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EN BANC

[A.M. No. RTJ-04-1868. August 13, 2004]

RE: REQUEST OF JUDGE TITO G. GUSTILO THAT THE SECOND 25% GRANT OF THE SPECIAL
ALLOWANCE FOR JUDGES BE INCLUDED IN THE COMPUTATION OF HIS RETIREMENT
BENEFITS.

RESOLUTION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:

In his Letter dated May 26, 2004 addressed to Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., Judge Tito G.
Gustilo of the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, Branch 23, avers that he is due to retire at the age of 70
(compulsory retirement) on September 29, 2004. By then, he would have served the Judiciary for 21
years; 7 years and 11-and-1/2 months of which as Executive Judge of the RTC of Iloilo City. Judge Gustilo
requests that, considering his retirement is barely one month from November 2004, the second
tranche of the Special Allowance granted to judges under Republic Act No. 9227 [1] be included in the
computation of his retirement benefits.
To recall, Rep. Act No. 9227, which took effect on November 11, 2003, [2] granted additional
compensation in the form of Special Allowance to justices, judges and all other positions in the Judiciary
with the equivalent rank of justices of the Court of Appeals and judges of the Regional Trial
Court. Section 2 thereof reads:

Sec. 2. Grant of Special Allowances. All justices, judges and all other positions in the Judiciary with the
equivalent rank of justices of the Court of Appeals and judges of the Regional Trial Court as authorized
under existing laws shall be granted special allowances equivalent to one hundred percent (100%) of the
basic monthly salary specified for their respective salary grades under Republic Act No. 6758, as
amended, otherwise known as the Salary Standardization Law, to be implemented for a period of four
(4) years.

The grant of special allowances shall be implemented uniformly in such sums or amounts equivalent to
twenty-five percent (25%) of the basic salaries of the positions covered hereof. Subsequent
implementation shall be in such sums and amounts and up to the extent only that can be supported by
the funding source specified in Section 3 hereof.

Further, Section 5 of the same law provides:

Sec. 5. Inclusion in the Computation of Retirement Benefits. For purposes of retirement, only the
allowances actually received and the tranche or tranches of the special allowance already implemented
and received pursuant to this Act by the justices, judges and all other positions in the Judiciary with the
equivalent rank of justices of the Court of Appeals and judges of the Regional Trial Court as authorized
under existing laws shall, at the date of their retirement, be included in the computation of their
respective retirement benefits.

On March 9, 2004, in A.M. No. 03-12-04-SC (Re: Possible Means to Implement the Special Allowance
under R.A. 9227 and to Increase the Judiciary Development Fund), the Court promulgated the
GUIDELINES ON THE GRANT OF ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION IN THE FORM OF SPECIAL ALLOWANCE FOR
JUSTICES AND JUDGES IN THE JUDICIARY AND ALL OTHER OFFICIALS WITH THE EQUIVALENT RANK OF
JUSTICES OF THE COURT OF APPEALS AND JUDGES OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT. The Guidelines
provide for the manner of the implementation in this wise:

4.1 The Special Allowance shall be implemented uniformly in such sums or amounts equivalent to
twenty-five percent (25%) of the actual basic monthly salaries for the positions covered starting 11
November 2003 until the one hundred percent (100%) special allowance is fully implemented.

If the source of fund is insufficient to cover the twenty-five percent (25%) special allowance for any year,
it shall be granted in such sums and amounts and up to the extent only that can be supported by the
funding source specified in Section 3 of Rep. Act No. 9227; provided that annually the special allowance
shall always be twenty-five percent (25%) of the actual basic monthly salary.

The Guidelines, likewise, reiterate that:

4.2 For purposes of computing the retirement benefits, only the special allowance actually received
and that which has accrued at the time of retirement shall be included.
Paragraph 7.0 thereof states that cases not covered thereby shall be referred to the Chief Justice for
resolution.
Judge Gustilo claims that pursuant to OCA Circular No. 48-2004 dated March 3, 2004, the first
tranche of the Special Allowance equivalent to 25% was implemented starting November 11, 2003. The
next 25% (second tranche) will be implemented on November 11, 2004. In this connection, Judge
Gustilo appeals to the Chief Justice that, in the computation of his retirement benefits, the second
tranche of the Special Allowance be included since his retirement is only one (1) month and twelve (12)
days before its implementation on November 11, 2004.
In support thereof, Judge Gustilo points out that in the past, Judges who retire in October are
included in the grant of the December 13th month pay. He, thus, invokes the liberal policy of the
Court in granting benefits to the underpaid Trial Court Judges.
In the Memorandum dated June 18, 2004 for the Chief Justice, the Office of the Court Administrator
(OCA)[3] recommends that the request of Judge Gustilo be granted. The OCA cites Judge Gustilos service
record in the Judiciary, which started on January 18, 1983, including his exemplary record of disposing
cases at an average of 2.25 cases each month. It also mentions that Judge Gustilo, as Executive Judge,
introduced several innovations in the Iloilo City courts and was able to manage well the 17 judges under
his administrative supervision. Further, Judge Gustilo was the recipient of several awards and
recognitions.[4] Considering the foregoing, the OCA concludes that it is but just and fair that the
second additional Special Allowance of 25% be granted to him and included in the computation of his
retirement benefits.[5]
In compliance with the Courts Resolution dated July 6, 2004, referring Judge Gustilos letter and the
OCAs memorandum to her for study and recommendation, Chief Attorney Edna E. Dio submitted her
Report dated July 15, 2004. The Chief Attorney recommends that Judge Gustilos request be denied for
not being in accord with Rep. Act No. 9227 and the Guidelines promulgated by the Court.
After a careful evaluation of Judge Gustilos letter, the OCAs memorandum and the Chief Attorneys
report, the Court, regrettably, cannot grant the request of Judge Gustilo.
It is axiomatic that when the law is clear, the function of the courts is simple application, not
interpretation or circumvention.[6] With respect to the manner of computation of the retirement benefits
in light of the Special Allowance granted under Rep. Act No. 9227, Section 5 thereof, quoted anew
below, could not be any clearer:

Sec. 5. Inclusion in the Computation of Retirement Benefits. For purposes of retirement, only the
allowances actually received and the tranche or tranches of the special allowance already implemented
and received pursuant to this Act by the justices, judges and all other positions in the Judiciary with the
equivalent rank of justices of the Court of Appeals and judges of the Regional Trial Court as authorized
under existing laws shall, at the date of their retirement, be included in the computation of their
respective retirement benefits.

A plain reading of the above provision shows that, for purposes of retirement, only the allowances
actually received and the tranche or tranches already received and implemented, upon the date of
retirement, shall be included in the computation of the retirement benefits. Otherwise put, before the
Special Allowance could be considered in the computation of retirement benefits, it should have been
actually received and the tranche or tranches thereof should have been already implemented and
received at the date of retirement.
Section 5 of Rep. Act No. 9227 is clear and unambiguous. There is no room for its
interpretation. Further, the foregoing exchange among the members of the Bicameral Conference
Committee[7] on the Disagreeing Provisions of Senate Bill (SB) No. 2018 and House Bill (HB) No. 5178 [8] is
particularly instructive:

...

THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. PANGILINAN). Accepted.

Section 4. No questions? (Silence)

Section 5. (Silence)

Just again for purposes of record and clarification, Section 5, lines 3 and 4, For purposes of retirement,
only the allowances actually received, and so forth and so on, I just like to make it clear that the
computation of retirement would include the salary already being received, plus the special allowance.

THE CO-CHAIRMAN (REP. ANDAYA). Yes.

THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. PANGILINAN). Because this seems to suggest that you compute, rather the
computation of retirement will be on the basis only of the special allowance. So, at least, lets make that
on record.
THE CO-CHAIRMAN (REP. ANDAYA). Yes. On record, yes.

And I think that first word in the title of Section 5, Inclusion also explains that.

REP. LIBANAN. Mr. Chairman.

THE CO-CHAIRMAN (REP. ANDAYA). Congressman Libanan.

REP. LIBANAN. For the sake of further clarification, would it mean that if, for example, a judge retires
on the second year of the implementation, so his retirement benefits would be only computed.

THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. PANGILINAN). On the basis of what he is already receiving.

REP. LIBANAN. on the basis of [what] he is receiving, not on the 100 percent.

THE CO-CHAIRMAN (REP. ANDAYA). Actually receiving. That is correct.

REP. LIBANAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

...

THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. PANGILINAN). Can we now go back to Section 5?

THE CHAIRMAN (REP. ANDAYA). Section 5, Mr. Chairman, just a suggestion but in the House panel

SEN. ARROYO. Kasi kung mandatory, doon sa voluntary, hindi naman dapat iyon.

THE CHAIRMAN (REP. ANDAYA). Ill be constrained to withdraw my proposal.

SEN. ARROYO. But your idea is very attractive.

SEN. VILLAR. In fact, its too attractive. In the first place, iyong allowance is already part of the
retirement benefit. Iyon, malaking bagay na iyon, eh.

Mr. Chairman, may add-on pa. Medyo sobra naman yata na iyon.

SEN. ARROYO. No, because by the accident of birth, when they retire, they retire on the second year,
halimbawa, 68 sila ngayon. Pagkatapos, mandatorily they have to retire at the age of 70, di iyong
benefits nila is

THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. PANGILINAN). For those born in 1934 up to 1937.

THE CHAIRMAN (REP. ANDAYA). But the fact here remains, the allowances they have been receiving
so far which is over and above, kasama na talaga sa retirement. I mean, sobra-sobra na, eh. Lahat na
lang ng allowance na puwedeng gawin, nandoon na, eh. At saka nagre-retire pa sila sa 70, ibig sabihin
talagang marami na iyan.

THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. PANGILINAN). Okay?

THE CHAIRMAN (REP. ANDAYA). Okay.

THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. PANGILINAN). So, as is?

THE CHAIRMAN (REP. ANDAYA). Nandoon na, eh.

THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. PANGILINAN). So, whether they retire at 60 or 70, whether they opt for early
retirement or mandatory retirement, they will receive the actual. Would it not be a good idea to
encourage them to stay on [9]

Thus, the congressional records as well as the text itself of Rep. Act No. 9227 reveal the unequivocal
intention of the lawmakers that only the Special Allowance actually received at the date of retirement
shall be included in the computation of the retirement benefits.
The Guidelines promulgated by this Court pursuant to Rep. Act No. 9227 is even more definite as it
used the term accrued in this wise: only the special allowance actually received and that which
has accrued at the time of retirement shall be included. As correctly reasoned by the Chief Attorney:

Notably, the phrase has accrued at the time of retirement is used in the Guidelines instead of the
tranche or tranches of the special allowance already implemented and received which is used in
Section 5 of Rep. Act No. 9227. Nevertheless, the same meaning is conveyed. The word accrue
means to come into existence as an enforceable claim: vest as a right or to come by way of increase
or addition: arise as a growth or result or to be periodically accumulated in the process of time
whether as an increase or a decrease. Hence, a Special Allowance that has not yet come into existence
as an enforceable claim or has not yet vested on the recipient judge as a matter of right cannot be
considered in the computation of retirement benefits. [10]

Indeed, accrue in its past tense is in sense of due and demandable; vested.[11] In the case of
Judge Gustilo, on the date of his retirement, the second tranche of the Special Allowance has not
accrued as yet; hence, it cannot be said that the same is due and demandable or that it has vested
insofar as he is concerned.
The Chief Attorney, likewise, correctly posits that the strict application of Section 5 of Rep. Act No.
9227 is called for by the fact that, under Section 3 thereof, [12] the source for the Special Allowance is the
Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), established under Presidential Decree No. 1949, which basically
comes from the docket fees paid by litigants:

... As such, the JDF as a fund source is not constant or fixed in amount, as its amount depends on the
amount collected by the courts and the amount of increase in docket fees that the Court would
impose. The fact of the JDF becoming insufficient has been foreseen by the Court and is reflected in the
second paragraph of 4.1 of the Guidelines quoted above. It is worth noting that until now, the first
tranche of the Special Allowance has been received only for the months of 11 November 2003 until
February 2004. The delay in receipt thereof may continue if courts nationwide do not timely transmit
the reports of collections to the OCA, as the JDF should be disbursed only if the reports of collections and
the deposits under the JDF account for the Special Allowance tally in accordance with accounting and
auditing rules.[13]

While this Court had, in certain cases,[14] adopted a liberal stance in interpreting retirement laws in
favor of the retiree, it cannot do so in this case because, as earlier stated, Section 5 of Rep. Act No. 9227
is quite clear and unambiguous. In other words, there is no room for interpretation but only simple
application of the law.
ACCORDINGLY, the request of Judge Tito G. Gustilo that the second 25% or second tranche of the
Special Allowance granted under Rep. Act No. 9227 be included in the computation of his retirement
benefits is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona,
Carpio-Morales, Azcuna, Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.
Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., on leave.
THIRD DIVISION
THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and TEODORO ABISTADO,
substituted by MARGARITA, MARISSA, MARIBEL, ARNOLD and MARY ANN, all surnamed
ABISTADO, respondents.

DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:

Is newspaper publication of the notice of initial hearing in an original land registration case
mandatory or directory?

Statement of the Case

The Court of Appeals ruled that it was merely procedural and that the failure to cause such
publication did not deprive the trial court of its authority to grant the application. But the Solicitor
General disagreed and thus filed this petition to set aside the Decision [1] promulgated on July 3, 1991
and the subsequent Resolution[2] promulgated on November 19, 1991 by Respondent Court of
Appeals[3] in CA-G.R. CV No. 23719. The dispositive portion of the challenged Decision reads: [4]

"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the judgment of dismissal appealed from is hereby set aside, and a
new one entered confirming the registration and title of applicant, Teodoro Abistado, Filipino, a resident
of Barangay 7, Poblacion Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, now deceased and substituted by Margarita,
Marissa, Maribel, Arnold and Mary Ann, all surnamed Abistado, represented by their aunt, Miss Josefa
Abistado, Filipinos, residents of Poblacion Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, to the parcel of land covered
under MSI (IV-A-8) 315-D located in Poblacion Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro.

The oppositions filed by the Republic of the Philippines and private oppositor are hereby dismissed for
want of evidence.

Upon the finality of this decision and payment of the corresponding taxes due on this land, let an order
for the issuance of a decree be issued."

The Facts

On December 8, 1986, Private Respondent Teodoro Abistado filed a petition for original registration
of his title over 648 square meters of land under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1529. [5]The application was
docketed as Land Registration Case (LRC) No. 86 and assigned to Branch 44 of the Regional Trial Court
of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro. [6] However, during the pendency of his petition, applicant
died. Hence, his heirs -- Margarita, Marissa, Maribel, Arnold and Mary Ann, all surnamed Abistado --
represented by their aunt Josefa Abistado, who was appointed their guardian ad litem, were substituted
as applicants.
The land registration court in its decision dated June 13, 1989 dismissed the petition for want of
jurisdiction. However, it found that the applicants through their predecessors-in-interest had been in
open, continuous, exclusive and peaceful possession of the subject land since 1938.
In dismissing the petition, the trial court reasoned:[7]
"x x x. However, the Court noted that applicants failed to comply with the provisions of Section 23 (1) of
PD 1529, requiring the Applicants to publish the notice of Initial Hearing (Exh. `E') in a newspaper of
general circulation in the Philippines. Exhibit `E' was only published in the Official Gazette (Exhibits `F'
and `G'). Consequently, the Court is of the well considered view that it has not legally acquired
jurisdiction over the instant application for want of compliance with the mandatory provision requiring
publication of the notice of initial hearing in a newspaper of general circulation."

The trial court also cited Ministry of Justice Opinion No. 48, Series of 1982, which in its pertinent
portion provides:[8]

It bears emphasis that the publication requirement under Section 23 [of PD 1529] has a two-fold
purpose; the first, which is mentioned in the provision of the aforequoted provision refers to publication
in the Official Gazette, and is jurisdictional; while the second, which is mentioned in the opening clause
of the same paragraph, refers to publication not only in the Official Gazette but also in a newspaper of
general circulation, and is procedural. Neither one nor the other is dispensable. As to the first,
publication in the Official Gazette is indispensably necessary because without it, the court would be
powerless to assume jurisdiction over a particular land registration case. As to the second, publication
of the notice of initial hearing also in a newspaper of general circulation is indispensably necessary as a
requirement of procedural due process; otherwise, any decision that the court may promulgate in the
case would be legally infirm.

Unsatisfied, private respondents appealed to Respondent Court of Appeals which, as earlier


explained, set aside the decision of the trial court and ordered the registration of the title in the name of
Teodoro Abistado.
The subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied in the challenged CA Resolution dated
November 19, 1991.
The Director of Lands represented by the Solicitor General thus elevated this recourse to us. This
Court notes that the petitioners counsel anchored his petition on Rule 65. This is an error. His remedy
should be based on Rule 45 because he is appealing a final disposition of the Court of Appeals. Hence,
we shall treat his petition as one for review under Rule 45, and not for certiorari under Rule 65. [9]

The Issue

Petitioner alleges that Respondent Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion [10] in
holding

x x x that publication of the petition for registration of title in LRC Case No. 86 need not be published in
a newspaper of general circulation, and in not dismissing LRC Case No. 86 for want of such publication.

Petitioner points out that under Section 23 of PD 1529, the notice of initial hearing shall be
published both in the Official Gazette and in a newspaper of general circulation. According to
petitioner, publication in the Official Gazette is necessary to confer jurisdiction upon the trial court, and
xxx in xxx a newspaper of general circulation to comply with the notice requirement of due process. [11]
Private respondents, on the other hand, contend that failure to comply with the requirement of
publication in a newspaper of general circulation is a mere procedural defect. They add that
publication in the Official Gazette is sufficient to confer jurisdiction. [12]
In reversing the decision of the trial court, Respondent Court of Appeals ruled: [13]

x x x although the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette and in a newspaper of general
circulation is couched in mandatory terms, it cannot be gainsaid that the law also mandates with equal
force that publication in the Official Gazette shall be sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon the court.

Further, Respondent Court found that the oppositors were afforded the opportunity to explain
matters fully and present their side. Thus, it justified its disposition in this wise:[14]

x x x We do not see how the lack of compliance with the required procedure prejudiced them in any
way. Moreover, the other requirements of: publication in the Official Gazette, personal notice by mailing,
and posting at the site and other conspicuous places, were complied with and these are sufficient to
notify any party who is minded to make any objection of the application for registration.

The Courts Ruling

We find for petitioner.


Newspaper Publication Mandatory

The pertinent part of Section 23 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 requiring publication of the notice
of initial hearing reads as follows:

Sec. 23. Notice of initial hearing, publication, etc. -- The court shall, within five days from filing of
the application, issue an order setting the date and hour of the initial hearing which shall not be earlier
than forty-five days nor later than ninety days from the date of the order.

The public shall be given notice of initial hearing of the application for land registration by means of (1)
publication; (2) mailing; and (3) posting.

1. By publication. --

Upon receipt of the order of the court setting the time for initial hearing, the Commissioner of Land
Registration shall cause a notice of initial hearing to be published once in the Official Gazette and once
in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines: Provided, however, that the publication in the
Official Gazette shall be sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon the court. Said notice shall be addressed to
all persons appearing to have an interest in the land involved including the adjoining owners so far as
known, and `to all whom it may concern.' Said notice shall also require all persons concerned to appear
in court at a certain date and time to show cause why the prayer of said application shall not be
granted.

xxx xxx xxx

Admittedly, the above provision provides in clear and categorical terms that publication in the
Official Gazette suffices to confer jurisdiction upon the land registration court. However, the question
boils down to whether, absent any publication in a newspaper of general circulation, the land
registration court can validly confirm and register the title of private respondents.
We answer this query in the negative. This answer is impelled by the demands of statutory
construction and the due process rationale behind the publication requirement.
The law used the term shall in prescribing the work to be done by the Commissioner of Land
Registration upon the latters receipt of the court order setting the time for initial hearing. The said
word denotes an imperative and thus indicates the mandatory character of a statute. [15] While
concededly such literal mandate is not an absolute rule in statutory construction, as its import ultimately
depends upon its context in the entire provision, we hold that in the present case the term must be
understood in its normal mandatory meaning. In Republic vs. Marasigan,[16] the Court through Mr. Justice
Hilario G. Davide, Jr. held that Section 23 of PD 1529 requires notice of the initial hearing by means of (1)
publication, (2) mailing and (3) posting, all of which must be complied with. If the intention of the law
were otherwise, said section would not have stressed in detail the requirements of mailing of notices to
all persons named in the petition who, per Section 15 of the Decree, include owners of adjoining
properties, and occupants of the land. Indeed, if mailing of notices is essential, then by parity of
reasoning, publication in a newspaper of general circulation is likewise imperative since the law included
such requirement in its detailed provision.
It should be noted further that land registration is a proceeding in rem.[17] Being in rem, such
proceeding requires constructive seizure of the land as against all persons, including the state, who
have rights to or interests in the property. An in rem proceeding is validated essentially through
publication. This being so, the process must strictly be complied with. Otherwise, persons who may be
interested or whose rights may be adversely affected would be barred from contesting an application
which they had no knowledge of. As has been ruled, a party as an owner seeking the inscription of
realty in the land registration court must prove by satisfactory and conclusive evidence not only his
ownership thereof but the identity of the same, for he is in the same situation as one who institutes an
action for recovery of realty.[18] He must prove his title against the whole world. This task, which rests
upon the applicant, can best be achieved when all persons concerned -- nay, the whole world -- who
have rights to or interests in the subject property are notified and effectively invited to come to court
and show cause why the application should not be granted. The elementary norms of due process
require that before the claimed property is taken from concerned parties and registered in the name of
the applicant, said parties must be given notice and opportunity to oppose.
It may be asked why publication in a newspaper of general circulation should be deemed mandatory
when the law already requires notice by publication in the Official Gazette as well as by mailing and
posting, all of which have already been complied with in the case at hand. The reason is due process
and the reality that the Official Gazette is not as widely read and circulated as newspapers and is
oftentimes delayed in its circulation, such that the notices published therein may not reach the
interested parties on time, if at all. Additionally, such parties may not be owners of neighboring
properties, and may in fact not own any other real estate. In sum, the all-encompassing in rem nature
of land registration cases, the consequences of default orders issued against the whole world and the
objective of disseminating the notice in as wide a manner as possible demand a mandatory construction
of the requirements for publication, mailing and posting.
Admittedly, there was failure to comply with the explicit publication requirement of the law. Private
respondents did not proffer any excuse; even if they had, it would not have mattered because the
statute itself allows no excuses. Ineludibly, this Court has no authority to dispense with such mandatory
requirement. The law is unambiguous and its rationale clear. Time and again, this Court has declared
that where the law speaks in clear and categorical language, there is no room for interpretation,
vacillation or equivocation; there is room only for application. [19] There is no alternative. Thus, the
application for land registration filed by private respondents must be dismissed without prejudice to
reapplication in the future, after all the legal requisites shall have been duly complied with.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision and Resolution
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The application of private respondent for land registration
isDISMISSED without prejudice. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., Melo, and Francisco, JJ., concur.
Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), on leave.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-22301 August 30, 1967

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
MARIO MAPA Y MAPULONG, defendant-appellant.

Francisco P. Cabigao for defendant-appellant.


Office of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant Solicitor General F. R. Rosete and Solicitor O. C.
Hernandez for plaintiff-appellee.

