G.R. No.

L-14355

October 31, 1919

THE CITY OF MANILA, plaintiff-appellant, vs. CHINESE COMMUNITY OF MANILA, ET AL., defendants-appellees. City Fiscal Diaz for appellant. Crossfield and O'Brien, Williams, Ferrier and Sycip, Delgado and Delgado, Filemon Sotto, and Ramon Salinas for appellees.

JOHNSON, J.: The important question presented by this appeal is: In expropriation proceedings by the city of Manila, may the courts inquire into, and hear proof upon, the necessity of the expropriation? That question arose in the following manner: On the 11th day of December, 1916, the city of Manila presented a petition in the Court of First Instance of said city, praying that certain lands, therein particularly described, be expropriated for the purpose of constructing a public improvement. The petitioner, in the second paragraph of the petition, alleged: That for the purpose of constructing a public improvement, namely, the extension of Rizal Avenue, Manila, it is necessary for the plaintiff to acquire ownership in fee simple of certain parcels of land situated in the district of Binondo of said city within Block 83 of said district, and within the jurisdiction of this court. The defendant, the Comunidad de Chinos de Manila [Chinese Community of Manila], answering the petition of the plaintiff, alleged that it was a corporation organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the Philippine Islands, having for its purpose the benefit and general welfare of the Chinese Community of the City of Manila; that it was the owner of parcels one and two of the land described in

paragraph 2 of the complaint; that itdenied that it was either necessary or expedient that the said parcels be expropriated for street purposes; that existing street and roads furnished ample means of communication for the public in the district covered by such proposed expropriation; that if the construction of the street or road should be considered a public necessity, other routes were available, which would fully satisfy the plaintiff's purposes, at much less expense and without disturbing the resting places of the dead; that it had a Torrens title for the lands in question; that the lands in question had been used by the defendant for cemetery purposes; that a great number of Chinese were buried in said cemetery; that if said expropriation be carried into effect, it would disturb the resting places of the dead, would require the expenditure of a large sum of money in the transfer or removal of the bodies to some other place or site and in the purchase of such new sites, would involve the destruction of existing monuments and the erection of new monuments in their stead, and would create irreparable loss and injury to the defendant and to all those persons owning and interested in the graves and monuments which would have to be destroyed; that the plaintiff was without right or authority to expropriate said cemetery or any part or portion thereof for street purposes; and that the expropriation, in fact, was not necessary as a public improvement. The defendant Ildefonso Tambunting, answering the petition, denied each and every allegation of the complaint, and alleged that said expropriation was not a public improvement; that it was not necessary for the plaintiff to acquire the parcels of land in question; that a portion of the lands in question was used as a cemetery in which were the graves of his ancestors; that monuments and tombstones of great value were found thereon; that the land had become quasi-public property of a benevolent association, dedicated and used for the burial of the dead and that many dead were buried there; that if the plaintiff deemed it necessary to extend Rizal Avenue, he had offered and still offers to grant a right of way for the said extension over other land, without cost to the plaintiff, in order that the sepulchers, chapels and graves of his ancestors may not be

disturbed; that the land so offered,free of charge, would answer every public necessity on the part of the plaintiff. The defendant Feliza Concepcion de Delgado, with her husband, Jose Maria Delgado, and each of the other defendants, answering separately, presented substantially the same defense as that presented by theComunidad de Chinos de Manila and Ildefonso Tambunting above referred to. The foregoing parts of the defense presented by the defendants have been inserted in order to show the general character of the defenses presented by each of the defendants. The plaintiff alleged that the expropriation was necessary. The defendants each alleged (a) that no necessity existed for said expropriation and (b) that the land in question was a cemetery, which had been used as such for many years, and was covered with sepulchres and monuments, and that the same should not be converted into a street for public purposes. Upon the issue thus presented by the petition and the various answers, the Honorable Simplicio del Rosario, judge, in a very elucidated opinion, with very clear and explicit reasons, supported by ambulance of authorities, decided that there was no necessity for the expropriation of the particular strip of land in question, and absolved each and all of the defendants from all liability under the complaint, without any finding as to costs. From that judgment the plaintiff appealed and presented the above question as its principal ground of appeal. The theory of the plaintiff is, that once it has established the fact, under the law, that it has authority to expropriate land, it may expropriate any land it may desire; that the only function of the court in such proceedings is to ascertain the value of the land in question; that neither the court nor the owners of the land can inquire into the advisible purpose of purpose of the expropriation or ask any questions concerning the necessities therefor; that the courts are mere appraisers of the land involved in expropriation proceedings, and,

when the value of the land is fixed by the method adopted by the law, to render a judgment in favor of the defendant for its value. That the city of Manila has authority to expropriate private lands for public purposes, is not denied. Section 2429 of Act No. 2711 (Charter of the city of Manila) provides that "the city (Manila) . . . may condemn privateproperty for public use." The Charter of the city of Manila contains no procedure by which the said authority may be carried into effect. We are driven, therefore, to the procedure marked out by Act No. 190 to ascertain how the said authority may be exercised. From an examination of Act No. 190, in its section 241, we find how the right of eminent domain may be exercised. Said section 241 provides that, "The Government of the Philippine Islands, or of any province or department thereof, or of any municipality, and any person, or public or private corporation having, by law, the right to condemn private property for public use, shall exercise that right in the manner hereinafter prescribed ." Section 242 provides that a complaint in expropriation proceeding shall be presented; that the complaint shall state with certainty the right of condemnation, with a description of the property sought to be condemned together with the interest of each defendant separately. Section 243 provides that if the court shall find upon trial that the right to expropriate the land in question exists, it shall then appoint commissioners. Sections 244, 245 and 246 provide the method of procedure and duty of the commissioners. Section 248 provides for an appeal from the judgment of the Court of First Instance to the Supreme Court. Said section 248 gives the Supreme Court authority to inquire into the right of expropriation on the part of the plaintiff. If the Supreme Court on appeal shall determine that no right of expropriation existed, it shall remand the cause to the Court of First Instance with a mandate that the defendant be replaced in the possession of the property and

that he recover whatever damages he may have sustained by reason of the possession of the plaintiff. It is contended on the part of the plaintiff that the phrase in said section, "and if the court shall find the rightto expropriate exists," means simply that, if the court finds that there is some law authorizing the plaintiff to expropriate, then the courts have no other function than to authorize the expropriation and to proceed to ascertain the value of the land involved; that the necessity for the expropriation is a legislative and not a judicial question. Upon the question whether expropriation is a legislative function exclusively, and that the courts cannot intervene except for the purpose of determining the value of the land in question, there is much legal legislature. Much has been written upon both sides of that question. A careful examination of the discussions pro and con will disclose the fact that the decisions depend largely upon particular constitutional or statutory provisions. It cannot be denied, if the legislature under proper authority should grant the expropriation of a certain or particular parcelof land for some specified public purpose, that the courts would be without jurisdiction to inquire into the purpose of that legislation. If, upon the other hand, however, the Legislature should grant general authority to a municipal corporation to expropriate private land for public purposes, we think the courts have ample authority in this jurisdiction, under the provisions above quoted, to make inquiry and to hear proof, upon an issue properly presented, concerning whether or not the lands were private and whether the purpose was, in fact, public. In other words, have no the courts in this jurisdiction the right, inasmuch as the questions relating to expropriation must be referred to them (sec. 241, Act No. 190) for final decision, to ask whether or not the law has been complied with? Suppose in a particular case, it should be denied that the property is not private property but public, may not the courts hear proof upon that question? Or, suppose the defense is, that the purpose of the expropriation is not public butprivate, or that there exists no public

purpose at all, may not the courts make inquiry and hear proof upon that question? The city of Manila is given authority to expropriate private lands for public purposes. Can it be possible that said authority confers the right to determine for itself that the land is private and that the purpose is public, and that the people of the city of Manila who pay the taxes for its support, especially those who are directly affected, may not question one or the other, or both, of these questions? Can it be successfully contended that the phrase used in Act No. 190, "and if the court upon trial shall find that such right exists," means simply that the court shall examine the statutes simply for the purpose of ascertaining whether a law exists authorizing the petitioner to exercise the right of eminent domain? Or, when the case arrives in the Supreme Court, can it be possible that the phrase, "if the Supreme Court shall determine that no right of expropriation exists," that that simply means that the Supreme Court shall also examine the enactments of the legislature for the purpose of determining whether or not a law exists permitting the plaintiff to expropriate? We are of the opinion that the power of the court is not limited to that question. The right of expropriation is not an inherent power in a municipal corporation, and before it can exercise the right some law must exist conferring the power upon it. When the courts come to determine the question, they must only find (a) that a law or authority exists for the exercise of the right of eminent domain, but ( b) also that the right or authority is being exercised in accordance with the law. In the present case there are two conditions imposed upon the authority conceded to the City of Manila: First, the land must be private; and, second, the purpose must be public. If the court, upon trial, finds that neither of these conditions exists or that either one of them fails, certainly it cannot be contended that the right is being exercised in accordance with law. Whether the purpose for the exercise of the right of eminent domain is public, is a question of fact. Whether the land is public, is a question of fact; and, in our opinion, when the legislature conferred upon the courts of the Philippine Islands the right to ascertain

upon trial whether the right exists for the exercise of eminent domain, it intended that the courts should inquire into, and hear proof upon, those questions. Is it possible that the owner of valuable land in this jurisdiction is compelled to stand mute while his land is being expropriated for a use not public, with the right simply to beg the city of Manila to pay him the value of his land? Does the law in this jurisdiction permit municipalities to expropriate lands, without question, simply for the purpose of satisfying the aesthetic sense of those who happen for the time being to be in authority? Expropriation of lands usually calls for public expense. The taxpayers are called upon to pay the costs. Cannot the owners of land question the public use or the public necessity? As was said above, there is a wide divergence of opinion upon the authority of the court to question the necessity or advisability of the exercise of the right of eminent domain. The divergence is usually found to depend upon particular statutory or constitutional provisions. It has been contended — and many cases are cited in support of that contention, and section 158 of volume 10 of Ruling Case Law is cited as conclusive — that the necessity for taking property under the right of eminent domain is not a judicial question. But those who cited said section evidently overlooked the section immediately following (sec. 159), which adds: "But it is obvious that if the property is taken in the ostensible behalf of a public improvement which it can never by any possibility serve, it is being taken for a use not public, and the owner's constitutional rights call for protection by the courts. While many courts have used sweeping expression in the decisions in which they have disclaimed the power of supervising the power of supervising the selection of the sites of public improvements, it may be safely said that the courts of the various states would feel bound to interfere to prevent an abuse of the discretion delegated by the legislature, by an attempted appropriation of land in utter disregard of the possible necessity of its use, or when the alleged purpose was a cloak to some sinister scheme." (Norwich City vs. Johnson, 86 Conn., 151; Bell vs. Mattoon Waterworks, etc. Co., 245 Ill., 544; Wheeling,

etc. R. R. Co. vs. Toledo Ry. etc. Co., 72 Ohio St., 368; State vs. Stewart, 74 Wis., 620.) Said section 158 (10 R. C. L., 183) which is cited as conclusive authority in support of the contention of the appellant, says: The legislature, in providing for the exercise of the power of eminent domain, may directly determine the necessity for appropriating private property for a particular improvement for public use, and it may select the exact location of the improvement. In such a case, it is well settled that the utility of the proposed improvement, the extent of the public necessity for its construction, the expediency of constructing it, the suitableness of the location selected and the consequent necessity of taking the land selected for its site, are all questions exclusively for the legislature to determine, and the courts have no power to interfere, or to substitute their own views for those of the representatives of the people. Practically every case cited in support of the above doctrine has been examined, and we are justified in making the statement that in each case the legislature directly determined the necessity for the exercise of the right of eminent domain in the particular case. It is not denied that if the necessity for the exercise of the right of eminent domain is presented to the legislative department of the government and that department decides that there exists a necessity for the exercise of the right in a particular case, that then and in that case, the courts will not go behind the action of the legislature and make inquiry concerning the necessity. But, in the case ofWheeling, etc. R. R. Co. vs. Toledo, Ry, etc., Co. (72 Ohio St., 368 [106 Am. St. rep., 622, 628]), which was cited in support of the doctrine laid down in section 158 above quoted, the court said: But when the statute does not designate the property to be taken nor how may be taken, then the necessity of taking particular property is a question for the courts. Where the application to condemn or appropriate is made directly to

the court, the question (of necessity) should be raised and decided in limene. The legislative department of the government was rarely undertakes to designate the precise property which should be taken for public use. It has generally, like in the present case, merely conferred general authority to take land for public use when a necessity exists therefor. We believe that it can be confidently asserted that, under such statute, the allegation of the necessity for the appropriation is an issuable allegation which it is competent for the courts to decide. (Lynch vs. Forbes, 161 Mass., 302 [42 Am. St. Rep., 402, 407].) There is a wide distinction between a legislative declaration that a municipality is given authority to exercise the right of eminent domain, and a decision by the municipality that there exist a necessity for the exercise of that right in a particular case. The first is a declaration simply that there exist reasons why the right should be conferred upon municipal corporation, while the second is the application of the right to a particular case. Certainly, the legislative declaration relating to the advisability of granting the power cannot be converted into a declaration that a necessity exists for its exercise in a particular case, and especially so when, perhaps, the land in question was not within the territorial authority was granted. Whether it was wise, advisable, or necessary to confer upon a municipality the power to exercise the right of eminent domain, is a question with which the courts are not concerned. But when that right or authority is exercised for the purpose of depriving citizens of their property, the courts are authorized, in this jurisdiction, to make inquiry and to hear proof upon the necessity in the particular case, and not the general authority. Volume 15 of the Cyclopedia of Law and Procedure (Cyc.), page 629, is cited as a further conclusive authority upon the question that the necessity for the exercise of the right of eminent domain is a legislative and not a judicial question. Cyclopedia, at the page stated, says:

In the absence of some constitutional or statutory provision to the contrary, the necessity andexpediency of exercising the right of eminent domain are questions essentially political and not judicial in their character. The determination of those questions (the necessity and the expediency) belongs to the sovereign power; the legislative department is final and conclusive, and the courts have no power to review it (the necessity and the expediency) . . . . It (the legislature) may designate the particular property to be condemned, and its determination in this respect cannot be reviewed by the courts. The volume of Cyclopedia, above referred to, cites many cases in support of the doctrine quoted. While time has not permitted an examination of all of said citations, many of them have been examined, and it can be confidently asserted that said cases which are cited in support of the assertion that, "the necessity and expediency of exercising the right of eminent domain are questions essentially political and not judicial," show clearly and invariably that in each case the legislature itself usually, by a special law, designated the particular case in which the right of eminent domain might be exercised by the particular municipal corporation or entity within the state. (Eastern R. Co. vs. Boston, etc., R. Co., 11 Mass., 125 [15 Am. Rep., 13]; Brooklyn Park Com'rs vs. Armstrong, 45 N.Y., 234 [6 Am. Rep., 70]; Hairston vs. Danville, etc. Ry. Co., 208 U. S. 598; Cincinnati vs. Louisville, etc. Ry. Co., 223 U. S., 390; U.S. vs. Chandler-Dunbar Water Power Co., 229 U. S., 53; U.S. vs. Gettysburg, etc. Co., 160 U. S., 668; Traction Co. vs. Mining Co., 196 U.S., 239; Sears vs. City of Akron, 246 U.S., 351 [erroneously cited as 242 U.S.].) In the case of Traction Co. vs. Mining Co. (196 U.S., 239), the Supreme Court of the United States said: "It is erroneous to suppose that the legislature is beyond the control of the courts in exercising the power of eminent domain, either as to the nature of the use or the necessity to the use of any particular property. For if the use be not public or no necessity for the taking exists, the legislature cannot

authorize the taking of private property against the will of the owner, notwithstanding compensation may be required." In the case of School Board of Carolina vs. Saldaña (14 Porto Rico, 339, 356), we find the Supreme Court of Porto Rico, speaking through Justice MacLeary, quoting approvingly the following, upon the question which we are discussing: "It is well settled that although the legislature must necessarily determine in the first instance whether the use for which they (municipalities, etc.) attempt to exercise the power is a public one or not, their (municipalities, etc.) determination is not final, but is subject to correction by the courts, who may undoubtedly declare the statute unconstitutional, if it shall clearly appear that the use for which it is proposed to authorize the taking of private property is in reality not public but private." Many cases are cited in support of that doctrine. Later, in the same decision, we find the Supreme Court of Porto Rico says: "At any rate, the rule is quite well settled that in the cases under consideration the determination of the necessity of taking a particular piece or a certain amount of land rests ultimately with the courts." (Spring Valley etc. Co. vs. San Mateo, etc. Co., 64 Cal., 123.) . In the case of Board of Water Com'rs., etc. vs. Johnson (86 Conn., 571 [41 L. R. A., N. S., 1024]), the Supreme Court of Connecticut approvingly quoted the following doctrine from Lewis on Eminent Domain (3d ed.), section 599: "In all such cases the necessity of public utility of the proposed work or improvement is a judicial question. In all such cases, where the authority is to take property necessary for the purpose, the necessity of taking particular property for a particular purpose is a judicial one, upon which the owner is entitled to be heard." (Riley vs. Charleston, etc. Co., 71 S. C., 457, 489 [110 Am. St. Rep., 579]; Henderson vs. Lexington 132 Ky., 390, 403.) The taking of private property for any use which is not required by the necessities or convenience of the inhabitants of the state, is an unreasonable exercise of the right of eminent domain, and beyond the

power of the legislature to delegate. (Bennett vs. Marion, 106 Iowa, 628, 633; Wilson vs. Pittsburg, etc. Co., 222 Pa. St., 541, 545; Greasy, etc. Co. vs. Ely, etc. Co., 132 Ky., 692, 697.) In the case of New Central Coal Co. vs. George's etc. Co. (37 Md., 537, 564), the Supreme Court of the State of Maryland, discussing the question before us, said: "To justify the exercise of this extreme power (eminent domain) where the legislature has left it to depend upon the necessity that may be found to exist, in order to accomplish the purpose of the incorporation, as in this case, the party claiming the right to the exercise of the power should be required to show at least a reasonable degree of necessity for its exercise. Any rule less strict than this, with the large and almost indiscriminate delegation of the right to corporations, would likely lead to oppression and the sacrifice of private right to corporate power." In the case of Dewey vs. Chicago, etc. Co. (184 Ill., 426, 433), the court said: "Its right to condemn property is not a general power of condemnation, but is limited to cases where a necessity for resort to private property is shown to exist. Such necessity must appear upon the face of the petition to condemn. If the necessary is denied the burden is upon the company (municipality) to establish it." (Highland, etc. Co. vs. Strickley, 116 Fed., 852, 856; Kiney vs. Citizens' Water & Light Co., 173 Ind., 252, 257 ; Bell vs. Mattoon Waterworks, etc. Co., 245 Ill., 544 [137 Am. St. Rep. 338].) It is true that naby decisions may be found asserting that what is a public use is a legislative question, and many other decisions declaring with equal emphasis that it is a judicial question. But, as long as there is a constitutional or statutory provision denying the right to take land for any use other than a public use, it occurs to us that the question whether any particular use is a public one or not is ultimately, at least, a judicial question. The legislative may, it is true, in effect declare certain uses to be public, and, under the operation of the wellknown rule that a statute will not be declared to be unconstitutional except in a case free, or comparatively free, from doubt, the courts will certainly sustain the action of the legislature unless it appears that the particular use is clearly not of a public nature. The decisions must be

understood with this limitation; for, certainly, no court of last resort will be willing to declare that any and every purpose which the legislative might happen to designate as a public use shall be conclusively held to be so, irrespective of the purpose in question and of its manifestly private character Blackstone in his Commentaries on the English Law remarks that, so great is the regard of the law for private property that it will not authorize the least violation of it, even for the public good, unless there exists a very great necessity therefor. In the case of Wilkinson vs. Leland (2 Pet. [U.S.], 657), the Supreme Court of the United States said: "That government can scarcely be deemed free where the rights of property are left solely defendant on the legislative body, without restraint. The fundamental maxims of free government seem to require that the rights of personal liberty and private property should be held sacred. At least no court of justice in this country would be warranted in assuming that the power to violate and disregard them — a power so repugnant to the common principles of justice and civil liberty — lurked in any general grant of legislature authority, or ought to be implied from any general expression of the people. The people ought no to be presumed to part with rights so vital to their security and well-being without very strong and direct expression of such intention." (Lewis on Eminent Domain, sec. 603; Lecoul vs. Police Jury 20 La. Ann., 308; Jefferson vs. Jazem, 7 La. Ann., 182.) Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the English Law said that the right to own and possess land — a place to live separate and apart from others — to retain it as a home for the family in a way not to be molested by others — is one of the most sacred rights that men are heirs to. That right has been written into the organic law of every civilized nation. The Acts of Congress of July 1, 1902, and of August 29, 1916, which provide that "no law shall be enacted in the Philippine Islands which shall deprive any person of his property without due process of law," are but a restatement of the time-honored protection of the absolute right of the individual to his property. Neither did said Acts of Congress add anything to the law already existing in the Philippine Islands. The Spaniard fully recognized the principle and

adequately protected the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands against the encroachment upon the private property of the individual. Article 349 of the Civil Code provides that: "No one may be deprived of his property unless it be by competent authority, for some purpose of proven public utility, and after payment of the proper compensation Unless this requisite (proven public utility and payment) has been complied with, it shall be the duty of the courts to protect the owner of such property in its possession or to restore its possession to him , as the case may be." The exercise of the right of eminent domain, whether directly by the State, or by its authorized agents, is necessarily in derogation of private rights, and the rule in that case is that the authority must be strictly construed. No species of property is held by individuals with greater tenacity, and none is guarded by the constitution and laws more sedulously, than the right to the freehold of inhabitants. When the legislature interferes with that right, and, for greater public purposes, appropriates the land of an individual without his consent, the plain meaning of the law should not be enlarged by doubtly interpretation. (Bensely vs. Mountainlake Water Co., 13 Cal., 306 and cases cited [73 Am. Dec., 576].) The statutory power of taking property from the owner without his consent is one of the most delicate exercise of government authority. It is to be watched with jealous scrutiny. Important as the power may be to the government, the inviolable sanctity which all free constitutions attach to the right of property of the citizens, constrains the strict observance of the substantial provisions of the law which are prescribed as modes of the exercise of the power, and to protect it from abuse. Not only must the authority of municipal corporations to take property be expressly conferred and the use for which it is taken specified, but the power, with all constitutional limitation and directions for its exercise, must be strictly pursued. (Dillon on Municipal Corporations [5th Ed.], sec. 1040, and cases cited; Tenorio vs. Manila Railroad Co., 22 Phil., 411.) It can scarcely be contended that a municipality would be permitted to take property for some public use unless some public

necessity existed therefor. The right to take private property for public use originates in the necessity, and the taking must be limited by such necessity. The appellant contends that inasmuch as the legislature has given it general authority to take private property for public use, that the legislature has, therefore, settled the question of the necessity in every case and that the courts are closed to the owners of the property upon that question. Can it be imagined, when the legislature adopted section 2429 of Act No. 2711, that it thereby declared that it was necessary to appropriate the property of Juan de la Cruz, whose property, perhaps, was not within the city limits at the time the law was adopted? The legislature, then, not having declared the necessity, can it be contemplated that it intended that a municipality should be the sole judge of the necessity in every case, and that the courts, in the face of the provision that "if upon trial they shall find that a right exists," cannot in that trial inquire into and hear proof upon the necessity for the appropriation in a particular case? The Charter of the city of Manila authorizes the taking of private property for public use. Suppose the owner of the property denies and successfully proves that the taking of his property serves no public use: Would the courts not be justified in inquiring into that question and in finally denying the petition if no public purpose was proved? Can it be denied that the courts have a right to inquire into that question? If the courts can ask questions and decide, upon an issue properly presented, whether the use is public or not, is not that tantamount to permitting the courts to inquire into the necessity of the appropriation? If there is no public use, then there is no necessity, and if there is no necessity, it is difficult to understand how a public use can necessarily exist. If the courts can inquire into the question whether a public use exists or not, then it seems that it must follow that they can examine into the question of the necessity. The very foundation of the right to exercise eminent domain is a genuine necessity, and that necessity must be of a public character. The ascertainment of the necessity must precede or accompany, and not follow, the taking of the land. (Morrison vs. Indianapolis, etc. Ry.

