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Respondents' contention that the case was mooted by the Notice of Award and turnover of operations of the MCIA to GMCAC likewise deserves scant consideration. For even in cases where the supervening events had made the cases moot, the Court did not hesitate to resolve the legal or constitutional issues raised to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench and the bar, and the public.[30] Hence, the subsequent issuance of Notice of Award, execution of the Concession Agreement and turn-over to GMCAC of the operation and maintenance of MCIA, did not remove the issue of GMCAC's qualifications from the ambit of judicial review.
first instance, before the Court of Appeals or any Regional Trial Court.[74] The COA claims that the petitioner was not able to provide compelling reasons to justify a direct resort to the Supreme Court.[75] In view of the transcendental importance of the issues raised in the mandamus petition, as earlier mentioned, this Court waives this last procedural issue in favor of a resolution on the merits.[76]
However, the following exceptions to the rule of declining jurisdiction over moot and academic cases are allowed: (1) there was a grave violation of the Constitution; (2) the case involved a situation of exceptional character and was of paramount public interest; (3) the issues raised required the formulation of controlling principles to guide the Bench, the Bar and the public; and (4) the case was capable of repetition yet evading review.[31] On the importance of the assailed formula, this Court will discuss the issues raised by the petitioner as these are capable of repetition yet evading review[32] and for the guidance of the bench, bar, and public.[33]
Under the circumstances, the right to information, at most, affords to the claimant access to records, documents, and papers which only means the opportunity to inspect and copy them at his expense.[24] This interpretation resonates in the deliberations of the 1987 Constitutional Commission:[25]
Petitioners contend that PSALM gravely abused its discretion when, in the conduct of the bidding it disregarded and violated the people's right to information guaranteed under the Constitution, as follows: (1) the bidding process was commenced by PSALM without having previously released to the public critical information such as the terms and conditions of the sale,  the parties qualified to bid and the minimum bid price, as laid down in the case of Chavez v. Public Estates Authority[8]; (2) PSALM refused to divulge significant information requested by petitioners, matters which are of public concern; and (3) the bidding was not conducted in an open and transparent manner, participation was indiscriminately restricted to the private sectors in violation of the EPIRA which provides that its provisions shall be "construed in favor of the establishment, promotion, preservation of competition and people empowerment so that the widest participation of the people, whether directly or indirectly, is ensured."[9]
Thereafter, MWSS sought the support of the DPWH in a letter dated September 24, 2009 addressed to then Secretary Hermogenes E. Ebdane, Jr., for the exclusion of the AHEPP from the list of NPC assets to be privatized and instead transfer the ownership, possession and control thereof to MWSS with reasonable compensation.  Acting on the said request, Secretary Ebdane, Jr. wrote a memorandum for the President recommending that "the Angat Dam be excluded from the list of NPC assets to be privatized, and that the ownership, management and control of the Dam be transferred from NPC to MWSS, with reasonable compensation."[46]
In any case, the rule on standing is a matter of procedural technicality, which may be relaxed when the subject in issue or the legal question to be resolved is of transcendental importance to the public.[30]  Hence, even absent any direct injury to the suitor, the Court can relax the application of legal standing or altogether set it aside for non-traditional plaintiffs, like ordinary citizens, when the public interest so requires.[31]  There is no doubt that individual petitioners, Marcos, et al., in G.R. No. 169917, as then members of the House of Representatives, possess the requisite legal standing since they assail acts of the executive they perceive to injure the institution of Congress. On the other hand, petitioners Francisco, Hizon, and the other petitioning associations, as taxpayers and/or mere users of the tollways or representatives of such users, would ordinarily not be clothed with the requisite standing.  While this is so, the Court is wont to presently relax the rule on locus standi owing primarily to the transcendental importance and the paramount public interest involved in the implementation of the laws on the Luzon tollways, a roadway complex used daily by hundreds of thousands of motorists. What we said a century ago in Severino v. Governor General is just as apropos today: When the relief is sought merely for the protection of private rights, x x x [the relator's] right must clearly appear.  On the other hand, when the question is one of public right and the object of the mandamus is to procure the enforcement of a public duty, the people are regarded as the real party in interest, and the relator at whose instigation the proceedings are instituted need not show that he has any legal or special interest in the result, it being sufficient to show that he is a citizen and as such interested in the execution of the laws.[32]  (Words in bracket and emphasis added.)
The Supreme Court has, on more than one occasion, tempered the application of procedural rules,[14] as well as relaxed the requirement of locus standi whenever confronted with an important issue of overreaching significance to society.[15]
of government lands to private parties requires public bidding.[78] COA Circular No. 89-926, issued on 27 January 1989, sets forth the guidelines on the disposal of property and other assets of the government. Part V of the COA Circular provides:V. MODE OF DISPOSAL/DIVESTMENT: -
Ineluctably, any release of a copy to the public, or to the parties, of an unpromulgated ponencia infringes on the confidential internal deliberations of the Court.  It is settled that the internal deliberations of the Court are confidential. [256]   A frank exchange of exploratory ideas and assessments, free from the glare of publicity and pressure by interested parties, is essential to protect the independence of decision-making of those tasked to exercise judicial power. [257]
The term "First Nation" is of Canadian origin referring to the indigenous peoples of that territory, particularly those known as Indians. In Canada, each of these indigenous peoples is equally entitled to be called "First Nation," hence, all of them are usually described collectively by the plural "First Nations."[36] To that extent, the MOA-AD, by identifying the Bangsamoro people as "the First Nation" - suggesting its exclusive entitlement to that designation - departs from the Canadian usage of the term.
