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Chavez vs. PEA- Amari Francisco I. Chavez vs.

Public Estate Authority and Amari Coastal Bay Development Corporation G.R. No. 133250. May 6, 2003 Carpio, J. Doctrine: In the hands of the government agency tasked and authorized to dispose of alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, these lands are still public, not private lands. Facts: On November 20, 1973, the government, through the Commissioner of Public Highways, signed a contract with the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP) to reclaim certain foreshore and offshore areas of Manila Bay. The contract also included the construction of Phases I and II of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road. CDCP obligated itself to carry out all the works in consideration of fifty percent of the total reclaimed land. On February 4, 1977, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1084 creating PEA. PD No. 1084 tasked PEA to reclaim land, including foreshore and submerged areas, and to develop, improve, acquire, x x x lease and sell any and all kinds of lands. On the same date, then President Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1085 transferring to PEA the lands reclaimed in the foreshore and offshore of the Manila Bay under the Manila -Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project (MCCRRP). On January 19, 1988, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Special Patent No. 3517, granting and transferring to PEA the parcels of land so reclaimed under the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project. On April 9, 1988, the Register of Deeds issued TCT Nos. 7309, 7311, and 7312, in the name of PEA, covering the three reclaimed islands known as the Freedom Islands located at the southern portion of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road, Paraaque City. On April 25, 1995, PEA entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with AMARI, a private corporation, to develop the Freedom Islands. Petitioner assails the sale to AMARI of lands of the public domain as a blatant violation of Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution prohibiting the sale of alienable lands of the public domain to private corporations. On March 30, 1999, PEA and AMARI signed the Amended Joint Venture Agreement. On May 28, 1999, the Office of the President under the administration of then President Joseph E. Estrada approved the Amended JVA. Several motions for reconsideration of the Supreme Courts July 9, 2002 decision which declared the amended JVA null and void ab initio were filed. The conclusions of said decision were summarized by the Court as follows: 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. PEA may lease these lands to private corporations but may not sell or transfer

ownership of these lands to private corporations. PEA may only sell these lands to Philippine citizens, subject to the ownership limitations in the 1987 Constitution and existing laws. The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay remain inalienable natural resources of the public domain until classified as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition and declared no longer needed for public service. The government can make such classification and declaration only after PEA has reclaimed these submerged areas. Only then can these lands qualify as agricultural lands of the public domain, which are the only natural resources the government can alienate. In their present state, the 592.15 hectares of submerged areas are inalienable and outside the commerce of man. 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. 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. PEA may reclaim these submerged areas. Thereafter, the government can classify the reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable, and further declare them no longer needed for public service. Still, the transfer of such reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain to AMARI will be void in view of Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. Issue: Whether or not the July 9, 2002 ruling of the Supreme Court should be reversed. Held: No. Amari cannot claim good faith because even before Amari signed the Amended JVA on March 30, 1999, petitioner had already filed the instant case on April 27, 1998 questioning precisely the qualification of Amari to acquire the Freedom Islands. Even before the filing of this petition, two Senate Committees had already approved on September 16, 1997 Senate Committee Report No. 560 which concluded that the Freedom Islands are inalienable lands of the public domain. Thus, Amari signed the Amended JVA knowing and assuming all the attendant risks, including the annulment of the Amended JVA. Amari has also not paid to PEA the full reimbursement cost incurred by PEA in reclaiming the Freedom Islands. Moreover, Amari does not claim to have even initiated the reclamation of the 592.15 hectares of submerged areas covered in the Amended JVA, or to have started to construct any permanent infrastructure on the Freedom Islands. In short, Amari does not claim to have introduced any physical improvement or development on the reclamation project that is the subject of the Amended JVA. PEA cannot claim that it is similarly situated as the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) which under R.A. No. 7227 is tasked to sell portions of the Metro Manila military camps and other military reservations is incorrect. PEA took the place

of DENR as the government agency charged with leasing or selling reclaimed lands of the public domain. The reclaimed lands being leased or sold by PEA are not private lands, in the same manner that DENR, when it disposes of other alienable lands, does not dispose of private lands but alienable lands of the public domain. Only when qualified private parties acquire these lands will the lands become private lands. In the hands of the government agency tasked and authorized to dispose of alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, these lands are still public, not private lands. 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. PEA will simply turn around and transfer several hundreds of hectares of these reclaimed and still to be reclaimed lands to a single private corporation in only one transaction. This scheme will effectively nullify the constitutional ban in Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution.

