CHAVEZ V. PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY
384 SCRA 152
FACTS:President Marcos through a presidential decree created PEA, which was tasked with the development, improvement, and acquisition, lease, and sale of all kinds of lands. The then president also transferred to PEA the foreshore and offshore lands of Manila Bay under the Manila-Cavite Coastal
Road and Reclamation Project.
Thereafter, PEA was granted patent to the reclaimed areas of land and then, years later, PEA entered into a JVA with AMARI for the development of the Freedom Islands. These two entered into a joint venture in the absence of any public bidding.
Later, a privilege speech was given by Senator President Maceda denouncing the JVA as the grandmother of all scams. An investigation was conducted and it was concluded that the lands that PEA was conveying to AMARI were lands of the public domain; the certificates of title over the
Freedom Islands were void; and the JVA itself was illegal. This prompted Ramos to form an investigatory committee on the legality of the JVA.
Petitioner now comes and contends that the government stands to lose billions by the conveyance or sale of the reclaimed areas to AMARI. He also asked for the full disclosure of the renegotiations happening between the parties.
ISSUE:W/N stipulations in the amended JVA for the transfer to AMARI of the lands, reclaimed or to be reclaimed, violate the Constitution.
HELD:The ownership of lands reclaimed from foreshore and submerged areas is rooted in the Regalian doctrine, which holds that the State owns all lands and waters of the public domain.
The 1987 Constitution recognizes the Regalian doctrine. It declares that all natural resources are owned by the State and except for alienable agricultural lands of the public domain, natural resources cannot be alienated.
The Amended JVA covers a reclamation area of 750 hectares. Only 157.84 hectares of the 750 hectare reclamation project have been reclaimed, and the rest of the area are still submerged areas forming part of Manila Bay. Further, it is provided that AMARI will reimburse the actual costs in reclaiming the areas of land and it will shoulder the other reclamation costs to be incurred.
The foreshore and submerged areas of Manila Bay are part of the lands of the public domain, waters and other natural resources and consequently owned by the State. As such, foreshore and submerged areas shall not be alienable unless they are classified as agricultural lands of the public domain. The mere reclamation of these areas by the PEA doesn’t convert these inalienable natural resources of the State into alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. There must be a law or presidential
proclamation officially classifying these reclaimed lands as alienable and disposable if the law has reserved them for some public or quasi-public use.