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ATTY. ROMEO G. ROXAS v.

REPUBLIC REAL ESTATE


CORPORATION, G.R. Nos. 208205 & 208212, June 1, 2016

Leonen, J.:

FACTS
On 1959, Republic Real Estate Corporation (RREC) entered into an agreement
with Pasay City for the reclamation of the foreshore lands along Manila Bay. The
agreement was made by virtue of Ordinance No.121 as amended by Ordinance No.
158, which authorized RREC to reclaim 300 hectares of foreshore lands. On 1961,
The Republic of the Philippines (Republic) sued for the recovery of the possession
and damages with writ of preliminary injunction alleging that the contract is
outside the commerce of man as the reclaimed area is a national park that the
Republic owns; that City Ordinance No. 121 went beyond R.A. No. 1899 which
allows municipalities and chartered cites to reclaim only “foreshore land”. This
case was entitled Republic v. Court of Appeal and docketed as G.R. Nos. 103882 &
105276. This Court upheld the Republic where it declared null and void the
agreement and the Ordinance No. 121. Despite the nullity of the agreement and
RREC’s failure to reclaim the land, this Court awarded RREC compensation for
the work it had actually done based on quantum meruit. It pegged the reasonable
value of RREC’s services at P 10,926,071.29, plus interest rate at 6% per annum
from 1962 until fully paid. This case, Republic v. CA became final and executory
on July, 27, 1999. On, 2007, Sheriff IV Reyner S. De Jesus issued a Notice of
Execution and Notice to Pay against the Republic for P49,173,064,201.17 instead
of P10.9 million as ordered by this Court. The Republic filed a Very Urgent
Motion to Quash the Writ of Execution and Notice of Execution and Notice to Pay
but was denied. Hence, petition for certiorari. The Court of Appeals granted the
petition. It ruled that Sheriff De Jesus’ notices cannot go beyond the Court’s
judgment in Republic v. CA.
ISSUES: Whether or not this court has jurisdiction to hear the case.
Whether the CA erred in declaring the Writ of Execution and Sheriff De
Jesus’ notice of execution and notice to pay as null and void
RULING
The Supreme Court held that the money claim against the Republic should have
been first brought before the Commission on Audit, which, in turn, must act upon
them within 60 days. Jurisprudence dictates that upon the determination of State
liability, the prosecution, enforcement or satisfaction thereof must still be pursued
in accordance with the rules and procedures laid down in P.D. No.1445
(Government Auditing Code). Public funds may not be disbursed absent an
appropriation of law or other specific statutory authority. Only when the COA
rejects the claim can the claimant elevate the matter to this court. The CA correctly
declared the writ and notice null and void. Further, this court’s decision cannot be
amended by the trial court or the sheriff. Absent an order of remand, attempts to
adjust or vary the terms of the judgment of this court are not allowed. Final and
executory decisions cannot be amended. It cannot be done by the trial court, much
less by its sheriff. Sheriffs have no capacity to vary the judgment and deviate from
judge’s decision based on their own interpretation thereof. When writs are placed
in the hands of sheriffs, it is their ministerial duty to proceed with reasonable
celerity and promptness to execute them in accordance with their mandate.
CITY OF BATANGAS, represented by Hon. Severina Vilma Abaya, in her
capacity as City Mayor of Batangas v. PHILIPINE SHELL PETROLEUM
CORPORATION and SHELL PHILIPPINES EXPLORATION B.V.,
G.R. No. 195003, June 07, 2017
Caguioa, J.:

