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Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. 103125 May 17, 1993
BENJAMIN V. PANGA as Presiding Judge of RTC Branch 33 at Pili, Camarines Sur, petitioners,
The Provincial Attorney for petitioners.
Reynaldo L. Herrera for Ernesto San Joaquin.

In this appeal by certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals in AC-G.R. SP No. 20551 entitled
"Ernesto N. San Joaquin, et al., v. Hon. Benjamin V. Panga, et al.," this Court is asked to decide
whether the expropriation of agricultural lands by local government units is subject, to the prior
approval of the Secretary of the Agrarian Reform, as the implementator of the agrarian reform
On December 22, 1988, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Camarines Sur passed
Resolution No. 129, Series of 1988, authorizing the Provincial Governor to purchase or expropriate
property contiguous to the provincial capitol site, in order to establish a pilot farm for non-food and
non-traditional agricultural crops and a housing project for provincial government employees.
The "WHEREAS" clause o:f the Resolution states:
WHEREAS, the province of Camarines Sur has adopted a five-year
Comprehensive Development plan, some of the vital components of which
includes the establishment of model and pilot farm for non-food and nontraditional agricultural crops, soil testing and tissue culture laboratory centers,
15 small scale technology soap making, small scale products of plaster of
paris, marine biological and sea farming research center,and other
progressive feasibility concepts objective of which is to provide the necessary
scientific and technology know-how to farmers and fishermen in Camarines
Sur and to establish a housing project for provincial government employees;
WHEREAS, the province would need additional land to be acquired either by
purchase or expropriation to implement the above program component;
WHEREAS, there are contiguous/adjacent properties to be (sic) present
Provincial Capitol Site ideally suitable to establish the same pilot
development center;

The San Joaquins filed a motion for relief from the order. 337). the Province of Camarines Sur claimed that it has the authority to initiate the expropriation proceedings under Sections 4 and 7 of Local Government Code (B. San Joaquin. and (c) that the order dated December 6. However. In its answer to the petition. the San Joaquins asked for: (i) the dismissal of the complaints for expropriation on the ground of the inadequacy of the compensation offered for the property and (ii) the nullification of Resolution No. Hon. 129. The trial court issued a writ of possession in an order dated January18. allowing the Province of Camarines Sur to take possession of private respondents' lands and the order denying the admission of the amended motion to dismiss. Series of 1988 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan be declared null and void. 1990. denying the motion to admit the amended motion to dismiss. Forthwith. through its Governor. It must be noted that in the Court of Appeals. The San Joaquins failed to appear at the hearing of the motion. it assumed that the resolution is valid and that the expropriation is for a public purpose or public use.P. the Province of Camarines Sur.P. Panga. Series of 1988 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Camarines Sur. The Court of Appeals set aside the order of the trial court. the San Joaquins asked: (a) that Resolution No. there was no need for the approval by the Office of the President of the exercise by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the right of eminent domain. Camarines Sur.00. Benjamin V. The Court of Appeals did not rule on the validity of the questioned resolution. (b) that the complaints for expropriation be dismissed. the Province of Camarines Sur filed a motion for the issuance of writ of possession. It also ordered the trial court to suspend the expropriation proceedings until after the Province of Camarines Sur shall have submitted the requisite approval of the Department of Agrarian Reform to convert the classification of the property of the private respondents from agricultural to non-agricultural land. In an order dated December 6. 1989 (i) denying the motion to dismiss and (ii) allowing the Province of Camarines Sur to take possession of the property subject of the expropriation and the order dated February 26. the amount provisionally fixed by the trial court to answer for damages that private respondents may suffer in the event that the expropriation cases do not prosper. 1989. the trial court denied the motion to dismiss and authorized the Province of Camarines Sur to take possession of the property upon the deposit with the Clerk of Court of the amount of P5. authorizing the Province of Camarines Sur to take possession of their property and a motion to admit an amended motion to dismiss. 337) and that the expropriations are for a public purpose. San Joaquin and Efren N. . Hence this petition. P-17-89 and P-19-89 of the Regional Trial Court. Blg. 1990. the Solicitor General stated that under Section 9 of the Local Government Code (B. The San Joaquins moved to dismiss the complaints on the ground of inadequacy of the price offered for their property.Villafuerte.714. Asked by the Court of Appeals to give his Comment to the petition. and thereafter to issue a writ of injunction. presided by the Hon. Both motions were denied in the order dated February 1990. filed two separate cases for expropriation against Ernesto N. 129. Pili. be set aside. However. the Solicitor General expressed the view that the Province of Camarines Sur must first secure the approval of the Department of Agrarian Reform of the plan to expropriate the lands of petitioners for use as a housing project. Blg. docketed as Special Civil Action Nos. They also asked that an order be issued to restrain the trial court from enforcing the writ of possession. In their petition before the Court of Appeals. when the Court of Appeals ordered the suspension of the proceedings until the Province of Camarines Sur shall have obtained the authority of the Department of Agrarian Reform to change the classification of the lands sought to be expropriated from agricultural to non-agricultural use.Pursuant to the Resolution. neither did it dismiss the complaints. Luis R.

