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Laurel v. Garcia (G.R. No. 92013) Ojeda v. Executive Secretary (G.R. No.

92047) ROPPONGI PROPERTY FACTS: These two (2) petitions for prohibition seek to enjoin respondents from proceeding with the bidding for the sale of the 3,179 square meters of land at 306 Roppongi, 5-Chrome Minato-ku Tokyo, Japan. The latter case also, prays for a writ of mandamus to fully disclose to the public the basis of their decision to push through with the sale of the Roppongi property. The Roppongi case is one of the four properties in Japan acquired by the Philippine government under the Reparation Agreement entered into with Japan. The other three (3) properties include Nampeidai Property (present site of the Philippine Embassy Chancery), Kobe Commercial Property (commercial lot being used as a warehouse and parking lot for consulate staff) and Kobe Residential Property (resident lot which is now vacant). The Reparations Agreement provides that reparations valued at $550M would be payable in twenty (20) years in accordance with annual schedules of procurements to be fixed by the Philippine and Japanese governments. The procurements are to be divided into government sector and those for private parties in projects, the latter shall be made available only to Filipino citizens or to 100% Filipino-owned entities in national development projects. The Roppongi property was acquired under the heading Government Sector for the Chancery of the Philippine Embassy until the latter was transferred to Nampeida due to the need for major repairs. However, the Roppongi property has remained underdeveloped since that time. Although there was a proposal to lease the property with the provision to have buildings built at the expense of the lessee, the same was not acted favorably upon by the government. Instead, President Aquino issued EO No. 296 entitling non-Filipino citizens or entities to avail of separations capital goods and services in the event of sale, lease or dispositions. Thereafter, amidst the oppositions by various sectors, the Executive branch of the government pushed for the sale of reparation properties, starting with the Roppongi lot. The property has twice been set for bidding at a minimum floor price of $225M. The first was a failure, while the second has been postponed and later restrained by the SC. Amongst the arguments of the respondents is that the subject property is not governed by our Civil Code, but rather by the laws of Japan where the property is located. They relied upon the rule of lex situs which is used in determining the applicable law regarding the acquisition, transfer and devolution of the title to a property. ISSUES: 1. Can the Roppongi property and others of its kind be alienated by the Philippine Government? NO. There can be no doubt that the property is of public dominion and the respondents have failed to show that it has become patrimonial.

The property is correctly classified under Art 420 of the Civil Code as property belonging to the State and intended for some public service. The fact that it has not been used for actual Embassy service does not automatically convert it to patrimonial property. Such conversion happens only if property is withdrawn from public use, through an abandonment of the intention to use the Roppongi property for public service and to make it patrimonial property. Abandonment must be a certain and positive act based on correct legal premises. The EO does not declare that the properties lost their public character, merely intending the properties to be made available to foreigners and not to Filipinos alone, in case of sale, lease or other disposition. Furthermore, it is based on the wrong premise that the Japan properties can be sold to end-users, when in fact it cannot. Neither does the CARP Law re-classify the properties into patrimonial properties, merely stating that sources of funds for its implementation be sourced from proceeds of the disposition of the Government in foreign countries, but not that the Roppongi property be withdrawn from being classified as a property of public dominion. CONFLICT OF LAW Furthermore, the respondents argument that the Japanese law and not our Civil Code shall apply is incorrect. There is no conflict of law in this situation. A conflict of law arises only when: a. There is a dispute over the title or ownership of an immovable, such that the capacity to take and transfer immovables, the formalities of conveyance, the essential validity and effect of the transfer, or the interpretation and effect of a conveyance, are to be determined. b. A foreign law on land ownership and its conveyance is asserted to conflict with a domestic law on the same matters. Hence, the need to determine which law should apply. Both elements does not exist in the case. The issues are not concerned with the validity of ownership or title. There is no question that the property belongs to the Philippines. The issue is the authority of the government officials to validly dispose of property belonging to the state and the validity of the procedures adopted to effect the sale, which should be governed by Philippine law The rule of lex situs does not apply. 2. Does the Chief Executive, her officers and agents, have the authority and jurisdiction, to sell the Roppongi property? NO. A law or a formal declaration to withdraw the Roppongi property from public domain to make it alienable and a need for legislative authority to allow the sale of the property is needed. None has been enacted for this purpose. 3. W/N EO No. 296 is constitutional? The SC did not anymore pass upon its constitutionality.