FACTS
Philippine Shell Petroleum Corporation (PSPC) is a duly organized Philippine
corporation that owns and operates a refinery situated in Batangas City. Its
facilities are affected by Ordinance No. 3 series of 2001, which requires heavy
industries operating along Batangas Bay to construct desalination plants to
facilitate the use of seawater as coolant for their industrial facilities. Hence, PSPC
filed against Batangas City a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of the said
ordinance alleging that it failed to meet the substantive requirements for its
validity; that it contravenes the Water Code of the Philippines (Water Code), and
encroaches upon the power of the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to
regulate and control the Philippines’ water resources. On the other hand, Batangas
City alleged that they have the power to enact the said ordinance pursuant to the
general welfare clause under the LGC. The RTC rendered a decision declaring the
ordinance as invalid for want of necessity. On appeal, the Court of Appeals
affirmed the RTC decision declaring the ordinance invalid as it contravenes P.D.
No. 1067 (The Water Code) as it encroaches into the authority of the NWRB
where the use of water resources is under the regulatory power of the national
government. Batangas City filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied,
hence this petition.
ISSUE: Whether the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the RTC decision
declaring the ordinance invalid.
RULING
This Court has ruled that in order for an ordinance to be valid, it must not only be
within the corporate powers of the concerned LGU to enact, but also must be
passed in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law. The ordinance must
not contravene the Constitution or any statute. Since LGUs exercised delegated
police power as agents of the State, it is incumbent upon them to act in conformity
to the will of their principal, the State. Necessarily, ordinances enacted pursuant to
the general welfare clause may not subvert the State’s will by contradicting
national statutes. In Batangas CATV, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, the court stressed
that municipalities are precluded from regulating conduct already covered by a
statute involving the same subject matter. The assailed ordinance mandates all
heavy industries to use seawater in the operation of their facilities and install
desalination plants such that failure to comply will preclude continuous operation
and penal and administrative sanctions be meted. Clearly, the ordinance
contravenes the provisions of the Water Code as it arrogates unto Batangas City
the power to control and regulate the use of ground water which by virtue of Water
Code provisions pertains solely to the NWRB. Batangas City acted in excess of the
powers granted to it as an LGU, rendering the ordinance ultra vires and null and
void. Further, the measure of substantive validity of an ordinance is the underlying
factual basis for which it was enacted which Batangas City failed to prove to exist.
WHEREFORE, petition for review on certiorari is denied. The decision of Court
of Appeals is affirmed.
J. TOBIAS M. JAVIER and VINCENT H. PICCIO III v. RHODORA J.
CADIAO ET.AL, G.R. No. 185369, August 3, 2016

Reyes, J.:

FACTS
Respondent Vice Governor Rhodora J. Cadiao was the presiding officer of the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) from 2007 to 2010. On the first regular session of
the SP, the Lakas ng Tao-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) block was
considered the majority party where the petitioners and Vice Governor Cadiao
belonged. The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) was considered as the
minority party and includes respondent Alfonso V. Combong Jr. (Combong). For
some reasons, Vice Governor Cadiao and Juanitas joined the minority party.
Realizing that NPC gained superiority in numbers, Combong proposed Resolution
(Combong Resolution) which sought to reorganize the standing committees of the
SP. The resolution was included as an “urgent matter” in the agenda. During SP’s
fifth regular session, all the SP members were in attendance. The Combong
Resolution was approved with seven (7) voting in its favor, and six (6) against it.
Petitioners filed a complaint for Injunction with TRO alleging that Combong
Resolution having been considered as “urgent matter”, required an affirmative vote
of 2/3s of all members present pursuant to Section 62, par. (2), Rule XVI (Urgent
Matters, Internal Rules of Procedure) (IRP) of the SP. Since all 14 members of SP
were present, nine (9) affirmative votes where necessary. Also, under Article 107
(g) of the (IRR) of the Local Government Code (LGC), at least eight (8)
affirmative votes were needed, corresponding to the simple majority to validly pass
the Combong Resolution. Respondents alleged that the Combong Resolution was
legally approved. The RTC uphold the validity of Combong Resolution. It held
that the presence of Vice Governor Cadiao should not be considered in the
determination of what number constitutes as majority. A motion for
reconsideration was filed but denied. Hence, this petition.
ISSUES: Whether or not the RTC erred in ruling that the Vice Governor should be
excluded from the base number in determining what constitutes the majority.
RULING
The instant petition fails. The court held that the nature of the position of the
Presiding Officer as a component of the SP is distinct from other members
comprising the body. The Vice Governor as the Presiding Officer he is mandated
to be the embodiment of impartiality. He is without liberty to readily take sides or
to cast a vote to every question put upon the body. The law cannot reasonably
require the Vice Governor to be included in the determination of the required
number of votes necessary to resolve a matter every time the SP votes on an issue.
However, the power to render conclusion to an issue when there is deadlock
pertains to him pursuant to Section 49 of the LGC which states that the presiding
office shall vote only to break a tie. When the Combong Resolution was
deliberated upon, all ten (10) regular and three (3) ex-officio members plus the
Presiding Officer were present. Seven members voted for. There was no tie to
break as the majority had already been obtained. Further, the Vice Governor
should be counted for purposes of ascertaining the existence of a quorum but not in
the determination of the required number of votes necessary to uphold a matter
before the SP. WHEREFORE, petition is denied.
LAND TRANSPORTATION FRANCHISING AND REGULATORY
BOARD (LTFRB) v. G.V. FLORIDA TRANSPORT, INC., G.R. NO. 213088,
June 28, 2017