Co., 166 Ind., 511; Stearns vs. Barre, 73 Vt., 281; Wheeling, etc. R. R. Co. vs. Toledo, Ry. etc. Co., 72 Ohio St., 368.) The general power to exercise the right of eminent domain must not be confused with the right to exercise it in a particular case. The power of the legislature to confer, upon municipal corporations and other entities within the State, general authority to exercise the right of eminent domain cannot be questioned by the courts, but that general authority of municipalities or entities must not be confused with the right to exercise it in particular instances. The moment the municipal corporation or entity attempts to exercise the authority conferred, it must comply with the conditions accompanying the authority. The necessity for conferring the authority upon a municipal corporation to exercise the right of eminent domain is admittedly within the power of the legislature. But whether or not the municipal corporation or entity is exercising the right in a particular case under the conditions imposed by the general authority, is a question which the courts have the right to inquire into. The conflict in the authorities upon the question whether the necessity for the exercise of the right of eminent domain is purely legislative and not judicial, arises generally in the wisdom and propriety of the legislature in authorizing the exercise of the right of eminent domain instead of in the question of the right to exercise it in a particular case. (Creston Waterworks Co. vs. McGrath, 89 Iowa, 502.) By the weight of authorities, the courts have the power of restricting the exercise of eminent domain to the actual reasonable necessities of the case and for the purposes designated by the law. (Fairchild vs. City of St. Paul. 48 Minn., 540.) And, moreover, the record does not show conclusively that the plaintiff has definitely decided that their exists a necessity for the appropriation of the particular land described in the complaint. Exhibits 4, 5, 7, and E clearly indicate that the municipal board believed at one time that other land might be used for the proposed improvement,

thereby avoiding the necessity of distributing the quiet resting place of the dead. Aside from insisting that there exists no necessity for the alleged improvements, the defendants further contend that the street in question should not be opened through the cemetery. One of the defendants alleges that said cemetery is public property. If that allegations is true, then, of course, the city of Manila cannot appropriate it for public use. The city of Manila can only expropriate private property. It is a well known fact that cemeteries may be public or private. The former is a cemetery used by the general community, or neighborhood, or church, while the latter is used only by a family, or a small portion of the community or neighborhood. (11 C. J., 50.) Where a cemetery is open to public, it is a public use and no part of the ground can be taken for other public uses under a general authority. And this immunity extends to the unimproved and unoccupied parts which are held in good faith for future use. (Lewis on Eminent Domain, sec. 434, and cases cited.) The cemetery in question seems to have been established under governmental authority. The Spanish Governor-General, in an order creating the same, used the following language: The cemetery and general hospital for indigent Chinese having been founded and maintained by the spontaneous and fraternal contribution of their protector, merchants and industrials, benefactors of mankind, in consideration of their services to the Government of the Islands its internal administration, government and regime must necessarily be adjusted to the taste and traditional practices of those born and educated in China in order that the sentiments which animated the founders may be perpetually effectuated. It is alleged, and not denied, that the cemetery in question may be used by the general community of Chinese, which fact, in the

general acceptation of the definition of a public cemetery, would make the cemetery in question public property. If that is true, then, of course, the petition of the plaintiff must be denied, for the reason that the city of Manila has no authority or right under the law to expropriate public property. But, whether or not the cemetery is public or private property, its appropriation for the uses of a public street, especially during the lifetime of those specially interested in its maintenance as a cemetery, should be a question of great concern, and its appropriation should not be made for such purposes until it is fully established that the greatest necessity exists therefor. While we do not contend that the dead must not give place to the living, and while it is a matter of public knowledge that in the process of time sepulchres may become the seat of cities and cemeteries traversed by streets and daily trod by the feet of millions of men, yet, nevertheless such sacrifices and such uses of the places of the dead should not be made unless and until it is fully established that there exists an eminent necessity therefor. While cemeteries and sepulchres and the places of the burial of the dead are still within the memory and command of the active care of the living; while they are still devoted to pious uses and sacred regard, it is difficult to believe that even the legislature would adopt a law expressly providing that such places, under such circumstances, should be violated. In such an appropriation, what, we may ask, would be the measure of damages at law, for the wounded sensibilities of the living, in having the graves of kindred and loved ones blotted out and desecrated by a common highway or street for public travel? The impossibility of measuring the damage and inadequacy of a remedy at law is too apparent to admit of argument. To disturb the mortal remains of those endeared to us in life sometimes becomes the sad duty of the living; but, except in cases of necessity, or for laudable purposes, the sanctity of the grave, the last resting place of our friends, should be maintained, and the preventative aid of the courts should be invoked for that object. (Railroad Company vs. Cemetery Co., 116 Tenn., 400; Evergreen Cemetery Associationvs. The City of

New Haven, 43 Conn., 234; Anderson vs. Acheson, 132 Iowa, 744; Beatty vs. Kurtz, 2 Peters, 566.) In the present case, even granting that a necessity exists for the opening of the street in question, the record contains no proof of the necessity of opening the same through the cemetery. The record shows that adjoining and adjacent lands have been offered to the city free of charge, which will answer every purpose of the plaintiff. For all of the foregoing, we are fully persuaded that the judgment of the lower court should be and is hereby affirmed, with costs against the appellant. So ordered. Arellano, C.J., Torres, Araullo and Avanceña, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

MALCOLM, J., concurring: The Government of the Philippine Islands is authorized by the Philippine Bill to acquire real estate for public use by the exercise of the right of eminent domain. (Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, sec. 63.) A portion of this power has been delegated by the Philippine Legislature to the city of Manila, which is permitted to "condemn private property for public use." (Administrative Code of 1917, sec. 2429.) The Code of Civil Procedure, in prescribing how the right of eminent domain may be exercised, also limits the condemnation to "private property for public use." (Sec. 241.) As under the facts actually presented, there can be no question that a public street constitutes a public use, the only remaining question is whether or not

the Chinese Cemetery and the other property here sought to be taken by the exercise of the right of eminent domain is "private property." As narrowing our inquiry still further, let it be noted that cemeteries are of two classes, public and private. A public cemetery is one used by the general community, or neighborhood, or church; while a private cemetery is one used only by a family, or small portion of a community. (Lay vs. State, 12 Ind. App., 362; Cemetery Associationvs. Meninger [1875], 14 Kan., 312.) Our specific question, then, is, whether the Chinese Cemetery in the city of Manila is a public, or a private graveyard. If it be found to be the former, it is not subject to condemnation by the city of Manila; if it be found to be the latter, it is subject to condemnation. The Chinese Cemetery of Manila was established during the Spanish administration in the Philippines by public spirited Chinese. The order of the Governor-General giving governmental recognition to the cemetery reads as follows: "The cemetery and general hospital for indigent Chinese having been founded and maintained by the spontaneous and fraternal contribution of their protectors, merchants and industrials, benefactors of mankind, in consideration of their services to the Government of the Islands, its internal administration, government and regime, must necessarily be adjusted to the taste and traditional practices of those born and educated in China in order that the sentiments which animated the founders may be perpetually effectuated." Sometimes after the inauguration of the new regime in the Philippines, a corporation was organized to control the cemetery, and a Torrens title for the lands in question was obtained. From the time of its creation until the present the cemetery has been used by the Chinese community for the burial of their dead. It is said that not less than four hundred graves, many of them with handsome monuments, would be destroyed by the proposed street. This desecration is attempted as to the las t resting places of the dead of a people who, because of their peculiar and ingrained ancestral workship, retain more than the usual reverence for the departed. These facts lead us straight to the conclusion that the Chinese Cemetery is not used by a family or a small portion of a community but

by a particular race long existing in the country and of considerable numbers. The case, then, is one of where the city of Manila, under a general authority permitting it to condemn private property for public use, is attempting to convert a property already dedicated to a public use to an entirely different public use; and this, not directly pursuant to legislative authority, but primarily through the sole advice of the consulting architect. Two well considered decisions coming from the American state courts on almost identical facts are worthy of our consideration. The first is the case of The Evergreen Cemetery Association vs. The City of New Haven ([1875], 43 Conn., 234), of cited by other courts. Here the City of New Haven, Connecticut, under the general power conferred upon it to lay out, construct, and maintain all necessary highways within its limits, proceeded to widen and straighten one of its streets and in so doing took a small piece of land belonging to the Evergreen Cemetery Association. This association was incorporated under the general statute. The city had no special power to take any part of the cemetery for such purposes. It was found that the land taken was needed for the purposes of the cemetery and was not needed for the purpose of widening and straightening the avenue. The court said that it is unquestionable that the Legislature has the power to authorize the taking of land already applied to one public use and devote it to another. When the power is granted to municipal or private corporations in express words, no question can arise. But, it was added, "The same land cannot properly be used for burial lots and for a public highway at the same time. . . . Land therefore applied to one use should not be taken for the other except in cases on necessity. . . . There is no difficulty in effecting the desired improvement by taking land on the other side of the street. . . . The idea of running a public street, regardless of graves, monuments, and the feelings of the living, through one of our public cemeteries, would be shocking to the moral sense of the community, and would not be tolerated except upon the direst necessity." It was then held that land already devoted to a public use cannot be taken by the public for another use which is inconsistent with the first, without special authority from the

Legislature, or authority granted by necessary and reasonable implication. The second decision is that of Memphis State Line Railroad Company vs. Forest Hill Cemetery Co. ([1906], 116 Tenn., 400.) Here the purpose of the proceedings was to condemn a right of way for the railway company through the Forest Hill Cemetery. The railroad proposed to run through the southeast corner of the cemetery where no bodies were interred. The cemetery had been in use for about eight years, and during this period thirteen hundred bodies had been buried therein. The cemetery was under the control of a corporation which, by its character, held itself out as being willing to sell lots to any one who applies therefor and pays the price demanded, except to members of the Negro race.
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It was found that there were two other routes along which the railroad might be located without touching the cemetery, while the present line might be pursued without interfering with Forest Hill Cemetery by making a curve around it. In the court below the railroad was granted the right of condemnation through the cemetery and damages were assessed. On appeal, the certiorari applied for was granted, and the supersedeas awarded. The court, in effect, found that the land of the Cemetery Company was devoted to a public purpose, and that under the general language of the Tennessee statute of eminent domain it could not be taken for another public purpose. The court said that in process of time the sepulchres of the dead "are made the seats of cities, and are traversed by streets, and daily trodden by the feet of man. This is inevitable in the course of ages. But while these places are yet within the memory and under the active care of the living, while they are still devoted to pious uses, they are sacred, and we cannot suppose that the legislature intended that they should be violated, in the absence of special provisions upon the subject authorizing such invasion, and indicating a method for the disinterment, removal, and reinterment of the bodies buried, and directing how the expense thereof shall be borne." Two members of the court, delivering a separate concurring opinion, concluded with this

significant and eloquent sentence: "The wheels of commerce must stop at the grave." For the foregoing reasons, and for others which are stated in the principal decision, I am of the opinion that the judgment of the lower court should be affirmed. STREET, J., dissenting: It may be admitted that, upon the evidence before us, the projected condemnation of the Chinese Cemetery is unnecessary and perhaps ill-considered. Nevertheless I concur with Justice Moir in the view that the authorities of the city of Manila are the proper judges of the propriety of the condemnation and that this Court should have nothing to do with the question of the necessity of the taking. MOIR, J., dissenting: I dissent from the majority opinion in this case, which has not yet been written, and because of the importance of the question involved, present my dissent for the record. This is an action by the city of Manila for the expropriation of land for an extension of Rizal Avenue north. The petition for condemnation was opposed by the "Comunidad de Chinos de Manila" and Ildefonso Tambunting and various other who obtained permission of the trial court to intervene in the case. All of the defendants allege in their opposition that the proposed extension of Rizal Avenue cuts through a part of the Chinese Cemetery, North of Manila, and necessitates the destruction of many monuments and the removal of many graves. The Court of First Instance of Manila, Honorable S. del Rosario, judge after hearing the parties, decided that there was no need for constructing the street as and where proposed by the city, and dismissed the petition. The plaintiff appealed and sets up the following errors:

1. The court erred in deciding that the determination of the necessity and convenience of the expropriation of the lands of the defendants lies with the court and not with the Municipal Board of the city of Manila. 2. The court erred in permitting the presentation of proofs over the objection and exception of the plaintiff tending to demonstrate the lack of necessity of the projected street and the need of the lands in question. 3. The court erred in declaring that the plaintiff had no right to expropriate the lands in question. 4. The court erred in dismissing the complaint. The right of the plaintiff to expropriate property for public use cannot be denied. The "right of eminent domain is inherent in all sovereignties and therefore would exist without any constitutional recognition . . . . The right of eminent domain antedates constitutions . . . . The right can only be denied or restricted by fundamental law and is right inherent in society." (15 Cyc., pp. 557-8.) . This general right was recognized in the Philippine Code of Civil Procedure effective October 1st, 1901, which prescribed the manner of exercising the right. (Sections 241 et seq.) It was further recognized in the Organic Act of July 1st, 1902, which provides in section 74 "that the Government of the Philippine Islands may grant franchises . . . including the authority to exercise the right of eminent domain for the construction and operation of works of public utility and service, and may authorize said works to be constructed and maintained over and across the public property of the United States including . . . reservations." This provisions is repeated in the Jones Law of August, 1916. The legislature of the Islands conferred the right on the city of Manila. (Section 2429, Administrative Code of 1917; section 2402, Administrative Code of 1916.)

Clearly having the right of expropriation, the city of Manila selected the line of its street and asked the court by proper order to place the plaintiff in possession of the land described in the complaint, and to appoint Commissioners to inspect the property, appraise the value, and assess the damages. Instead of doing so, the court entered upon the question of the right of the city to take the property and the necessity for the taking. The court says: The controversy relates to whether or not the Chinese Cemetery, where a great majority of this race is buried and other persons belonging to other nationalities have been formerly inhumed, is private orpublic; whether or not said cemetery, in case it is public, would be susceptible to expropriation for the purpose of public improvements proposed by the city of Manila; whether or not the latter is justified of the necessity and expediency of similar expropriation before its right to the same would be upheld by the courts of justice; and whether or not the appreciation of said necessity pertains to the legislative or the judicial department before which the expropriation proceedings have been brought. Relative to the first point, it is not necessary for the court to pass upon its consideration, in view of the conclusion it has arrived at the appreciation of the other points connected with each other. From the testimony of two reputable engineers produced by some of the defendants, it appears that the land chosen by the plaintiff for the extension of Rizal Avenue to the municipality of Caloocan is not the best or the less expensive, although upon it there may be constructed a straight road, without curves or winding; but that in order to construct said road upon said land, the city of Manila would have to remove and transfer to other places about four hundred graves and monuments, make some grubbings, undergo some leveling and build some bridges — the works thereon, together with the construction of the road and the

value of the lands expropriated, would mean an expenditure which will not be less than P180,000. Beside that considerable amount, the road would have a declivity of 3 per cent which, in order to cover a distance of one kilometer, would require an energy equivalent to that which would be expanded in covering a distance of two and one-half kilometers upon a level road. On the other hand, if the road would be constructed with the deviation proposed by Ildefonso Tambunting, one of the defendants, who even offered to donate gratuitously to the city of Manila part of the land upon which said road will have to be constructed, the plaintiff entity would be able to save more than hundreds of thousand of pesos, which can be invested in other improvements of greater pressure and necessity for the benefit of the taxpayers; and it will not have to employ more time and incur greater expenditures in the removal and transfer of the remains buried in the land of the Chinese Community and of Sr. Tambunting, although with the insignificant disadvantage that the road would be little longer by a still more insignificant extension of 426 meters and 55 centimeters less than one-half kilometer, according to the plan included in the records; but it would offer a better panorama to those who would use it, and who would not have to traverse in their necessary or pleasure-making trips or walks any cemetery which, on account of its nature, always deserves the respect of the travellers. It should be observed that the proposed straight road over the cemetery, which the city of Manila is proposing to expropriate, does not lead to any commercial, industrial, or agricultural center, and if with said road it is endeavored to benefit some community or created interest, the same object may be obtained by the proposed deviation of the road by the defendants. The road traced by the plaintiffs has the disadvantage that the lands on both sides thereof would not serve for residential purposes, for the reason that no one has the pleasure to construct buildings upon cemeteries, unless it be in

very overcrowded cities, so exhausted of land that every inch thereof represents a dwelling house. And it is against the ruling, that it lies with the court to determine the necessity of the proposed street and not with the municipal board, that the appellant directs its first assignment of error. It is a right of the city government to determine whether or not it will construct streets and where, and the court's sole duty was to see that the value of the property was paid the owners after proper legal proceedings ascertaining the value. The law gives the city the right to take private property for public use. It is assumed it is unnecessary to argue that a public road is a public use. But it is argued that plaintiff must show that it is necessary to take this land for a public improvement. The law does not so read, and it is believed that the great weight of authority, including the United States Supreme Court, is against the contention. The question of necessity is distinct from the question of public use, and former question is exclusively for the legislature, except that if the constitution or statute authorizes the taking of property only in cases of necessity, then the necessity becomes a judicial question. (McQuillen Municipal Corporations, Vol. IV, pp. 3090-3091.) In the absence of some constitutional or statutory provision to the contrary, the necessity and expediency of exercising the right of eminent domain are questions essentially political and not judicial in their character. The determination of those questions belongs to the sovereign power; the legislative determination is final and conclusive, and the courts have no power to review it. It rests with the legislature not only to determine when the power of eminent domain may be exercised, but also the character, quality, method, and extent of such exercise. And this power is unqualified, other than by the

necessity of providing that compensation shall be made. Nevertheless, under the express provisions of the constitution of some states the question of necessity is made a judicial one, to be determined by the courts and not by the legislature. While the legislature may itself exercise the right of determining the necessity for the exercise of the power of eminent domain, it may, unless prohibited by the constitution, delegate this power to public officers or to private corporations established to carry on enterprises in which the public are interested, and their determination that a necessity for the exercise of the power exists is conclusive. There is no restraint upon the power except that requiring compensation to be made. And when the power has been so delegated it is a subject of legislative discretion to determine what prudential regulations shall be established to secure a discreet and judicious exercise of the authority. It has been held that in the absence of any statutory provision submitting the matter to a court or jury the decision of the question of necessity lies with the body of individuals to whom the state has delegated the authority to take, and the legislature may be express provision confer this power on a corporation to whom the power of eminent domain is delegated unless prohibited by the constitution. It is of course competent for the legislature to declare that the question shall be a judicial one, in which case the court and not the corporation determines the question of necessity. (15 Cyc., pp. 629-632.) To the same effect is Lewis on Eminen Domain (3d Edition, section 597). I quote from the notes to Vol. 5, Encyclopedia of United States Supreme Court Reports, p. 762, as follows: Neither can it be said that there is any fundamental right secured by the constitution of the United States to have the questions of compensation and necessity both passed upon by one and the same jury. In many states the question of necessity is never submitted to the jury which passes upon the question of

compensation. It is either settled affirmatively by the legislature, or left to the judgment of the corporation invested with the right to take property by condemnation. The question of necessity is not one of a judicial character, but rather one for determination by the lawmaking branch of the government. (Boom Co. vs.Patterson, 98 U.S., 403, 406 [25 L. ed., 206]; United States vs. Jones, 109 U.S., 513 [27 L. ed., 1015]; Backus vs. Fort Street Union Depot Co., 169 U.S., 557, 568 [42 L. ed., 853].) Speaking generally, it is for the state primarily and exclusively, to declare for what local public purposes private property, within its limits may be taken upon compensation to the owner, as well as to prescribe a mode in which it may be condemned and taken. (Madisonville Tract. Co. vs. St. Bernard Min. Co., 196 U.S., 239, 252 [49 L. ed., 462].) Courts have no power to control the legislative authority in the exercise of their right to determine when it is necessary or expedient to condemn a specific piece of property for public purposes. (Adirondack R. Co. vs. New York States, 176 U.S., 335 [44 L. ed., 492].) 10 R. C. L. (p. 183), states the law as follows: 158. Necessity for taking ordinarily not judicial question. — The legislature, in providing for the exercise the power of eminent domain, may directly determine the necessity for appropriating private property for a particular improvement or public use, and it may select the exact location of the improvement. In such a case, it is well settled that the utility of the proposed improvement, the extent of the public necessity for its construction, the expediency of constructing it, the suitableness of the location selected and the consequent necessity of taking the land selected for its site, are all questions exclusively for the legislature to determine, and the courts have no power to interfere, or to substitute their own views for theseof the representatives of the people. Similarly,

when the legislature has delegated the power of eminent domain to municipal or public service corporation or other tribunals or bodies, and has given them discretion as to when the power is to be called into exercise and to what extent, the court will not inquire into the necessity or propriety of the taking. The United States Supreme Court recently said: The uses to which this land are to be put are undeniably public uses. When that is the case the propriety or expediency of the appropriation cannot be called in question by any other authority. (Cinnati vs.S. & N. R. R. Co., 223 U.S., 390, quoting U.S. vs. Jones, 109, U.S., 519.) And in Sears vs. City of Akron (246 U.S., 242), decided March 4th, 1918, it said: Plaintiff contends that the ordinance is void because the general statute which authorized the appropriation violates both Article 1, paragraph 10, of the Federal Constitution, and the Fourteenth Amendment, in that it authorizes the municipality to determine the necessity for the taking of private propertywithout the owners having an opportunity to be hear as to such necessity; that in fact no necessity existed for any taking which would interfere with the company's project; since the city might have taken water from the Little Cuyahoga or the Tuscarawas rivers; and furthermore, that it has taken ten times as much water as it can legitimately use. It is well settled that while the question whether the purpose of a taking is a public one is judicial (Hairston vs. Danville & W. R. Co., 208 U.S. 598 [52 L. ed., 637; 28 Sup. Ct. Rep., 331; 13 Ann. Cas., 1008]), the necessity and the proper extent of a taking is a legislative question. (Shoemaker vs.United States, 147 U.S., 282, 298 [57 L. ed., 170, 184; 13 Supt. Ct. Rep., 361]; United States vs. Gettysburg Electric R. Co., 160 U.S. 668, 685 [40 L. ed., 576, 582; 16 Sup. Ct. Rep., 427]; United States vs. Chandler-Dunbar Water Power Co., 229 U.S., 53, 65 [57 L. ed., 1063, 1076; 33 Sup. Ct. Rep., 667].)

I think the case should be decided in accordance with foregoing citations, but one other point has been argued so extensively that it ought to be considered. It is contended for the defense that this Chinese Cemetery is a public cemetery and that it cannot therefore be taken for public use. In its answer the "Comunidad de Chinos de Manila" says it is "a corporation organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the Philippine Islands," and that it owns the land which plaintiff seeks to acquire. The facts that it is private corporation owning land would seem of necessity to make the land it owns private land. The fact that it belongs to the Chinese community deprives it of any public character. But admitting that it is a public cemetery, although limited in its use to the Chinese Community of the city of Manila, can it not be taken for public use? Must we let the reverence we feel for the dead and the sanctity of their final resting-place obstruct the progress of the living? It will be instructive to inquire what other jurisdictions have held on that point. On the Application of Board of Street Openings of New York City to acquire St. Johns Cemetery (133 N.Y., 329) the court of appeal said: . . . The board instituted this proceeding under the act to acquire for park purposes the title to land below One Hundred and Fifty-fifth street known as St. John's cemetery which belonged to a religious corporation in the city of New York, commonly called Trinity Church. It was established as a cemetery as early as 1801, and used for that purpose until 1839, during which time about ten thousand human bodies had been buried therein. In 1839 an ordinance was passed by the city of New York forbidding interments south of Eighty-sixth street, and since that time no interments have been made in the cemetery, but Trinity Church has preserved and kept it in order and prevented any disturbance thereof.

It is contended on behalf of Trinity Church that under the general authority given by statute of 1887, this land which had been devoted to cemetery purposes could not be taken for a park. The authority conferred upon the board by the act is broad and general. It is authorized to take for park purposes any land south of One Hundred and Fifty-fifth street. . . . . The fact that lands have previously been devoted to cemetery purposes does not place them beyond the reach of the power of eminent domain. That is an absolute transcendent power belonging to the sovereign which can be exercised for the public welfare whenever the sovereign authority shall determine that a necessity for its exercise exists. By its existence the homes and the dwellings of the living, and the resting-places of the dead may be alike condemned. It seems always to have been recognized in the laws of this state, that under the general laws streets and highways could be laid out through cemeteries, in the absence of special limitation or prohibition. . . . In Re Opening of Twenty-second Street (102 Penn. State Reports, 108) the Supreme Court of the State said: This was an action for the opening of a street through a cemetery in the City of Philadelphia. It was contended for the United American Mechanics and United Daughters of America Cemetery Association that by an act of the legislature of the State approved March 20th, 1849, they were forever exempt from the taking of any their property for streets, roads or alleys and this Act was formally accepted by the Cemetery Company on April 9th, 1849, and there was, therefore, a contract between the Cemetery Company and the State of Pennsylvania, which would be violated by the taking of any part of their property for street purposes. It was further contended that there were 11,000 persons buried in the cemetery.

The court held that property and contracts of all kinds must yield to the demand of the sovereign and that under the power of eminent domain all properties could be taken, and that if there was a contract between the State of Pennsylvania and the Cemetery Association, the contract itself could be taken for public use, and ordered the opening of the street through the cemetery. In Vol. 5, Encyclopedia of United States Supreme Court Reports (p. 759), it is said: Although it has been held, that where a state has delegated the power of eminent domain to a person or corporation and where by its exercise lands have been subject to a public use, they cannot be applied to another public use without specific authority expressed or implied to that effect, yet, the general rule seems to be that the fact that property is already devoted to a public use, does not exempt it from being appropriated under the right of eminent domain but it may be so taken for a use which is clearly superior or paramount to the one to which it is already devoted. (Citing many United States Supreme Court decisions.) A few cases have been cited where the courts refused to allow the opening of streets through cemeteries, but in my opinion they are not as well considered as the cases and authorities relied upon herein. The holding of this court in this case reverses well settled principles of law of long standing and almost universal acceptance. The other assignments of error need not be considered as they are involved in the foregoing. The decision should be reversed and the record returned to the Court of First Instance with instructions to proceed with the case in accordance with this decision. G.R. No. 107916 February 20, 1997

PERCIVAL MODAY, ZOTICO MODAY (deceased) and LEONORA MODAY, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, JUDGE EVANGELINE S. YUIPCO OF BRANCH 6, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, AGUSAN DEL SUR AND MUNICIPALITY OF BUNAWAN, respondents.

