, or other means; x x x.'" (Emphasis supplied) Likewise, the Legal Task Force68 constituted under Presidential Administrative Order No. 365 admitted in its Report and Recommendation to then President Fidel V. Ramos, "[R]eclaimed lands are classified as alienable and disposable lands of the public domain."69 The Legal Task Force concluded that – "D. Conclusion Reclaimed lands are lands of the public domain. However, by statutory authority, the rights of ownership and disposition over reclaimed lands have been transferred to PEA, by virtue of which PEA, as owner, may validly convey the same to any qualified person without violating the Constitution or any statute. The constitutional provision prohibiting private corporations from holding public land, except by lease (Sec. 3, Art. XVII,70 1987 Constitution), does not apply to reclaimed lands whose ownership has passed on to PEA by statutory grant." Under Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, the foreshore and submerged areas of Manila Bay are part of the "lands of the public domain, waters x x x and other natural resources" and consequently "owned by the State." As such, foreshore and submerged areas "shall not be alienated," unless they are classified as "agricultural lands" of the public domain. The mere reclamation of these areas by PEA does not convert these inalienable natural resources of the State into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. There must be a law or presidential proclamation officially classifying these reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable and open to disposition or concession. Moreover, these reclaimed lands cannot be classified as alienable or disposable if the law has reserved them for some public or quasi-public use.71 Section 8 of CA No. 141 provides that "only those lands shall be declared open to disposition or concession which have been officially delimited and classified."72 The President has the authority to classify inalienable lands of the public domain into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, pursuant to Section 6 of CA No. 141. In Laurel vs. Garcia,73 the Executive Department attempted to sell the Roppongi property in Tokyo, Japan, which was acquired by the Philippine Government for use as the Chancery of the Philippine Embassy. Although the Chancery had transferred to another location

thirteen years earlier, the Court still ruled that, under Article 42274 of the Civil Code, a property of public dominion retains such character until formally declared otherwise. The Court ruled that – "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]." (Emphasis supplied) PD No. 1085, issued on February 4, 1977, authorized the issuance of special land patents for lands reclaimed by PEA from the foreshore or submerged areas of Manila Bay. On January 19, 1988 then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Special Patent No. 3517 in the name of PEA for the 157.84 hectares comprising the partially reclaimed Freedom Islands. Subsequently, on April 9, 1999 the Register of Deeds of the Municipality of Paranaque issued TCT Nos. 7309, 7311 and 7312 in the name of PEA pursuant to Section 103 of PD No. 1529 authorizing the issuance of certificates of title corresponding to land patents. To this day, these certificates of title are still in the name of PEA. PD No. 1085, coupled with President Aquino's actual issuance of a special patent covering the Freedom Islands, is equivalent to an official proclamation classifying the Freedom Islands as alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. PD No. 1085 and President Aquino's issuance of a land patent also constitute a declaration that the Freedom Islands are no longer needed for public service. The Freedom Islands are thus alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, open to disposition or concession to qualified parties. At the time then President Aquino issued Special Patent No. 3517, PEA had already reclaimed the Freedom Islands although subsequently there were partial erosions on some areas. The government had also completed the necessary surveys on these islands. Thus, the Freedom Islands were no longer part of Manila Bay but part of the land mass. Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution classifies lands of the public domain into "agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands, and national parks." Being neither timber, mineral, nor national park lands, the reclaimed Freedom Islands necessarily fall under the classification of agricultural lands of the public domain. Under the 1987 Constitution, agricultural lands of the public domain are the only natural resources that the State may alienate to qualified private parties. All other natural resources, such as the seas or bays, are "waters x x x owned by the

State" forming part of the public domain, and are inalienable pursuant to Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. AMARI claims that the Freedom Islands are private lands because CDCP, then a private corporation, reclaimed the islands under a contract dated November 20, 1973 with the Commissioner of Public Highways. AMARI, citing Article 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, argues that "if the ownership of reclaimed lands may be given to the party constructing the works, then it cannot be said that reclaimed lands are lands of the public domain which the State may not alienate."75 Article 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters reads as follows: "Article 5. Lands reclaimed from the sea in consequence of works constructed by the State, or by the provinces, pueblos or private persons, with proper permission, shall become the property of the party constructing such works, unless otherwise provided by the terms of the grant of authority." (Emphasis supplied) Under Article 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, private parties could reclaim from the sea only with "proper permission" from the State. Private parties could own the reclaimed land only if not "otherwise provided by the terms of the grant of authority." This clearly meant that no one could reclaim from the sea without permission from the State because the sea is property of public dominion. It also meant that the State could grant or withhold ownership of the reclaimed land because any reclaimed land, like the sea from which it emerged, belonged to the State. Thus, a private person reclaiming from the sea without permission from the State could not acquire ownership of the reclaimed land which would remain property of public dominion like the sea it replaced.76 Article 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 adopted the time-honored principle of land ownership that "all lands that were not acquired from the government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain."77 Article 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters must be read together with laws subsequently enacted on the disposition of public lands. In particular, CA No. 141 requires that lands of the public domain must first be classified as alienable or disposable before the government can alienate them. These lands must not be reserved for public or quasi-public purposes.78 Moreover, the contract between CDCP and the government was executed after the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution which barred private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. This contract could not have converted the Freedom Islands into private lands of a private corporation. Presidential Decree No. 3-A, issued on January 11, 1973, revoked all laws authorizing the reclamation of areas under water and revested solely in the

National Government the power to reclaim lands. Section 1 of PD No. 3-A declared that – "The provisions of any law to the contrary notwithstanding, the reclamation of areas under water, whether foreshore or inland, shall be limited to the National Government or any person authorized by it under a proper contract. (Emphasis supplied) x x x." PD No. 3-A repealed Section 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 because reclamation of areas under water could now be undertaken only by the National Government or by a person contracted by the National Government. Private parties may reclaim from the sea only under a contract with the National Government, and no longer by grant or permission as provided in Section 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866. Executive Order No. 525, issued on February 14, 1979, designated PEA as the National Government's implementing arm to undertake "all reclamation projects of the government," which "shall be undertaken by the PEA or through a proper contract executed by it with any person or entity." Under such contract, a private party receives compensation for reclamation services rendered to PEA. Payment to the contractor may be in cash, or in kind consisting of portions of the reclaimed land, subject to the constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain. The reclaimed land can be used as payment in kind only if the reclaimed land is first classified as alienable or disposable land open to disposition, and then declared no longer needed for public service. The Amended JVA covers not only the Freedom Islands, but also an additional 592.15 hectares which are still submerged and forming part of Manila Bay. There is no legislative or Presidential act classifying these submerged areas as alienable or disposable lands of the public domain open to disposition. These submerged areas are not covered by any patent or certificate of title. There can be no dispute that these submerged areas form part of the public domain, and in their present state are inalienable and outside the commerce of man. Until reclaimed from the sea, these submerged areas are, under the Constitution, "waters x x x owned by the State," forming part of the public domain and consequently inalienable. Only when actually reclaimed from the sea can these submerged areas be classified as public agricultural lands, which under the Constitution are the only natural resources that the State may alienate. Once reclaimed and transformed into public agricultural lands, the government may then officially classify these lands as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition. Thereafter, the government may declare these lands no longer needed for public service. Only then can these

reclaimed lands be considered alienable or disposable lands of the public domain and within the commerce of man. The classification of PEA's reclaimed foreshore and submerged lands into alienable or disposable lands open to disposition is necessary because PEA is tasked under its charter to undertake public services that require the use of lands of the public domain. Under Section 5 of PD No. 1084, the functions of PEA include the following: "[T]o own or operate railroads, tramways and other kinds of land transportation, x x x; [T]o construct, maintain and operate such systems of sanitary sewers as may be necessary; [T]o construct, maintain and operate such storm drains as may be necessary." PEA is empowered to issue "rules and regulations as may be necessary for the proper use by private parties of any or all of the highways, roads, utilities, buildings and/or any of its properties and to impose or collect fees or tolls for their use." Thus, part of the reclaimed foreshore and submerged lands held by the PEA would actually be needed for public use or service since many of the functions imposed on PEA by its charter constitute essential public services. Moreover, Section 1 of Executive Order No. 525 provides that PEA "shall be primarily responsible for integrating, directing, and coordinating all reclamation projects for and on behalf of the National Government." The same section also states that "[A]ll reclamation projects shall be approved by the President upon recommendation of the PEA, and shall be undertaken by the PEA or through a proper contract executed by it with any person or entity; x x x." Thus, under EO No. 525, in relation to PD No. 3-A and PD No.1084, PEA became the primary implementing agency of the National Government to reclaim foreshore and submerged lands of the public domain. EO No. 525 recognized PEA as the government entity "to undertake the reclamation of lands and ensure their maximum utilization in promoting public welfare and interests."79 Since large portions of these reclaimed lands would obviously be needed for public service, there must be a formal declaration segregating reclaimed lands no longer needed for public service from those still needed for public service.1âwphi1.nêt Section 3 of EO No. 525, by declaring that all lands reclaimed by PEA "shall belong to or be owned by the PEA," could not automatically operate to classify inalienable lands into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. Otherwise, reclaimed foreshore and submerged lands of the public domain would automatically become alienable once reclaimed by PEA, whether or not classified as alienable or disposable. The Revised Administrative Code of 1987, a later law than either PD No. 1084 or EO No. 525, vests in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ("DENR" for brevity) the following powers and functions:

"Sec. 4. Powers Department shall: (1) x x x xxx

and

Functions.

The

(4) Exercise supervision and control over forest lands, alienable and disposable public lands, mineral resources and, in the process of exercising such control, impose appropriate taxes, fees, charges, rentals and any such form of levy and collect such revenues for the exploration, development, utilization or gathering of such resources; xxx (14) Promulgate rules, regulations and guidelines on the issuance of licenses, permits, concessions, lease agreements and such other privileges concerning the development, exploration and utilization of the country's marine, freshwater, and brackish water and over all aquatic resources of the country and shall continue to oversee, supervise and police our natural resources; cancel or cause to cancel such privileges upon failure, non-compliance or violations of any regulation, order, and for all other causes which are in furtherance of the conservation of natural resources and supportive of the national interest; (15) Exercise exclusive jurisdiction on the management and disposition of all lands of the public domain and serve as the sole agency responsible for classification, sub-classification, surveying and titling of lands in consultation with appropriate agencies."80 (Emphasis supplied) As manager, conservator and overseer of the natural resources of the State, DENR exercises "supervision and control over alienable and disposable public lands." DENR also exercises "exclusive jurisdiction on the management and disposition of all lands of the public domain." Thus, DENR decides whether areas under water, like foreshore or submerged areas of Manila Bay, should be reclaimed or not. This means that PEA needs authorization from DENR before PEA can undertake reclamation projects in Manila Bay, or in any part of the country. DENR also exercises exclusive jurisdiction over the disposition of all lands of the public domain. Hence, DENR decides whether reclaimed lands of PEA should be classified as alienable under Sections 681 and 782 of CA No. 141. Once DENR decides that the reclaimed lands should be so classified, it then recommends to the President the issuance of a proclamation classifying the lands as alienable or disposable lands of the public domain open to disposition. We note that then DENR Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. countersigned Special Patent No. 3517 in compliance with the Revised

Administrative Code and Sections 6 and 7 of CA No. 141. In short, DENR is vested with the power to authorize the reclamation of areas under water, while PEA is vested with the power to undertake the physical reclamation of areas under water, whether directly or through private contractors. DENR is also empowered to classify lands of the public domain into alienable or disposable lands subject to the approval of the President. On the other hand, PEA is tasked to develop, sell or lease the reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain. Clearly, the mere physical act of reclamation by PEA of foreshore or submerged areas does not make the reclaimed lands alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, much less patrimonial lands of PEA. Likewise, the mere transfer by the National Government of lands of the public domain to PEA does not make the lands alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, much less patrimonial lands of PEA. Absent two official acts – a classification that these lands are alienable or disposable and open to disposition and a declaration that these lands are not needed for public service, lands reclaimed by PEA remain inalienable lands of the public domain. Only such an official classification and formal declaration can convert reclaimed lands into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, open to disposition under the Constitution, Title I and Title III83 of CA No. 141 and other applicable laws.84 PEA's Authority to Sell Reclaimed Lands PEA, like the Legal Task Force, argues that as alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, the reclaimed lands shall be disposed of in accordance with CA No. 141, the Public Land Act. PEA, citing Section 60 of CA No. 141, admits that reclaimed lands transferred to a branch or subdivision of the government "shall not be alienated, encumbered, or otherwise disposed of in a manner affecting its title,except when authorized by Congress: x x x."85 (Emphasis by PEA) In Laurel vs. Garcia,86 the Court cited Section 48 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987, which states that – "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: x x x." Thus, the Court concluded that a law is needed to convey any real property belonging to the Government. The Court declared that "It is not for the President to convey 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." (Emphasis supplied) PEA contends that PD No. 1085 and EO No. 525 constitute the legislative authority allowing PEA to sell its reclaimed lands. PD No. 1085, issued on February 4, 1977, provides that – "The land reclaimed in the foreshore and offshore area of Manila Bay pursuant to the contract for the reclamation and construction of the ManilaCavite Coastal Road Project between the Republic of the Philippines and the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines dated November 20, 1973 and/or any other contract or reclamation covering the same area is hereby transferred, conveyed and assigned to the ownership and administration of the Public Estates Authority established pursuant to PD No. 1084; Provided, however, That the rights and interests of the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines pursuant to the aforesaid contract shall be recognized and respected. Henceforth, the Public Estates Authority shall exercise the rights and assume the obligations of the Republic of the Philippines (Department of Public Highways) arising from, or incident to, the aforesaid contract between the Republic of the Philippines and the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines. In consideration of the foregoing transfer and assignment, the Public Estates Authority shall issue in favor of the Republic of the Philippines the corresponding shares of stock in said entity with an issued value of said shares of stock (which) shall be deemed fully paid and non-assessable. The Secretary of Public Highways and the General Manager of the Public Estates Authority shall execute such contracts or agreements, including appropriate agreements with the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines, as may be necessary to implement the above. Special land patent/patents shall be issued by the Secretary of Natural Resources in favor of the Public Estates Authority without prejudice to the subsequent transfer to the contractor or his assignees of such portion or portions of the land reclaimed or to be reclaimed as provided for in the abovementioned contract. On the basis of such patents, the Land Registration Commission shall issue the corresponding certificate of title." (Emphasis supplied)