Peralta, J.:

FACTS
On February 7, 2014, a vehicular accident occurred at Mountain Province
involving a public utility bearing a “G.V. Florida” body mark. Based on the
records of the LTO and herein petitioner, the bus actually belonged to Norberto
Cue Sr. and said bus is not duly authorized to operate as a public transportation.
Hence, petitioner pursuant to its regulatory powers issued an Order preventively
suspending the operations of 10 buses of Cue and respondent’s entire fleet of buses
(228 units). Respondent and Cue were ordered to show cause why their CPCs
should not be revoked, suspended or cancelled. Despite show cause, petitioner
rendered decision cancelling Cue’s CPC and suspending the operation of
respondent’s 186 buses under 28 of its CPC for six months. Hence, respondent
filed with the Court of Appeals (CA) a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 with
preliminary mandatory injunction. The CA partially granted the petition and
ordered the LTFRB to immediately LIFT suspension and return the confiscated
license plates of respondents. Hence, this petition. Petitioner contends that it is
vested by law with jurisdiction to regulate the operation of public utilities under
Section 5 (b) of E.O. 202, it is authorized to issue, amend, revise, suspend or
cancel Certificates of Public Convenience. On the other hand, respondent alleged
that the suspension of its 28 CPCs is tantamount to an outright confiscation of
private property without due process of law and petitioner cannot ignore
respondent’s property rights.
ISSUE: Whether or not the LTFRB have the power to suspend the fleet of a
public utility that violates the law.
RULING
The Court rules in favor of the petitioner. The Court held that Section 5 (b) of E.O.
202 provides for the powers of LTFRB which includes issuing, amending,
revising, suspending or cancelling Certificates of Public Convenience or permits
authorizing the operation of public land transportation services. The suspension of
the 28 CPCs was brought about by the respondent’s wanton disregard of the
regulations issued by the petitioner, which is tantamount to a wilful and
contumacious refusal to comply with the requirements of the law, orders, rules and
regulations issued by the petitioner. Further, LTFRBs power to suspend the CPCs
depends on its assessment of the gravity of the violation, potential and actual harm
to the public, and the policy impact of its own actions. The law gives to the
LTFRB ample power and discretion to decree or refuse the cancellation of CPCs
issued to an operator as long as there is evidence to support its action. The court
held that in matters of this nature so long as the action is justified, this Court will
not substitute its discretion for that of the regulatory agency, in this case the
LTFRB. Further, a certificate of public convenience constitutes neither a franchise
nor contract, confers no property right and is a mere license or privilege. The
holder of such certificate does not acquire property right in the route covered
thereby. WHEREFORE, the petition is granted. The decision of CA is reversed
and set aside. The decision of LTFRB is reinstated.
PROVINCE OF ANTIQUE and MUNICIPALITY OF CALUYA v. HON.
RECTO CALABOCAL, G.R. No. 209146, June 8, 2016

