MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the government to give 'just compensation' to the owners of a property expropriated more than a decade ago for the construction of the C-5 Northern Link Project, Segment 8.1, from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to the North Luzon Expressway, in Valenzuela City.
In an 11-page decision penned by Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, the High Court’s Third Division upheld the August 12, 2016 decision of the Court of Appeals (CA), which affirmed with modification the March 6, 2015 decision of the Valenzuela City Regional Trial Court (RTC), setting the “just compensation for the 3,045-square meter of the expropriated property is PHP5,000 per square meter".
The case stemmed from a complaint for expropriation dated October 11, 2007 filed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the exercise of its power of eminent domain under RA 8974.
In its complaint filed with the lower court, the government sought to expropriate a lot located in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City owned by Aurora and Rogelio Silvestre.
The Silvestres prayed that the government be directed to pay them PHP2,150 per square meter as just compensation. The DPWH, however, alleged that the property’s zonal value is only PHP1,200 per square meter.
Both the RTC and CA fixed the amount of just compensation of the subject property as PHP5,000 per square meter following the recommendation of the Board of Commissioners (BOC) appointed by the RTC.
The Court found no error on the part of the RTC and CA in finding that there was nothing arbitrary about the pegged amount of PHP5,000 per square meter, recommended by the BOC as it was reached in consideration of the property’s size, location, accessibility, as well as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) zonal valuation, among other things.
The Court ruled as “plain and simplistic” the DPWH’s claim that the subject property must be valued at a significantly lower price because it was occupied by informal settlers and per opinion of a certain Fe Pesebre.
The Court explained that “just compensation, in expropriation cases, is defined as the full and fair equivalent of the loss of the property taken from its owner by the expropriator. Its true measure is not the taker’s gain, but the owner’s loss. The word ‘just’ is used to modify the meaning of the word ‘compensation’ to convey the idea that the equivalent to be given for the property to be taken shall be real, substantial, full and ample.”
It held that “no cogent reason to reverse the findings of the CA, insofar as the amount of just compensation is concerned. In the absence, moreover, of any legal basis to the contrary, or any objection from the parties, the Court further affirms the appellate court’s imposition of legal interest, as well as its deletion of the payment of commissioner’s fee and the award of attorney’s fees for being in accord with applicable law and recent jurisprudence.” (PNA)
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