On the other hand, Section 3 of EO No. 525, issued on February 14, 1979, provides that "Sec. 3. All lands reclaimed by PEA shall belong to or be owned by the PEA which shall be responsible for its administration, development, utilization or disposition in accordance with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1084. Any and all income that the PEA may derive from the sale, lease or use of reclaimed lands shall be used in accordance with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1084." There is no express authority under either PD No. 1085 or EO No. 525 for PEA to sell its reclaimed lands. PD No. 1085 merely transferred "ownership and administration" of lands reclaimed from Manila Bay to PEA, while EO No. 525 declared that lands reclaimed by PEA "shall belong to or be owned by PEA." EO No. 525 expressly states that PEA should dispose of its reclaimed lands "in accordance with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1084," the charter of PEA. PEA's charter, however, expressly tasks PEA "to develop, improve, acquire, administer, deal in, subdivide, dispose, lease and sell any and all kinds of lands x x x owned, managed, controlled and/or operated by the government."87 (Emphasis supplied) There is, therefore, legislative authority granted to PEA to sell its lands, whether patrimonial or alienable lands of the public domain. PEA may sell to private parties its patrimonial properties in accordance with the PEA charter free from constitutional limitations. The constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain does not apply to the sale of PEA's patrimonial lands. PEA may also sell its alienable or disposable lands of the public domain to private individuals since, with the legislative authority, there is no longer any statutory prohibition against such sales and the constitutional ban does not apply to individuals. PEA, however, cannot sell any of its alienable or disposable lands of the public domain to private corporations since Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution expressly prohibits such sales. The legislative authority benefits only individuals. Private corporations remain barred from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain, including government reclaimed lands. The provision in PD No. 1085 stating that portions of the reclaimed lands could be transferred by PEA to the "contractor or his assignees" (Emphasis supplied) would not apply to private corporations but only to individuals because of the constitutional ban. Otherwise, the provisions of PD No. 1085 would violate both the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. The requirement of public auction in the sale of reclaimed lands Assuming the reclaimed lands of PEA are classified as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition,

and further declared no longer needed for public service, PEA would have to conduct a public bidding in selling or leasing these lands. PEA must observe the provisions of Sections 63 and 67 of CA No. 141 requiring public auction, in the absence of a law exempting PEA from holding a public auction.88 Special Patent No. 3517 expressly states that the patent is issued by authority of the Constitution and PD No. 1084, "supplemented by Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended." This is an acknowledgment that the provisions of CA No. 141 apply to the disposition of reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain unless otherwise provided by law. Executive Order No. 654,89 which authorizes PEA "to determine the kind and manner of payment for the transfer" of its assets and properties, does not exempt PEA from the requirement of public auction. EO No. 654 merely authorizes PEA to decide the mode of payment, whether in kind and in installment, but does not authorize PEA to dispense with public auction. Moreover, under Section 79 of PD No. 1445, otherwise known as the Government Auditing Code, the government is required to sell valuable government property through public bidding. Section 79 of PD No. 1445 mandates that – "Section 79. When government property has become unserviceable for any cause, or is no longer needed, it shall, upon application of the officer accountable therefor, be inspected by the head of the agency or his duly authorized representative in the presence of the auditor concerned and, if found to be valueless or unsaleable, it may be destroyed in their presence. If found to be valuable, it may be sold at public auction to the highest bidder under the supervision of the proper committee on award or similar body in the presence of the auditor concerned or other authorized representative of the Commission, after advertising by printed notice in the Official Gazette, or for not less than three consecutive days in any newspaper of general circulation, or where the value of the property does not warrant the expense of publication, by notices posted for a like period in at least three public places in the locality where the property is to be sold. In the event that the public auction fails, the property may be sold at a private sale at such price as may be fixed by the same committee or body concerned and approved by the Commission." It is only when the public auction fails that a negotiated sale is allowed, in which case the Commission on Audit must approve the selling price.90 The Commission on Audit implements Section 79 of the Government Auditing Code through Circular No. 89-29691 dated January 27, 1989. This circular emphasizes that government

assets must be disposed of only through public auction, and a negotiated sale can be resorted to only in case of "failure of public auction." At the public auction sale, only Philippine citizens are qualified to bid for PEA's reclaimed foreshore and submerged alienable lands of the public domain. Private corporations are barred from bidding at the auction sale of any kind of alienable land of the public domain. PEA originally scheduled a public bidding for the Freedom Islands on December 10, 1991. PEA imposed a condition that the winning bidder should reclaim another 250 hectares of submerged areas to regularize the shape of the Freedom Islands, under a 60-40 sharing of the additional reclaimed areas in favor of the winning bidder.92 No one, however, submitted a bid. On December 23, 1994, the Government Corporate Counsel advised PEA it could sell the Freedom Islands through negotiation, without need of another public bidding, because of the failure of the public bidding on December 10, 1991.93 However, the original JVA dated April 25, 1995 covered not only the Freedom Islands and the additional 250 hectares still to be reclaimed, it also granted an option to AMARI to reclaim another 350 hectares. The original JVA, a negotiated contract, enlarged the reclamation area to 750 hectares.94 The failure of public bidding on December 10, 1991, involving only 407.84 hectares,95 is not a valid justification for a negotiated sale of 750 hectares, almost double the area publicly auctioned. Besides, the failure of public bidding happened on December 10, 1991, more than three years before the signing of the original JVA on April 25, 1995. The economic situation in the country had greatly improved during the intervening period. Reclamation under the BOT Law and the Local Government Code The constitutional prohibition in Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution is absolute and clear: "Private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, x x x." Even Republic Act No. 6957 ("BOT Law," for brevity), cited by PEA and AMARI as legislative authority to sell reclaimed lands to private parties, recognizes the constitutional ban. Section 6 of RA No. 6957 states – "Sec. 6. Repayment Scheme. - For the financing, construction, operation and maintenance of any infrastructure projects undertaken through the build-operate-andtransfer arrangement or any of its variations pursuant to the provisions of this Act, the project proponent x x x may likewise be repaid in the form of a share in the revenue of the project or other non-monetary payments, such as, but not limited to, the grant of a portion or percentage of the reclaimed land, subject to the

constitutional requirements with respect to the ownership of the land: x x x." (Emphasis supplied) A private corporation, even one that undertakes the physical reclamation of a government BOT project, cannot acquire reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain in view of the constitutional ban. Section 302 of the Local Government Code, also mentioned by PEA and AMARI, authorizes local governments in land reclamation projects to pay the contractor or developer in kind consisting of a percentage of the reclaimed land, to wit: "Section 302. Financing, Construction, Maintenance, Operation, and Management of Infrastructure Projects by the Private Sector. xxx xxx In case of land reclamation or construction of industrial estates, the repayment plan may consist of the grant of a portion or percentage of the reclaimed land or the industrial estate constructed." Although Section 302 of the Local Government Code does not contain a proviso similar to that of the BOT Law, the constitutional restrictions on land ownership automatically apply even though not expressly mentioned in the Local Government Code. Thus, under either the BOT Law or the Local Government Code, the contractor or developer, if a corporate entity, can only be paid with leaseholds on portions of the reclaimed land. If the contractor or developer is an individual, portions of the reclaimed land, not exceeding 12 hectares96 of nonagricultural lands, may be conveyed to him in ownership in view of the legislative authority allowing such conveyance. This is the only way these provisions of the BOT Law and the Local Government Code can avoid a direct collision with Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Registration of lands of the public domain Finally, PEA theorizes that the "act of conveying the ownership of the reclaimed lands to public respondent PEA transformed such lands of the public domain to private lands." This theory is echoed by AMARI which maintains that the "issuance of the special patent leading to the eventual issuance of title takes the subject land away from the land of public domain and converts the property into patrimonial or private property." In short, PEA and AMARI contend that with the issuance of Special Patent No. 3517 and the corresponding certificates of titles, the 157.84 hectares comprising the Freedom Islands have become private lands of PEA. In support of their theory, PEA and AMARI cite the following rulings of the Court: 1. Sumail v. Judge of CFI Cotabato,97 where the Court held – of

"Once the patent was granted and the corresponding certificate of title was issued, the land ceased to be part of the public domain and became private property over which the Director of Lands has neither control nor jurisdiction." 2. Lee Hong Hok v. David,98 where the Court declared "After the registration and issuance of the certificate and duplicate certificate of title based on a public land patent, the land covered thereby automatically comes under the operation of Republic Act 496 subject to all the safeguards provided therein."3. Heirs of Gregorio Tengco v. Heirs of Jose Aliwalas,99 where the Court ruled "While the Director of Lands has the power to review homestead patents, he may do so only so long as the land remains part of the public domain and continues to be under his exclusive control; but once the patent is registered and a certificate of title is issued, the land ceases to be part of the public domain and becomes private property over which the Director of Lands has neither control nor jurisdiction." 4. Manalo v. Intermediate Court,100 where the Court held – Appellate

of titles issued to private parties. These four cases uniformly hold that the Director of Lands has no jurisdiction over private lands or that upon issuance of the certificate of title the land automatically comes under the Torrens System. The fifth case cited involves the registration under the Torrens System of a 12.8-hectare public land granted by the National Government to Mindanao Medical Center, a government unit under the Department of Health. The National Government transferred the 12.8-hectare public land to serve as the site for the hospital buildings and other facilities of Mindanao Medical Center, which performed a public service. The Court affirmed the registration of the 12.8hectare public land in the name of Mindanao Medical Center under Section 122 of Act No. 496. This fifth case is an example of a public land being registered under Act No. 496 without the land losing its character as a property of public dominion. In the instant case, the only patent and certificates of title issued are those in the name of PEA, a wholly government owned corporation performing public as well as proprietary functions. No patent or certificate of title has been issued to any private party. No one is asking the Director of Lands to cancel PEA's patent or certificates of title. In fact, the thrust of the instant petition is that PEA's certificates of title should remain with PEA, and the land covered by these certificates, being alienable lands of the public domain, should not be sold to a private corporation. Registration of land under Act No. 496 or PD No. 1529 does not vest in the registrant private or public ownership of the land. Registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership but is merely evidence of ownership previously conferred by any of the recognized modes of acquiring ownership. Registration does not give the registrant a better right than what the registrant had prior to the registration.102 The registration of lands of the public domain under the Torrens system, by itself, cannot convert public lands into private lands.103 Jurisprudence holding that upon the grant of the patent or issuance of the certificate of title the alienable land of the public domain automatically becomes private land cannot apply to government units and entities like PEA. The transfer of the Freedom Islands to PEA was made subject to the provisions of CA No. 141 as expressly stated in Special Patent No. 3517 issued by then President Aquino, to wit: "NOW, THEREFORE, KNOW YE, that by authority of the Constitution of the Philippines and in conformity with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1084, supplemented by Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, there are hereby granted and conveyed unto the Public Estates Authority the aforesaid tracts of land containing a total area of one million nine hundred fifteen thousand eight hundred ninety four (1,915,894) square meters; the technical description of which are hereto

"When the lots in dispute were certified as disposable on May 19, 1971, and free patents were issued covering the same in favor of the private respondents, the said lots ceased to be part of the public domain and, therefore, the Director of Lands lost jurisdiction over the same." 5.Republic v. Court of Appeals,101 where the Court stated – "Proclamation No. 350, dated October 9, 1956, of President Magsaysay legally effected a land grant to the Mindanao Medical Center, Bureau of Medical Services, Department of Health, of the whole lot, validly sufficient for initial registration under the Land Registration Act. Such land grant is constitutive of a 'fee simple' title or absolute title in favor of petitioner Mindanao Medical Center. Thus, Section 122 of the Act, which governs the registration of grants or patents involving public lands, provides that 'Whenever public lands in the Philippine Islands belonging to the Government of the United States or to the Government of the Philippines are alienated, granted or conveyed to persons or to public or private corporations, the same shall be brought forthwith under the operation of this Act (Land Registration Act, Act 496) and shall become registered lands.'" The first four cases cited involve petitions to cancel the land patents and the corresponding certificates

attached and made an integral part hereof." (Emphasis supplied) Thus, the provisions of CA No. 141 apply to the Freedom Islands on matters not covered by PD No. 1084. Section 60 of CA No. 141 prohibits, "except when authorized by Congress," the sale of alienable lands of the public domain that are transferred to government units or entities. Section 60 of CA No. 141 constitutes, under Section 44 of PD No. 1529, a "statutory lien affecting title" of the registered land even if not annotated on the certificate of title.104 Alienable lands of the public domain held by government entities under Section 60 of CA No. 141 remain public lands because they cannot be alienated or encumbered unless Congress passes a law authorizing their disposition. Congress, however, cannot authorize the sale to private corporations of reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain because of the constitutional ban. Only individuals can benefit from such law. The grant of legislative authority to sell public lands in accordance with Section 60 of CA No. 141 does not automatically convert alienable lands of the public domain into private or patrimonial lands. The alienable lands of the public domain must be transferred to qualified private parties, or to government entities not tasked to dispose of public lands, before these lands can become private or patrimonial lands. Otherwise, the constitutional ban will become illusory if Congress can declare lands of the public domain as private or patrimonial lands in the hands of a government agency tasked to dispose of public lands. This will allow private corporations to acquire directly from government agencies limitless areas of lands which, prior to such law, are concededly public lands. Under EO No. 525, PEA became the central implementing agency of the National Government to reclaim foreshore and submerged areas of the public domain. Thus, EO No. 525 declares that – "EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 525 Designating the Public Estates Authority as the Agency Primarily Responsible for all Reclamation Projects Whereas, there are several reclamation projects which are ongoing or being proposed to be undertaken in various parts of the country which need to be evaluated for consistency with national programs; Whereas, there is a need to give further institutional support to the Government's declared policy to provide for a coordinated, economical and efficient reclamation of lands; Whereas, Presidential Decree No. 3-A requires that all reclamation of areas shall be limited to the National Government or any person authorized by it under proper contract;

