Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 125218 January 23, 1998
FILSTREAM INTERNATIONAL INCORPORATED, petitioner,
COURT OF APPEALS, JUDGE FELIPE S. TONGCO and THE CITY OF MANILA, respondents.
G.R. No. 128077 January 23, 1998
FILSTREAM INTERNATIONAL INCORPORATED, petitioner,
COURT OF APPEALS, ORLANDO MALIT, ANTONIO CAGUIAT, ALICIA CABRERA, ARMANDO LACHICA, JACINTO CAGUIAT, GLORIA ANTONIO, ELIZALDE NAVARRA, DOLORES FUENTES, SUSANA ROY, ANTONIO IBANEZ, BENIGNO BASILIO, LUCERIA DEMATULAC, FLORENCIA GOMEZ, LAZARO GOMEZ, JOSE GOMEZ VENANCIO MANALOTO, CRISTINO UMALI, DEMETRIA GATUS, PRISCILLA MALONG, DOMINGO AGUILA, RAMON SAN AGUSTIN, JULIAN FERRER, JR., FRANCISCO GALANG, FLORENTINO MALIWAT, SEVERINA VILLAR, TRINIDAD NAGUIT, JOSE NAGUIT, FORTUNATO AGUSTIN CABRERA, GAUDENCIO INTAL, DANILO DAVID, ENRIQUE DAVID, VICENTE DE GUZMAN, POLICARPIO LUMBA, BELEN PALMA, ELEN SOMVILLO, LEONARDO MANICAD, OPRENG MICLAT, BENITA MATA, GREGORIO LOPEZ, MARCELINA SAPNO, JESUS MERCADO and CALIXTO GOMEZ, respondents.
In resolving the instant petitions, the Court is tasked to strike a balance between the contending interests when the state exercises its power of eminent domain. On one side we have the owners of the property to be expropriated who must be duly compensated for the loss of their property, while on the other is the State which must take the property for public use.
Petitioner, Filstream International, Inc., is the registered owner of the properties subject of this dispute consisting of adjacent parcels of land situated in Antonio Rivera Street, Tondo II, Manila, with a total area of 3,571.10 square meters and covered by T.C.T. Nos. 203937, 203936, 169198, 169199, 169200 and 169202 of the Register of Deeds of Manila.
On January 7, 1993, petitioner filed an ejectment suit before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila (Branch 15) docketed as Civil Case No. 140817-CV against the occupants of the abovementioned parcels of land (herein private respondents in G. R. No. 128077) on the grounds of termination of the lease contract and non-payment of rentals. Judgment was rendered by the MTC on September 14, 1993 ordering private respondents to vacate the premises and pay back rentals to petitioner.1
Not satisfied, private respondents appealed the decision to the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 4 (Civil Case No. 93-68130) which in turn affirmed the decision of the MTC in its decision dated February 22, 1994. Still not content, private respondents proceeded to the Court of Appeals via a petition for review (CA-G.R. SP No. 33714). The result however remained the same as the CA affirmed the decision of the RTC in its decision dated August 25, 1994.2 Thereafter, no further action was taken by the private respondents, as a result of which the decision in the ejectment suit became final and executory.
However, it appeared that during the pendency of the ejectment proceedings private respondents filed on May 25, 1993, a complaint for Annulment of Deed of Exchange against petitioner Filstream which was docketed in Civil Case No. 93-66059 before the RTC of Manila, Branch 43. It was at this stage that respondent City of Manila came into the picture when the city government approved Ordinance No. 78133 on November 5, 1993, authorizing Mayor Alfredo S. Lim to initiate the acquisition by negotiation, expropriation, purchase, or other legal means certain parcels of land registered under T.C.T. Nos. 169193, 169198, 169190, 169200, 169202 and 169192 of the Registry of Deeds of Manila which formed part of the properties of petitioner then occupied by private respondents. Subsequently, the City of Manila approved Ordinance No. 7855 4 declaring the expropriation of certain parcels of land situated along Antonio Rivera and Fernando Ma. Guerrero streets in Tondo, Manila which were owned by Mr. Enrique Quijano Gutierrez, petitioner's predecessor-in-interest. The said properties were to be sold and distributed to qualified tenants of the area pursuant to the Land Use Development Program of the City of Manila.
On May 23, 1994, respondent City of Manila filed a complaint for eminent domain (Civil Case No. 94-70560) before the RTC of Manila, Branch 42,5 seeking to expropriate the aforecited parcels of land owned by petitioner Filstream which are situated at Antonio Rivera Street, Tondo II, Manila.6
Pursuant to the complaint filed by respondent City of Manila, the trial court issued a Writ of Possession 7 in favor of the former which ordered the transfer of possession over the disputed premises to the City of Manila.