ROMERO, J.: The main issue presented in this case is whether a municipality may expropriate private property by virtue of a municipal resolution which was disapproved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Petitioner seeks the reversal of the Court of Appeals decision and resolution, promulgated on July 15, 1992 and October 22, 1992 respectively, 1 and a declaration that Municipal Resolution No. 43-89 of the Bunawan Sangguniang Bayan is null and void. On July 23, 1989, the Sangguniang Bayan of the Municipality of Bunawan in Agusan del Sur passed Resolution No. 43-89, "Authorizing the Municipal Mayor to Initiate the Petition for Expropriation of a One (1) Hectare Portion of Lot No. 6138-Pls-4 Along the National Highway Owned by Percival Moday for the Site of Bunawan Farmers Center and Other Government Sports Facilities." 2 In due time, Resolution No. 43-89 was approved by then Municipal Mayor Anuncio C. Bustillo and transmitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for its approval. On September 11, 1989, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan disapproved said Resolution and returned it with the comment that "expropriation is unnecessary considering that there are still available lots in Bunawan for the establishment of the government center." 3 The Municipality of Bunawan, herein public respondent, subsequently filed a petition for Eminent Domain against petitioner Percival Moday before the Regional Trial Court at Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur. 4 The complaint was later amended to include the registered owners,

Percival Moday's parents, Zotico and Leonora Moday, as party defendants. On March 6, 1991, public respondent municipality filed a Motion to Take or Enter Upon the Possession of Subject Matter of This Case stating that it had already deposited with the municipal treasurer the necessary amount in accordance with Section 2, Rule 67 of the Revised Rules of Court and that it would be in the government's best interest for public respondent to be allowed to take possession of the property. Despite petitioners' opposition and after a hearing on the merits, the Regional Trial Court granted respondent municipality's motion to take possession of the land. The lower court held that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan's failure to declare the resolution invalid leaves it effective. It added that the duty of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is merely to review the ordinances and resolutions passed by the Sangguniang Bayan under Section 208 (1) of B.P. Blg. 337, old Local Government Code and that the exercise of eminent domain is not one of the two acts enumerated in Section 19 thereof requiring the approval of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. 5 The dispositive portion of the lower court's Order dated July 2, 1991 reads: WHEREFORE, it appearing that the amount of P632.39 had been deposited as per Official Receipt No. 5379647 on December 12, 1989 which this Court now determines as the provisional value of the land, the Motion to Take or Enter Upon the Possession of the Property filed by petitioner through counsel is hereby GRANTED. The Sheriff of this Court is ordered to forthwith place the plaintiff in possession of the property involved. Let the hearing be set on August 9, 1991 at 8:30 o'clock in the morning for the purpose of ascertaining the just compensation or fair market value of the property sought to be taken, with notice to all the parties concerned.
SO ORDERED.
6

Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied by the trial court on October 31, 1991. Petitioners elevated the case in a petition for certiorari alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court, but the same was dismissed by respondent appellate court on July 15, 1992. 7 The Court of Appeals held that the public purpose for the expropriation is clear from Resolution No. 43-89 and that since the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Agusan del Sur did not declare Resolution No. 43-89 invalid, expropriation of petitioners' property could proceed. Respondent appellate court also denied petitioners' motion for reconsideration on October 22, 1992. 8 Meanwhile, the Municipality of Bunawan had erected three buildings on the subject property: the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) Hall, the Municipal Motorpool, both wooden structures, and the Bunawan Municipal Gymnasium, which is made of concrete. In the instant petition for review filed on November 23, 1992, petitioner seeks the reversal of the decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals and a declaration that Resolution No. 43-89 of the Municipality of Bunawan is null and void. On December 8, 1993, the Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining and restraining public respondent Judge Evangeline Yuipco from enforcing her July 2, 1991 Order and respondent municipality from using and occupying all the buildings constructed and from further constructing any building on the land subject of this petition. 9 Acting on petitioners' Omnibus Motion for Enforcement of Restraining Order and for Contempt, the Court issued a Resolution on March 15, 1995, citing incumbent municipal mayor Anuncio C. Bustillo for contempt, ordering him to pay the fine and to demolish the "blocktiendas" which were built in violation of the restraining order. 10 Former Mayor Anuncio C. Bustillo paid the fine and manifested that he lost in the May 8, 1995 election. 11 The incumbent Mayor Leonardo

Barrios, filed a Manifestation, Motion to Resolve "Urgent Motion for Immediate Dissolution of the Temporary Restraining Order" and Memorandum on June 11, 1996 for the Municipality of Bunawan. 12 Petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred in upholding the legality of the condemnation proceedings initiated by the municipality. According to petitioners, the expropriation was politically motivated and Resolution No. 43-89 was correctly disapproved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, there being other municipal properties available for the purpose. Petitioners also pray that the former Mayor Anuncio C. Bustillo be ordered to pay damages for insisting on the enforcement of a void municipal resolution. The Court of Appeals declared that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan's reason for disapproving the resolution "could be baseless, because it failed to point out which and where are those available lots.'" Respondent court also concluded that since the Sangguniang Panlalawigan did not declare the municipal board's resolution as invalid, expropriation of petitioners' property could proceed. 13 The Court finds no merit in the petition and affirms the decision of the Court of Appeals. Eminent domain, the power which the Municipality of Bunawan exercised in the instant case, is a fundamental State power that is inseparable from sovereignty. 14 It is government's right to appropriate, in the nature of a compulsory sale to the State, private property for public use or purpose. 15 Inherently possessed by the national legislature, the power of eminent domain may be validly delegated to local governments, other public entities and public utilities. 16 For the taking of private property by the government to be valid, the taking must be for public use and there must be just compensation. 17 The Municipality of Bunawan's power to exercise the right of eminent domain is not disputed as it is expressly provided for in Batas Pambansa Blg. 337, the local Government Code 18 in force at the time expropriation proceedings were initiated. Section 9 of said law states:

Sec. 9. Eminent Domain. — A local government unit may, through its head and acting pursuant to a resolution of its sanggunian, exercise the right of eminent domain and institute condemnation proceedings for public use or purpose. What petitioners question is the lack of authority of the municipality to exercise this right since the Sangguniang Panlalawigan disapproved Resolution No. 43-89. Section 153 of B.P. Blg. 337 provides: Sec. 153. Sangguniang Panlalawigan Review. — (1) Within thirty days after receiving copies of approved ordinances, resolutions and executive orders promulgated by the municipal mayor, the sangguniang panlalawigan shall examine the documents or transmit them to the provincial attorney, or if there be none, to the provincial fiscal, who shall examine them promptly and inform the sangguniang panlalawigan in writing of any defect or impropriety which he may discover therein and make such comments or recommendations as shall appear to him proper. (2) If the sangguniang panlalawigan shall find that any municipal ordinance, resolution or executive order is beyond the power conferred upon the sangguniang bayan or the mayor, it shall declare such ordinance, resolution or executive order invalid in whole or in part, entering its actions upon the minutes and advising the proper municipal authorities thereof. The effect of such an action shall be to annul the ordinance, resolution or executive order in question in whole or in part. The action of the sangguniang panlalawigan shall be final. xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis supplied.) The Sangguniang Panlalawigan's disapproval of Municipal Resolution No. 43-89 is an infirm action which does not render said resolution null

and void. The law, as expressed in Section 153 of B.P. Blg. 337, grants the Sangguniang Panlalawigan the power to declare a municipal resolution invalid on the sole ground that it is beyond the power of the Sangguniang Bayan or the Mayor to issue. Although pertaining to a similar provision of law but different factual milieu then obtaining, the Court's pronouncements in Velazco v. Blas, 19 where we cited significant early jurisprudence, are applicable to the case at bar.
The only ground upon which a provincial board may declare any municipal resolution, ordinance, or order invalid is when such resolution, ordinance, or order is "beyond the powers conferred upon the council or president making the same." Absolutely no other ground is recognized by the law. A strictly legal question is before the provincial board in its consideration of a municipal resolution, ordinance, or order. The provincial (board's) disapproval of any resolution, ordinance, or order must be premised specifically upon the fact that such resolution, ordinance, or order is outside the scope of the legal powers conferred by law. If a provincial board passes these limits, it usurps the legislative function of the municipal council or president. Such has been the consistent course of 20 executive authority.

Thus, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan was without the authority to disapprove Municipal Resolution No. 43-89 for the Municipality of Bunawan clearly has the power to exercise the right of eminent domain and its Sangguniang Bayan the capacity to promulgate said resolution, pursuant to the earlier-quoted Section 9 of B.P. Blg. 337. Perforce, it follows that Resolution No. 43-89 is valid and binding and could be used as lawful authority to petition for the condemnation of petitioners' property. As regards the accusation of political oppression, it is alleged that Percival Moday incurred the ire of then Mayor Anuncio C. Bustillo when he refused to support the latter's candidacy for mayor in previous elections. Petitioners claim that then incumbent Mayor C. Bustillo used the expropriation to retaliate by expropriating their land even if there were other properties belonging to the municipality and available for the purpose. Specifically, they allege that the municipality owns a vacant seven-hectare property adjacent to petitioners' land, evidenced by a sketch plan. 21 The limitations on the power of eminent domain are that the use must be public, compensation must be made and due process of law must be

observed. 22 The Supreme Court, taking cognizance of such issues as the adequacy of compensation, necessity of the taking and the public use character or the purpose of the taking, 23 has ruled that the necessity of exercising eminent domain must be genuine and of a public character. 24 Government may not capriciously choose what private property should be taken. After a careful study of the records of the case, however, we find no evidentiary support for petitioners' allegations. The uncertified photocopy of the sketch plan does not conclusively prove that the municipality does own vacant land adjacent to petitioners' property suited to the purpose of the expropriation. In the questioned decision, respondent appellate court similarly held that the pleadings and documents on record have not pointed out any of respondent municipality's "other available properties available for the same purpose." 25 The accusations of political reprisal are likewise unsupported by competent evidence. Consequently, the Court holds that petitioners' demand that the former municipal mayor be personally liable for damages is without basis. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. The questioned Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in the case of "Percival Moday." et al. v. Municipality of Bunawan, et al." (CA G.R. SP No. 26712) are AFFIRMED. The Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Court on December 8, 1993 is LIFTED. SO ORDERED. Regalado, Puno, Mendoza and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur. Footnotes 1 "Percival Moday V. Municipality of Bunawan, et.al." CA G.R. SP No. 26712, penned by Justice Artemon D. Luna, with Justices Jose A.R. Melo (now a member of this Court) and Segundino G. Chua, concurring. Rollo, p. 21, 36.

2 The lot is part of 5.6610 hectares covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-3132 in the name of Zotico Moday, married to Leonora Moday. The assessed value of the entire lot in 1989 was P3,580.00 while the assessed value of one hectare is about P632.39. 3 Excerpts From the Minutes of the Regular Session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Agusan del Sur Held at the Session Hall, Training Center, Prosperidad, on September 11, 1989. Rollo, p. 85. 4 "Municipality of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur v. Percival Moday, et al.," Special Civil Case No. 719, Judge Evangeline S. Yuipco, presiding. 5 "Sec. 19. Certain Acts of the Sangguniang Bayan Requiring Approval of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.— The following acts of the sangguniang bayan shall be subject to the approval of the sangguniang panlalawigan: (1) Permanent closure of a public road, street, alley, park or square; and (2) Donation of municipal funds or property." 6 Rollo, p. 75. 7 "Percival Moday, et al. v. Municipality of Bunawan, et al.," CA G.R. SP No. 26712, Rollo, pp. 21-25. 8 Rollo, p. 36. 9 Rollo, p. 104. 10 Rollo, pp. 242-245. 11 Rollo, pp. 248-249. 12 Rollo, p. 286.

13 Rollo, p. 24. 14 V. SINCO, PHILIPPINE POLITICAL LAW: PRINCIPLES AND CONCEPTS 592 (10th ed., 1954) citingKohl v. US, 91 U.S. 371. A. PIMENTEL, THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991: THE KEY TO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT 106 (1993). Visayan Refining Co. v. Camus, 40 Phil. 550. 15 BLACK's LAW DICTIONARY 616 (4th ed.) cited in I. CRUZ, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 59 (1991 ed.); J. BERNAS, THE 1987 PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION, A REVIEWER — PRIMER 92 (2nd ed., 1992)citing Charles River Bridge V. Warren Bridge, 11 Pet. 420, 641 (US 1837). 16 BERNAS, op. cit. at 93; CRUZ, op. cit. at 59-60; Province of Camarines Sur v. CA, G.R. No.103125, May 11, 1993, 222 SCRA 173. 17 Article III, Section 9 of the 1987 constitution states that "(p)rivate property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation." 18 Approved on February 10, 1983, the Code was published in 79 O.G. No. 7. The Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7160) took effect on January 1, 1992. Evardone v. Comelec, G.R. No. 94010, December 2, 1991, 204 SCRA 464. 19 G.R. No. L-30456, July 30, 1982, 115 SCRA 540, 544545. The law then in force, Section 2233 of the Revised Administrative Code, also provided that "(i)f the board should in any case find that any resolution, ordinance, or order, as aforesaid, is beyond the powers conferred upon the council or mayor making the same, it shall declare such resolution, ordinance, or order invalid, entering its action upon the minutes and advising the proper municipal

authorities thereof. The effect of such action shall be to annul the resolution, ordinance, or order in question, subject to action by the Secretary of the Interior as hereinafter provided." 20 At pages 544-545, citing Gabriel v. Provincial Board of Pampanga, 50 Phil. 686, 692-693; Cariño v. Jamoralne, 56 Phil. 188, Manantan v. Municipality of Luna, 82 Phil. 844, which cite the Opinions Attorney-General Wilfley (1905), II Op. Atty.-Gen., 557, 642, Opinion Attorney-General VillaReal, November 22, 1922; Opinion Attorney-General Jaranilla, August 9, 1926; Provincial Circular Executive Bureau, September 16, 1918. 21 Rollo, p. 88. 22 V. SINCO, op. cit. citing Visayan Refining Company v. Camus, supra. and In re Fowler, 53 N.Y. 60. 23 Municipality of Meycauayan v. IAC, G.R. No. L-72126, January 29, 1988, 157 SCRA 640; J.M. Tuason v. Land Tenure Administration, 31 SCRA 413; National Power Corporation v. Jocson, 206 SCRA 520; Republic v. IAC, 185 SCRA 572. 24 City of Manila v. Chinese Community of Manila, 40 Phil. 349 citing Morrison v. Indianapolis, 166 Ind. 511; Stearns v. Barre, 73 Vt. 281, Wheeling v. Toledo, 72 Ohio St. 368. 25 Rollo, p. 23. G.R. No. L-18841 January 27, 1969

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellant, vs. PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE COMPANY, defendant-appellant.

Office of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant Solicitor General Antonio A. Torres and Solicitor Camilo D. Quiason for plaintiff-appellant. Ponce Enrile, Siguion Reyna, Montecillo and Belo for defendantappellant. REYES, J.B.L., J.: Direct appeals, upon a joint record on appeal, by both the plaintiff and the defendant from the dismissal, after hearing, by the Court of First Instance of Manila, in its Civil Case No. 35805, of their respective complaint and counterclaims, but making permanent a preliminary mandatory injunction theretofore issued against the defendant on the interconnection of telephone facilities owned and operated by said parties. The plaintiff, Republic of the Philippines, is a political entity exercising governmental powers through its branches and instrumentalities, one of which is the Bureau of Telecommunications. That office was created on 1 July 1947, under Executive Order No. 94, with the following powers and duties, in addition to certain powers and duties formerly vested in the Director of Posts:
1awphil.ñêt

SEC. 79. The Bureau of Telecommunications shall exercise the following powers and duties: (a) To operate and maintain existing wire-telegraph and radiotelegraph offices, stations, and facilities, and those to be established to restore the pre-war telecommunication service under the Bureau of Posts, as well as such additional offices or stations as may hereafter be established to provide telecommunication service in places requiring such service; (b) To investigate, consolidate, negotiate for, operate and maintain wire-telephone or radio telephone communication service throughout the Philippines by utilizing such existing facilities in cities, towns, and provinces as may be found feasible and under such terms and conditions or arrangements with the

present owners or operators thereof as may be agreed upon to the satisfaction of all concerned; (c) To prescribe, subject to approval by the Department Head, equitable rates of charges for messages handled by the system and/or for time calls and other services that may be rendered by said system; (d) To establish and maintain coastal stations to serve ships at sea or aircrafts and, when public interest so requires, to engage in the international telecommunication service in agreement with other countries desiring to establish such service with the Republic of the Philippines; and (e) To abide by all existing rules and regulations prescribed by the International Telecommunication Convention relative to the accounting, disposition and exchange of messages handled in the international service, and those that may hereafter be promulgated by said convention and adhered to by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. 1 The defendant, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT for short), is a public service corporation holding a legislative franchise, Act 3426, as amended by Commonwealth Act 407, to install, operate and maintain a telephone system throughout the Philippines and to carry on the business of electrical transmission of messages within the Philippines and between the Philippines and the telephone systems of other countries. 2The RCA Communications, Inc., (which is not a party to the present case but has contractual relations with the parties) is an American corporation authorized to transact business in the Philippines and is the grantee, by assignment, of a legislative franchise to operate a domestic station for the reception and transmission of long distance wireless messages (Act 2178) and to operate broadcasting and radio-telephone and radiotelegraphic communications services (Act 3180). 3 Sometime in 1933, the defendant, PLDT, and the RCA Communications, Inc., entered into an agreement whereby telephone

messages, coming from the United States and received by RCA's domestic station, could automatically be transferred to the lines of PLDT; and vice-versa, for calls collected by the PLDT for transmission from the Philippines to the United States. The contracting parties agreed to divide the tolls, as follows: 25% to PLDT and 75% to RCA. The sharing was amended in 1941 to 30% for PLDT and 70% for RCA, and again amended in 1947 to a 50-50 basis. The arrangement was later extended to radio-telephone messages to and from European and Asiatic countries. Their contract contained a stipulation that either party could terminate it on a 24-month notice to the other. 4 On 2 February 1956, PLDT gave notice to RCA to terminate their contract on 2 February 1958. 5 Soon after its creation in 1947, the Bureau of Telecommunications set up its own Government Telephone System by utilizing its own appropriation and equipment and by renting trunk lines of the PLDT to enable government offices to call private parties. 6 Its application for the use of these trunk lines was in the usual form of applications for telephone service, containing a statement, above the signature of the applicant, that the latter will abide by the rules and regulations of the PLDT which are on file with the Public Service Commission. 7 One of the many rules prohibits the public use of the service furnished the telephone subscriber for his private use. 8 The Bureau has extended its services to the general public since 1948, 9 using the same trunk lines owned by, and rented from, the PLDT, and prescribing its (the Bureau's) own schedule of rates. 10 Through these trunk lines, a Government Telephone System (GTS) subscriber could make a call to a PLDT subscriber in the same way that the latter could make a call to the former. On 5 March 1958, the plaintiff, through the Director of Telecommunications, entered into an agreement with RCA Communications, Inc., for a joint overseas telephone service whereby the Bureau would convey radio-telephone overseas calls received by RCA's station to and from local residents. 11 Actually, they inaugurated this joint operation on 2 February 1958, under a "provisional" agreement. 12

On 7 April 1958, the defendant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, complained to the Bureau of Telecommunications that said bureau was violating the conditions under which their Private Branch Exchange (PBX) is inter-connected with the PLDT's facilities, referring to the rented trunk lines, for the Bureau had used the trunk lines not only for the use of government offices but even to serve private persons or the general public, in competition with the business of the PLDT; and gave notice that if said violations were not stopped by midnight of 12 April 1958, the PLDT would sever the telephone connections. 13 When the PLDT received no reply, it disconnected the trunk lines being rented by the Bureau at midnight on 12 April 1958. 14 The result was the isolation of the Philippines, on telephone services, from the rest of the world, except the United States. 15 At that time, the Bureau was maintaining 5,000 telephones and had 5,000 pending applications for telephone connection. 16 The PLDT was also maintaining 60,000 telephones and had also 20,000 pending applications. 17 Through the years, neither of them has been able to fill up the demand for telephone service. The Bureau of Telecommunications had proposed to the PLDT on 8 January 1958 that both enter into an interconnecting agreement, with the government paying (on a call basis) for all calls passing through the interconnecting facilities from the Government Telephone System to the PLDT. 18 The PLDT replied that it was willing to enter into an agreement on overseas telephone service to Europe and Asian countries provided that the Bureau would submit to the jurisdiction and regulations of the Public Service Commission and in consideration of 37 1/2% of the gross revenues. 19 In its memorandum in lieu of oral argument in this Court dated 9 February 1964, on page 8, the defendant reduced its offer to 33 1/3 % (1/3) as its share in the overseas telephone service. The proposals were not accepted by either party. On 12 April 1958, plaintiff Republic commenced suit against the defendant, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, in the Court of First Instance of Manila (Civil Case No. 35805), praying in its

complaint for judgment commanding the PLDT to execute a contract with plaintiff, through the Bureau, for the use of the facilities of defendant's telephone system throughout the Philippines under such terms and conditions as the court might consider reasonable, and for a writ of preliminary injunction against the defendant company to restrain the severance of the existing telephone connections and/or restore those severed. Acting on the application of the plaintiff, and on the ground that the severance of telephone connections by the defendant company would isolate the Philippines from other countries, the court a quo, on 14 April 1958, issued an order for the defendant: (1) to forthwith reconnect and restore the seventy-eight (78) trunk lines that it has disconnected between the facilities of the Government Telephone System, including its overseas telephone services, and the facilities of defendant; (2) to refrain from carrying into effect its threat to sever the existing telephone communication between the Bureau of Telecommunications and defendant, and not to make connection over its telephone system of telephone calls coming to the Philippines from foreign countries through the said Bureau's telephone facilities and the radio facilities of RCA Communications, Inc.; and (3) to accept and connect through its telephone system all such telephone calls coming to the Philippines from foreign countries — until further order of this Court. On 28 April 1958, the defendant company filed its answer, with counterclaims. It denied any obligation on its part to execute a contrary of services with the Bureau of Telecommunications; contested the jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance to compel it to enter into interconnecting agreements, and averred that it was justified to disconnect the trunk lines heretofore leased to the Bureau of Telecommunications under the existing agreement because its facilities were being used in fraud of its rights. PLDT further claimed that the Bureau was engaging in commercial telephone operations in

excess of authority, in competition with, and to the prejudice of, the PLDT, using defendants own telephone poles, without proper accounting of revenues. After trial, the lower court rendered judgment that it could not compel the PLDT to enter into an agreement with the Bureau because the parties were not in agreement; that under Executive Order 94, establishing the Bureau of Telecommunications, said Bureau was not limited to servicing government offices alone, nor was there any in the contract of lease of the trunk lines, since the PLDT knew, or ought to have known, at the time that their use by the Bureau was to be public throughout the Islands, hence the Bureau was neither guilty of fraud, abuse, or misuse of the poles of the PLDT; and, in view of serious public prejudice that would result from the disconnection of the trunk lines, declared the preliminary injunction permanent, although it dismissed both the complaint and the counterclaims. Both parties appealed. Taking up first the appeal of the Republic, the latter complains of the action of the trial court in dismissing the part of its complaint seeking to compel the defendant to enter into an interconnecting contract with it, because the parties could not agree on the terms and conditions of the interconnection, and of its refusal to fix the terms and conditions therefor. We agree with the court below that parties can not be coerced to enter into a contract where no agreement is had between them as to the principal terms and conditions of the contract. Freedom to stipulate such terms and conditions is of the essence of our contractual system, and by express provision of the statute, a contract may be annulled if tainted by violence, intimidation, or undue influence (Articles 1306, 1336, 1337, Civil Code of the Philippines). But the court a quo has apparently overlooked that while the Republic may not compel the PLDT to celebrate a contract with it, the Republic may, in the exercise of the sovereign power of eminent domain, require the telephone company to permit interconnection of the government telephone system and that of the PLDT, as the needs of the

government service may require, subject to the payment of just compensation to be determined by the court. Nominally, of course, the power of eminent domain results in the taking or appropriation of title to, and possession of, the expropriated property; but no cogent reason appears why the said power may not be availed of to impose only a burden upon the owner of condemned property, without loss of title and possession. It is unquestionable that real property may, through expropriation, be subjected to an easement of right of way. The use of the PLDT's lines and services to allow inter-service connection between both telephone systems is not much different. In either case private property is subjected to a burden for public use and benefit. If, under section 6, Article XIII, of the Constitution, the State may, in the interest of national welfare, transfer utilities to public ownership upon payment of just compensation, there is no reason why the State may not require a public utility to render services in the general interest, provided just compensation is paid therefor. Ultimately, the beneficiary of the interconnecting service would be the users of both telephone systems, so that the condemnation would be for public use. The Bureau of Telecommunications, under section 78 (b) of Executive Order No. 94, may operate and maintain wire telephone or radio telephone communications throughout the Philippines by utilizing existing facilities in cities, towns, and provinces under such terms and conditions or arrangement with present owners or operators as may be agreed upon to the satisfaction of all concerned; but there is nothing in this section that would exclude resort to condemnation proceedings where unreasonable or unjust terms and conditions are exacted, to the extent of crippling or seriously hampering the operations of said Bureau. A perusal of the complaint shows that the Republic's cause of action is predicated upon the radio telephonic isolation of the Bureau's facilities from the outside world if the severance of interconnection were to be carried out by the PLDT, thereby preventing the Bureau of Telecommunications from properly discharging its functions, to the prejudice of the general public. Save for the prayer to compel the PLDT to enter into a contract (and the prayer is no essential part of

the pleading), the averments make out a case for compulsory rendering of inter-connecting services by the telephone company upon such terms and conditions as the court may determine to be just. And since the lower court found that both parties "are practically at one that defendant (PLDT) is entitled to reasonable compensation from plaintiff for the reasonable use of the former's telephone facilities" (Decision, Record on Appeal, page 224), the lower court should have proceeded to treat the case as one of condemnation of such services independently of contract and proceeded to determine the just and reasonable compensation for the same, instead of dismissing the petition. This view we have taken of the true nature of the Republic's petition necessarily results in overruling the plea of defendantappellant PLDT that the court of first instance had no jurisdiction to entertain the petition and that the proper forum for the action was the Public Service Commission. That body, under the law, has no authority to pass upon actions for the taking of private property under the sovereign right of eminent domain. Furthermore, while the defendant telephone company is a public utility corporation whose franchise, equipment and other properties are under the jurisdiction, supervision and control of the Public Service Commission (Sec. 13, Public Service Act), yet the plaintiff's telecommunications network is a public service owned by the Republic and operated by an instrumentality of the National Government, hence exempt, under Section 14 of the Public Service Act, from such jurisdiction, supervision and control. The Bureau of Telecommunications was created in pursuance of a state policy reorganizing the government offices — to meet the exigencies attendant upon the establishment of the free and independent Government of the Republic of the Philippines, and for the purpose of promoting simplicity, economy and efficiency in its operation (Section 1, Republic Act No. 51) —

and the determination of state policy is not vested in the Commission (Utilities Com. vs. Bartonville Bus Line, 290 Ill. 574; 124 N.E. 373). Defendant PLDT, as appellant, contends that the court below was in error in not holding that the Bureau of Telecommunications was not empowered to engage in commercial telephone business, and in ruling that said defendant was not justified in disconnecting the telephone trunk lines it had previously leased to the Bureau. We find that the court a quo ruled correctly in rejecting both assertions. Executive Order No. 94, Series of 1947, reorganizing the Bureau of Telecommunications, expressly empowered the latter in its Section 79, subsection (b), to "negotiate for, operate and maintain wire telephone or radio telephone communication service throughout the Philippines", and, in subsection (c), "to prescribe, subject to approval by the Department Head, equitable rates of charges for messages handled by the system and/or for time calls and other services that may be rendered by the system". Nothing in these provisions limits the Bureau to non-commercial activities or prevents it from serving the general public. It may be that in its original prospectuses the Bureau officials had stated that the service would be limited to government offices: but such limitations could not block future expansion of the system, as authorized by the terms of the Executive Order, nor could the officials of the Bureau bind the Government not to engage in services that are authorized by law. It is a well-known rule that erroneous application and enforcement of the law by public officers do not block subsequent correct application of the statute (PLDT vs. Collector of Internal Revenue, 90 Phil. 676), and that the Government is never estopped by mistake or error on the part of its agents (Pineda vs. Court of First Instance of Tayabas, 52 Phil. 803, 807; Benguet Consolidated Mining Co. vs. Pineda, 98 Phil. 711, 724). The theses that the Bureau's commercial services constituted unfair competition, and that the Bureau was guilty of fraud and abuse under its contract, are, likewise, untenable.