Outside of this core, the BJE is to cover other provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays, which are grouped into two categories, Category A and Category B. Each of these areas is to be subjected to a plebiscite to be held on different dates, years apart from each other. Thus, Category A areas are to be subjected to a plebiscite not later than twelve (12) months following the signing of the MOA-AD.[40] Category B areas, also called "Special Intervention Areas," on the other hand, are to be subjected to a plebiscite twenty-five (25) years from the signing of a separate agreement - the Comprehensive Compact.[41]
The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the public domain belong to the State, that the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land and charged with the conservation of such patrimony.[45] The doctrine has been consistently adopted under the 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions.[46]
At bar is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court assailing the show cause Letter[1] dated November 22, 2007 and contempt Order[2] dated January 30, 2008 concurrently issued by respondent Senate Committees on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations,[3] Trade and Commerce,[4] and National Defense and Security[5] against petitioner Romulo L. Neri, former Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
Commonwealth Act No. 141, also known as the Public Land Act, remains to this day the existing general law governing the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain, other than timber and mineral lands.[29] Section 6 of CA No. 141 empowers the President to classify lands of the public domain into "alienable and disposable" lands of the public domain, which prior to such classification are inalienable and outside the commerce of man.  Section 7 of CA No. 141 authorizes the President to "declare what lands are open to disposition or concession." Section 8 of CA No. 141 states that the government can declare open for disposition or concession only lands that are "officially delimited and classified."
We explicated in Chavez v. PCGG[49] that in cases where issues of transcendental public importance are presented, there is no necessity to show that petitioner has experienced or is in actual danger of suffering direct and personal injury as the requisite injury is assumed. We find our ruling in Chavez v. PEA[50] as conclusive authority on locus standi in the case at bar since the issues raised in this petition are averred to be in breach of the fair diffusion of the country's natural resources and the constitutional right of a citizen to information which have been declared to be matters of transcendental public importance. Moreover, the pleadings especially those of respondents readily reveal that public funds have been indirectly utilized in the Project by means of Smokey Mountain Project Participation Certificates (SMPPCs) bought by some government agencies.
Thus, the real property tax assessments issued by the City of Iloilo should be upheld only with respect to the portions leased to private persons. In case the Authority fails to pay the real property taxes due thereon, said portions cannot be sold at public auction to satisfy the tax delinquency. In Chavez v. Public Estates Authority it was held that reclaimed lands are lands of the public domain and cannot, without Congressional fiat, be subject of a sale, public or private, thus:[21]
This is in accordance with the Regalian doctrine which holds that the state owns all lands and waters of the public domain.[17] Thus, under Article XII, Section 2 of the Constitution:  "All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the state."
Moreover, the principle of hierarchy of courts applies generally to cases involving factual questions.  As it is not a trier of facts, the Court cannot entertain cases involving factual issues.[38]  The question of whether the DARAB Decision dated October 5, 1995 is null and void and enforceable against petitioners for having been rendered without affording petitioners due process is a factual question which requires a review of the records of this case for it to be judiciously resolved.
Further, the petition ultimately calls for a factual determination of whether the Flag Scheme is a reasonable enforcement of anti-jaywalking ordinances and similar enactments. This Court is not a trier of facts.[9] The petition proffers mere surmises and speculations on the potential hazards of the Flag Scheme. This Court cannot determine the reasonableness of the Flag Scheme based on mere surmises and speculations.
The Court can hypothetically concede, as a matter of fact, the withdrawal of the JUSMAG area from the ambit of Proclamation No. 423 and its reclassification as alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. Still, such hypothesis would not carry the day for private respondent SHAI. The reason therefor is basic: Article XII, Section 3[52] of the 1987 Constitution forbids private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain, except through lease for a limited period. While Fr. Bernas had stated the observation that the reason for the ban is not very clear under existing jurisprudence,[53] the fact remains that private corporations, like SHAI, are prohibited from purchasing or otherwise acquiring alienable public lands.
Before MIAA can encumber[26] the Airport Lands and Buildings, the President must first withdraw from public use the Airport Lands and Buildings. Sections 83 and 88 of the Public Land Law or Commonwealth Act No. 141, which "remains to this day the existing general law governing the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain other than timber and mineral lands,"[27] provide:SECTION 83. Upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the President may designate by proclamation any tract or tracts of land of the public domain as reservations for the use of the Republic of the Philippines or of any of its branches, or of the inhabitants thereof, in accordance with regulations prescribed for this purposes, or for quasi-public uses or purposes when the public interest requires it, including reservations for highways, rights of way for railroads, hydraulic power sites, irrigation systems, communal pastures or lequas communales, public parks, public quarries, public fishponds, working men's village and other improvements for the public benefit.
