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Hence, the legislature in dealing with such property, is subject to the constitutional restrictions concerning property Martin, Public Corporations [], p. City of Zamboanga [ Phil. The same may be said of properties transferred to the MCIAA and used for airport purposes, such as those involved herein. Since such properties are of public dominion, they are deemed held by the MCIAA in trust for the Government and can be alienated only as may be provided by law.

Based on the foregoing, it is our considered opinion that the properties used for airport purposes, such as the airfield, runway and taxiway and the lots on which the runway and taxiway are located, are owned by the State or by the Republic of the Philippines and are merely held in trust by the MCIAA, notwithstanding that certificates of titles thereto may have been issued in the name of the MCIAA.

Moreover, then Undersecretary Antonio P. Belicena of the Department of Finance, in his 1st Indorsement dated May 18, , advanced that "this Department DOF interposes no objection to the request of Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority for exemption from payment of real property tax on the property used for airport purposes" mentioned above.

The City Assessor, therefore, is hereby instructed to transfer the assessment of the subject airfield, runway, taxiway and the lots on which the runway and taxiway are situated, from the "Taxable Roll" to the "Exempt Roll" of real properties. The City Treasurer thereat should be informed on the action taken for his immediate appropriate action. Respondent City Treasurer Elena T. Petitioner claimed that the statement again included the lots utilized solely and exclusively for public purpose such as the airfield, runway, and taxiway and the lots on which these are built.


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Respondent Pacaldo then issued Notices of Levy on 18 sets of real properties of petitioner. The petition likewise prayed for a declaration that the airport terminal building, the airfield, runway, taxiway and the lots on which they are situated are exempted from real estate taxes after due hearing. As there was no interested bidder who participated in the auction sale, respondent City forfeited and purchased said properties.

Petitioner claimed before the RTC that it had discovered that respondent City did not pass any ordinance authorizing the collection of real property tax, a tax for the special education fund SEF , and a penalty interest for its nonpayment. Petitioner argued that without the corresponding tax ordinances, respondent City could not impose and collect real property tax, an additional tax for the SEF, and penalty interest from petitioner.

The pertinent portions of the Order are quoted below:. The supervening legal issue has rendered it imperative that the matter of the consolidation of the ownership of the auctioned properties be placed on hold. Furthermore, it is the view of the Court that great prejudice and damage will be suffered by petitioner if it were to lose its dominion over these properties now when the most important legal issue has still to be resolved by the Court.

However, upon motion of respondents, the RTC lifted the writ of preliminary injunction in an Order 15 dated December 5, The RTC reasoned as follows:. The respondent City, in the courseof the hearing of its motion, presented to this Court a certified copy of its Ordinance No. Though this ordinance was enacted prior to the effectivity of Republic Act No. The tax collected under Ordinance No. Provided, however, That in no case shall the total interest on the unpaid tax or portion thereof exceed thirty-six 36 months.

This difference does not however detract from the essential enforceability and effectivity of Ordinance No. It may be recalled that Republic Act No. Respondent City has collected this tax as mandated by this law without any ordinance for the purpose, as there is no need for it. Nevertheless, RA has not been totally repealed; there is only a partial repeal. This is so since RA is still in force and effect, and the declared policy of the government in enacting the law, which is to contribute to the financial support of the goals of education as provided in the Constitution, necessitates the continued and uninterrupted collection of the tax.

Considering that this is a tax of far-reaching importance, to require the passage of an ordinance in order that the tax may be collected would be to place the collection of the tax at the option of the local legislature. This would run counter to the declared policy of the government when the SEF was created and the tax imposed. As regards the allegation of respondents that this Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the instant petition, the Court deems it proper, at this stage of the proceedings, not to treat this issue, as it involves facts which are yet to be established.

It would seem from the foregoing provisions, that once the taxpayer fails to redeem within the one-year period, ownership fully vests on the local government unit concerned. Thus, when in the present case petitioner failed to redeem the parcels of land acquired by respondent City, the ownership thereof became fully vested on respondent City without the latter having to perform any other acts to perfect its ownership.

