Capitol Steel bungles bid for double payment on land seized for Mindanao port

Capitol Steel bungles bid for double payment on land seized for Mindanao port

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The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the petition of Capitol Steel Corporation seeking to be paid much more for the land expropriated by a state firm for the construction of the Mindanao International Container Terminal Project (MICPT).

In a recent 17-page decision, the CA affirmed the November 22, 2017 judgment of the Cagayan de Oro City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20, which pegged the compensation at P300 per square meter, or P101.32 million.

State-owned Phividec Industrial Authority already deposited the said amount when it filed the expropriation case for the 337,698-square meter land in 2003.

This amount was based on zonal valuation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Capitol Steel wanted more than double the rate at P700 per square meter.

But, the CA said the company failed to raise any specific assignment of error in its brief, a fatal procedural defect under Section 1(f), Rule 50 of the Rules of Court.

Capitol Steel just made a general and vague discussion of its arguments under the headings “The First Case” and “Compensation.” This prevented the CA from reviewing any reversible error in the RTC’s decision.

“Having in mind the peculiar circumstances of the instant case, We find it inexcusable for Capitol Steel to be unable to comply with the elementary requirements needed for its appeal to prosper,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Loida Posadas-Kahulugan.

“At best, its failure to comply with the standards required under the Rules was flimsy and ignorant and, thus, the propriety of the dismissal of its appeal,” it added.

Even setting aside the technicality, the CA said the RTC “painstakingly elaborated” the basis for its valuation.

The CA added that questioning the proper amount of compensation would be “grossly unfair” to Phividec since Capitol Steel already withdrew most of the money deposited in 2003.

It also said Capitol Steel’s plea for some supposedly unused land to be reverted back to its ownership—an issue first raised in a motion for reconsideration before the RTC—would be tantamount to “unjust enrichment.”

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