Sometime in the 1960’s, RCAM allowed a number of individuals to occupy the Grace Park property on condition that they would vacate the premises should the former push through with the plan to construct a school in the area. The plan, however, did not materialize, thus, the occupants offered to purchase the portions they occupied. Later, as they could not afford RCAM’s proposed price, the occupants, organizing themselves as exclusive members of the Eulogio Rodriguez, Jr. Tenants Association, Inc., petitioned the Government for the acquisition of the said property, its subdivision into home lots, and the resale of the subdivided lots to them at a low price.
Is the issue of “genuine necessity” a justiciable question?
YES. In Lagcao v. Judge Labra, we declared that the foundation of the right to exercise eminent domain is genuine necessity, and that necessity must be of a public character. As a rule, the determination of whether there is genuine necessity for the exercise is a justiciable question. However, when the power is exercised by the Legislature, the question of necessity is essentially a political question.
In the instant cases, the authority to expropriate came from Presidential Decree No. 1072, issued by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1977. At that time, and as explicitly recognized under the 1973 Constitution, President Marcos had legislative powers. Perforce, the expropriation of the subject properties – identified with specificity in the P.D. — was directed by legislation. The issue of necessity then assumed the nature of a political question.