Corollary thereto, ownership on the part of respondent City has become a fait accompli. Consequently, the writ of preliminary injunction issued by this Court is hereby lifted. The Court of Appeals Cebu City promulgated the questioned Decision on October 8, , holding that petitioner is a government-owned or controlled corporation and its properties are subject to realty tax. The dispositive portion of the questioned Decision reads:.

Petitioner cited Manila International Airport Authority v. Petitioner claimed that it had been described by this Court as a government instrumentality, and that it followed "as a logical consequence that petitioner is exempt from the taxing powers of respondent City of Lapu-Lapu. Petitioner thus prayed that it be declared exempt from paying the realty tax, special education fund, and interest being collected by respondent City. The Court of Appeals wrote in the questioned Decision: Under the Local Government Code LGC for brevity , enacted pursuant to the constitutional mandate of local autonomy, all natural and juridical persons, including government-owned or controlled corporations GOCCs , instrumentalities and agencies, are no longer exempt from local taxes even if previously granted an exemption.

The only exemptions from local taxes are those specifically provided under the Code itself, or those enacted through subsequent legislation. Thus, the LGC, enacted pursuant to Section 3, Article X of the Constitution, provides for the exercise by local government units of their power to tax, the scope thereof or its limitations, and the exemptions from local taxation. Section of the LGC prescribes the common limitations on the taxing powers of local government units.

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The above-stated provision, however, qualified the exemption of the National Government, its agencies and instrumentalities from local taxation with the phrase "unless otherwise provided herein. Section of the LGC provides for the power of the local government units LGUs for brevity to levy real property tax. Section of the LGC provides for the exemptions from payment of real property taxes and withdraws previous exemptions granted to natural and juridical persons, including government-owned and controlled corporations, except as provided therein.

Section of the LGC is the general provision on withdrawal of tax exemption privileges. Pursuant to the explicit provision of Section of the LGC, exemptions previously enjoyed by persons, whether natural or juridical, like the petitioner MCIAA, are deemed withdrawn upon the effectivity of the Code. From the [ MCIAA] ruling, it is acknowledged that, under Section of the LGC, instrumentalities were generally exempt from all forms of local government taxation, unless otherwise provided in the Code.

On the other hand, Section "otherwise provided" insofar as it allowed local government units to levy an ad valorem real property tax, irrespective of who owned the property. At the same time, the imposition of real property taxes under Section is, in turn, qualified by the phrase "not hereinafter specifically exempted. Thus, as ruled in the [ MCIAA] case, the prohibition on taxing the national government, its agencies and instrumentalities under Section is qualified by Sections and , and accordingly, the only relevant exemption now applicable to these bodies is what is now provided under Section a of the Code.

It may be noted that the express withdrawal of previously granted exemptions to persons from the payment of real property tax by the LGC does not even make any distinction as to whether the exempt person is a governmental entity or not. As Sections and of the Code both state, the withdrawal applies to "all persons, including GOCCs," thus encompassing the two classes of persons recognized under our laws, natural persons and juridical persons. It further went on to hold that "By express mandate of the Local Government Code, local governments cannot impose any kind of tax on national government instrumentalities like the MIAA.

These cited provisions establish the fitness of the petitioner MCIAA to be the subject of legal relations. Under its charter, it has the power to acquire, possess and incur obligations. It also has the power to contract in its own name and to acquire title to movable or immovable property. More importantly, it may likewise exercise powers of a corporation under the Corporation Code. Moreover, based on its own allegation, it even recognized itself as a GOCC when it alleged in its petition for prohibition filed before the lower court that it "is a body corporate organized and existing under Republic Act No.

We also find to be not meritorious the assertion of petitioner MCIAA that the respondent city can no longer challenge the tax-exempt character of the properties since it is estopped from doing so when respondent City of Lapu-Lapu, through its former mayor, Ernest H. It is not denied by the respondent city that it considered, through its former mayor, Ernest H.

However, as astutely pointed out by the respondent city it "can never be in estoppel, particularly in matters involving taxes. It is a well-known rule that erroneous application and enforcement of the law by public officers do not preclude subsequent correct application of the statute, and that the Government is never estopped by mistake or error on the part of its agents. The Court of Appeals likewise held that respondent City has a valid and existing local tax ordinance, Ordinance No. The relevant provision reads:. The Court of Appeals found that even if Ordinance No.

