“VALID BA ANG KONTRATA NAMIN? PWEDE KO BA ATTY IPATUPAD ANG BENTAHAN NG RIGHTS NAMIN SA KORTE, NAG-OKUPA PO SILA NG PUBLIC ROAD AT GINAWA NILANG TINDAHAN AT BINENTA SA AMIN?”
ANG LUPA NA PAG-AARI NG GOBYERNO AY HINDI PWEDENG IBENTA O ISAMA SA KONTRATA NG DALAWANG PRIBADONG TAO. ANG ISANG KONTRATA NA NAGBEBENTA, NAGSASANGLA O NAGLILIPAT NG INTERES O KARAPATAN, SA LUPANG PAG-AARI NG GOBYERNO AY ISANG VOID CONTRACT AT WALA ITONG BISA AT HINDI PWEDENG IPATUPAD SA KORTE. ANG PAG-AARI NG GOBYERNO AY OUTSIDE THE COMMERCE OF MEN.
May nagtatanong sa E-Lawyers Online kung ang kontrata nila sa bentahan ng “land rights” sa isang government property owned na lupa ay valid at pwedeng ipatupad sa korte. Ganito ang question ng isang reader ng E-Lawyers Online:
“Atty., meron nagsangla sa akin ng rights at may kasulatan kami. Ito ay government property na inokupa nila at tinayuan ng palengke at dito ay pinaupahan. Pwede ba namin makuha ang pwesto na naisangla? papanigan ba kami ng korte? Thanks atty.”
Ang tinatawag na “rights” o “land rights” ay usually nanggaling sa mga tao na nag-okupa ng isang lupa na walang titulo na walang kasiguradohan kung ito ay isang alienable and disposable public land o kaya pag-aari ng gobyerno. Kalimitan na ito ay ginagawa ng mga informal settlers na nag-ookupa sa mga bakanteng lupa o lote. Ayon sa Section 2 ng Article XII ng 1987 Constitution, ang lahat ng lupa na hindi titulado at hindi alienable and disposable public land ay lahat pag-aari ng gobyerno na hindi pwedeng ibenta at isangla ng kahit sinumang tao.
“Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant.
The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.
The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fishworkers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons.
The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources.
The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this provision, within thirty days from its execution.
In many Supreme Court cases, it was held that:
“All lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. Thus, all lands that have not been acquired from the government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the State as part of the inalienable public domain. Necessarily, it is up to the State to determine if lands of the public domain will be disposed of for private ownership. The government, as the agent of the state, is possessed of the plenary power as the persona in law to determine who shall be the favored recipients of public lands, as well as under what terms they may be granted such privilege, not excluding the placing of obstacles in the way of their exercise of what otherwise would be ordinary acts of ownership.” “Zarate v. Director of Lands, supra; Collado v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 107764, October 4, 2002, 390 SCRA 343; Director of Lands v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. 73246, March 2, 1993, 219 SCRA 339. Republic v. Estonilo, G.R. No. 157306, November 25, 2005, 476 SCRA 265; Zarate v. Director of Lands, supra. De los Reyes v. Ramolete, G.R. No. L-47331, June 21, 1983, 122 SCRA 652, citing Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-27455, June 28, 1973, 51 SCRA 381.]
May presumption ang batas na kung hindi mapatunayan na ang lupa ay pribadong pagmamay-ari, ang Estado ang may-ari nito at hindi pwedeng patitulohan. Ito ay isa sa mga desisyon ng Supreme Court sa kasong Valiao et.al vs. Republic et.al, G.R. 170757, November 28, 2011:
“Under the Regalian Doctrine, all lands not appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. They are beyond the commerce of man and not susceptible of private appropriation and acquisitive prescription. Occupation thereof in the concept of owner no matter how long cannot ripen into ownership and be registered. The burden of overcoming the presumption is on the person applying for registration who must prove that the land is alienable and disposable by means of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an administrative action; investigation reports of the Bureau of lands; and a legislative act or statute. The applicant may also secure a government certification that the land claimed to have been possessed for the required number of years is alienable and disposable. In this case, no such evidence was offered by Pedro et.al. So land is still an inalienable public domain.”
Kung ang lupa ay parte ng ilog, dagat o kagubatan o forest land o kaya parte ng isang public infrastructure for public use katulad ng riles ng tren, airport at iba pa, hindi ito matatawag na alienable and disposable public land unless it was classified as such.
Paano kung ang “rights” sa lupa na pag-aari ng gobyerno ay isinama sa isang kontrata ng bilihan, sanglaan o paupahan?
Pwede bang ipatupad ang kontrata na ito kung ang involved ay government property?
Ayon sa Article 1347 ng New Civil Code, lahat ng bagay ay pwedeng ilagay sa kontrata kung ito ay hindi outside sa commerce of men. Kung ang object ng kontrata ay outside the commerce of men, ito ay void contract at hindi ito pwedeng ipavalidate sa korte. Hindi rin ito pwedeng ipatupad sa korte.
Article 1347. All things which are not outside the commerce of men, including future things, may be the object of a contract. All rights which are not intransmissible may also be the object of contracts.
No contract may be entered into upon future inheritance except in cases expressly authorized by law.”
Article 1409. The following contracts are inexistent and void from the beginning:
(1) Those whose cause, object or purpose is contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy;
(2) Those which are absolutely simulated or fictitious;
(3) Those whose cause or object did not exist at the time of the transaction;
(4) Those whose object is outside the commerce of men;
(5) Those which contemplate an impossible service;
(6) Those where the intention of the parties relative to the principal object of the contract cannot be ascertained;
(7) Those expressly prohibited or declared void by law.
These contracts cannot be ratified. Neither can the right to set up the defense of illegality be waived.”
Ayon sa Supreme Court cases, ang government property like public plaza ay outside the commerce of men. “A public plaza is beyond the commerce of man and so cannot be the subject of lease or any other contractual undertaking.” [Municipality of Cavite vs. Rojas, 30 Phil. 602.] A public street is property for public use hence outside the commerce of man (Arts. 420, 424, Civil Code). Being outside the commerce of man, it may not be the subject of lease or other contract (Villanueva et al. vs. Castañeda and Macalino, 15 SCRA 142, citing the Municipality of Cavite vs. Rojas, 30 SCRA 602; Espiritu vs. Municipal Council of Pozorrubio, 102 Phil. 869; and Muyot vs. De la Fuente, 48 O.G. 4860). A dried creek brought about by man-made intervention is likewise outside of commerce of men [Republic vs. Santos, GR No. 163453, November 12, 2012].
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