Case Brief: Laguna Lake Development Authority v CA

G.R. Nos. 120865-71   December 7, 1995

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE HERCULANO TECH, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 70, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF BINANGONAN RIZAL; FLEET DEVELOPMENT, INC. and CARLITO ARROYO; THE MUNICIPALITY OF BINANGONAN and/or MAYOR ISIDRO B. PACIS, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE AURELIO C. TRAMPE, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 163, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG; MANILA MARINE LIFE BUSINESS RESOURCES, INC. represented by, MR. TOBIAS REYNALD M. TIANGCO; MUNICIPALITY OF TAGUIG, METRO MANILA and/or MAYOR RICARDO D. PAPA, JR., respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE ALEJANDRO A. MARQUEZ, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 79, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MORONG, RIZAL; GREENFIELD VENTURES INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION and R. J. ORION DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION; MUNICIPALITY OF JALA-JALA and/or MAYOR WALFREDO M. DE LA VEGA, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE MANUEL S. PADOLINA, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 162, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG, METRO MANILA; IRMA FISHING & TRADING CORP.; ARTM FISHING CORP.; BDR CORPORATION, MIRT CORPORATION and TRIM CORPORATION; MUNICIPALITY OF BINANGONAN and/or MAYOR ISIDRO B. PACIS, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE ARTURO A. MARAVE, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 78, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MORONG, RIZAL; BLUE LAGOON FISHING CORP. and ALCRIS CHICKEN GROWERS, INC.; MUNICIPALITY OF JALA-JALA and/or MAYOR WALFREDO M. DE LA VEGA, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE ARTURO A. MARAVE, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 78, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MORONG, RIZAL; AGP FISH VENTURES, INC., represented by its PRESIDENT ALFONSO PUYAT; MUNICIPALITY OF JALA-JALA and/or MAYOR WALFREDO M. DE LA VEGA, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE EUGENIO S. LABITORIA, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 161, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG, METRO MANILA; SEA MAR TRADING CO. INC.; EASTERN LAGOON FISHING CORP.; MINAMAR FISHING CORP.; MUNICIPALITY OF BINANGONAN and/or MAYOR ISIDRO B. PACIS, respondents.

Facts:

The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) was created through RA No. 4850 in order to execute the policy towards environmental protection and sustainable development so as to accelerate the development and balanced growth of the Laguna Lake area and the surrounding provinces and towns.

Upon implementation of RA 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991), the municipalities assumed exclusive jurisdiction & authority to issue fishing privileges within their municipal waters since Sec.149 thereof provides: “Municipal corporations shall have the authority to grant fishery privileges in the municipal waters and impose rental fees or charges therefore…” Big fishpen operators took advantage of the occasion to establish fishpens & fish cages to the consternation of the LLDA.

The implementation of separate independent policies in fish cages & fish pen operation and the indiscriminate grant of fishpen permits by the lakeshore municipalities have saturated the lake with fishpens, thereby aggravating the current environmental problems and ecological stress of Laguna Lake.

The LLDA then served notice to the general public that:

(1) fishpens, cages & other aqua-culture structures unregistered with the LLDA as of March 31, 1993 are declared illegal;

(2) those declared illegal shall be subject to demolition by the Presidential Task Force for Illegal Fishpen and Illegal Fishing; and

(3) owners of those declared illegal shall be criminally charged with violation of Sec.39-A of RA 4850 as amended by PD 813.

A month later, the LLDA sent notices advising the owners of the illegally constructed fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures advising them to dismantle their respective structures otherwise demolition shall be effected.

 

Issue

Which agency of the Government — the Laguna Lake Development Authority or the towns and municipalities comprising the region — should exercise jurisdiction over the Laguna Lake and its environs insofar as the issuance of permits for fishery privileges is concerned?

 

Held

LLDA has jurisdiction over such matters because the charter of the LLDA prevails over the Local Government Code of 1991.

The said charter constitutes a special law, while the latter is a general law.

The Local Government Code of 1991, has not repealed the provisions of the charter of the Laguna Lake Development Authority, Republic Act No. 4850, as amended.

