Heirs of the Estate of JBL Reyes vs City Of

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  Heirs of the Estate of JBL Reyes vs Cityof Manila Posted onDecember 6, 2012 422 SCRA 550February 13, 2004FACTS:Petitioners acquired a favorable judgment of eviction against respondents Abiog and Maglonso.In 1998, the said judgments became final and executory. Consequently, writs of execution wereissued.During the pendency of the complaints for unlawful detainer, respondent City filed a case for theexpropriation of the same properties involved in the ejectment cases.The trial court allowed respondent City to take possession of the property; it denied the motionsfor intervention and injunction, and, after allowing respondent City to oppose the motion todismiss, dismissed the complaint for expropriation.On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and found that respondent City properlyexercised its right to expropriate the subject properties. Petitioners appealed the CA decision tothis Court. Thereafter, on motion of respondent occupants, the Court of Appeals issued protective orders that required the parties to maintain the status quo (prohibiting any ejectment) pending this Court’s resolution of the appeal.Petitioner now questions the legality of the CA’s expropriation order and the propriety of its actenjoining the execution of the final judgments in the ejectment cases.ISSUES:Whether the respondent City may legally expropriate the subject properties, considering that anegative finding will necessarily moot the issue of the propriety of the “protective orders” of theCourt of Appeals.Did the city of Manila comply with RA 7279 (Secs.9-10) when it expropriated petitioner’s properties?HELD:Whether respondent City deprived petitioners of their property without due process of lawdepends on whether it complied with the legal requirements for expropriation. Before respondentCity can exercise its power of eminent domain, the same must be sanctioned and must not violateany law.A local government unit can only exercise powers granted to it by the legislature since it is onlya mere creation of the latter.Basis of Manila City’s expropriation:Local Gov’t Code:Sec. 19 Eminent Domain. – LGU, through its chief executive + acting pursuant to an ordinance,  may exercise Eminent Domain for:- public use/purpose or - benefit of the poor and the landlessupon payment of just compensation.Provided:- Valid and definite offer has been previously made to the owner, and was not accepted- LGU may immediately take possession of the property upon> filing of the expropriation proceedings &> making a deposit with the proper court of at least 15% of the property’s fair market value based on its current tax declaration- amount to be paid for the expropriated property – determined by the proper court, based on thefair market value at the time of its takingRA 409 (Revised Charter of the City of Manila):Power of Manila City to expropriate private property in the pursuit of its urban land reform andhousing program.Respondent City, however, is also mandated to follow the conditions and standards prescribed byRA7279 (the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992).RA 7279:Sec. 9 Priorities in Land acquisition – Acquire lands for socialized housing in the followingorder:(a) Those owned by Gov’t, subdivisions, instrumentalities + GOCCs and subsidiaries(b) Public, Alienable lands(c) Unregistered or abandoned and idle lands(d) Those w/in declared areas Areas of Priority Dev’t, Zonal Improvement Sites, & SlumImprovement Sites – not yet acquired(e) BLISS (Bagong Lipunan Improvement Sites & Services) – not yet acquired(f) Privately-owned landsPriorities – not apply when on-site dev’t is found more practicable & advantageous to beneficiariesLGU – give budgetary priority to on-site dev’t of Gov’t landsSec. 10 Modes of Land Acquisition – include:- Community Mortgage- Land swapping- Land assembly/consolidation- Land banking- donation to the Gov’t- Joint venture agreement- Negotiated purchase- ExpropriationProvided:- Only resort to expropriation when other modes of acquisition have been exhausted- Exempt parcels of land owned by small property owners- Revert and escheat abandoned property to the State in a proceeding analogous to Rule 91, RoC  Filstream vs. Court of Appeals- the above-quoted provisions are limitations to the exercise of the power of eminent domain.Private lands rank last in the order of priority for purposes of socialized housing.- expropriation proceedings are to be resorted to only after the other modes of acquisition have been exhausted.- Compliance with these conditions = mandatory -> only safeguards of private property ownersagainst violation of due process-Respondent City failed to prove strict compliance with the requirements of Sections 9 and 10 of RA 7279.> RTC: no allegations in its complaint; no proof during proceedings> CA: no showing in its pleadings.The CA was likewise silent on this specific jurisdictional issue.This is a clear violation of the right to due process of the petitioners which must accordingly berectified.It must be emphasized that the State has a paramount interest in exercising its power of eminentdomain for the general good.State’s right to expropriate private property for public use always takes precedence over theinterest of private property owners.However, the individual rights affected by the exercise of such right are also entitled to protection.The exercise of this superior right cannot override the guarantee of due process extended to property owners.Due to the fatal infirmity in the City’s exercise of the power of eminent domain, its complaint for expropriation must necessarily fail.The complaint for expropriation is dismissed. The petitioner’s appeal from the CA is favorablyadjudicated.The petition for certiorari questioning the validity of the Court of Appeals resolutions becomesmoot and academic.Filstream is substantially similar in facts and issues to the case at bar.
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