First, the competition is merely hypothetical, the demand for telephone service being very much more than the supposed competitors can supply. As previously noted, the PLDT had 20,000 pending applications at the time, and the Bureau had another 5,000. The telephone company's inability to meet the demands for service are notorious even now. Second, the charter of the defendant expressly provides: SEC. 14. The rights herein granted shall not be exclusive, and the rights and power to grant to any corporation, association or person other than the grantee franchise for the telephone or electrical transmission of message or signals shall not be impaired or affected by the granting of this franchise: — (Act 3436) And third, as the trial court correctly stated, "when the Bureau of Telecommunications subscribed to the trunk lines, defendant knew or should have known that their use by the subscriber was more or less public and all embracing in nature, that is, throughout the Philippines, if not abroad" (Decision, Record on Appeal, page 216). The acceptance by the defendant of the payment of rentals, despite its knowledge that the plaintiff had extended the use of the trunk lines to commercial purposes, continuously since 1948, implies assent by the defendant to such extended use. Since this relationship has been maintained for a long time and the public has patronized both telephone systems, and their interconnection is to the public convenience, it is too late for the defendant to claim misuse of its facilities, and it is not now at liberty to unilaterally sever the physical connection of the trunk lines. ..., but there is high authority for the position that, when such physical connection has been voluntarily made, under a fair and workable arrangement and guaranteed by contract and the continuous line has come to be patronized and established as a great public convenience, such connection shall not in breach of the agreement be severed by one of the parties. In that case, the public is held to have such an interest in the arrangement that its

rights must receive due consideration. This position finds approval in State ex rel. vs. Cadwaller, 172 Ind. 619, 636, 87 N.E. 650, and is stated in the elaborate and learned opinion of Chief Justice Myers as follows: "Such physical connection cannot be required as of right, but if such connection is voluntarily made by contract, as is here alleged to be the case, so that the public acquires an interest in its continuance, the act of the parties in making such connection is equivalent to a declaration of a purpose to waive the primary right of independence, and it imposes upon the property such a public status that it may not be disregarded" — citing Mahan v. Mich. Tel. Co., 132 Mich. 242, 93 N.W. 629, and the reasons upon which it is in part made to rest are referred to in the same opinion, as follows: "Where private property is by the consent of the owner invested with a public interest or privilege for the benefit of the public, the owner can no longer deal with it as private property only, but must hold it subject to the right of the public in the exercise of that public interest or privilege conferred for their benefit." Allnut v. Inglis (1810) 12 East, 527. The doctrine of this early case is the acknowledged law. (ClintonDunn Tel. Co. v. Carolina Tel. & Tel. Co., 74 S.E. 636, 638). It is clear that the main reason for the objection of the PLDT lies in the fact that said appellant did not expect that the Bureau's telephone system would expand with such rapidity as it has done; but this expansion is no ground for the discontinuance of the service agreed upon. The last issue urged by the PLDT as appellant is its right to compensation for the use of its poles for bearing telephone wires of the Bureau of Telecommunications. Admitting that section 19 of the PLDT charter reserves to the Government — the privilege without compensation of using the poles of the grantee to attach one ten-pin cross-arm, and to install, maintain and operate wires of its telegraph system thereon; Provided, however, That the Bureau of Posts shall have the right to place additional cross-arms and wires on the poles of

the grantee by paying a compensation, the rate of which is to be agreed upon by the Director of Posts and the grantee; — the defendant counterclaimed for P8,772.00 for the use of its poles by the plaintiff, contending that what was allowed free use, under the aforequoted provision, was one ten-pin cross-arm attachment and only for plaintiff's telegraph system, not for its telephone system; that said section could not refer to the plaintiff's telephone system, because it did not have such telephone system when defendant acquired its franchise. The implication of the argument is that plaintiff has to pay for the use of defendant's poles if such use is for plaintiff's telephone system and has to pay also if it attaches more than one (1) ten-pin cross-arm for telegraphic purposes. As there is no proof that the telephone wires strain the poles of the PLDT more than the telegraph wires, nor that they cause more damage than the wires of the telegraph system, or that the Government has attached to the poles more than one ten-pin crossarm as permitted by the PLDT charter, we see no point in this assignment of error. So long as the burden to be borne by the PLDT poles is not increased, we see no reason why the reservation in favor of the telegraph wires of the government should not be extended to its telephone lines, any time that the government decided to engage also in this kind of communication. In the ultimate analysis, the true objection of the PLDT to continue the link between its network and that of the Government is that the latter competes "parasitically" (sic) with its own telephone services. Considering, however, that the PLDT franchise is nonexclusive; that it is well-known that defendant PLDT is unable to adequately cope with the current demands for telephone service, as shown by the number of pending applications therefor; and that the PLDT's right to just compensation for the services rendered to the Government telephone system and its users is herein recognized and preserved, the objections of defendant-appellant are without merit. To uphold the PLDT's contention is to subordinate the needs of the

general public to the right of the PLDT to derive profit from the future expansion of its services under its non-exclusive franchise. WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of First Instance, now under appeal, is affirmed, except in so far as it dismisses the petition of the Republic of the Philippines to compel the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company to continue servicing the Government telephone system upon such terms, and for a compensation, that the trial court may determine to be just, including the period elapsed from the filing of the original complaint or petition. And for this purpose, the records are ordered returned to the court of origin for further hearings and other proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion. No costs. Concepcion, C.J., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro, Fernando, Capistrano, Teehankee and Barredo, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1

Stipulated by parties (Record on Appeal, pages 70-72). Ibid. Ibid.

2

3

4

Exhibit "Q", folder of exhibits, pages 1-2, 11, 66-67, 69, 72-73, 82-83, 88.
5

T.s.n., 26 January 1959, page 11. Exhibit "12-A".

6

7

Partial Stipulation of Facts and its Annex "D", record on appeal, pages 72, 134-135.
8

Exhibit "16", page 49. T.s.n., 9 March 1960, page 9.

9

10

T.s.n., 9 March 1960, page 57.

11

Annex "M" to Partial Stipulation of Facts, record on appeal, page 164-177.
12

T.s.n., 9 March 1960, pages 30-31. Annex "P", record on appeal, pages 184-186. Partial Stipulation of Facts, record on appeal page 78. Decision, record on appeal, pages 221-222.

13

14

15

16

Decision, record on appeal, page 211; Exhibit "3", record of exhibits, page 103; T.s.n., 9 March 1960, pages 56 and 59.
17

Ibid. Partial Stipulation of Facts, record on appeal, page 72. Partial Stipulation of Facts, record on appeal, page 77. June 20, 2000

18

19

G.R. No. 138896

BARANGAY SAN ROQUE, TALISAY, CEBU, petitioner, vs. Heirs of FRANCISCO PASTOR namely: EUGENIO SYLIANCO, TEODORO SYLIANCO, TEODORO SYLIANCO, ISABEL SYLIANCO, EUGENIA S. ONG, LAWRENCE SYLIANCO, LAWSON SYLIANCO, LAWINA S. NOTARIO, LEONARDO SYLIANCO JR. and LAWFORD SYLIANCO, respondents. PANGANIBAN, J.: An expropriation suit is incapable of pecuniary estimation. Accordingly, it falls within the jurisdiction of the regional trial courts, regardless of the value of the subject property. The Case

Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the March 29, 1999 Order1 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City (Branch 58) in Civil Case No. CEB-21978, in which it dismissed a Complaint for eminent domain. It ruled as follows: Premises considered, the motion to dismiss is hereby granted on the ground that this Court has no jurisdiction over the case. Accordingly, the Orders dated February 19, 1999 and February 26, 1999, as well as the Writ of Possession issued by virtue of the latter Order are hereby recalled for being without force and effect.2 Petitioner also challenges the May 14, 1999 Order of the RTC denying reconsideration. The Facts Petitioner filed before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Talisay, Cebu (Branch 1)3 a Complaint to expropriate a property of the respondents. In an Order dated April 8, 1997, the MTC dismissed the Complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. It reasoned that "[e]minent domain is an exercise of the power to take private property for public use after payment of just compensation. In an action for eminent domain, therefore, the principal cause of action is the exercise of such power or right. The fact that the action also involves real property is merely incidental. An action for eminent domain is therefore within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court and not with this Court."4 Assailed RTC Ruling The RTC also dismissed the Complaint when filed before it, holding that an action for eminent domain affected title to real property; hence, the value of the property to be expropriated would determine whether the case should be filed before the MTC or the RTC. Concluding that the action should have been filed before the MTC since the value of the subject property was less than P20,000, the RTC ratiocinated in this wise:

The instant action is for eminent domain. It appears from the current Tax Declaration of the land involved that its assessed value is only One Thousand Seven Hundred Forty Pesos (P1,740.00). Pursuant to Section 3, paragraph (3), of Republic Act No. 7691, all civil actions involving title to, or possession of, real property with an assessed value of less than P20,000.00 are within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Courts. In the case at bar, it is within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Court of Talisay, Cebu, where the property involved is located. The instant action for eminent domain or condemnation of real property is a real action affecting title to or possession of real property, hence, it is the assessed value of the property involved which determines the jurisdiction of the court. That the right of eminent domain or condemnation of real, property is included in a real action affecting title to or possession of real property, is pronounced by retired Justice Jose Y. Feria, thus, "Real actions are those affecting title to or possession of real property. These include partition or condemnation of, or foreclosures of mortgage on, real property. . . ." 5 Aggrieved, petitioner appealed directly to this Court, raising a pure question of law.6 In a Resolution dated July 28, 1999, the Court denied the Petition for Review "for being posted out of time on July 2, 1999, the due date being June 2, 1999, as the motion for extension of time to file petition was denied in the resolution of July 14, 1999."7 In a subsequent Resolution dated October 6, 1999, the Court reinstated the Petition.8 Issue In its Memorandum, petitioner submits this sole issue for the consideration of this Court: Which court, MTC or RTC, has jurisdiction over cases for eminent domain or expropriation where the assessed value of the subject property is below Twenty Thousand (P20,000.00) Pesos?9 This Court's Ruling

The Petition is meritorious. Main Issue: Jurisdiction over an Expropriation Suit In support of its appeal, petitioner cites Section 19 (1) of BP 129, which provides that RTCs shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over "all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation; . . . . ." It argues that the present action involves the exercise of the right to eminent domain, and that such right is incapable of pecuniary estimation. Respondents, on the other hand, contend that the Complaint for Eminent Domain affects the title to or possession of real property. Thus, they argue that the case should have been brought before the MTC, pursuant to BP 129 as amended by Section 3 (3) of RA 7691. This law provides that MTCs shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over all civil actions that involve title to or possession of real property, the assessed value of which does not exceed twenty thousand pesos or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, fifty thousand pesos exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney's fees, litigation expenses and costs. We agree with the petitioner that an expropriation suit is incapable of pecuniary estimation. The test to determine whether it is so was laid down by the Court in this wise: A review of the jurisprudence of this Court indicates that in determining whether an action is one the subject matter of which is not capable of pecuniary estimation, this Court has adopted the criterion of first ascertaining the nature of the principal action or remedy sought. If it is primarily for the recovery of a sum of money, the claim is considered capable of pecuniary estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts or in the courts of first instance would depend on the amount of the claim. However, where the basic issue is something other than the right to recover a sum of money, or where the money claim is purely

incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal relief sought, like in suits to have the defendant perform his part of the contract (specific performance) and in actions for support, or for annulment of a judgment or to foreclose a mortgage, this Court has considered such actions as cases where the subject of the litigation may not be estimated in terms of money, and are cognizable exclusively by courts of first instance. The rationale of the rule is plainly that the second class cases, besides the determination of damages, demand an inquiry into other factors which the law has deemed to be more within the competence of courts of first instance, which were the lowest courts of record at the time that the first organic laws of the Judiciary were enacted allocating jurisdiction (Act 136 of the Philippine Commission of June 11, 1901). 10 In the present case, an expropriation suit does not involve the recovery of a sum of money. Rather, it deals with the exercise by the government of its authority and right to take private property for public use. 11 In National Power Corporation v. Jocson, 12 the Court ruled that expropriation proceedings have two phases: The first is concerned with the 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. It ends with an order, if not of dismissal of the action, "of condemnation 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." An order of dismissal, if this be ordained, would be a final one, of course, since it finally disposes of the action and leaves nothing more to be done by the Court on the merits. So, too, would an order of condemnation be a final one, for thereafter as the Rules expressly state, in the proceedings before the Trial Court, "no objection to the exercise of the right of condemnation (or the propriety thereof) shall be filed or heard."

The second phase of the eminent domain action is concerned with the determination by the court of "the just compensation for the property sought to be taken." This is done by the Court with the assistance of not more than three (3) commissioners. The order fixing the just compensation on the basis of the evidence before, and findings of, the commissioners would be final, too. It would finally dispose of the second stage of the suit, and leave nothing more to be done by the Court regarding the issue. . . . It should be stressed that the primary consideration in an expropriation suit is whether the government or any of its instrumentalities has complied with the requisites for the taking of private property. Hence, the courts determine the authority of the government entity, the necessity of the expropriation, and the observance of due process. 1 In the main, the subject of an expropriation suit is the government's exercise of eminent domain, a matter that is incapable of pecuniary estimation. True, the value of the property to be expropriated is estimated in monetary terms, for the court is duty-bound to determine the just compensation for it. This, however, is merely incidental to the expropriation suit. Indeed, that amount is determined only after the court is satisfied with the propriety of the expropriation.
1avv phi 1

Verily, the Court held in Republic of the Philippines v. Zurbano that "condemnation proceedings are within the jurisdiction of Courts of First Instance," 14 the forerunners of the regional trial courts. The said case was decided during the effectivity of the Judiciary Act of 1948 which, like BP 129 in respect to RTCs, provided that courts of first instance had original jurisdiction over "all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is not capable of pecuniary estimation." 15 The 1997 amendments to the Rules of Court were not intended to change these jurisprudential precedents. We are not persuaded by respondents' argument that the present action involves the title to or possession of a parcel of land. They cite the observation of retired Justice Jose Y. Feria, an eminent authority in remedial law, that condemnation or expropriation proceedings are

examples of real actions that affect the title to or possession of a parcel of land. 16 Their reliance is misplaced. Justice Feria sought merely to distinguish between real and personal actions. His discussion on this point pertained to the nature of actions, not to the jurisdiction of courts. In fact, in his pre-bar lectures, he emphasizes that jurisdiction over eminent domain cases is still within the RTCs under the 1997 Rules. To emphasize, the question in the present suit is whether the government may expropriate private property under the given set of circumstances. The government does not dispute respondents' title to or possession of the same. Indeed, it is not a question of who has a better title or right, for the government does not even claim that it has a title to the property. It merely asserts its inherent sovereign power to "appropriate and control individual property for the public benefit, as the public necessity, convenience or welfare may demand." 17 WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED and the assailed Orders SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court is directed to HEAR the case. No costs. SO ORDERED. Melo, Purisima and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur. Vitug, J., abroad — on official business.

Footnotes
1

Penned by Judge Jose P. Soberano Jr. Rollo, p. 22. Presided by Judge Mario V. Manayon. Rollo, pp. 20-21.

2

3

4

5

Rollo, p. 22.

6

The case was deemed submitted for decision on March 16, 2000, upon receipt by this Court of petitioner's Memorandum, signed by Atty. Marino E. Martinquilla of the Cebu Provincial Legal Office. Respondents' Memorandum, signed by Atty. Eustacio Ch. Veloso, was filed on March 8, 2000.
7

Rollo, p. 25. Ibid., p. 31. Petitioner's Memorandum, p. 5.

8

9

10

Lapitan v. Scandia, Inc., 24 SCRA 479, 481, July 31, 1968, per Reyes, J.B.L., J.; cited in De Leon v. Court of Appeals, 287 SCRA 94, 99, March 6, 1998.
11

Republic v. La Orden de PP. Benedictinos de Filipinas, 1 SCRA 646, February 28, 1961.
12

206 SCRA 520, 536, February 25, 1992, per Davide Jr., J.

13

Moday v. Court of Appeals, 268 SCRA 586, February 20, 1997.
14

105 Phil. 409, March 31, 1959, per Padilla, J. Sec. 44, Judiciary Act of 1948. Jose Feria, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, p. 18.

15

16

17

Herrera, Remedial Law, Vol. III, 1999 ed., p. 312, citing Cooley's Constitutional Limit, 8th ed., 1110. G.R. No. L-20620 August 15, 1974 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellant, vs. CARMEN M. VDA. DE CASTELLVI, ET AL., defendants-appellees.

Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellant. C.A. Mendoza & A. V. Raquiza and Alberto Cacnio & Associates for defendant-appellees.

ZALDIVAR, J.:p Appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga in its Civil Case No. 1623, an expropriation proceeding. Plaintiff-appellant, the Republic of the Philippines, (hereinafter referred to as the Republic) filed, on June 26, 1959, a complaint for eminent domain against defendant-appellee, Carmen M. Vda. de Castellvi, judicial administratrix of the estate of the late Alfonso de Castellvi (hereinafter referred to as Castellvi), over a parcel of land situated in the barrio of San Jose, Floridablanca, Pampanga, described as follows: A parcel of land, Lot No. 199-B Bureau of Lands Plan Swo 23666. Bounded on the NE by Maria Nieves ToledoGozun; on the SE by national road; on the SW by AFP reservation, and on the NW by AFP reservation. Containing an area of 759,299 square meters, more or less, and registered in the name of Alfonso Castellvi under TCT No. 13631 of the Register of Pampanga ...; and against defendant-appellee Maria Nieves Toledo Gozun (hereinafter referred to as Toledo-Gozun over two parcels of land described as follows: A parcel of land (Portion Lot Blk-1, Bureau of Lands Plan Psd, 26254. Bounded on the NE by Lot 3, on the SE by Lot 3; on the SW by Lot 1-B, Blk. 2 (equivalent to Lot 199-B Swo 23666; on the NW by AFP military reservation. Containing an area of 450,273 square meters, more or less and registered in the name of Maria Nieves Toledo-Gozun

under TCT No. 8708 of the Register of Deeds of Pampanga. ..., and A parcel of land (Portion of lot 3, Blk-1, Bureau of Lands Plan Psd 26254. Bounded on the NE by Lot No. 3, on the SE by school lot and national road, on the SW by Lot 1-B Blk 2 (equivalent to Lot 199-B Swo 23666), on the NW by Lot 1-B, Blk-1. Containing an area of 88,772 square meters, more or less, and registered in the name of Maria Nieves Toledo Gozun under TCT No. 8708 of the Register of Deeds of Pampanga, .... In its complaint, the Republic alleged, among other things, that the fair market value of the above-mentioned lands, according to the Committee on Appraisal for the Province of Pampanga, was not more than P2,000 per hectare, or a total market value of P259,669.10; and prayed, that the provisional value of the lands be fixed at P259.669.10, that the court authorizes plaintiff to take immediate possession of the lands upon deposit of that amount with the Provincial Treasurer of Pampanga; that the court appoints three commissioners to ascertain and report to the court the just compensation for the property sought to be expropriated, and that the court issues thereafter a final order of condemnation. On June 29, 1959 the trial court issued an order fixing the provisional value of the lands at P259,669.10. In her "motion to dismiss" filed on July 14, 1959, Castellvi alleged, among other things, that the land under her administration, being a residential land, had a fair market value of P15.00 per square meter, so it had a total market value of P11,389,485.00; that the Republic, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly the Philippine Air Force, had been, despite repeated demands, illegally occupying her property since July 1, 1956, thereby preventing her from using and disposing of it, thus causing her damages by way of unrealized profits. This defendant prayed that the complaint be dismissed, or that the Republic be ordered to pay her P15.00 per square meter, or a total of P11,389,485.00, plus interest thereon at 6% per annum from July 1,

