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Case Digest: Manila Prince Hotel vs. GSIS, G.R. No. 122156, 3 February 1997

Manila Prince Hotel vs. GSIS, G.R. No. 122156, 3 February 1997

TOPIC: Self-Executory and Mandatory Provisions 


Petitioner Manila Prince Hotel Corporation, a domestic corporation, filed a petition for prohibition and mandamus to stop the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), owning 51% of the shares, from selling the controlling shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation to a foreign corporation on the ground among others, that the sale violates the second paragraph of Section 10, Article XII of the Constitution, which provides:


“In the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos.”

Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), pursuant to the privatization program of the Philippine Government under Proclamation No. 50 dated 8 December 1986, decided to sell through public bidding 30% to 51% of the issued and outstanding shares of respondent MHC. The winning bidder, or the eventual “strategic partner,” is to provide management expertise and/or an international marketing/reservation system, and financial support to strengthen the profitability and performance of the Manila Hotel.

In a close bidding held on 18 September 1995 only two (2) bidders participated: petitioner Manila Prince Hotel Corporation, a Filipino corporation, which offered to buy 51% of the MHC or 15,300,000 shares at P41.58 per share, and Renong Berhad, a Malaysian firm, with ITT-Sheraton as its hotel operator, which bid for the same number of shares at P44.00 per share, or P2.42 more than the bid of petitioner.


  1. WON Section 10, Article XII of the Constitution is self-excutory and mandatory provision.
  2. WON the Manila Hotel is part of the national patrimony.
  3. WON the term qualified Filipinos include juridical persons.


  1. A constitution is a system of fundamental laws for the governance and administration of a nation. It is supreme, imperious, absolute and unalterable except by the authority from which it emanates. It has been defined as the fundamental and paramount law of the nation. It prescribes the permanent framework of a system of government, assigns to the different departments their respective powers and duties, and establishes certain fixed principles on which government is founded. The fundamental conception in other words is that it is a supreme law to which all other laws must conform and in accordance with which all private rights must be determined and all public authority administered. Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the constitution that law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the executive branch or entered into by private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any force and effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in every statute and contract.

Admittedly, some constitutions are merely declarations of policies and principles. Their provisions command the legislature to enact laws and carry out the purposes of the framers who merely establish an outline of government providing for the different departments of the governmental machinery and securing certain fundamental and inalienable rights of citizens. A provision which lays down a general principle, such as those found in Art. II of the 1987 Constitution, is usually not self-executing. But a provision which is complete in itself and becomes operative without the aid of supplementary or enabling legislation, or that which supplies sufficient rule by means of which the right it grants may be enjoyed or protected, is self-executing. Thus a constitutional provision is self-executing if the nature and extent of the right conferred and the liability imposed are fixed by the constitution itself, so that they can be determined by an examination and construction of its terms, and there is no language indicating that the subject is referred to the legislature for action.

As against constitutions of the past, modern constitutions have been generally drafted upon a different principle and have often become in effect extensive codes of laws intended to operate directly upon the people in a manner similar to that of statutory enactments, and the function of constitutional conventions has evolved into one more like that of a legislative body. Hence, unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act is necessary to enforce a constitutional mandate, the presumption now is that all provisions of the constitution are self-executing If the constitutional provisions are treated as requiring legislation instead of self-executing, the legislature would have the power to ignore and practically nullify the mandate of the fundamental law.This can be cataclysmic. That is why the prevailing view is, as it has always been, that —

. . . in case of doubt, the Constitution should be considered self-executing rather than non-self￾executing . . . . Unless the contrary is clearly intended, the provisions of the Constitution should be considered self-executing, as a contrary rule would give the legislature discretion to determine when, or whether, they shall be effective. These provisions would be subordinated to the will of the lawmaking body, which could make them entirely meaningless by simply refusing to pass the needed implementing statute.

Quite apparently, Sec. 10, second par., of Art XII is couched in such a way as not to make it appear that it is nonself-executing but simply for purposes of style. But, certainly, the legislature is not precluded from enacting other further laws to enforce the constitutional provision so long as the contemplated statute squares with the Constitution. Minor details may be left to the legislature without impairing the self-executing nature of constitutional provisions.