Whereas, a central authority is needed to act on behalf of the National Government which shall ensure a coordinated and integrated approach in the reclamation of lands; Whereas, Presidential Decree No. 1084 creates the Public Estates Authority as a government corporation to undertake reclamation of lands and ensure their maximum utilization in promoting public welfare and interests; and Whereas, Presidential Decree No. 1416 provides the President with continuing authority to reorganize the national government including the transfer, abolition, or merger of functions and offices. NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution and pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1416, do hereby order and direct the following: Section 1. The Public Estates Authority (PEA) shall be primarily responsible for integrating, directing, and coordinating all reclamation projects for and on behalf of the National Government. All reclamation projects shall be approved by the President upon recommendation of the PEA, and shall be undertaken by the PEA or through a proper contract executed by it with any person or entity; Provided, that, reclamation projects of any national government agency or entity authorized under its charter shall be undertaken in consultation with the PEA upon approval of the President. x x x ." As the central implementing agency tasked to undertake reclamation projects nationwide, with authority to sell reclaimed lands, PEA took the place of DENR as the government agency charged with leasing or selling reclaimed lands of the public domain. The reclaimed lands being leased or sold by PEA are not private lands, in the same manner that DENR, when it disposes of other alienable lands, does not dispose of private lands but alienable lands of the public domain. Only when qualified private parties acquire these lands will the lands become private lands. In the hands of the government agency tasked and authorized to dispose of alienable of disposable lands of the public domain, these lands are still public, not private lands. Furthermore, PEA's charter expressly states that PEA "shall hold lands of the public domain" as well as "any and all kinds of lands." PEA can hold both lands of the public domain and private lands. Thus, the mere fact that alienable lands of the public domain like the Freedom Islands are transferred to

PEA and issued land patents or certificates of title in PEA's name does not automatically make such lands private. To allow vast areas of reclaimed lands of the public domain to be transferred to PEA as private lands will sanction a gross violation of the constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. PEA will simply turn around, as PEA has now done under the Amended JVA, and transfer several hundreds of hectares of these reclaimed and still to be reclaimed lands to a single private corporation in only one transaction. This scheme will effectively nullify the constitutional ban in Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which was intended to diffuse equitably the ownership of alienable lands of the public domain among Filipinos, now numbering over 80 million strong. This scheme, if allowed, can even be applied to alienable agricultural lands of the public domain since PEA can "acquire x x x any and all kinds of lands." This will open the floodgates to corporations and even individuals acquiring hundreds of hectares of alienable lands of the public domain under the guise that in the hands of PEA these lands are private lands. This will result in corporations amassing huge landholdings never before seen in this country - creating the very evil that the constitutional ban was designed to prevent. This will completely reverse the clear direction of constitutional development in this country. The 1935 Constitution allowed private corporations to acquire not more than 1,024 hectares of public lands.105 The 1973 Constitution prohibited private corporations from acquiring any kind of public land, and the 1987 Constitution has unequivocally reiterated this prohibition. The contention of PEA and AMARI that public lands, once registered under Act No. 496 or PD No. 1529, automatically become private lands is contrary to existing laws. Several laws authorize lands of the public domain to be registered under the Torrens System or Act No. 496, now PD No. 1529, without losing their character as public lands. Section 122 of Act No. 496, and Section 103 of PD No. 1529, respectively, provide as follows: Act No. 496 "Sec. 122. Whenever public lands in the Philippine Islands belonging to the x x x Government of the Philippine Islands are alienated, granted, or conveyed to persons or the public or private corporations, the same shall be brought forthwith under the operation of this Act and shall become registered lands." PD No. 1529 "Sec. 103. Certificate of Title to Patents. Whenever public land is by the Government alienated, granted or conveyed to any person, the same shall be brought forthwith

under the operation (Emphasis supplied)

of

this

Decree."

Based on its legislative history, the phrase "conveyed to any person" in Section 103 of PD No. 1529 includes conveyances of public lands to public corporations. Alienable lands of the public domain "granted, donated, or transferred to a province, municipality, or branch or subdivision of the Government," as provided in Section 60 of CA No. 141, may be registered under the Torrens System pursuant to Section 103 of PD No. 1529. Such registration, however, is expressly subject to the condition in Section 60 of CA No. 141 that the land "shall not be alienated, encumbered or otherwise disposed of in a manner affecting its title, except when authorized by Congress." This provision refers to government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy lands of the public domain that have been titled but still cannot be alienated or encumbered unless expressly authorized by Congress. The need for legislative authority prevents the registered land of the public domain from becoming private land that can be disposed of to qualified private parties. The Revised Administrative Code of 1987 also recognizes that lands of the public domain may be registered under the Torrens System. Section 48, Chapter 12, Book I of the Code states – "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) x x x (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) Thus, private property purchased by the National Government for expansion of a public wharf may be titled in the name of a government corporation regulating port operations in the country. Private property purchased by the National Government for expansion of an airport may also be titled in the name of the government agency tasked to administer the airport. Private property donated to a municipality for use as a town plaza or public school site may likewise be titled in the name of the municipality.106 All these properties become properties of the public domain, and if already registered under Act No. 496 or PD No. 1529, remain registered land. There is no requirement or provision in any existing law for the de-registration of land from the Torrens System. Private lands taken by the Government for public use under its power of eminent domain become

unquestionably part of the public domain. Nevertheless, Section 85 of PD No. 1529 authorizes the Register of Deeds to issue in the name of the National Government new certificates of title covering such expropriated lands. Section 85 of PD No. 1529 states – "Sec. 85. Land taken by eminent domain. Whenever any registered land, or interest therein, is expropriated or taken by eminent domain, the National Government, province, city or municipality, or any other agency or instrumentality exercising such right shall file for registration in the proper Registry a certified copy of the judgment which shall state definitely by an adequate description, the particular property or interest expropriated, the number of the certificate of title, and the nature of the public use. A memorandum of the right or interest taken shall be made on each certificate of title by the Register of Deeds, and where the fee simple is taken, a new certificate shall be issued in favor of the National Government, province, city, municipality, or any other agency or instrumentality exercising such right for the land so taken. The legal expenses incident to the memorandum of registration or issuance of a new certificate of title shall be for the account of the authority taking the land or interest therein." (Emphasis supplied) Consequently, lands registered under Act No. 496 or PD No. 1529 are not exclusively private or patrimonial lands. Lands of the public domain may also be registered pursuant to existing laws. AMARI makes a parting shot that the Amended JVA is not a sale to AMARI of the Freedom Islands or of the lands to be reclaimed from submerged areas of Manila Bay. In the words of AMARI, the Amended JVA "is not a sale but a joint venture with a stipulation for reimbursement of the original cost incurred by PEA for the earlier reclamation and construction works performed by the CDCP under its 1973 contract with the Republic." Whether the Amended JVA is a sale or a joint venture, the fact remains that the Amended JVA requires PEA to "cause the issuance and delivery of the certificates of title conveying AMARI's Land Share in the name of AMARI."107 This stipulation still contravenes Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which provides that private corporations "shall not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease." The transfer of title and ownership to AMARI clearly means that AMARI will "hold" the reclaimed lands other than by lease. The transfer of title and ownership is a "disposition" of the reclaimed lands, a transaction considered a sale or alienation under CA No. 141,108 the Government Auditing Code,109 and Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution.

The Regalian doctrine is deeply implanted in our legal system. Foreshore and submerged areas form part of the public domain and are inalienable. Lands reclaimed from foreshore and submerged areas also form part of the public domain and are also inalienable, unless converted pursuant to law into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. Historically, lands reclaimed by the government are sui generis, not available for sale to private parties unlike other alienable public lands. Reclaimed lands retain their inherent potential as areas for public use or public service. Alienable lands of the public domain, increasingly becoming scarce natural resources, are to be distributed equitably among our ever-growing population. To insure such equitable distribution, the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions have barred private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. Those who attempt to dispose of inalienable natural resources of the State, or seek to circumvent the constitutional ban on alienation of lands of the public domain to private corporations, do so at their own risk. We can now summarize our conclusions as follows: 1. The 157.84 hectares of reclaimed lands comprising the Freedom Islands, now covered by certificates of title in the name of PEA, are alienable lands of the public domain. PEA may lease these lands to private corporations but may not sell or transfer ownership of these lands to private corporations. PEA may only sell these lands to Philippine citizens, subject to the ownership limitations in the 1987 Constitution and existing laws. 2. The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay remain inalienable natural resources of the public domain until classified as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition and declared no longer needed for public service. The government can make such classification and declaration only after PEA has reclaimed these submerged areas. Only then can these lands qualify as agricultural lands of the public domain, which are the only natural resources the government can alienate. In their present state, the 592.15 hectares of submerged areas are inalienable and outside the commerce of man. 3. Since the Amended JVA seeks to transfer to AMARI, a private corporation, ownership of 77.34 hectares110 of the Freedom Islands, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. 4. Since the Amended JVA also seeks to transfer to AMARI ownership of 290.156 hectares111 of still submerged areas of

Manila Bay, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits the alienation of natural resources other than agricultural lands of the public domain. PEA may reclaim these submerged areas. Thereafter, the government can classify the reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable, and further declare them no longer needed for public service. Still, the transfer of such reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain to AMARI will be void in view of Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. Clearly, the Amended JVA violates glaringly Sections 2 and 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Under Article 1409112 of the Civil Code, contracts whose "object or purpose is contrary to law," or whose "object is outside the commerce of men," are "inexistent and void from the beginning." The Court must perform its duty to defend and uphold the Constitution, and therefore declares the Amended JVA null and void ab initio. Seventh issue: whether the Court is the proper forum to raise the issue of whether the Amended JVA is grossly disadvantageous to the government. Considering that the Amended JVA is null and void ab initio, there is no necessity to rule on this last issue. Besides, the Court is not a trier of facts, and this last issue involves a determination of factual matters. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Public Estates Authority and Amari Coastal Bay Development Corporation are PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from implementing the Amended Joint Venture Agreement which is hereby declared NULL and VOID ab initio. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, YnaresSantiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Austria-Martinez, and Corona, JJ., concur.

ALFRED FRITZ FRENZEL, petitioner, vs. EDERLINA P. CATITO, respondent. DECISION CALLEJO, SR., J.: Before us is a petition for review of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 53485 which affirmed the Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 14, in Civil Case No. 17,817 dismissing the petitioner’s complaint, and the resolution of the Court of Appeals denying his motion for reconsideration of the said decision.

The Antecedents[3]

As gleaned from the evidence of the petitioner, the case at bar stemmed from the following factual backdrop: Petitioner Alfred Fritz Frenzel is an Australian citizen of German descent. He is an electrical engineer by profession, but worked as a pilot with the New Guinea Airlines. He arrived in the Philippines in 1974, started engaging in business in the country two years thereafter, and married Teresita Santos, a Filipino citizen. In 1981, Alfred and Teresita separated from bed and board without obtaining a divorce. Sometime in February 1983, Alfred arrived in Sydney, Australia for a vacation. He went to King’s Cross, a night spot in Sydney, for a massage where he met Ederlina Catito, a Filipina and a native of Bajada, Davao City. Unknown to Alfred, she resided for a time in Germany and was married to Klaus Muller, a German national. She left Germany and tried her luck in Sydney, Australia, where she found employment as a masseuse in the King’s Cross nightclub. She was fluent in German, and Alfred enjoyed talking with her. The two saw each other again; this time Ederlina ended up staying in Alfred’s hotel for three days. Alfred gave Ederlina sums of money for her services.[4] Alfred was so enamored with Ederlina that he persuaded her to stop working at King’s Cross, return to the Philippines, and engage in a wholesome business of her own. He also proposed that they meet in Manila, to which she assented. Alfred gave her money for her plane fare to the Philippines. Within two weeks of Ederlina’s arrival in Manila, Alfred joined her. Alfred reiterated his proposal for Ederlina to stay in the Philippines and engage in business, even offering to finance her

SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. 143958. July 11, 2003]

business venture. Ederlina was delighted at the idea and proposed to put up a beauty parlor. Alfred happily agreed. Alfred told Ederlina that he was married but that he was eager to divorce his wife in Australia. Alfred proposed marriage to Ederlina, but she replied that they should wait a little bit longer. Ederlina found a building at No. 444 M.H. del Pilar corner Arquiza Street, Ermita, Manila, owned by one Atty. Jose Hidalgo who offered to convey his rights over the property for P18,000.00. Alfred and Ederlina accepted the offer. Ederlina put up a beauty parlor on the property under the business name Edorial Beauty Salon, and had it registered with the Department of Trade and Industry under her name. Alfred paid Atty. Hidalgo P20,000.00 for his right over the property and gave P300,000.00 to Ederlina for the purchase of equipment and furnitures for the parlor. As Ederlina was going to Germany, she executed a special power of attorney on December 13, 1983[5] appointing her brother, Aser Catito, as her attorney-in-fact in managing the beauty parlor business. She stated in the said deed that she was married to Klaus Muller. Alfred went back to Papua New Guinea to resume his work as a pilot. When Alfred returned to the Philippines, he visited Ederlina in her Manila residence and found it unsuitable for her. He decided to purchase a house and lot owned by Victoria Binuya Steckel in San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 218429 for US$20,000.00. Since Alfred knew that as an alien he was disqualified from owning lands in the Philippines, he agreed that only Ederlina’s name would appear in the deed of sale as the buyer of the property, as well as in the title covering the same. After all, he was planning to marry Ederlina and he believed that after their marriage, the two of them would jointly own the property. On January 23, 1984, a Contract to Sell was entered into between Victoria Binuya Steckel as the vendor and Ederlina as the sole vendee. Alfred signed therein as a witness. [6] Victoria received from Alfred, for and in behalf of Ederlina, the amount of US$10,000.00 as partial payment, for which Victoria issued a receipt. [7] When Victoria executed the deed of absolute sale over the property on March 6, 1984,[8] she received from Alfred, for and in behalf of Ederlina, the amount of US$10,000.00 as final and full payment. Victoria likewise issued a receipt for the said amount. [9] After Victoria had vacated the property, Ederlina moved into her new house. When she left for Germany to visit Klaus, she had her father Narciso Catito and her two sisters occupy the property. Alfred decided to stay in the Philippines for good and live with Ederlina. He returned to Australia and sold his fiber glass pleasure boat to John Reid for $7,500.00 on May 4, 1984.[10] He also sold his

television and video business in Papua New Guinea for K135,000.00 to Tekeraoi Pty. Ltd.[11] He had his personal properties shipped to the Philippines and stored at No. 14 Fernandez Street, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City. The proceeds of the sale were deposited in Alfred’s account with the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), Kowloon Branch under Bank Account No. 018-2-807016. [12] When Alfred was in Papua New Guinea selling his other properties, the bank sent telegraphic letters updating him of his account.[13] Several checks were credited to his HSBC bank account from Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation, Westpac Bank of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited and Westpac Bank–PNG-Limited. Alfred also had a peso savings account with HSBC, Manila, under Savings Account No. 01-725-183-01.[14] Once, when Alfred and Ederlina were in Hong Kong, they opened another account with HSBC, Kowloon, this time in the name of Ederlina, under Savings Account No. 018-0-807950.[15] Alfred transferred his deposits in Savings Account No. 0182-807016 with the said bank to this new account. Ederlina also opened a savings account with the Bank of America Kowloon Main Office under Account No. 30069016.[16] On July 28, 1984, while Alfred was in Papua New Guinea, he received a Letter dated December 7, 1983 from Klaus Muller who was then residing in Berlin, Germany. Klaus informed Alfred that he and Ederlina had been married on October 16, 1978 and had a blissful married life until Alfred intruded therein. Klaus stated that he knew of Alfred and Ederlina’s amorous relationship, and discovered the same sometime in November 1983 when he arrived in Manila. He also begged Alfred to leave Ederlina alone and to return her to him, saying that Alfred could not possibly build his future on his (Klaus’) misfortune.[17] Alfred had occasion to talk to Sally MacCarron, a close friend of Ederlina. He inquired if there was any truth to Klaus’ statements and Sally confirmed that Klaus was married to Ederlina. When Alfred confronted Ederlina, she admitted that she and Klaus were, indeed, married. But she assured Alfred that she would divorce Klaus. Alfred was appeased. He agreed to continue the amorous relationship and wait for the outcome of Ederlina’s petition for divorce. After all, he intended to marry her. He retained the services of Rechtsanwältin Banzhaf with offices in Berlin, as her counsel who informed her of the progress of the proceedings.[18] Alfred paid for the services of the lawyer. In the meantime, Alfred decided to purchase another house and lot, owned by Rodolfo Morelos covered by TCT No. 92456 located in Peña Street, Bajada, Davao City.[19] Alfred again agreed to have the deed of sale made out in the name of Ederlina. On September 7, 1984, Rodolfo Morelos executed a

deed of absolute sale over the said property in favor of Ederlina as the sole vendee for the amount of P80,000.00.[20] Alfred paid US$12,500.00 for the property. Alfred purchased another parcel of land from one Atty. Mardoecheo Camporedondo, located in Moncado, Babak, Davao, covered by TCT No. 35251. Alfred once more agreed for the name of Ederlina to appear as the sole vendee in the deed of sale. On December 31, 1984, Atty. Camporedondo executed a deed of sale over the property for P65,000.00 in favor of Ederlina as the sole vendee.[21] Alfred, through Ederlina, paid the lot at the cost of P33,682.00 and US$7,000.00, respectively, for which the vendor signed receipts.[22] On August 14, 1985, TCT No. 47246 was issued to Ederlina as the sole owner of the said property.[23] Meanwhile, Ederlina deposited on December 27, 1985, the total amount of US$250,000 with the HSBC Kowloon under Joint Deposit Account No. 018462341-145.[24] The couple decided to put up a beach resort on a four-hectare land in Camudmud, Babak, Davao, owned by spouses Enrique and Rosela Serrano. Alfred purchased the property from the spouses for P90,000.00, and the latter issued a receipt therefor.[25] A draftsman commissioned by the couple submitted a sketch of the beach resort. [26] Beach houses were forthwith constructed on a portion of the property and were eventually rented out by Ederlina’s father, Narciso Catito. The rentals were collected by Narciso, while Ederlina kept the proceeds of the sale of copra from the coconut trees in the property. By this time, Alfred had already spent P200,000.00 for the purchase, construction and upkeep of the property. Ederlina often wrote letters to her family informing them of her life with Alfred. In a Letter dated January 21, 1985, she wrote about how Alfred had financed the purchases of some real properties, the establishment of her beauty parlor business, and her petition to divorce Klaus.[27] Because Ederlina was preoccupied with her business in Manila, she executed on July 8, 1985, two special powers of attorney[28] appointing Alfred as attorney-in-fact to receive in her behalf the title and the deed of sale over the property sold by the spouses Enrique Serrano. In the meantime, Ederlina’s petition for divorce was denied because Klaus opposed the same. A second petition filed by her met the same fate. Klaus wanted half of all the properties owned by Ederlina in the Philippines before he would agree to a divorce. Worse, Klaus threatened to file a bigamy case against Ederlina.[29]

Alfred proposed the creation of a partnership to Ederlina, or as an alternative, the establishment of a corporation, with Ederlina owning 30% of the equity thereof. She initially agreed to put up a corporation and contacted Atty. Armando Dominguez to prepare the necessary documents. Ederlina changed her mind at the last minute when she was advised to insist on claiming ownership over the properties acquired by them during their coverture. Alfred and Ederlina’s relationship started deteriorating. Ederlina had not been able to secure a divorce from Klaus. The latter could charge her for bigamy and could even involve Alfred, who himself was still married. To avoid complications, Alfred decided to live separately from Ederlina and cut off all contacts with her. In one of her letters to Alfred, Ederlina complained that he had ruined her life. She admitted that the money used for the purchase of the properties in Davao were his. She offered to convey the properties deeded to her by Atty. Mardoecheo Camporedondo and Rodolfo Morelos, asking Alfred to prepare her affidavit for the said purpose and send it to her for her signature.[30] The last straw for Alfred came on September 2, 1985, when someone smashed the front and rear windshields of Alfred’s car and damaged the windows. Alfred thereafter executed an affidavitcomplaint charging Ederlina and Sally MacCarron with malicious mischief.[31] On October 15, 1985, Alfred wrote to Ederlina’s father, complaining that Ederlina had taken all his life savings and because of this, he was virtually penniless. He further accused the Catito family of acquiring for themselves the properties he had purchased with his own money. He demanded the return of all the amounts that Ederlina and her family had “stolen” and turn over all the properties acquired by him and Ederlina during their coverture. [32] Shortly thereafter, Alfred filed a Complaint[33] dated October 28, 1985, against Ederlina, with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, for recovery of real and personal properties located in Quezon City and Manila. In his complaint, Alfred alleged, inter alia, that Ederlina, without his knowledge and consent, managed to transfer funds from their joint account in HSBC Hong Kong, to her own account with the same bank. Using the said funds, Ederlina was able to purchase the properties subject of the complaints. He also alleged that the beauty parlor in Ermita was established with his own funds, and that the Quezon City property was likewise acquired by him with his personal funds.[34] Ederlina failed to file her answer and was declared in default. Alfred adduced his evidence exparte.

In the meantime, on November 7, 1985, Alfred also filed a complaint[35] against Ederlina with the Regional Trial Court, Davao City, for specific performance, declaration of ownership of real and personal properties, sum of money, and damages. He alleged, inter alia, in his complaint: 4. That during the period of their common-law relationship, plaintiff solely through his own efforts and resources acquired in the Philippines real and personal properties valued more or less at P724,000.00; The defendant’s common-law wife or live-in partner did not contribute anything financially to the acquisition of the said real and personal properties. These properties are as follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, it is respectfully prayed that judgment be rendered in favor of plaintiff and against defendant: a) Ordering the defendant to execute the corresponding deeds of transfer and/or conveyances in favor of plaintiff over those real and personal properties enumerated in Paragraph 4 of this complaint; b) Ordering the defendant to deliver to the plaintiff all the above real and personal properties or their money value, which are in defendant’s name and custody because these were acquired solely with plaintiff’s money and resources during the duration of the common-law relationship between plaintiff and defendant, the description of which are as follows: (1) TCT No. T-92456 (with residential house) located at Bajada, Davao City, consisting of 286 square meters, registered in the name of the original title owner Rodolfo Morelos but already fully paid by plaintiff. Valued at P342,000.00; TCT No. T-47246 (with residential house) located at Babak, Samal, Davao, consisting of 600 square meters, registered in the name of Ederlina Catito, with the Register of Deeds of Tagum, Davao del Norte, valued at P144,000.00;

I. Real Properties

a. TCT No. T-92456 located at Bajada, Davao City, consisting of 286 square meters, (with residential house) registered in the name of the original title owner Rodolfo M. Morelos but already fully paid by plaintiff. Valued at P342,000.00; b. TCT No. T-47246 (with residential house) located at Babak, Samal, Davao, consisting of 600 square meters, registered in the name of Ederlina Catito, with the Register of Deeds of Tagum, Davao del Norte valued at P144,000.00; c. A parcel of agricultural land located at Camudmud, Babak, Samal, Davao del Norte, consisting of 4.2936 hectares purchased from Enrique Serrano and Rosela B. Serrano. Already paid in full by plaintiff. Valued at P228,608.32;

(2)

(3) A parcel of agricultural land located at Camudmud, Babak, Samal, Davao del Norte, consisting of 4.2936 hectares purchased from Enrique Serrano and Rosela B. Serrano. Already fully paid by plaintiff. Valued at P228,608.32; c) Declaring the plaintiff to be the sole and absolute owner of the above-mentioned real and personal properties; d) Awarding moral damages to plaintiff in an amount deemed reasonable by the trial court; e) To reimburse plaintiff the sum of P12,000.00 as attorney’s fees for having compelled the plaintiff to litigate; To reimburse plaintiff the sum of P5,000.00 incurred as litigation

II. Personal Properties:

a. Furniture valued at P10,000.00. ... 5. That defendant made no contribution at all to the acquisition of the above-mentioned properties as all the monies (sic) used in acquiring said properties belonged solely to plaintiff;[36] Alfred prayed that after hearing, judgment be rendered in his favor:

f)

expenses also for having compelled the plaintiff to litigate; and g) To pay the costs of this suit; Plaintiff prays for other reliefs just and equitable in the premises.[37] In her answer, Ederlina denied all the material allegations in the complaint, insisting that she acquired the said properties with her personal funds, and as such, Alfred had no right to the same. She alleged that the deeds of sale, the receipts, and certificates of titles of the subject properties were all made out in her name.[38] By way of special and affirmative defense, she alleged that Alfred had no cause of action against her. She interposed counterclaims against the petitioner.[39] In the meantime, the petitioner filed a Complaint dated August 25, 1987, against the HSBC in the Regional Trial Court of Davao City[40] for recovery of bank deposits and damages.[41] He prayed that after due proceedings, judgment be rendered in his favor, thus: WHEREFORE, plaintiff respectfully prays that the Honorable Court adjudge defendant bank, upon hearing the evidence that the parties might present, to pay plaintiff: 1. ONE HUNDRED TWENTY SIX THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY U.S. DOLLARS AND NINETY EIGHT CENTS (US$126,230.98) plus legal interests, either of Hong Kong or of the Philippines, from 20 December 1984 up to the date of execution or satisfaction of judgment, as actual damages or in restoration of plaintiff’s lost dollar savings; 2.The same amount in (1) above as moral damages; 3. Attorney’s fees in the amount equivalent to TWENTY FIVE PER CENT (25%) of (1) and (2) above; 4. Litigation expenses in the amount equivalent to TEN PER CENT (10%) of the amount in (1) above; and 5. For such other reliefs as are just and equitable under the circumstances.[42] On April 28, 1986, the RTC of Quezon City rendered its decision in Civil Case No. Q-46350, in favor of Alfred, the decretal portion of which reads as follows: WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the defendant to perform the following: (1) To execute a document waiving her claim to the house and lot in No. 14 Fernandez St., San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City in favor of plaintiff or to return to the plaintiff the acquisition cost of the same in the amount of $20,000.00, or to sell the

said property and turn over the proceeds thereof to the plaintiff; (2) To deliver to the plaintiff the rights of ownership and management of the beauty parlor located at 444 Arquiza St., Ermita, Manila, including the equipment and fixtures therein; (3) To account for the earnings of rental of the house and lot in No. 14 Fernandez St., San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City, as well as the earnings in the beauty parlor at 444 Arquiza St., Ermita, Manila and turn over one-half of the net earnings of both properties to the plaintiff; (4) To surrender or return to the plaintiff the personal properties of the latter left in the house at San Francisco Del Monte, to wit: “(1) Mamya automatic camera (1) 12 inch “Sonny” T.V. set, colored with remote control. (1) Micro oven (1) Electric fan (tall, adjustable stand) (1) Office safe with (2) drawers and safe (1) Electric Washing Machine (1) Office desk and chair (1) Double bed suits (1) Mirror/dresser (1) Heavy duty voice/working mechanic (1) “Sony” Beta-Movie camera (1) Suitcase with personal belongings (1) Cardboard box with belongings (1) Guitar Amplifier (1) Hanger with men’s suit (white).” To return to the plaintiff, (1) Hi-Fi Stereo equipment left at 444 Arquiza Street, Ermita, Manila, as well as the Fronte Suzuki car. (4) To account for the monies (sic) deposited with the joint account of the plaintiff and defendant (Account No. 018-0-807950); and to restore to the plaintiff all the monies (sic) spent by the defendant without proper authority; (5) To pay the amount of P5,000.00 by way of attorney’s fees, and the costs of suit. SO ORDERED.[43] However, after due proceedings in the RTC of Davao City, in Civil Case No. 17,817, the trial court rendered judgment on September 28, 1995 in favor of Ederlina, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, the Court cannot give due course to the complaint and hereby orders its dismissal. The counterclaims of the defendant are likewise dismissed.