Carpio, Acting C.J.:

FACTS
On 2002, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Oriental Mindoro passed a
Resolution confirming its jurisdictional rights and dominion over Liwagao Island,
a 114-hectare island located between Oriental Mindoro and Antique provinces.
Despite the Resolution, petitioners continued to claim and exercise authority over
the island. On February 2012, the SP of Oriental Mindoro passed a Resolution
calling for a joint session between the SPs of both provinces for the settlement of
jurisdictional claim to which the SP of Antique issued a Resolution informing
Oriental Mindoro that it was not amenable to any form of settlement of
jurisdiction. Hence, respondents filed a petition for Recovery and Declaration of
Political Jurisdiction/Dominion and Mandamus against petitioners alleging that
there is no boundary dispute because the boundary lines between the provinces
have long been set forth and known to the parties. On the other hand, petitioners
alleged that the maps of NAMRIA and DENR show Liwagao Island to be part of
Caluya, Antique. Petitioners further alleged that this involves a boundary dispute
and that the RTC lacks jurisdiction over respondent’s petition pursuant to Section
118 (c) LGC. The SPs of both provinces sitting jointly have the primary original
and exclusive jurisdiction over boundary disputes pursuant to LGC. The RTC
denied the affirmative defense of lack of jurisdiction and denied the Motion for
Reconsideration. Hence, this petition.
ISSUE: Whether or not the RTC has jurisdiction over the respondent’s petition for
recovery of property and declaration of territorial and political
jurisdiction/dominion over Liwagao Island.
RULING
The petition is dismissed for lack of merit. The Court held that a boundary dispute
may involve “a portion or the whole” of a local government unit’s territorial area.
Nothing in Article 15, Rule III of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR)
of the Local Government Code which states that it excludes a dispute over an
island. So long as the island is being claimed by different local government units,
there exists a boundary dispute. Under Section 118 (c) of the LGC states that
boundary disputes involving municipalities or component cities of different
provinces shall be jointly referred for settlement to the Sanggunians of the
provinces concerned. Further, Section 119 of the LGC provides that “…any party
may elevate the decision of the Sanggunian concerned to the proper Regional Trial
Court having jurisdiction over the area in dispute…”Here, respondent’s resort to
filing a case before the RTC was warranted. Respondents took all the necessary
steps to settle the dispute within the procedure set out in the law. However,
petitioners failed to perform their concomitant responsibility when it issued the
Resolution stating that the Province of Antique is not amenable to any form of
settlement. As such, respondents’ petition before the RTC must be upheld.
Otherwise, they will be left without any recourse to assert their claim over
Liwagao Island.
WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed. The Orders issued by the RTC are
affirmed.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the Regional Executive
Director, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) –
Region IV, Manila v. AMOR HACHERO and The Register of Deeds of
Palawan, G.R. No. 200973, May 30, 2016
Mendoza, J.:
FACTS
In 1996, Amor Hachero filed his Free Patent Application with Community
Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Palawan covering a land
with an area of 3.1308 hectares. Said application was approved by Provincial
Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO). On October 15, 1998, Free
Patent was issued to Hachero and the land was registered under OCT No. E-18011
on May 7, 1999. In 2000, after an inspection and verification was conducted by
CENRO, it was discovered that the land covered by the OCT was still classified as
timberland and so not susceptible of private ownership. On 2002, the Republic,
represented by DENR filed a complaint for the cancellation of Free Patent and
OCT and for Reversion. The Regional Trial Court (RTC) rendered its decision in
favor of Hachero denying the action for cancellation and reversion. RTC held that
the free patent and title had already been issued after Hachero was found to have
complied with all the requirements. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the
RTC decision. Hence, the Republic filed this petition.
ISSUES: Whether or not the Court of Appeals gravely erred in affirming the
dismissal of action without considering the presumption of regularity
in the discharge of official functions.
Whether or not factual misappreciation committed by DENR employees
should bind the government.
RULING
The petition is meritorious. It is well settled in jurisprudence that the findings of
fact of the trial court specially when affirmed by the CA are final, binding and
conclusive and may not be re-examined by this Court but it admits exceptions, to
wit: 1) when the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts 2) when the
findings of fact are contradicted by the evidence on record. Records reveal that in
the investigation conducted by a representative of the Regional Executive Director
of the DENR, the land covered by the OCT No. E-18011 was still timberland that
could not be segregated from public domain as timberlands were classified as
inalienable and non-disposable public lands. Further, it was shown form the
records that Hachero was duly served with summons together with a copy of the
complaint to which he did not filed his answer thereby waiving his right to rebut
the allegations in the complaint filed by the Republic. There being a controversy,
the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties applies
favourably to the Republic. DENR’s inspection report and verification has become
conclusive. Further, the remedy of reversion can be availed also when such grant
was made through mistake or oversight. This Court note that this might be the
reason why shortly after one year from the issuance of the OCT to Hachero, DENR
personnel conducted another investigation. Further, jurisprudence recognizes the
State’s immunity from estoppel as a result of the mistakes or errors of its officials
and agents.
WHEREFORE, the petition is granted. The free patent and OCT issued to Amor
Hachero are declared null and void and cancelled. The subject land is ordered
reverted to the public domain.
LEANDRO B. VERCELES JR. v. COMMISSION ON AUDIT G.R.No.
211553, September 13, 2016