FERNANDO, J.:

The sole question in this appeal from a judgment of conviction by the lower court is whether or not the
appointment to and holding of the position of a secret agent to the provincial governor would constitute
a sufficient defense to a prosecution for the crime of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition. We
hold that it does not.

The accused in this case was indicted for the above offense in an information dated August 14, 1962
reading as follows: "The undersized accuses MARIO MAPA Y MAPULONG of a violation of Section 878 in
connection with Section 2692 of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended by Commonwealth Act
No. 56 and as further amended by Republic Act No. 4, committed as follows: That on or about the 13th
day of August, 1962, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there wilfully and
unlawfully have in his possession and under his custody and control one home-made revolver (Paltik),
Cal. 22, without serial number, with six (6) rounds of ammunition, without first having secured the
necessary license or permit therefor from the corresponding authorities. Contrary to law."
When the case was called for hearing on September 3, 1963, the lower court at the outset asked the
counsel for the accused: "May counsel stipulate that the accused was found in possession of the gun
involved in this case, that he has neither a permit or license to possess the same and that we can
submit the same on a question of law whether or not an agent of the governor can hold a firearm
without a permit issued by the Philippine Constabulary." After counsel sought from the fiscal an
assurance that he would not question the authenticity of his exhibits, the understanding being that only
a question of law would be submitted for decision, he explicitly specified such question to be "whether
or not a secret agent is not required to get a license for his firearm."

Upon the lower court stating that the fiscal should examine the document so that he could pass on their
authenticity, the fiscal asked the following question: "Does the accused admit that this pistol cal. 22
revolver with six rounds of ammunition mentioned in the information was found in his possession on
August 13, 1962, in the City of Manila without first having secured the necessary license or permit
thereof from the corresponding authority?" The accused, now the appellant, answered categorically:
"Yes, Your Honor." Upon which, the lower court made a statement: "The accused admits, Yes, and his
counsel Atty. Cabigao also affirms that the accused admits."

Forthwith, the fiscal announced that he was "willing to submit the same for decision." Counsel for the
accused on his part presented four (4) exhibits consisting of his appointment "as secret agent of the
Hon. Feliciano Leviste," then Governor of Batangas, dated June 2, 1962; 1 another document likewise
issued by Gov. Leviste also addressed to the accused directing him to proceed to Manila, Pasay and
Quezon City on a confidential mission;2the oath of office of the accused as such secret agent, 3 a
certificate dated March 11, 1963, to the effect that the accused "is a secret agent" of Gov.
Leviste.4 Counsel for the accused then stated that with the presentation of the above exhibits he was
"willing to submit the case on the question of whether or not a secret agent duly appointed and qualified
as such of the provincial governor is exempt from the requirement of having a license of firearm." The
exhibits were admitted and the parties were given time to file their respective memoranda.1wph1.t

Thereafter on November 27, 1963, the lower court rendered a decision convicting the accused "of the
crime of illegal possession of firearms and sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of from one year and
one day to two years and to pay the costs. The firearm and ammunition confiscated from him are
forfeited in favor of the Government."

The only question being one of law, the appeal was taken to this Court. The decision must be affirmed.

The law is explicit that except as thereafter specifically allowed, "it shall be unlawful for any person
to . . . possess any firearm, detached parts of firearms or ammunition therefor, or any instrument or
implement used or intended to be used in the manufacture of firearms, parts of firearms, or
ammunition."5 The next section provides that "firearms and ammunition regularly and lawfully issued to
officers, soldiers, sailors, or marines [of the Armed Forces of the Philippines], the Philippine
Constabulary, guards in the employment of the Bureau of Prisons, municipal police, provincial governors,
lieutenant governors, provincial treasurers, municipal treasurers, municipal mayors, and guards of
provincial prisoners and jails," are not covered "when such firearms are in possession of such officials
and public servants for use in the performance of their official duties." 6

The law cannot be any clearer. No provision is made for a secret agent. As such he is not exempt. Our
task is equally clear. The first and fundamental duty of courts is to apply the law. "Construction and
interpretation come only after it has been demonstrated that application is impossible or inadequate
without them."7 The conviction of the accused must stand. It cannot be set aside.

Accused however would rely on People v. Macarandang,8 where a secret agent was acquitted on appeal
on the assumption that the appointment "of the accused as a secret agent to assist in the maintenance
of peace and order campaigns and detection of crimes, sufficiently put him within the category of a
"peace officer" equivalent even to a member of the municipal police expressly covered by section 879."
Such reliance is misplaced. It is not within the power of this Court to set aside the clear and explicit
mandate of a statutory provision. To the extent therefore that this decision conflicts with what was held
in People v. Macarandang, it no longer speaks with authority.

Wherefore, the judgment appealed from is affirmed.

Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro and Angeles,
JJ., concur.
[G.R. No. 116719. January 18, 1996]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. PATRICIO AMIGO alias BEBOT, accused-
appellant.

DECISION
MELO, J.:
Initially, Patricio Amigo was charged with frustrated murder in an Information reading as follows:

The undersigned accuses the above-named accused of the crime of FRUSTRATED MURDER, under Art.
248, in relation to Art. 5 of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:

That on or about December 29, 1989, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-mentioned accused, armed with a knife, with treachery and evident
premeditation and with intent to kill wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attacked, assaulted and stab with
said weapon one Benito Ng Suy, thereby inflicting injuries upon the latter, the following injuries, to wit:

MULTIPLE STAB WOUNDS-LEFT ARM, LEFT CHEST, ABDOMEN AND LEFT THIGH WITH PENETRATION TO
LEFT PLEURAL CAVITY, DIAPHRAGM STOMACH, DUODENUM, PANCREAS AND MIDTRANVERSE COLON.
thus performing all the acts of execution which should have produced the crime of murder as a
consequence but nevertheless, did not produce it by reason of causes independent of his will, that is,
because of the timely and able medical assistance immediately rendered to the said Benito Ng Suy.
to which he pleaded not guilty.
Subsequently, due to the death of the victim, an amended Information was filed charging now the
crime of murder, to wit:

That on or about December 29, 1989, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-mentioned accused, armed with a knife, with treachery and evident
premeditation and with intent to kill wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attacked, assaulted and stabbed
with said weapon one Benito Ng Say, thereby inflicting upon the latter multiple wounds which caused his
death and the consequent loss and damage to the heirs of the victim.

After trial on the merits, the court a quo rendered a decision, disposing:

WHEREFORE, finding the accused Patricio Amigo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
MURDER punishable under Art. 248 of the Revised Penal Code, with no modifying circumstance present,
the accused is hereby sentenced to the penalty of reclusion perpetua, which is the medium period of the
penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum to death and to pay the cost; to indemnify the offended
party the amount of P93,214.70 as actual damages and P50,000.00 as compensatory damages and
P50,000.00 as moral damages.

Reversal thereof is now sought, with accused-appellant arguing that error was committed by the
trial court in imposing or meting out the penalty of reclusion perpetua against him despite the fact that
Sec. 19 (1), Article III of the 1987 Constitution was already in effect when the offense was committed.
The facts of the case, as briefly summarized in the brief submitted by the Office of the Solicitor
General and as borne out by the evidence, are as follows:

On December 29, 1989, at around 1:00 P.M., after having spent half-day at their store, located at No.
166-A, Ramon Magsaysay Avenue, Davao City, Benito Ng Suy was driving their gray Ford Fiera back
home, situated at the back of Car Asia, Bajada, Davao City. With him during that time were his
daughters, Jocelyn Ng Suy and a younger one together with his two year old son, who were all seated at
the front seat beside him while a five year old boy was also seated at the back of the said vehicle. (TSN,
April 29, 1991, pp. 3-5; TSN, March 31, 1992)

