CA stops Davao court from archiving NGCP’s land expropriation cases

The Court of Appeals (CA) has issued a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC) from consigning 37 land expropriation cases of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to the archives.

In a recent 8-page resolution, the CA Special 23rd Division said the NGCP, the private operator of the country’s power grid, was able to justify the need for a TRO.

The RTC had archived the cases—seeking to acquire land for the construction of a transmission line project in Mindanao—because NGCP had failed to attach the necessary documents to show that the property owners were made an offer, a requirement under Republic Act (RA) Number 10752.

But, the CA said RA 10752 was not applicable to the NGCP, because it does not cover projects undertaken by a private corporation authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain.

Instead, RA 9511, NGCP’s legislative franchise, should have been applied as the governing law in the expropriation cases.

Under the said law, NGCP only needed to make an initial deposit equivalent to the current approved Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) zonal valuation of the affected properties, plus the cost of improvements.

NGCP argued that archiving the cases would unnecessarily delay the transmission line project, causing grave irreparable injury to both the company and the public.

“This Court finds that petitioner has sufficiently shown and justified the urgent necessity for the issuance of the TRO prayed for, pending resolution of the main petition, in order to preserve the rights of the parties and to prevent grave and irreparable injury, that is, injury that is actual, substantial, and demonstrable,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Evalyn Arellano-Morales.

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