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Eminent Domain – Definition and Scope

The Office of the Solicitor General, petitioner vs. Ayala Land Incorporated, Robinson’s Land Corporation, Shangri -La-Plaza Corporation and SM Prime Holdings, respondents.

Facts: This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal and setting aside of the decision of the court of appeals which
affirmed the decision of the Makati RTC in two civil cases and the resolution of the appellate court in the same case which denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the OSG. Respondents herein are operators of shopping malls in various locations in Metro Manila that have parking facilities (inside the main buildings, in separate buildings and/or in adjacent lots solely provided for parking use). The respondents are also the one which maintains the parking spaces and in turn, they collect parking fees subject to their imposed parking rates. The Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce and on Justice and Human Rights conducted a joint investigation to inquire on the legality of the parking fees and to find out the basis and reasonableness of the parking rates. More importantly, to determine the legality of the policy of the shopping malls denying liability in cases of theft, robbery or carnapping by invoking the waiver clause at the back of the parking tickets. After the public hearings, the Senate Committees jointly concluded that the collection parking fee is contrary to the National Building Code and that the reasonable interpretation of the code is that the parking spaces are for free; thus, the Committee recommended that the Office of the Solicitor General should institute the necessary action to enjoin the collection of parking fees as well as to enforce the penal sanctions of the National Building Code. Two civil cases arise and by being of the same subject matter, the RTC Makati issued an order to consolidate the cases. The court ruled that the respondents are not obligated to provide parking spaces that are free of charge, compelling them to do so would be an unlawful taking of property right without just compensation. The petitioners sought for relief by filing a Motion for Reconsideration in the Court of Appeals but the appellate court denied the appeal and affirmed the joint decision by the RTC. Hence, this present petition with a single assignment of error that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the ruling of the lower court.

Issue: Whether or not the property right of the respondents can be taken so as to provide free parking spaces for the general
public welfare.

Held: The court affirmed the previous decision that the respondents are not obliged to provide free parking spaces. There is no
pertaining provision in the National Building Code that expressly provides the same. The law is clear and unequivocal that it needs no further interpretation, it only provides for measurement requirements of the parking spaces. The OSG cannot rely on their invoked provisions; they even failed to consider the substantial differences and legal backgrounds on the jurisprudence they are insisting. Wherefore, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. Previous ruling AFFIRMED. No Costs.