Province of Cebu, 33 held that "[t]he failure to add a specific repealing clause particularly mentioning the statute to be repealed indicates that the intent was not to repeal any existing law on the matter, unless an irreconcilable inconsistency and repugnancy exists in the terms of the new and the old laws. This is so since R. It is worthy to note that the Court of Appeals nevertheless held that even if it is clear that respondent City has the power to impose real property taxes over petitioner, "it is also evident and categorical that, under Republic Act No.

Functions, Powers and Duties. Provided, That any asset located in the Mactan International Airport important to national security shall not be subject to alienation or mortgage by the Authority nor to transfer to any entity other than the National Government[. All loans contracted by the Authority under this section, together with all interests and other sums payable in respect thereof, shall constitute a charge upon all the revenues and assets of the Authority and shall rank equally with one another, but shall have priority over any other claim or charge on the revenue and assets of the Authority: Provided, That this provision shall not be construed as a prohibition or restriction on the power of the Authority to create pledges, mortgages and other voluntary liens or encumbrances on any asset or property of the Authority.

The payment of the loans or other indebtedness of the Authority may be guaranteed by the National Government subject to the approval of the President of the Philippines. The Court of Appeals concluded that "it is clear that petitioner MCIAA is denied by its charter the absolute right to dispose of its property to any person or entity except to the national government and it is not empowered to obtain loans or encumber its property without the approval of the President.

LGUs, through its local legislative bodies, are now given direct authority to levy taxes, fees and other charges pursuant to Article X, Section 5 of the Constitution. And one of the most significant provisions of the LGC is the removal of the blanket inclusion of instrumentalities and agencies of the national government from the coverage of local taxation. The express withdrawal by the Code of previously granted exemptions from realty taxes applied to instrumentalities and government-owned or controlled corporations GOCCs such as the petitioner Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority.

As expressed and categorically held in the Mactan case, the removal and withdrawal of tax exemptions previously enjoyed by persons, natural or juridical, are consistent with the State policy to ensure autonomy to local governments and the objective of the Local Government Code that they enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them effective partners in the attainment of national goals.


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First, the MCIAA case remains the controlling law on the matter as the same is the established precedent; not the MIAA case but the MCIAA case since the former, as keenly pointed out by the respondent City of Lapu-Lapu, has not yet attained finality as there is still yet a pending motion for reconsideration filed with the Supreme Court in the aforesaid case. Second, and more importantly, the ruling of the Supreme Court in the MIAA case cannot be similarly invoked in the case at bench.

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The said case cannot be considered as the "law of the case. It is merely a rule of procedure and does not go to the power of the court, and will not be adhered to where its application will result in an unjust decision. It relates entirely to questions of law, and is confined in its operation to subsequent proceedings in the same case. According to said doctrine, whatever has been irrevocably established constitutes the law of the case only as to the same parties in the same case and not to different parties in an entirely different case.

Besides, pending resolution of the aforesaid motion for reconsideration in the MIAA case, the latter case has not irrevocably established anything. Petitioner alleges that as a government instrumentality, all its airport lands and buildings are exempt from real estate taxes imposed by respondent City. Thus, petitioner claims that the Court of Appeals Cebu City gravely erred in disregarding the following:. MIAA was organized to operate the international and domestic airport in Paranaque City for public use, while MCIAA was organized to operate the international and domestic airport in Mactan for public use.

Both are attached agencies of the Department of Transportation and Communications. Petitioner compares its charter Republic Act No. Creation of the Manila International Airport Authority. There is hereby established a body corporate to be known as the Manila International Airport Authority which shall be attached to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The Authority may establish such offices, branches, agencies or subsidiaries as it may deem proper and necessary; x x x.

The Authority may have such branches, agencies or subsidiaries as it may deem proper and necessary. The Authority shall have the following purposes and objectives:. Petitioner claims that the above purposes and objectives are analogous to those enumerated in its charter, specifically Section 3 of Republic Act No.

Primary Purposes and Objectives. In addition, it shall have the following objectives:. The Authority shall have the following functions, powers and duties:. Provided, That any asset located in the Mactan International Airport important to national security shall not be subject to alienation or mortgage by the Authority nor to transfer to any entity other than the National Government;.