On their way home and while traversing the National Highway of Bajada, Davao City, an orange
Toyota Tamaraw driven by one Virgilio Abogada, suddenly made a left turn in front of the Regional
Hospital, Bajada, Davao City, without noticing the Ford Fiera coming from the opposite direction. This
Tamaraw was heading for Sterlyn Kitchenette, which was situated at the corner of the said hospital.
(TSN, April 29, 1991, p. 4; TSN, March 31, 1992, pp. 3 and 13)
With Virgilio was Patricio Amigo alias Bebot, a vulcanizer at Linglings vulcanizing shop owned and
operated by a certain Galadua. He was also seated at the right front seat beside Virgilio.
Due to the unexpected veer made by Virgilio, an accidental head on collision occurred between the
Fiera and the Tamaraw, causing a slight damage to the right bumper of the latter. (TSN, March 31, 1992,
p. 4)
Right after the collision, Benito immediately alighted from the drivers seat and confronted Virgilio
Abogada who also went down from his vehicle. (TSN, April 29, 1991, p. 5)
Benito, who was a big man with a loud voice told Virgilio, You were not looking, to which Virgilio
retorted, I did not see you. (TSN, April 29, 1991, p.16)
While the two drivers where having this verbal confrontation, Patricio who was merely a passenger
of Virgilio also alighted from the front seat of the Tamaraw and instantaneously approached Benito and
advised the latter to leave since it was merely a small and minor accident. (TSN, April 29, 1991, pp. 16-
18)
A bit irritated with the actuation exhibit by Patricio, Benito rebuked the former and told him not to
interfere, since he had nothing to do with the accident. (Ibid., p. 7)
Irked by the comment made by Benito, Patricio sarcastically asked; You are Chinese, is it you?
With a ready answer Benito said; Yes, I am a Chinese and why? Patricio in turn replied; So, you are a
Chinese, wait for a while, then left. (Ibid., pp. 7 and 19)
Immediately thereafter, Benito ordered Jocelyn to call a policeman, but after a lapse of about one
minute, Patricio returned and arrogantly approached Benito, asking the latter once again, You are a
Chinese, is it not? To this Benito calmly responded in the affirmative.
Upon hearing the response, Patricio mumbled Ah, so you are a Chinese, and suddenly took a five
inch knife from his waist and simultaneously stabbed Benito hitting him twice on the chest.(ibid., p. 20)
After being hit, Benito wounded and sensing that his life was in peril, tried to evade his assailant by
pushing Patricio away and run around the Tamaraw but Patricio wielding the same knife and not content
with the injuries he had already inflicted, still chased Benito and upon overtaking the latter embraced
him and thrusted his knife on the victim several times, the last of which hit Benito on the left side of his
body. (Ibid., pp. 8, 10, 22)
It was at this juncture that Jocelyn who was still inside the Ford Fiera, pleading for mercy to spare
her father tried to get out of the vehicle but it was very unfortunate that she could not open its
door. (Ibid., p. 10)
Knowing that Patricio was really determined to kill her father by refusing to heed her pleas, Joselyn
shouted for help, since there were already several people around witnessing that fatal incident, but to
her consternation nobody lifted a single finger to help them. (Ibid., pp. 6, 10, 18, 21-22) Only after her
father lay seated on the floor of their Ford Fiera after being hit on the left side of his body that she was
able to open the door of the said vehicle. (Ibid., p. 12)
After this precise moment, her younger sister, upon seeing their father bathing with his own blood,
embraced him, causing Patricio to cease from his ferocious assault and noticing the presence of several
people, he fled. (Ibid., p. 22)
Thereafter, an enraged Jocelyn chased him, but since the assailant ran faster than her, she was not
able to overtake him, thus, she instead decided to go back to where her father was and carried him
inside the Tamaraw who bumped them and consequently brought him to San Pedro Hospital where he
was attended to at the Emergency Room. (Ibid., p. 13)
While at the Emergency Room, Benito who was on a very critical condition, due to multiple (13)
stabbed wounds, was operated by Dr. Rolando Chiu. After the operation, he was subsequently brought to
the ICU and stayed there for three (3) weeks. (July 12, 1991, pp. 3 and 4)
In a last ditch effort to save his life, having only 10 to 20 percent survival, Benito was airlifted to
Manila and was directly confined at the Chinese General Hospital. After three (3) weeks of confinement,
Benito expired. CAUSE OF DEATH - SEPSIS (an overwhelming infection). This means that the infection
has already circulated in the blood all over the body. (Ibid., pp.6-7)
Accused-appellant contends that under the 1987 Constitution and prior to the promulgation of
Republic Act No. 7659, the death penalty had been abolished and hence, the penalty that should have
been imposed for the crime of murder committed by accused-appellant without the attendance of any
modifying circumstances, should be reclusion temporal in its medium period or 17 years, 4 months and
1 day, to 20 years of reclusion temporal.
Reasons out accused-appellant:
. . . Since the death penalty (or capital punishment) is not imposable when the stabbing and killing
happened, the computation of the penalty should be regarded from reclusion perpetua down and not
from death penalty. Indeed, the appropriate penalty is deducible from reclusion perpetua down
to reclusion temporal in its medium period. Hence, there being no modifying circumstances present (p. 5
Decision, ibid.), the correct penalty should be in the medium period (Art. 64, par. 1, Revised Penal Code)
which is 17 years, 4 months and 1 day to 20 years ofreclusion temporal.
The question raised by accused-appellant was settled by this Court in People vs. Muoz (170 SCRA
107 [1989]) thusly:
In People vs. Gavarra, Justice Pedro L. Yap declared for the Court that in view of the abolition of the
death penalty under Section 19, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, the penalty that may be imposed for
murder is reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua, thereby eliminating death as
the original maximum period. Later, without categorically saying so, the Court, through Justice
Ameurfina A. Melencio-Herrera in People vs. Masangkay and through Justice Andres R. Narvasa in
People vs. Atencio, divided the modified penalty into three new periods, the limits of which were
specified by Justice Edgardo L. Paras in People vs. Intino, as follows: the lower half of reclusion
temporal maximum as the minimum; the upper half of reclusion temporal maximum as the medium;
and reclusion perpetua as the maximum.
The Court has reconsidered the above cases and, after extended discussion, come to the conclusion
that the doctrine announced therein does not reflect the intention of the framers as embodied in Article
III, Section 19(1) of the Constitution. This conclusion is not unanimous, to be sure. Indeed, there is much
to be said of the opposite view, which was in fact shared by many of those now voting for its reversal.
The majority of the Court, however, is of the belief that the original interpretation should be restored as
the more acceptable reading of the constitutional provision in question.
The advocates of the Masangkay ruling argue that the Constitution abolished the death penalty and
thereby limited the penalty for murder to the remaining periods, to wit, the minimum and the medium.
These should now be divided into three new periods in keeping with the three-grade scheme intended
by the legislature. Those who disagree feel that Article III, Section 19(1) merely prohibits the imposition
of the death penalty and has not, by reducing it to reclusion perpetua, also correspondingly reduced the
remaining penalties. These should be maintained intact.
A reading of Section 19(1) of Article III will readily show that there is really nothing therein which
expressly declares the abolition of the death penalty. The provision merely says that the death penalty
shall not be imposed unless for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes the Congress hereafter
provides for it and, if already imposed, shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua. The language, while
rather awkward, is still plain enough. And it is a settled rule of legal hermeneutics that if the language
under consideration is plain, it is neither necessary nor permissible to resort to extrinsic aids, like the
records of the constitutional convention, for its interpretation.
The question as we see it is not whether the framers intended to abolish the death penalty or
merely to prevent its imposition. Whatever the intention was, what we should determine is whether or
not they also meant to require a corresponding modification in the other periods as a result of the
prohibition against the death penalty.
It is definite that such a requirement, if there really was one, is not at all expressed in Article III,
Section 19(1) of the Constitution or indicated therein by at least clear and unmistakable implication. It
would have been so easy, assuming such intention, to state it categorically and plainly, leaving no
doubts as to its meaning. One searches in vain for such a statement, express or even implied. The writer
of this opinion makes the personal observation that this might be still another instance where the
framers meant one thing and said another or - strangely, considering their loquacity elsewhere - did not
say enough.
The original ruling as applied in the Gavarra, Masangkay, Atencio and Intino cases represented the
unanimous thinking of the Court as it was then constituted. All but two members at that time still sit on
the Court today. If we have seen fit to take a second look at the doctrine on which we were all agreed
before, it is not because of a change in the composition of this body. It is virtually the same Court that is
changing its mind after reflecting on the question again in the light of new perspectives. And well it
might, and tan, for the tenets it lays down are not immutable. The decisions of this Court are not
petrified rules grown rigid once pronounced but vital, growing things subject to change as all life is.
While we are told that the trodden path is best, this should not prevent us from opening a fresh trial or
exploring the other side or testing a new idea in a spirit of continuing inquiry.
Accordingly, with the hope that as judges, (we) will be equal to (our) tasks, whatever that means,
we hereby reverse the current doctrine providing for three new periods for the penalty for murder as
reduced by the Constitution. Instead, we return to our original interpretation and hold that Article III,
Section 19(1) does not change the periods of the penalty prescribed by Article 248 of the Revised Penal
Code except only insofar as it prohibits the imposition of the death penalty and reduces it to reclusion
perpetua. The range of the medium and minimum penalties remains unchanged.
The Court realizes that this interpretation may lead to certain inequities that would not have arisen
under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code before its modification. Thus, a person originally subject to
the death penalty and another who committed the murder without the attendance of any modifying
circumstance will now be both punishable with the same medium period although the former is
concededly more guilty than the latter. True enough. But that is the will not of this Court but of the
Constitution. That is a question of wisdom, not construction. Of some relevance perhaps is the parable in
the Bible of the workman who was paid the stipulated daily wage of one penny although he had worked
longer than others hired later in the day also paid the same amount. When he complained because he
felt unjustly treated by the householder, the latter replied: Friend, I do you no wrong. Did you not agree
with me for a penny?
The problem in any event is addressed not to this Court but to the Congress. Penalties are
prescribed by statute and are essentially and exclusively legislative. As judges, we can only interpret
and apply them and have no authority to modify them or revise their range as determined exclusively by
the legislature. We should not encroach on this prerogative of the lawmaking body.
Coming back to the case at bar, we find that there being no generic aggravating or mitigating
circumstance attending the commission of the offenses, the applicable sentence is the medium period of
the penalty prescribed by Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code which, conformably to the new doctrine
here adopted and announced, is still reclusion perpetua. This is the penalty we imposed on all the
accused-appellants for each of the three murders they have committed in conspiracy with the others.
The award of civil indemnity for the heirs of each of the victims is affirmed but the amount thereof is
hereby increased to P30,000.00 in line with the present policy.
The above ruling was reiterated in People vs. Parojinog (203 SCRA 673 [1991]) and in People vs. De
la Cruz (216 SCRA 476 [1992]).
Finally, accused-appellant claims that the penalty of reclusion perpetua is too cruel and harsh a
penalty and pleads for sympathy. Courts are not the forum to plead for sympathy. The duty of courts is
to apply the law, disregarding their feeling of sympathy or pity for an accused. DURA LEX SED LEX. The
remedy is elsewhere - clemency from the executive or an amendment of the law by the legislative, but
surely, at this point, this Court can but apply the law.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J. (Chairman), Davide, Jr., Francisco, and Panganiban, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT

MANILA LODGE NO. 761, BENEVOLENT AND PROTECTIVE ORDER OF THE ELKS, INC., petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, CITY OF MANILA, and TARLAC DEVELOPMENT
CORPORATION,respondents.

No. L-41012 September 30, 1976

TARLAC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, petitioner,


vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, CITY OF MANILA, LODGE NO. 761, BENEVOLENT AND
PROTECTIVE ORDER OF ELKS, INC., respondents.

CASTRO, C.J.:t.hqw

STATEMENT OF THE CASE AND STATEMENTOF THE FACTS

These two cases are petitions on certiorari to review the decision dated June 30, 1975 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 51590-R entitled "Tarlac Development Corporation vs. City of Manila, and Manila
Lodge No. 761, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Inc.," affirming the trial court's finding in Civil
Case No. 83009 that the property subject of the decision a quo is a "public park or plaza."

On June 26, 1905 the Philippine Commission enacted Act No. l360 which authorized the City of Manila to
reclaim a portion of Manila Bay. The reclaimed area was to form part of the Luneta extension. The Act
provided that the reclaimed area "Shall be the property of the City of Manila" and that "the City of
Manila is hereby authorized to set aside a tract of the reclaimed land formed by the Luneta extension x x
x at the north end not to exceed five hundred feet by six hundred feet in size, for a hotel site, and to
lease the same, with the approval of the Governor General, to a responsible person or corporation for a
term not exceed ninety-nine years."

Subsequently, the Philippine Commission passed on May 18, 1907 Act No. 1657, amending Act No. 1360,
so as to authorize the City of' Manila either to lease or to sell the portion set aside as a hotel site.

The total area reclaimed was a little over 25 hectares. The City of Manila applied for the registration of
the reclaimed area, and on January 20, 1911, O.C.T. No. 1909 was issued in the name of the City of
Manila. The title described the registered land as "un terreno conocido con el nombre de Luneta
Extension, situato en el distrito de la Ermita x x x." The registration was "subject, however to such of the
incumbrances mentioned in Article 39 of said law (Land Registration Act) as may be subsisting" and
"sujeto a las disposiciones y condiciones impuestas en la Ley No. 1360; y sujeto tambein a los contratos
de venta, celebrados y otorgados por la Ciudad de Manila a favor del Army and Navy Club y la Manila
Lodge No. 761, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, fechados respectivamente, en 29 de Diciembre
de 1908 y 16 de Enero de 1909." 1

On July 13, 1911 the City of Manila, affirming a prior sale dated January 16, 1909 cancelled 5,543.07
square meters of the reclaimed area to the Manila Lodge No. 761, Benevolent and Protective Order of
Elks of the U.S.A. (BPOE, for short) on the basis of which TCT No. 2195 2 was issued to the latter over the
Marcela de terreno que es parte de la Luneta Extension, Situada en el Distrito le la Ermita ... ." At the
back of this title vas annotated document 4608/T-1635, which in part reads as follows: "que la citada
Ciusdad de Manila tendra derecho a su opcion, de recomparar la expresada propiedad para fines
publicos solamete in cualquier tiempo despues de cincuenta anos desde el 13 le Julio le 1911, precio de
la misma propiedad, mas el valor que entonces tengan las mejoras."

For the remainder of the Luneta Extension, that is, after segregating therefrom the portion sold to the
Manila Lodge No. 761, PBOE, a new Certificate of Title No. 2196 3 was issued on July 17, 1911 to the City
of Manila.

Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE, subsequently sold the said 5,543.07 square meters to the Elks Club, Inc.,
to which was issued TCT No. 67488. 4 The registered owner, "The Elks Club, Inc.," was later changed by
court oder to "Manila Lodge No. 761, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Inc."

In January 1963 the BPOE. petitioned the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch IV, for the cancellation
of the right of the City of Manila to repurchase the property This petition was granted on February 15,
1963.
On November 19, 1963 the BPOE sold for the sum of P4,700,000 the land together with all the
improvements thereon to the Tarlac Development Corporation (TDC, for short) which paid P1,700.000 as
down payment and mortgaged to the vendor the same realty to secure the payment of the balance to
be paid in quarterly installments.5 At the time of the sale,, there was no annotation of any subsisting
lien on the title to the property. On December 12, 1963 TCT No. 73444 was issued to TDC over the
subject land still described as "UNA PARCELA DE TERRENO, que es parte de la Luneta Extension, situada
en el Distrito de Ermita .

