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Showing posts with label DOCTRINE OF SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DOCTRINE OF SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY. Show all posts

Monday, November 7, 2016

When will the State’s cloak of invincibility against suit and liability be shredded



When will the State’s cloak of invincibility against suit and liability be shredded

On the issue regarding the state immunity doctrine, the Commissioner cannot escape liability for the lost shipment of goods. This was clearly discussed in the UNIMEX Micro-Electronics GmBH decision, where the Court wrote:
Finally, petitioner argues that a money judgment or any charge against the government requires a corresponding appropriation and cannot be decreed by mere judicial order.
Although it may be gainsaid that the satisfaction of respondent’s demand will ultimately fall on the government, and that, under the political doctrine of “state immunity,” it cannot be held liable for governmental acts (jus imperii), we still hold that petitioner cannot escape its liability. The circumstances of this case warrant its exclusion from the purview of the state immunity doctrine.
As previously discussed, the Court cannot turn a blind eye to BOC’s ineptitude and gross negligence in the safekeeping of respondent’s goods. We are not likewise unaware of its lackadaisical attitude in failing to provide a cogent explanation on the goods’ disappearance, considering that they were in its custody and that they were in fact the subject of litigation. The situation does not allow us to reject respondent’s claim on the mere invocation of the doctrine of state immunity. Succinctly, the doctrine must be fairly observed and the State should not avail itself of this prerogative to take undue advantage of parties that may have legitimate claims against it.
In Department of Health v. C.V. Canchela & Associates, we enunciated that this Court, as the staunch guardian of the people’s rights and welfare, cannot sanction an injustice so patent in its face, and allow itself to be an instrument in the perpetration thereof. Over time, courts have recognized with almost pedantic adherence that what is inconvenient and contrary to reason is not allowed in law. Justice and equity now demand that the State’s cloak of invincibility against suit and liability be shredded.
Accordingly, we agree with the lower courts’ directive that, upon payment of the necessary customs duties by respondent, petitioner’s “payment shall be taken from the sale or sales of goods or properties seized or forfeited by the Bureau of Customs.”
WHEREFORE, the assailed decisions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 75359 and 75366 are hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. PetitionerRepublicof the Philippines, represented by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs, upon payment of the necessary customs duties by respondent Unimex Micro-Electronics GmBH, is hereby ordered to pay respondent the value of the subject shipment in the amount of Euro 669,982.565. Petitioner’s liability may be paid in Philippine currency, computed at the exchange rate prevailing at the time of actual payment
SO ORDERED.[14]   [Emphases supplied]
In line with the ruling in UNIMEX Micro-Electronics GmBH, the Commissioner of Customs should pay AGFHA the value of the subject lost shipment in the amount of US$160,348.08 which liability may be paid in Philippine currency computed at the exchange rate prevailing at the time of the actual payment.

SOURCE FROM BATAS PINOY
https://bataspinoy.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/when-will-the-states-cloak-of-invincibility-against-suit-and-liability-be-shredded/



THE DOCTRINE OF SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY_ONE LIMITATION EXPLAINED_REFERENCE



the doctrine of sovereign immunity cannot be successfully invoked to defeat a valid claim for compensation arising from the taking without just compensation and without the proper expropriation proceedings


"The Supreme Court ruled that the doctrine of sovereign immunity was not an instrument for perpetrating any injustice on a citizen. "

We further observe the doctrine of sovereign immunity cannot be successfully invoked to defeat a valid claim for compensation arising from the taking without just compensation and without the proper expropriation proceedings being first resorted to of the plaintiffs’ property.[16]  Thus,  in De los Santos v. Intermediate Appellate Court,[17] the trial court’s dismissal based on the doctrine of non-suability of the State of two cases (one of which was for damages) filed by owners of property where a road 9 meters wide and 128.70 meters long occupying a total area of 1,165 square meters and an artificial creek 23.20 meters wide and 128.69 meters long occupying an area of 2,906 square meters had been constructed by the provincial engineer of Rizal and a private contractor without the owners’ knowledge and consent was reversed and the cases remanded for trial on the merits.  The Supreme Court ruled that the doctrine of sovereign immunity was not an instrument for perpetrating any injustice on a citizen.  In exercising the right of eminent domain, the Court explained, the State exercised its jus imperii, as distinguished from its proprietary rights, or jus gestionis;  yet, even in that area, where private property had been taken in expropriation without just compensation being paid, the defense of immunity from suit could not be set up by the State against an action for payment by the owners.

