LAUREL V. GARCIA
187 SCRA 797
FACTS: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.
HELD: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 Any such conversion happens only if the property is withdrawn from public use.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.