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High court reduces valuation

Thursday, June 25, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES [ BusinessWorld Online ]

THE SUPREME Court, citing over-valuation, has drastically cut the Philippine Ports Authority’s (PPA) payables to landowners displaced by the expansion of the Batangas Port Zone to less than a tenth of the original rate.

From P13.9 billion, the 231 landowners would only be paid P1.08 billion since their lands are considered agricultural, the high court said.

In a 129-page decision penned by Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., the full court overturned the first division’s ruling that pegged the payment at P5,500 per square meter and instead pegged the value at P425.

On Aug. 24, 2007, the first division upheld the validity of a Batangas regional trial court ruling that set the compensation for landowners at P5,500 per square meter as against the P400 originally offered and already paid for by the PPA. The area had a higher value since these were considered commercial or industrial, it has said.

The total expropriated area was 1,298,340 square meters for P7.14 million. Including the 12% interest from the date of expropriation on Sept. 11, 2001 as recommended by the first division, the landowners’ receivables should amount to billions.

A status quo order was later on granted upon the request of the Office of the Solicitor General.

"The PPA is hereby directed to pay with dispatch the lot owners at the unit price of P425 per square meter, with 12% interest per annum from the date of PPA’s entry to the lots or on Sept. 11, 2001 until fully paid, less whatever initial payments they have already received," the court said.

PPA has paid an initial P519.336 million. The high court concluded that the area is agricultural through the claimants’ tax declarations, aerial photographs and a Department of Finance order that set the zonal valuation at P400 per square meter. — Ira P. Pedrasa


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