There was a finding that of the 282 hectares sought to be expropriated. 125 SCRA 220 [1983]. A fair and reasonable reading of the decision is that this Court viewed the power of expropriation as superior to the power to distribute lands under the land reform program. petitioners raised the issue of whether the Philippine Tourism Authority can expropriate lands covered by the "Operation Land Transfer" for use of a tourist resort complex. As held in Sumulong v. 360). ed. The Court of Appeals. Once operational. held that the Province of Camarines Sur must comply with the provision of Section 65 of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law and must first secure the approval of the Department of Agrarian Reform of the plan to expropriate the lands of the San Joaquins.P.g. roads. which provides: . While the Court said that there was "no need under the facts of this petition to rule on whether the public purpose is superior or inferior to another purpose or engage in a balancing of competing public interest. which requires the approval of the Department of Agrarian Reform before a parcel of land can be reclassified from an agricultural to a non-agricultural land. 74 L.A. either in the law conferring the power or in other legislations. No. "public use" means public advantage. 28l US 439. only an area of 8. The Solicitor General denigrated the power to expropriate by the Province of Camarines Sur by stressing the fact that local government units exercise such power only by delegation. 43 S Ct.ed. fishermen and craftsmen would be enhanced. safety. The old concept was that the condemned property must actually be used by the general public (e. The establishment of a pilot development center would inure to the direct benefit and advantage of the people of the Province of Camarines Sur. it is complete within its limits. Blg. the legislature may retain certain control or impose certain restraints on the exercise thereof by the local governments (Joslin Mfg. Guerrero. 50 SCt. following the recommendation of the Solicitor General. "Housing is a basic human need. the livelihood of the farmers. The housing project also satisfies the public purpose requirement of the Constitution. 6657). Rollo. there has been a shift from the literal to a broader interpretation of "public purpose" or "public use" for which the power of eminent domain may be exercised." It is the submission of the Province of Camarines Sur that its exercise of the power of eminent domain cannot be restricted by the provisions of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (R. which tends to contribute to the general welfare and the prosperity of the whole community. Under the new concept. the Local Government Code. 337. 14-15. 262 US 668 67 L. bridges. In Heirs of Juancho Ardana v.RA 461 [1987]). particularly Section 65 thereof.970 square meters formed part of the resort complex. was promulgated pursuant to Section 9 of B. 1167. 154 SC. The expropriation of the property authorized by the questioned resolution is for a public purpose. Reyes. convenience or benefit. the environment and in sum the general welfare. It is also true that in delegating the power to expropriate. Vester. Series of 1988. Sumulong v. (Comment. public plazas. pp." it upheld the expropriation after noting that petitioners had failed to overcome the showing that the taking of 8. Moreover.Modernly. Providence. 950. Ultimately. Reyes. While such delegated power may be a limited authority. like a resort complex for tourists or housing project (Heirs of Juancho Ardano v.) before the taking thereof could satisfy the constitutional requirement of "public use". fishery and the cottage industry. 684). 129. Guerrero. 154 SCRA 461. 128-129) It is true that local government units have no inherent power of eminent domain and can exercise it only when expressly authorized by the legislature (City of Cincinnati v. Resolution No. pp. the limitations on the exercise of the delegated power must be clearly expressed. v.970 square meters or less than one hectare was affected by the land reform program and covered by emancipation patents issued by the Ministry of Agrarian Reform. Co. the center would make available to the community invaluable information and technology on agriculture. 125 SCRA 220. Shortage in housing is a matter of state concern since it directly and significantly affects public health. etc.

