Dissension in the Court: July 2013

In a decision penned by Justice Peralta and promulgated last July 1, 2013, the Third Division of the Supreme Court ruled that just compensation for property taken by the government in 1940 should be Php0.70/sqm, its fair market value (FMV) at the time of taking, and not Php10,000/sqm, its FMV at the time of filing of the claim for just compensation by the landowners in 1995, nor Php1,500/sqm, its reasonable value as determined by the Provincial Appraisal Committee (PAC) appointed by the lower court in 1999 to determine just compensation.

Private respondents owned land in Bulacan that was taken by the DPWH in 1940 and used for the construction of the MacArthur Highway, without the owners’ consent and without the necessary expropriation proceedings.  In 1994, respondents demanded payment of the FMV of the land but petitioner DPWH District Engineer Contreras offered to pay Php0.70/sqm per resolution of the PAC of Bulacan.  Unsatisfied with the offer, respondents demanded the return of their property or the payment of compensation at current FMV.  As their demand remained unheeded, respondents filed a Complaint on March 1995 for recovery of possession with damages against petitioners DPWH Secretary and DPWH District Engineer.

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