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TitleProperty Case Digests
TagsProperty Taxes Certiorari Writ Estoppel
File Size151.8 KB
Total Pages19
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Page 18

anyone while the petitioner in G.R. No. 92047 adds as a principal objection the alleged
unjustified bias of the Philippine government in favor of selling the property to non-Filipino
citizens and entities. These petitions have been consolidated and are resolved at the same time
for the objective is the same - to stop the sale of the Roppongi property.

Whether or not the Roppongi property and others of its kind can be alienated by the

Philippine Government.

The Supreme Court ruled in the negative. ART. 420 of the New Civil Code provides that

the following things are property of public dominion:

(1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges
constructed by the State, banks shores roadsteads, and others of similar character;

(2) Those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for
some public service or for the development of the national wealth.

ART. 421. All other property of the State, which is not of the character stated in the
preceding article, is patrimonial property.

The Roppongi property is correctly classified under paragraph 2 of Article 420 of the
Civil Code as property belonging to the State and intended for some public service. The fact that
the Roppongi site has not been used for a long time for actual Embassy service does not
automatically convert it to patrimonial property. Any such conversion happens only if the
property is withdrawn from public use (Cebu Oxygen and Acetylene Co. v. Bercilles, 66 SCRA
481 [1975]). A property continues to be part of the public domain, not available for private
appropriation or ownership until there is a formal declaration on the part of the government to
withdraw it from being such (Ignacio v. Director of Lands, 108 Phil. 335 [1960]). A mere transfer
of the Philippine Embassy to Nampeidai in 1976 is not relinquishment of the Roppongi
property's original purpose. Even the failure by the government to repair the building in
Roppongi is not abandonment since as earlier stated, there simply was a shortage of government
funds. The recent Administrative Orders authorizing a study of the status and conditions of
government properties in Japan were merely directives for investigation but did not in any way
signify a clear intention to dispose of the properties.

Having declared a need for a law or formal declaration to withdraw the Roppongi
property from public domain to make it alienable and a need for legislative authority to allow the
sale of the property, we see no compelling reason to tackle the constitutional issues. The
Roppongi property is not just like any piece of property. It was given to the Filipino people in
reparation for the lives and blood of Filipinos who died and suffered during the Japanese military
occupation, for the suffering of widows and orphans who lost their loved ones and kindred, for
the homes and other properties lost by countless Filipinos during the war. The Tokyo properties
are a monument to the bravery and sacrifice of the Filipino people in the face of an invader; like
the monuments of Rizal, Quezon, and other Filipino heroes, we do not expect economic or

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