as sovereign. 8 ALR 585). the same being an expression of legislative policy. The opening. which reads: Sec. 65. it would then be the Department of Agrarian Reform to scrutinize whether the expropriation is for a public purpose or public use. 219 NYS 2d. 90 L. Series of 1987. or the locality has become urbanized and the land will have a greater economic value for residential. units must first secure the approval of the Department of Land Reform for the conversion of lands from agricultural to nonagricultural use. Houghton. — After the lapse of five (5) years from its award. with due notice to the affected parties. there is no provision in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law which expressly subjects the expropriation of agricultural lands by local government units to the control of the Department of Agrarian Reform. do not embrace the sovereign unless the sovereign is specially mentioned as subject thereto (Alliance of Government Workers v. such authority is limited to the applications for reclassification submitted by the land owners or tenant beneficiaries. and subject to existing laws. 241). The fears of private respondents that they will be paid on the basis of the valuation declared in the tax declarations of their property. commercial or industrial purposes. 843. it is the legislative branch of the local government unit that shall determine whether the use of the property sought to be expropriated shall be public. 337 does not intimate in the least that local government." The rules on conversion of agricultural lands found in Section 4 (k) and 5 (1) of Executive Order No. 2d.E. Co. without first applying for conversion of the use of the lands with the Department of Agrarian Reform. Blg. The Republic of the Philippines. This Court has declared as unconstitutional the . Welch. Conversion of Lands. The closest provision of law that the Court of Appeals could cite to justify the intervention of the Department of Agrarian Reform in expropriation matters is Section 65 of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. etc. before they can institute the necessary expropriation proceedings. bridges. 66 S Ct 715. no matter how broad their terms are. There is also an ancient rule that restrictive statutes. hospitals. Minister of Labor and Employment. 249. when the land ceases to be economically feasible and sound for. Likewise. or its political subdivisions.A local government unit may. That the beneficiary shall have fully paid his obligation. ed.Y. commercial or industrial uses. adverbial phrase of the provision sends signals that it applies to lands previously placed under the agrarian reform program as it speaks of "the lapse of five (5) years from its award. 10 N. 174 NW 885. 124 SCRA 1 [1983]). because all of these projects would naturally involve a change in the land use. To sustain the Court of Appeals would mean that the local government units can no longer expropriate agricultural lands needed for the construction of roads. agricultural purposes. are unfounded. as holders of delegated sovereign powers. may authorize the reclassification or conversion of the land and its disposition:Provided. Ordinarily. cannot be the source of the authority of the Department of Agrarian Reform to determine the suitability of a parcel of agricultural land for the purpose to which it would be devoted by the expropriating authority. 144 Minn. The courts defer to such legislative determination and will intervene only when a particular undertaking has no real or substantial relation to the public use (United States Ex Rel Tennessee Valley Authority v. upon application of the beneficiary or the landowner. State ex rel Twin City Bldg.P. 327 US 546. v. People. 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. the DAR. and Invest. 817. 129-A. 176 N. 2d. In effect. Section 9 of B. 1. cannot be bound by provisions of law couched in general term. schools. Statutes conferring the power of eminent domain to political subdivisions cannot be broadened or constricted by implication (Schulman v. While those rules vest on the Department of Agrarian Reform the exclusive authority to approve or disapprove conversions of agricultural lands for residential.