1956; that the Republic be ordered to pay her P5,000,000.00 as unrealized profits, and the costs of the suit. By order of the trial court, dated August, 1959, Amparo C. Diaz, Dolores G. viuda de Gil, Paloma Castellvi, Carmen Castellvi, Rafael Castellvi, Luis Castellvi, Natividad Castellvi de Raquiza, Jose Castellvi and Consuelo Castellvi were allowed to intervene as parties defendants. Subsequently, Joaquin V. Gozun, Jr., husband of defendant Nieves Toledo Gozun, was also allowed by the court to intervene as a party defendant. After the Republic had deposited with the Provincial Treasurer of Pampanga the amount of P259,669.10, the trial court ordered that the Republic be placed in possession of the lands. The Republic was actually placed in possession of the lands on August 10, 1959. 1 In her "motion to dismiss", dated October 22, 1959, Toledo-Gozun alleged, among other things, that her two parcels of land were residential lands, in fact a portion with an area of 343,303 square meters had already been subdivided into different lots for sale to the general public, and the remaining portion had already been set aside for expansion sites of the already completed subdivisions; that the fair market value of said lands was P15.00 per square meter, so they had a total market value of P8,085,675.00; and she prayed that the complaint be dismissed, or that she be paid the amount of P8,085,675.00, plus interest thereon at the rate of 6% per annum from October 13, 1959, and attorney's fees in the amount of P50,000.00. Intervenors Jose Castellvi and Consuelo Castellvi in their answer, filed on February 11, 1960, and also intervenor Joaquin Gozun, Jr., husband of defendant Maria Nieves Toledo-Gozun, in his motion to dismiss, dated May 27, 1960, all alleged that the value of the lands sought to be expropriated was at the rate of P15.00 per square meter. On November 4, 1959, the trial court authorized the Provincial Treasurer of Pampanga to pay defendant Toledo-Gozun the sum of P107,609.00 as provisional value of her lands. 2 On May 16, 1960 the

trial Court authorized the Provincial Treasurer of Pampanga to pay defendant Castellvi the amount of P151,859.80 as provisional value of the land under her administration, and ordered said defendant to deposit the amount with the Philippine National Bank under the supervision of the Deputy Clerk of Court. In another order of May 16, 1960 the trial Court entered an order of condemnation. 3 The trial Court appointed three commissioners: Atty. Amadeo Yuzon, Clerk of Court, as commissioner for the court; Atty. Felicisimo G. Pamandanan, counsel of the Philippine National Bank Branch at Floridablanca, for the plaintiff; and Atty. Leonardo F. Lansangan, Filipino legal counsel at Clark Air Base, for the defendants. The Commissioners, after having qualified themselves, proceeded to the performance of their duties. On March 15,1961 the Commissioners submitted their report and recommendation, wherein, after having determined that the lands sought to be expropriated were residential lands, they recommended unanimously that the lowest price that should be paid was P10.00 per square meter, for both the lands of Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun; that an additional P5,000.00 be paid to Toledo-Gozun for improvements found on her land; that legal interest on the compensation, computed from August 10, 1959, be paid after deducting the amounts already paid to the owners, and that no consequential damages be awarded. 4 The Commissioners' report was objected to by all the parties in the case — by defendants Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun, who insisted that the fair market value of their lands should be fixed at P15.00 per square meter; and by the Republic, which insisted that the price to be paid for the lands should be fixed at P0.20 per square meter. 5 After the parties-defendants and intervenors had filed their respective memoranda, and the Republic, after several extensions of time, had adopted as its memorandum its objections to the report of the Commissioners, the trial court, on May 26, 1961, rendered its decision 6 the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, taking into account all the foregoing circumstances, and that the lands are titled, ... the rising trend of land values ..., and the lowered purchasing power of the Philippine peso, the court finds that the unanimous recommendation of the commissioners of ten (P10.00) pesos per square meter for the three lots of the defendants subject of this action is fair and just. xxx xxx xxx The plaintiff will pay 6% interest per annum on the total value of the lands of defendant Toledo-Gozun since (sic) the amount deposited as provisional value from August 10, 1959 until full payment is made to said defendant or deposit therefor is made in court. In respect to the defendant Castellvi, interest at 6% per annum will also be paid by the plaintiff to defendant Castellvi from July 1, 1956 when plaintiff commenced its illegal possession of the Castellvi land when the instant action had not yet been commenced to July 10, 1959 when the provisional value thereof was actually deposited in court, on the total value of the said (Castellvi) land as herein adjudged. The same rate of interest shall be paid from July 11, 1959 on the total value of the land herein adjudged minus the amount deposited as provisional value, or P151,859.80, such interest to run until full payment is made to said defendant or deposit therefor is made in court. All the intervenors having failed to produce evidence in support of their respective interventions, said interventions are ordered dismissed. The costs shall be charged to the plaintiff. On June 21, 1961 the Republic filed a motion for a new trial and/or reconsideration, upon the grounds of newly-discovered evidence, that the decision was not supported by the evidence, and that the decision was against the law, against which motion defendants Castellvi and

Toledo-Gozun filed their respective oppositions. On July 8, 1961 when the motion of the Republic for new trial and/or reconsideration was called for hearing, the Republic filed a supplemental motion for new trial upon the ground of additional newly-discovered evidence. This motion for new trial and/or reconsideration was denied by the court on July 12, 1961. On July 17, 1961 the Republic gave notice of its intention to appeal from the decision of May 26, 1961 and the order of July 12, 1961. Defendant Castellvi also filed, on July 17, 1961, her notice of appeal from the decision of the trial court. The Republic filed various ex-parte motions for extension of time within which to file its record on appeal. The Republic's record on appeal was finally submitted on December 6, 1961. Defendants Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun filed not only a joint opposition to the approval of the Republic's record on appeal, but also a joint memorandum in support of their opposition. The Republic also filed a memorandum in support of its prayer for the approval of its record on appeal. On December 27, 1961 the trial court issued an order declaring both the record on appeal filed by the Republic, and the record on appeal filed by defendant Castellvi as having been filed out of time, thereby dismissing both appeals. On January 11, 1962 the Republic filed a "motion to strike out the order of December 27, 1961 and for reconsideration", and subsequently an amended record on appeal, against which motion the defendants Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun filed their opposition. On July 26, 1962 the trial court issued an order, stating that "in the interest of expediency, the questions raised may be properly and finally determined by the Supreme Court," and at the same time it ordered the Solicitor General to submit a record on appeal containing copies of orders and pleadings specified therein. In an order dated November 19, 1962, the trial court approved the Republic's record on appeal as amended.

Defendant Castellvi did not insist on her appeal. Defendant ToledoGozun did not appeal. The motion to dismiss the Republic's appeal was reiterated by appellees Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun before this Court, but this Court denied the motion. In her motion of August 11, 1964, appellee Castellvi sought to increase the provisional value of her land. The Republic, in its comment on Castellvi's motion, opposed the same. This Court denied Castellvi's motion in a resolution dated October 2,1964. The motion of appellees, Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun, dated October 6, 1969, praying that they be authorized to mortgage the lands subject of expropriation, was denied by this Court or October 14, 1969. On February 14, 1972, Attys. Alberto Cacnio, and Associates, counsel for the estate of the late Don Alfonso de Castellvi in the expropriation proceedings, filed a notice of attorney's lien, stating that as per agreement with the administrator of the estate of Don Alfonso de Castellvi they shall receive by way of attorney's fees, "the sum equivalent to ten per centum of whatever the court may finally decide as the expropriated price of the property subject matter of the case." --------Before this Court, the Republic contends that the lower court erred: 1. In finding the price of P10 per square meter of the lands subject of the instant proceedings as just compensation; 2. In holding that the "taking" of the properties under expropriation commenced with the filing of this action; 3. In ordering plaintiff-appellant to pay 6% interest on the adjudged value of the Castellvi property to start from July of 1956;

4. In denying plaintiff-appellant's motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence. In its brief, the Republic discusses the second error assigned as the first issue to be considered. We shall follow the sequence of the Republic's discussion. 1. In support of the assigned error that the lower court erred in holding that the "taking" of the properties under expropriation commenced with the filing of the complaint in this case, the Republic argues that the "taking" should be reckoned from the year 1947 when by virtue of a special lease agreement between the Republic and appellee Castellvi, the former was granted the "right and privilege" to buy the property should the lessor wish to terminate the lease, and that in the event of such sale, it was stipulated that the fair market value should be as of the time of occupancy; and that the permanent improvements amounting to more that half a million pesos constructed during a period of twelve years on the land, subject of expropriation, were indicative of an agreed pattern of permanency and stability of occupancy by the Philippine Air Force in the interest of national Security. 7 Appellee Castellvi, on the other hand, maintains that the "taking" of property under the power of eminent domain requires two essential elements, to wit: (1) entrance and occupation by condemn or upon the private property for more than a momentary or limited period, and (2) devoting it to a public use in such a way as to oust the owner and deprive him of all beneficial enjoyment of the property. This appellee argues that in the instant case the first element is wanting, for the contract of lease relied upon provides for a lease from year to year; that the second element is also wanting, because the Republic was paying the lessor Castellvi a monthly rental of P445.58; and that the contract of lease does not grant the Republic the "right and privilege" to buy the premises "at the value at the time of occupancy." 8 Appellee Toledo-Gozun did not comment on the Republic's argument in support of the second error assigned, because as far as she was

concerned the Republic had not taken possession of her lands prior to August 10, 1959. 9 In order to better comprehend the issues raised in the appeal, in so far as the Castellvi property is concerned, it should be noted that the Castellvi property had been occupied by the Philippine Air Force since 1947 under a contract of lease, typified by the contract marked Exh. 4Castellvi, the pertinent portions of which read: CONTRACT OF LEASE This AGREEMENT OF LEASE MADE AND ENTERED into by and between INTESTATE ESTATE OF ALFONSO DE CASTELLVI, represented by CARMEN M. DE CASTELLVI, Judicial Administratrix ... hereinafter called the LESSOR and THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES represented by MAJ. GEN. CALIXTO DUQUE, Chief of Staff of the ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, hereinafter called the LESSEE, WITNESSETH: 1. For and in consideration of the rentals hereinafter reserved and the mutual terms, covenants and conditions of the parties, the LESSOR has, and by these presents does, lease and let unto the LESSEE the following described land together with the improvements thereon and appurtenances thereof, viz: Un Terreno, Lote No. 27 del Plano de subdivision Psu 34752, parte de la hacienda de Campauit, situado en el Barrio de San Jose, Municipio de Floridablanca Pampanga. ... midiendo una extension superficial de cuatro milliones once mil cuatro cientos trienta y cinco (4,001,435) [sic] metros cuadrados, mas o menos.

Out of the above described property, 75.93 hectares thereof are actually occupied and covered by this contract. . Above lot is more particularly described in TCT No. 1016, province of Pampanga ... of which premises, the LESSOR warrants that he/she/they/is/are the registered owner(s) and with full authority to execute a contract of this nature. 2. The term of this lease shall be for the period beginning July 1, 1952 the date the premises were occupied by the PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE, AFP until June 30, 1953, subject to renewal for another year at the option of the LESSEE or unless sooner terminated by the LESSEE as hereinafter provided. 3. The LESSOR hereby warrants that the LESSEE shall have quiet, peaceful and undisturbed possession of the demised premises throughout the full term or period of this lease and the LESSOR undertakes without cost to the LESSEE to eject all trespassers, but should the LESSOR fail to do so, the LESSEE at its option may proceed to do so at the expense of the LESSOR. The LESSOR further agrees that should he/she/they sell or encumber all or any part of the herein described premises during the period of this lease, any conveyance will be conditioned on the right of the LESSEE hereunder. 4. The LESSEE shall pay to the LESSOR as monthly rentals under this lease the sum of FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY-FIVE PESOS & 58/100 (P455.58) ... 5. The LESSEE may, at any time prior to the termination of this lease, use the property for any purpose or purposes and, at its own costs and expense make alteration, install

facilities and fixtures and errect additions ... which facilities or fixtures ... so placed in, upon or attached to the said premises shall be and remain property of the LESSEE and may be removed therefrom by the LESSEE prior to the termination of this lease. The LESSEE shall surrender possession of the premises upon the expiration or termination of this lease and if so required by the LESSOR, shall return the premises in substantially the same condition as that existing at the time same were first occupied by the AFP, reasonable and ordinary wear and tear and damages by the elements or by circumstances over which the LESSEE has no control excepted: PROVIDED, that if the LESSOR so requires the return of the premises in such condition, the LESSOR shall give written notice thereof to the LESSEE at least twenty (20) days before the termination of the lease and provided, further, that should the LESSOR give notice within the time specified above, the LESSEE shall have the right and privilege to compensate the LESSOR at the fair value or the equivalent, in lieu of performance of its obligation, if any, to restore the premises. Fair value is to be determined as the value at the time of occupancy less fair wear and tear and depreciation during the period of this lease. 6. The LESSEE may terminate this lease at any time during the term hereof by giving written notice to the LESSOR at least thirty (30) days in advance ... 7. The LESSEE should not be responsible, except under special legislation for any damages to the premises by reason of combat operations, acts of GOD, the elements or other acts and deeds not due to the negligence on the part of the LESSEE.
8. This LEASE AGREEMENT supersedes and voids any and all agreements and undertakings, oral or written, previously entered into between the parties covering the property herein leased, the same having been merged herein. This AGREEMENT may not be modified or altered except by instrument in writing only duly signed by the 10 parties.

It was stipulated by the parties, that "the foregoing contract of lease (Exh. 4, Castellvi) is 'similar in terms and conditions, including the date', with the annual contracts entered into from year to year between defendant Castellvi and the Republic of the Philippines (p. 17, t.s.n., Vol. III)". 11 It is undisputed, therefore, that the Republic occupied Castellvi's land from July 1, 1947, by virtue of the abovementioned contract, on a year to year basis (from July 1 of each year to June 30 of the succeeding year) under the terms and conditions therein stated. Before the expiration of the contract of lease on June 30, 1956 the Republic sought to renew the same but Castellvi refused. When the AFP refused to vacate the leased premises after the termination of the contract, on July 11, 1956, Castellvi wrote to the Chief of Staff, AFP, informing the latter that the heirs of the property had decided not to continue leasing the property in question because they had decided to subdivide the land for sale to the general public, demanding that the property be vacated within 30 days from receipt of the letter, and that the premises be returned in substantially the same condition as before occupancy (Exh. 5 — Castellvi). A follow-up letter was sent on January 12, 1957, demanding the delivery and return of the property within one month from said date (Exh. 6 Castellvi). On January 30, 1957, Lieutenant General Alfonso Arellano, Chief of Staff, answered the letter of Castellvi, saying that it was difficult for the army to vacate the premises in view of the permanent installations and other facilities worth almost P500,000.00 that were erected and already established on the property, and that, there being no other recourse, the acquisition of the property by means of expropriation proceedings would be recommended to the President (Exhibit "7" — Castellvi). Defendant Castellvi then brought suit in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga, in Civil Case No. 1458, to eject the Philippine Air Force from the land. While this ejectment case was pending, the Republic instituted these expropriation proceedings, and, as stated earlier in this opinion, the Republic was placed in possession of the lands on August 10, 1959, On November 21, 1959, the Court of First Instance

of Pampanga, dismissed Civil Case No. 1458, upon petition of the parties, in an order which, in part, reads as follows: 1. Plaintiff has agreed, as a matter of fact has already signed an agreement with defendants, whereby she has agreed to receive the rent of the lands, subject matter of the instant case from June 30, 1966 up to 1959 when the Philippine Air Force was placed in possession by virtue of an order of the Court upon depositing the provisional amount as fixed by the Provincial Appraisal Committee with the Provincial Treasurer of Pampanga;
2. That because of the above-cited agreement wherein the administratrix decided to get the rent corresponding to the rent from 1956 up to 1959 and considering that this action is one of illegal detainer and/or to recover the possession of said land by virtue of nonpayment of rents, the instant case now has become moot and academic and/or by virtue of the agreement signed by plaintiff, she has waived her cause of action in the above12 entitled case.

The Republic urges that the "taking " of Castellvi's property should be deemed as of the year 1947 by virtue of afore-quoted lease agreement. In American Jurisprudence, Vol. 26, 2nd edition, Section 157, on the subject of "Eminent Domain, we read the definition of "taking" (in eminent domain) as follows:
Taking' under the power of eminent domain may be defined generally as entering upon private property for more than a momentary period, and, under the warrant or color of legal authority, devoting it to a public use, or otherwise informally appropriating or injuriously affecting it in such a way as substantially to oust the owner and deprive him of 13 all beneficial enjoyment thereof.

Pursuant to the aforecited authority, a number of circumstances must be present in the "taking" of property for purposes of eminent domain. First, the expropriator must enter a private property. This circumstance is present in the instant case, when by virtue of the lease agreement the Republic, through the AFP, took possession of the property of Castellvi. Second, the entrance into private property must be for more than a momentary period. "Momentary" means, "lasting but a moment; of but a moment's duration" (The Oxford English Dictionary, Volume VI,

page 596); "lasting a very short time; transitory; having a very brief life; operative or recurring at every moment" (Webster's Third International Dictionary, 1963 edition.) The word "momentary" when applied to possession or occupancy of (real) property should be construed to mean "a limited period" — not indefinite or permanent. The aforecited lease contract was for a period of one year, renewable from year to year. The entry on the property, under the lease, is temporary, and considered transitory. The fact that the Republic, through the AFP, constructed some installations of a permanent nature does not alter the fact that the entry into the land was transitory, or intended to last a year, although renewable from year to year by consent of 'The owner of the land. By express provision of the lease agreement the Republic, as lessee, undertook to return the premises in substantially the same condition as at the time the property was first occupied by the AFP. It is claimed that the intention of the lessee was to occupy the land permanently, as may be inferred from the construction of permanent improvements. But this "intention" cannot prevail over the clear and express terms of the lease contract. Intent is to be deduced from the language employed by the parties, and the terms 'of the contract, when unambiguous, as in the instant case, are conclusive in the absence of averment and proof of mistake or fraud — the question being not what the intention was, but what is expressed in the language used. (City of Manila v. Rizal Park Co., Inc., 53 Phil. 515, 525); Magdalena Estate, Inc. v. Myrick, 71 Phil. 344, 348). Moreover, in order to judge the intention of the contracting parties, their contemporaneous and subsequent acts shall be principally considered (Art. 1371, Civil Code). If the intention of the lessee (Republic) in 1947 was really to occupy permanently Castellvi's property, why was the contract of lease entered into on year to year basis? Why was the lease agreement renewed from year to year? Why did not the Republic expropriate this land of Castellvi in 1949 when, according to the Republic itself, it expropriated the other parcels of land that it occupied at the same time as the Castellvi land, for the purpose of converting them into a jet air base? 14 It might really have been the intention of the Republic to expropriate the lands in question at some future time, but certainly mere notice - much less an implied notice — of such intention on the part of the Republic to expropriate

the lands in the future did not, and could not, bind the landowner, nor bind the land itself. The expropriation must be actually commenced in court (Republic vs. Baylosis, et al., 96 Phil. 461, 484). Third, the entry into the property should be under warrant or color of legal authority. This circumstance in the "taking" may be considered as present in the instant case, because the Republic entered the Castellvi property as lessee. Fourth, the property must be devoted to a public use or otherwise informally appropriated or injuriously affected. It may be conceded that the circumstance of the property being devoted to public use is present because the property was used by the air force of the AFP. Fifth, the utilization of the property for public use must be in such a way as to oust the owner and deprive him of all beneficial enjoyment of the property. In the instant case, the entry of the Republic into the property and its utilization of the same for public use did not oust Castellvi and deprive her of all beneficial enjoyment of the property. Castellvi remained as owner, and was continuously recognized as owner by the Republic, as shown by the renewal of the lease contract from year to year, and by the provision in the lease contract whereby the Republic undertook to return the property to Castellvi when the lease was terminated. Neither was Castellvi deprived of all the beneficial enjoyment of the property, because the Republic was bound to pay, and had been paying, Castellvi the agreed monthly rentals until the time when it filed the complaint for eminent domain on June 26, 1959. It is clear, therefore, that the "taking" of Catellvi's property for purposes of eminent domain cannot be considered to have taken place in 1947 when the Republic commenced to occupy the property as lessee thereof. We find merit in the contention of Castellvi that two essential elements in the "taking" of property under the power of eminent domain, namely: (1) that the entrance and occupation by the condemnor must be for a permanent, or indefinite period, and (2) that in devoting the property to public use the owner was ousted from the

property and deprived of its beneficial use, were not present when the Republic entered and occupied the Castellvi property in 1947. Untenable also is the Republic's contention that although the contract between the parties was one of lease on a year to year basis, it was "in reality a more or less permanent right to occupy the premises under the guise of lease with the 'right and privilege' to buy the property should the lessor wish to terminate the lease," and "the right to buy the property is merged as an integral part of the lease relationship ... so much so that the fair market value has been agreed upon, not, as of the time of purchase, but as of the time of occupancy" 15 We cannot accept the Republic's contention that a lease on a year to year basis can give rise to a permanent right to occupy, since by express legal provision a lease made for a determinate time, as was the lease of Castellvi's land in the instant case, ceases upon the day fixed, without need of a demand (Article 1669, Civil Code). Neither can it be said that the right of eminent domain may be exercised by simply leasing the premises to be expropriated (Rule 67, Section 1, Rules of Court). Nor can it be accepted that the Republic would enter into a contract of lease where its real intention was to buy, or why the Republic should enter into a simulated contract of lease ("under the guise of lease", as expressed by counsel for the Republic) when all the time the Republic had the right of eminent domain, and could expropriate Castellvi's land if it wanted to without resorting to any guise whatsoever. Neither can we see how a right to buy could be merged in a contract of lease in the absence of any agreement between the parties to that effect. To sustain the contention of the Republic is to sanction a practice whereby in order to secure a low price for a land which the government intends to expropriate (or would eventually expropriate) it would first negotiate with the owner of the land to lease the land (for say ten or twenty years) then expropriate the same when the lease is about to terminate, then claim that the "taking" of the property for the purposes of the expropriation be reckoned as of the date when the Government started to occupy the property under the lease, and then assert that the value of the property being expropriated be reckoned as of the start of the lease, in spite of the fact that the value of the property, for many good reasons,

had in the meantime increased during the period of the lease. This would be sanctioning what obviously is a deceptive scheme, which would have the effect of depriving the owner of the property of its true and fair market value at the time when the expropriation proceedings were actually instituted in court. The Republic's claim that it had the "right and privilege" to buy the property at the value that it had at the time when it first occupied the property as lessee nowhere appears in the lease contract. What was agreed expressly in paragraph No. 5 of the lease agreement was that, should the lessor require the lessee to return the premises in the same condition as at the time the same was first occupied by the AFP, the lessee would have the "right and privilege" (or option) of paying the lessor what it would fairly cost to put the premises in the same condition as it was at the commencement of the lease, in lieu of the lessee's performance of the undertaking to put the land in said condition. The "fair value" at the time of occupancy, mentioned in the lease agreement, does not refer to the value of the property if bought by the lessee, but refers to the cost of restoring the property in the same condition as of the time when the lessee took possession of the property. Such fair value cannot refer to the purchase price, for purchase was never intended by the parties to the lease contract. It is a rule in the interpretation of contracts that "However general the terms of a contract may be, they shall not be understood to comprehend things that are distinct and cases that are different from those upon which the parties intended to agree" (Art. 1372, Civil Code). We hold, therefore, that the "taking" of the Castellvi property should not be reckoned as of the year 1947 when the Republic first occupied the same pursuant to the contract of lease, and that the just compensation to be paid for the Castellvi property should not be determined on the basis of the value of the property as of that year. The lower court did not commit an error when it held that the "taking" of the property under expropriation commenced with the filing of the complaint in this case. Under Section 4 of Rule 67 of the Rules of Court, 16 the "just compensation" is to be determined as of the date of the filing of the

complaint. This Court has ruled that when the taking of the property sought to be expropriated coincides with the commencement of the expropriation proceedings, or takes place subsequent to the filing of the complaint for eminent domain, the just compensation should be determined as of the date of the filing of the complaint. (Republic vs. Philippine National Bank, L-14158, April 12, 1961, 1 SCRA 957, 961962). In the instant case, it is undisputed that the Republic was placed in possession of the Castellvi property, by authority of the court, on August 10, 1959. The "taking" of the Castellvi property for the purposes of determining the just compensation to be paid must, therefore, be reckoned as of June 26, 1959 when the complaint for eminent domain was filed. Regarding the two parcels of land of Toledo-Gozun, also sought to be expropriated, which had never been under lease to the Republic, the Republic was placed in possession of said lands, also by authority of the court, on August 10, 1959, The taking of those lands, therefore, must also be reckoned as of June 26, 1959, the date of the filing of the complaint for eminent domain. 2. Regarding the first assigned error — discussed as the second issue — the Republic maintains that, even assuming that the value of the expropriated lands is to be determined as of June 26, 1959, the price of P10.00 per square meter fixed by the lower court "is not only exhorbitant but also unconscionable, and almost fantastic". On the other hand, both Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun maintain that their lands are residential lands with a fair market value of not less than P15.00 per square meter. The lower court found, and declared, that the lands of Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun are residential lands. The finding of the lower court is in consonance with the unanimous opinion of the three commissioners who, in their report to the court, declared that the lands are residential lands. The Republic assails the finding that the lands are residential, contending that the plans of the appellees to convert the lands into subdivision for residential purposes were only on paper, there being

no overt acts on the part of the appellees which indicated that the subdivision project had been commenced, so that any compensation to be awarded on the basis of the plans would be speculative. The Republic's contention is not well taken. We find evidence showing that the lands in question had ceased to be devoted to the production of agricultural crops, that they had become adaptable for residential purposes, and that the appellees had actually taken steps to convert their lands into residential subdivisions even before the Republic filed the complaint for eminent domain. In the case of City of Manila vs. Corrales (32 Phil. 82, 98) this Court laid down basic guidelines in determining the value of the property expropriated for public purposes. This Court said: In determining the value of land appropriated for public purposes, the same consideration are to be regarded as in a sale of property between private parties. The inquiry, in such cases, must be what is the property worth in the market, viewed not merely with reference to the uses to which it is at the time applied, but with reference to the uses to which it is plainly adapted, that is to say, What is it worth from its availability for valuable uses? So many and varied are the circumstances to be taken into account in determining the value of property condemned for public purposes, that it is practically impossible to formulate a rule to govern its appraisement in all cases. Exceptional circumstances will modify the most carefully guarded rule, but, as a general thing, we should say that the compensation of the owner is to be estimated by reference to the use for which the property is suitable, having regard to the existing business or wants of the community, or such as may be reasonably expected in the immediate future. (Miss. and Rum River Boom Co. vs. Patterson, 98 U.S., 403). In expropriation proceedings, therefore, the owner of the land has the right to its value for the use for which it would bring the most in the market. 17 The owner may thus show every advantage that his