At this juncture, petitioner Filstream filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for eminent domain as well as a motion to quash the writ of possession. The motion to dismiss was premised on the following grounds: no valid cause of action; the petition does not satisfy the requirements of public use and a mere clandestine maneuver to circumvent the writ of execution issued by the RTC of Manila, Branch 4 in the ejectment suit; violation of the constitutional guarantee against non-impairment of obligations and contracts; price offered was too low hence violative of the just compensation provision of the constitution and the said amount is without the certification of the City Treasurer for availability of funds.8 With respect to the motion to quash the writ of possession, petitioner raised the following objections: failure to comply with Section 2 of Rule 67 of the Rules of Court, Ordinance No. 7813 is a void enactment for it was approved without a public hearing and violative of the constitutional guarantee against impairment of obligations and contracts; the price is too low and unconscionable violating the just compensation provision of the constitution, and the said writ is tainted with infirmity considering the absence of a certification from the City of Manila that there is an immediately available fund for the subject expropriation.9
Respondent City of Manila filed its opposition 10 to petitioner Filstream's two motions and to which petitioner accordingly filed a reply. 11 On September 30, 1994, the RTC of Manila, Branch 42, issued an order denying petitioner Filstream's motion to dismiss and the motion to quash the Writ of Possession and declared as follows:
IN FINE, the defendant's motion to dismiss and motion to quash writ of possession are both without merit and are hereby DENIED and the subject parcels of lands covered by TCT Nos. 203937, 203936, 169198, 169199, 169200 and 169202 (of the Register of Deeds of Manila) located at Antonio Rivera Street, Tondo II, Manila with a total area of 3,571.10 square meters are hereby declared CONDEMNED in favor of the City of Manila for distribution and resale to all poor and landless qualified residents/tenants in the said area under the city's "land-for-the landless" program upon payment of just compensation which is yet to be determined by this Court.12
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration 13 as well as a supplemental motion for reconsideration 14 seeking the reversal of the above-quoted order but the same were denied. 15 Still, petitioner filed a subsequent motion to be allowed to file a second motion for reconsideration but it was also denied.
Aggrieved, petitioner filed on March 31, 1996, a Petition for Certiorari with the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. SP No. 36904) seeking to set aside the September 30, 1994 order of the RTC of Manila, Branch 42. However, on March 18, 1996, respondent CA issued a resolution dismissing the petition in this wise:
It appearing that the above-entitled petition is insufficient in form and substance — it does not comply with Section 2(a), Rule 6 of the Revised Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals which requires that the "petition shall be . . . accompanied by . . . other pertinent documents and papers," aside from the fact that copies of the pleadings attached to the petition are blurred and unreadable — this Court resolved to summarily DISMISS the same (petition).16
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration and attached clearer copies of the pertinent documents and papers pursuant to Section 2(a), Rule 6 of the Revised Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals. But on May 20, 1996, respondent CA issued a resolution denying the motion as petitioner failed to submit clearer and readable copies of the pleadings. 17 This prompted petitioner to proceed to this Court giving rise to the instant petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 and docketed herein as G.R. No. 125218, assailing the dismissal of its petition by the CA in its resolution dated March 18, 1996 as well as that of its motion for reconsideration in the resolution dated May 20, 1996.
Meanwhile, owing to the finality of the decision in the ejectment suit (Civil Case No. 140817-CV), the MTC of Manila, Branch 15, upon motion of petitioner Filstream, issued a Writ of Execution as well as a Notice to Vacate the disputed premises. 18 Private respondents filed a Motion to Recall/Quash the Writ of Execution and Notice to Vacate 19 alleging the existence of a supervening event in that the properties subject of the dispute have already been ordered condemned in an expropriation proceeding in favor of the City of Manila for the benefit of the qualified occupants thereof, thus execution shall be stayed. Petitioner opposed the motion, reiterating that the decision in the ejectment case is already final and executory and disputed private respondents' right to interpose the expropriation proceedings as a defense because the latter were not parties to the same.
For its part, the City of Manila filed on March 13, 1996, a motion for intervention with prayer to stay/quash the writ of execution on the ground that it is the present possessor of the property subject of execution.
