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REPUBLIC VS SANDIGANBAYAN
ISSUE: WON the Republic can invoke state immunity.
FACTS: The PCGG issued writs placing under sequestration all business enterprises, entities and other properties, real and personal, owned or registered in the name of private respondent Benedicto, or of corporations in which he appeared to have controlling or majority interest due to his involvement incases of ill-gotten wealth. Among the properties thus sequestered and taken over by PCGG fiscal agents were the 227 shares in NOGCCI owned by and registered under the name of private respondent. As sequester of the 227 shares formerly owned by Benedicto, PCGG did not pay the monthly membership fee. Later on, the shares were declared to be delinquent to be put into an auction sale. Despite filing a writ of injunction, it was nevertheless dismissed. So petitioner Republic and private respondent Benedicto entered into a Compromise Agreement which contains a general release clause where petitioner agreed and bound itself to lift the sequestration on the227 NOGCCI shares acknowledging that it was within private respondent’s capacity to acquire the same shares out of his income from business and the exercise of his profession. Implied in this undertaking is the recognition by petitioner that the subject shares of stock could not have been ill-gotten Benedicto filed a Motion for Release from Sequestration and Return of Sequestered Shares/Dividends praying, inter alia, that his NOGCCI shares of stock be specifically released from sequestration and returned, delivered or paid to him as part of the parties’ Compromise Agreement in that case. It was granted but the shares were ordered to be put under the custody of the Clerk of Court. Along with this, PCGG was ordered to deliver the shares to the Clerk of Court which it failed to comply with without any justifiable grounds. In a last-ditch attempt to escape liability, petitioner Republic, through the PCGG, invokes state immunity from suit.
RATIO DECIDENDI: In fact, by entering into a Compromise Agreement with private respondent Benedicto, petitioner Republic thereby stripped itself of its immunity from suit and placed itself in the same level of its adversary. When the State enters into contract, through its officers or agents, in furtherance of a legitimate aim and purpose and pursuant to constitutional legislative authority, whereby mutual or reciprocal benefits accrue and rights and obligations arise therefrom, the State may be sued even without its express consent, precisely because by entering into a contract the sovereign descends to the level of the citizen. Its consent to be sued is implied from the very act of entering into such contract, breach of which on its part gives the corresponding right to the other party to the agreement.
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