Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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Property rules

Selling land for a public purpose

“BUY LAND,” said American novelist Mark Twain. “They’re not making it anymore.”

And so our government did. In 2014 for instance, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) sought to acquire portions of roadside properties for its Banilad-Talamban road widening project in Cebu City.

In his interview with Cebu Daily News, DPWH-7 Planning Division Head Nonito Paylado said the project sought to regulate the traffic flow as the flyover in MJ Cuenco and Gorordo Avenues continues to be constructed.

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The Banilad-Talamban road widening project is one of the DPWH’s numerous national infrastructure projects, which include the conversion of national roads and construction of bridges and flyovers. In studies conducted by the DPWH, local government units transferred the administration of 2,486.14 kilometers or a total of 213 road sections to the national government for their conversion into national roads from 2010 to 2016, while 364,162 linear meters or 8,161 bridges were constructed in 2016.

In order to address the government’s increasing number of national infrastructure projects, as well as the need for low cost housing, the Congress enacted Republic Act (RA) No. 10752, which sought to facilitate its acquisition of right-of-way site or location through donation, negotiated sale, expropriation or any other mode of acquisition as provided by law.

RA No. 10752 covers “national government projects,” which include: (a) national government infrastructure projects and their public service facilities; (b) engineering works and service contracts, including projects undertaken by government-owned and -controlled corporations; (c) infrastructure projects covered by the Build-Operate-Transfer Law; and (d) other related and necessary activities.”

While our laws define and regulate donation, sale and other modes of acquisition of real property, expropriation is rooted in our country’s inherent power of eminent domain, which the Supreme Court defines as “the ultimate right of the sovereign power to appropriate, not only the public but the private property of all citizens within the territorial sovereignty, to public purposes.”

The government may only exercise this inherent power if these two requirements were present: (a) that the appropriation of private property is for a particular public purpose; and (b) that just compensation be paid to the property owner.

Public use as such requirement is synonymous with “public interest,” “public benefit,” and “public convenience,” which purpose must not be abandoned by the government in instituting expropriation proceedings against a particular property.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court defines the requirement of just compensation as just and timely payment to the owner of private property to be determined by the courts.

Thus, should the government fail to fully pay the determined amount, it will incur interest on the unpaid balance.

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The government institutes expropriation proceedings by filing a complaint before the proper court. In the case of national government projects, the government must pay 100 percent of the value of the land based on the current relevant zonal valuation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), upon the filing of the complaint.

The BIR must have issued said current valuation not more than three years before the filing of the complaint.

In provinces, cities, municipalities and other areas where there is no land classification, the city or municipal assessor must come up with the required land classification and corresponding declaration of real property and improvement for the area within 60 days from the date of filing of the expropriation case.

If there was no zonal valuation, or the current valuation was in force for more than three years, the BIR must conduct a zonal valuation in that area based on the assessor’s land classification, within 60 days from the date of filing of said case.

While those not classified as national government projects are likewise instituted by the filing of said complaint, the government need only pay 10 percent of the amount of compensation upon such filing or the government’s entry into the private property, whichever is earlier.

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