property possesses, present and prospective, in order that the price it could be sold for in the market may be satisfactorily determined. 18 The owner may also show that the property is suitable for division into village or town lots. 19 The trial court, therefore, correctly considered, among other circumstances, the proposed subdivision plans of the lands sought to be expropriated in finding that those lands are residential lots. This finding of the lower court is supported not only by the unanimous opinion of the commissioners, as embodied in their report, but also by the Provincial Appraisal Committee of the province of Pampanga composed of the Provincial Treasurer, the Provincial Auditor and the District Engineer. In the minutes of the meeting of the Provincial Appraisal Committee, held on May 14, 1959 (Exh. 13-Castellvi) We read in its Resolution No. 10 the following: 3. Since 1957 the land has been classified as residential in view of its proximity to the air base and due to the fact that it was not being devoted to agriculture. In fact, there is a plan to convert it into a subdivision for residential purposes. The taxes due on the property have been paid based on its classification as residential land; The evidence shows that Castellvi broached the idea of subdividing her land into residential lots as early as July 11, 1956 in her letter to the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (Exh. 5Castellvi) As a matter of fact, the layout of the subdivision plan was tentatively approved by the National Planning Commission on September 7, 1956. (Exh. 8-Castellvi). The land of Castellvi had not been devoted to agriculture since 1947 when it was leased to the Philippine Army. In 1957 said land was classified as residential, and taxes based on its classification as residential had been paid since then (Exh. 13-Castellvi). The location of the Castellvi land justifies its suitability for a residential subdivision. As found by the trial court, "It is at the left side of the entrance of the Basa Air Base and bounded on two sides by roads (Exh. 13-Castellvi), paragraphs 1 and 2, Exh. 12Castellvi), the poblacion, (of Floridablanca) the municipal building, and

the Pampanga Sugar Mills are closed by. The barrio schoolhouse and chapel are also near (T.S.N. November 23,1960, p. 68)." 20 The lands of Toledo-Gozun (Lot 1-B and Lot 3) are practically of the same condition as the land of Castellvi. The lands of Toledo-Gozun adjoin the land of Castellvi. They are also contiguous to the Basa Air Base, and are along the road. These lands are near the barrio schoolhouse, the barrio chapel, the Pampanga Sugar Mills, and the poblacion of Floridablanca (Exhs. 1, 3 and 4-Toledo-Gozun). As a matter of fact, regarding lot 1-B it had already been surveyed and subdivided, and its conversion into a residential subdivision was tentatively approved by the National Planning Commission on July 8, 1959 (Exhs. 5 and 6 Toledo-Gozun). As early as June, 1958, no less than 32 man connected with the Philippine Air Force among them commissioned officers, non-commission officers, and enlisted men had requested Mr. and Mrs. Joaquin D. Gozun to open a subdivision on their lands in question (Exhs. 8, 8-A to 8-ZZ-Toledo-Gozun). 21 We agree with the findings, and the conclusions, of the lower court that the lands that are the subject of expropriation in the present case, as of August 10, 1959 when the same were taken possession of by the Republic, were residential lands and were adaptable for use as residential subdivisions. Indeed, the owners of these lands have the right to their value for the use for which they would bring the most in the market at the time the same were taken from them. The most important issue to be resolved in the present case relates to the question of what is the just compensation that should be paid to the appellees. The Republic asserts that the fair market value of the lands of the appellees is P.20 per square meter. The Republic cites the case of Republic vs. Narciso, et al., L-6594, which this Court decided on May 18, 1956. The Narciso case involved lands that belonged to Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun, and to one Donata Montemayor, which were expropriated by the Republic in 1949 and which are now the site of the Basa Air Base. In the Narciso case this Court fixed the fair market value at P.20 per square meter. The lands that are sought to be expropriated in the present case being contiguous to the lands

involved in the Narciso case, it is the stand of the Republic that the price that should be fixed for the lands now in question should also be at P.20 per square meter. We can not sustain the stand of the Republic. We find that the price of P.20 per square meter, as fixed by this Court in the Narciso case, was based on the allegation of the defendants (owners) in their answer to the complaint for eminent domain in that case that the price of their lands was P2,000.00 per hectare and that was the price that they asked the court to pay them. This Court said, then, that the owners of the land could not be given more than what they had asked, notwithstanding the recommendation of the majority of the Commission on Appraisal — which was adopted by the trial court — that the fair market value of the lands was P3,000.00 per hectare. We also find that the price of P.20 per square meter in the Narciso case was considered the fair market value of the lands as of the year 1949 when the expropriation proceedings were instituted, and at that time the lands were classified as sugar lands, and assessed for taxation purposes at around P400.00 per hectare, or P.04 per square meter. 22 While the lands involved in the present case, like the lands involved in the Narciso case, might have a fair market value of P.20 per square meter in 1949, it can not be denied that ten years later, in 1959, when the present proceedings were instituted, the value of those lands had increased considerably. The evidence shows that since 1949 those lands were no longer cultivated as sugar lands, and in 1959 those lands were already classified, and assessed for taxation purposes, as residential lands. In 1959 the land of Castellvi was assessed at P1.00 per square meter. 23 The Republic also points out that the Provincial Appraisal Committee of Pampanga, in its resolution No. 5 of February 15, 1957 (Exhibit D), recommended the sum of P.20 per square meter as the fair valuation of the Castellvi property. We find that this resolution was made by the Republic the basis in asking the court to fix the provisional value of the lands sought to be expropriated at P259,669.10, which was approved by the court. 24 It must be considered, however, that the amount fixed as the provisional value of the lands that are being expropriated does

not necessarily represent the true and correct value of the land. The value is only "provisional" or "tentative", to serve as the basis for the immediate occupancy of the property being expropriated by the condemnor. The records show that this resolution No. 5 was repealed by the same Provincial Committee on Appraisal in its resolution No. 10 of May 14, 1959 (Exhibit 13-Castellvi). In that resolution No. 10, the appraisal committee stated that "The Committee has observed that the value of the land in this locality has increased since 1957 ...", and recommended the price of P1.50 per square meter. It follows, therefore, that, contrary to the stand of the Republic, that resolution No. 5 of the Provincial Appraisal Committee can not be made the basis for fixing the fair market value of the lands of Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun. The Republic further relied on the certification of the Acting Assistant Provincial Assessor of Pampanga, dated February 8, 1961 (Exhibit K), to the effect that in 1950 the lands of Toledo-Gozun were classified partly as sugar land and partly as urban land, and that the sugar land was assessed at P.40 per square meter, while part of the urban land was assessed at P.40 per square meter and part at P.20 per square meter; and that in 1956 the Castellvi land was classified as sugar land and was assessed at P450.00 per hectare, or P.045 per square meter. We can not also consider this certification of the Acting Assistant Provincial Assessor as a basis for fixing the fair market value of the lands of Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun because, as the evidence shows, the lands in question, in 1957, were already classified and assessed for taxation purposes as residential lands. The certification of the assessor refers to the year 1950 as far as the lands of Toledo-Gozun are concerned, and to the year 1956 as far as the land of Castellvi is concerned. Moreover, this Court has held that the valuation fixed for the purposes of the assessment of the land for taxation purposes can not bind the landowner where the latter did not intervene in fixing it. 25 On the other hand, the Commissioners, appointed by the court to appraise the lands that were being expropriated, recommended to the court that the price of P10.00 per square meter would be the fair market value of the lands. The commissioners made their

recommendation on the basis of their observation after several ocular inspections of the lands, of their own personal knowledge of land values in the province of Pampanga, of the testimonies of the owners of the land, and other witnesses, and of documentary evidence presented by the appellees. Both Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun testified that the fair market value of their respective land was at P15.00 per square meter. The documentary evidence considered by the commissioners consisted of deeds of sale of residential lands in the town of San Fernando and in Angeles City, in the province of Pampanga, which were sold at prices ranging from P8.00 to P20.00 per square meter (Exhibits 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23-Castellvi). The commissioners also considered the decision in Civil Case No. 1531 of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga, entitled Republic vs. Sabina Tablante, which was expropriation case filed on January 13, 1959, involving a parcel of land adjacent to the Clark Air Base in Angeles City, where the court fixed the price at P18.00 per square meter (Exhibit 14-Castellvi). In their report, the commissioners, among other things, said: ... This expropriation case is specially pointed out, because the circumstances and factors involved therein are similar in many respects to the defendants' lands in this case. The land in Civil Case No. 1531 of this Court and the lands in the present case (Civil Case No. 1623) are both near the air bases, the Clark Air Base and the Basa Air Base respectively. There is a national road fronting them and are situated in a first-class municipality. As added advantage it may be said that the Basa Air Base land is very near the sugar mill at Del Carmen, Floridablanca, Pampanga, owned by the Pampanga Sugar Mills. Also just stone's throw away from the same lands is a beautiful vacation spot at Palacol, a sitio of the town of Floridablanca, which counts with a natural swimming pool for vacationists on weekends. These advantages are not found in the case of the Clark Air Base. The defendants' lands are nearer to the poblacion of Floridablanca then Clark Air Base is nearer (sic) to the poblacion of Angeles, Pampanga.

The deeds of absolute sale, according to the undersigned commissioners, as well as the land in Civil Case No. 1531 are competent evidence, because they were executed during the year 1959 and before August 10 of the same year. More specifically so the land at Clark Air Base which coincidentally is the subject matter in the complaint in said Civil Case No. 1531, it having been filed on January 13, 1959 and the taking of the land involved therein was ordered by the Court of First Instance of Pampanga on January 15, 1959, several months before the lands in this case were taken by the plaintiffs ....
From the above and considering further that the lowest as well as the highest price per square meter obtainable in the market of Pampanga relative to subdivision lots within its jurisdiction in the year 1959 is very well known by the Commissioners, the Commission finds that the lowest price that can be awarded to the lands in question is P10.00 per 26 square meter.

The lower court did not altogether accept the findings of the Commissioners based on the documentary evidence, but it considered the documentary evidence as basis for comparison in determining land values. The lower court arrived at the conclusion that "the unanimous recommendation of the commissioners of ten (P10.00) pesos per square meter for the three lots of the defendants subject of this action is fair and just". 27 In arriving at its conclusion, the lower court took into consideration, among other circumstances, that the lands are titled, that there is a rising trend of land values, and the lowered purchasing power of the Philippine peso. In the case of Manila Railroad Co. vs. Caligsihan, 40 Phil. 326, 328, this Court said:
A court of first instance or, on appeal, the Supreme Court, may change or modify the report of the commissioners by increasing or reducing the amount of the award if the facts of the case so justify. While great weight is attached to the report of the commissioners, yet a court may substitute therefor its estimate of the value of the property as gathered from the record in certain cases, as, where the commissioners have applied illegal principles to the evidence submitted to them, or where they have disregarded a clear preponderance of evidence, or where the amount allowed is either 28 palpably inadequate or excessive.

The report of the commissioners of appraisal in condemnation proceedings are not binding, but merely advisory in character, as far as the court is concerned. 29 In our analysis of the report of the commissioners, We find points that merit serious consideration in the determination of the just compensation that should be paid to Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun for their lands. It should be noted that the commissioners had made ocular inspections of the lands and had considered the nature and similarities of said lands in relation to the lands in other places in the province of Pampanga, like San Fernando and Angeles City. We cannot disregard the observations of the commissioners regarding the circumstances that make the lands in question suited for residential purposes — their location near the Basa Air Base, just like the lands in Angeles City that are near the Clark Air Base, and the facilities that obtain because of their nearness to the big sugar central of the Pampanga Sugar mills, and to the flourishing first class town of Floridablanca. It is true that the lands in question are not in the territory of San Fernando and Angeles City, but, considering the facilities of modern communications, the town of Floridablanca may be considered practically adjacent to San Fernando and Angeles City. It is not out of place, therefore, to compare the land values in Floridablanca to the land values in San Fernando and Angeles City, and form an idea of the value of the lands in Floridablanca with reference to the land values in those two other communities. The important factor in expropriation proceeding is that the owner is awarded the just compensation for his property. We have carefully studied the record, and the evidence, in this case, and after considering the circumstances attending the lands in question We have arrived at the conclusion that the price of P10.00 per square meter, as recommended by the commissioners and adopted by the lower court, is quite high. It is Our considered view that the price of P5.00 per square meter would be a fair valuation of the lands in question and would constitute a just compensation to the owners thereof. In arriving at this conclusion We have particularly taken into consideration the resolution of the Provincial Committee on Appraisal of the province of Pampanga informing, among others, that in the year 1959 the land of Castellvi could be sold for from P3.00 to P4.00 per

square meter, while the land of Toledo-Gozun could be sold for from P2.50 to P3.00 per square meter. The Court has weighed all the circumstances relating to this expropriations proceedings, and in fixing the price of the lands that are being expropriated the Court arrived at a happy medium between the price as recommended by the commissioners and approved by the court, and the price advocated by the Republic. This Court has also taken judicial notice of the fact that the value of the Philippine peso has considerably gone down since the year 1959. 30Considering that the lands of Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun are adjoining each other, and are of the same nature, the Court has deemed it proper to fix the same price for all these lands. 3. The third issue raised by the Republic relates to the payment of interest. The Republic maintains that the lower court erred when it ordered the Republic to pay Castellvi interest at the rate of 6% per annum on the total amount adjudged as the value of the land of Castellvi, from July 1, 1956 to July 10, 1959. We find merit in this assignment of error. In ordering the Republic to pay 6% interest on the total value of the land of Castellvi from July 1, 1956 to July 10, 1959, the lower court held that the Republic had illegally possessed the land of Castellvi from July 1, 1956, after its lease of the land had expired on June 30, 1956, until August 10, 1959 when the Republic was placed in possession of the land pursuant to the writ of possession issued by the court. What really happened was that the Republic continued to occupy the land of Castellvi after the expiration of its lease on June 30, 1956, so much so that Castellvi filed an ejectment case against the Republic in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga. 31 However, while that ejectment case was pending, the Republic filed the complaint for eminent domain in the present case and was placed in possession of the land on August 10, 1959, and because of the institution of the expropriation proceedings the ejectment case was later dismissed. In the order dismissing the ejectment case, the Court of First Instance of Pampanga said:

Plaintiff has agreed, as a matter of fact has already signed an agreement with defendants, whereby she had agreed to receive the rent of the lands, subject matter of the instant case from June 30, 1956 up to 1959 when the Philippine Air Force was placed in possession by virtue of an order of the Court upon depositing the provisional amount as fixed by the Provincial Appraisal Committee with the Provincial Treasurer of Pampanga; ... If Castellvi had agreed to receive the rentals from June 30, 1956 to August 10, 1959, she should be considered as having allowed her land to be leased to the Republic until August 10, 1959, and she could not at the same time be entitled to the payment of interest during the same period on the amount awarded her as the just compensation of her land. The Republic, therefore, should pay Castellvi interest at the rate of 6% per annum on the value of her land, minus the provisional value that was deposited, only from July 10, 1959 when it deposited in court the provisional value of the land. 4. The fourth error assigned by the Republic relates to the denial by the lower court of its motion for a new trial based on nearly discovered evidence. We do not find merit in this assignment of error. After the lower court had decided this case on May 26, 1961, the Republic filed a motion for a new trial, supplemented by another motion, both based upon the ground of newly discovered evidence. The alleged newly discovered evidence in the motion filed on June 21, 1961 was a deed of absolute sale-executed on January 25, 1961, showing that a certain Serafin Francisco had sold to Pablo L. Narciso a parcel of sugar land having an area of 100,000 square meters with a sugar quota of 100 piculs, covered by P.A. No. 1701, situated in Barrio Fortuna, Floridablanca, for P14,000, or P.14 per square meter. In the supplemental motion, the alleged newly discovered evidence were: (1) a deed of sale of some 35,000 square meters of land situated at Floridablanca for P7,500.00 (or about P.21 per square meter) executed in July, 1959, by the spouses Evelyn D. Laird and

Cornelio G. Laird in favor of spouses Bienvenido S. Aguas and Josefina Q. Aguas; and (2) a deed of absolute sale of a parcel of land having an area of 4,120,101 square meters, including the sugar quota covered by Plantation Audit No. 161 1345, situated at Floridablanca, Pampanga, for P860.00 per hectare (a little less than P.09 per square meter) executed on October 22, 1957 by Jesus Toledo y Mendoza in favor of the Land Tenure Administration. We find that the lower court acted correctly when it denied the motions for a new trial. To warrant the granting of a new trial based on the ground of newly discovered evidence, it must appear that the evidence was discovered after the trial; that even with the exercise of due diligence, the evidence could not have been discovered and produced at the trial; and that the evidence is of such a nature as to alter the result of the case if admitted. 32 The lower court correctly ruled that these requisites were not complied with. The lower court, in a well-reasoned order, found that the sales made by Serafin Francisco to Pablo Narciso and that made by Jesus Toledo to the Land Tenure Administration were immaterial and irrelevant, because those sales covered sugarlands with sugar quotas, while the lands sought to be expropriated in the instant case are residential lands. The lower court also concluded that the land sold by the spouses Laird to the spouses Aguas was a sugar land. We agree with the trial court. In eminent domain proceedings, in order that evidence as to the sale price of other lands may be admitted in evidence to prove the fair market value of the land sought to be expropriated, the lands must, among other things, be shown to be similar. But even assuming, gratia argumenti, that the lands mentioned in those deeds of sale were residential, the evidence would still not warrant the grant of a new trial, for said evidence could have been discovered and produced at the trial, and they cannot be considered

newly discovered evidence as contemplated in Section 1(b) of Rule 37 of the Rules of Court. Regarding this point, the trial court said: The Court will now show that there was no reasonable diligence employed. The land described in the deed of sale executed by Serafin Francisco, copy of which is attached to the original motion, is covered by a Certificate of Title issued by the Office of the Register of Deeds of Pampanga. There is no question in the mind of the court but this document passed through the Office of the Register of Deeds for the purpose of transferring the title or annotating the sale on the certificate of title. It is true that Fiscal Lagman went to the Office of the Register of Deeds to check conveyances which may be presented in the evidence in this case as it is now sought to be done by virtue of the motions at bar, Fiscal Lagman, one of the lawyers of the plaintiff, did not exercise reasonable diligence as required by the rules. The assertion that he only went to the office of the Register of Deeds 'now and then' to check the records in that office only shows the halfhazard [sic] manner by which the plaintiff looked for evidence to be presented during the hearing before the Commissioners, if it is at all true that Fiscal Lagman did what he is supposed to have done according to Solicitor Padua. It would have been the easiest matter for plaintiff to move for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum directing the Register of Deeds of Pampanga to come to testify and to bring with him all documents found in his office pertaining to sales of land in Floridablanca adjacent to or near the lands in question executed or recorded from 1958 to the present. Even this elementary precaution was not done by plaintiff's numerous attorneys. The same can be said of the deeds of sale attached to the supplementary motion. They refer to lands covered by certificate of title issued by the Register of Deeds of Pampanga. For the same reason they could have been

easily discovered if reasonable diligence has been exerted by the numerous lawyers of the plaintiff in this case. It is noteworthy that all these deeds of sale could be found in several government offices, namely, in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Pampanga, the Office of the Provincial Assessor of Pampanga, the Office of the Clerk of Court as a part of notarial reports of notaries public that acknowledged these documents, or in the archives of the National Library. In respect to Annex 'B' of the supplementary motion copy of the document could also be found in the Office of the Land Tenure Administration, another government entity. Any lawyer with a modicum of ability handling this expropriation case would have right away though [sic] of digging up documents diligently showing conveyances of lands near or around the parcels of land sought to be expropriated in this case in the offices that would have naturally come to his mind such as the offices mentioned above, and had counsel for the movant really exercised the reasonable diligence required by the Rule' undoubtedly they would have been able to find these documents and/or caused the issuance of subpoena duces tecum. ... It is also recalled that during the hearing before the Court of the Report and Recommendation of the Commissioners and objection thereto, Solicitor Padua made the observation: I understand, Your Honor, that there was a sale that took place in this place of land recently where the land was sold for P0.20 which is contiguous to this land.
The Court gave him permission to submit said document subject to the approval of the Court. ... This was before the decision was rendered, and later promulgated on May 26, 1961 or more than one month after Solicitor Padua made the above observation. He could have, therefore, checked up the alleged sale and moved for a reopening to adduce further evidence. He did not do so. He forgot to present the evidence at a more propitious time. Now, he seeks to introduce said evidence under the guise of newly-discovered evidence. Unfortunately the Court cannot classify it as newly-discovered evidence, because tinder the circumstances, the correct qualification that can be given is 'forgotten

evidence'. Forgotten however, is not newly-discovered 33 evidence.

The granting or denial of a motion for new trial is, as a general rule, discretionary with the trial court, whose judgment should not be disturbed unless there is a clear showing of abuse of discretion. 34 We do not see any abuse of discretion on the part of the lower court when it denied the motions for a new trial. WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is modified, as follows: (a) the lands of appellees Carmen Vda. de Castellvi and Maria Nieves Toledo-Gozun, as described in the complaint, are declared expropriated for public use; (b) the fair market value of the lands of the appellees is fixed at P5.00 per square meter; (c) the Republic must pay appellee Castellvi the sum of P3,796,495.00 as just compensation for her one parcel of land that has an area of 759,299 square meters, minus the sum of P151,859.80 that she withdrew out of the amount that was deposited in court as the provisional value of the land, with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from July 10, 1959 until the day full payment is made or deposited in court; (d) the Republic must pay appellee Toledo-Gozun the sum of P2,695,225.00 as the just compensation for her two parcels of land that have a total area of 539,045 square meters, minus the sum of P107,809.00 that she withdrew out of the amount that was deposited in court as the provisional value of her lands, with interest at the rate of 6%, per annum from July 10, 1959 until the day full payment is made or deposited in court; (e) the attorney's lien of Atty. Alberto Cacnio is enforced; and

(f) the costs should be paid by appellant Republic of the Philippines, as provided in Section 12, Rule 67, and in Section 13, Rule 141, of the Rules of Court. IT IS SO ORDERED. Makalintal, C.J., Barredo, Antonio, Esguerra, Fernandez, Muñoz Palma and Aquino, JJ., concur. Castro, Fernando, Teehankee and Makasiar, JJ., took no part.

Footnotes 1 Record on Appeal, Vol. I, pp. 53-56. 2 Record on Appeal, Vol. I, pp. 53-56. 3 Record on Appeal, Vol. I, pp. 121-124. 4 Record on Appeal, Vol. I, pp. 235-261. 5 Record on Appeal, Vol. I, pp. 264-270, 284-297 and 297299. 6 Record on Appeal, Vol. I, pp. 387-456. 7 Appellant's brief, pp. 18-30; citing the case of Penn. vs. Carolina Virginia Estate Corp., 57 SE 2d 817. 8 Appellee Castellvi's brief, pp. 21-26. 9 Appellee Toledo-Gozun's brief, pp. 7-9. The issue raised in the second error assigned should really refer only to the land of Castellvi. We find that the lands of Toledo-Gozun, unlike the land of Castellvi, were never leased to the Republic. 10 Appellant's brief, pp. 6-12.

11 Appellant's brief, p. 12. 12 Record on Appeal, Vol. II, pp. 462-463. 13 Among the cases cited under this Section is that of Penn. vs. Carolina Virginia Coastal Corporation, 57 SE 2d 817, which is cited by the Republic on p. 18 of its brief. 14 See Appellant's brief, p. 6. 15 See Appellant's brief, p. 22. 16 Similar to Section 5, Rule 69 of the old Rules of Court, the rule in force when the complaint in this case was filed. 17 King vs. Mineapolis Union Railway Co., 32 Minn. 224. 18 Little Rock Junction Ry. vs. Woodruff, 49 Ark. 381; 5 SW 792. 19 27 Am. Jur. 2d pp. 344-345; Rothnam vs. Commonwealth, 406 Pa. 376; Wichita Falls and N.W. Ry. Co. vs. Holloman, 28 Okla. 419, 114 P 700, 701. See also Republic vs. Venturanza, et al., L-20417, May 30,1966, 17 SCRA 322, 331. 20 Decision of the lower court pp. 444-445, Record on Appeal, Vol. I. 21 Decision of the lower court, pp. 446-449, Record on Appeal, Vol. I. 22 Decision in the Narciso case, Exhibit H for the Republic. 23 See page 471, Record on Appeal, Vol. II, and page 41, Appellant's Brief. 24 Page 10-16, Record on Appeal, Vol. I. 25 Republic of the Philippines vs. Urtula, 110 Phil. 262-264.