In its order dated March 14, 1996, the MTC of Manila, Branch 14, denied private respondents' motion as it found the allegations therein bereft of merit and upheld the issuance of the Writ of Execution and Notice to Vacate in petitioner's favor. 20 Subsequently, the trial court also denied the motion filed by the City of Manila.
On April 22, 1996, the trial court issued an order commanding the demolition of the structure erected on the disputed premises. To avert the demolition, private respondents filed before the RTC of Manila, Branch 14, a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction (docketed as Civil Case No. 96-78098). On April 29, 1996, the RTC of Manila, Branch 33, issued a TRO enjoining the execution of the writ issued in Civil Case No. 140817-CV by the MTC of Manila, Branch 14. 21 Subsequently, the RTC issued a writ of preliminary injunction on May 14, 1996.22
On May 15, 1996, the City of Manila filed its Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction which was raffled to Branch 23 of the RTC of Manila (docketed as Civil Case No. 96-78382), seeking the reversal of the orders issued by the MTC of Manila, Branch 14, which denied its motion to intervene and quash the writ of execution in Civil Case No. 140817-CV.
Thereafter, upon motion filed by the City of Manila, an order was issued by the RTC of Manila, Branch 10, ordering the consolidation of Civil Case No. 96-78382 with Civil Case No. 96-78098 pending before Branch 14 of the RTC of Manila. 23 On May 21, 1996, the RTC of Manila, Branch 14, issued an injunction in Civil Case No. 96-78098 enjoining the implementation of the writ of execution until further orders from the court. 24 Petitioner Filstream filed a Motion to Dissolve the Writ of Preliminary Injunction and to be allowed to post a counter-bond but the trial court denied the same. Filstream then filed a motion for reconsideration from the order of denial but pending resolution of this motion, it filed a motion for voluntary inhibition of the presiding judge of the RTC of Manila, Branch 14. The motion for inhibition was granted 25 and as a result, the consolidated cases (Civil Case No. 96-78382 and 96-78098) were re-raffled to the RTC of Manila, Branch 33.
During the proceedings before the RTC of Manila, Branch 33, petitioner Filstream moved for the dismissal of the consolidated cases (Civil Case No. 96-78382 and No. 96-78098) for violation of Supreme Court Circular No. 04-94 (forum shopping) because the same parties, causes of action and subject matter involved therein have already been disposed of in the decision in the ejectment case (Civil Case No. 140817) which has already became final and executory prior to the filing of these consolidated cases.
On December 9, 1996, an order was issued by the RTC of Manila, Branch 33, ordering the dismissal of Civil Case Nos. 96-78382 and 96-78098 for violation of Supreme Court Circular No. 04-94. 26 Immediately thereafter, petitioner Filstream filed an Ex-parte Motion for Issuance of an Alias Writ of Demolition and Ejectment and a supplemental motion to the same dated January 10 and 13, 1997, respectively, 27 before the MTC of Manila, Branch 15, which promulgated the decision in the ejectment suit (Civil Case No. 140817-CV). On January 23, 1997, the court granted the motion and issued the corresponding writ of demolition.
As a consequence of the dismissal of the consolidated cases, herein private respondents filed a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction before the Court of Appeals (docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 43101) 28 assailing the above-mentioned order of dismissal by the RTC of Manila, Branch 33, as having been issued with grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or in excess of jurisdiction.
In a resolution dated January 28, 1997, the Court of Appeals granted herein private respondents prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and directed the MTC of Manila, Branch 15, to desist from implementing the order of demolition dated January 23, 1997, unless otherwise directed. 29
At the conclusion of the hearing for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, the Court of Appeals, in its resolution dated February 18, 1997, found merit in private respondents' allegations in support of their application of the issuance of the writ and granted the same, to wit:
Finding that the enforcement or implementation of the writ of execution and notice to vacate issued in Civil Case No. 140817-CV, the ejectment case before respondent Judge Jiro, during the pendency of the instant petition, would probably be in violation of petitioners' right, and would tend to render the judgment in the instant case ineffectual, and probably work injustice to the petitioners, the application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction is hereby GRANTED.
WHEREFORE, upon the filing of a bond in the amount of P150,000.00, let a writ of preliminary injunction be issued enjoining respondents, their employees, agents, representatives and anyone acting in their behalf from enforcing or executing the writ of execution and notice to vacate issued in Civil Case No. 140817-CV of the court of respondent Judge Jiro, or otherwise disturbing the status quo, until further orders of this Court.30
In turn, petitioner Filstream is now before this Court via a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 (G.R. No. 128077), seeking to nullify the Resolutions of the Court of Appeals dated January 28, 1997 and February 18, 1997 which granted herein private respondents' prayer for a TRO and Writ of Preliminary Injunction, the same being null and void for having been issued in grave abuse of discretion.
