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Republic vs Villasor

government funds are not subject to garnishment

REPUBLIC VS VILLASOR

G.R. No. L-30671 54 SCRA 83 November 28, 1973

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
HON. GUILLERMO P. VILLASOR, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch I, THE
PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF RIZAL, THE SHERIFF OF QUEZON CITY, and THE SHERIFF OF THE CITY OF
MANILA, THE CLERK OF COURT, Court of First Instance of Cebu, P. J. KIENER CO., LTD., GAVINO
UNCHUAN, AND INTERNATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION, respondents

Facts:

The case was filed by the Republic of the Philippines requesting to nullify the ruling of The Court
of First Instance in Cebu in garnishing the public funds allocated for the Arm Forces of the
Philippines.

A decision was rendered in Special Proceedings in favor of respondents P. J. Kiener Co., Ltd.,
Gavino Unchuan, and International Construction Corporation, and against the petitioner herein,
confirming the arbitration award in the amount of P1,712,396.40, subject of Special
Proceedings. The respondent Honorable Guillermo P. Villasor, issued an Order declaring the
said decision final and executory, directing the Sheriffs of Rizal Province, Quezon City and
Manila to execute the said decision. The corresponding Alia Writ of Execution was issued. On
the strength of the aforementioned Alias Writ of Execution, the Provincial Sheriff of Rizal served
Notices of Garnishment with several Banks. The funds of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on
deposit with Philippine Veterans Bank and PNB are public funds duly appropriated and
allocated for the payment of pensions of retirees, pay and allowances of military and civilian
personnel and for maintenance and operations of the AFP.
Petitioner, filed prohibition proceedings against respondent Judge Villasor for acting in excess
of jurisdiction with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in granting the
issuance of a Writ of Execution against the properties of the AFP, hence the notices and
garnishment are null and void.

Issues:

Whether or not the state can be sued without its consent.


Whether or not the notice of garnishment issued by Judge Villasor is valid.

Discussions:

The provision of Sec 3 Article XVI declares that “the State may not be sued without its consent”.
This provision is merely a recognition of the sovereign character of the State and express an
affirmation of the unwritten rule insulating it from the jurisdiction of the courts of justice.
Another justification is the practical consideration that the demands and inconveniences of
litigation will divert time and resources of the State from the more pressing matters demanding
its attention, to the prejudice of the public welfare.
As a general rule, whether the money is deposited by way of general or special deposit, they
remain government funds and are not subject to garnishment. An exception of the rule is a law
or ordinance that has been enacted appropriating a specific amount to pay a valid government
obligation.

Rulings:

It is a fundamental postulate of constitutionalism flowing from the juristic concept of


sovereignty that the state as well as its government is immune from suit unless it gives its
consent. A sovereign is exempt from suit, not because of any formal conception or obsolete
theory, but on the logical and practical ground that there can be no legal right as against the
authority that makes the law on which the right depends. A continued adherence to the
doctrine of non-suability is not to be deplored for as against the inconvenience that may cause
private parties, the loss of government efficiency and the obstacle to the performance of its
multifarious functions are far greater is such a fundamental principle were abandoned and the
availability of judicial remedy were not thus restricted.
What was done by respondent Judge is not in conformity with the dictates of the Constitution.
From a logical and sound sense from the basic concept of the non-suability of the State, public
funds cannot be the object of a garnishment proceeding even if the consent to be sued had
been previously granted and the state liability adjudged. Disbursements of public funds must be
covered by the corresponding appropriation as required by law. The functions and public
services rendered by the State cannot be allowed to be paralyzed or disrupted by the diversion
of public funds from their legitimate and specific objects, as appropriated by law.