187 SCRA 797



The  subject  Roppongi  property  is  one  of  the  properties  acquired  by  the Philippines from Japan pursuant to a Reparations Agreement.  The property is where the Philippine Embassy was once located, before it transferred to the  Nampeidai  property.    It  was  decided  that  the  properties  would  be
available to sale or disposition.  One of the first properties opened up for public  auction  was  the  Roppongi  property,  despite  numerous  oppositions from different sectors.


The  Roppongi  property  was  acquired  together  with  the  other  properties through  reparation  agreements.    They  were  assigned  to  the  government sector  and  that  the  Roppongi  property  was  specifically  designated  under the agreement to house the Philippine embassy.
It  is  of  public  dominion  unless  it  is  convincingly  shown  that  the  property has become patrimonial.  The respondents have failed to do so.
As property of public dominion, the Roppongi lot is outside the commerce of  man.    It  cannot  be  alienated.    Its  ownership  is  a  special  collective ownership for general use and payment, in application to the satisfaction of collective  needs,  and  resides  in  the  social  group.    The  purpose  is  not  to serve the State as the juridical person but the citizens; it is  intended for the common and public welfare and cannot be the object of appropriation.
The fact that the Roppongi site has not been used for a long time for actual Embassy  service  doesn’t  automatically  convert  it  to  patrimonial  property.  Any such conversion happens only if the property is withdrawn from public use.  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.