Upon motion filed by petitioner Filstream, in order to avoid any conflicting decisions on the legal issues raised in the petitions, the Court ordered that the later petition, G.R. No. 128077 be consolidated with G.R. No. 128077 in the resolution of March 5, 1997.31
The issue raised in G.R. No. 125218 is purely a procedural and technical matter. Petitioner takes exception to the resolutions of respondent CA dated March 18, 1996 and May 20, 1996 which ordered the dismissal of its Petition for Certiorari for non-compliance with Sec. 2(a) of Rule 6 of the Revised Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals by failing to attach to its petition other pertinent documents and papers and for attaching copies of pleadings which are blurred and unreadable. Petitioner argues that respondent appellate court seriously erred in giving more premium to form rather than substance.
We agree with the petitioner. A strict adherence to the technical and procedural rules in this case would defeat rather than meet the ends of justice as it would result in the violation of the substantial rights of petitioner. At stake in the appeal filed by petitioner before the CA is the exercise of their property rights over the disputed premises which have been expropriated and have in fact been ordered condemned in favor of the City of Manila. In effect, the dismissal of their appeal in the expropriation proceedings based on the aforementioned grounds is tantamount to a deprivation of property without due process of law as it would automatically validate the expropriation proceedings which the petitioner is still disputing. It must be emphasized that where substantial rights are affected, as in this case, the stringent application of procedural rules may be relaxed if only to meet the ends of substantial justice.
In these instances, respondent CA can exercise its discretion to suspend its internal rules and allow the parties to present and litigate their causes of action so that the Court can make an actual and complete disposition of the issues presented in the case. Rather than simply dismissing the petition summarily for non-compliance with respondent court's internal rules, respondent CA should have instead entertained petitioner Filstream's petition for review on certiorari, and ordered petitioner to submit the corresponding pleadings which it deems relevant and replace those which are unreadable. This leniency could not have caused any prejudice to the rights of the other parties.
With regard to the other petition, G.R. No. 128077, petitioner Filstream objects to the issuance by respondent CA of the restraining order and the preliminary injunction enjoining the execution of the writ of demolition issued in the ejectment suit (Civil Case No. 140817-CV) as an incident to private respondents' pending petition assailing the dismissal by the RTC of Manila, Branch 33, of the consolidated petitions for certiorari filed by private respondents and the City of Manila on the ground of forum shopping.
The propriety of the issuance of the restraining order and the writ of preliminary injunction is but a mere incident to the actual controversy which is rooted in the assertion of the conflicting rights of the parties in this case over the disputed premises. In order to determine whether private respondents are entitled to the injunctive reliefs granted by respondent CA, we deemed it proper to extract the source of discord.
Petitioner Filstream anchors its claim by virtue of its ownership over the properties and the existence of a final and executory judgment against private respondents ordering the latter's ejectment from the premises (Civil Case No. 140817-CV).
Private respondents' claim on the other hand hinges on an alleged supervening event which has rendered the enforcement of petitioner's rights moot, that is, the expropriation proceedings (Civil Case No. 94-70560) undertaken by the City of Manila over the disputed premises for the benefit of herein private respondents. For its part, the City of Manila is merely exercising its power of eminent domain within its jurisdiction by expropriating petitioner's properties for public use.
There is no dispute as to the existence of a final and executory judgment in favor of petitioner Filstream ordering the ejectment of private respondents from the properties subject of this dispute. The judgment in the ejectment suit became final and executory after private respondents failed to interpose any appeal from the adverse decision of the Court of Appeals dated August 25, 1994 in CA-G.R. SP No. 33714. Thus, petitioner has every right to assert the execution of this decision as it had already become final and executory.
However, it must also be conceded that the City of Manila has an undeniable right to exercise its power of eminent domain within its jurisdiction. The right to expropriate private property for public use is expressly granted to it under Section 19 of the 1991 Local Government Code, to wit:
Sec. 19. Eminent Domain. — A local government unit may, through its chief executive and acting pursuant to an ordinance, exercise the power of eminent domain for public use, or purpose, or welfare for the benefit of the poor and the landless, upon payment of just compensation, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution and pertinent laws: Provided, however, That the power of eminent domain may not be exercised unless a valid and definite offer has been previously made to the owner, and such offer was not accepted; Provided, further, That the local government unit may immediately take possession of the property upon the filing of the expropriation proceedings and upon making a deposit with the proper court of at least fifteen (15%) of the fair market value of the property based on the current tax declaration of the property to be expropriated: Provided, finally, That, the amount to be paid for the expropriated property shall be determined by the proper court, based on the fair market value at the time of the taking of the property. (Emphasis supplied).