the petition is GRANTED and the questioned decision of the Court of Appeals is set aside insofar as it (a) nullifies the trial court's order allowing the Province of Camarines Sur to take possession of private respondents' property. Junsay. 96298 May 14. 149 SCRA 305 [1987]). (b) orders the trial court to suspend the expropriation proceedings. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION. Disregard of our consistent ruling on this matter has needlessly imposed on the valuable time of the Court and indeed borders on disrespect for the highest tribunal. The Lawphil Project . JJ.Presidential Decrees fixing the just compensation in expropriation cases to be the value given to the condemned property either by the owners or the assessor. No. Brillantes. Dulay. which allow private respondents to submit evidence on what they consider shall be the just compensation for their property. Guerzon for J. Nachura. We state at the outset that this conduct can no longer be countenanced. Adolpho M. SO ORDERED.:p The issue raised in this case has been categorically resolved in a long line of cases that should have since guided the policies and actions of the respondent Civil Service Commission. the rules for determining just compensation are those laid down in Rule 67 of the Rules of Court. J. Cruz. concur.Arellano Law Foundation Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G. whichever was lower ([Export Processing Zone Authority v. denying the amended motion to dismiss of the private respondents. Limare and Daisy B. Navarro & Arcilla Law Offices for petitioner. LAPINID. Garcia-Tingzon for Civil Service Commission. 183 SCRA 528 [1990].. and (c) requires the Province of Camarines Sur to obtain the approval of the Department of Agrarian Reform to convert or reclassify private respondents' property from agricultural to nonagricultural use. Evalyn L Fetalino. respondents. Rogelio C. Griño-Aquino and Bellosillo. As held inMunicipality of Talisay v. . PHILIPPINE PORTS AUTHORITY and JUANITO JUNSAY. The decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED insofar as it sets aside the order of the trial court. CRUZ. petitioner. 1991 RENATO M.R. Ramirez. Jr. WHEREFORE. vs.

Benjamin — 79 LAPINID. Nestor — 80 DE GUZMAN. The petitioner filed a Reply. The results of the evaluation are as follows: JUNSAY. and physical characteristics/personality traits. He contended that he should be designated terminal supervisor. Cesar — 80 It is thus obvious that Protestants Junsay (79. 1990. This was denied on May 25. namely: eligibility. 1988. the Commission disposed as follows: After a careful review of the records of the case. 1990. complaining that the PPA had not acted on his protest. 1988. 1990. A second motion for reconsideration filed on September 14. we resolved to require Comments from the respondents and in the meantime issued a temporary restraining order. which was denied on August 17. by private respondent Juanito Junsay. work experience. 1990. education.5) and Villegas (79) have an edge over that of protestees Lapinid (75) and Dulfo (78). Lapinid. 1989.5 VILLEGAS. The Philippine Ports Authority also filed its own motion for reconsideration on June 19. productivity/performance/ attendance. initiative/leadership. based on the re-appreciation of Lapinid's rating from 75% to 84%. for a review of the decision of the Placement Committee dated May 3. the Commission finds the appeal meritorious. 7who claimed he had not been informed of the appeal and had not been heard thereon. 1990. was allowed to file its own Comment. 1988. in view of his preferential right thereto. 1990. In the comparative evaluation sheets. Eleuterio — 79 FLORES. Foregoing premises considered. We see no reason to deviate from our consistent ruling on the issue before us. . it is directed that Appellants Juanito Junsay and Benjamin Villegas be appointed as Terminal Supervisor (SG 18) vice protestees Renato Lapinid and Antonio Dulfo respectively who may be considered for appointment to any position commensurate and suitable to their qualifications. In a resolution dated February 14. Lapinid was appointed by the Philippine Ports Authority to the position of Terminal Supervisor at the Manila International Container Terminal on October 1.Petitioner Renato M. 1990. SO ORDERED. Antonio — 78 MARIANO. On June 26. Upon learning of the said resolution. filed a motion for reconsideration on March 19. 1988. Junsay went to the Civil Service Commission and challenged Lapinid's appointment on the same grounds he had earlier raised before the PPA. Alfonso — 80 VER. Renato — 75 DULFO. or to any other comparable position. When the petitioner came to this Court on December 13. integrity. was also denied on October 19. This appointment was protested on December 15. The Solicitor General took a stand against the Civil Service Commission which. at his suggestion. 1990. The private respondent's Comment was dispensed with when it was not filed within the prescribed period. Juanito — 79. the parties were evaluated according to the following criteria. and that the Commission be notified within ten (10) days of the implementation hereof. who reiterated his earlier representations with the Appeals Board of the PPA on May 9.

