G.R. No. 92013 July 25, 1990
SALVADOR H. LAUREL, petitioner,
RAMON GARCIA, as head of the Asset Privatization Trust, RAUL MANGLAPUS, as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and CATALINO MACARAIG, as Executive Secretary, respondents.
G.R. No. 92047 July 25, 1990
DIONISIO S. OJEDA, petitioner,
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY MACARAIG, JR., ASSETS PRIVATIZATION TRUST CHAIRMAN RAMON T. GARCIA, AMBASSADOR RAMON DEL ROSARIO, et al., as members of the PRINCIPAL AND BIDDING COMMITTEES ON THE UTILIZATION/DISPOSITION PETITION OF PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT PROPERTIES IN JAPAN, respondents.
Arturo M. Tolentino for petitioner in 92013.
The subject property is the Roppongi property, one of the properties acquired by the Philippines from Japan pursuant to a Reparations Agreement. The Philippine Embassy was once located in the said property, before it transferred to the Nampeidai property.
It was decided that the properties in Japan would be available to sale or disposition. One of the first properties opened up for public auction was the Roppongi property, despite numerous oppositions from different sectors through the issuance of Executive Order 296.
Whether or not the sale of the Roppongi property is Constitutional
The Roppongi property was acquired together with the other properties through reparation agreements after World War II. They were assigned to the government sector and that the Roppongi property was specifically designated under the agreement to house the Philippine embassy. The property is of public dominion unless it is convincingly shown that the property has become patrimonial. The respondents have failed to do so.
As property of public dominion, the Roppongi lot is outside the commerce of man and cannot be alienated. Its ownership is a special collective ownership for general use and payment, in application to the satisfaction of collective needs, and resides in the social group. The purpose is not to serve the State as the juridical person but the citizens; it is intended for the common and public welfare and cannot be the object of appropriation.
The fact that the Roppongi site has not been used for a long time for actual Embassy service doesn’t automatically convert it to patrimonial property. Any such conversion happens only if the property is withdrawn from public use. 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.