Salvador H. Laurel, petitioner, vs. Ramon Garcia, as head of the Asset Privatization Trust, Raul Manglapus, as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and Catalino Macaraig, as Executive Secretary, respondents.
Facts: The subject property in this case is one of the 4 properties in Japan acquired by the Philippine government under the Reparations Agreement entered into with Japan, the Roppongi property. The said property was acquired from the Japanese government through Reparations Contract No. 300. It consists of the land and building for the Chancery of the Philippine Embassy. As intended, it became the site of the Philippine Embassy until the latter was transferred to Nampeidai when the Roppongi building needed major repairs. President Aquino created a committee to study the disposition/utilization of Philippine government properties in Tokyo and Kobe, Japan. The President issued EO 296 entitling non-Filipino citizens or entities to avail of separations' capital goods and services in the event of sale, lease or disposition.
Ruling: It is not for the President to convey valuable real property of the government on his or her own sole will. Any such conveyance must be authorized and approved by a law enacted by the Congress. It requires executive and legislative concurrence. It is indeed true that the Roppongi property is valuable not so much because of the inflated prices fetched by real property in Tokyo but more so because of its symbolic value to all Filipinos, veterans and civilians alike. Whether or not the Roppongi and related properties will eventually be sold is a policy determination where both the President and Congress must concur. Considering the properties' importance and value, the laws on conversion and disposition of property of public dominion must be faithfully followed.