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Francisco Chavez vs Public Estates Authority (July 2002)

384 SCRA 152 Civil Law Land Titles and Deeds Lands of the Public Domain
The Public Estates Authority (PEA) is the central implementing agency tasked to
undertake reclamation projects nationwide. It took over the leasing and selling
functions of the DENR (Department of Environmental and Natural Resources)
insofar as reclaimed or about to be reclaimed foreshore lands are concerned.
PEA sought the transfer to the Amari Coastal Bay and Development Corporation, a
private corporation, of the ownership of 77.34 hectares of the Freedom Islands. PEA
also sought to have 290.156 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay to Amari.
ISSUE: Whether or not the transfer is valid.
HELD: No. To allow vast areas of reclaimed lands of the public domain to be
transferred to Amari 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.
The Supreme Court affirmed that 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. The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of
Manila Bay remain inalienable natural resources of the public domain. The transfer
(as embodied in a joint venture agreement) to AMARI, a private corporation,
ownership of 77.34 hectares of the Freedom Islands, 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. Furthermore, since
the Amended JVA also seeks to transfer to Amari ownership of 290.156 hectares 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.