SO ORDERED.[44] The trial court ruled that based on documentary evidence, the purchaser of the three parcels of land subject of the complaint was Ederlina. The court further stated that even if Alfred was the buyer of the properties, he had no cause of action against Ederlina for the recovery of the same because as an alien, he was disqualified from acquiring and owning lands in the Philippines. The sale of the three parcels of land to the petitioner was null and void ab initio. Applying the pari delicto doctrine, the petitioner was precluded from recovering the properties from the respondent. Alfred appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals[45] in which the petitioner posited the view that although he prayed in his complaint in the court a quo that he be declared the owner of the three parcels of land, he had no intention of owning the same permanently. His principal intention therein was to be declared the transient owner for the purpose of selling the properties at public auction, ultimately enabling him to recover the money he had spent for the purchase thereof. On March 8, 2000, the CA rendered a decision affirming in toto the decision of the RTC. The appellate court ruled that the petitioner knowingly violated the Constitution; hence, was barred from recovering the money used in the purchase of the three parcels of land. It held that to allow the petitioner to recover the money used for the purchase of the properties would embolden aliens to violate the Constitution, and defeat, rather than enhance, the public policy.[46] Hence, the petition at bar. The petitioner assails the decision of the court contending that: THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN APPLYING THE RULE OF IN PARI DELICTO IN THE INSTANT CASE BECAUSE BY THE FACTS AS NARRATED IN THE DECISION IT IS APPARENT THAT THE PARTIES ARE NOT EQUALLY GUILTY BUT RATHER IT WAS THE RESPONDENT WHO EMPLOYED FRAUD AS WHEN SHE DID NOT INFORM PETITIONER THAT SHE WAS ALREADY MARRIED TO ANOTHER GERMAN NATIONAL AND WITHOUT SUCH FRAUDULENT DESIGN PETITIONER COULD NOT HAVE PARTED WITH HIS MONEY FOR THE PURCHASE OF THE PROPERTIES.[47] and THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE INTENTION OF THE PETITIONER IS NOT TO OWN REAL PROPERTIES IN THE PHILIPPINES BUT TO SELL THEM AT PUBLIC AUCTION TO BE ABLE TO RECOVER HIS MONEY USED IN PURCHASING THEM.[48]

Since the assignment of errors are intertwined with each other, the Court shall resolve the same simultaneously. The petitioner contends that he purchased the three parcels of land subject of his complaint because of his desire to marry the respondent, and not to violate the Philippine Constitution. He was, however, deceived by the respondent when the latter failed to disclose her previous marriage to Klaus Muller. It cannot, thus, be said that he and the respondent are “equally guilty;” as such, the pari delicto doctrine is not applicable to him. He acted in good faith, on the advice of the respondent’s uncle, Atty. Mardoecheo Camporedondo. There is no evidence on record that he was aware of the constitutional prohibition against aliens acquiring real property in the Philippines when he purchased the real properties subject of his complaint with his own funds. The transactions were not illegal per se but merely prohibited, and under Article 1416 of the New Civil Code, he is entitled to recover the money used for the purchase of the properties. At any rate, the petitioner avers, he filed his complaint in the court a quomerely for the purpose of having him declared as the owner of the properties, to enable him to sell the same at public auction. Applying by analogy Republic Act No. 133[49]as amended by Rep. Act No. 4381 and Rep. Act No. 4882, the proceeds of the sale would be remitted to him, by way of refund for the money he used to purchase the said properties. To bar the petitioner from recovering the subject properties, or at the very least, the money used for the purchase thereof, is to allow the respondent to enrich herself at the expense of the petitioner in violation of Article 22 of the New Civil Code. The petition is bereft of merit. Section 14, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution provides, as follows: Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private land shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands in the public domain.[50] Lands of the public domain, which include private lands, may be transferred or conveyed only to individuals or entities qualified to acquire or hold private lands or lands of the public domain. Aliens, whether individuals or corporations, have been disqualified from acquiring lands of the public domain. Hence, they have also been disqualified from acquiring private lands.[51] Even if, as claimed by the petitioner, the sales in question were entered into by him as the real vendee, the said transactions are in violation of the Constitution; hence, are null and void ab initio.[52] A contract that violates the Constitution and the law, is null and void and vests no rights and creates no

obligations. It produces no legal effect at all.[53] The petitioner, being a party to an illegal contract, cannot come into a court of law and ask to have his illegal objective carried out. One who loses his money or property by knowingly engaging in a contract or transaction which involves his own moral turpitude may not maintain an action for his losses. To him who moves in deliberation and premeditation, the law is unyielding.[54] The law will not aid either party to an illegal contract or agreement; it leaves the parties where it finds them. [55]Under Article 1412 of the New Civil Code, the petitioner cannot have the subject properties deeded to him or allow him to recover the money he had spent for the purchase thereof.[56] Equity as a rule will follow the law and will not permit that to be done indirectly which, because of public policy, cannot be done directly.[57] Where the wrong of one party equals that of the other, the defendant is in the stronger position ... it signifies that in such a situation, neither a court of equity nor a court of law will administer a remedy.[58] The rule is expressed in the maxims: EX DOLO MALO NON ORITUR ACTIO and IN PARI DELICTO POTIOR EST CONDITIO DEFENDENTIS.[59] The petitioner cannot feign ignorance of the constitutional proscription, nor claim that he acted in good faith, let alone assert that he is less guilty than the respondent. The petitioner is charged with knowledge of the constitutional prohibition.[60] As can be gleaned from the decision of the trial court, the petitioner was fully aware that he was disqualified from acquiring and owning lands under Philippine law even before he purchased the properties in question; and, to skirt the constitutional prohibition, the petitioner had the deed of sale placed under the respondent’s name as the sole vendee thereof: Such being the case, the plaintiff is subject to the constitutional restrictions governing the acquisition of real properties in the Philippines by aliens. From the plaintiff’s complaint before the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch 84, Quezon City in Civil Case No. Q-46350 he alleged: xxx “That on account that foreigners are not allowed by the Philippine laws to acquire real properties in their name as in the case of my vendor Miss Victoria Vinuya (sic) although married to a foreigner, we agreed and I consented in having the title to subject property placed in defendant’s name alone although I paid for the whole price out of my own exclusive funds.” (paragraph IV, Exhibit “W.”) and his testimony before this Court which is hereby quoted: ATTY. ABARQUEZ:

Q. In whose name the said house and lot placed, by the way, where is his house and lot located? A. In 14 Fernandez St., San Francisco, del Monte, Manila. Q. In whose name was the house placed? A. Ederlina Catito because I was informed being not a Filipino, I cannot own the property. (tsn, p. 11, August 27, 1986). xxx xxx COURT: Q. So you understand that you are a foreigner that you cannot buy land in the Philippines? A. That is correct but as she would eventually be my wife that would be owned by us later on. (tsn, p. 5, September 3, 1986) xxx xxx xxx xxx

Q. What happened after that? A. She said you foreigner you are using Filipinos to buy property.

Q. And what did you answer? A. I said thank you very much for the property I bought because I gave you a lot of money (tsn., p. 14, ibid). It is evident that the plaintiff was fully aware that as a non-citizen of the Philippines, he was disqualified from validly purchasing any land within the country.[61] The petitioner’s claim that he acquired the subject properties because of his desire to marry the respondent, believing that both of them would thereafter jointly own the said properties, is belied by his own evidence. It is merely an afterthought to salvage a lost cause. The petitioner admitted on cross-examination that he was all along legally married to Teresita Santos Frenzel, while he was having an amorous relationship with the respondent: ATTY. YAP:

Q

When you were asked to identify yourself on direct examination you claimed before this Honorable Court that your status is that of being married, do you confirm that? Yes, sir. To whom are you married? To a Filipina, since 1976. Would you tell us who is that particular person you are married since 1976? Teresita Santos Frenzel. Where is she now? In Australia. Is this not the person of Teresita Frenzel who became an Australian citizen? I am not sure, since 1981 we were separated. You were only separated, in fact, but not legally separated? Thru my counsel in Australia I filed a separation case. As of the present you are not legally divorce[d]? I am still legally married.[62]

he may, if public policy is thereby enhanced, recover what he has paid or delivered.[64] The provision applies only to those contracts which are merely prohibited, in order to benefit private interests. It does not apply to contracts void ab initio. The sales of three parcels of land in favor of the petitioner who is a foreigner is illegal per se. The transactions are void ab initio because they were entered into in violation of the Constitution. Thus, to allow the petitioner to recover the properties or the money used in the purchase of the parcels of land would be subversive of public policy. Neither may the petitioner find solace in Rep. Act No. 133, as amended by Rep. Act No. 4882, which reads: SEC. 1. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, private real property may be mortgaged in favor of any individual, corporation, or association, but the mortgagee or his successor-ininterest, if disqualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain in the Philippines, shall not take possession of the mortgaged property during the existence of the mortgage and shall not take possession of mortgaged property except after default and for the sole purpose of foreclosure, receivership, enforcement or other proceedings and in no case for a period of more than five years from actual possession and shall not bid or take part in any sale of such real property in case of foreclosure: Provided, That said mortgagee or successor-in-interest may take possession of said property after default in accordance with the prescribed judicial procedures for foreclosure and receivership and in no case exceeding five years from actual possession.[65] From the evidence on record, the three parcels of land subject of the complaint were not mortgaged to the petitioner by the owners thereof but were sold to the respondent as the vendee, albeit with the use of the petitioner’s personal funds. Futile, too, is petitioner’s reliance on Article 22 of the New Civil Code which reads: Art. 22. Every person who through an act of performance by another, or any other means, acquires or comes into possession of something at the expense of the latter without just or legal ground, shall return the same to him.[66] The provision is expressed in the maxim: “MEMO CUM ALTERIUS DETER DETREMENTO PROTEST” (No person should unjustly enrich himself at the expense of another). An action for recovery of what has been paid without just cause has been designated as an accion in rem verso.[67] This provision does not apply if, as in this case, the action is proscribed by the Constitution or by the

A Q A Q

A Q A Q

A

Q

A

Q

A

The respondent was herself married to Klaus Muller, a German citizen. Thus, the petitioner and the respondent could not lawfully join in wedlock. The evidence on record shows that the petitioner in fact knew of the respondent’s marriage to another man, but nonetheless purchased the subject properties under the name of the respondent and paid the purchase prices therefor. Even if it is assumed gratia arguendi that the respondent and the petitioner were capacitated to marry, the petitioner is still disqualified to own the properties in tandem with the respondent.[63] The petitioner cannot find solace in Article 1416 of the New Civil Code which reads: Art. 1416. When the agreement is not illegal per se but is merely prohibited, and the prohibition by the law is designed for the protection of the plaintiff,

application of the pari delicto doctrine.[68] It may be unfair and unjust to bar the petitioner from filing an accion in rem verso over the subject properties, or from recovering the money he paid for the said properties, but, as Lord Mansfield stated in the early case of Holman vs. Johnson:[69] “The objection that a contract is immoral or illegal as between the plaintiff and the defendant, sounds at all times very ill in the mouth of the defendant. It is not for his sake, however, that the objection is ever allowed; but it is founded in general principles of policy, which the defendant has the advantage of, contrary to the real justice, as between him and the plaintiff.” IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DISMISSED. The decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED in toto. Costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. Nos. L-48971 & 49011 January 22, 1980 PACIFICO GARCIA, petitioner-appellant, vs. BENJAMIN M. GOZON, TECLA GUTIERREZ, ROSARIO FELIX, PAULINO D. BUENAVENTURA, RAYMUNDO DIONISIO, VIRGILIO AUSTRIA and MARCEON VICENCIO, respondents-appellees; PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, petitionerappellant, vs. COURT OF APPEALS (Third Division), CAROLINA LAPUZ- GOZON, assisted by her husband BENJAMIN M. GOZON, TECLA GUTIERREZ, ROSARIO FELIX, PAULINO D. BUENAVENTURA, RAYMUNDO DIONISIO, VIRGILIO AUSTRIA and MARCEON VICENCIO, respondents-appellees. Agapito Mendoza & Antonio G. Ibarra for appellant Pacifico Garcia Laurel Law Office and Flores Ocampo, Dizon & Domingo for private appellees.

