Pursuant to Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 93-95, Series of 1993, the Municipality of Parañaque filed a Complaint for expropriation against Private Respondent V.M. Realty over two parcels of land allegedly ”for the purpose of alleviating the living conditions of the underprivileged by providing homes for the homeless through a socialized housing project.”
Petitioner, pursuant to its Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 577, Series of 1991, previously made an offer to enter into a negotiated sale of the property with private respondent, for the same purpose, which the latter did not accept.
The RTC issued an Order giving due course to the complaint, and authorizing petitioner to take possession of the subject property upon deposit with its clerk of court of an amount equivalent to 15 percent of its fair market value based on its current tax declaration.
In its Answer containing affirmative defenses and a counterclaim, private respondent alleged, among others, that the complaint failed to state a cause of action because it was filed pursuant to a resolution and not to an ordinance as required by RA 7160 (the Local Government Code).
Petitioner contends that a resolution approved by the municipal council for the purpose of initiating an expropriation case “substantially complies with the requirements of the law” because the terms “ordinance” and “resolution” are synonymous for “the purpose of bestowing authority [on] the local government unit through its chief executive to initiate the expropriation proceedings in court in the exercise of the power of eminent domain.”
Whether a resolution duly approved by the municipal council has the same force and effect of an ordinance and will not deprive an expropriation case of a valid cause of action.
The Court disagrees with petitioner.
Resolution Different from an Ordinance.
The power of eminent domain is lodged in the legislative branch of government, which may delegate the exercise thereof to LGUs, other public entities and public utilities. An LGU may therefore exercise the power to expropriate private property only when authorized by Congress and subject to the latter’s control and restraints, imposed “through the law conferring the power or in other legislations.”
In this case, Section 19 of RA 7160, which delegates to LGUs the power of eminent domain, also lays down the parameters for its exercise. It provides as follows:
Sec. 19. Eminent Domain.
A local government unit may, through its chief executive and acting pursuant to an ordinance, exercise the power of eminent domain for public use, or purpose, or welfare for the benefit of the poor and the landless, upon payment of just compensation, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution and pertinent laws: Provided, however, That the power of eminent domain may not be exercised unless a valid and definite offer has been previously made to the owner, and such offer was not accepted:
Provided, further, That the local government unit may immediately take possession of the property upon the filing of the expropriation proceedings and upon making a deposit with the proper court of at least fifteen percent (15%) of the fair market value of the property based on the current tax declaration of the property to be expropriated:
Provided, finally, That, the amount to be paid for the expropriated property shall be determined by the proper court, based on the fair market value at the time of the taking of the property.
Thus, the following essential requisites must concur before an LGU can exercise the power of eminent domain:
1. An ordinance is enacted by the local legislative council authorizing the local chief executive, in behalf of the LGU, to exercise the power of eminent domain or pursue expropriation proceedings over a particular private property.
2. The power of eminent domain is exercised for public use, purpose or welfare, or for the benefit of the poor and the landless.
3. There is payment of just compensation, as required under Section 9, Article III of the Constitution, and other pertinent laws.
4. A valid and definite offer has been previously made to the owner of the property sought to be expropriated, but said offer was not accepted.
In the case at bar, the local chief executive sought to exercise the power of eminent domain pursuant to a resolution of the municipal council. Thus, there was no compliance with the first requisite that the mayor be authorized through an ordinance.
We are not convinced by petitioner’s insistence that the terms “resolution” and “ordinance” are synonymous.
A municipal ordinance is different from a resolution.
An ordinance is a law, but a resolution is merely a declaration of the sentiment or opinion of a lawmaking body on a specific matter. An ordinance possesses a general and permanent character, but a resolution is temporary in nature. Additionally, the two are enacted differently — a third reading is necessary for an ordinance, but not for a resolution, unless decided otherwise by a majority of all the Sanggunian members.
If Congress intended to allow LGUs to exercise eminent domain through a mere resolution, it would have simply adopted the language of the previous Local Government Code. But Congress did not. In a clear divergence from the previous Local Government Code, Section 19 of RA 7160 categorically requires that the local chief executive act pursuant to an ordinance. Indeed, “[l]egislative intent is determined principally from the language of a statute.