FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, petitioner, vs. PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY and AMARI COASTAL BAY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, respondents. [G.R. No. 133250.
November 11, 2003] – denial of motions for
reconsideration filed by PEA and AMARI.
“x x x.
This Court is asked to legitimize a government contract that conveyed to a private entity 157.84 hectares of reclaimed public lands along Roxas Boulevard in Metro Manila at the negotiated price of
P1,200 per square meter.
However, published reports place the market price of land near that area at
that time at a high of P90,000 per square meter. The difference in price is
a staggering P140.16 billion, equivalent to the budget of the entire
Judiciary for seventeen years and more than three times the Marcos Swiss
deposits that this Court forfeited in favor of the government.
Many worry to death that the private investors will lose their investments, at most not more than one-half billion pesos in legitimate expenses, if this Court voids the contract. No one seems to worry about the more than tens of billion pesos that the hapless Filipino people will lose if the contract is allowed to stand. There are those who question these figures, but the questions arise only because the private entity somehow managed to inveigle the government to sell the reclaimed lands without public bidding in patent violation of the Government Auditing Code.
Fortunately for the Filipino people, two Senate Committees, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers, conducted extensive public hearings to determine the actual market value of the public lands sold to the private entity. The Senate Committees established the clear, indisputable and unalterable fact that the sale of the public lands is grossly and unconscionably undervalued based on official documents submitted by the proper government agencies during the Senate investigation. We quote the joint report of these two Senate Committees, Senate Committee Report No. 560, as approved by the Senate in plenary session on
27 September 1997:
X x x.
Whether based on the official appraisal of the BIR, the Municipal Assessor or the Commission on Audit, the
P1,200 per square meter purchase price, or a
total of P1.894 billion for the 157.84 hectares of government lands, is
grossly and unconscionably undervalued. The authoritative appraisal, of course,
is that of the Commission on Audit which valued the 157.84 hectares at P21,333.07
per square meter or a total of P33.673 billion. Thus, based on the official appraisal of the Commission on Audit, the
independent constitutional body that safeguards government assets, the
actual loss to the Filipino people is a shocking P31.779 billion.
This gargantuan monetary anomaly, aptly earning the epithet Grandmother of All Scams, is not the major defect of this government contract. The major flaw is not even the
P1.754 billion in commissions the Senate
Committees discovered the private entity paid to various persons to secure the
contract, described in Senate Report
No. 560 xxx.
X x x.
The private entity that purchased the reclaimed lands for
expressly admitted before the Senate Committees that it spent P1.754
billion in commissions to pay various individuals for professional efforts and services in successfully negotiating and
securing the contract. By any legal
or moral yardstick, the P1.754
billion in commissions obviously constitutes
bribe money. Nonetheless, there are
those who insist that the billions in investments of the private entity deserve
protection by this Court. Should this
Court establish a new doctrine by elevating grease money to the status of
legitimate investments deserving of protection by the law? Should this Court
reward the patently illegal and grossly unethical business practice of the
private entity in securing the contract? Should we allow those with hands
dripping with dirty money equitable relief from this Court?
Despite these revolting anomalies unearthed by the Senate Committees, the fatal flaw of this contract is that it glaringly violates provisions of the Constitution expressly prohibiting the alienation of lands of the public domain.
X x x.”
 See The Grandmother of All Scams by Sheila S. Coronel and Ellen Tordesillas, 18-20 March 1998, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. This report won the 1st Prize in the 1998 JVO Investigative Journalism Awards.
 6 May 2003 Resolution, p. 13.
 PEAs Memorandum dated
August 1999 quoted extensively, in its Statement of Facts and the
Case, the Statement of Facts in Senate Committee Report No. 560 dated 16 September 1997.
Moreover, the existence of this report is a matter of judicial notice pursuant
to Section 1, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court which provides, A court shall take
judicial notice, without the introduction of evidence, of x x x the official
acts of the legislature.
9 July 2002
Decision, p. 4.
 Senate Committee Report No. 560, p. 48.