AQUINO, J.: This case is about the issuance of two or more transfer certificates of title to different persons for the same lots, or subdivisions thereof, due to the fact that the original title was allegedly not cancelled when the first transfer certificates of title were issued to replace the original title. The factual background is as follows: 1. On August 9, 1918, a deed of sale for two parcels of land, E and G (with a total area of more than seven hectares) of the Hacienda Maysilo, located in Malabon, Rizal and covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 983, was executed in favor of Ismael Lapus a bona fide occupant thereof. The deed was executed pursuant to an order of the Court of First Instance of Rizal in Civil Case No. 391, Negao vs. Vidal, a partition proceeding involving the said hacienda (See Bustamante vs. Tuason, 47 Phil. 433, 434). 2. The deed of sale was presented for registration at two-twenty five in the afternoon of January 15, 1920 and was recorded as Primary Entry No. 7710. That deed of sale itself contains the following entriesshowing that it was annotated on the back of OCT NO. 983: Presentado en este Registro a las 2:25 de la tarde del dia de hoy segun el Asiento No. 7710 de tomo 10 del Libro Diario, Pasig, Rizal, Enero 15, 1920. Register of Deeds (Exh. B-12)

Inscrito el documento que precede al dorso del certificado de Titulo Original No. 983 del Tomo A-9, de inscritor en las paginas 113 y 114 ambos del libro T-25 de registro como certificados de titulo Nos. 4910 y 4911, archivado en el legajo T#4910. Pasig, Rizal, Enero 15, 1920.: Register of (Exh. B-1). Deeds

Title No. 112236 was issued to the Riveras. Later, Lots 5 and 7 of the said title (corresponding to parcels E and G which were sold to Ismael Lapus in 1918 as stated earlier) were assigned by Bartolome Rivera to Sergio Cruz and Pacifico Garcia and TCT Nos. 112743 and 112742 were issued to Cruz and Garcia, respectively. Thus, two sets of transfer certificates of title for Lots E and G or 5 and 7, originally covered by OCT No. 983, were issued, one to the heir of Ismael Lapus and another set to the successors-in-interest of the Riveras. 7. On October 22, 1964, Garcia subdivided Lot 7 (G) into Lots A and B. Garcia retained Lot A and obtained TCT No. 134958 for it. He assigned Lot B to Antonio Muñoz on November 5, 1964. As a consequence of the assignment, TCT No. 112742 was cancelled and TCT No. 134957 was issued to Muñoz. In 1965, he mortgaged Lot B to the Associated Banking Corporation to secure a loan of P200,000. 8. On the other hand, on July 17, 1964 Cruz sold to Santiago Go Lot 5 (E) covered by TCT No. 112743. TCT No. 131329 was issued to Go on August 25,1964. On December 23, 1964, Go mortgaged Lot 6 to the Philippine National Bank (PNB) to secure a loan of P50,000 which was later increased to P60,000. 9. Muñoz and Go did not pay their mortgage debts. The two banks foreclosed the mortgages. The PNB bought the mortgaged lot at the auction sale held on May 4. 1967. The sheriff issued to it a certificate of sale dated May 19, 1967 but at that time there was already a notice of lis pendens annotated on the title of the mortgaged lot. TCT Nos. 212163 and 236881 for the mortgaged lots were issued to the Associated Banking Corporation and the Philippine National Bank, respectively. 10. The Riveras and their successors-in-interest have never set foot on the disputed lots. 11. Mrs. Gozon later learned that the Riveras and their successors-in-interest had acquired the land (more than two hundred fifty-eight hectares) covered by OCT No. 983. Her lawyer and a surveyor informed her that parcels E and G, which she inherited from her father, were identical to Lots 5 and 7 which were conveyed to Cruz and Garcia. She registered adverse claims on the titles covering Lots 5 and 7. On December 27, 1965 she and the persons to whom she had transferred portions of parcels E and G filed with the Court of First Instance of Rizal at Caloocan City against the Riveras, Cruz, Muñoz, Garcia, Associated Banking Corporation, PNB and others an action to quiet title and for damages. 12. A notice of lis pendens was annotated on January 25, 1966 on the titles of Garcia, Muñoz and Go. The notice of lis pendens was annotated on the title of the PNB when the sale in its favor was registered on December 13, 1969. 13. The trial court in its decision of July 30, 1975 declared valid TCT Nos. 141802 to 141855 and 143512 issued to Mrs. Gozon and her co-plaintiffs. It

However, it seemed that, contrary to the foregoing entry and the official routine or standard operating procedure, the deed of sale was not annotated on OCT No. 983 and that, consequently, that title was apparently not cancelled. Why that annotation did not appear in OCT No. 983 and why there was no notation of the cancellation of that title, as it appeared in 1962, is a mystifying circumstance in this case. 3. As a result of the registration of that deed of sale, Transfer Certificate of 'Title No. 4910 was issued to Lapus for the two parcels of land, E and G, and I Transfer Certificate of Title No. 4911 was issued for the remaining five lots covered by OCT No. 983 (which embrace an area of more than two hundred fifty-eight hectares registered in the names of more than twenty-six-co-owners). TCT Nos. 4910 and 4911 contain the following entries: "Transfer from No. 983. Originally registered on the 29th day of January, in the year 1917 in Book No. A-9, page 215, of the said Province of Rizal, pursuant to a decree entered in Case No. 3850." 4. Lapus on different occasions mortgaged the two parcels of land to secure his obligations to the Philippine National Bank, the Government and the Philippine Trust Company. He died in 1951. The two parcels of land were inherited by his daughter, Carolina Lapuz-Gozon. She became the registered owner of the two lots. She subdivided them into fiftyfive lots. She sold some of the subdivision lots to her co-respondents-appellees herein. Lapus and his successors-in-interest have been in possession of the two parcels even before 1910 or for more than seventy years. 5. Meanwhile, in 1962, certain. alleged heirs (collectively known as the Riveras) of the late Maria de la Concepcion Vidal filed a motion in Land Registration Cases Nos. 4429 and 4496 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, alleging that they were deprived of their participation in the Hacienda Maysilo covered by OCT No. 983 and for other titles and that, since only OCT No. 983 was supposedly unencumbered, all the land covered by that title should be adjudicated to them. The court granted the motion. It should be stressed that OCT No. 983 appears to have remained uncancelled notwithstanding the sale to Lapus of two parcels covered by it and the fact that it had been replaced by TCT Nos. 4910 and 4911. 6. On June 7, 1963, OCT No. 983 was definitely cancelled and in lieu thereof Transfer Certificate of

voided TCT No. 112235 issued to the Riveras and all titles and transactions emanating therefrom insofar as those titles covered the lots embraced in plaintiffs' titles. The Riveras were ordered to pay the plaintiffs twenty thousand pesos as attorney's fees. 14. The trial court also ordered Muñoz to pay the Associated Banking Corporation, in the event that the bank would be evicted from the lot covered by TCT No. 212153, two hundred sixty-five thousand seventy-two pesos and fifteen centavos with twelve percent interest per annum from the date of the eviction plus ten thousand pesos as attorney's fees. 15. Santiago Go was ordered to pay the PNB, should it be evicted from the lot covered by TCT No. 236881, the sum of sixty thousand pesos plus nine percent interest per annum from the date of the eviction and six thousand pesos as attorney's fees. 16. That judgment of the trial court was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in its decision of May 25, 1978. Garcia and the PNB appealed from that decision. The Associated Banking Corporation, now the Associated Citizens Bank, tried to appeal but it was not able to file its petition for review (L-49010). Garcia contends that the Court of Appeals erred in not holding that his title is valid and that the titles of Ismael Lapus and his successors-in-interest lost their right to the disputed lots due to their negligence or inaction. The issue is whether the 1920 title issued to Lapus and the titles derived therefrom should prevail over the 1963 title issued to the Riveras and the subsequent titles derived from it. Should Lapus' title prevail even if it was not annotated by the register of deeds on the anterior or parent title which was not cancelled before 1963? It was that noncancellation which led to the issuance of the duplicative title to the Riveras and eventually to the execution of the controversial mortgages and foreclosure sales to the two banks. We hold that the two appeals have no merit. The title of Lapus and the titles derived therefrom should be given effect. The title of the Riveras and the titles springing from it are void. There can be no doubt that Lapus was an innocent purchaser for value. He validly transmitted to his successors-in-interest his indefeasible title or ownership over the disputed lots or parcels of land. That title could not be nullified or defeated by the issuance forty-three Years later to other persons of another title over the same lots due to the failure of the register of deeds to cancel the title preceding the title issued to Lapuz. This must be so considering that Lapus and his interest remained in possession of the disputed successors in lots and the rival claimants never possessed the same. "The general rule is that in the case of two certificates of title, purporting to include the same land, the earlier in date prevail, whether the land comprised in the latter certificate be wholly, or only in part, comprised in the earlier certificate" (Hogg,

Australian Torrens System 823, citing cases and cited in Legarda and Prieto vs. Saleeby, 31 Phil. 590, 595). "Where two certificates (of title) purport to include the same land, the earlier in date prevails. ... In successive registrations, where more than once certificate is issued in respect of a party estate or interest in land, the Person claiming under the prior certificate is entitled to the estate or interest; and that person is deemed to hold under the prior certificate who is the holder of, or whose claim is derived directly or indirectly from the person who was the holder of the earliest certificate issued in respect thereof " (Niblack, Analysis of the Torrens System page 237, cited in Legarda and Prieto vs. Saleeby,supra, pages 595-6). And the rule that in case of double registration the owner of the earlier certificate is the owner of the landapplies to the successive vendees of the owners of such certificates. "The vendee of the earlier certificate would be the owner as against the vendee of the owner of the later certificate" (Legarda and Prieto vs. Saleeby, supra, pages 5979). It is settled that is this jurisdiction the maxim prior est in tempore, potior est in jure (he who is first in time is preferred in right) is followed in land registration matters (La Urbana vs. Bernardo, 62 Phil. 790, 806). Appellant Garcia invokes the ruling that the mere entry of a document in the day or entry book without noting it on the certificate of title is not a sufficient registration (Bass vs. De la Rama, 73 Phil. 682, 685). That ruling was superseded by the holding in the later six cases of Levin vs. Bass, 91 Phil. 420, where a distinction was made between voluntary and involuntary registration, such as the registration of an attachment, levy upon execution, notice of his pendens, and the like. In cases of involuntary registration, an entry thereof in the day book is a sufficient notice to all persons even if the owner's duplicate certificate of title is not presented to the register of deeds. On the other hand, according to the said cases of Levin vs. Bass, in case of voluntary registration of documents an innocent purchaser for value of registered land becomes the registered owner, and, in contemplation of law the holder of a certificate of title, the moment he presents and files a duly notarized and valid deed of sale and the same is entered in the day book and at the same time he surrenders or presents the owner's duplicate certificate of title covering the land sold and pays the registration fees, because what remains to be done lies not within his power to perform. The register of deeds is duty bound to perform it. (See Potenciano vs. Dineros, 97 Phil. 196.) The instant case is not Identical to the Bass cases. Here the deed of sale in favor of Lapus, which was

judicially authorized, was entered in the entry book and a new title was issued to him. As already stated, and this point should be underscored, the deed of sale in favor of Lapus contains the notation that it was annotated on the back of OCT No. 983 (presumably, the original and owner's duplicate thereof). But why in 1962 it appeared that no such annotation was found on the back of OCT No. 983, contrary to what was stated in the 1918 deed of sale, is a mystery that the trill court and the plaintiffs failed to unravel during the trial. Moreover, the title issued to Lapus contains the usual notation that it was a transfer from a previous title which in this case was OCT No. 983. It should be further observed that the deed of sale in favor of Lapus and the titles issued to him and his successors interest together with his mortgage in 1929 of the disputed lots to the PNB itself, are all a matter of public record in the registry of deeds. As stressed in Legarda and Prieto vs. Saleeby, 31 Phil. 590, 600, "the record is notice to all the world. All persons are charged with the knowledge of what it contains. All persons dealing with the land so recorded, or any portion of it, must be charged with notice of whatever it contains. The purchaser is charged with notice of every fact shown by the record and is presumed to know every fact which the record discloses. "When a conveyance has been properly recorded, such record is constructive notice of its contents and all interests, legal and equitable, included therein." "Under the rule of notice, it is presumed that the purchaser has examined every instrument of record affecting the title. Such presumption is irrefutable. He is charged with notice of every fact shown by the record and is presumed to know every fact which an examination of the record would have disclosed" (Legarda and Prieto vs. Saleeby, supra, page 600). As Justice Johnson says, "this presumption cannot be overcome by proof of innocence or good faith. Otherwise, the very purpose and object of the law requiring a record would be destroyed. Such presumption cannot be defeated by proof of want of knowledge of what the record contains any more than one may be permitted to show that he was ignorant of the provisions of the law. The rule that all persons must take notice of the facts which the public record contains is a rule of law. The rule must be absolute. Any variation would lead to endless confusion and useless litigation" (Legarda and Prieto vs. Saleeby, supra, pp. 600-601). As to the PNB's claim that it was a mortgagee and purchaser in good faith and for value, the Appellate Court held that the bank should have made an onthe-spot investigation of the lot mortgaged by Go to ascertain whether he was in possession of it or it was claimed by other persons. Its failure to do so precludes the bank from being considered as a mortgagee in good faith and for value (Gatioan vs. Gaffud, L-21953, March 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 706).

On the other hand, the trial court held that the PNB was not a buyer in good faith when it bought Go's lot at the auction sale because there was already a notice of his pendens annotated on his title. In the Gatioan case, it appears that in 1935 Rufina Permison secured a Torrens title for a parcel of land on the basis of a free patent. The land was sold to Encarnacion Gatioan and Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-1212 was issued to her. She mortgaged the land three times to the PNB In 1956, the spouses Sixto Gaffud and Villamora Logan were able to secure a Torrens title for the same lot also on the basis of a free patent. They mortgaged the land also to the PNB. The Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, on discovering that two Torrens titles were issued for the same land, recommended the cancellation of the later title issued to the Gaffud spouses. As the PNB refused to cancel the mortgaged executed by Gatioan, in spite of the fact that she had made full payment of the mortgage debt, she filed against the Gaffud spouses and the PNB an action to quiet title. It was held that Gatioan's title should prevail over that of the Gaffud spouses and that the mortgage executed by them in favor of the PNB was void. The Gaffud spouse were ordered to pay damages to Gatioan. Since the applicable rule in the instant case is that the earlier certificate of title should be recognized as superior and controlling there is no justification for relying on the doctrine laid down by Justice Holmes inEliason vs. Wilborn 281 U.S. 457, that "as between two innocent persons, one of whom must suffer the consequence of a breach of trust, the one who made it possible by his act of confidence must bear the loss." There was no breach of trust in this case. What is note. worthy in this case is that after it was recited in the registered deed of sale that sale was annotated at the back of the title covering the lots sold, it turned out that the title did not contain such an annotation and that the title was not cancelled. For that anomaly, the purchaser, Ismael Lapus, the how" of the earlier title, was not culpable or blameworthy. WHEREFORE, the judgment of the Court of Appeals, affirming the decision of the trial court, should stand. Costs against the appellants. SO ORDERED. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-11285 May 16, 1958

VICENTE SAPTO, LAUREANA SAPTO and DORA (BAGONA), plaintiffs-appellants, vs. APOLONIO FABIANA, defendant-appellee.