In June 1964 the City of Manila filed with the Court of First Instance of Manila a petition for the
reannotation of its right to repurchase; the court, after haering, issued an order, dated November 19,
1964, directing the Register of Deeds of the City of Manila to reannotate in toto the entry regarind the
right of the City of Manila to repurchase the property after fifty years. From this order TDC and BPOE
appealed to this Court which on July 31, 1968 affirmed in G.R. Nos. L-24557 and L-24469 the trial court's
order of reannotation, but reserved to TDC the right to bring another action for the clarification of its
rights.

As a consequence of such reservation, TDC filed on April 28, 1971 against the City of Manila and the
Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE, a complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 83009 of the Court of First Instance
of Manila, containing three causes of action and praying -

a) On the first cause of action, that the plaintiff TDC be declared to have purchased the parcel of land
now in question with the buildings and improvements thereon from the defendant BPOE for value and in
good faith, and accordingly ordering the cancellation of Entry No. 4608/T-1635 on Transfer Certificate of
Title No. 73444 in the name of the Plaintiff;

b) On the second cause of action, ordering the defendant City of Manila to pay the plaintiff TDC
damages in the sum of note less than one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00);

c) On the third cause of action, reserving to the plaintiff TDC the right to recover from the defendant
BPOE the amounts mentioned in par. XVI of the complaint in accordance with Art. 1555 of the Civil Code,
in the remote event that the final judgment in this case should be that the parcel of land now in question
is a public park; and

d) For costs, and for such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and equitable. 6

Therein defendant City of Manila, in its answer dated May 19, 1971, admitted all the facts alleged in the
first cause of action except the allegation that TDC purchased said property "for value and in good
faith," but denied for lack of knowledge or information the allegations in the second and third causes of
action. As, special and affirmative defense, the City of Manila claimed that TDC was not a purchaser in
good faith for it had actual notice of the City's right to repurchase which was annotated at the back of
the title prior to its cancellation, and that, assumingarguendo that TDC had no notice of the right to
repurchase, it was, nevertheless, under obligation to investigate inasmuch as its title recites that the
property is a part of the Luneta extension. 7

The Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE, in its answer dated June 7, 1971, admitted having sold the land
together with the improvements thereon for value to therein plaintiff which was in good faith, but denied
for lack of knowledge as to their veracity the allegations under the second cause of action. It
furthermore admitted that TDC had paid the quarterly installments until October l5, 1964 but claimed
that the latter failed without justifiable cause to pay the subsequent installments. It also asserted that it
was a seller for value in good faith without having misrepresented or concealed tacts relative to the title
on the property. As counterclaim, Manila Lodge No. 761 (BPOE) sought to recover the balance of the
purchase price plus interest and costs. 8

On June 15, 1971 TDC answered the aforesaid counterclaim, alleging that its refusal to make further
payments was fully justified. 9

After due trial the court a quo rendered on July 14, 1972 its decision finding the subject land to be part
of the "public park or plaza" and, therefore, part of the public domain. The court consequently declared
that the sale of the subject land by the City of Manila to Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE, was null and void;
that plaintiff TDC was a purchaser thereof in g faith and for value from BPOE and can enforce its rights
against the latter; and that BPOE is entitled to recover from the City of Manila whatever consideration it
had 'paid the latter. 'The dispositive part of the decision reads: +.wph!1

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby declares that the parcel of land formerly covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title Nos 2195 and 67488 in the name of BPOE and now by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 73444 in the name of Tarlac Development Corporation is a public'
park or plaza, and, consequently, instant complaint is dimissed, without pronouncement
as to costs.
In view of the reservation made by plaintiff Tarlac Development Corporation to recover
from defendant BPOE the amounts mentioned in paragraph XVI of the complaint in
accordance with Article 1555 of the Civil Code, the Court makes no pronouncement on
this point. 10

From said decision the therein plaintiff TDC as well as the defendant Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE,
appealed to the Court of Appeals.

In its appeal docketed as CA-G.R. No. 51590-R, the Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE, avers that the trial
court committed the following errors, namely:

1. In holding that the property subject of the action is not patrimonial property of the City of Manila; and

2. In holding that the Tarlac Development Corporation may recover and enforce its right against the
defendant BPOE. 11

The Tarlac Development Corporation, on the other hand, asserts that the trial court erred:

(1) In finding that the property in question is or was a public park and in consequently nullifying the sale
thereof by the City of Manila to BPOE;

(2) In applying the cases of Municipality of Cavite vs. Rojas, 30 Phil. 602, and Government vs. Cabangis,
53 Phil. 112, to the case at bar; and

(3) In not holding that the plaintiff-appellant is entitled to ,recover damages from the defendant City of
Manila. 12

Furthermore, TDC as appellee regarding the second assignment of error raised by BPOE, maintained that
it can recover and enforce its rigth against BPOE in the event that the land in question is declared a
public park or part thereof. 13

In its decision promulgated on June 30, 1975, the Court of Appeals concur ed in the findings and
conclusions of the lower court upon the ground that they are supported by he evidence and are in
accordance with law, and accordingly affirmed the lower court's judgment.

Hence, the present petitions for review on certiorari.

G.R. No. L-41001

The Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE, contends, in its petition for review on certiorari docketed as G.R. No. L-
41001, that the Court of Appeals erred in (1) disregarding the very enabling acts and/or statutes
according to which the subject property was, and still is, patrimonial property of the City of Manila and
could therefore be sold and/or disposed of like any other private property; and (2) in departing from the
accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings when it simply made a general affirmance of the
court a quo's findings and conclusions without bothering to discuss or resolve several vital points
stressed by the BPOE in its assigned errrors. 14

G.R. No. L-41012

The Tarlac Development Corporation, in its petition for review on certiorari docketed as G.R. No. L-41012,
relies on the following grounds for the allowance of its petition:

1. that the Court of Appeals did not correctly interpret Act No. 1360, as amended by Act No. 1657, of the
Philippine Commission; and

2. that the Court of Appeals has departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings in
that it did not make its own findings but simply recited those of the lower court. 15

ISSUES AND ARGUMENTS

FIRST ISSUE

Upon the first issue, both petitioners claim that the property subject of the action, pursuant to the
provisions of Act No. 1360, as amended by Act No. 1657, was patrimonial property of the City of Manila
and not a park or plaza.
Arguments of Petitioners

In G.R. No. L-41001, the Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE, admits that "there appears to be some logic in the
conclusion" of the Court of Appeals that "neither Act No. 1360 nor Act No. 1657 could have meant to
supply the City of Manila the authority to sell the subject property which is located at the south end not
the north of the reclaimed area." 16 It argues, however, that when Act No. 1360, as amended,
authorized the City of Manila to undertake the construction of the Luneta extension by reclaimed land
from the Manila Bay, and declared that the reclaimed land shall be the "property of the City of Manila,"
the State expressly granted the ownership thereof to the City of Manila which. consequently. could enter
into transactions involving it; that upon the issuance of O.C.T. No. 1909, there could he no doubt that the
reclaimed area owned by the City was its patrimonial property;" that the south end of the reclaimed
area could not be for public use for. as argued by TDC a street, park or promenade can be property for
public use pursuant to Article 344 of the Spanish Civil Code only when it has already been so
constructed or laid out, and the subject land, at the time it was sold to the Elk's Club, was neither
actually constructed as a street, park or promenade nor laid out as a street, park or promenade;" that
even assuming that the subject property was at the beginning property of public dominion, it was
subsequently converted into patrimonial property pursuant to Art. 422 of the Civil Code, inasmuch as it
had never been used, red or utilized since it was reclaimed in 1905 for purpose other than this of an
ordinary real estate for sale or lease; that the subject property had never been intended for public use,
is further shown by the fact that it was neither included as a part of the Luneta Park under Plan No. 30 of
the National Planning Commission nor considered a part of the Luneta National Park (now Rizal Park) by
Proclamation No. 234 dated December 19, 1955 of President Ramon Magsaysay or by Proclamation
Order No. 274 dated October 4, 1967 of President Ferdinand E. Marcos;" 19 that, such being the case,
there is no reason why the subject property should -not be considered as having been converted into
patrimonial property, pursuant to the ruling in Municipality vs. Roa 7 Phil. 20, inasmuch as the City of
Manila has considered it as its patrimonial property not only bringing it under the operation of the Land
Registration Act but also by disposing of it; 20 and that to consider now the subject property as a public
plaza or park would not only impair the obligations of the parties to the contract of sale (rated July 13,
1911, but also authorize deprivation of property without due process of law. 21

G.R. No. L-410112

In L-41012, the petitioner TDC stresses that the principal issue is the interpretation of Act No. 1360, as
amended by. Act No. 1657 of the Philippine Commission, 22 and avers that inasmuch as Section 6 of Act
No. 1360, as amended by Act 1657, provided that the reclamation of the Luneta extension was to be
paid for out of the funds of the City of Manila which was authorized to borrow P350,000 "to be expended
in the construction of Luneta Extension," the reclaimed area became "public land" belonging to the City
of Manila that spent for the reclamation, conformably to the holding in Cabangis,23 and consequently,
said land was subject to sale and other disposition; that the Insular Government itself considered the
reclaimed Luneta extension as patrimonial property subject to disposition as evidenced by the fact that
See. 3 of Act 1360 declared that "the land hereby reclaimed shall be the property of the City of Manila;"
that this property cannot be property for public use for according to Article 344 of the Civil Code, the
character of property for public use can only attach to roads and squares that have already been
constructed or at least laid out as such, which conditions did not obtain regarding the subject land, that
Sec. 5 of Act 1360 authorized the City of Manila to lease the northern part of the reclaimed area for hotel
purposes; that Act No. 1657 furthermore authorized the City of Manila to sell the same; 24 that the
express statutory authority to lease or sell the northern part of the reclaimed area cannot be interpreted
to mean that the remaining area could not be sold inasmuch as the purpose of the statute was not
merely to confer authority to sell the northern portion but rather to limit the city's power of disposition
thereof, to wit: to prevent disposition of the northern portion for any purpose other than for a hotel site
that the northern and southern ends of the reclaimed area cannot be considered as extension of the
Luneta for they lie beyond the sides of the original Luneta when extended in the direction of the sea,
and that is the reason why the law authorized the sale of the northern portion for hotel purposes, and,
for the same reason, it is implied that the southern portion could likewise be disposed of. 26

TDC argues likewise that there are several items of uncontradicted circumstantial evidence which may
serve as aids in construing the legislative intent and which demonstrate that the subject property is
patrimonial in nature, to wit: (1) Exhibits "J" and "J-1", or Plan No. 30 of the National Planning
Commission showing the Luneta and its vicinity, do not include the subject property as part of the
Luneta Park; (2) Exhibit "K", which is the plan of the subject property covered by TCT No. 67488 of BPOE,
prepared on November 11, 1963, indicates that said property is not a public park; (3) Exhibit "T", which
is a certified copy of Proclamation No. 234 issued on December 15, 1955 is President Magsaysay, and
Exhibit "U" which is Proclamation Order No. 273 issued on October 4, 1967 by President Marcos, do not
include the subject property in the Luneta Park-, (4) Exhibit "W", which is the location plan of the Luneta
National Park under Proclamations Nos. 234 and 273, further confirms that the subject property is not a
public park; and (5) Exhibit "Y", which is a copy of O.C.T. No. 7333 in the name of the United States of
America covering the land now occupied by the America covering the land now occupied by the
American Embassy, the boundaries of which were delineated by the Philippine Legislature, states that
the said land is bounded on the northwest by properties of the Army and Navy Club (Block No. 321) and
the Elks Club (Block No. 321), and this circumstance shows that even the Philippine Legislature
recognized the subject property as private property of the Elks Club. 27

TDC furthermore contends that the City of Manila is estopped from questioning the validity of the sale of
the subject property that it executed on July 13, 1911 to the Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE, for several
reasons, namely: (1) the City's petition for the reannotation of Entry No. 4608/T-1635 was predicated on
the validity of said sale; (2) when the property was bought by the petitioner TDC it was not a public
plaza or park as testified to by both Pedro Cojuanco, treasurer of TDC, and the surveyor, Manuel
Aoneuvo, according to whom the subject property was from all appearances private property as it was
enclosed by fences; (3) the property in question was cadastrally surveyed and registered as property of
the Elks Club, according to Manuel Anonuevo; (4) the property was never used as a public park, for,
since the issuance of T.C.T. No. 2165 on July 17, 1911 in the name of the Manila Lodge NO. 761, the
latter used it as private property, and as early as January 16, 1909 the City of Manila had already
executed a deed of sale over the property in favor of the Manila Lodge No. 761; and (5) the City of
Manila has not presented any evidence to show that the subject property has ever been proclaimed or
used as a public park. 28

TDC, moreover, contends that Sec. 60 of Com. Act No. 141 cannot apply to the subject land, for Com.
Act No. 141 took effect on December 1, 1936 and at that time the subject land was no longer part of the
part of the public domain. 29

TDC also stresses that its rights as a purchaser in good faith cannot be disregarded, for the mere
mention in the certificate of title that the lot it purchased was "part of the Luneta extension" was not a
sufficient warning that tile title to the City of Manila was invalid; and that although the trial court, in its
decision affirmed by the Court of Appeals, found the TDC -to has been an innocent purchaser for value,
the court disregarded the petitioner's rights as such purchaser that relied on Torrens certificate of title. 30

The Court, continues the petitioner TDC erred in not holding that the latter is entitled to recover from the
City of Manila damages in the amount of P100,000 caused by the City's petition for- reannotation of its
right to repurchase.

