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Chavez vs Public Estates Authority and AMARI Corporation
09 July 2002
Land Titles and Deeds – Lands of the Public Domain
The Public Estates Authority is the central implementing agency tasked to undertake reclamation projects nationwide. It took over the leasing and selling functions of the DENR insofar as reclaimed or about to be reclaimed foreshore lands are concerned.
PEA sought the transfer to AMARI, a private corporation, of the ownership of 77.34 hectares of the Freedom Islands. PEA also sought to have 290.156 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay to AMARI.
ISSUE: Whether or not the transfer is valid.
HELD: No. To allow vast areas of reclaimed lands of the public domain to be transferred to PEA as private lands will sanction a gross violation of the constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain.
The Supreme Court affirmed that the 157.84 hectares of reclaimed lands comprising the Freedom Islands, now covered by certificates of title in the name of PEA, are alienable lands of the public domain. The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay remain inalienable natural resources of the public domain. Since the Amended JVA seeks to transfer to AMARI, a private corporation, ownership of 77.34 hectares of the Freedom Islands, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. Furthermore, since the Amended JVA also seeks to transfer to AMARI ownership of 290.156 hectares of still submerged areas of Manila Bay, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits the alienation of natural resources other than agricultural lands of the public domain.
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