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Republic v. PLDT
The plaintiff, Republic of the Philippines, is a political entity exercising governmental powers through its branches and instrumentalities, one of which is the Bureau of Telecommunications. The defendant, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT for short), is a public service corporation holding a legislative franchise to operate and maintain a telephone system throughout the Philippines and to carry on the business of electrical transmission of messages within the Philippines and between the Philippines and the telephone systems of other countries.
Sometime in 1933, the defendant, PLDT, and the RCA Communications, Inc., entered into an agreement whereby telephone messages, coming from the United States and received by RCA's domestic station, could automatically be transferred to the lines of PLDT; and vice-versa, for calls collected by the PLDT for transmission from the Philippines to the United States.
Soon after its creation in 1947, the Bureau of Telecommunications set up its own Government Telephone System by utilizing its own appropriation and equipment and by renting trunk lines of the PLDT to enable government offices to call private parties. The Bureau has extended its services to the general public since 1948, 9 using the same trunk lines owned by, and rented from, the PLDT, and prescribing its (the Bureau's) own schedule of rates. 10 Through these trunk lines, a Government Telephone System (GTS) subscriber could make a call to a PLDT subscriber in the same way that the latter could make a call to the former.
On 5 March 1958, the plaintiff, through the Director of Telecommunications, entered into an agreement with RCA Communications, Inc., for a joint overseas telephone service whereby the Bureau would convey radio-telephone overseas calls received by RCA's station to and from local residents. Actually, they inaugurated this joint operation on 2 February 1958, under a "provisional" agreement.
On 7 April 1958, the defendant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, complained to the Bureau of Telecommunications that said bureau was violating the conditions under which their Private Branch Exchange (PBX) is inter-connected with the PLDT's facilities, referring to the rented trunk lines, for the Bureau had used the trunk lines not only for the use of government offices but even to serve private persons or the general public, in competition with the business of the PLDT; and gave notice that if said violations were not stopped by midnight of 12 April 1958, the PLDT would sever the telephone connections.
When the PLDT received no reply, it disconnected the trunk lines being rented by the Bureau at midnight on 12 April 1958. 14 The result was the isolation of the Philippines, on telephone services, from the rest of the world, except the United States
On 12 April 1958, plaintiff Republic commenced suit against the defendant, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, in the Court of First Instance of Manila (Civil Case No. 35805), praying in its complaint for judgment commanding the PLDT to execute a contract with plaintiff, through the Bureau, for the use of the facilities of defendant's telephone system throughout the Philippines under such terms and conditions as the court might consider reasonable, and for a writ of preliminary injunction against the defendant company to restrain the severance of the existing telephone connections and/or restore those severed
Whether or not the defendant PLDT can be compelled to enter into a contract with the plaintiff
No. We agree with the court below that parties can not be coerced to enter into a contract where no agreement is had between them as to the principal terms and conditions of the contract. Freedom to stipulate such terms and conditions is of the essence of our contractual system, and by express provision of the statute, a contract may be annulled if tainted by violence, intimidation, or undue influence (Articles 1306, 1336, 1337, Civil Code of the Philippines). But the court a quo has apparently overlooked that while the Republic may not compel the PLDT to celebrate a contract with it, the Republic may, in the exercise of the sovereign power of eminent domain, require the telephone company to permit interconnection of the government telephone system and that of the PLDT, as the needs of the government service may require, subject to the payment of just compensation to be determined by the court. Nominally, of course, the power of eminent domain results in the taking or appropriation of title to, and possession of, the expropriated property; but no cogent reason appears why the said power may not be availed of to impose only a burden upon the owner of condemned property, without loss of title and possession. It is unquestionable that real property may, through expropriation, be subjected to an easement of right of way. The use of the PLDT's lines and services to allow inter-service connection between both telephone systems is not much different. In either case private property is subjected to a burden for public use and benefit. If, under section 6, Article XIII, of the Constitution, the State may, in the interest of national welfare, transfer utilities to public ownership upon payment of just compensation, there is no reason why the State may not require a public utility to render services in the general interest, provided just compensation is paid therefor. Ultimately, the beneficiary of the interconnecting service would be the users of both telephone systems, so that the condemnation would be for public use