Rodolfo A. Ta-Asan for appellants. Napoleon B. Nidea for appellee. REYES, J.B.L., J.: Sapto (Moro), now deceased was the registered owner of a parcel of land located in Alambre, Toril, Davao City, under Transfer Certificate of Title No. T5701 (0-28) of the Register of Deeds of Davao City. When Sapto died, he left his children Samuel, Constancio, and Ramon as heirs of the property in question. Ramon pre-deceased his two brothers, leaving no, other heirs. On June 6, 1931, Samuel and Constancio Sapto executed a deed of sale of a portion of four hectares of the land aforementioned if favor of defendant Apolonio Fabiana, in consideration of the amount of P245.00. The sale was duly approved by the Provincial Governor of Davao, but was never registered. Possession of the land conveyed was, however, transferred to Fabiana and the latter has been in the possession thereof 1931 up to the present. Thereafter, Constancio Sapto died without any issue, Samuel Sapto married one Dora (Bagoba) and upon his death was survived by his widow and two children, Laureana and Vicente Sapto. On October 19, 1954, the widow and children of Samuel Sapto filed this action in the Court of First Instance of Davao for the recovery of the parcel of land sold by their predecessors to defendant Apolonio Fabiana in 1931. After trial, the lower court held that although the sale between Samuel and Constancio Sapto and defendant in 1931 was never registered, it was valid and binding upon the parties and the vendors heirs, and ordered the plaintiffs to execute the necessary deed of conveyance in defendant's favor and its annotation in the certificate of title. From this judgment, plaintiffs appealed to this Court. The issue is whether the deed of sale executed by appellants' predecessors in favor of the appellee over the land in question, although never registered, is valid and binding on appellants and operated to convey title and ownership to the appellee. The question is not new. In a long line of cases already decided by this Court, we have consistently interpreted sec. 50 of the Land Registration Act providing that "no deed . . . shall take effect as a conveyance or bind the land, but shall operate only as a contract between the parties and as evidence of authority to the clerk or register of deeds to make registration" in the sense that as between the parties to a sale registration is not necessary to make it valid and effective, for actual notice is equivalent to registration (Obras Pias vs. Devera Ignacio, 17 Phil., 45; Gustilo vs. Maravilla, 48 Phil., 442; Quimson vs. Suarez, 45 Phil., 901; Winkleman vs. Veluz, 43 Phil., 609; Galasinao vs. Austria, 51 Off. Gaz. No. 6, 2874; Carillo vs. Salak, 91 Phil., 265). "The peculiar force of a title under Act No. 492", we said in Medina vs. Imaz and Warner Barnes and Co., 27 Phil., 314 (syllabus), "is exhibited only when the purchaser has sold to innocent third parties the land described in the conveyance.

Generally speaking, as between vendor and vendee, the same rights and remedies exist in relation to land not so registered". In Galanza vs. Nuesa, 95 Phil., 713, we held that "registration is intended to protect the buyer against claims of third persons arising from subsequent alienations by the vendor, and is certainly not necessary to give effect as between the parties to their deed of sale". And in the recent case of Casica vs. Villaseca, G.R. No. L9590, April 30, 1957, we reiterated that "the purpose of registration is merely to notify and protect the interests of strangers to a given transaction, who may be ignorant thereof, and the non-registration of the deed evidencing said transaction does not relieve the parties thereto of their obligations thereunder". No right of innocent third persons or subsequent transferees of the property in question is involved herein. The property has remained and still is in the possession of the vendee of appellants' predecessors, herein appellee. It is, therefore, clear that the conveyance between appellee and his vendors and valid and binding upon the latter, and is equally binding and effective against the heirs of the vendors, herein appellants. To hold otherwise would make of the Torrens system a shield for the commission of fraud by the vendors or his heirs (Gustilo vs. Maravilla, 48 Phil., 442), who would then be able to reconvey the same property to other persons. Appellants cite several cases wherein we have held that under the Torrens system, registration is the operative act that gives validity to the transfer or creates a lien upon the land. The authorities cited refer, however, to cases involving conflicting rights over registered property and those of innocent transferees who relied on the clean titles of the properties in question. These cases have, therefore, no bearing on the instant case, where the appellee has always, remained in the possession of the land in question and no subsequent transfer thereof to other persons has been made either by appellants or their prodecessors-in-interest. The appellants aver that it was error to require them to execute a deed of conveyance in favor of the plaintiff, appellee, and argue that the latter's action to obtain it had long prescribed, twenty years having elapsed since the original sale. This contention must be overruled, being predicated on the assumption that the reconveyance is sought by way of performance of the contract of sale entered into in 1931. No enforcement of the contract is in fact needed, since the delivery of possession of the land sold had consummated the sale and transferred title to the purchaser, registration of the contract not being indispensable as between the parties. Actually the action for conveyance was one to quiet title, i.e., to remove the cloud cast upon appellee's ownership by the refusal of the appellants to recognize the sale made by their predecessors. This action accrued only when appellant, initiated their suit to recover the land in 1954. Furthermore, it is an established

rule of American jurisprudence (made applicable in this jurisdiction by Art. 480 of the New Civil Code) that actions to quiet title to property in the possession of the plaintiff are imprescriptible (44 Am. Jur. p. 47; Cooper vs. Rhea, 39 L. R. A. 930; Inland Empire Land Co. vs. Grant County, 138 Wash. 439, 245 Pac. 14). The prevailing rule is that the right of a plaintiff to have his title to land quieted, as against one who is asserting some adverse claim or lien thereon, is not barred while the plaintiff or his grantors remain in actual possession of the land, claiming to be owners thereof, the reason for this rule being that while the owner in fee continues liable to an action, proceeding, or suit upon the adverse claim, he has a continuing right to the aid of a court of equity to ascertain and determine the nature of such claim and its effect on his title, or to assert any superior equity in his favor. He may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is attacked before taking steps to vindicate his right. But the rule that the statute of limitations is not available as a defense to an action to remove a cloud from title can only be invoked by a complaint when he is in possession. One who claims property which is in the possession of another must, it seems, invoke his remedy within the statutory period. (44 Am. Jur., p. 47) Wherefore, the judgment appealed from is affirmed. Costs against appellants. So ordered.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-9197 October 22, 1914

HERMOGENA SANTOS, plaintiff-appellant, vs. MIGUEL ROBLEDO, ET AL., defendants-appellees. Jose Santiago for appellant. Leodegario Azarraga for appellees.

TORRES, J.: In this action to recover possession of a parcel of land with three light-material warehouses and the collection of unpaid rents, together with the recovery of damages to the amount of P1,200, the plaintiff appealed by a bill of exceptions from the judgment rendered on May 6, 1913, by the Honorable Charles S. Lobingier, judge, wherein he held that the plaintiff had not established any right to the relief sought and therefore adjudged that she take nothing by her complaint and that the first two defendants recover their costs. On March 5, 1913, counsel for Hermogena Santos filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of this city and alleged therein that on March 1, 1905, Santiago Herrera and his wife Basilia Tolentino, in an instrument ratified before a notary, deed to the plaintiff a building lot with three warehouses, the boundaries and area of the said land being described in the complaint; that the plaintiff entered into possession of this property on the date above mentioned and the same without opposition or interruption of any sort and collected the rents therefrom until January 28, 1913; that on this date, Miguel Robledo, who was found to be a creditor of the said Santiago Herrera, prayed for the execution of the said judgment; that at the instigation of Robledo, the sheriff proceeded to seize the said lot and, after the publication of notice, sold the same at public auction on the 17th of the following month of February; that, although the plaintiff had intervened and prayed for the recall of the writ for the reason that the lot levied upon was her property, the sheriff, under security of the bond furnished by the creditor Robledo, sold the said lot and Robledo himself purchased it; that the plaintiff was thus deprived of her property and of the rents accruing therefrom from the said 28th day of

January up to the date of the complaint, and that she had suffered considerable damage because she had missed the opportunity to sell the property for P1,200, the price she had been offered for it. Counsel therefore prayed that judgment be rendered for the plaintiff ordering the defendant immediately to return and deliver to her the said lot, together with the uncollected rents therefrom, and to pay an indemnity of P1,200 and the costs. Counsel for the deputy sheriff of Manila alleged that his client had no personal interest in the subject matter of the complaint nor in the remedies sought; that he only took part in the action brought by Robledo against Herrera for the purpose of executing the orders of the court; that consequently he levied on the said lot and its three warehouses belonging to Santiago Herrera and subsequently, on February 17, 1913, sold them; that the lot was awarded to Robledo, the only bidder, for the sum of P1,000, and that the plaintiff, by an affidavit dated February 5, claimed the said property as the owner thereof, but, by reason of the bond furnished by Robledo, he, the deputy sheriff, proceeded to sell the property, since, it was recorded in the property registry in the name of Santiago Herrera in August, 1901, as being free of all encumbrance and that on January 28, 1913, a record was made of the levy thereon. Said counsel therefore prayed that the defendant be absolved from the complaint, with the costs against the plaintiff. The other defendants, Robledo and Azarraga, alleged, among other things, that the plaintiff had no legal capacity to sue and that her action was improper; that, by a judgment rendered in case No. 9874, Santiago Herrera was ordered to pay to his creditor, Miguel Robledo, the sum of P1,170, with legal interest thereon at the rate of six per cent per annum from September 24, 1912, and the costs of the suit, and that, in executing the said judgment, the deputy sheriff of Manila, on January 28, 1913, levied upon the said lot, which was exclusively owned by the debtor Herrera, and upon all its improvements; that the first inscription of the aforementioned property was recorded in the property registry in August, 1901, in the name of Santiago Herrera, wherein it appears as being free of all charge and encumbrance; that on the 28th of the said month of January, 1913, the writ of execution on the aforementioned land which, together with the three warehouses thereon, was sold at public auction and knocked down to the said Robledo on February 17, 1913, for the sum of P1,000 Philippine currency, was recorded in the registry and the proper certificate of sale was issued to him by the sheriff; that the new owner, Robledo, then took possession of the property in good faith and was now peaceably holding the same; that the conveyance made to the plaintiff by Herrera and his wife Tolentino was effected by them with intent to defraud their creditors and could in no wise prevail as against the creditor Robledo, and that for this reason, the latter had suffered losses and damages to the amount of P200. These defendants therefore

prayed be absolved from the complaint and that the said Hermogena Santos be ordered to pay them P200 as losses and damages, and to pay the costs. Counsel for Miguel Robledo, in a supplementary answer dated April 21, 1913, set forth that, subsequently to his original answer, Santiago Herrera sold and conveyed to him on March 24 of the same year, through a public instrument and for the sum of P85, Herrera's right to redeem the property in litigation within the period of one year counting from the 17th of February, 1913, the date of the sale of the lot at public auction; and prayed that his supplementary answer be admitted in accordance with section 105 of the Code of Civil Procedure. After a hearing of the case and the evidence submitted by both parties, the court rendered the judgment aforementioned. The question raised in the claim made by the plaintiff, Hermogena Santos, is whether or not the levy and sale of the lot and improvements in dispute, effected on petition of the creditor, Miguel Robledo, can prevail against the right of ownership she acquired by virtue of the gift made in her favor by the spouses Santiago Herrera and Basilia Tolentino. If the said lot and its improvements actually belonged to Hermogena Santos, and not to the debtor, Santiago Herrera, then it is unquestionable that the land could not be levied upon for the payment of a debt of the latter that in no wise concerned Hermogena Santos, as the latter was not a debtor of Miguel Robledo on February 17, 1913, for the sum of P1,000 Philippine currency, was recorded in the registry and the proper certificate of sale was issued to him by the sheriff; that the new owner, Robledo, then took possession of the property in good faith and was now peaceably holding the same; that the conveyance made to the plaintiff by Herrera and his wife Tolentino was effected by them with intent to defraud their creditors and could in no wise prevail as against the creditor Robledo, and that for this reason, the latter had suffered losses and damages to the amount of P200. These defendants therefore prayed that the plaintiff's petition be denied; that the said Hermogena Santos be ordered to pay them P200 as losses and damages, and to pay the costs. Counsel for Miguel Robledo, in a supplementary answer dated April 21, 1913, set forth that, subsequently to his original answer, Santiago Herrera sold and conveyed to him on March 24 of the same year, through a public instrument and for the sum of P85, Herrera's right to redeem the property in litigation within the period of one year counting from the 17th of February, 1913, the date of the sale of the lot at public auction; and prayed that his supplementary answer be admitted in accordance with section 105 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

