Lastly, the issue of whether or not the ATO could be sued without the State’s consent has been rendered moot by the passage of Republic Act No. 9497, otherwise known as the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008.
R.A. No. 9497 abolished the ATO, to wit:
Section 4. Creation of the Authority. – There is hereby created an independent regulatory body with quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative powers and possessing corporate attributes to be known as the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), herein after referred to as the “Authority” attached to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) for the purpose of policy coordination. For this purpose, the existing Air transportation Office created under the provisions of Republic Act No. 776, as amended is hereby abolished.
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Under its Transitory Provisions, R.A. No. 9497 established in place of the ATO the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), which thereby assumed all of the ATO’s powers, duties and rights, assets, real and personal properties, funds, and revenues, viz:
Section 85. Abolition of the Air Transportation Office. – The Air Transportation Office (ATO) created under Republic Act No. 776, a sectoral office of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), is hereby abolished.
All powers, duties and rights vested by law and exercised by the ATO is hereby transferred to the Authority.
All assets, real and personal properties, funds and revenues owned by or vested in the different offices of the ATO are transferred to the Authority. All contracts, records and documents relating to the operations of the abolished agency and its offices and branches are likewise transferred to the Authority. Any real property owned by the national government or government-owned corporation or authority which is being used and utilized as office or facility by the ATO shall be transferred and titled in favor of the Authority.
Section 23 of R.A. No. 9497 enumerates the corporate powers vested in the CAAP, including the power to sue and be sued, to enter into contracts of every class, kind and description, to construct, acquire, own, hold, operate, maintain, administer and lease personal and real properties, and to settle, under such terms and conditions most advantageous to it, any claim by or against it.
With the CAAP having legally succeeded the ATO pursuant to R.A. No. 9497, the obligations that the ATO had incurred by virtue of the deed of sale with the Ramos spouses might now be enforced against the CAAP.