Petitioner is the registered owner of a parcel of land located in Pulang Lupa, Las Piñas City. She acquired this property from the San Antonio Development Corporation (SADC) as shown by a document whereby she assumed SADC’s “obligation of paying all imposable taxes due said land.” In consideration of such assumption and “for value” she “stepped into the shoes” of SADC “free to exercise such rights and prerogatives as owner of the subject property, including the right to collect and demand payment for the sale and/or use of the subject land or any portion thereof, by and from any person or entity.”
The Public Estates Authority (PEA), a government-owned and controlled corporation, is representing in this case the Republic of the Philippines.
Prior to the transfer of the property, PEA wrote SADC requesting permission to enter the latter’s property for the purpose of constructing thereon the southern abutment of the Zapote Bridge at the Coastal Road. PEA also proposed to SADC to start their negotiation for its acquisition of the latter’s property.
What is the nature of the entry to be considered “taking”?
In City of Manila v. Estrada, we held that “compensation” means “an equivalent for the value of land (property) taken.” The use of the word “just” is “to convey the idea that the equivalent to be rendered for the property taken shall be real, substantial, full, ample.”
The CA, in its challenged Decision, held that PEA’s taking of petitioner’s property occurred in 1985.
The CA is wrong. PEA’s entry into the property with the permission of SADC, its previous owner, was not for the purpose of expropriating the property.
Since 1985 up to the present, no agreement has been reached between PEA and SADC or herein petitioner who acquired the property from the latter.
While PEA has been earning huge toll fees, it has refused to pay petitioner any compensation for the use of her property in violation of her right as an owner.
The above circumstances clearly show that when PEA entered petitioner’s land in 1985, it was not for the purpose of expropriating it.
Section 2, Rule 67 (on Expropriation) of the same Rules provides, among others, that upon the filing of the complaint or at any time thereafter and after due notice to the defendant, the plaintiff shall have the right to take or enter upon the possession of the real property involved if he deposits with the authorized government depositary an amount equivalent to the assessed value of the property. It bears reiterating that in Republic v. Vda. de Castellvi,17 we ruled that just compensation is determined as of the date of the taking of the property or the filing of the complaint, whichever came first.
We have made it clear that there was no taking of the property in 1985 by PEA for purposes of expropriation. As shown by the records, PEA filed with the RTC its petition for expropriation.