26 Record on Appeal, Vol. I, pages 257-260. 27 Lower court's decision, p. 454, Record on Appeal, Vol. I. 28 See also Manila Railroad Company vs. Velasquez, 32 Phil. 286: and City of Manila vs. Estrada, 25 Phil. 208. 29 City of Cebu vs. Ledesma, 14 SCRA 666, 669. 30 In 1959 the money value of two pesos (P2.00), Philippine currency, was equal to one U.S. dollar ($1.00). As published in the "Daily Express" of August 6, 1974, the Philippine National Bank announced that the inter-bank guiding rate was P6.735 to one U.S. dollar ($1,00). 31 Civil Case No. 1548. 32 Sec. 1 (b) of Rule 37 of the Rules of Court. 33 Record on Appeal, Vol. 11, pp. 607-613. 34 Miranda vs. Legaspi, et al., 92 Phil. 290, 293-294. G.R. No. L-34915 June 24, 1983 CITY GOVERNMENT OF QUEZON CITY and CITY COUNCIL OF QUEZON CITY, petitioners, vs. HON. JUDGE VICENTE G. ERICTA as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City, Branch XVIII; HIMLAYANG PILIPINO, INC., respondents. City Fiscal for petitioners. Manuel Villaruel, Jr. and Feliciano Tumale for respondents.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

This is a petition for review which seeks the reversal of the decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XVIII declaring Section 9 of Ordinance No. 6118, S-64, of the Quezon City Council null and void. Section 9 of Ordinance No. 6118, S-64, entitled "ORDINANCE REGULATING THE ESTABLISHMENT, MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION OF PRIVATE MEMORIAL TYPE CEMETERY OR BURIAL GROUND WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF QUEZON CITY AND PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR THE VIOLATION THEREOF" provides: Sec. 9. At least six (6) percent of the total area of the memorial park cemetery shall be set aside for charity burial of deceased persons who are paupers and have been residents of Quezon City for at least 5 years prior to their death, to be determined by competent City Authorities. The area so designated shall immediately be developed and should be open for operation not later than six months from the date of approval of the application. For several years, the aforequoted section of the Ordinance was not enforced by city authorities but seven years after the enactment of the ordinance, the Quezon City Council passed the following resolution: RESOLVED by the council of Quezon assembled, to request, as it does hereby request the City Engineer, Quezon City, to stop any further selling and/or transaction of memorial park lots in Quezon City where the owners thereof have failed to donate the required 6% space intended for paupers burial. Pursuant to this petition, the Quezon City Engineer notified respondent Himlayang Pilipino, Inc. in writing that Section 9 of Ordinance No. 6118, S-64 would be enforced Respondent Himlayang Pilipino reacted by filing with the Court of First Instance of Rizal Branch XVIII at Quezon City, a petition for declaratory relief, prohibition and mandamus with preliminary

injunction (Sp. Proc. No. Q-16002) seeking to annul Section 9 of the Ordinance in question The respondent alleged that the same is contrary to the Constitution, the Quezon City Charter, the Local Autonomy Act, and the Revised Administrative Code. There being no issue of fact and the questions raised being purely legal both petitioners and respondent agreed to the rendition of a judgment on the pleadings. The respondent court, therefore, rendered the decision declaring Section 9 of Ordinance No. 6118, S-64 null and void. A motion for reconsideration having been denied, the City Government and City Council filed the instant petition. Petitioners argue that the taking of the respondent's property is a valid and reasonable exercise of police power and that the land is taken for a public use as it is intended for the burial ground of paupers. They further argue that the Quezon City Council is authorized under its charter, in the exercise of local police power, " to make such further ordinances and resolutions not repugnant to law as may be necessary to carry into effect and discharge the powers and duties conferred by this Act and such as it shall deem necessary and proper to provide for the health and safety, promote the prosperity, improve the morals, peace, good order, comfort and convenience of the city and the inhabitants thereof, and for the protection of property therein." On the other hand, respondent Himlayang Pilipino, Inc. contends that the taking or confiscation of property is obvious because the questioned ordinance permanently restricts the use of the property such that it cannot be used for any reasonable purpose and deprives the owner of all beneficial use of his property. The respondent also stresses that the general welfare clause is not available as a source of power for the taking of the property in this case because it refers to "the power of promoting the public welfare by restraining and regulating the use of liberty and property." The respondent points out that if an owner is deprived of his property outright under the State's police power, the property is generally not

taken for public use but is urgently and summarily destroyed in order to promote the general welfare. The respondent cites the case of a nuisance per se or the destruction of a house to prevent the spread of a conflagration. We find the stand of the private respondent as well as the decision of the respondent Judge to be well-founded. We quote with approval the lower court's ruling which declared null and void Section 9 of the questioned city ordinance: The issue is: Is Section 9 of the ordinance in question a valid exercise of the police power? An examination of the Charter of Quezon City (Rep. Act No. 537), does not reveal any provision that would justify the ordinance in question except the provision granting police power to the City. Section 9 cannot be justified under the power granted to Quezon City to tax, fix the license fee, and regulatesuch other business, trades, and occupation as may be established or practised in the City.' (Subsections 'C', Sec. 12, R.A. 537). The power to regulate does not include the power to prohibit (People vs. Esguerra, 81 PhiL 33, Vega vs. Municipal Board of Iloilo, L-6765, May 12, 1954; 39 N.J. Law, 70, Mich. 396). A fortiori, the power to regulate does not include the power to confiscate. The ordinance in question not only confiscates but also prohibits the operation of a memorial park cemetery, because under Section 13 of said ordinance, 'Violation of the provision thereof is punishable with a fine and/or imprisonment and that upon conviction thereof the permit to operate and maintain a private cemetery shall be revoked or cancelled.' The confiscatory clause and the penal provision in effect deter one from operating a memorial park cemetery. Neither can the ordinance in question be justified under sub- section "t", Section 12 of Republic Act 537 which authorizes the City Council to-

'prohibit the burial of the dead within the center of population of the city and provide for their burial in such proper place and in such manner as the council may determine, subject to the provisions of the general law regulating burial grounds and cemeteries and governing funerals and disposal of the dead.' (Sub-sec. (t), Sec. 12, Rep. Act No. 537). There is nothing in the above provision which authorizes confiscation or as euphemistically termed by the respondents, 'donation' We now come to the question whether or not Section 9 of the ordinance in question is a valid exercise of police power. The police power of Quezon City is defined in subsection 00, Sec. 12, Rep. Act 537 which reads as follows: (00) To make such further ordinance and regulations not repugnant to law as may be necessary to carry into effect and discharge the powers and duties conferred by this act and such as it shall deem necessary and proper to provide for the health and safety, promote, the prosperity, improve the morals, peace, good order, comfort and convenience of the city and the inhabitants thereof, and for the protection of property therein; and enforce obedience thereto with such lawful fines or penalties as the City Council may prescribe under the provisions of subsection (jj) of this section. We start the discussion with a restatement of certain basic principles. Occupying the forefront in the bill of rights is the provision which states that 'no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law' (Art. Ill, Section 1 subparagraph 1, Constitution).

On the other hand, there are three inherent powers of government by which the state interferes with the property rights, namely-. (1) police power, (2) eminent domain, (3) taxation. These are said to exist independently of the Constitution as necessary attributes of sovereignty. Police power is defined by Freund as 'the power of promoting the public welfare by restraining and regulating the use of liberty and property' (Quoted in Political Law by Tanada and Carreon, V-11, p. 50). It is usually exerted in order to merely regulate the use and enjoyment of property of the owner. If he is deprived of his property outright, it is not taken for public use but rather to destroy in order to promote the general welfare. In police power, the owner does not recover from the government for injury sustained in consequence thereof (12 C.J. 623). It has been said that police power is the most essential of government powers, at times the most insistent, and always one of the least limitable of the powers of government (Ruby vs. Provincial Board, 39 PhiL 660; Ichong vs. Hernandez, 1,7995, May 31, 1957). This power embraces the whole system of public regulation (U.S. vs. Linsuya Fan, 10 PhiL 104). The Supreme Court has said that police power is so farreaching in scope that it has almost become impossible to limit its sweep. As it derives its existence from the very existence of the state itself, it does not need to be expressed or defined in its scope. Being coextensive with self-preservation and survival itself, it is the most positive and active of all governmental processes, the most essential insistent and illimitable Especially it is so under the modern democratic framework where the demands of society and nations have multiplied to almost unimaginable proportions. The field and scope of police power have become almost boundless, just as the fields of public interest and public welfare have become almost all embracing and have transcended human foresight. Since the Courts cannot foresee the needs and demands of

public interest and welfare, they cannot delimit beforehand the extent or scope of the police power by which and through which the state seeks to attain or achieve public interest and welfare. (Ichong vs. Hernandez, L-7995, May 31, 1957). The police power being the most active power of the government and the due process clause being the broadest station on governmental power, the conflict between this power of government and the due process clause of the Constitution is oftentimes inevitable. It will be seen from the foregoing authorities that police power is usually exercised in the form of mere regulation or restriction in the use of liberty or property for the promotion of the general welfare. It does not involve the taking or confiscation of property with the exception of a few cases where there is a necessity to confiscate private property in order to destroy it for the purpose of protecting the peace and order and of promoting the general welfare as for instance, the confiscation of an illegally possessed article, such as opium and firearms. It seems to the court that Section 9 of Ordinance No. 6118, Series of 1964 of Quezon City is not a mere police regulation but an outright confiscation. It deprives a person of his private property without due process of law, nay, even without compensation. In sustaining the decision of the respondent court, we are not unmindful of the heavy burden shouldered by whoever challenges the validity of duly enacted legislation whether national or local As early as 1913, this Court ruled in Case v. Board of Health (24 PhiL 250) that the courts resolve every presumption in favor of validity and, more so, where the ma corporation asserts that the ordinance was enacted to promote the common good and general welfare.

In the leading case of Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operators Association Inc. v. City Mayor of Manila (20 SCRA 849) the Court speaking through the then Associate Justice and now Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando stated Primarily what calls for a reversal of such a decision is the a of any evidence to offset the presumption of validity that attaches to a statute or ordinance. As was expressed categorically by Justice Malcolm 'The presumption is all in favor of validity. ... The action of the elected representatives of the people cannot be lightly set aside. The councilors must, in the very nature of things, be familiar with the necessities of their particular ... municipality and with all the facts and lances which surround the subject and necessitate action. The local legislative body, by enacting the ordinance, has in effect given notice that the regulations are essential to the wellbeing of the people. ... The Judiciary should not lightly set aside legislative action when there is not a clear invasion of personal or property rights under the guise of police regulation. (U.S. v. Salaveria (1918], 39 Phil. 102, at p. 111. There was an affirmation of the presumption of validity of municipal ordinance as announced in the leading Salaveria decision in Ebona v. Daet, [1950]85 Phil. 369.) We have likewise considered the principles earlier stated in Case v. Board of Health supra : ... Under the provisions of municipal charters which are known as the general welfare clauses, a city, by virtue of its police power, may adopt ordinances to the peace, safety, health, morals and the best and highest interests of the municipality. It is a well-settled principle, growing out of the nature of well-ordered and society, that every holder of property, however absolute and may be his title, holds it under the implied liability that his use of it shall not be injurious to the equal enjoyment of others having an equal right to the enjoyment of their property, nor injurious to the

rights of the community. An property in the state is held subject to its general regulations, which are necessary to the common good and general welfare. Rights of property, like all other social and conventional rights, are subject to such reasonable limitations in their enjoyment as shall prevent them from being injurious, and to such reasonable restraints and regulations, established by law, as the legislature, under the governing and controlling power vested in them by the constitution, may think necessary and expedient. The state, under the police power, is possessed with plenary power to deal with all matters relating to the general health, morals, and safety of the people, so long as it does not contravene any positive inhibition of the organic law and providing that such power is not exercised in such a manner as to justify the interference of the courts to prevent positive wrong and oppression. but find them not applicable to the facts of this case. There is no reasonable relation between the setting aside of at least six (6) percent of the total area of an private cemeteries for charity burial grounds of deceased paupers and the promotion of health, morals, good order, safety, or the general welfare of the people. The ordinance is actually a taking without compensation of a certain area from a private cemetery to benefit paupers who are charges of the municipal corporation. Instead of building or maintaining a public cemetery for this purpose, the city passes the burden to private cemeteries. The expropriation without compensation of a portion of private cemeteries is not covered by Section 12(t) of Republic Act 537, the Revised Charter of Quezon City which empowers the city council to prohibit the burial of the dead within the center of population of the city and to provide for their burial in a proper place subject to the provisions of general law regulating burial grounds and cemeteries. When the Local Government Code, Batas Pambansa Blg. 337 provides in Section 177 (q) that a Sangguniang panlungsod may

"provide for the burial of the dead in such place and in such manner as prescribed by law or ordinance" it simply authorizes the city to provide its own city owned land or to buy or expropriate private properties to construct public cemeteries. This has been the law and practise in the past. It continues to the present. Expropriation, however, requires payment of just compensation. The questioned ordinance is different from laws and regulations requiring owners of subdivisions to set aside certain areas for streets, parks, playgrounds, and other public facilities from the land they sell to buyers of subdivision lots. The necessities of public safety, health, and convenience are very clear from said requirements which are intended to insure the development of communities with salubrious and wholesome environments. The beneficiaries of the regulation, in turn, are made to pay by the subdivision developer when individual lots are sold to home-owners. As a matter of fact, the petitioners rely solely on the general welfare clause or on implied powers of the municipal corporation, not on any express provision of law as statutory basis of their exercise of power. The clause has always received broad and liberal interpretation but we cannot stretch it to cover this particular taking. Moreover, the questioned ordinance was passed after Himlayang Pilipino, Inc. had incorporated. received necessary licenses and permits and commenced operating. The sequestration of six percent of the cemetery cannot even be considered as having been impliedly acknowledged by the private respondent when it accepted the permits to commence operations. WHEREFORE, the petition for review is hereby DISMISSED. The decision of the respondent court is affirmed. SO ORDERED. Teehankee (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Vasquez and Relova, JJ., concur. G.R. No. L-12172 August 29, 1958

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. JUAN F. FAJARDO, ET AL., defendants-appellants. Assistant Solicitor General Esmeraldo Umali and Higinio V. Catalan for appellee. Prila, Pardalis and Pejo for appellants. REYES, J. B. L., J.: Appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur convicting defendants-appellants Juan F. Fajardo and Pedro Babilonia of a violation of Ordinance No. 7, Series of 1950, of the Municipality of Baao, Camarines Sur, for having constructed without a permit from the municipal mayor a building that destroys the view of the public plaza. It appears that on August 15, 1950, during the incumbency of defendant-appellant Juan F. Fajardo as mayor of the municipality of Baao, Camarines Sur, the municipal council passed the ordinance in question providing as follows: SECTION 1. Any person or persons who will construct or repair a building should, before constructing or repairing, obtain a written permit from the Municipal Mayor. SEC. 2. A fee of not less than P2.00 should be charged for each building permit and P1.00 for each repair permit issued. SEC. 3. PENALTY — Any violation of the provisions of the above, this ordinance, shall make the violation liable to pay a fine of not less than P25 nor more than P50 or imprisonment of not less than 12 days nor more than 24 days or both, at the discretion of the court. If said building destroys the view of the Public Plaza or occupies any public property, it shall be removed at the expense of the owner of the building or house. SEC. 4. EFFECTIVITY — This ordinance shall take effect on its approval. (Orig. Recs., P. 3)

Four years later, after the term of appellant Fajardo as mayor had expired, he and his son in-law, appellant Babilonia, filed a written request with the incumbent municipal mayor for a permit to construct a building adjacent to their gasoline station on a parcel of land registered in Fajardo's name, located along the national highway and separated from the public plaza by a creek (Exh. D). On January 16, 1954, the request was denied, for the reason among others that the proposed building would destroy the view or beauty of the public plaza (Exh. E). On January 18, 1954, defendants reiterated their request for a building permit (Exh. 3), but again the request was turned down by the mayor. Whereupon, appellants proceeded with the construction of the building without a permit, because they needed a place of residence very badly, their former house having been destroyed by a typhoon and hitherto they had been living on leased property. On February 26, 1954, appellants were charged before and convicted by the justice of the peace court of Baao, Camarines Sur, for violation of the ordinance in question. Defendants appealed to the Court of First Instance, which affirmed the conviction, and sentenced appellants to pay a fine of P35 each and the costs, as well as to demolish the building in question because it destroys the view of the public plaza of Baao, in that "it hinders the view of travelers from the National Highway to the said public plaza." From this decision, the accused appealed to the Court of Appeals, but the latter forwarded the records to us because the appeal attacks the constitutionality of the ordinance in question. We find that the appealed conviction can not stand. A first objection to the validity of the ordinance in question is that under it the mayor has absolute discretion to issue or deny a permit. The ordinance fails to state any policy, or to set up any standard to guide or limit the mayor's action. No purpose to be attained by requiring the permit is expressed; no conditions for its grant or refusal are enumerated. It is not merely a case of deficient standards; standards are entirely lacking. The ordinance thus confers upon the mayor arbitrary and unrestricted power to grant or deny the issuance of building permits, and it is a settled rule that such an undefined and

unlimited delegation of power to allow or prevent an activity, per se lawful, is invalid (People vs. Vera, 65 Phil., 56; Primicias vs. Fugoso, 80 Phil., 71; Schloss Poster Adv. Co. vs. Rock Hill, 2 SE (2d) 392) The ordinance in question in no way controls or guides the discretion vested thereby in the respondents. It prescribes no uniform rule upon which the special permission of the city is to be granted. Thus the city is clothed with the uncontrolled power to capriciously grant the privilege to some and deny it others; to refuse the application of one landowner or lessee and to grant that of another, when for all material purposes, the two applying for precisely the same privileges under the same circumstances. The danger of such an ordinance is that it makes possible arbitrary discriminations and abuses in its execution, depending upon no conditions or qualifications whatever, other than the unregulated arbitrary will of the city authorities as the touchstone by which its validity is to be tested. Fundamental rights under our government do not depend for their existence upon such a slender and uncertain thread. Ordinances which thus invest a city council with a discretion which is purely arbitrary, and which may be exercised in the interest of a favored few, are unreasonable and invalid. The ordinance should have established a rule by which its impartial enforcement could be secured. All of the authorities cited above sustain this conclusion. As was said in City of Richmond vs. Dudley, 129 Ind. 112,28 N. E. 312, 314 13 L. R. A. 587, 28 Am. St. Rep. 180: "It seems from the foregoing authorities to be well established that municipal ordinances placing restrictions upon lawful conduct or the lawful use of property must, in order to be valid, specify the rules and conditions to be observed in such conduct or business; and must admit of the exercise of the privilege of all citizens alike who will comply with such rules and conditions; and must not admit of the exercise, or of an opportunity for the exercise, of any arbitrary discrimination by the municipal authorities between citizens who

will so comply. (Schloss Poster Adv. Co., Inc. vs. City of Rock Hill, et al., 2 SE (2d), pp. 394-395). It is contended, on the other hand, that the mayor can refuse a permit solely in case that the proposed building "destroys the view of the public plaza or occupies any public property" (as stated in its section 3); and in fact, the refusal of the Mayor of Baao to issue a building permit to the appellant was predicated on the ground that the proposed building would "destroy the view of the public plaza" by preventing its being seen from the public highway. Even thus interpreted, the ordinance is unreasonable and oppressive, in that it operates to permanently deprive appellants of the right to use their own property; hence, it oversteps the bounds of police power, and amounts to a taking of appellants property without just compensation. We do not overlook that the modern tendency is to regard the beautification of neighborhoods as conducive to the comfort and happiness of residents. But while property may be regulated in the interest of the general welfare, and in its pursuit, the State may prohibit structures offensive to the sight (Churchill and Tait vs. Rafferty, 32 Phil. 580), the State may not, under the guise of police power, permanently divest owners of the beneficial use of their property and practically confiscate them solely to preserve or assure the aesthetic appearance of the community. As the case now stands, every structure that may be erected on appellants' land, regardless of its own beauty, stands condemned under the ordinance in question, because it would interfere with the view of the public plaza from the highway. The appellants would, in effect, be constrained to let their land remain idle and unused for the obvious purpose for which it is best suited, being urban in character. To legally achieve that result, the municipality must give appellants just compensation and an opportunity to be heard. An ordinance which permanently so restricts the use of property that it can not be used for any reasonable purpose goes, it is plain, beyond regulation and must be recognized as a taking of the property. The only substantial difference, in such case, between restriction and actual taking, is that the restriction

leaves the owner subject to the burden of payment of taxation, while outright confiscation would relieve him of that burden. (Arverne Bay Constr. Co. vs. Thatcher (N.Y.) 117 ALR. 1110, 1116). A regulation which substantially deprives an owner of all beneficial use of his property is confiscation and is a deprivation within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. (Sundlum vs. Zoning Bd., 145 Atl. 451; also Eatonvs. Sweeny, 177 NE 412; Taylor vs. Jacksonville, 133 So. 114). Zoning which admittedly limits property to a use which can not reasonably be made of it cannot be said to set aside such property to a use but constitutes the taking of such property without just compensation. Use of property is an element of ownership therein. Regardless of the opinion of zealots that property may properly, by zoning, be utterly destroyed without compensation, such principle finds no support in the genius of our government nor in the principles of justice as we known them. Such a doctrine shocks the sense of justice. If it be of public benefit that property remain open and unused, then certainly the public, and not the private individuals, should bear the cost of reasonable compensation for such property under the rules of law governing the condemnation of private property for public use. (Tews vs. Woolhiser (1933) 352 I11. 212, 185 N.E. 827) (Emphasis supplied.) The validity of the ordinance in question was justified by the court below under section 2243, par. (c), of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended. This section provides: SEC. 2243. Certain legislative powers of discretionary character. — The municipal council shall have authority to exercise the following discretionary powers: xxx xxx xxx

(c) To establish fire limits in populous centers, prescribe the kinds of buildings that may be constructed or repaired within them, and issue permits for the creation or repair thereof, charging a fee which shall be determined by the municipal council and which shall not be less than two pesos for each building permit and one peso for each repair permit issued. The fees collected under the provisions of this subsection shall accrue to the municipal school fund. Under the provisions of the section above quoted, however, the power of the municipal council to require the issuance of building permits rests upon its first establishing fire limits in populous parts of the town and prescribing the kinds of buildings that may be constructed or repaired within them. As there is absolutely no showing in this case that the municipal council had either established fire limits within the municipality or set standards for the kind or kinds of buildings to be constructed or repaired within them before it passed the ordinance in question, it is clear that said ordinance was not conceived and promulgated under the express authority of sec. 2243 (c) aforequoted. We rule that the regulation in question, Municipal Ordinance No. 7, Series of 1950, of the Municipality of Baao, Camarines Sur, was beyond the authority of said municipality to enact, and is therefore null and void. Hence, the conviction of herein appellants is reversed, and said accused are acquitted, with costs de oficio. So ordered. Paras, C. J., Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Endencia and Felix, JJ.,concur.

G.R. No. 170945

September 26, 2006

NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. MARIA MENDOZA SAN PEDRO, represented by VICENTE, HERMINIA and FRANCISCO, all surnamed SAN PEDRO, respondents.

DECISION CALLEJO, SR., J.: Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 72860, and its Resolution2 denying the motion for reconsideration thereof. The Antecedents The National Power Corporation (NPC) is a government-owned-andcontrolled corporation created to undertake the development of hydroelectric generation of power and the production of electricity from any and all sources; and particularly the construction, operation, and maintenance of power plants, auxiliary plants, dams, reservoirs, pipes, mains, transmission lines, power stations and substations, and other works for the purpose of developing hydraulic power from any river, lake, creek, spring and waterfalls in the Philippines and supplying such power to the inhabitants thereof.3 Under Republic Act No. 6395, as amended, the NPC is authorized to enter private property provided that the owners thereof shall be indemnified for any actual damage caused thereby.4 For the construction of its San Manuel-San Jose 500 KV Transmission Line and Tower No. SMJ-389, NPC negotiated with Maria Mendoza San Pedro, then represented by her son, Vicente, for an easement of right of way over her property, Lot No. 2076. The property, which was partly agricultural and partly residential land, was located in Barangay Partida, Norzagaray, Bulacan and covered by Tax Declaration No. 00386. On June 19, 1997, Maria executed a Right of Way Grant5 in favor of NPC over the lot for P1,277,886.90. The NPC paid her P524,635.50 for the damaged improvements thereon.6 The payment voucher for the residential portion of the lot valued at P6,000,000.00 (at P600.00 per square meter) was then processed.7 However, the NPC Board of Directors approved Board Resolution No. 97-2468 stating that it would pay only P230.00 per sq

m for the residential portion and P89.00 per sq m for the agricultural portion, on the following premises: A) The proposed land valuations were evaluated and analyzed using the joint appraisal report on fair market value of lands by Cuervo Appraisal, Inc., Development Bank of the Philippines, and the Land Bank of the Philippines and the fair market values established by the respective Provincial Appraisal Committee (PAC) of Zambales, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Bulacan as well as the City Appraisal Committee (CAC) of San Carlos and Cabanatuan. B) For lot acquisition, adopt PAC or CUERVO Appraisal, whichever is lower; if there is a problem of acceptance, refer same to the Board; C) For easement over agricultural lands, adopt median or average if there are several amounts involved; and D) Always oppose any proposals for conversion of agricultural lands.9 On January 15, 1998, the NPC filed a complaint10 for eminent domain in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bulacan against Maria and other landowners. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 28-M-98. According to NPC, in order to construct and maintain its Northwestern Luzon Transmission Line Project (San Manuel-San Jose 500 KV Transmission Line Project), it was necessary to acquire several lots in the Municipalities of San Jose del Monte and Norzagaray, Bulacan for an easement of right of way in the total area of more or less 35,288.5 sq m. The owners of the affected areas and their corresponding assessed values are: OWNER/ LOT/ TAX TITLE CLAIMANT BLK. DEC. NO. NO. NO. Ma. 2076 00386 TOTAL AREA

AREA ASSESSED CLASS AFFECTED VALUE OF OF IN SQ. M. AREA AFFECTED 122,821.32 17,195 P 18,555.75 Agricult

Mendoza San Pedro rep. by Vicente San Pedro Lorenza 1250 96TManuel / 21017- 28392Sps. Raul P-(M) 00084 & Edna Lagula Sps. 1251 96PSegundo & 21017- 3965 Maxima 00083 (M) Manuel / Sps. Raul & Edna Lagula

10,000

6,565

P147,712.50 Reside

5,700

51,666.5 P 13,481.03 Agricult

6,362

6,362

P 16,210.00 Agricult

Maria San Pedro filed her Answer11 on February 2, 1998, alleging that there had already been an agreement as to the just compensation for her property. She prayed, among others, that she should be paid the consideration stated in the Right of Way Grant, P600.00 per sq m for the residential portion of the land as agreed upon by her and NPC, and to base the values from Resolution No. 97-00512 of the Provincial Appraisal Committee. Meanwhile, Maria San Pedro filed an Amended Answer13 in which she alleged that NPC had resorted to deceit, trickery and machination to induce her to grant a right of way by assuring her that it would also pay for the residential portion of the property at P600.00 per sq m. On August 10, 1998, the RTC issued a writ of possession against Maria San Pedro.14 When she passed away on August 22, 1998,15 she was substituted by her heirs, Vicente, Herminia and Francisco, all surnamed San Pedro, on September 11, 1998.16

During the pre-trial on January 25, 1999, the parties agreed that the only issue for resolution was the just compensation for the property. The court appointed a committee of commissioners to ascertain and recommend to the trial court the just compensation for the properties, composed of Atty. Josephine L. Sineneng-Baltazar, the Clerk of Court, as chairperson; and Engr. Oscar C. Cruz, Provincial Assessor of Bulacan, and Atty. Henry P. Alog of the Litigation Department of NPC to serve as members-commissioners thereof.17 On July 12, 1999, Atty. Baltazar and Engr. Cruz submitted their report,18 recommending as payment for just compensation P800.00 per sq m for the residential lot and P700.00 per sq m for the agricultural lot.19 The majority report reads: I. Description of the Property A parcel of land with a total area of 132,821.32 square meters located at Partida, Norzagaray, Bulacan and declared for taxation purposes in the name of Maria Mendoza San Pedro is sought to be expropriated by plaintiff National Power Corporation for the construction and maintenance of its Northwestern Luzon Transmission Line Project (San Miguel-San Jose 500 KV Transmission Line Project), to wit: Lot No. Tax Dec. No. Total Area Area Classification Affected in sq. m. 17,195 Agricultural 6,565 Residential

2076 01337 122,821.32 10,000.00

The pertinent tax declaration is hereto attached as Annex "A." The residential lot is not affected by NPC's project in its entirety. Around 2,000 sq. m. remains on each side of the residential lot.