Thus, the Authority has the exclusive jurisdiction to issue permits for the enjoyment of fishery privileges in Laguna de Bay to the exclusion of municipalities situated therein and the authority to exercise such powers as are by its charter vested on it.

In addition, the charter of the LLDA embodies a valid exercise of police power for the purpose of protecting and developing the Laguna Lake region, as opposed to the Local Government Code, which grants powers to municipalities to issue fishing permits for revenue purposes.

Thus, it has to be concluded that the charter of the LLDA should prevail over the Local Government Code of 1991 on matters affecting Laguna de Bay.

 

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Case Brief: Negros Navigation Co. Inc., v CA

G.R. No. 110398 November 7, 1997
NEGROS NAVIGATION CO., INC., petitioner,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, RAMON MIRANDA, SPS. RICARDO and VIRGINIA DE LA VICTORIA, respondents.

Facts:

Private respondent Ramon Miranda purchased from the Negros Navigation Co., Inc. four special cabin tickets. The tickets were for Voyage No. 457-A of the M/V Don Juan, leaving Manila and going to Bacolod.

Subsequently, the Don Juan collided off the Tablas Strait in Mindoro, with the M/T Tacloban City, an oil tanker owned by the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) and the PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation (PNOC/STC). As a result, the M/V Don Juan sank. Several of her passengers perished in the sea tragedy. The bodies of some of the victims were found and brought to shore, but the four members of private respondents’ families were never found.

Private respondents filed a complaint against the Negros Navigation, the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), and the PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation (PNOC/STC), seeking damages for the death. Petitioner, however, denied that the four relatives of private respondents actually boarded the vessel as shown by the fact that their bodies were never recovered. Petitioner further averred that the Don Juan was seaworthy and manned by a full and competent crew, and that the collision was entirely due to the fault of the crew of the M/T Tacloban City.

In finding petitioner guilty of negligence and in failing to exercise the extraordinary diligence required of it in the carriage of passengers, both the trial court and the appellate court relied on the findings of this Court in Mecenas v. Intermediate Appellate Court, which case was brought for the death of other passengers. In Mecenas, SC found petitioner guilty of negligence in (1) allowing or tolerating the ship captain and crew members in playing mahjong during the voyage, (2) in failing to maintain the vessel seaworthy and (3) in allowing the ship to carry more passengers than it was allowed to carry. Petitioner is, therefore, clearly liable for damages to the full extent.

Petitioner criticizes the lower court’s reliance on the Mecenas case, arguing that, although this case arose out of the same incident as that involved in Mecenas, the parties are different and trial was conducted separately. Petitioner contends that the decision in this case should be based on the allegations and defenses pleaded and evidence adduced in it or, in short, on the record of this case.

Issues:

1. Whether the ruling in Mecenas v. Court of Appeals, finding the crew members of petitioner to be grossly negligent in the performance of their duties, is binding in this case;

2. Whether the award for damages in Mecenas v. Court of Appeals is applicable in this case.

Held:

1. No. The contention is without merit.

Adherence to the Mecenas case is dictated by this Court’s policy of maintaining stability in jurisprudence. Where, as in this case, the same questions relating to the same event have been put forward by parties similarly situated as in a previous case litigated and decided by a competent court, the rule of stare decisis is a bar to any attempt to relitigate the same issue.

2.  No, it is not applicable.

Petitioner contends that, assuming that the Mecenas case applies, private respondents should be allowed to claim only P43,857.14 each as moral damages because in the Mecenascase, the amount of P307,500.00 was awarded to the seven children of the Mecenas couple. Here is where the principle of stare decisis does not apply in view of differences in the personal circumstances of the victims. For that matter, differentiation would be justified even if private respondents had joined the private respondents in the Mecenas case.

The doctrine of stare decisis works as a bar only against issues litigated in a previous case. Where the issue involved was not raised nor presented to the court and not passed upon by the court in the previous case, the decision in the previous case is not stare decisis of the question presently presented.

The Mecenas case cannot be made the basis for determining the award for attorney’s fees. The award would naturally vary or differ in each case.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with modification and petitioner is ORDERED to pay private respondents damages.