No. 1989. If he does. 85941. No. and when it finds the appointee to be qualified and all other legal requirements have been otherwise satisfied. in practically the same language as Luego. Civil Service Commission. is to review the appointment in the light of the requirements of the Civil Service Law.. No. Zulueta v. 90477. Bayao v. En Banc. September 11. Minute Resolution.R. En Banc. G. Pintor v.R. Remigio v. G. Civil Service Commission. No. the only condition being that the appointee should possess the qualifications required by law. G. Civil Service Commission. Civil Service Commission. Mamangun. this Court declared: The issue is starkly simple: Is the Civil Service Commission authorized to disapprove a permanent appointment on the ground that another person is better qualified than the appointee and. Minute Resolution. Tan.R. G.R. Minute Resolution. Santiago v. 1990. Civil Service Commission. 1989. 1990. G.1 In Luego v. Civil Service Commission. G. G. 91520. November 15. Minute Resolution. Galura v. Aurora Macacua v. Abdulwahab A. it has no choice but to attest to the appointment. Civil Service Commission. September 12. En Banc. Alicia D. November 8.R. in Gaspar v. 178 SCRA 733. En Banc.Elenito Lim v. xxx xxx xxx The determination of who among several candidates for a vacant position has the best qualifications is vested in the sound discretion of the Department Head or . March 9. 1989. Simpao v. September 13. No. 86324. 1990. No. it had no authority to revoke the said appointment simply because it believed that the private respondent was better qualified for that would have constituted an encroachment on the discretion vested solely in the city mayor. Orbos v. Minute Resolution. The same ruling has been affirmed. En Banc.R.R. 92561. No. July 31. Minute Resolution. July 6.. Civil Service Commission. No. Civil Service Commission. No. G. 85976.R. 84022 and G. This is a political question involving considerations of wisdom which only the appointing authority can decide. it has no authority to revoke the appointment simply because it considers another employee to be better qualified for that would constitute an encroachment on the discretion vested in the appointing authority. then the appointment cannot be faulted on the ground that there are others better qualified who should have been preferred. To be sure. 92388. order his replacement by the latter? xxx xxx xxx Appointment is an essentially discretionary power and must be performed by the officer in which it is vested according to his best lights. 1990. G. Minute Resolution. October 11. xxx xxx xxx Significantly. En Banc. Court of Appeals this Court said: The only function of the Civil Service Commission in cases of this nature.R. in Central Bank v. 1989.The Hon. June 1. Tagaro v. 87145. et al. the Commission on Civil Service acknowledged that both the petitioner and the private respondent were qualified for the position in controversy. according to Luego. En Banc. En Banc. G. 171 SCRA 744.Teologo v.R. Civil Service Commission. on the basis of this finding. 2 Only recently. 1990.R. Luego finally points out that the recognition by the Commission that both the appointee and the protestant are qualified for the position in controversy renders it functus officio in the case and prevents it from acting further thereon except to affirm the validity of the former's appointment. 1990. 92103. 85812. June 15. No. Civil Service Commission. Chairman.R. That recognition alone rendered it functus officio in the case and prevented it from acting further thereon except to affirm the validity of the petitioner's appointment. G. No. et al. 85804. Civil Service Commission. 1990. No. Minute Resolution.