SOURCE FROM BATAS PINOY
https://bataspinoy.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/the-doctrine-of-sovereign-immunity-cannot-be-successfully-invoked-to-defeat-a-valid-claim-for-compensation-arising-from-the-taking-without-just-compensation-and-without-the-proper-expropriation-procee/




The immunity of the State from suit, known also as the doctrine of sovereign immunity or non-suability of the State, is expressly provided in Article XVI of the 1987 Constitution

The immunity of the State from suit, known also as the doctrine of sovereign immunity or non-suability of the State, is expressly provided in Article XVI of the 1987 Constitution,viz:
Section 3. The State may not be sued without its consent.
The immunity from suit is based on the political truism that the State, as a sovereign, can do no wrong. Moreover, as the eminent Justice Holmes said in Kawananakoa v. Polyblank:[6]
            The territory [of Hawaii], of course, could waive its exemption (Smith v. Reeves, 178 US436, 44 L ed 1140, 20 Sup. Ct. Rep. 919), and it took no objection to the proceedings in the cases cited if it could have done so. xxx  But in the case at bar it did object, and the question raised is whether the plaintiffs were bound to yield. Some doubts have been expressed as to the source of the immunity of a sovereign power from suit without its own permission, but the answer has been public property since before the days of Hobbes.Leviathan, chap. 26, 2. A sovereign is exempt from suit, not because of any formal conception or obsolete theory, but on the logical and practical ground that there can be no legal right as against the authority that makes the law on which the right depends.  “Car on peut bien recevoir loy d’autruy, mais il est impossible par nature de se donner loy.” Bodin, Republique, 1, chap. 8, ed. 1629, p. 132; Sir John Eliot, De Jure Maiestatis, chap. 3. Nemo suo statuto ligatur necessitative.  Baldus, De Leg. et Const. Digna Vox, 2. ed. 1496, fol. 51b, ed. 1539, fol. 61.[7]
Practical considerations dictate the establishment of an immunity from suit in favor of the State.  Otherwise, and the State is suable at the instance of every other individual, government service may be severely obstructed and public safety endangered because of the number of suits that the State has to defend against.[8] Several justifications have been offered to support the adoption of the doctrine in the Philippines, but that offered inProvidence Washington Insurance Co. v. Republic of the Philippines[9] is “the most acceptable explanation,” according to Father Bernas, a recognized commentator on Constitutional Law,[10] to wit:
[A] continued adherence to the doctrine of non-suability is not to be deplored for as against the inconvenience that may be caused private parties, the loss of governmental efficiency and the obstacle to the performance of its multifarious functions are far greater if such a fundamental principle were abandoned and the availability of judicial remedy were not thus restricted. With the well-known propensity on the part of our people to go to court, at the least provocation, the loss of time and energy required to defend against law suits, in the absence of such a basic principle that constitutes such an effective obstacle, could very well be imagined.
An unincorporated government agency without any separate juridical personality of its own enjoys immunity from suit because it is invested with an inherent power of sovereignty.  Accordingly, a claim for damages against the agency cannot prosper; otherwise, the doctrine of sovereign immunity is violated.[11] However, the need to distinguish between an unincorporated government agency performing governmental function and one performing proprietary functions has arisen. The immunity has been upheld in favor of the former because its function is governmental or incidental to such function;[12] it has not been upheld in favor of the latter whose function was not in pursuit of a necessary function of government but was essentially a business.[13]
Should the doctrine of sovereignty immunity or non-suability of the State be extended to the ATO?
In its challenged decision,[14] the CA answered in the negative, holding:
On the first assignment of error, appellants seek to impress upon Us that the subject contract of sale partook of a governmental character.  Apropos, the lower court erred in applying the High Court’s ruling in National Airports Corporation vs. Teodoro (91 Phil. 203 [1952]), arguing that in Teodoro, the matter involved the collection of landing and parking fees which is a proprietary function, while the case at bar involves the maintenance and operation of aircraft and air navigational facilities and services which are governmental functions.
We are not persuaded.
