552 Phil. 821
TCT No./ Lot No.
Total Area (sq. m.)
Assessed Value of Entire Area
Assessed Value of Affected Area
Zonal Value of the Affected Area
|Sy Chi Siong|
The motion is impressed with merit.On February 22, 2005, petitioner filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration of the above Order, arguing that since the case had been set for hearing on March 7, 2005 for the nomination of the commissioners and necessarily for the conduct of hearing for the determination of just compensation, "it is proper that an order of expropriation be forthwith issued before such determination of just compensation proceeds," citing, as basis therefor, Section 4, Rule 67 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and adding that where a defendant in an expropriation case raises only the issue of just compensation, the court "should forthwith enter an order of expropriation."
It is worthy to mention that: "The right of eminent domain is usually understood to be an ultimate right of the sovereign power to appropriate any property within its territorial sovereignty for a public purpose" [Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 383 SCRA 611, 2002].
An examination of the amended Complaint clearly show the overriding necessity of expropriating the subject properties in order to give way to the construction, rehabilitation and expansion of the North Luzon Expressway, which is undoubtedly for public purpose and benefit.
Premises considered, the "Motion for issuance of Order of Expropriation" is hereby deferred pending final determination of just compensation.
Meanwhile, let this case be set for hearing on March 7, 2005 at 8:30 in the morning so that the parties may nominate the commissioners who will ascertain and report to the court the just compensation for the aforementioned properties. [Emphasis supplied]
The Court is of the opinion that the contentions of the counsel for the petitioner [are] exactly the opposite of what the rules provide. The provision of the rules relied upon, Section 4 Rule 67 is quite clear that this Court may issue an order of expropriation declaring that the plaintiff has a lawful right to take the property sought to be expropriated, for the public use or purpose described in the complaint, upon the payment of just compensation. Thus, just compensation of the subject properties must first be determined and paid before the Court can issue an order of expropriation.Dissatisfied, petitioner then went to the CA on certiorari, thereat docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 89878, imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in insisting on the payment of just compensation before an order of expropriation may be issued.
Premises considered, the 'Motion for Partial Reconsideration' is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. (Italics supplied).
Jurisprudential law has already settled that condemnation suits involve two stages: the order authorizing expropriation, and the judgment on just compensation. An order of expropriation is a court's resolution upholding the State's lawful right to take property sought to be expropriated and thus forecloses any objection to the petitioner's authority to expropriate for the public purpose stated in the complaint. This is implied in Rule 67, Section 4. The order can be issued unless there are objections and defenses against the condemnation proceedings that would require the presentation of evidence, and only after an adjudication of these objections and defenses can a court proceed with the second stage of the expropriation proceedings.With its motion for reconsideration having been denied by the CA in its equally assailed resolution of April 10, 2006, petitioner is now with us via the present recourse on the following submissions:
However, under the circumstances at bar, there is already no more issue as to the petitioner's authority to expropriate and the propriety of its exercise, which the lot owners themselves had acknowledged and admitted, and that the State has already been given the right to enter upon and to use the lots. In fact, the project has already been completed. We thus find no grave abuse of discretion on the court's deferment of the issuance of the Order of expropriation pending the determination of just compensation, for this is not a major procedural flaw fatal to the action of the petitioner.
The only substantial issue now is the amount of compensation. The court a quo merely aims to secure its prompt adjudication and payment to the owners, and the order would only be a formality. Hence, the second stage of expropriation may proceed, the issuance of an order in this case is only a permissive one and discretionary on the part of the trial court. A failure to issue an expropriation order is no bar at all to the State to wield its power of eminent domain. In the case at bar, what will actually complete the vesting of title in favor of the State is the actual payment of just compensation to the owners of the condemned properties.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. No pronouncement as to costs. (Emphasis supplied).
WE GRANT the petition.I
AN ORDER OF EXPROPRIATION MERELY REQUIRES A DETERMINATION OF THE AUTHORITY TO EXERCISE THE POWER OF EMINENT DOMAIN; ITS ISSUANCE DOES NOT HINGE ON THE PAYMENT OF JUST COMPENSATION; ANDII
PAYMENT OF JUST COMPENSATION IS NOT A CONDITION SINE QUA NON FOR THE ISSUANCE OF AN ORDER OF EXPROPRIATION.
Section 4. Order of expropriation. - If the objections to and the defenses against the right of the plaintiff to expropriate the property are overruled, or when no party appears to defend as required by this Rule, the court may issue an order of expropriation declaring that the plaintiff has a lawful right to take the property sought to be expropriated, for the public use or purpose described in the complaint, upon the payment of just compensation to be determined as of the date of the taking of the property or the filing of the complaint, whichever came first.As is evident from the foregoing, there are two (2) stages in every action for expropriation, namely:
A final order sustaining the right to expropriate the property may be appealed by any party aggrieved thereby. Such appeal, however, shall not prevent the court from determining the just compensation to be paid.
After the rendition of such an order, the plaintiff shall not be permitted to dismiss or discontinue the proceeding except on such terms as the court deems just and equitable. [Emphasis supplied]
Petitioner Republic is correct in saying that an order of expropriation denotes the end of the first stage of expropriation. Its end then paves the way for the second stage – the determination of just compensation, and, ultimately, payment. An order of expropriation puts an end to any ambiguity regarding the right of the petitioner to condemn the respondents' properties. Because an order of expropriation merely determines the authority to exercise the power of eminent domain and the propriety of such exercise, its issuance does not hinge on the payment of just compensation. After all, there would be no point in determining just compensation if, in the first place, the plaintiff's right to expropriate the property was not first clearly established.
- Determination of the authority of the plaintiff to exercise the power of eminent domain and the propriety of its exercise in the context of the facts involved in the suit. This ends with an order, if not of dismissal of the action, of condemnation [or order of expropriation] declaring that the plaintiff has a lawful right to take the property sought to be condemned, for the public use or purpose described in the complaint, upon the payment of just compensation to be determined as of the date of the filing of the complaint; and
- Determination by the court of the just compensation for the property sought to be taken.
Section 5. Ascertainment of Compensation. - Upon the rendition of the order of expropriation, the court shall appoint not more than three (3) competent and disinterested persons as commissioners to ascertain and report to the court the just compensation for the property sought to be taken. x x xClearly, it is after the rendition of the order of expropriation that the court shall appoint commissioners to ascertain the just compensation for the property sought to be taken.