Exercise of sovereignty may be restricted


SOVEREIGNTY IS COMPREHENSIVE, BUT ITS EXERCISE MAY BE RESTRICTED. - Much less is a reversal indicated because of the alleged absence of the rather novel concept of administrative jurisdiction on the part of Olongapo City. Nor is novelty the only thing that may be said against it. Far worse is the assumption at war with controlling and authoritative doctrines that the mere existence of military or naval bases of a foreign country cuts deeply into the power to govern.

Two leading cases may be cited to show how offensive is such thinking to the juristic concept of sovereignty: People v. Acierto, and Reagan v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. As was so emphatically set forth by Justice Tuason in Acierto: "By the Agree it should be noted, the Philippine Government merely consents that the United States exercise jurisdiction in certain cases. The consent was given purely as a matter of comity, courtesy, or expediency. 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. The first proposition is implied from the fact of Philippine sovereignty over the bases; the second from the express provisions of the treaty."
There was a reiteration of such a view in Reagan. Thus: "Nothing is better settled than that the Philippines being independent and sovereign, its authority may be exercised over its entire domain. There is no portion thereof that is beyond its power. Within its limits, its decrees are supreme, its commands paramount. Its laws govern therein, and everyone to whom it applies must submit to its terms. That is the extent of its jurisdiction, both territorial and personal. Necessarily, likewise, it has to be exclusive. If it were not thus, there is a diminution of its sovereignty." Then came this paragraph dealing with the principle of auto-limitation: "It is to be admitted that any state may, by its consent, express or implied, submit to a restriction of its sovereign rights. There may thus be a curtailment of what otherwise is a power plenary in character. That is the concept of sovereignty as auto-limitation, which, in the succinct language of Jellinek, "is the property of a state-force due to which it has the exclusive capacity of legal self-determination and self-restriction."

A state then, if it chooses to, may refrain from the exercise of what otherwise is illimitable competence." The opinion was at pains to point out though that even then, there is at the most diminution of jurisdictional rights, not in appearance. The words employed follow: "Its laws may as to some persons found within its territory no longer control. Nor does the matter end there. It is not precluded from allowing another power to participate in the exercise of jurisdictional right over certain portions of its territory. If it does so, it by no means follows that such areas become impressed with an alien character. They retain their status as native soil. They are still subject to its authority. Its jurisdiction may be diminished, but it does not disappear. So it is with the bases under lease to the American armed forces by virtue of the military bases agreement of 1947. They are not and cannot be foreign territory." (People vs. Gozo; G.R. No. L-36409, October 26, 1973)

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