BRION, J.:
FACTS
Governor Leandro B. Verceles of the Provincial Government of Catanduanes
entered into Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Provincial Environment
and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) to carry out the province’s tree seedlings
production project. Said MOAs were entered on September 27, 2001, October 30,
2001, May 6, 2002, August 22, 2002, and September 26, 2002. On June 11, 2011,
the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) through a Resolution gave a blanket authority
to the governor to enter into contracts on behalf of the province. The SP also gave
the governor the power to realign, revise or modify items in the provincial budget.
On October 12, 2001, the SP issued a Resolution effectively revoking the blanket
authority given to the governor. On February 4, 2003, the COA issued an Audit
Observation Memorandum (AOM), finding that Verceles should have sought prior
authority from the SP pursuant to Sec. 22 (c) and 465 (b)(1)(vi)of R.A. No. 7160
before executing any MOA after the issuance of the Oct. 12, 2001 Resolution.
Notices of Disallowance in the amount of P7,528,175.46 was issued against
Verceles to which he moved for reconsideration but to no avail. Verceles
petitioned to COA alleging that the payments for the project were covered by
appropriations under the EDF allocation of the provincial budget for CYs 2001 and
2002. Further, that the local chief executive need not secure express or specific
authorization from the SP as long as a budget for a contract is already appropriated.
Verceles’ petition was denied by the COA for lack of merit. The COA held that the
disbursements were violative of the P.D. No. 1445 (Government Auditing Code)
which underscore the need for an appropriation before contracts involving
expenditure of public funds may be entered into. Hence, this petition for certiorari.
Verceles alleged that while prior authorization to enter into contract is the general
rule, the LGC identifies an exception as when the contract is entered into pursuant
to a law or ordinance. On the other hand, COA alleged that it correctly disallowed
the cost of the project emphasizing that when the local chief executive enters into
contracts, the law requires prior authority from the SP.
ISSUE: Whether COA gravely abused its discretion when it disallowed the
payments for the questioned MOAs and held Verceles liable for the amount
disallowed.
RULING
This Court held that Section 16 of the LGC empowers the LGUs to act for the
benefit of their constituents. As the chief executive of the province, the governor
exercises powers and performs duties and functions that the LGC and other
pertinent laws provide. These include the power to enter into contracts on behalf of
the province. Section 22 (c) of the LGC provides that “…no contract may be
entered into by the local chief executive in behalf of the local government unit
without prior authorization by the sanggunian concerned.” Further, Section 465
(b)(l)(vi) of the LGC states that “…the Chief Executive…shall represent the
province in all its business transactions and sign in its behalf all bonds,
contracts…upon authority of the SP pursuant to law or ordinance.” Said
authorization may be in the form of an appropriation ordinance passed for the year
which specifically covers the project or contract entered into. If the project is
identified in the appropriation ordinance in sufficient detail, there is no need to
obtain a separate authority from the sanggunian. However, if the project is
identified in generic terms, then a covering contract is needed which must be
approved by the sanggunian. Here, only the third MOA was funded by the EDF
allocation. The CY 2001 appropriation ordinance did not specifically authorize
Verceles to enter into the first MOA to implement the tree seedling project because
specific projects had not yet been identified. WHEREFORE, petition is partly
granted, the Notice of Disallowance which covered the third MOA dated May 6,
2002, is annulled.
RAMA v. MOISES
G.R. No. 197146, December 6, 2016