After a hearing of the case and the evidence submitted by both parties, the court rendered the judgment aforementioned. The question raised in the claim made by the plaintiff Hermogena Santos, is whether or not levy and sale of the lot and improvements in dispute, effected on petition of the creditor, Miguel Robledo, can prevail against the right of ownership she acquired by virtue of the gift made in her favor by the spouses Santiago Herrera and Basilia Tolentino. If the said lot and its improvements actually belonged to Hermogena Santos, and not to the debtor, Santiago Herrera, then it is unquestionable that the land could not be levied upon for the payment of a debt of the latter that in no wise concerned Hermogena Santos, as the latter was not a debtor of Miguel Robledo. The property acquired by the plaintiff in the said land is derived from the gift made to her by Santiago Herrera and his wife Basilia Tolentino in an instrument ratified before the notary Eugenio de Lara on March 1, 1905 (Exhibit A). In this instrument, after reciting that the contracting parties had mutually agreed to live separately and to divide the conjugal partnership property therein inventoried and appraised at P2,494, the said spouses state, in paragraph 3, that they convey to the girl Hermogena Santos the said lot with its warehouse, item No. 4 of the inventory, with the express condition that the proceeds or rents derived from the lot and warehouse so conveyed should be collected by the wife Basilia Tolentino as long as she lived. It was also provided therein, among other things, that the value of the lot and its warehouse should be deducted from the total value of the conjugal property which was to be divided between the two spouses and which amounted to P2,200, a sum that divided equally, would amount to P1,100 each. According to article 618 of the Civil Code, a gift is an act of liberality by which a person disposes gratuitously of a thing in favor of another, who accepts it. Herrera and his wife Tolentino freely and gratuitously disposed of the said lot and its improvements in favor of the plaintiff; but it does not appear, however, that the latter accepted the gift in the manner provided by law. Article 633 of the same code prescribes: In order that a gift of real property may be valid it shall be made in a public instrument, stating therein in detail the property bestowed as a gift and the amount of the charges, which the donee must satisfy. The acceptance may be made in the same instrument bestowing the gift or in a different one; but it shall produce no effect if no made during the life of the donor. If made in a different instrument the acceptance shall be communicated to the donor in an authentic manner, and this

proceeding shall instruments.

be

recorded

in

both

The said instrument (p. 21 of the record) sets out the conveyance of the lot by th the donor to the donee, but the acceptance of that gift by the plaintiff Santos does not appear therein and the record reveals no other instrument that evidences such acceptance and notifies the donors thereof in an authentic manner. Therefore, the provisions of the law not having been complied with, the gift was invalid and could have no effect whatever, for the Civil Code prescribes, in article 629, that a gift does not bind the donor nor produce any effect until it has been formally accepted by the donee in accordance with law. Because of this essential defect, the gift was not perfected and the donee could not acquire any real and positive right in the warehouse (land) and its improvements. So important is the donee's acceptance with the notice to the donors of his acceptance in order that the latter may have full force and effect, that when the instrument which has been drawn up is recorded in the registry of property, the document that evidences the acceptance — if this has not been made in the deed of gift — should also be recorded. And in one or both documents, as the case may be, the notification of the acceptance as formally made the donor or donors should be duly set forth. These requisites, definitely prescribed at law, have not been complied with, and no proof that they have appears in the record.1awphi1.net Neither does it appear that Exhibit A, the instrument conveying the gift, was recorded in the property registry, an essential requisite of article 23 in connection with article 2 of the Mortgage Law to make it effective against third persons, but still supposing it were there recorded, even improperly, it could not produce any legal effect, inasmuch as it does not show the donee's acceptance and the proper notification thereof to the donors. Therefore, with these defects, even if the said instrument of gift had been recorded, it could not in any way legally affect Robledo's rights. So, the gift in question, as specified in Exhibit A an instrument that was executed for other purposes, to wit, conjugal separation and division of conjugal property between the parties, could not transmit to the donee any positive and effective right in the lot in litigation, to the prejudice of the donors' creditor. Furthermore, on March 1, 1905, when the said instrument was executed, Santiago Herrera had owed Miguel Robledo, from March 12, 1903, the sum of P1,170, with interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum. For the collection of this debt the creditor had to bring suit against the debtor. As the record does not show that the donors had reserved sufficient funds or property to satisfy the debt, nor that they possessed property other than the lot given away by them, we must conclude that the conveyance or gift made to the plaintiff by the

spouses Herrera and Tolentino was for the purpose of defrauding the creditor, Miguel Robledo, by preventing him from collecting his credit. Article 643 of the Civil Code prescribes: Should there be no stipulation as to the payment of debts, the donee shall be liable for them only if the gift has been made to defraud creditors. The gift shall always be presumed as having been made to defraud creditors when, at the time of bestowing it, the donor has not reserved to himself property sufficient to pay the debts contracted prior thereto. Although some boats, a fishing device with nets, a light-material warehouse erected on another's land, and the lot in litigation, are listed in the inventory contained in the said instrument, the fact is that when demand was made upon the debtor for the payment of his debt to Robledo, he was unable to pay it, and the said lot was levied upon and afterwards sold at public auction in satisfaction thereof. The indebtedness was contracted by Santiago Herrera in 1903, during his marriage and before he and his wife gave the said lot away; consequently, its payment is a charge against the conjugal partnership. (Civil Code, art. 1408.) Santiago Herrera was the lawful and absolute owner of the lot in litigation and his ownership is shown to have been recorded in the property registry of Manila, Tondo section, first inscription, No. 1340, in August, 1901. The entry discloses that the property was then free of all charge and encumbrance and that, on January 28, 1913, a note was therein made of the writ of execution issued against the said lot and warehouses, issued in the proceeding instituted by the creditor Robledo against the debtor Herrera, the unquestionable owner of the property levied upon. Moreover, the right of the judgment debtor to redeem the lot in litigation was purchased by the creditor Robledo for P85 on February 17, 1913, the date of the sale of the land at public auction. The appellant alleges that as she was a minor, her mother, Gregoria Tolentino, appeared before the notary to accept the said gift in the name of the appellant, and that since the execution of the instrument making such bestowal her mother has been in possession of the donated land and has been collecting the rents from the tenants occupying it. This allegation is unfounded and cannot be sustained. The instrument Exhibit A does not show that the plaintiff's mother appeared or that she accepted the said gift in the name of the plaintiff. Her verbal acceptance, if made, would not be sufficient, since the law requires that the acceptance shall be in writing either in a separate public instrument or in the instrument whereby the gift is

made, requirement which do not appear to have been fulfilled in the present case. Neither is it true that the plaintiff was in possession and collected the rents of the lot in question from the tenants who were occupying it. The strangest and most peculiar feature of this case is the testimony given by Santiago Herrera himself, the husband of Basilia Tolentino, these two being the donors. This witness stated under oath of the instrument Exhibit A, although he had not read this document, because he did not know how to read and was only able to write his own name thereon; that at the time the instrument was executed, the notary Lara merely told him that the paper he was about to sign referred to the conjugal separation, and that Lara did not tell him that a gift of the lot was therein made to Hermogena Santos; that, according to the terms of the separation agreed upon between himself and his wife, he conveyed to the latter his fishing tackle and was to keep the real estate for himself; that the said tackle was then worth P300 and the lot P500; that, upon his separating from his wife on account of her infidelity, he received no money from her, and denied having received any sum whatever from the hands of Eugenio de Lara; that he did not remember having signed the instrument relative to the appointment of the property, the payment to him of P500 and the gift of the lot; that he identified his signature at page 24 of the record, but not that on page 25; that a daughter of his had by his wife was still living and that it was the latter who collected the rents of the said lot. The certificate of baptism of the girl Catalina, the daughter of the said spouses, was exhibited at the trial (Exhibit 3, p. 40 of the record). This testimony and the contents of the said instrument, if we except from this latter the agreements relating to the conjugal separation and the division of the partnership property, give rise to the presumption that this instrument with regard to all else therein contained was framed by the direction of the woman Basilia Tolentino without the knowledge or consent of her husband, Santiago Herrera, especially with respect to the gift of the lot, the subject matter of the claim presented by the donee.lawphil.net However, leaving aside these circumstantial details which cast doubt upon a large part of the said instrument, and restricting ourselves to the matter of the gift of the lot in litigation, it is unquestionable that this gift is null and void in itself and can produce no effect whatever, since it fails to comply with the requirements of article 633 of the Civil Code, and because the said gift was made without proper consideration and for the purpose of defrauding the defendant creditor, whom it is to be presumed the donors intended seriously to prejudice when bestowing the property upon the plaintiff (arts. 643 and 1297, Civil Code). This intended injury to the defendant would be iniquitously consummated, should the plaintiff obtain a decision contrary to the

judgment appealed from, which, moreover, is in accordance with the law and the merits of the case. Therefore, in consideration of the foregoing reasons whereby the errors assigned to the lower court have been refuted, the said judgment should be and is hereby affirmed, and the defendants are absolved from the plaintiff, with the costs against the appellant. Arellano, C.J., Johnson, Moreland and Araullo, JJ., concur. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-803 August 27, 1948

render the decision in question on October 2, 1944;" and (2) "That granting for the sake of argument that the puppet Court of First Instance of Iloilo had jurisdiction, yet such decision was rendered after having deprived plaintiff of his day in court and is therefore in violation of the due process clause of the Constitution. As to the first question, the appellants do not question the ruling of this Supreme Court on the validity of the judgments rendered by the courts established in these Islands during the Japanese occupation laid down in Co Kim Cham vs. Valdez Tan Keh,1 Off. Gaz., 779; but they contend that, as the three parcels of land involved or sold in the contract of the sale resolved by the prior judgment were located in the Municipality of Passi, Province of Iloilo, and "the puppet Republic of the Philippines since the middle of the month of September, 1944, could no longer assert its authority over the major portion of the territory of Iloilo including the Municipality of Passi," then under the possession and control of the Panay guerrilla forces, the Court of First Instance of Iloilo which rendered the prior judgment had no jurisdiction over theres or the property because the action was quasi in rem, and therefore the said judgment is null and void. This contention is premised on the wrong assumption that the action for the resolution of a contract of sale of a real property is an action quasi in rem. The action instituted by the appellees to resolve the contract of sale of said parcels of land, is in personam and not quasi in rem. This Court quoted with approval in Grey Alba vs. Dela Cruz, 17 Phil., 61-62, the following definition of an action in personam: If the technical object of the suit is to establish a claim against some particular person, with a judgment which generally, in theory at least, binds his body, or to bar some individual claim or objection, so that only certain persons are entitled to be heard in defense, the action is in personam, although it may concern the right to or possession of a tangible thing. If, on the other hand, the object is to bar indifferently all who might be minded to make an objection of any sort against the right sought to be established, and if anyone in the world has a right to be heard on the strength of alleging facts which, if true, show an inconsistent interest, the proceeding is in rem. (Tyler vs. Judges, supra.). According to American Jurisprudence, Vol. I page 435, "An action in personam has for its object a judgment against the person, as distinguished from a judgment against property, to determine its status. Whether a proceeding is in rem or in personam is determined by its nature and purpose, and by these only. A proceeding in personam is a proceeding to enforce personal rights and obligations brought against the person and based on jurisdiction of the

JOSE P. SANDEJAS, plaintiff-appellant, vs. ZACARIAS C. ROBLES, ELENA C. VDA. DE ROBLES and ROSARIO Y. SINGSON, defendantsappellees. Benjamin H. Tirol, Corazon C. Miraflores and Orlando M. Jesena for appellant. W. E. Greenbaum and Luis G. Hofilena for appellee Rosario Y. Singson. M. F. Zamora and Jose C. Robles for appellee Zacarias C. Robles and Elena C. Vda. de Robles. FERIA, J.: This is an appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo dismissing the plaintiff's action upon motion of the defendant on the ground that it is barred by prior judgment. The pertinent facts alleged in the complaint to which a motion to dismiss on the ground that the cause of action is barred by a prior judgment is filed, are those relating to the cause of action and the parties, because if they are the same as the cause of action and the parties in the prior judgment, or though the parties are different they represent the same interest, and the court rendering the prior judgment had jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties, the subsequent action is barred by the prior judgment and should be dismissed. In the present appeal, there is no question that the parties in the present and prior action are the same or represent the same interest, and that the cause of action in both are the same, that is, the performance or non-performance of the terms and conditions of a contract of sale for the enforcement or resolution thereof. They only question to be determined is whether the Court which has rendered the former judgment had jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties. The appellants contend that the lower erred in upholding the validity of the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo during the Japanese occupation, because: (1) "The said court had no jurisdiction to try civil case No. 21, much less to

person, although it may involve his right to, or the exercise of ownership of, specific property, or seek to compel him to control or dispose of it in accordance with the mandate of the court. In the case of Banco Espanol-Filipino vs. Palanca, 37 Phil., 921, we held that "The action quasi in remdiffers from the true action in rem in the circumstances that in the former an individual is named as defendant, and the purpose of the proceeding is to subject his interest therein to the obligation or lien burdening the property. All proceedings having for their sole object the sale or other disposition of the property of the defendant, whether by attachment, foreclosure, or other form of remedy, are in a general way thus designated. The judgment entered in these proceedings is conclusive only between the parties. With respect to the second question, from the prior judgment marked as Exhibit A of the motion to dismiss, it appears that the appellants had submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo by filing their answers to the complaint through their Atty. Benjamin H. Tirol, the same attorney who represents them now; that they were notified of the date set for the hearing of the action, but when the case was called for trial on September 29, 1944, their attorney asked and obtained permission from the court to withdraw his appearance as attorney for the appellants stating as ground therefor that it was difficult to communicate with his clients, who went to Arevalo, a suburb of and distant of about six or seven kilometers from the Iloilo City, capital of the Province of Iloilo; that to give the appellants opportunity to be heard, the hearing was postponed and set on the afternoon of the same date; and that as they did not appear on the afternoon the case was heard and judgment was rendered on October 2, 1944, declaring the resolution of the contract between the parties and ordering the appellees to return to the appellants the sum of P5,723.60, received by the former from the latter as payment on account of the sum of P35,000 agreed upon as purchase price. And, according to the allegations in appellants' complaint, on October 25, 1944, the appellants filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the court, and when they tried to appeal from the decision the court denied the appeal on November 23, 1944, and declared the judgement final and executory; and, on November 29, the appellants filed a motion for reconsideration of the order denying the appeal, and up to the filing of the complaint in the present case no resolution of the motion has been received by the appellants. In view of the foregoing facts set forth in the decision Exhibit A and not contradicted or denied by the appellants, which show that the absence from the trial of the appellants was due to their own fault, appellants' contention that they were deprived of their day in court is untenable. The appeal is therefore dismissed. So ordered.

Paras, Pablo, Bengzon, Briones, Padilla and Tuason, JJ., concur.

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