Political Law

People of the Philippines vs Loreta Gozo

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G.R. No. L-36409 – 53 SCRA 476 – Political Law – Basic Concepts – Elements of a State – Sovereignty – The Philippines has Sovereignty over Foreign Military Bases within the Philippines

Loreta Gozo bought a house and lot which was located inside the US Naval Reservation which is within the territorial jurisdiction of Olongapo City. Upon the advice of an assistant in the Mayor’s Office and some neighbors, she demolished the house standing thereon without acquiring the necessary permits and then later on erected another house. She was then charged by the City Engineer’s Office for violating a municipal ordinance¬†which requires her to secure permits for any demolition and/or construction within the City. She was convicted in violation thereof by the lower court. She appealed and countered that the City of Olongapo has no administrative jurisdiction over the said lot because it is within a Naval Base of a foreign country.

ISSUE: Is the Municipal Ordinance enforceable within the US Naval Base?

HELD: Yes. The Philippine Government has not abdicated its sovereignty over the bases as part of the Philippine territory or divested itself completely of jurisdiction over offenses committed therein. Under the terms of the treaty, the United States Government has prior or preferential but not exclusive jurisdiction of such offenses. The Philippine Government retains not only jurisdictional rights not granted, but also all such ceded rights as the United States Military authorities for reasons of their own decline to make use of (Military Bases Agreement). Hence, in the exercise of its sovereignty, the State through the City of Olongapo does have administrative jurisdiction over the lot located within the US Naval Base.

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