Contrary to appellants’ conclusions, it was not merely the collection of landing and parking fees which was declared as proprietary in nature by the High Court in Teodoro, but management and maintenance of airport operations as a whole, as well.  Thus, in the much later case of Civil Aeronautics Administration vs. Court of Appeals (167 SCRA 28 [1988]), the Supreme Court, reiterating the pronouncements laid down in Teodoro, declared that the CAA (predecessor of ATO) is an agency not immune from suit, it being engaged in functions pertaining to a private entity.  It went on to explain in this wise:
x x x
The Civil Aeronautics Administration comes under the category of a private entity.  Although not a body corporate it was created, like the National Airports Corporation, not to maintain a necessary function of government, but to run what is essentially a business, even if revenues be not its prime objective but rather the promotion of travel and the convenience of the travelling public.  It is engaged in an enterprise which, far from being the exclusive prerogative of state, may, more than the construction of public roads, be undertaken by private concerns. [National Airports Corp. v. Teodoro, supra, p. 207.]
x x x
True, the law prevailing in 1952 when the Teodoro case was promulgated was Exec. Order 365 (Reorganizing the Civil Aeronautics Administration and Abolishing the National Airports Corporation).  Republic Act No. 776 (Civil Aeronautics Act of the Philippines), subsequently enacted on June 20, 1952, did not alter the character of the CAA’s objectives under Exec. Order 365.  The pertinent provisions cited in the Teodoro case, particularly Secs. 3 and 4 of Exec. Order 365, which led the Court to consider the CAA in the category of a private entity were retained substantially in Republic Act 776, Sec. 32(24) and (25).  Said Act provides:
Sec. 32.  Powers and Duties of the Administrator. – Subject to the general control and supervision of the Department Head, the Administrator shall have among others, the following powers and duties:
x x x
(24)  To administer, operate, manage, control, maintain and develop the Manila International Airport and all government-owned aerodromes except those controlled or operated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines including such powers and duties as:  (a) to plan, design, construct, equip, expand, improve, repair or alter aerodromes or such structures, improvement or air navigation facilities; (b) to enter into, make and execute contracts of any kind with any person, firm, or public or private corporation or entity; …
(25)  To determine, fix, impose, collect and receive landing fees, parking space fees, royalties on sales or deliveries, direct or indirect, to any aircraft for its use of aviation gasoline, oil and lubricants, spare parts, accessories and supplies, tools, other royalties, fees or rentals for the use of any of the property under its management and control.
x x x
From the foregoing, it can be seen that the CAA is tasked with private or non-governmental functions which operate to remove it from the purview of the rule on State immunity from suit.  For the correct rule as set forth in the Teodoro case states:
x x x
Not all government entities, whether corporate or non-corporate, are immune from suits. Immunity from suits is determined by the character of the objects for which the entity was organized.  The rule is thus stated in Corpus Juris:
Suits against State agencies with relation to matters in which they have assumed to act in private or non-governmental capacity, and various suits against certain corporations created by the state for public purposes, but to engage in matters partaking more of the nature of ordinary business rather than functions of a governmental or political character, are not regarded as suits against the state.  The latter is true, although the state may own stock or property of such a corporation for by engaging in business operations through a corporation, the state divests itself so far of its sovereign character, and by implication consents to suits against the corporation. (59 C.J., 313) [National Airports Corporation v. Teodoro, supra, pp. 206-207; Italics supplied.]
This doctrine has been reaffirmed in the recent case of Malong v. Philippine National Railways [G.R. No. L-49930, August 7, 1985, 138 SCRA 63], where it was held that the Philippine National Railways, although owned and operated by the government, was not immune from suit as it does not exercise sovereign but purely proprietary and business functions.  Accordingly, as the CAA was created to undertake the management of airport operations which primarily involve proprietary functions, it cannot avail of the immunity from suit accorded to government agencies performing strictly governmental functions.[15]
In our view, the CA thereby correctly appreciated the juridical character of the ATO as an agency of the Government not performing a purely governmental or sovereign function, but was instead involved in the management and maintenance of theLoakanAirport, an activity that was not the exclusive prerogative of the State in its sovereign capacity. Hence, the ATO had no claim to the State’s immunity from suit. We uphold the CA’s aforequoted holding.






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