People vs. Gozo

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THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
LORETA GOZO, defendant-appellant.

53 SCRA 476
OCTOBER 26, 1973


Loreta Gozo bought a house and lot located inside the US Naval Reservation within the territorial jurisdiction of Olangapo City. She demolished the house and built another one in its place without securing a building permit from the City Mayor of Olangapo City. The City Court of Olangapo found her guilty of violating a municipal ordinance that requires permit from the municipal mayor for construction of building as well as any modification, repairs or demolition thereof.

On appeal with the Court of Appeals, Gozo put in issue the validity of such ordinance by invoking due process. She likewise questioned the applicability of the ordinance to her in view of the location of her dwelling within the naval base leased to the American Armed Forces; she contended that the municipal government could not exercise therein-administrative jurisdiction.


  1. Whether municipal ordinance is valid?
  2. Whether the municipal corporation retains its administrative jurisdiction over the area where Gozo‘s house was located?


  1. YES, the municipal ordinance is valid. The authority to require building permits is predicated upon the general welfare clause. Its scope is wide, well nigh all embracing, covering every aspect of public health, public morals, public safety, and the well-being and good order of the community.

  2. YES, the municipal corporation retains its administrative jurisdiction over the said area. By the agreement, the Philippine Government merely consents that the United States exercise jurisdiction in certain cases. This 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 jurisdiction retains not only jurisdictional rights not granted, but also such ceded rights as the United States Military authorities for reasons of their own decline to make use of.

    Moreover, the concept of sovereignty as auto-limitation is the property of a state force due to which it has the exclusive capacity of legal self-determination and self-restriction. x x x A state 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 dismissed, but it does not disappear. Therefore, 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.

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