Bersamin, J.:

FACTS:
In 1974, Cebu City formed the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) by virtue of
Presidential Decree No. 198 (Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973). Since 1974
to 2002, the members of the MCWD Board of Directors are appointed in
accordance with Section 3 (b) of P.D. No.198, to wit:
(b) Appointing Authority. …In the event that more than seventy-five
percent of the total active water service connections of a local water
district are within the boundary of any city or municipality, the
appointing authority shall be the mayor of that city or municipality, as
the case maybe; otherwise, the appointing authority shall be the
governor of the province within which the district is located…
On February 22, 2008, City Mayor Tomas R. Osmena appointed Joel Mari S. Yu
as a member of the MCWD Board of Directors to which Provincial Governor
Gwendolyn F. Garcia filed a complaint to declare the nullity of appointment of Yu.
Governor Garcia alleged that under said provision, it was she as the Provincial
Governor of Cebu who was vested with the authority to appoint members of the
MCWD Board of Directors because the total active water service connections were
below 75% in the area of the MCWD. While Mayor Osmena contended that the
authority to appoint solely belonged to him because from 1974 to 2002, it was the
Cebu City Mayor who had been appointing the members of the MCWD Board.
Further, he contends that the Province of Cebu had not invested in the creation of
the MCWD. Also Cebu City, being a highly urbanized city (HUC), was
independent from the Province of Cebu under the provisions on local autonomy of
the 1987 Constitution. The Regional Trial Court rendered a decision declaring the
appointment of Yu as illegal and void. Further, the Sec. 3 of P.D. NO. 198 is clear
and needs no interpretation. A motion for reconsideration was filed but was denied
by the RTC. Hence, this petition.
ISSUES: Whether or not the RTC judgment is void for being violative of the local
autonomy provision, due process and equal protection clause in the
1987 Constitution.
RULING:
The petition for certiorari is granted.
The Supreme Court held that Section 3 (b) of P.D. No. 198 is unconstitutional for
being repugnant to the local autonomy granted by the 1987 Constitution to LGUs
and for being inconsistent with R.A. No. 7160 (1991 Local Government Code).
Cebu City being an HUC, was rendered independent from Cebu Province pursuant
to Sec. 29 of R.A. No. 7160. Hence, all matters relating to its administration,
powers and functions were exercised through its local executives led by the City
Mayor. From 1974 to 2002, it had always been the City Mayor of Cebu City, who
appoints the members of the MCWD Board of Directors regardless of the water
subscribers. This must be considered in order to ensure the success of local
autonomy. Further, the said provision no longer provides for substantial distinction
which is violative of the equal protection clause as it ignored the fact that MCWD
was built without the participation of the provincial government and existed to
serve the needs of the majority of the active water service connections.
Accordingly, the Mayor of the City of Cebu is declared to be the appointing
authority of the members of the Board of Directors of the MCWD.