On the issue regarding the state immunity doctrine, the Commissioner cannot escape liability for the lost shipment of goods. This was clearly discussed in the UNIMEX Micro-Electronics GmBH decision, where the Court wrote:
Finally, petitioner argues that a money judgment or any charge against the government requires a corresponding appropriation and cannot be decreed by mere judicial order.
Although it may be gainsaid that the satisfaction of respondent’s demand will ultimately fall on the government, and that, under the political doctrine of “state immunity,” it cannot be held liable for governmental acts (jus imperii), we still hold that petitioner cannot escape its liability. The circumstances of this case warrant its exclusion from the purview of the state immunity doctrine.
As previously discussed, the Court cannot turn a blind eye to BOC’s ineptitude and gross negligence in the safekeeping of respondent’s goods. We are not likewise unaware of its lackadaisical attitude in failing to provide a cogent explanation on the goods’ disappearance, considering that they were in its custody and that they were in fact the subject of litigation. The situation does not allow us to reject respondent’s claim on the mere invocation of the doctrine of state immunity. Succinctly, the doctrine must be fairly observed and the State should not avail itself of this prerogative to take undue advantage of parties that may have legitimate claims against it.
In Department of Health v. C.V. Canchela & Associates, we enunciated that this Court, as the staunch guardian of the people’s rights and welfare, cannot sanction an injustice so patent in its face, and allow itself to be an instrument in the perpetration thereof. Over time, courts have recognized with almost pedantic adherence that what is inconvenient and contrary to reason is not allowed in law. Justice and equity now demand that the State’s cloak of invincibility against suit and liability be shredded.
Accordingly, we agree with the lower courts’ directive that, upon payment of the necessary customs duties by respondent, petitioner’s “payment shall be taken from the sale or sales of goods or properties seized or forfeited by the Bureau of Customs.”
WHEREFORE, the assailed decisions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 75359 and 75366 are hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. PetitionerRepublicof the Philippines, represented by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs, upon payment of the necessary customs duties by respondent Unimex Micro-Electronics GmBH, is hereby ordered to pay respondent the value of the subject shipment in the amount of Euro 669,982.565. Petitioner’s liability may be paid in Philippine currency, computed at the exchange rate prevailing at the time of actual payment.
SO ORDERED. [Emphases supplied]
In line with the ruling in UNIMEX Micro-Electronics GmBH, the Commissioner of Customs should pay AGFHA the value of the subject lost shipment in the amount of US$160,348.08 which liability may be paid in Philippine currency computed at the exchange rate prevailing at the time of the actual payment.