Likewise, only a portion or 17,195 sq. m. of (sic) more than 12 hectares agricultural land, (sic) is affected by the project. A sketch plan of the affected area is attached hereto as Annex "B." II. Claims of the Parties Defendants allege that they had signed a Right of Way Grant Contract dated June 19, 1997 which plaintiff itself prepared and was notarized by Atty. Marcelo Aure; that, among others, defendants and plaintiff agreed that the price of the residential land is P600.00 per square meter, based on the Provincial Appraisals Committee (PAC) Resolution No. 97-005; that, on December 6, 1997, plaintiff informed them that the NPC Board passed Resolution No. 97-246 dated October 27, 1997, pursuant to which the board approved price for acquisition of subject property is P230.00 per sq. m. for residential and P89.00 per sq. m. for agricultural lot. Defendants did not accept the new offer. On the other hand, plaintiff alleges that the price for residential land is P230.00 per sq. m. as approved by NPC's Board and not P600.00 per sq. m. being asked by defendants. It further recommended the appointment of commissioners to report to the Court the just compensation to be paid to the defendants. III. Observations The Commissioners went to the site on May 11, 1999 and were able to observe that: (1) The residential lot of Vicente San Pedro is not affected by NPC's project in its entirety. Around 2,000 sq. m. remains on each side of the residential lot. There are no existing structures or improvements on said residential lot, which is situated along the all-weather (gravel) road. Defendants are afraid to utilize the said remaining portions for residential purposes because of the reported constant loud buzzing and exploding sounds emanating from the towers and transmission lines, especially on rainy days.

The two children of Vicente San Pedro had wanted to construct their residential houses on said land, but decided against it now because of fear that the large transmission lines looming not far above their land and the huge tower in front of their lot will affect their safety and health. Moreover, there is a slim chance now that somebody will still buy the remaining portions on each side of the residential lot affected by the project, to the damage of the defendant, both as to future actual use of the land and financial gains to be derived therefrom. (2) Likewise only a portion, or 17,195 sq. m. of the 122,821.32 square meter agricultural land, is affected by the transmission line project. It was not planted with palay at the time of the inspection. According to the defendants, their farm helpers are already afraid to work on the land because of the buzzing and cracking sounds coming from the tower and transmission lines. (3) The site is located in a highly developed area about 1.5 kms. away from Norzagaray Municipal Building. The vast land owned by Jesus Is Lord congregation is on the same side of the road as subject property. Opposite the road is an ongoing resort project, the Falcon Crest Resort about ½ kilometers away, and the proposed Catholic Retreat House about 200 meters away. Attached as Annex "C" is the Location Plan of said lot. IV. Available Data (1) Based on the Zoning Certificate issued by the Municipal Mayor, subject parcel of land has been classified as residential pursuant to the proposed Comprehensive Land Use Plan of local government unit. Copy of said Zoning Certificate is hereto attached as Annex "D." (2) Based on the BIR Zonal Valuation attached as Annex "E," subject land has a zonal value ofP60.00/sq. m. for

residential and P30.00/sq. m. for agricultural lot. However, it is common knowledge that zonal valuation provided by BIR cannot be made as basis for the purpose of determining just compensation in eminent domain cases because it is only for the purpose of computing internal revenue taxes. (3) Opinion values gathered by the Provincial Assessor on the price of the property are as follows: Residential - P1,075.00 / sq. m. Agricultural - P 643.00 / sq. m. The summary of Opinion Values is hereto attached as Annex "F." (4) There are no available sales data on properties within the vicinity of subject land for the years 1996 and 1997, approximate time of the taking. IV. Recommendation The Commissioners, after considering the location of the subject property in a highly developed area and accessibility thru the allweather road (gravel); its potential for full development as shown by the existence of building projects in the vicinity; and the longterm effect the expropriation will have on the lives, comfort and financial condition of herein defendants, respectfully recommend the following amounts as payment for the affected portions of subject property. P800. / sq. m. - for the residential lot P700. / sq. m. - for the agricultural lot20 However, Atty. Alog, who represented NPC, dissented from the report, claiming that it was merely based on "opinion values," and the selfserving declarations and opinions of defendants. He maintained that,

in determining just compensation, the trial court should instead consider the appraisal report of Cuervo Appraisers, Inc., upon which Resolution No. 97-246 of NPC was based. He likewise argued that the property involved was actually and principally used as agricultural, though declared as agricultural/residential lots; hence, only the easement fee of right of way should be paid, as the principal purpose for which the lot was devoted would not be impaired by the construction of transmission lines. His report reads: I. FINDINGS The ocular inspection and research conducted by the undersigned Commissioner on May 12, 1999 disclosed the following pertinent information and data: 1) The subject lots can be reached through a 1.4 km two lane concrete road, from the Sta. Maria-Norzagaray National Highway intersection at Poblacion, Norzagaray, Bulacan (refer to Annex "B"); 2) The low lying northern portion of the property is presently used as riceland and the rest planted with assorted trees (refer to Annex "C," pictures); 3) The property is a portion of hill in the area with sides sloping downward on the northern eastern boundaries (refer to Annex "C"); 4) There is no visible structural development in the area except for: a) a two lane concrete road adjacent to the property at the northwest boundaries going to San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan; b) newly constructed steel towers of NPC; c) barbed wire fence with wooden post covering the northwestern portion of the lot adjacent to the

concrete road to San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan and a bamboo fence that covers the southern portion (refer to Annex "C"); and d) residential house approximately 200 meters from affected area. 5) During the ocular inspection, it is noted that they still use the affected area for agricultural purposes; 6) The Falcon Crest Resort is approximately 1 km. from the affected property; 7) Price data gathered are as follows (in square meter unless specified): Agri-Orchard (Interior) Riceland unirrigated (Interior) Subd. along Sta. Maria (Garay) Res'l

Ag

Provincial P600.00 P40 Appraisal Committee – Bulacan (Res. No. 97-005) (Annex "D") NP Board P89.00 P80.00 P230.00 Resolution No. 97-246 (Annex "E") Cuervo P890,000/ha. P800,000/ha. P230.0021 Appraisers, Inc. (Annex "F")

Atty. Alog also recommended that only P2,640,274.70 be paid to defendants by way of just compensation, broken down as follows: Eight Hundred Two Thousand Three Hundred Sixty Eight Pesos and 50/100 (P802,368.50) One Hundred Sixty Two Thousand Eight Hundred Sixty Five Pesos and 65/100 (P162,865.65) One Million Five Hundred Nine Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty Pesos (P1,509,950.00) One Hundred Fifty One Thousand Six Hundred Ninety One Pesos and 60/100 (P151,691.60) Thirteen Thousand Three Hundred Ninety-Eight and 95/100 (P13,398.95)22 - Payment for damaged crops/plants/trees - Payment for structures

- Payment for residential portion of lot - Easement fee for agricultural portion of lot - Tower Occupancy Fee

On October 28, 1999, the RTC rendered judgment,23 declaring as well-grounded, fair and reasonable the compensation for the property as recommended by Atty. Baltazar and Engr. Cruz. The fallo of the RTC decision reads: WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court hereby orders the above-described 5,700-square meter lot from Lot No. 1250 of defendants Spouse (sic) Raul (sic) and the afore-described 6,362-square meter lot from Lot No. 1251 of same defendants, subject to the covering Compromise Agreements; and the above-described 17,195-square meter lot from Lot No. 2076 of defendant Maria Mendoza San Pedro, CONDEMNED and/or EXPROPRIATED for the construction and maintenance of plaintiff's Northwestern Luzon Transmission Line Project (San

Manuel - San Jose 500 KV Transmission Line Project), a project for public purpose. Accordingly, this Court hereby fixes the just compensation for the expropriated lots, as follows: OWNER LOT AREA S NO. EXPROPRIAT ED Sps. Raul & Edna Lagula Sps. Raul & Edna Lagula 125 0 PRICE / S.Q. METE R JUST COMPENSATI ON P2,844,300.00

5,700 sq. m. P499.0 0

125 1

6,362 sq. m. 499.00

2,174,638

Ma. 207 Mendoz 6 a San Pedro her heirs

17,195 sq. m. 800.00

13,756,000

Hence, plaintiff is ordered to pay, as soon as possible, herein defendants the just compensation enumerated above for their respective lots aforementioned. For this purpose, plaintiff may withdraw the sum of money deposited with the Land Bank of the Philippines or any other banks pursuant to Section 2 of Rule 67 of the Rules of Court, as amended by P.D. No. 42. FURTHER, defendants are ordered to clear and vacate the lots in question within 30 days from receipt hereof and to surrender possession thereof to the plaintiff.

The fees for the 3 Commissioners of the Appraisal Committee in the sum of P6,000.00 for the Chairman andP5,000.00 each for the 2 members, shall be paid by the plaintiff. SO ORDERED.24 On November 19, 1999, the heirs of Maria San Pedro filed a Manifestation and Motion25 for the partial reconsideration of the decision on the ground that the court failed to include in its decision the just compensation for the 6,565-square-meter residential portion of their land, with prayer for attorney's fees equivalent to 10% of the total amount to be awarded to them. On December 3, 1999, NPC filed its motion for reconsideration,26 insisting that the just compensation awarded to defendants was without legal and factual basis, and that it should only be made to pay an easement fee. On June 6, 2001, the trial court issued an Order granting the motion of the heirs and denied that of NPC.27 The RTC declared that the just compensation for the residential portion of the property should be the same as that of the spouses Lagula's property, which was P499.00 per sq m. On the claim of NPC in its motion for reconsideration that it should be made to pay only an easement fee, the trial court ruled that Lot No. 2076 should be treated the same way as NPC treated the properties of the spouses Lagula. It was pointed out that in the compromise agreements executed by plaintiff and spouses Lagula, plaintiff paid P499.00 per sq m on the basis of a straight sale of their agricultural land, and not merely an easement fee for a right of way thereon. The fallo of the amended decision reads: WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Court hereby: 1. Grants the motion of defendant Maria Mendoza San Pedro and thus orders that the 1st paragraph of page 8 of the Decision be amended to read as follows:

"Plaintiff is expropriating portions of defendants' abovedescribed properties to give way to the construction and maintenance of its Northern Luzon Transmission Line Project (San Manuel - San Jose 500 KV Transmission Line Project), a project for public purpose. The area of the lots sought to be expropriated from the lot of defendant Maria Mendoza San Pedro, represented by her heirs, are17,195 square meters more or less of agricultural land and 6,565 square meters of residential land, while the area of the land sought to be expropriated from the two lots of defendants Sps. Raul and Edna Lagula are only 5,166.50 square meters, more or less, from Lot No. 1250 and 6,363 (sic) square meters, more or less, from Lot No. 1251. Furthermore, the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the Decision should be amended as follows: "Accordingly, this Court hereby fixes the just compensation for the expropriated lots, as follows:

OWNERS LOT AREA PRICE/ JUST NO. EXPROPRIATED S.Q. COMPENSATION METER Sps. Raul & Edna Lagula 1250 Sps. Raul & Edna Lagula 1251 Ma. Mendoza San Pedro her heirs 2076 Ma.

5,700 sq. m. P499.00

P2,844,300.00

6,362 sq. m.

499.00

3,174,638.00

17,195 sq. m. 6,565 sq. m.

499.00 800.00

8,580,305.00

5,252,000.00

Mendoza San Pedro her heirs 2. Denies the plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.28 NPC appealed the amended decision to the CA, asserting that: THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FIXING P800.00 AND P499.00 PER SQUARE METER AS JUST COMPENSATION FOR APPELLEE'S 6,565 SQUARE METERS OF RESIDENTIAL LAND AND 17,195 SQUARE METERS OF AGRICULTURAL LAND, RESPECTIVELY.29 On September 28, 2005, the CA rendered judgment dismissing the appeal. The CA ruled that the July 12, 1999 majority report was based on uncontroverted facts, supported by documentary evidence and confirmed by the commissioners' ocular inspection of the subject properties. To arrive at a reasonable estimate of just compensation, the commissioners considered factors such as the location, the most profitable likely use of the remaining area, size, shape, accessibility, as well as listings of other properties within the vicinity. Citing National Power Corporation v. Manubay Agro-Industrial Development Corporation,30 the CA found as unpersuasive NPC's argument that it should only pay an easement fee. It ruled that considering the nature and effect of the installation of power lines, the limitations on the use of land for an indefinite period deprives the owner of its normal use. Thefallo of the CA decision reads: WHEREFORE, the Appeal is hereby DENIED. The assailed Decision and Order dated 28 October 1999 and 6 June 2001, respectively, are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.31 NPC filed a Motion for Reconsideration,32 which the CA denied in its Resolution33 dated December 22, 2005; hence, the instant petition based on the following ground: THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A GRAVE ERROR WHEN IT UPHELD THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT FIXING THE JUST COMPENSATION FOR RESPONDENT'S 6,565 SQ. METERS OF RESIDENTIAL LAND AND 17,195 SQUARE METERS OF AGRICULTURAL LAND, AT PHP800.00 AND PHP499.00 PER SQUARE METER RESPECTIVELY, INSTEAD OF THE EASEMENT FEE AS PRAYED FOR IN THE COMPLAINT AND PROVIDED UNDER REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6395, AS AMENDED, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE REVISED NPC CHARTER.34 The Ruling of the Court The petition is denied for lack of merit. The CA found no reversible error in the trial court's finding of just compensation. Inasmuch as the determination of just compensation in eminent domain cases is a judicial function and factual findings of the CA are conclusive on the parties and reviewable only when the case falls within the recognized exceptions, which does not obtain in this case, we see no reason to disturb the factual findings as to the valuation of the subject property.35 Petitioner avers that the rulings of the trial court affirmed by the appellate court, based on the majority report on the subject property's just compensation, is not supported by documentary evidence. It avers that in the majority report, Commissioners Atty. Baltazar and Engr. Cruz, even admit that there were no available sales data on properties within the vicinity of the subject property for the years 1996 and 1997. Moreover, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) valued the property at P60.00 per sq m for residential, and P30.00 per sq m for agricultural lot.36

Petitioner further argues that respondents have not shown that the condition of the adjoining properties or improvements thereon had increased their land's economic value.37 The valuation, thus, of the trial court, as affirmed by the CA, was exorbitant and devoid of factual and legal basis.38 We are not persuaded. The constitutional limitation of "just compensation" is considered to be the sum equivalent to the market value of the property, broadly described to be the price fixed by the seller in open market in the usual and ordinary course of legal action and competition or the fair value of the property as between one who receives, and one who desires to sell it, fixed at the time of the actual taking by the government.39 To determine the just compensation to be paid to the landowner, the nature and character of the land at the time of its taking is the principal criterion.40 In the July 12, 1999 Majority Report, the commissioners found that the property was located in a highly-developed area and was accessible through an all-weather road. The fact that the property had potential for full development as shown by the existence of building projects in the vicinity, and the long-term effect of the expropriation on the lives, comfort and financial condition of petitioners was likewise considered. The report also took into account the ocular inspection conducted by the commissioners on May 11, 1999. The tax declaration of the subject property,41the NPC sketch plan,42 the location plan,43 the zoning certificates,44 the zonal valuation of the BIR,45 and the opinion values46 were also considered. The lone fact that there was no available sales data on properties within the vicinity of respondent's land for 1996 and 1997 and that the BIR zonal value was P60.00 per sq m for residential and P30.00 per sq m for agricultural did not proscribe the commissioners and the trial court from making their own reasonable estimates of just compensation, after considering all the facts as to the condition of the property and its surroundings, its improvements and capabilities. As

had been amply explained by this Court in Export Processing Zone Authority v. Dulay:47 Various factors can come into play in the valuation of specific properties singled out for expropriation. The values given by provincial assessors are usually uniform for very wide areas covering several barrios or even an entire town with the exception of the poblacion. Individual differences are never taken into account. The value of land is based on such generalities as its possible cultivation for rice, corn, coconuts, or other crops . Very often land described as "cogonal" has been cultivated for generations. Buildings are described in terms of only two or three classes of building materials and estimates of areas are more often inaccurate than correct. Tax values can serve as guides but cannot be absolute substitutes for just compensation . To say that the owners are estopped to question the valuations made by assessors since they had the opportunity to protest is illusory. The overwhelming mass of land owners accept unquestioningly what is found in the tax declarations prepared by local assessors or municipal clerks for them. They do not even look at, much less analyze, the statements. The idea of expropriation simply never occurs until a demand is made or a case filed by an agency authorized to do so. It is violative of due process to deny to the owner the opportunity to prove that the valuation in the tax documents is unfair or wrong. And it is repulsive to basic concepts of justice and fairness to allow the haphazard work of a minor bureaucrat or clerk to absolutely prevail over the judgment of a court promulgated only after expert commissioners have actually viewed the property, after evidence and arguments pro and con have been presented, and after all factors and considerations essential to a fair and just determination have been judiciously evaluated.48 Conformably with the rulings of this Court, the majority report took into account the most profitable likely use of the remaining area; and the

size, shape, accessibility, as well as listings of other properties within the vicinity.49 As gleaned from the location plan50 of the property in the case at bar, Lot No. 2076 is connected via a cemented road to the National Road, 1.5 kilometers away. The same is likewise strategically located at a junction of the barrio road leading to the Provincial Road, the National Road and to Sapang Palay. The lot is also on the same side of the road as the land owned by the Jesus Is Lord Congregation and the Partida Elementary School. The ocular inspection of the commissioners also reveals that opposite the road, about half a km away, is an ongoing resort project, the Falcon Crest Resort, and, about 200 meters away, the proposed Catholic Retreat House. While there are no existing structures or improvements on the residential portion of the lot, the same is situated along the all-weather (gravel) road and is fronting the property. On the agricultural portion thereof, the same appears to have been cultivated prior to the taking, as petitioner offered to compensate respondent's heirs' damages to the crops, plants and trees. The trial court fixed the just compensation for the property as follows: (1) P499.00 per sq m on the 17,195 sq m agricultural portion of the subject land; and (2) P800.00 per sq m on the 6,565 sq m residential portion of the lot. Noticeably, the trial court did not blindly accept the recommendation of majority of the commissioners of P800.00 per sq m for the residential lot and P700.00 per sq m for the agricultural lot. Indeed, the trial court took into account the evidence of the parties, in tandem with the findings and recommendation of the majority of the commissioners. Considering that such valuation of the trial court as affirmed by the CA is reasonable as it is and supported by the evidence on record, we find no compelling reason to disturb the same.51 The Court is not persuaded by petitioner's argument that respondents had not shown that the condition of the adjoining properties, i.e., improvements, had increased their land's economic value. It bears stressing that there is absence of any available sales data on properties within the vicinity of respondent's land for the years 1996

and 1997, the time of the taking. The property of respondent was the first to be sold. It is thus an exercise in futility for respondents to require evidence of sales of properties in the vicinity when no such transactions took place. Petitioner's contention that the trial court should have based the fixing of just compensation on the appraisal report of Cuervo Appraisers, Inc. (where petitioner based its Resolution No. 97-246) is likewise untenable. Petitioner failed to present the so-called report of the Cuervo Appraisers, Inc. as evidence. We note that annexed to NPC Resolution No. 97-246 is a data of the NPC Board Appraisal on the Fair Market Value of residential lands along the concrete road in Sapang Palay, San Jose Del Monte, valued at P499.00 per sq m, which, however, is not signed nor authenticated. If, at all, the values indicated therein are self-serving to petitioner. Parenthetically, petitioner has not explained why it agreed on paying just compensation of P499.00 per sq m on theagricultural lands of the spouses Lagula, when the purported Cuervo Appraisal Report indicates that the fair market value of unirrigated riceland along the road is only P110.00 per sq m, and for an unirrigated interior onlyP85.00 per sq m.52 Had petitioner really believed Cuervo's appraisal, then, it should have likewise insisted on the values therein when it dealt with the spouses Lagulas. Notably, the lower court's valuations of respondent's property – P499.00 per sq m on the agricultural portion andP800.00 per sq m on the residential portion of the lot – are near the estimates made by the following: (1) the Provincial Appraisal Committee, in its Resolution No. 97-005, which are P400.00 for agricultural and P600.00 for residential;53 (2) the recommendation in the majority report of the commissioners (P700.00 for agricultural andP800.00 for residential); and (3) the opinion values, which are P643.00 for agricultural and P1,075.00 for residential. On the other hand, the valuations made by Atty. Alog, P89.00 for agricultural and P230.00 for residential, are unconscionably low, understandably so because he works for petitioner.

On the question as to whether petitioner shall pay only an easement fee to respondent's heirs, the following pronouncement in National Power Corporation v. Aguirre-Paderanga54 is enlightening: Indeed, expropriation is not limited to the acquisition of real property with a corresponding transfer of title or possession. The right-of-way easement resulting in a restriction or limitation on property rights over the land traversed by transmission lines, as in the present case, also falls within the ambit of the term "expropriation."As explained in National Power Corporation v. Gutierrez, viz: The trial court's observation shared by the appellate court show that "x x x While it is true that plaintiff [is] only after a right-of-way easement, it nevertheless perpetually deprives defendants of their proprietary rights as manifested by the imposition by the plaintiff upon defendants that below said transmission lines no plant higher than three (3) meters is allowed. Furthermore, because of the high-tension current conveyed through said transmission lines, danger to life and limbs that may be caused beneath said wires cannot altogether be discounted, and to cap it all, plaintiff only pays the fee to defendants once, while the latter shall continually pay the taxes due on said affected portion of their property." The foregoing facts considered, the acquisition of the rightof-way easement falls within the purview of the power of eminent domain. Such conclusion finds support in similar cases of easement of right-of-way where the Supreme Court sustained the award of just compensation for private property condemned for public use (See National Power Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 129 SCRA 665, 1984; Garcia v. Court of Appeals, 102 SCRA 597, 1981). The Supreme Court, in Republic of the Philippines v. PLDT, thus held that:

"Normally, of course, the power of eminent domain results in the taking or appropriation of title to, and possession of, the expropriated property; but no cogent reason appears why said power may not be availed of to impose only a burden upon the owner of condemned property, without loss of title and possession. It is unquestionable that real property may, through expropriation, be subjected to an easement of right-of-way." In the case at bar, the easement of right-of-way is definitely a taking under the power of eminent domain. Considering the nature and effect of the installation of the 230 KV Mexico-Limay transmission lines, the limitation imposed by NPC against the use of the land for an indefinite period deprives private respondents of its ordinary use.55 Similarly, in this case, the commissioners' observation on the reported constant loud buzzing and exploding sounds emanating from the towers and transmission lines, especially on rainy days; the constant fear on the part of the landowners that the large transmission lines looming not far above their land and the huge tower in front of their lot will affect their safety and health; and the slim chance that no one would be interested to buy the remaining portions on each side of the residential lot affected by the project, to the damage of the landowners, both as to future actual use of the land and financial gains to be derived therefrom, makes the instant case fall within the ambit of expropriation. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. The ruling of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 72860 is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. Panganiban, C.J., Chairperson, Ynares-Santiago, Austria-Martinez, Chico-Nazario, J.J., concur.