SC orders government to comment on bid vs sale of 44-hectare Manila Bay property 

THE Supreme Court (SC) has directed the government to answer a petition to declare the sale of 44 hectares of reclaimed land in Manila Bay as “unconstitutional.”

In a recent resolution, the SC directed the respondents—the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), the Commission on Audit (COA), the Register of Deeds for Parañaque City, the Light Railway Transit Authority and Manila Bay Development Corp. (MBDC)—to submit their comments on the petition filed by Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta of 1-Sagip last April that sought to void the sale of the property by the PRA (then known as Public Estates Authority) to MBDC, a company belonging to banker Jack Ng, that is now worth P60 billion.

The petition said that the sale contravenes the constitutional prohibition that no land of the public domain may be sold to a corporation. He pointed out that the subject 44 hectares of reclaimed lands were clearly lands of the public domain.

The order was issued after the petitioner informed the Court in a manifestation last week his supposed discovery that no original certificate of title was actually issued by the Parañaque Register of Deeds covering the said 44 hectares.

He explained that the 44-hectare property that was sold by PEA to MBDC formed part of a 190-hectare property that is covered by an illegal title issued by the Register of Deeds of Parañaque.

Citing the letter dated June 4, 2018, sent to him by Parañaque Register of Deeds Raymond Ramos, Marcoleta said that the said title appears to refer to a Special Patent signed by then-President Corazon Aquino that covers the said 190 hectares of reclaimed land.

The phrase “certificate of title No. 1” appears to have been superimposed on the top portion of the Special Patent, Marcoleta said.

He stressed that under the rules and regulations of the Land Registration Authority, Judicial Form No. 45 should have been used to issue an original certificate of title covering the said 190 hectares.

Under Special Patent No. 3517 that was issued on January 19, 1988, the national government conveyed and transferred to the then-Public Estates Authority the said 190 hectares of reclaimed land as part of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project.

Marcoleta, likewise, reiterated his request that the Supreme Court immediately issue a temporary restraining order against the possible conveyance or transfer of said 44 hectares to third parties as the titles covering the same were derived from Certificate of Title No. 1 that was, in turn, illegally issued.

However, the Court merely noted Marcoleta’s plea for the issuance of a TRO.

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A UST journalism graduate, has been working as a reporter for more than 20 years.