Case Brief: Abad v NLRC

G.R. No. 108996 February 20, 1998

Domingo Abad, et. al., petitioners
vs.
Hon. National Labor Relations Commission, Third Division, and Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Co., respondents.

Facts:

Private respondent Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Co. is a construction company engaged, among other things, in building offshore marine structures for third parties. Petitioners were hired by private respondent. Private respondent treated petitioners as project workers, claiming that the hiring of workers was based on the availability of project contracts and was thus done on and off. Workers were hired for definite periods of time, with tenure depending on the need for each worker’s particular skills.
Petitioners had been in the service of private respondent for a period of three to ten years until their termination on different dates during the period 1973-1976. They instituted two separate complaints before the NLRC praying for reinstatement. They alleged that they were non-project employees who should have become regular employees after completing one year of service and that, as regular employees, they would have been entitled to benefits extended to regular employees under the company’s CBA as well as to other benefits enjoyed by regular employees.

In 1977, both complaints were archived upon motion of petitioners to hold hearings on the cases in abeyance. They filed the motion because at that time an “identical and analogous” case (Jose Abuan, et al. v. AG&P, docketed as NLRC Case No. RBIV-1746-75) was pending appeal in the Office of the Secretary of Labor. The Abuan case was elevated to the Supreme Court and was finally decided on July 11, 1980 when this Court denied for lack of merit the motion filed by petitioners in that case for reconsideration of the Court’s earlier resolution denying their petition for certiorari.

Petitioners moved for the revival of the cases, and the Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of the petitioners. He held that petitioners were non-project employees. In addition, the Labor Arbiter found that petitioners continued working for private respondent even when there were no major projects to work on. Accordingly, the Labor Arbiter ordered private respondent to reinstate petitioners.

Private respondent appealed to the NLRC which reversed the decision of the Labor Arbiter in a ruling dated November 17, 1992. The NLRC cited the case of Abuan, et al. v. AG&P which it said presented substantially the same facts as these cases. It pointed out that petitioners, like the complainants in the Abuan case, also worked in private respondent’s Poro Point Project with contracts of employment with durations ranging from 15 to 30 days. The contracts specified the projects to which the complainants were assigned. The complainants in Abuan were separated from employment due to the expiration of their employment contracts. The workers in that case were held to be project employees, and so should it be for the workers in these cases.

Petitioners assert that the NLRC should have ruled on the issue of whether or not the workers were regular employees based on the available evidence instead of merely invoking stare decisis.

Issue:

Whether NLRC is correct in invoking stare decisis and reversing the decision of the Labor Arbiter.

Held:

Yes.

Stare decisis declares that, for the sake of certainty, a conclusion reached in one case should be applied to those which follow, if the facts are substantially the same, even though the parties may be different.

Indeed, the facts and the questions involved in Abuan and the present case are the same. Petitioners themselves did admit as much when they filed their motion to hold hearings in abeyance pending the final determination of the issues in Abuan, to avoid any conflict in the decisions in the two cases.

The workers in Abuan and the petitioners were all hired to work in private respondent’s Poro Point Project, and were attached to private respondent’s Offshore and Marine Services Division. Therein, ¾ the workers in the Abuan case had essentially the same nature of employment as petitioners.

Like the workers in Abuan, petitioners in this case also had contracts with periods ranging from 15 days to 30 days. The contracts of both sets of workers were renewed several times such that the workers spent more than a year working for private respondent. The workers in Abuan as well as the petitioners were separated from the service upon the completion of the projects to which they were assigned. After such separation, they filed separate complaints seeking the same relief: recognition of their regular status, their reinstatement and payment of salaries and benefits due regular workers. Thus the workers in Abuan and petitioners in the present case were similarly situated.

Petitioners herein, like the workers in Abuan, are project employees, assigned to work in a particular construction project. They are workers whose employment has been fixed for a specific project or undertaking the completion or termination of which has been determined at the time of their engagement.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the decision of the NLRC is AFFIRMED.

Case Brief: Lopez v. Orosa et al

G.R. Nos. L-10817-18  February 28, 1958

ENRIQUE LOPEZ, petitioner,

vs.

VICENTE OROSA, JR., and PLAZA THEATRE, INC., respondents.

