Republic vs. Vda. De Castellvi

G.R. No. L-20620 August 15, 1974

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellant,
vs.
CARMEN M. VDA. DE CASTELLVI, ET AL., defendants-appellees.

ZALDIVAR, J.:p

Facts:

This case involves two cases of a complaint for eminent domain – one against Carmen Vda. de Castellvi, as the administratix of the estate of the late Alfonso de Castellvi, and the other is against Maria Nieves Toledo-Gozunm.

The Republic, through the Philippine Air Force (PAF) was in a lease agreement with Castellvi for the latter’s property on yearly basis, starting 1 July 1947. Upon expiration of the agreement on 1956, Castellvi did not renew the same because she wanted to sell the leased property. From then on, the PAF was illegally occupying the said property and thereby was receiving repeated demands to vacate. The continued use by the PAF on the property prevented Castillevi from using and disposing of it, thus causing her damages by way of unrealized profit.

The Republic filed a complaint of eminent domain against defendants with the contention that the fair market value of the subject properties, according to the Committee on Appraisal for the Province of Pampanga, was not more than P 2,000 per hectare, or a total market value of P 259,669.10. Castellvi claimed on the other hand that the subject land, being residential land, had a fair market value of P15.00/sqm, totaling to a market value of P 11,389,485. Toledo-Gozun alleged that the parcels of land owned by her were residential lands and the fair market value of said lands was P 15.00 per square meter, so they had a total market value of P 8,085,675

In Toledo-Gozun’s answer, she filed a motion to dismiss alleging the contentions or that she be paid the amount of P 8,085,675, plus interest thereon at the rate of 6% per annum from October 13, 1959, and attorney’s fess in the amount of P 50,000.

RTC ruled that the Republic be placed in possession of the lands after it had deposited with the Provincial Treasurer of Pampanga the amount of P259,669.10; and authorized the Provincial Treasurer to pay Toledo-Gozun the sum of P 107,609 and Castellvi the amount of P 151,859.80 as provisional value of the lands. The RTC entered an order of condemnation, after.

The RTC afterward, appointed three commissioners to determine the value of the subject properties — Commissioners: Atty. Amadeo Yuzon, as commissioner for the court; Atty. Felicisimo Pamandanan for the plaintiff; and Atty. Leonardo Lansangan for the defendants

After having determined that the lands sought to be expropriated were residential lands, they recommended unanimously that the lowest price that should be paid was P 10.00 per square meter, for both lands of Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun. An additional P 5,000 be paid to Toledo-Gozun for improvements found on her land. Legal interest on the compensation, computed from August 10, 1959, be paid after deducting the amounts already paid to the owners, and that no consequential damages be awarded

RTC ruled that the unanimous recommendation of the commissioners of ten pesos (P10.00) per square meter for the lots of Castellvi and Toledo-Gozun is fair and just. Thus, it ordered the Republic to:

  1. Pay 6% interest per annum on the total value of the lands to Toledo-Gozun from the time that the provisional value has been deposited (August 10, 1959) until full payment
  2. Pay 6% interest per annum from July 1, 1956 when Republic commenced its illegal possession of the Castellvi land until July 10, 1959 when the provisional value thereof was actually deposited in court

Republic averred that the “taking” should be reckoned from the year 1947 when by virtue of a special lease agreement between the Republic and Castellvi, the former was granted the “right and privilege” to buy the property should the lessor wish to terminate the lease and that in the event of such sale, it was stipulated that the fair market value should be as of the time of occupancy; and that the permanent improvements amounting to more than half a million pesos constructed during a period of twelve years on the land, subject of expropriation, were indicative of an agreed pattern of permanency and stability of occupancy by the Philippine Air Force in the interest of national security.

Castellvi argued that the “taking” of property under the power eminent domain requires two essential elements, to wit: (1) entrance and occupation by condemnor upon the private property for more than a momentary or limited period, and (2) devoting it to a public use in such a way as to oust the owner and deprive him of all beneficial enjoyment of the property.

ISSUE: 

Whether the taking of the properties under expropriation commenced with the filing of the action or upon occupation.

HELD: 

YES. A number of circumstances must be present in the “taking” of property for purposes of eminent domain.

1)     The expropriator must enter a private property – this circumstance is present in the instant case, when by virtue of a lease agreement the Republic, through PAF, took possession of the property of Castellvi

2)     The entrance into private property must be for more than a momentary period – the word “momentary” when applied to possession or occupancy of property should be construed to mean “a limited period” – not indefinite or permanent. The entry on the property, under the lease, is temporary and considered transitory considering that the said contract is renewable from year to year. The fact that the Republic constructed some installation of a permanent nature does not alter the fact that the entry into the land was transitory or intended to last a year.

3)     The entry into the property should be under warrant or color of legal authority – this circumstance is present in the instant case because Republic entered the Castellvi property as lessee

4)     The property must be devoted to a public use or otherwise informally appropriated or injuriously affected – this is likewise present in this case because the property was used by the air force of the AFP

5)     The utilization of the property for public use must be in such a way as to oust the owner and deprive him of all beneficial enjoyment of the property – this is wanting in this case as Castellvi remained as owner and she was receiving the monthly rentals of the property; hence, she was not deprived of the beneficial enjoyment of the property.

We hold, therefore, that the “taking’ of the Castellvi property should not be reckoned as of the year 1947 when the Republic first occupied the same pursuant to the contract of lease, and that the just compensation to be paid for the Castellvi property should not be determined on the basis of the value of the property as of that year. The lower court did not commit an error when it held that the “taking” of the property under expropriation commenced with the filing of the complaint in this case.

Under Section 4 of Rule 67 of the Rules of Court, the “just compensation” is to be determined as of the date of the filing of the complaint. This Court has ruled that when the taking of the property sought to be expropriated coincides with the commencement of the expropriation proceedings, or takes place subsequent to the filing of the complaint for eminent domain, the just compensation should be determined as of the date of the filing of the complaint. In the instant case, it is undisputed that the Republic was placed in possession of the Castellvi property, by authority of the court, on August 10, 1959. The “taking” of the Castellvi property for the purposes of determining the just compensation to be paid must, therefore, be reckoned as of June 26, 1959 when the complaint for eminent domain was filed.

Related Posts