team spirit. This is a matter addressed only to the discretion of the appointing authority. We note with stern disapproval that the Civil Service Commission has once again directed the appointment of its own choice in the case at bar. the bar does. the selection itself of the appointee— taking into account the totality of his qualifications. for the Civil Service Commission not to understand them. We must therefore make the following injunctions which the Commission must note well and follow strictly. then that is an entirely different matter and shall be treated accordingly.appointing authority and not in the Civil Service Commission. and best interests. his appointment is approved. The Civil Service Commission cannot substitute its judgment for that of the Head of Office in this regard. and often enough. It cannot disallow an appointment because it believes another person is better qualified and much less can it direct the appointment of its own choice. if not defy. number of academic units in a certain course. ambition. The determination of who among aspirants with the minimum statutory qualifications should be preferred belongs to the appointing authority and not the Civil Service Commission. Given the demands of a certain job. that the Civil Service Commission has no power of appointment except over its own personnel. whether original or promotional. initiative. the Civil Service Commission has seen fit to ignore. courtesy.. Every particular job in an office calls for both formal and informal qualifications. it is disapproved. Thus. who can do it best should be left to the Head of the Office concerned provided the legal requirements for the office are satisfied. The bench does. the clear mandate of the Court. except those presidential appointees. including those abstract qualities that define his personality—is the prerogative of the appointing authority. Luego declared: It is understandable if one is likely to be misled by the language of Section 9(h) of Article V of the Civil Service Decree because it says the Commission has the power to "approve" and "disapprove" appointments. a full reading of the provision. . No other criterion is permitted by law to be employed by the Commission when it acts on—or as the Decree says. if not. especially of the underscored parts. and jailguards. Commenting on the limits of the powers of the public respondent. Formal qualifications such as age. The Court believes it has stated the foregoing doctrine clearly enough. it is provided therein that the Commission shall have inter alia the power to: 9(h) Approve all appointments. may be valuable but so are such intangibles as resourcefulness. and disapprove those where the appointees do not possess appropriate eligibility or required qualifications. If it will not. despite these definitive pronouncements. loyalty. Appointment is a highly discretionary act that even this Court cannot compel. to positions in the civil service. seminars attended. Neither does it have the authority to review the appointments made by other offices except only to ascertain if the appointee possesses the required qualifications. We declare once again. and let us hope for the last time. "approves" or "disapproves'—an appointment made by the proper authorities. It is therefore incomprehensible to the Court why. While the act of appointment may in proper cases be the subject of mandamus. (Emphasis supplied) However. police forces. If he does. firemen. It is a political question that the Civil Service Commission has no power to review under the Constitution and the applicable laws. of the service. will make it clear that all the Commission is actually allowed to do is check whether or not the appointee possesses the appropriate civil service eligibility or the required qualifications. prospects for the future. etc. members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. and we see no reason why the Civil Service Commission does not.

1990. we must stress. 1990. it disobeys at its peril. Melencio-Herrera. the Civil Service Commission is ORDERED to desist from disregarding the doctrine announced in Luego v. While we appreciate the fact that the Commission is a constitutional body. WHEREFORE. Bidin. which expects full compliance with its decisions even if the Commission may not agree with them. No. Fernan. Gutierrez. Up to this point.. are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Civil Service Commission should recognize that its acts are subject to reversal by this Court.Whatever the reasons for its conduct. Civil Service Commission and the subsequent decisions reiterating such ruling. August 17. 90799. May 25. Henceforth. 2 G. No costs. Jr. The Lawphil Project . 1990. 1990. The temporary restraining order dated December 13. concur. and October 19. The Resolutions of the respondent Civil Service Commission dated February 14. Sarmiento Griño-Aquino. that every department and office in the Republic must know its place in the scheme of the Constitution. JJ..R. departure from the mandate of Luego by the Civil Service Commission after the date of the promulgation of this decision shall be considered contempt of this Court and shall be dealt with severely. the Court has leniently regarded the attitude of the public respondent on this matter as imputable to a lack of comprehension and not to intentional intransigence. Paras. in view especially of the status of the contemner. Padilla. Medialdea. 1990.. 1990. October 18. C. Henceforth. Regalado and Davide. Feliciano. The Commission on Civil Service has been duly warned. as a necessary reminder. But we are no longer disposed to indulge that fiction. Jr..Arellano Law Foundation .J. Gancayco. is made PERMANENT. SO ORDERED. Footnotes 1 143 SCRA 327. Narvasa. the petition is GRANTED.