In self-executing constitutional provisions, the legislature may still enact legislation to facilitate the exercise of powers directly granted by the constitution, further the operation of such a provision, prescribe a practice to be used for its enforcement, provide a convenient remedy for the protection of the rights secured or the determination thereof, or place reasonable safeguards around the exercise of the right. The mere fact that legislation may supplement and add to or prescribe a penalty for the violation of a self-executing constitutional provision does not render such a provision ineffective in the absence of such legislation. The omission from a constitution of any express provision for a remedy for enforcing a right or liability is not necessarily an indication that it was not intended to be self-executing. The rule is that a self-executing provision of the constitution does not necessarily exhaust legislative power on the subject, but any legislation must be in harmony with the constitution, further the exercise of constitutional right and make it more available. Subsequent legislation however does not necessarily mean that the subject constitutional provision is not, by itself, fully enforceable.

Respondents also argue that the non-self-executing nature of Sec. 10, second par., of Art. XII is implied from the tenor of the first and third paragraphs of the same section which undoubtedly are not self-executing. The argument is flawed. If the first and third paragraphs are not self-executing because Congress is still to enact measures to encourage the formation and operation of enterprises fully owned by Filipinos, as in the first paragraph, and the State still needs legislation to regulate and exercise authority over foreign investments within its nationa jurisdiction, as in the third paragraph, then a fortiori, by the same logic, the second paragraph can only be selfexecuting as it does not by its language require any legislation in order to give preference to qualified Filipinos in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony. A constitutional provision may be self-executing in one part and non-self-executing in another.

Even the cases cited by respondents holding that certain constitutional provisions are merely statements of principles and policies, which are basically not self-executing and only placed in the Constitution as moral incentives to legislation, not as judicially enforceable rights — are simply not in point. Basco v. Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation speaks of constitutional provisions on personal dignity, the sanctity of family life, the vital role of the youth in nation-building, the promotion of social justice, and the values of education. Tolentino v.Secretary of Finance refers to the constitutional provisions on social justice and human rights and on education. Lastly, Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato cites provisions on the promotion of general welfare, the sanctity of family life, the vital role of the youth in nation-building and the promotion of total human liberation and development.A reading of these provisions indeed clearly shows that they are not judicially enforceable constitutional rights but merely guidelines for legislation. The very terms of the provisions manifest that they are only principles upon which the legislations must be based. Res ipsa loquitur.

On the other hand, Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII of the of the 1987 Constitution is a mandatory, positive command which is complete in itself and which needs no further guidelines or implementing laws or rules for its enforcement. From its very words the provision does not require any legislation to put it in operation. It is per se judicially enforceable When our Constitution mandates that [i]n the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos, it means just that — qualified Filipinos shall be preferred. And when our Constitution declares that a right exists in certain specified circumstances an action may be maintained to enforce such right notwithstanding the absence of any legislation on the subject; consequently, if there is no statute especially enacted to enforce such constitutional right, such right enforces itself by its own inherent potency and puissance, and from which all legislations must take their bearings. Where there is a right there is a remedy. Ubi jus ibi remedium.

  1. As regards our national patrimony, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission explains —

The patrimony of the Nation that should be conserved and developed refers not only to out rich natural resources but also to the cultural heritage of out race. It also refers to our intelligence in arts, sciences and letters. Therefore, we should develop not only our lands, forests, mines and other natural resources but also the mental ability or faculty of our people.

In its plain and ordinary meaning, the term patrimony pertains to heritage. When the Constitution speaks of national patrimony, it refers not only to the natural resources of the Philippines, as the Constitution could have very well used the term natural resources, but also to the cultural heritage of the Filipinos.

Manila Hotel has become a landmark — a living testimonial of Philippine heritage. While it was restrictively an American hotel when it first opened in 1912, it immediately evolved to be truly Filipino, Formerly a concourse for the elite, it has since then become the venue of various significant events which have shaped Philippine history. It was called the Cultural Center of the 1930’s. It was the site of the festivities during the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth. Dubbed as the Official Guest House of the Philippine Government. it plays host to dignitaries and official visitors who are accorded the traditional Philippine hospitality.

The history of the hotel has been chronicled in the book The Manila Hotel: The Heart and Memory of a City.  During World War II the hotel was converted by the Japanese Military Administration into a military headquarters. When the American forces returned to recapture Manila the hotel was selected by the Japanese together with Intramuros as the two (2) places fro their final stand. Thereafter, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the hotel became the center of political activities, playing host to almost every political convention. In 1970 the hotel reopened after a renovation and reaped numerous international recognitions, an acknowledgment of the Filipino talent and ingenuity. In 1986 the hotel was the site of a failed coup d’ etat where an aspirant for vice-president was “proclaimed” President of the Philippine Republic.