stipulations in the (Amended) JVA between AMARI and PEA violate Sec. 3 Art. XII of the 1987 Constitution w/n: the court is the proper forum for raising the issue of whether the amended joint venture agreement is grossly disadvantageous to the government. Held: On the issue of Amended JVA as violating the constitution: 1. 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. PEA may lease these lands to private corporations but may not sell or transfer ownership of these lands to private corporations. PEA may only sell these lands to Philippine citizens, subject to the ownership limitations in the 1987 Constitution and existing laws. 2. The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay remain inalienable natural resources of the public domain until classified as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition and declared no longer needed for public service. The government can make such classification and declaration only after PEA has reclaimed these submerged areas. Only then can these lands qualify as agricultural lands of the public domain, which are the only natural resources the government can alienate. In their present state, the 592.15 hectares of submerged areas are inalienable and outside the commerce of man. 3. Since the Amended JVA seeks to transfer to AMARI, a private corporation, ownership of 77.34 hectares110 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. 4. Since the Amended JVA also seeks to transfer to AMARI ownership of 290.156 hectares111 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. PEA may reclaim these submerged areas. Thereafter, the government can classify the reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable, and further declare them no longer needed for public service. Still, the transfer of such reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain to AMARI will be void in view of Section 3, Article XII of the 1987Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain.

Chavez v. Pea and Amari Fact: In 1973, the Comissioner on Public Highways entered into a contract to reclaim areas of Manila Bay with the Construction and Development Corportion of the Philippines (CDCP). PEA (Public Estates Authority) was created by President Marcos under P.D. 1084, tasked with developing and leasing reclaimed lands. These lands were transferred to the care of PEA under P.D. 1085 as part of the Manila Cavite Road and Reclamation Project (MCRRP). CDCP and PEA entered into an agreement that all future projects under the MCRRP would be funded and owned by PEA. By 1988, President Aquino issued Special Patent No. 3517 transferring lands to PEA. It was followed by the transfer of three Titles (7309, 7311 and 7312) by the Register of Deeds of Paranaque to PEA covering the three reclaimed islands known as the FREEDOM ISLANDS. Subsquently, PEA entered into a joint venture agreement (JVA) with AMARI, a ThaiPhilippine corporation to develop the Freedom Islands. Along with another 250 hectares, PEA and AMARI entered the JVA which would later transfer said lands to AMARI. This caused a stir especially when Sen. Maceda assailed the agreement, claiming that such lands were part of public domain (famously known as the mother of all scams). Peitioner Frank J. Chavez filed case as a taxpayer praying for mandamus, a writ of preliminary injunction and a TRO against the sale of reclaimed lands by PEA to AMARI and from implementing the JVA. Following these events, under President Estradas admin, PEA and AMARI entered into an Amended JVA and Mr. Chaves claim that the contract is null and void. Issue: w/n: the transfer to AMARI lands reclaimed or to be reclaimed as part of the

CHAVEZ V PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY AND AMARI COASTAL BAY FACTS: Nature: original Petition for Mandamus with prayer for writ of preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order. Petition also seeks to compel the Public Estates Authority (PEA) to disclose all facts on PEAs then on -going renegotiations with

Amari Coastal Bay and Development Corporation to reclaim portions of Manila Bay. The petition further seeks to enjoin PEA from signing a new agreement with AMARI involving such reclamation.

1997: Pres. Ramos created the Legal Task Force to conduct a study on the legality of the JVA in view of the Senate Committee report.

1973: The government through the Commission of Public Highways signed a contract with the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP) to reclaim certain foreshore and offshore areas of Manila Bay

1998: The Philippine Daily Inquirer published reports on on-going renegotiations between PEA and AMARI

1977: President Marcos issued PD No. 1084 creating the PEA, which was tasked to reclaim land, including foreshore and submerged areas and to develop, improve, acquire x xx lease and sell any and all kinds of lands. On the same date, President Marcos issued PD. 1085 transferring to PEA the lands reclaimed in the foreshore and offshore of the Manila Bay under the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project (MCCRRP)

PEA Director Nestor Kalaw and PEA Chairman ArsenioYulo and former navy officer Sergio Cruz were members of the negotiating panel

1981: Pres. Marcos issued a memorandum ordering PEA to amend its contract with CDCP which stated that CDCP shall transfer in favor of PEA the areas reclaimed by CDCP in the MCCRRP