Petitioner claims that like MIAA, it has police authority within its premises, as shown in their respective charters quoted below:. Provided, That the Authority may request the assistance of law enforcement agencies, including request for deputization as may be required. Both charters contain a proviso on tax exemptions Section 21, Executive Order No. Petitioner submits that since it is also a government instrumentality like MIAA, the following conclusion arrived by the Court in the MIAA case is also applicable to petitioner:.

Under Section 2 10 and 13 of the Introductory Provisions of the Administrative Code, which governs the legal relation and status of government units, agencies and offices within the entire government machinery, MIAA is a government instrumentality and not a government-owned or controlled corporation. Under Section o of the Local Government Code, MIAA as a government instrumentality is not a taxable person because it is not subject to "[t]axes, fees or charges of any kind" by local governments.

The only exception is when MIAA leases its real property to a "taxable person" as provided in Section a of the Local Government Code, in which case the specific real property leased becomes subject to real estate tax. Article specifically mentions "ports x x x constructed by the State," which includes public airports and seaports, as properties of public dominion and owned by the Republic. As properties of public dominion owned by the Republic, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Airport Lands and Buildings are expressly exempt from real estate tax under Section a of the Local Government Code.

This Court has also repeatedly ruled that properties of public dominion are not subject to execution or foreclosure sale. Petitioner insists that its properties consisting of the airport terminal building, airfield, runway, taxiway and the lots on which they are situated are not subject to real property tax because they are actually, solely and exclusively used for public purposes.

Said properties belong to the State and are merely held by petitioner in trust. As earlier mentioned, petitioner claims that these properties are important to national security and cannot be alienated, mortgaged, or transferred to any entity except the National Government. Petitioner cites Justice Dante O. The majority provides for a wildly different interpretation of Section , and of the Local Government Code than that employed by the Court in Mactan.

Moreover, the parties in Mactan and in this case are similarly situated, as can be obviously deducted from the fact that both petitioners are airport authorities operating under similarly worded charters. Following basic principles in statutory construction, Mactan will be deemed as giving way to this new ruling. There is no way the majority can be justified unless Mactan is overturned.

They are both, as will be demonstrated, GOCCs, commonly engaged in the business of operating an airport. They are the owners of airport properties they respectively maintain and hold title over these properties in their name. These entities are both owned by the State, and denied by their respective charters the absolute right to dispose of their properties without prior approval elsewhere. Both of them are not empowered to obtain loans or encumber their properties without prior approval the prior approval of the President.

Petitioner likewise claims that the enactment of Ordinance No. Petitioner avers that assuming that it is a non-exempt entity or that its airport lands and buildings are not exempt, it was only upon the effectivity of Ordinance No. Petitioner filed its Memorandum 54 on June 17, In their Comment, 55 respondents point out that petitioner partially moved for a reconsideration of the questioned Decision only as to the issue of whether petitioner is a GOCC or not.

Thus, respondents declare that the other portions of the questioned decision had already attained finality and ought not to be placed in issue in this petition for certiorari. Thus, respondents discussed the other issues raised by petitioner with reservation as to this objection. Respondents summarized the issues and the grounds relied upon as follows:. Respondents point out that petitioner and MIAA are two very different entities. Besides, nothing can prevent Congress from decreeing that even instrumentalities or agencies of the Government performing governmental functions may be subject to tax.

Where it is done precisely to fulfill a constitutional mandate and national policy, no one can doubt its wisdom. Said decision also provides that the transfer of ownership of the land to petitioner was absolute and petitioner cannot evade payment of taxes. Even if the following issues were not raised by petitioner in its motion for reconsideration of the questioned Decision, and thus the ruling pertaining to these issues in the questioned decision had become final, respondents still discussed its side over its objections as to the propriety of bringing these up before this Court.

Congress did not entirely repeal the SEF law, hence, its levy, imposition and collection need not be covered by ordinance. Respondents contend that the petition only questions the denial of the writ of preliminary injunction by the RTC and the Court of Appeals. Petitioner failed to show irreparable injury. Comparing the alleged damage that may be caused petitioner and the direct affront and challenge against the power to tax, which is an attribute of sovereignty, it is but appropriate that injunctive relief should be denied.