(1) Chavez v. Public Estates Authority,[52] where the Court ruled that the enforcement of the constitutional right to information and the equitable diffusion of natural resources are matters of transcendental importance which clothe the petitioner with locus standi;
Similarly, in Chavez v. Public Estates Authority,[81] the Court ruled that the right to information does not extend to matters recognized as "privileged information under the separation of powers,"[82] by which the Court meant Presidential conversations, correspondences, and discussions in closed-door Cabinet meetings. It also held that information on military and diplomatic secrets and those affecting national security, and information on investigations of crimes by law enforcement agencies before the prosecution of the accused were exempted from the right to information.
(1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier. Applicants for registration of title must therefore prove the following: (a) that the land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of the public domain; and (b) that they have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the same under a bona fide claim of ownership either since time immemorial, or since June 12, 1945. It is not disputed that the land sought to be registered was originally part of the reclamation project undertaken by the Municipality of Masinloc, Zambales. The prevailing rule is that reclaimed disposable lands of the public domain may only be leased and not sold to private parties. These lands remained sui generis, as the only alienable or disposable lands of the public domain which the government could not sell to private parties except if the legislature passes a law authorizing such sale. Reclaimed lands retain their inherent potential as areas for public use or public service.[24] The ownership of lands reclaimed from foreshore areas is rooted in the Regalian doctrine, which declares that all lands and waters of the public domain belong to the State.[25] On November 7, 1936, the National Assembly approved Commonwealth Act No. 141, also known as the Public Land Act, compiling all the existing laws on lands of the public domain. This remains to this day the existing and applicable general law governing the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain. The State policy prohibiting the sale of government reclaimed, foreshore and marshy alienable lands of the public domain to private individuals continued under the 1935 Constitution.
On the basis of this control standard, this Court upholds the constitutionality of the Philippine Mining Law, its Implementing Rules and Regulations -- insofar as they relate to financial and technical agreements -- as well as the subject Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA).[5]
agricultural primarily planted to sugarcane, albeit part of the public domain being owned by an agency of the government.[12] Moreover, there is no legislative or presidential act, before and after the enactment of R.A. No. 6657, classifying the said lands as mineral, forest, residential, commercial or industrial land. Indubitably, the subject lands fall under the classification of lands of the public domain devoted to or suitable for agriculture. Respondent DECS sought exemption from CARP coverage on the ground that all the income derived from its contract of lease with Anglo Agricultural Corporation were actually, directly and exclusively used for educational purposes, such as for the repairs and renovations of
The importance of an informed citizenry in a working democracy was again emphasized in Chavez v. Public Estates Authority and Amari Coastal Bay Development Corporation[115] where we held, viz:The State policy of full transparency in all transactions involving public interest reinforces the people's right to information on matters of public concern.
The records show that Edmund Randolph of the State of Virginia presented to the Convention what came to be known as the Virginia Plan of structure of government. It was largely the handiwork of James Madison, Father of the American Constitution. It called for a strong national government composed of an executive, a bicameral legislature and a judiciary.[23] The Virginia Plan vested jurisdiction in the judiciary over impeachment of national officers.[24] Charles Pinkney of South Carolina offered a different plan. He lodged the power of impeachment in the lower house of the legislature but the right to try was given to the federal judiciary.[25] Much of the impeachment debates, however, centered on the accountability of the President and how he should be impeached. A Committee called Committee on Detail[26] recommended that the House of Representatives be given the sole power of impeachment. It also suggested that the Supreme Court should be granted original jurisdiction to try cases of impeachment. The matter was further referred to a Committee of Eleven chaired by David Brearley of New Hampshire.[27] It suggested that the Senate should have the power to try all impeachments, with a 2/3 vote to convict. The Vice President was to be ex-officio President of the Senate, except when the President was tried, in which event the Chief Justice was to preside.[28] Gouverneur Morris explained that "a conclusive reason for making the Senate instead of the Supreme Court the Judge of impeachments, was that the latter was to try the President after the trial of the impeachment."[29] James Madison insisted on the Supreme Court and not the Senate as the impeachment court for it would make the President "improperly dependent."[30] Madison's stand was decisively rejected.[31] The draft on the impeachment provisions was submitted to a Committee on Style which finalized them without effecting substantive changes.[32]
Thus, the Court has ruled consistently that where a Filipino citizen sells land to an alien who later sells the land to a Filipino, the invalidity of the first transfer is corrected by the subsequent sale to a citizen.[9] Similarly, where the alien who buys the land subsequently acquires Philippine citizenship, the sale is validated since the purpose of the constitutional ban to limit land ownership to Filipinos has been achieved.[10] In short, the law disregards the constitutional disqualification of the buyer to hold land if the land is subsequently transferred to a qualified party, or the buyer himself becomes a qualified party.  In the instant case, however, Amari has not transferred the Freedom Islands, or any portion of it, to any qualified party.  In fact, Amari admits that title to the Freedom Islands still remains with PEA.[11]