For more than eight (8) decades Manila Hotel has bore mute witness to the triumphs and failures, loves and frustrations of the Filipinos; its existence is impressed with public interest; its own historicity associated with our struggle for sovereignty, independence and nationhood. Verily, Manila Hotel has become part of our national economy and patrimony. For sure, 51% of the equity of the MHC comes within the purview of the constitutional shelter for it comprises the majority and controlling stock, so that anyone who acquires or owns the 51% will have actual control and management of the hotel. In this instance, 51% of the MHC cannot be disassociated from the hotel and the land on which the hotel edifice stands. Consequently, we cannot sustain respondents’ claim that the Filipino First Policy provision is not applicable since what is being sold is only 51% of the outstanding shares of the corporation, not the Hotel building nor the land upon which the building stands.

  1. The argument is pure sophistry. The term qualified Filipinos as used in Our Constitution also includes corporations at least 60% of which is owned by Filipinos. This is very clear from the proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional Commission

1. THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Davide is recognized.

2. DAVIDE. I would like to introduce an amendment to the Nolledo amendment. And the amendment would consist in substituting the words “QUALIFIED FILIPINOS” with the following: “CITIZENS OF THE PHILIPPINES OR CORPORATIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS WHOSE CAPITAL OR CONTROLLING STOCK IS WHOLLY OWNED BY SUCH CITIZENS.

x x x x x x x x x

  1. MONSOD. Madam President, apparently the proponent is agreeable, but we have to raise a question. Suppose it is a corporation that is 80-percent Filipino, do we not give it preference?
  2. DAVIDE. The Nolledo amendment would refer to an individual Filipino. What about a corporation wholly owned by Filipino citizens?
  3. MONSOD. At least 60 percent, Madam President.
  4. DAVIDE. Is that the intention?
  5. MONSOD. Yes, because, in fact, we would be limiting it if we say that the preference should only be 100-percent Filipino.
  6. MR: DAVIDE. I want to get that meaning clear because “QUALIFIED FILIPINOS” may refer only to individuals and not to juridical personalities or entities.
  7. MONSOD. We agree, Madam President.

x x x x x x x x x

  1. RODRIGO. Before we vote, may I request that the amendment be read again.
  2. NOLLEDO. The amendment will read: “IN THE GRANT OF RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES AND CONCESSIONS COVERING THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND PATRIMONY, THE STATE SHALL GIVE PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS.” And the word “Filipinos” here, as intended by the proponents, will include not only individual Filipinos but also Filipino-controlled entities or entities fully-controlled by Filipinos.

The phrase preference to qualified Filipinos was explained thus —

  1. FOZ. Madam President, I would like to request Commissioner Nolledo to please restate his amendment so that I can ask a question.

MR FOZ. In connection with that amendment, if a foreign enterprise is qualified and a Filipino enterprise is also qualified, will the Filipino enterprise still be given a preference?

  1. NOLLEDO. Obviously.
  2. FOZ. If the foreigner is more qualified in some aspects than the Filipino enterprise, will the Filipino still be preferred?
  3. NOLLEDO. The answer is “yes.”
  4. FOZ. Thank you,

Expounding further on the Filipino First Policy provision Commissioner Nolledo continues —

  1. NOLLEDO. Yes, Madam President. Instead of “MUST,” it will be “SHALL — THE STATE SHALL GlVE PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS. This embodies the so-called “Filipino First” policy. That means that Filipinos should be given preference in the grant of concessions, privileges and rights covering the national patrimony.

The exchange of views in the sessions of the Constitutional Commission regarding the subject provision was still further clarified by Commissioner Nolledo —

Paragraph 2 of Section 10 explicitly mandates the “Pro-Filipino” bias in all economic concerns. It is better known as the FILIPINO FIRST Policy . . . This provision was never found in previous Constitutions . . . .

The term “qualified Filipinos” simply means that preference shall be given to those citizens who can make a viable contribution to the common good, because of credible competence and efficiency. It certainly does NOT mandate the pampering and preferential treatment to Filipino citizens or organizations that are incompetent or inefficient, since such an indiscriminate preference would be counter productive and inimical to the common good. In the granting of economic rights, privileges, and concessions, when a choice has to be made between a “qualified foreigner” end a “qualified Filipino,” the latter shall be chosen over the former.”

Lastly, the word qualified is also determinable. Petitioner was so considered by respondent GSIS and selected as one of the qualified bidders. It was pre-qualified by respondent GSIS in accordance with its own guidelines so that the sole inference here is that petitioner has been found to be possessed of proven management expertise in the hotel industry, or it has significant equity ownership in another hotel company, or it has an overall management and marketing proficiency to successfully operate the Manila Hotel.

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