DISCUSSION AND RESOLUTION OF FIRST ISSUE

It is a cardinal rule of statutory construction that courts must give effect to the general legislative intent
that can be discovered from or is unraveled by the four corners of the statute, 31 and in order to discover
said intent, the whole statute, and not only a particular provision thereof, should be considered. 32 It is,
therefore, necessary to analyze all the provisions of Act No. 1360, as amended, in order to unravel the
legislative intent.

Act No. 1360 which was enacted by the Philippine Commission on June 26, 1905, as amended by Act No.
1657 enacted on May 18, 1907, authorized the "construction of such rock and timber bulkheads or sea
walls as may be necessary for the making of an extension to the Luneta" (Sec. 1 [a]), and the placing of
the material dredged from the harbor of Manila "inside the bulkheads constructed to inclose the Luneta
extension above referred to" (Sec. 1 [a]). It likewise provided that the plan of Architect D. H. Burnham as
"a general outline for the extension and improvement of the Luneta in the City of Manila" be adopted;
that "the reclamation from the Bay of Manila of the land included in said projected Luneta extension... is
hereby authorized and the land thereby reclaimed shall be the property of the City of Manila" (Sec. 3);
that "the City of Manila is hereby authorized to set aside a tract of the reclaimed land formed by the
Luneta extension authorized by this Act at the worth end of said tract, not to exceed five hundred feet
by six hundred feet in size, for a hotel site, and to lease the same with the approval of the Governor
General, ... for a term not exceeding ninety-nine years; that "should the Municipal Board ... deem it
advisable it is hereby authorized to advertise for sale to sell said tract of land ... ;" "that said tract shall
be used for hotel purposes as herein prescribed, and shall not be devoted to any other purpose or object
whatever;" "that should the grantee x x x fail to maintain on said tract a first-class hotel x x x then the
title to said tract of land sold, conveyed, and transferred, and shall not be devoted to any other purpose
or object whatever;" "that should the grantee x x x fail to maintain on said tract a first-class hotel x x x
then the title to said tract of land sold, conveyed, and transferred to the grantee shall revert to the City
of Manila, and said City of Manila shall thereupon become entitled to immediate possession of said tract
of land" (Sec. 5); that the construction of the rock and timber bulkheads or sea wall "shall be paid for out
of the funds of the City of Manila, but the area to be reclaimed by said proposed Luneta extension shall
be filled, without cost to the City of Manila, with material dredged from Manila Bay at the expense of the
Insular Government" (Sec. 6); and that "the City of Manila is hereby authorized to borrow from the
Insular Government ... the sum of three hundred thousand pesos, to be expended in the construction of
Luneta extension provided for by paragraph (a) of section one hereof" (Sec.7).

The grant made by Act No. 1360 of the reclaimed land to the City of Manila is a grant of "public" nature,
the same having been made to a local political subdivision. Such grants have always
been strictly construed against the grantee. 33 One compelling reason given for the strict interpretation
of a public grant is that there is in such grant a gratuitous donation of, public money or resources which
results in an unfair advantage to the grantee and for that reason, the grant should be narrowly restricted
in favor of the public. 34 This reason for strict interpretation obtains relative to the aforesaid grant, for,
although the City of Manila was to pay for the construction of such work and timber bulkheads or sea
walls as may be necessary for the making of the Luneta extension, the area to be reclaimed would be
filled at the expense of the Insular Government and without cost to the City of Manila, with material
dredged from Manila Bay. Hence, the letter of the statute should be narrowed to exclude maters which if
included would defeat the policy of the legislation.

The reclaimed area, an extension to the Luneta, is declared to be property of the City of Manila.
Property, however, is either of public ownership or of private ownership. 35 What kind of property of the
City is the reclaimed land? Is it of public ownership (dominion) or of private ownership?

We hold that it is of public dominion, intended for public use.

Firstly, if the reclaimed area was granted to the City of Manila as its patrimonial property, the City could,
by virtue of its ownership, dispose of the whole reclaimed area without need of authorization to do so
from the lawmaking body. Thus Article 348 of the Civil Code of Spain provides that "ownership is the
right to enjoy and dispose of a thing without further limitations than those established by law." 36 The
right to dispose (jus disponendi) of one's property is an attribute of ownership. Act No. 1360, as
amended, however, provides by necessary implication, that the City of Manila could not dispose of the
reclaimed area without being authorized by the lawmaking body. Thus the statute provides that "the City
of Manila is hereby authorized to set aside a tract ... at the north end, for a hotel site, and to lease the
same ... should the municipal board ... deem it advisable, it is hereby authorized ...to sell said tract of
land ... " (Sec. 5). If the reclaimed area were patrimonial property of the City, the latter could dispose of
it without need of the authorization provided by the statute, and the authorization to set aside ...
lease ... or sell ... given by the statute would indeed be superfluous. To so construe the statute s to
render the term "authorize," which is repeatedly used by the statute, superfluous would violate the
elementary rule of legal hermeneutics that effect must be given to every word, clause, and sentence of
the statute and that a statute should be so interpreted that no part thereof becomes inoperative or
superfluous. 37 To authorize means to empower, to give a right to act. 38 Act No. 1360 furthermore
qualifies the verb it authorize" with the adverb "hereby," which means "by means of this statue or
section," Hence without the authorization expressly given by Act No. 1360, the City of Manila could not
lease or sell even the northern portion; much less could it dispose of the whole reclaimed area.
Consequently, the reclaimed area was granted to the City of Manila, not as its patrimonial property. At
most, only the northern portion reserved as a hotel site could be said to be patrimonial property for, by
express statutory provision it could be disposed of, and the title thereto would revert to the City should
the grantee fail to comply with the terms provided by the statute.

TDC however, contends that the purpose of the authorization provided in Act No. 1360 to lease or sell
was really to limit the City's power of disposition. To sustain such contention is to beg the question. If the
purpose of the law was to limit the City's power of disposition then it is necessarily assumed that the
City had already the power to dispose, for if such power did not exist, how could it be limited? It was
precisely Act 1360 that gave the City the power to dispose for it was hereby authorized by lease of sale.
Hence, the City of Manila had no power to dispose of the reclaimed land had such power not been
granted by Act No. 1360, and the purpose of the authorization was to empower the city to sell or lease
the northern part and not, as TDC claims, to limit only the power to dispose. Moreover, it is presumed
that when the lawmaking body enacted the statute, it had full knowledge of prior and existing laws and
legislation on the subject of the statute and acted in accordance or with respect thereto. 39 If by another
previous law, the City of Manila could already dispose of the reclaimed area, which it could do if such
area were given to it as its patrimonial property, would it then not be a superfluity for Act No. 1360
to authorize the City to dispose of the reclaimed land? Neither has petitioner TDC pointed to any other
law that authorized the City to do so, nor have we come across any. What we do know is that if the
reclaimed land were patrimonial property, there would be no need of giving special authorization to the
City to dispose of it. Said authorization was given because the reclaimed land was not intended to be
patrimonial property of the City of Manila, and without the express authorization to dispose of the
northern portion, the City could not dispose of even that part.

Secondly, the reclaimed area is an "extension to the Luneta in the City of Manila." 40 If the reclaimed
area is an extension of the Luneta, then it is of the same nature or character as the old Luneta. Anent
this matter, it has been said that a power to extend (or continue an act or business) cannot authorize a
transaction that is totally distinct. 41 It is not disputed that the old Luneta is a public park or plaza and it
is so considered by Section 859 of the Revised Ordinances of the City of Manila. 42 Hence the "extension
to the Luneta" must be also a public park or plaza and for public use.

TDC, however, contends that the subject property cannot be considered an extension of the old Luneta
because it is outside of the limits of the old Luneta when extended to the sea. This is a strained
interpretation of the term "extension," for an "extension," it has been held, "signifies enlargement in any
direction in length, breadth, or circumstance." 43

Thirdly, the reclaimed area was formerly a part of the manila Bay. A bay is nothing more than an inlet of
the sea. Pursuant to Article 1 of the Law of Waters of 1866, bays, roadsteads, coast sea, inlets and
shores are parts of the national domain open to public use. These are also property of public ownership
devoted to public use, according to Article 339 of the Civil Code of Spain.

When the shore or part of the bay is reclaimed, it does not lose its character of being property for public
use, according to Government of the Philippine Islands vs. Cabangis. 44 The predecessor of the claimants
in this case was the owner of a big tract of land including the lots in question. From 1896 said land
began to wear away due to the action of the waters of Manila Bay. In 1901 the lots in question became
completely submerged in water in ordinary tides. It remained in such a state until 1912 when the
Government undertook the dredging of the Vitas estuary and dumped the Sand and - silt from estuary
on the low lands completely Submerged in water thereby gradually forming the lots in question. Tomas
Cabangis took possession thereof as soon as they were reclaimed hence, the claimants, his successors
in interest, claimed that the lots belonged to them. The trial court found for the claimants and the
Government appealed. This Court held that when the lots became a part of the shore. As they remained
in that condition until reclaimed by the filling done by the Government, they belonged to the public
domain. for public use .4' Hence, a part of the shore, and for that purpose a part of the bay, did not lose
its character of being for public use after it was reclaimed.

Fourthly, Act 1360, as amended, authorized the lease or sale of the northern portion of the reclaimed
area as a hotel sites. The subject property is not that northern portion authorized to be leased or sold;
the subject property is the southern portion. Hence, applying the rule of expresio unius est exlusio
alterius, the City of Manila was not authorized to sell the subject property. The application of this
principle of statutory construction becomes the more imperative in the case at bar inasmuch as not only
must the public grant of the reclaimed area to the City of Manila be, as above stated, strictly construed
against the City of Manila, but also because a grant of power to a municipal corporation, as happens in
this case where the city is author ized to lease or sell the northern portion of the Luneta extension, is
strictly limited to such as are expressly or impliedly authorized or necessarily incidental to the objectives
of the corporation.

Fifthly, Article 344 of the Civil Code of Spain provides that to property of public use, in provinces and in
towns, comprises the provincial and town roads, the squares streets fountains, and public waters the
promenades, and public works of general service paid for by such towns or provinces." A park or plaza,
such as the extension to the Luneta, is undoubtedly comprised in said article.

