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Republic vs.

Court of Appeals

REPUBLIC v. COURT OF APPEALS


GR Nos. 103882, 105276 November 25, 1998

FACTS:
                On June 22, 1957, RA 1899 was approved granting authority to all
municipalities and chartered cities to undertake and carry out at their own expense the
reclamation by dredging, filling, or other means, of any foreshore lands bordering them,
and to establish, provide, construct, maintain and repair proper and adequate docking
and harbor facilities as such municipalities and chartered cities may determine in
consultation with the Secretary of Finance and the Secretary of Public Works and
Communications.

Pursuant to the said law, Ordinance No. 121 was passed by the city of Pasay for the
reclamation of foreshore lands within their jurisdiction and entered into an agreement
with Republic Real Estate Corporation for the said project.

Republic questioned the agreement. It contended, among others, that the agreement
between RREC and the City of Pasay was void for the object of the contract is outside
the commerce of man, it being a foreshore land.  
Pasay City and RREC countered that the object in question is within the
commerce of man because RA 1899 gives a broader meaning on the term “foreshore
land” than that in the definition provided by the dictionary.

RTC rendered judgment in favour of Pasay City and RREC, and the decision was
affirmed by the CA with modifications.

ISSUES:
I.        Whether or not the term “foreshore land” includes the submerged area.
II.      Whether or not “foreshore land” and the reclaimed area is within the commerce of
man.

HELD: 
The Court ruled that it is erroneous and unsustainable to uphold the opinion of
the respondent court that the term “foreshore land” includes the submerged areas. To
repeat, the term "foreshore lands" refers to:
The strip of land that lies between the high and low water marks and that is alternately
wet and dry according to the flow of the tide.  
A strip of land margining a body of water (as a lake or stream); the part of a seashore
between the low-water line usually at the seaward margin of a low-tide terrace and the
upper limit of wave wash at high tide usually marked by a beach scarp or
berm.(Webster's Third New International Dictionary)
The duty of the court is to interpret the enabling Act, RA 1899. In so doing, we cannot
broaden its meaning; much less widen the coverage thereof. If the intention of
Congress were to include submerged areas, it should have provided expressly. That
Congress did not so provide could only signify the exclusion of submerged areas from
the term “foreshore lands.”
It bears stressing that the subject matter of Pasay City Ordinance No. 121, as amended
by Ordinance No. 158, and the Agreement under attack, have been found to be outside
the intendment and scope of RA 1899, and therefore ultra vires and null and void.

STATUTORYCONSTRUCTION; LAW IS CLEAR; NO ROOM FOR INTERPRETATION


AND CONSTRUCTION BUT ONLY FOR APPLICATION. — Well entrenched, to the
point of being elementary, is the rule that when the law speaks in clear and categorical
language, there is no reason for interpretation or construction, but only for application.