Facts:

After agreeing to make an investment in Orosa’s theatre business and his assurance that he would be personally liable for any account that the said construction might incur, Lopez delivered the lumber which was used for the construction of the Plaza Theatre.  But of the total cost of the materials amounting to P62,255.85, Lopez was paid only P20848.50.

Plaza Theatre was erected on a piece of land formerly owned by Orosa, and was acquired by the corporation.  As Lopez was pressing Orosa for payment of remaining unpaid obligation, the latter promised to obtain a bank loan by mortgaging the properties of Plaza Theatre.  Unknown to Lopez, the corporation already got a loan from a bank with Luzon Surety Company as surety, and the corporation in turn executed a mortgage on the land and building in favor of said company as counter-security.

Persistent demand from Lopez caused Orosa to execute an alleged “deed of assignment” of his 480 shares of stock of Plaza Theatre, at P100 per share; and as the obligation still remain unsettled, Lopez filed a complaint against Orosa and Plaza Theatre Inc, praying that xxx in case defendants fail to pay, the building and land owned by corporation be sold at public auction, or the shares of the capital stock be sold, and the proceeds thereof be applied to said indebtedness.

As a defense, Orosa contended that the shares of stocks were personal properties and cannot be made to cover and satisfy the obligation.  it was thus prayed that he be declared exempted from payment of deficiency in case the proceeds from the sale of properties are not enough.

The surety company, upon discovery that the land was already registered, file a petition to annotate the rights and interests of the surety company over the said properties, which was opposed by Lopez who asserted that he has preferred lien over the properties.

The two cases were heard jointly, and lower court held that Orosa were liable for the unpaid balance of the cost of lumber used in the construction, and Lopez thus acquired materialman’s lien over it.  In making the pronouncement that tyhe lien was merely confined to the building and did not extend to the land where it was built, the trial jduge took into consideration that xxx codal provisions specifying that refection credits are preferred could refer to buildings which are also classified as real properties upon which the refaction was made.  Orosa were thus required to xxx with respect tohe building, said mortgage was subject to materialmen’s lien in favor of Lopez.

Lopez tried to secure a modification of decision in so far as it declared that lien did not extend to the land, but was denied by court.  Hence, the appeal.

Issue:

Whether a materialmen’s lien for the value of materials used in the construction of building attaches to said structure alone, and does not extend to the land on which building is adhered to.

Held:

Yes.  Such lien attaches to structure alone, and does not extend to the land where the building is.

In view of employment of the phrase, “real estate or immovable property”, and in as much as said provision does not contain any specification delimiting the lien to the building, said article must be construed as to embrace both the land and building or the structure adhering thereto.  SC cannot subscribe to this view, for while it is true that real estate connotes land and building constructed thereon, it is obvious that the inclusion of the building, separate and distinct from the land, in the enumeration of what may constitute real properties could mean only one thing – that the building is by itself an immovable property.  Moreover, in view of the absence of any specific provision of law to the contrary, a building is an immovable property, irrespective of whether or not said structure and the land on which it is adhered to belong to the same owner.

A close examination of the provision of the Civil Code reveals that the law gives preference to unregistered refectionary credits only with respect to the real estate upon the refection or work was made.  The conclusion is that it must be that the lien so created attaches merely to the immovable property for the construction or repair of which the obligation was incurred.  Therefore, the lien in favor of appellant for the unpaid value of the lumber used in construction of the building attaches only to said structure and to no other property of the obligors.

Wherefore, and on the strength of the foregoing considerations, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against appellant. It is so ordered.

Case Brief: Salas, et al v Jarencio, et al

G.R. No. L-29788    August 30, 1972

RAFAEL S. SALAS, in his capacity as Executive Secretary; CONRADO F. ESTRELLA, in his capacity as Governor of the Land Authority; and LORENZO GELLA, in his capacity as Register of Deeds of Manila, petitioners-appellants,

vs.

HON. HILARION U. JARENCIO, as Presiding Judge of Branch XXIII, Court of First Instance of Manila; ANTONIO J. VILLEGAS, in his capacity as Mayor of the City of Manila; and the CITY OF MANILA, respondents-appellees.