The petitioners, however, argue that, according to said Article 344, in order that the character of
property for public use may be so attached to a plaza, the latter must be actually constructed or at least
laid out as such, and since the subject property was not yet constructed as a plaza or at least laid out as
a plaza when it was sold by the City, it could not be property for public use. It should be noted, however,
that properties of provinces and towns for public use are governed by the same principles as properties
of the same character belonging to the public domain. 46 In order to be property of public domain an
intention to devote it to public use is sufficient. 47 The, petitioners' contention is refuted by Manresa
himself who said, in his comments", on Article 344, that: +.wph!1

Las plazas, calles y paseos publicos correspondent sin duda aiguna aldominio publico
municipal ), porque se hallan establecidos sobre suelo municipal y estan destinadas al uso
de todos Laurent presenta tratando de las plazas, una question relativa a si deben
conceptuarse como de dominio publico los lugares vacios libres, que se encuenttan en los
Municipios rurales ... Laurent opina contra Pioudhon que toda vez que estan al servicio de
todos pesos lugares, deben considerable publicos y de dominion publico. Realmente, pala
decidir el punto, bastara siempre fijarse en el destino real y efectivo de los citados
lugares, y si este destino entraa un uso comun de todos, no hay duda que son de
dominio publico municipal si no patrimoniales.

It is not necessary, therefore, that a plaza be already constructed of- laid out as a plaza in order that it
be considered property for public use. It is sufficient that it be intended to be such In the case at bar, it
has been shown that the intention of the lawmaking body in giving to the City of Manila the extension to
the Luneta was not a grant to it of patrimonial property but a grant for public use as a plaza.

We have demonstrated ad satietatem that the Luneta extension as intended to be property of the City of
Manila for public use. But, could not said property-later on be converted, as the petitioners contend, to
patrimonial property? It could be. But this Court has already said, in Ignacio vs. The Director of
Lands, 49 the executive and possibly the legislation department that has the authority and the power to
make the declaration that said property, is no longer required for public use, and until such declaration i
made the property must continue to form paint of the public domain. In the case at bar, there has been
no such explicit or unequivocal declaration It should be noted, furthermore, anent this matter, that
courts are undoubted v not. primarily called upon, and are not in a position, to determine whether any
public land is still needed for the purposes specified in Article 4 of the Law of Waters . 50

Having disposed of the petitioners' principal arguments relative to the main issue, we now pass to the
items of circumstantial evidence which TDC claims may serve as aids in construing the legislative intent
in the enactment of Act No. 1360, as amended. It is noteworthy that all these items of alleged
circumstantial evidence are acts far removed in time from the date of the enactment of Act No.1360
such that they cannot be considered contemporaneous with its enactment. Moreover, it is not farfetched
that this mass of circumstantial evidence might have been influenced by the antecedent series of invalid
acts, to wit: the City's having obtained over the reclaimed area OCT No. 1909 on January 20,1911; the
sale made by the City of the subject property to Manila Lodge No. 761; and the issuance to the latter of
T.C.T. No. 2195. It cannot gainsaid that if the subsequent acts constituting the circumstantial evidence
have been base on, or at least influenced, by those antecedent invalid acts and Torrens titles S they can
hardly be indicative of the intent of the lawmaking body in enacting Act No. 1360 and its amendatory
act.

TDC claims that Exhs. "J," "J-l" "K," "T," "U," "W" and "Y" show that the subject property is not a park.

Exhibits "J" and "J-1," the "Luneta and vicinity showing proposed development" dated May 14, 1949,
were prepared by the National Urban Planning Commission of the Office of the President. It cannot be
reasonably expected that this plan for development of the Luneta should show that the subject property
occupied by the ElksClub is a public park, for it was made 38 years after the sale to the Elks, and after
T.C.T. No. 2195 had been issued to Elks. It is to be assumed that the Office of the President was
cognizant of the Torrens title of BPOE. That the subject property was not included as a part of the Luneta
only indicated that the National Urban Planning Commission that made the plan knew that the subject
property was occupied by Elks and that Elks had a Torrens title thereto. But this in no way proves that
the subject property was originally intended to be patrimonial property of the City of Manila or that the
sale to Elks or that the Torrens-title of the latter is valid.

Exhibit "K" is the "Plan of land covered by T.C.T . No ----, as prepared for Tarlac Development Company."
It was made on November 11, 1963 by Felipe F. Cruz, private land surveyor. This surveyor is admittedly
a surveyor for TDC. 51 This plan cannot be expected to show that the subject property is a part of the
Luneta Park, for he plan was made to show the lot that "was to be sold to petitioner." This plan must
have also assumed the existence of a valid title to the land in favor of Elks.

Exhibits "T" and "U" are copies of Presidential Proclamations No. 234 issued on November 15, 1955 and
No. 273 issued on October 4, 1967, respectively. The purpose of the said Proclamations was to reserve
certain parcels of land situated in the District of Ermita, City of Manila, for park site purposes. Assuming
that the subject property is not within the boundaries of the reservation, this cannot be interpreted to
mean that the subject property was not originally intended to be for public use or that it has ceased to
be such. Conversely, had the subject property been included in the reservation, it would mean, if it
really were private property, that the rights of the owners thereof would be extinguished, for the
reservations was "subject to private rights, if any there be." That the subject property was not included
in the reservation only indicates that the President knew of the existence of the Torrens titles mentioned
above. The failure of the Proclamations to include the subject property in the reservation for park site
could not change the character of the subject property as originally for public use and to form part of the
Luneta Park. What has been said here applies to Exhibits "V", "V-1" to "V-3," and "W" which also refer to
the area and location of the reservation for the Luneta Park.

Exhibit "Y" is a copy of O.C.T. No. 7333 dated November 13, 1935, covering the lot where now stands the
American Embassy [Chancery]. It states that the property is "bounded ... on the Northwest by properties
of Army and Navy Club (Block No.321) and Elks Club (Block No. 321)." Inasmuch as the said bounderies
delineated by the Philippine Legislature in Act No. 4269, the petitioners contend that the Legislature
recognized and conceded the existence of the Elks Club property as a primate property (the property in
question) and not as a public park or plaza. This argument is non sequitur plain and simple Said Original
Certificate of Title cannot be considered as an incontrovertible declaration that the Elks Club was in truth
and in fact the owner of such boundary lot. Such mention as boundary owner is not a means of acquiring
title nor can it validate a title that is null and void.

TDC finally claims that the City of Manila is estopped from questioning the validity of the sale it executed
on July 13,'1911 conconveying the subject property to the Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE. This contention
cannot be seriously defended in the light of the doctrine repeatedly enunciated by this Court that the
Government is never estopped by mistakes or errors on the pan of its agents, and estoppel does not
apply to a municipal corporation to validate a contract that is prohibited by law or its against Republic
policy, and the sale of July 13, 1911 executed by the City of Manila to Manila Lodge was certainly a
contract prohibited by law. Moreover, estoppel cannot be urged even if the City of Manila accepted the
benefits of such contract of sale and the Manila Lodge No. 761 had performed its part of the agreement,
for to apply the doctrine of estoppel against the City of Manila in this case would be tantamount to
enabling it to do indirectly what it could not do directly. 52

The sale of the subject property executed by the City of Manila to the Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE, was
void and inexistent for lack of subject matter. 53 It suffered from an incurable defect that could not be
ratified either by lapse of time or by express ratification. The Manila Lodge No. 761 therefore acquired
no right by virtue of the said sale. Hence to consider now the contract inexistent as it always has seen,
cannot be, as claimed by the Manila Lodge No. 761, an impairment of the obligations of contracts, for
there was it, contemplation of law, no contract at all.

The inexistence of said sale can be set up against anyone who asserts a right arising from it, not only
against the first vendee, the Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE, but also against all its suceessors, including
the TDC which are not protected the doctrine of bona fide ii purchaser without notice, being claimed by
the TDC does not apply where there is a total absence of title in the vendor, and the good faith of the
purchaser TDC cannot create title where none exists. 55

The so-called sale of the subject property having been executed, the restoration or restitution of what
has been given is order 56

SECOND ISSUE

The second ground alleged in support of the instant petitions for review on certiorari is that the Court of
Appeals has departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings as to call for an
exercise of the power of supervision. TDC in L-41012, argues that the respondent Court did not make its
own findings but simply recited those of the lower court and made a general affirmance, contrary to the
requirements of the Constitution; that the respondent Court made glaring and patent mistakes in
recounting even the copied findings, palpably showing lack of deliberate consideration of the matters
involved, as, for example, when said court said that Act No. 1657 authorized the City of Manila to set
aside a portion of the reclaimed land "formed by the Luneta Extension of- to lease or sell the same for
park purposes;" and that respondent Court. further more, did not resolve or dispose of any of the
assigned errors contrary to the mandate of the Judiciary Act.. 57

The Manila Lodge No. 761, in L-41001, likewise alleges, as one of the reasons warranting review, that
the Court of Appeals departed from the accepted and usual course of Judicial proceedings by simply
making a general affirmance of the court a quo findings without bothering to resolve several vital points
mentioned by the BPOE in its assigned errors. 58

COMMENTS ON SECOND ISSUE

We have shown in our discussion of the first issue that the decision of the trial court is fully in
accordance with law. To follows that when such decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, the
affirmance was likewise in accordance with law. Hence, no useful purpose will be served in further
discussing the second issue.

CONCLUSION

ACCORDINGLY, the petitions in both G.R. Nos. L-41001 and L-41012 are denied for lack of merit, and the
decision of the Court of Appeals of June 30, 1975, is hereby affirmed, at petitioner's cost.

Makasiar, Munoz Palma and Martin, JJ., concur.1wph1.t

Teehankee, concurs in the result which is wholly consistent with the basic rulings and jugdment of this
Court in its decision of July 31, 1968.
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

EN BANC

DEPARTMENT OF G.R. No. 178256


TRANSPORTATION and
COMMUNICATIONS, Present:
Petitioner,
PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
- versus - AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, Jr.,
NACHURA,
REYES,
DE CASTRO, and
BRION, JJ.

ROLANDO S. CRUZ, Promulgated:


Respondent. July 23, 2008
x----------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.

Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the
Decision[1] dated June 23, 2005 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 80353 and the CA
Resolution[2] dated June 4, 2007 which denied petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.
The material antecedents that spawned the present controversy are the same with Mamaril v. Civil Service
Commission.[3] Thus, the Court adopts and quotes the facts therein stated:

On December 19, 2000, then [Department of Transportation and Communications


(DOTC)] Secretary Vicente C. Rivera, Jr. requested the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to attest that
at least two of the four [Department Legislative Liaison Specialist (DLLS)] positions in the DOTC be
made permanent. The request was granted by the CSC by Resolution No. 01-0233 dated January
23, 2001.
Upon verbal query by DOTC Director Carina S. Valera (Director Valera), then CSC
Chairman Corazon Alma de Leon advised the DOTC that the incumbents of the formerly
coterminous DLLS positions had no vested right to occupy the already permanent DLLS positions,
and that they were not automatically appointed thereto; and the positions which were made
permanent could only be filled up by following existing CSC rules and regulations as well as DOTC
policies and guidelines on the appointment of personnel.

By letter of January 29, 2001, DOTC Assistant Secretary for Administrative and Legal
Affairs Wilfredo Trinidad (Trinidad) sought from the CSC a written confirmation of its Chairmans
above-said advice. Pending receipt of a reply from the CSC, Trinidad sent separate letters dated
February 22, 2001 to [Erneliza Z. Mamaril] and Rolando Cruz, the other incumbent of the two DLLS
positions, advising each of them as follows:

The change of the nature of the DLLS position which you held, from coterminous to
permanent pursuant to CSC Resolution No. 010233 dated 23 January 2001 did not
automatically make you the holder of the now permanent DLLS position. This
interpretation was confirmed by Director Carina S. Valera with the then CSC
Chairman de Leon.

As your appointment was of cotermin[o]us nature, your services automatically


terminated with the non-existence of the cotermin[o]us position and the advent of
the new appointing authority.

