By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) has been asked to declare unconstitutional the reported sale for P472.03 million 30 years ago of the 41-hectare reclaimed land in Parañaque City to the Manila Bay Development Corporation (MBDC).
Sought to be nullified was the sale in 1988 of the land along Roxas Boulevard, known as the Central Business District II where the Entertainment City is located.
The sale was signed for the government by the Public Estates Authority (PEA), now the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA).
In his petition, 1-Sagip Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta said the reclaimed property is now worth more than P61 billion, based on 2018 zonal valuation fixed by the Department of Finance.
Marcoleta, who filed the petition as member of the committee on good government and public accountability of the House of Representatives and as a taxpayer, said the sale of the reclaimed property to MBDC violated the Constitution because the land is supposed to be inalienable land of the public domain.
He cited Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution which mandates that all lands of the public domain are owned by the State and should not be alienated unless classified and declared otherwise by the government.
He stressed that there has been no formal declaration by the government that the reclaimed 41-hectare property has become alienable or disposable, and thus the sale was unconstitutional and illegal.
“The subject reclaimed property is an inalienable land of the public domain and beyond the commerce of man. It had never become alienable nor disposable. Thus, the sale or conveyance thereof to respondent MBDC is undeniably null and void,” Marcoleta’s petition stated.
“It is ineluctable that at the time of the execution of the said Deed of Sale, the aforementioned two official acts, namely, classification that the subject reclaimed property is alienable and open to disposition and a declaration that the same is not needed for public service were completely absent,” the petition stressed.
“Unfortunately, petitioner has not come across any proclamation or other equivalent executive act made by the President of the Philippines specifically declaring the Subject Reclaimed Property as alienable or disposable and no longer needed for public use,” it said.
The petition also pointed out that even if the subject property has been declared alienable and disposable land, MBDC cannot validly purchase it since Section 3, Article XII of the Constitution prohibits private companies from owning alienable lands of public domain.
“Undoubtedly, considering the foregoing, respondent PEA committed egregious constitutional transgressions when it sold the subject reclaimed property to respondent MBDC,” it said.
In his petition, Marcoleta pleaded the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) that would stop immediately the continued implementation of the sale.
He also asked the SC to compel the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) – the government’s law firm – to move for the recovery of the possession and ownership of the land sold to MBDC.
At the same time, he asked the SC to order the local register of deeds to cancel all certificates of titles derived from the contract, particularly Original Certificate of Title No. 02 and Transfer Certificate of Title No. 19346, and the Commission on Audit to notice of disallowance on the sale.