Facts:

City of Manila – owner in fee simple of a parcel of land known as Lot 1, Block 557 of Cadastral Survey of City of Manila, containing an area of 9689.80 sqm. On various dates in 1927, City of Manila sold portions of the parcel of land. When the last sale was effected August 1924, Transfer Certificate of Title 22547 covering the residue of the land 7490.10 sam was issued in the name of City of Manila.

On September 1960, Municipal Board of Manila adopted a resolution requesting the President to consider the feasibility of declaring the land under Transfer Certificate of Title 25545-25547 as patrimonial property of Manila for the purpose of selling these lots to the actual occupants thereof. The resolution was then transmitted to the Congress. The bill was then passed by Congress and approved by President, and became Republic Act 4118, converting the land from communal property to disposable and alienable land of State.

To implement RA 4118, Land Authority requested City of Manila to deliver the City’s TCT 22547 in order to obtain title thereto in the name of Land Authority. The request was granted with the knowledge and consent of City mayor, cancelling TCT 22547 and issuing TCT 80876 in the name of Land Authority.

City of Manila, for some reasons, brought an action to restrain, prohibit, and enjoin Land Authority and Register of Deeds from implementing RA 4118, and praying for the declaration of RA 4118 as unconstitutional.

Trial court declared RA 4118 to be unconstitutional and invalid on the ground that it deprived City of its property without due process of law and payment of just compensation.

Land Authority and Register of Deeds argued that the land is a communal land, or a portion of public domain owned by State; that the land has not been used by City of Manila for any public purpose; that it was originally a communal land not because it was needed in connection with its organisation as a municipality but rather for the common use of its inhabitants; that the City mayor merely enjoys the usufruct over said land and its exercise of acts of ownership by selling parts thereof did not necessarily convert the land into a patrimonial property of City of Manila nor divert the State of its paramount title.

Issue:
Whether the aforementioned land is a private or patrimonial property of the City of Manila.

Held:

The land is public property.

As a general rule, regardless of the source or classification of the land in the possession of municipality, excepting those which it acquired in its own funds in its private or corporate capacity, such property is held for the State for the benefit of its inhabitants, whether it be for governmental or proprietary purposes. The legal situation is the same if the State itself holds the property and puts it to a different use.

When it comes to property of municipality which it did not acquire in its private or corporate capacity with its own funds (the land was originally given to City by Spain), the legislature can transfer its administration and disposition to an agency of the National Government to be disposed of according to its discretion. Here it did so in obedience to the constitutional mandate of promoting social justice to insure the well-being and economic security of the people.

The property was not acquired by the City of Manila with its own funds in its private or proprietary capacity. The land was part of the territory of City of Manila granted by sovereign in its creation. Furthermore, City expressly recognised the paramount title of the State over its land when it requested the President to consider the feasibility of declaring the lot as patrimonial property for selling.

There could be no more blatant recognition of the fact that said land belongs to the State and was simply granted in usufruct to the City of Manila for municipal purposes. But since the City did not actually use said land for any recognized public purpose and allowed it to remain idle and unoccupied for a long time until it was overrun by squatters, no presumption of State grant of ownership in favor of the City of Manila may be acquiesced in to justify the claim that it is its own private or patrimonial property.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby reversed, and petitioners shall proceed with the free and untrammeled implementation of Republic Act No. 4118 without any obstacle from the respondents. Without costs.

Case Brief: The Holy See v. Rosario Jr, et al.

G.R. No. 101949   December 1, 1994

THE HOLY SEE, petitioner,

vs.

THE HON. ERIBERTO U. ROSARIO, JR., as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 61 and STARBRIGHT SALES ENTERPRISES, INC., respondents.

Facts:

Petitioner is the Holy See who exercises sovereignty over the Vatican City in Rome, Italy, and is represented in the Philippines by the Papal Nuncio. Private respondent, Starbright Sales Enterprises, Inc., is a domestic corporation engaged in the real estate business.

The petition arose from a controversy over a parcel of land consisting of 6,000 square meters (Lot 5-A, Transfer Certificate of Title No. 390440) located in the Municipality of Parañaque, Metro Manila and registered in the name of petitioner.