Frank Chavez filed petition for Mandamus stating that the government stands to lose billions of pesos in the sale by PEA of the reclaimed lands to AMARI and prays that PEA publicly disclose the terms of the renegotiations of JVA. He cited that the sale to AMARI is in violation of Article 12, Sec. 3 prohibiting sale of alienable lands of the public domain to private corporations and Article 2 Section 28 and Article 3 Sec. 7 of the Constitution on the right to information on matters of public concern

1999: PEA and AMARI signed Amended JVA which Pres. Estrada approved 1988: Pres. Aquino issued Special Patent granting and transferring to PEA parcels of land so reclaimed under the MCCRRP. Subsequently she transferred in the name of PEA the three reclaimed islands known as the Freedom Islands

ISSUES: WON the principal reliefs prayed for in the petition are moot and academic because of the subsequent events

1995: PEA entered into a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with AMARI, a private corporation, to develop the Freedom Islands and this was done without public bidding

WON the petition merits dismissal for failure to observe the principle governing the hierarchy of courts WON the petition merits dismissal for non-exhaustion of administrative remedies

Pres. Ramos through Executive Secretary Ruben Torres approved the JVA

WON petitioner has locus standi to bring this suit WON the constitutional right to information includes official information on on-going negotiations before a final agreement WON the stipulations in the amended joint venture agreement for the transfer to AMARI of certain lands, reclaimed and still to be reclaimed, violate the 1987 constitution; and WON the court is the proper forum for raising the issue of whether the amended joint venture agreement is grossly disadvantageous to the government. Threshold issue: whether AMARI, a private corporation, can acquire and own under the amended JVA 367.5 has. of reclaimed foreshore and submerged area in Manila Bay in view of Sections 2 & 3, Art. 12 of the 1987 constitution

1996: Senate Pres.Maceda delivered a privileged speech in the Senate and denounced the JVA as the grandmother of all scams. As a result, the Senate conducted investigations. Among the conclusions were:

The reclaimed lands PEA seeks to transfer to AMARI under the JVA are lands of the public domain which the government has not classified as alienable lands and therefore PEA cannot alienate these lands; The certificates of the title covering the Freedom Islands are thus void, and The JVA itself is illegal

HELD (1) The prayer to enjoin the signing of the Amended JVA on constitutional grounds necessarily includes preventing its implementation if in the meantime PEA and AMARI have signed one in violation of the Constitution and if already implemented, to annul the effects of an unconstitutional contract

these lands to private corporations. PEA may only sell these lands to Philippine citizens, subject to ownership limitations in the 1987 Constitution and existing laws.

(2) The principle of hierarchy of courts applies generally to cases involving factual questions

The 592.15 has.of submerged areas of Manila Bay remain inalienable natural resources of the public domain and outside the commerce of man until classified as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition and declared no longer needed for public service. The government can make such classification and declaration only after PEA has reclaimed these submerged areas. Only then can these lands qualify as agricultural lands of the public domain, which are the only natural resources the government can alienate

Reasoning: the instant case raises constitutional issues of transcendental importance to the public

Since the Amended JVA seeks to transfer to AMARI, a private corporation, ownership of 77.34 has.of the Freedom Islands, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section 3, Article 12 of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain Since the Amended JVA also seeks to transfer to AMARI ownership of 290.156 has.of still submerged areas of Manila Bay, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section 2, Article 12 of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits the alienation of natural resources other than agricultural lands of the public domain. PEA may reclaim these submerged areas. Thereafter, the government can classify the reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable, and further declare them no longer needed for public services. Still, the transfer of such reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain to AMARI will be void in view of Section 3, Article 12 that prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain.