When the new DLLS permanent positions are authorized to be filled up, you can
apply therefor. In the meantime, you may seek appointment to any other vacant
position that suits your qualifications. Needless to say, selection in any case will
follow the usual process in accordance with the DOTC guidelines and the CSC rules
and regulations.

Acting on the above-said query of Trinidad, the CSC, by Resolution No. 01-0502 dated
February 22, 2001 which was received at his office on March 9, 2001 and by the DOTC Personnel
Division on March 12, 2001, ruled that the two occupants of the two DLLS positions are ipso
facto appointed to such positions under permanent status if they meet the minimum requirements
of the said positions.

In light of the contrary advice previously given by the former CSC Chairman de Leon, the
DOTC, by letter of April 27, 2001, sought clarification on CSC Resolution No. 01-0502.

By Resolution No. 01-1409 issued on August 20, 2001, the CSC modified Resolution No.
01-0502 by declaring that the previous incumbents of the two Department Legislative Liaison
Specialist (DLLS) positionswere no longer existing employees as of the date said positions
were declared by the Commission as career in CSC Resolution No. 01-0233 dated January 23,
2001, and that DOTC Secretary Pantaleon D. Alvarez may now appoint who will occupy these
newly created DLLS positions x x x.

xxxx

[Mamaril] and Cruz filed a Motion for Reconsideration of CSC Resolution No. 01-1409. By
Resolution of November 26, 2002, the CSC issued Resolution No. 02-1504 reconsidering and setting
aside CSC Resolution No. 01-1409. [Mamaril and Cruz were] thus reinstated to [their] former
position[s] on November 26, 2002.

The DOTC filed a Motion for Reconsideration of CSC Resolution No. 02-1504 which was
denied, by Resolution No. 03-1019 dated September 26, 2003. In the same Resolution, the CSC
declared that [Mamaril] and Cruz are not entitled to back salaries from the time they were
separated from the service up to their date of reinstatement.

[Mamaril] thus filed a Motion for Reconsideration of said Resolution No. 03-1019 only
insofar as the CSC held that she was not entitled to backwages. By Resolution No. 04-0279 issued
on March 18, 2004, the CSC denied [Mamaril's] Motion for Reconsideration.[4] (Emphasis supplied)

Cruz and Mamaril filed separate petitions for review with the CA assailing Resolution No. 03-1019 only
insofar as the CSC held that they were not entitled to backwages, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 80353 and CA-G.R.
SP No. 83314, respectively.

In a Resolution[5] dated May 14, 2004, the CA dismissed CA-G.R. SP No. 83314 for lack of verification and
certification against forum shopping. When Mamaril's Motion for Reconsideration was denied in the CA Resolution
dated August 6, 2004, she filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari with this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 164929.
On April 10, 2006, the Court en banc rendered a Decision[6] denying Mamaril's petition, finding it to be
procedurally and substantially without merit. The Decision became final andexecutory, and entry of judgment was
made of record on May 25, 2006.

Meanwhile, on June 23, 2003, the CA rendered a Decision [7] in CA-G.R. SP No. 80353, setting aside CSC
Resolution No. 03-1019 dated September 26, 2003, and ordering the DOTC to pay Cruz his back salaries from the
date of his dismissal up to his actual reinstatement. While the CA viewed the dismissal as having been attended
with good faith, it nonetheless held that Cruz was entitled to backwages since prevailing jurisprudence supports the
award of backwages to illegally dismissed civil servants, finding inapplicable the DOTC cited case
of Octot v. Ybaez.[8]

The DOTC filed a Motion for Reconsideration but it was denied by the CA in its Resolution [9] dated June 4,
2007.

Hence, the present petition on the following grounds:

I
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A GRAVE ERROR IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER'S GOOD
FAITH IN TERMINATING RESPONDENT DID NOT PRECLUDE THE LATTER FROM RECEIVING BACK
SALARIES IN HIS FAVOR.

II
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A GRAVE ERROR WHEN IT FAILED TO APPLY IN THE INSTANT
CASE THE RULING IN OCTOT VS. YBAEZ, 111 SCRA 79 (1982) THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF PROOF
THAT [A GOVERNMENT AGENCY] ACTED IN BAD FAITH AND WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION, [A
DISMISSED GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE] IS NOT ENTITLED TO BACKWAGES AND CONSEQUENTLY
CANNOT CLAIM FOR DAMAGES.

III
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT APPLYING THE RULE THAT A PUBLIC OFFICIAL IS NOT
ENTITLED TO ANY COMPENSATION IF HE HAS NOT RENDERED ANY SERVICES.[10]

The DOTC contends that a government employee who was dismissed from service in good faith is not
entitled to back salaries upon his reinstatement, relying on the Court's application ofOctot in Mamaril; the assailed
Decision should be set aside under the doctrine of stare decisis, since the facts in Mamaril and the present case
are exactly the same.

On the other hand, Cruz contends that his dismissal was effected in bad faith since he was terminated
without awaiting the reply of the CSC to the query of DOTC regarding his employment status; Octot is inapplicable
because prevailing jurisprudence supports the award of backwages for a maximum period of five years to an
illegally dismissed employee.

The Court finds for the petitioner DOTC.

As stated at the outset, the pivotal question of whether a government employee who was dismissed from
service in good faith is entitled to back salaries upon his reinstatement has already been resolved in the negative
in Mamaril, thus:

The general proposition is that a public official is not entitled to any compensation if he has
not rendered any service. As he works, so shall he earn. Compensation is paid only for service
actually or constructively rendered.

[Mamaril's] services were actually terminated on September 1, 2001, after the CSC issued
Resolution No. 01-1409 dated August 20, 2001 declaring that the previous incumbents of the two
Department Legislative Liaison Specialist (DLLS) positions were no longer existing employees as of
the date said positions were declared by the Commission as career. She was, however, reinstated
on November 26, 2002 after the CSC issued on even date Resolution No. 02-1504 setting aside
Resolution No. 01-1409.

Octot v. Ybaez instructs that the good faith or bad faith and grave abuse of discretion in
the dismissal or termination of the services of a government employee come into play in the
determination of the award of back salaries upon his reinstatement. In said case, the therein
petitioner, a security guard in the Regional Health Office No. VII, Cebu City who had been convicted
of libel by a trial court, was summarily dismissed pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 6 and LOI Nos.
14 and 14-A issued by then President Marcos directing heads of departments and agencies of the
government to weed out undesirable government officials and employees, specifically those who
were facing charges or were notoriously undesirable on the ground of dishonesty, incompetence or
other kinds of misconduct defined in the Civil Service Law. The therein petitioner was eventually
acquitted of the criminal charge. Hence, his request for reinstatement was granted but not his claim
for back salaries from the date of his dismissal. This Court, through then Chief Justice Teehankee,
held:

In the absence of proof that respondent Regional Director acted in bad


faith and with grave abuse of discretion, petitioner is not entitled
to backwages and consequently cannot claim for damages. In the case at bar, the
record manifests that respondents officials were not motivated by ill will or personal
malice in dismissing petitioner but only by their desire to comply with the
mandates of Presidential Decree No. 6.(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The denial of the award of back salaries, absent a showing of bad faith and/or grave abuse
of discretion in the termination of the services of a government employee who was reinstated, was
reiterated in Clemente v. Commission on Audit, Acting Director of Prisons
v. Villaluz, and Echeche v. Court of Appeals.

[Mamaril], however, invokes the rulings in Taala v. Legaspi, De Guzman v. Civil Service
Commission, Gabriel v. Domingo, Del Castillo v. Civil Service Commission to the effect that when an
official or employee was illegally dismissed and his reinstatement is ordered, for all legal purposes
he is considered as not having left his office and, therefore, is entitled to all rights and privileges that
accrue to him by virtue of the office.

To begin with, [Mamaril] cannot be considered to have been illegally dismissed. Her services
were terminated effective September 1, 2001 by the DOTC in light of the CSC August 20,
2001 Resolution.

At any rate, no parity of circumstances in the above-cited cases invoked by [Mamaril]


obtains in the case at bar.

In Taala, payment of back salaries upon reinstatement was ordered upon acquittal in a
criminal case of the regular employee of the government who had been suspended as a result of
the filing of said case. De Guzmaninvolved a proscribed abolition of office, hence, payment of back
salaries was ordered upon reinstatement of the separated employee. In Del Castillo, the therein
petitioner was preventively suspended and later dismissed for grave misconduct. He was eventually
exonerated. He was thus ordered reinstated. He thereafter filed a Motion for Clarificatory Relief
praying for an award of backwages. Noting that the CSC did not object to the payment
ofbackwages and the Solicitor General in fact recommended the payment thereof, this Court
granted the motion.

In Gabriel, the therein petitioner was holding a permanent position of Motor Vehicle
Registrar I at the Motor Vehicles Office, later renamed the Land Transportation Commission. In 1979,
the Land Transportation Commission was reorganized, renaming plantilla positions. The therein
petitioners position was changed to Transportation District Supervisor, but since another had been
appointed thereto, he filed a protest. During the pendency of his protest, he was extended a casual
appointment but his services were in effect terminated three days later, drawing him to file a
complaint for illegal termination of services which reached the CSC. The CSC eventually found that
the issuance to the therein petitioner of a casual appointment which resulted in the termination of
his services was illegal and that he was more qualified than the one appointed to his renamed
position of Transportation District Supervisor. The CSC accordingly directed his appointment to his
former position. He was appointed alright but to a lower position. He later filed a claim
for backwages which was denied by the Commission on Audit but which this Court ordered
granted.

In all these cases, the suspensions and/or dismissals were held unjustified, the therein
petitioners having been either exonerated from the charges-bases of suspension or dismissal or
were victims of proscribed abolition of office or issuance of appointment to a different position which
soon after resulted in dismissal therefrom.

That the DOTCs termination of [Mamaril's] services in accordance with the August 20,
2001 Resolution of the CSC was not attended with bad faith and/or grave abuse of discretion, it
cannot, under the facts and circumstances of the case, be gainsaid.[11]
Mamaril is binding and applicable to the present case following the salutary doctrine of
stare decisis et non quieta movere which means to adhere to precedents, and not to unsettle things which are
established.[12] Under the doctrine, when the Supreme Court has once laid down a principle of law as applicable
to a certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle, and apply it to all future cases, where facts are substantially
the same; regardless of whether the parties and property are the same.[13] The doctrine of stare decisis is based
upon the legal principle or rule involved and not upon the judgment which results therefrom. In this particular
sense stare decisis differs from res judicata which is based upon the judgment.[14]

The doctrine of stare decisis is one of policy grounded on the necessity for securing certainty and stability
of judicial decisions, thus:

Time and again, the Court has held that it is a very desirable and necessary judicial practice
that when a court has laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certain state of facts, it will
adhere to that principle and apply it to all future cases in which the facts are substantially the
same. Stare decisis et non quieta movere. Stand by the decisions and disturb not what is
settled. Stare decisis simply means that for the sake of certainty, a conclusion reached in one case
should be applied to those that follow if the facts are substantially the same, even though the
parties may be different. It proceeds from the first principle of justice that, absent any powerful
countervailing considerations, like cases ought to be decided alike. Thus, where the same questions
relating to the same event have been put forward by the 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.[15]

It bears stressing that the facts of the present case and those of Mamaril are the same. Clearly, in the light
of Mamaril, which the Court follows as a precedent, the DOTC did not effect Cruz's termination with bad faith and,
consequently, no backwages can be awarded in his favor. It is the Court's duty to apply the previous ruling
in Mamaril to the instant case. Once a case has been decided one way, any other case involving exactly the same
point at issue, as in the present case, should be decided in the same manner.[16]

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 80353 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Resolution No. 03-1019 dated September 26, 2003 and
Resolution No. 04-0279 dated March 18, 2004 issued by the Civil Service Commission are REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