The three lots were sold to Ramon Licup, through Msgr. Domingo A. Cirilos, Jr., acting as agent to the sellers. Later, Licup assigned his rights to the sale to private respondent. In view of the refusal of the squatters to vacate the lots sold to private respondent, a dispute arose as to who of the parties has the responsibility of evicting and clearing the land of squatters. Complicating the relations of the parties was the sale by petitioner of Lot 5-A to Tropicana Properties and Development Corporation (Tropicana).

Respondent filed a complained for the annulment of the sale of the land and damages against the petitioner, as represented by the Papal Nuncio and other defendants.

Petitioner answered, saying that the complaint should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction based on sovereign immunity from suit. Respondent contended that the petitioner “shed off [its] sovereign immunity by entering into the business contract in question.”

Issue:

Whether the petitioner Holy See is immune from suit from its act of entering into a contractual relations centering on the sale of lot to a private person.

Held:

Yes, Holy See is immune from suit in the case at hand.

The burden of the petition is that respondent trial court has no jurisdiction over petitioner, being a foreign state enjoying sovereign immunity. On the other hand, private respondent insists that the doctrine of non-suability is not anymore absolute and that petitioner has divested itself of such a cloak when, of its own free will, it entered into a commercial transaction for the sale of a parcel of land located in the Philippines.

The Republic of the Philippines has accorded the Holy See the status of a foreign sovereign. The Holy See, through its Ambassador, the Papal Nuncio, has had diplomatic representations with the Philippine government since 1957. This appears to be the universal practice in international relations.

In a community of national states, the Vatican City represents an entity organized not for political but for ecclesiastical purposes and international objects. Despite its size and object, the Vatican City has an independent government of its own, with the Pope, who is also head of the Roman Catholic Church, as the Holy See or Head of State, in conformity with its traditions, and the demands of its mission in the world. Indeed, the world-wide interests and activities of the Vatican City are such as to make it in a sense an “international state.”

As expressed in Section 2 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution, the country has adopted the generally accepted principles of International Law. Even without this affirmation, such principles of International Law are deemed incorporated as part of the law of the land as a condition and consequence of our admission in the society of nations.

In the absence of legislation defining what activities and transactions shall be considered “commercial” and as constituting acts jure gestionis, we have to come out with our own guidelines, tentative they may be. Certainly, the mere entering into a contract by a foreign state with a private party cannot be the ultimate test. Such an act can only be the start of the inquiry. The logical question is whether the foreign state is engaged in the activity in the regular course of business. If the foreign state is not engaged regularly in a business or trade, the particular act or transaction must then be tested by its nature. If the act is in pursuit of a sovereign activity, or an incident thereof, then it is an act jure imperii, especially when it is not undertaken for gain or profit.

In the case at bench, if petitioner has bought and sold lands in the ordinary course of a real estate business, surely the said transaction can be categorized as an act jure gestionis. However, petitioner has denied that the acquisition and subsequent disposal of Lot 5-A were made for profit but claimed that it acquired said property for the site of its mission or the Apostolic Nunciature in the Philippines. Private respondent failed to dispute said claim.

The right of a foreign sovereign to acquire property, real or personal, in a receiving state, necessary for the creation and maintenance of its diplomatic mission, is recognized in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (Arts. 20-22). This treaty was concurred in by the Philippine Senate and entered into force in the Philippines on November 15, 1965.

In Article 31(a) of the Convention, a diplomatic envoy is granted immunity from the civil and administrative jurisdiction of the receiving state over any real action relating to private immovable property situated in the territory of the receiving state which the envoy holds on behalf of the sending state for the purposes of the mission. If this immunity is provided for a diplomatic envoy, with all the more reason should immunity be recognized as regards the sovereign itself, which in this case is the Holy See.

The decision to transfer the property and the subsequent disposal thereof are likewise clothed with a governmental character. Petitioner did not sell Lot 5-A for profit or gain. It merely wanted to dispose off the same because the squatters living thereon made it almost impossible for petitioner to use it for the purpose of the donation. The fact that squatters have occupied and are still occupying the lot, and that they stubbornly refuse to leave the premises, has been admitted by private respondent in its complaint.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is GRANTED and the complaint in Civil Case No. 90-183 against petitioner is DISMISSED.

