[ manilastandardtoday.com ] February 21-22, 2009
By Rey E. Requejo
THE Supreme Court has ordered the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to pay a couple the full value of the 4.7-hectare private property in Lapu-Lapu City that was the subject of expropriation proceedings.
The high court through Associate Justice Renato Corona issued the order to clarify the rules on just compensation of private property taken over by the government for public use.
The court said that Peza, which had offered to buy the 4.7-hectare land of Agustin and Imelda Cancio for P52.2 million in 2001, was wrong in limiting the deposit to only 10 percent of the proposed valuation in line with the 1999 Administrative Order 50 that spelled out the guidelines for the state’s acquisition of private property.
But the court said that Republic Act 8974 applies in the case of the Cancio couple, and not AO 50. “RA 8974 applies to instances when the national government expropriates property for national government projects and undeniably, the economic zone is a national government project,” the SC ruled.
“Also, the complaint for expropriation was filed [by Peza] only on Aug. 27, 2001 or almost one year after the law [RA 8974] was approved on Nov. 7, 2000. Thus, there is no doubt about its [RA 8974] applicability to this case,” it added.
In ruling against Peza, the high tribunal ordered the Lapu-Lapu City regional trial court to expedite the proceedings on the expropriation case.
The high court said Peza should immediately pay the landowners 100 percent of the value of their property.
RA 8974 provides that upon the filing of an expropriation petition, the government “shall immediately pay the owner of the property an amount equivalent to 100 percent of the current zonal valuation for purposes of the issuance of a writ of possession.”