(3) The principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies does not apply when the issue involved is a purely legal or constitutional question

(4) Petitioner has standing if petition is of transcendental public importance and as such, there is the right of a citizen to bring a taxpayers suit on these matters of transcendental public importance

(5) The constitutional right to information includes official information on on-going negotiations before a final contract and must therefore constitute definite propositions by the government and should not cover recognized exceptions like privileged information, military and diplomatic secrets and similar matters affecting national security and public order

Reasoning: CA 141 of the Philippine National Assembly empowers the president to classify lands of the public domain into alienable or disposable (Sec. 6).The President, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, shall from time to time classify the lands of the public domain into (a) Alienable of disposable, (b) timber, and (c) mineral lands. The President must first officially classify these lands as alienable or disposable, and then declare them open to disposition or concession. Sec. 59 states that the lands disposable under this title shall be classified as follows: (a) Lands reclaimed by the Government by dredging, filling, or other means; (b) Foreshore; (c) Marshy lands (d) Lands not included in any of the foregoing classes. Sec. 61 states that the lands comprised in classes (a), (b) and (c) of section 59 shall be disposed f to private parties by lease only and not otherwise After the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution, government reclaimed and marshy disposable lands of the public domain continued to be only leased and not sold to

Reasoning The State policy of full transparency in all transactions involving public interest reinforces the peoples right to information on matters of public concern. PEA must prepare all the data and disclose them to the public at the start of the disposition process, long before the consummation of the contract. While the evaluation or review is on-going, there are no official acts, transactions, or decisions on the bids or proposals but once the committee makes its official recommendation, there arises a definite proposition on the part of the government

(6) In a form of a summary: The 157.84 has.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. PEA may lease these lands to private corporations but may not sell or transfer ownership of

private parties. These lands remained suis generic as the only alienable or disposable lands of the public domain the government could not sell to private parties. The only way that the government can sell to private parties government reclaimed and marshy disposable lands of the public domain is for the legislature to pass a law authorizing such sale. PD No. 1085, coupled with President Aquinos actual issuance of a special patent covering the Freedom Islands, is equivalent to an official proclamation classifying the Freedom Islands as alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. PD No. 1085 and President Aquinos issuance of a land patent also constitute a declaration that the Freedom Islands are no longer needed for public service. The Freedom Islands are thus alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, open to disposition or concession to qualified parties.

title. In fact, the thrust of the instant petition is that P EAs certificates of title should remain with PEA, and the land covered by these certificates, being alienable lands of the public domain, should not be sold to a private corporation. Registration of land under Act No. 496 or PD No. 1529 does not vest in the registrant private or public ownership of the land. Registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership but is merely evidence of ownership previously conferred by any of the recognized modes of acquiring ownership. Registration does not give the registrant a better right than what the registrant had prior to the registration.i[102] The registration of lands of the public domain under the Torrens system, by itself, cannot convert public lands into private lands.ii[103] Jurisprudence holding that upon the grant of the patent or issuance of the certificate of title the alienable land of the public domain automatically becomes private land cannot apply to government units and entities like PEA. The transfer of the Freedom Islands to PEA was made subject to the provisions of CA No. 141 as expressly stated in Special Patent No. 3517 issued by then President Aquino, to wit: NOW, THEREFORE, KNOW YE, that by authority of the Constitution of the Philippines and in conformity with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1084, supplemented by Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, there are hereby granted and conveyed unto the Public Estates Authority the aforesaid tracts of land containing a total area of one million nine hundred fifteen thousand eight hundred ninety four (1,915,894) square meters; the technical description of which are hereto attached and made an integral part hereof. (Emphasis supplied) Thus, the provisions of CA No. 141 apply to the Freedom Islands on matters not covered by PD No. 1084. Section 60 of CA No. 141 prohibits, except when authorized by Congress, the sale of alienable lands of the public domain that are transferred to government units or entities. Section 60 of CA No. 141 constitutes, under Section 44 of PD No. 1529, a statutory lien affecting title of the registered land even if not annotated on the certificate of title.iii[104] Alienable lands of the public domain held by government entities under Section 60 of CA No. 141 remain public lands because they cannot be alienated or encumbered unless Congress passes a law authorizing their disposition. Congress, however, cannot authorize the sale to private corporations of reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain because of the constitutional ban. Only individuals can benefit from such law. The grant of legislative authority to sell public lands in accordance with Section 60 of CA No. 141 does not automatically convert alienable lands of the public domain into private or patrimonial lands. The alienable lands of the public domain must be transferred to qualified private parties, or to government entities not tasked to dispose of public lands, before these lands can become private or patrimonial lands. Otherwise, the constitutional ban will become illusory if Congress can declare lands of the public domain as private or patrimonial lands in the hands of a government agency tasked to dispose of public lands. This will allow private corporations to acquire directly from government agencies limitless areas of lands which, prior to such law, are concededly public lands

