Apr 26, 2021 @ 8:23

SC junks Mandaluyong petition to take over private land for ‘Home for the Homeless’ program

The Supreme Court (SC) has denied the petition of the Mandaluyong City government seeking to expropriate a 4,987-square meter property owned by Pagong Realty Corporation, which was supposed to be redistributed under the “Land for the Landless, Home for the Homeless Program.”

In a 6-page minute resolution on G.R. No. 252946, the SC 2nd Division affirmed the Court of Appeals’ (CA) August 9, 2019 decision which set aside the writ of possession issued through a March 23, 2017 order of the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 208.

The SC pointed out that the city government failed to comply with the requirements of Sections 9 and 10 of the Urban Development Housing Act of 1992 for the acquisition of land for socialized housing.

The said law ranks privately-owned lands last in the order of priority for the acquisition of lands and requires that the government pursue negotiations before resorting to expropriation proceedings.

The SC noted that the city government failed to present evidence that there was no more government land, alienable public land, unregistered or abandoned land, or Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services (BLISS) sites that could be suitable for socialized housing.

Pagong Realty did reject an initial offer from the city government to purchase the property for P3,500 per square meter. But, the SC questioned why the city government “no longer bothered to renegotiate or improve its offer.”

“Since, petitioner did not exert an honest to goodness effort to secure the subject property via negotiated sale, there was actually no valid and definite offer to speak of as condition precedent to the filing of the expropriation complaint,” read the minute resolution signed by Division Clerk of Court Teresita Aquino Tuazon.

The SC also cited the failure to show that the P3-million provisional deposit made by the city government was equivalent to the requirement of Section 19 of the Local Government Code (LGC) for a deposit of 15% of the fair market value.

“While we recognize petitioner’s power to expropriate and the fact that housing is one of the most serious social problems that it needs to address, it is equally important to acknowledge that local government units do not have an unbridled authority to exercise such formidable power in seeking solutions to such problem,” the SC said.

“Such formidable power greatly affects a citizen’s fundamental right to property, hence, there is a need to strictly comply with the conditions and restrictions set forth in the Constitution and pertinent laws to assure that every right is protected and every mandate is properly discharged,” it added.

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