Section of Republic Act No. Respondents submitted their Memorandum 64 on June 30, , wherein they allege that the MCIAA case is still good law, as shown by the following cases wherein it was quoted:. National Power Corporation v. Respondent City relies on the following grounds:. Section in relation to Sections and of the Local Government Code of authorizes the collection of real property taxes etc. Estoppel does not lie against the government. The petition has merit.

The petitioner is an instrumentality of the government; thus, its properties actually, solely and exclusively used for public purposes, consisting of the airport terminal building, airfield, runway, taxiway and the lots on which they are situated, are not subject to real property tax and respondent City is not justified in collecting taxes from petitioner over said properties. The MIAA case governs. While it is true, as respondents allege, that the MCIAA case was cited in a long line of cases, 69 still, in , the Court en banc decided a case that in effect reversed the Mactan ruling.

The MIAA case had, since the promulgation of the questioned Decision and Resolution, reached finality and had in fact been either affirmed or cited in numerous cases by the Court.


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Specifically referring to petitioner, we stated as follows:. Many government instrumentalities are vested with corporate powers but they do not become stock or non-stock corporations, which is a necessary condition before an agency or instrumentality is deemed a government-owned or controlled corporation. All these government instrumentalities exercise corporate powers but they are not organized as stock or non-stock corporations as required by Section 2 13 of the Introductory Provisions of the Administrative Code.

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These government instrumentalities are sometimes loosely called government corporate entities. However, they are not government-owned or controlled corporations in the strict sense as understood under the Administrative Code, which is the governing law defining the legal relationship and status of government entities. First, MIAA is not a government-owned or controlled corporation but an instrumentality of the National Government and thus exempt from local taxation.

Second, the real properties of MIAA are owned by the Republic of the Philippines and thus exempt from real estate tax. There is no dispute that a government-owned or controlled corporation is not exempt from real estate tax. However, MIAA is not a government-owned or controlled corporation. Section 2 13 of the Introductory Provisions of the Administrative Code of defines a government-owned or controlled corporation as follows:.

A government-owned or controlled corporation must be "organized as a stock or non-stock corporation. MIAA is not a stock corporation because it has no capital stock divided into shares. MIAA has no stockholders or voting shares.

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Section 3 of the Corporation Code defines a stock corporation as one whose "capital stock is divided into shares and x x x authorized to distribute to the holders of such shares dividends x x x. Hence, MIAA is not a stock corporation. MIAA is also not a non-stock corporation because it has no members. Section 87 of the Corporation Code defines a non-stock corporation as "one where no part of its income is distributable as dividends to its members, trustees or officers. Non-stock corporations cannot distribute any part of their income to their members.

This prevents MIAA from qualifying as a non-stock corporation. Section 88 of the Corporation Code provides that non-stock corporations are "organized for charitable, religious, educational, professional, cultural, recreational, fraternal, literary, scientific, social, civil service, or similar purposes, like trade, industry, agriculture and like chambers. MIAA, a public utility, is organized to operate an international and domestic airport for public use. MIAA is a government instrumentality vested with corporate powers to perform efficiently its governmental functions.

Section 2 10 of the Introductory Provisions of the Administrative Code defines a government "instrumentality" as follows:. When the law vests in a government instrumentality corporate powers, the instrumentality does not become a corporation. Unless the government instrumentality is organized as a stock or non-stock corporation, it remains a government instrumentality exercising not only governmental but also corporate powers. Thus, MIAA exercises the governmental powers of eminent domain, police authority and the levying of fees and charges.

At the same time, MIAA exercises "all the powers of a corporation under the Corporation Law, insofar as these powers are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Executive Order. Likewise, when the law makes a government instrumentality operationally autonomous, the instrumentality remains part of the National Government machinery although not integrated with the department framework. The Court in the MIAA case went on to discuss the limitation on the taxing power of the local governments as against the national government or its instrumentality:.

Section o recognizes the basic principle that local governments cannot tax the national government, which historically merely delegated to local governments the power to tax. While the Constitution now includes taxation as one of the powers of local governments, local governments may only exercise such power "subject to such guidelines and limitations as the Congress may provide. When local governments invoke the power to tax on national government instrumentalities, such power is construed strictly against local governments.

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