in case of sale or lease of disposable lands of the public domain, a public bidding is required 1987 Constitution declares that all natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. Article 12, Sec. 3 states that alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to agricultural lands. Private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, for a period not exceeding 25 years, renewable for not more than 25 years, and not to exceed 1,000 has.in area. ration behind the ban on corporations from acquiring except through lease is not well understood. If the purpose is to equitably diffuse lands ownership then the Consti could have simply limited the size of alienable lands of the public domain that corporations could acquire. If the intent were to encourage owner -cultivatorship and the economic family-size farm and to prevent a recurrence of cases like the instant case, then placing the land in the name of a corporation would be more effective in preventing the breakup of farmlands. If the farmland were registered in the name of a corporation, upon the death of the owner, his heirs would inherit shares in the corporation instead of subdivided parcels of the farmland. This would prevent the continuing break-up of farmlands into smaller and smaller plots from one generation to the next. In actual practice then, this ban strengthens the consti limitation on individuals from acquiring more than the allowed area of alienable lands of the public domain . Without the ban, individuals who already acquired the maximum area of alienable lands of the public domain could easily set up corporations to acquire more alienable public lands. An individual could own as many corporations as his means would allow him. He could even hide his ownership of a corporation by putting his nominees as stockholders of the corporation.

In the instant case, the only patent and certificates of title issued are those in the name of PEA, a wholly government owned corporation performing public as well as proprietary functions. No patent or certificate of title has been issued to any private party. No one is asking the Director of Lands to cancel PEAs patent or certificates of

As the central implementing agency tasked to undertake reclamation projects nationwide, with authority to sell reclaimed lands, PEA took the place of DENR as the government agency charged with leasing or selling reclaimed lands of the public domain. The reclaimed lands being leased or sold by PEA are not private lands, in the same manner that DENR, when it disposes of other alienable lands, does not dispose of private lands but alienable lands of the public domain. Only when qualified private parties acquire these lands will the lands become private lands. In the hands of the government agency tasked and authorized to dispose of alienable of disposable lands of the public domain, these lands are still public, not private lands. Furthermore, PEAs charter expressly states that PEA shall hold lands of the public domain as well as any and all kinds of lands. PEA can hold both lands of the public domain and private lands. Thus, the mere fact that alienable lands of the public domain like the Freedom Islands are transferred to PEA and issued land patents or certificates of title in PEAs name does not automatically make such lands private. The Regalian doctrine is deeply implanted in our legal system. Foreshore and submerged areas form part of the public domain and are inalienable. Lands reclaimed from foreshore and submerged areas also form part of the public domain and are also inalienable, unless converted pursuant to law into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. Historically, lands reclaimed by the government are sui generis, not available for sale to private parties unlike other alienable public lands. Reclaimed lands retain their inherent potential as areas for public use or public service. Alienable lands of the public domain, increasingly becoming scarce natural resources, are to be distributed equitably among our evergrowing population. To insure such equitable distribution, the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions have barred private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. Those who attempt to dispose of inalienable natural resources of the State, or seek to circumvent the constitutional ban on alienation of lands of the public domain to private corporations, do so at their own risk. We can now summarize our conclusions as follows: 1. 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. PEA may lease these lands to private corporations but may not sell or transfer ownership of these lands to private corporations. PEA may only sell these lands to Philippine citizens, subject to the ownership limitations in the 1987 Constitution and existing laws. 2. The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay remain inalienable natural resources of the public domain until classified as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition and declared no longer needed for public service. The government can make such classification and declaration only after PEA has reclaimed these submerged areas. Only then can these lands qualify as agricultural lands of the public domain, which are the only natural resources the government can alienate. In their present state, the 592.15 hectares of submerged areas are inalienable and outside the commerce of man.

3. Since the Amended JVA seeks to transfer to AMARI, a private corporation, ownership of 77.34 hectaresiv[110] 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. 4. Since the Amended JVA also seeks to transfer to AMARI ownership of 290.156 hectaresv[111] 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. PEA may reclaim these submerged areas. Thereafter, the government can classify the reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable, and further declare them no longer needed for public service. Still, the transfer of such reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain to AMARI will be void in view of Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. Clearly, the Amended JVA violates glaringly Sections 2 and 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Under Article 1409vi[112] of the Civil Code, contracts whose object or purpose is contrary to law, or whose object is outside the commerce of men, are inexistent and void from the beginning. The Court must perform its duty to defend and uphold the Constitution, and therefore declares the Amended JVA null and void ab initio.