Case Brief: Tanada v Angara

G.R. No. 118295   May 2, 1997

WIGBERTO E. TAÑADA et al, petitioners,

vs.

EDGARDO ANGARA, et al, respondents.

Facts:

Petitioners prayed for the nullification, on constitutional grounds, of the concurrence of the Philippine Senate in the ratification by the President of the Philippines of the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO Agreement, for brevity) and for the prohibition of its implementation and enforcement through the release and utilization of public funds, the assignment of public officials and employees, as well as the use of government properties and resources by respondent-heads of various executive offices concerned therewith.

They contended that WTO agreement violates the mandate of the 1987 Constitution to “develop a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos x x x (to) give preference to qualified Filipinos (and to) promote the preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally produced goods” as (1) the WTO requires the Philippines “to place nationals and products of member-countries on the same footing as Filipinos and local products” and (2) that the WTO “intrudes, limits and/or impairs” the constitutional powers of both Congress and the Supreme Court.

Issue:

Whether provisions of the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization unduly limit, restrict and impair Philippine sovereignty specifically the legislative power which, under Sec. 2, Article VI, 1987 Philippine Constitution is ‘vested in the Congress of the Philippines.

Held:

No, the WTO agreement does not unduly limit, restrict, and impair the Philippine sovereignty, particularly the legislative power granted by the Philippine Constitution. The Senate was acting in the proper manner when it concurred with the President’s ratification of the agreement.

While sovereignty has traditionally been deemed absolute and all-encompassing on the domestic level, it is however subject to restrictions and limitations voluntarily agreed to by the Philippines, expressly or impliedly, as a member of the family of nations. Unquestionably, the Constitution did not envision a hermit-type isolation of the country from the rest of the world. In its Declaration of Principles and State Policies, the Constitution “adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land, and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation and amity, with all nations.” By the doctrine of incorporation, the country is bound by generally accepted principles of international law, which are considered to be automatically part of our own laws. One of the oldest and most fundamental rules in international law is pacta sunt servanda — international agreements must be performed in good faith. “A treaty engagement is not a mere moral obligation but creates a legally binding obligation on the parties x x x. A state which has contracted valid international obligations is bound to make in its legislations such modifications as may be necessary to ensure the fulfillment of the obligations undertaken.”

By their inherent nature, treaties really limit or restrict the absoluteness of sovereignty. By their voluntary act, nations may surrender some aspects of their state power in exchange for greater benefits granted by or derived from a convention or pact. After all, states, like individuals, live with coequals, and in pursuit of mutually covenanted objectives and benefits, they also commonly agree to limit the exercise of their otherwise absolute rights. Thus, treaties have been used to record agreements between States concerning such widely diverse matters as, for example, the lease of naval bases, the sale or cession of territory, the termination of war, the regulation of conduct of hostilities, the formation of alliances, the regulation of commercial relations, the settling of claims, the laying down of rules governing conduct in peace and the establishment of international organizations. The sovereignty of a state therefore cannot in fact and in reality be considered absolute. Certain restrictions enter into the picture: (1) limitations imposed by the very nature of membership in the family of nations and (2) limitations imposed by treaty stipulations. As aptly put by John F. Kennedy, “Today, no nation can build its destiny alone. The age of self-sufficient nationalism is over. The age of interdependence is here.”

The WTO reliance on “most favored nation,” “national treatment,” and “trade without discrimination” cannot be struck down as unconstitutional as in fact they are rules of equality and reciprocity that apply to all WTO members. Aside from envisioning a trade policy based on “equality and reciprocity,” the fundamental law encourages industries that are “competitive in both domestic and foreign markets,” thereby demonstrating a clear policy against a sheltered domestic trade environment, but one in favor of the gradual development of robust industries that can compete with the best in the foreign markets. Indeed, Filipino managers and Filipino enterprises have shown capability and tenacity to compete internationally. And given a free trade environment, Filipino entrepreneurs and managers in Hongkong have demonstrated the Filipino capacity to grow and to prosper against the best offered under a policy of laissez faire.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.