MANILA LODGE NO. 761 vs CA ARTICLE 1431 MANILA LODGE NO. 761, BENEVOLENT AND PROTECTIVE ORDER OF THE ELKS, INC. , petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, CITY OF MANILA, and TARLAC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, respondents. (G. R. No. L-41001 September 30, 1976) TARLAC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, CITY OF MANILA, LODGE NO. 761, BENEVOLENT AND PROTECTIVE ORDER OF ELKS, INC. , respondents. (No. L-41012 September 30, 1976) |THE CASE two cases are petitions on certiorari to review the decision dated June 30, 1975 of the Court of Appeals that the property subject is a “public park or| |plaza. | |FACTS | |On June 26, 1905 the Philippine Commission enacted Act No. l360 which authorized the City of Manila to reclaim a portion of Manila Bay. The reclaimed area was | |to form part of the Luneta extension. | |Subsequently, the Philippine Commission passed on May 18, 1907 Act No. 1657, amending Act No. 1360, so as to authorize the City of’ Manila either to lease or to| |sell the portion set aside as a hotel site. |On July 13, 1911 the City of Manila, affirming a prior sale dated January 16, 1909 cancelled 5,543. 07 square meters of the reclaimed area to the Manila Lodge | |No. 761, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the U. S. A. | |Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE, subsequently sold the said 5,543. 07 square meters to the Elks Club, Inc. The registered owner, “The Elks Club, Inc. ,” was later | |changed by court oder to “Manila Lodge No. 761, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Inc. | |In January 1963 the BPOE. petitioned the Court of First Instance for the cancellation of the right of the City of Manila to repurchase the property. GRANTED | |On November 19, 1963 the BPOE sold the land to Tarlac Development Corporation (TDC). | |In June 1964 the City of Manila filed with the Court of First Instance of Manila a petition for the reannotation of its right to repurchase. | |RTC RULING the subject land to be part of the “public park or plaza” and, therefore, part of the public domain.
The court consequently declared that the sale of| |the subject land by the City of Manila to Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE, was null and void; that plaintiff TDC was a purchaser thereof in g faith and for value | |from BPOE and can enforce its rights against the latter. | |CA RULING AFFIRMED the lower court’s decision. | |ISSUE | |WON the subject property was patrimonial property of the City of Manila and not a park or plaza.
NO | |WON the City of Manila is estopped from questioning the validity of the sale it execute, conconveying the subject property to the Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE. NO| |SC RULING We hold that it is of public dominion, intended for public use. When the shore or part of the bay is reclaimed, it does not lose its character of | |being property for public use. | | | |It is not necessary, therefore, that a plaza be already constructed of- laid out as a plaza in order that it be considered property for public use.
It is | |sufficient that it be intended to be such In the case at bar, it has been shown that the intention of the lawmaking body in giving to the City of Manila the | |extension to the Luneta was not a grant to it of patrimonial property but a grant for public use as a plaza. | | | |We have demonstrated ad satietatem that the Luneta extension as intended to be property of the City of Manila for public use.
The conversion of the said | |property into patrimonial property is within the executive’s and possibly the legislation department’s authority and the power to make the declaration that | |said property, is no longer required for public use, and until such declaration i made the property must continue to form paint of the public domain. In the | |case at bar, there has been no such explicit or unequivocal declaration. | | | |TDC finally claims that the City of Manila is estopped from questioning the validity of the sale it xecuted on July 13,’1911 conconveying the subject property | |to the Manila Lodge No. 761, BPOE. This contention cannot be seriously defended in the light of the doctrine repeatedly enunciated by this Court that the | |Government is never estopped by mistakes or errors on the pan of its agents, and estoppel does not apply to a municipal corporation to validate a contract that | |is prohibited by law or its against Republic policy, and the sale of July 13, 1911 executed by the City of Manila to Manila Lodge was certainly a contract | |prohibited by law.
Moreover, estoppel cannot be urged even if the City of Manila accepted the benefits of such contract of sale and the Manila Lodge No. 761 had| |performed its part of the agreement, for to apply the doctrine of estoppel against the City of Manila in this case would be tantamount to enabling it to do | |indirectly what it could not do directly. | | | |The sale of the subject property executed by the City of Manila to the Manila Lodge No. 61, BPOE, was void and inexistent for lack of subject matter. It | |suffered from an incurable defect that could not be ratified either by lapse of time or by express ratification. The Manila Lodge No. 761 therefore acquired no | |right by virtue of the said sale. Hence to consider now the contract inexistent as it always has seen, cannot be, as claimed by the Manila Lodge No. 761, an | |impairment of the obligations of contracts, for there was it, contemplation of law, no contract at all. | | |The inexistence of said sale can be set up against anyone who asserts a right arising from it, not only against the first vendee, the Manila Lodge No. 761, | |BPOE, but also against all its suceessors, including the TDC which are not protected the doctrine of bona fide ii purchaser without notice, being claimed by the| |TDC does not apply where there is a total absence of title in the vendor, and the good faith of the purchaser TDC cannot create title where none exists. |