More specifically, the City of Manila has the power to expropriate private property in the pursuit of its urban land reform and housing program as explicitly laid out in the Revised Charter of the City of Manila (R.A. No. 409) as follows:
General powers. — The city may have a common seal and alter the same at pleasure, and may take, purchase, receive, hold, lease, convey, and dispose of real and personal property for the general interest of the city, condemn private property for public use, contract and be contracted with, sue and be sued, and prosecute and defend to final judgment and execution, and exercise all the powers hereinafter conferred. (R.A. 409, Sec. 3; Emphasis supplied).
x x x x x x x x x
Sec. 100. The City of Manila is authorized to acquire private lands in the city and to subdivide the same into home lots for sale on easy terms to city residents, giving first priority to the bona fide tenants or occupants of said lands, and second priority to laborers and low-salaried employees. For the purpose of this section, the city may raise the necessary funds by appropriations of general funds, by securing loans or by issuing bonds, and, if necessary, may acquire the lands through expropriation proceedings in accordance with law, with the approval of the President . . . . (Emphasis supplied).
In fact, the City of Manila's right to exercise these prerogatives notwithstanding the existence of a final and executory judgment over the property to be expropriated has been upheld by this Court in the case of Philippine Columbian Association vs. Panis, G.R. No. 106528, December 21, 1993. 32 Relying on the aforementioned provisions of the Revised Charter of the City of Manila, the Court declared that:
The City of Manila, acting through its legislative branch, has the express power to acquire private lands in the city and subdivide these lands into home lots for sale to bona-fide tenants or occupants thereof, and to laborers and low-salaried employees of the city.
That only a few could actually benefit from the expropriation of the property does not diminish its public use character. It is simply not possible to provide all at once land and shelter for all who need them (Sumulong v. Guerrero, 154 SCRA 461 ).
Corollary to the expanded notion of public use, expropriation is not anymore confined to vast tracts of land and landed estates (Province of Camarines Sur v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 103125, May 17, 1993; J. M. Tuason and Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration, 31 SCRA 413 ). It is therefore of no moment that the land sought to be expropriated in this case is less than half a hectare only (Pulido v. Court of Appeals, 122 SCRA 63 ).
Through the years, the public use requirement in eminent domain has evolved into a flexible concept, influenced by changing conditions (Sumulong v. Guerrero, supra; Manotok v. National Housing Authority, 150 SCRA 89 ; Heirs of Juancho Ardona v. Reyes, 125 SCRA 220 ). Public use now includes the broader notion of indirect public benefit or advantage, including in particular, urban land reform and housing.33
We take judicial notice of the fact that urban land reform has become a paramount task in view of the acute shortage of decent housing in urban areas particularly in Metro Manila. Nevertheless, despite the existence of a serious dilemma, local government units are not given an unbridled authority when exercising their power of eminent domain in pursuit of solutions to these problems. The basic rules still have to be followed, which are as follows: "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws (Art. 3, Sec. 1, 1987 Constitution); private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation (Art. 3, Section 9, 1987 Constitution)". Thus, the exercise by local government units of the power of eminent domain is not without limitations. Even Section 19 of the 1991 Local Government Code is very explicit that it must comply with the provisions of the Constitution and pertinent laws, to wit:
Sec. 19. Eminent Domain. — A local government unit may, through its chief executive and acting pursuant to an ordinance, exercise the power of eminent domain for public use, or purpose, or welfare for the benefit of the poor and the landless, upon payment of just compensation, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution and pertinent laws: . . . (Emphasis supplied).
The governing law that deals with the subject of expropriation for purposes of urban land reform and housing is Republic Act No. 7279 (Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992) and Sections 9 and 10 of which specifically provide as follows:
Sec. 9. Priorities in the acquisition of Land. — Lands for socialized housing shall be acquired in the following order:
(a) Those owned by the Government or any of its subdivisions, instrumentalities, or agencies, including government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries;
(b) Alienable lands of the public domain;
(c) Unregistered or abandoned and idle lands;
(d) Those within the declared Areas for Priority Development, Zonal Improvement sites, and Slum Improvement and Resettlement Program sites which have not yet been acquired;
(e) Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services or BLISS sites which have not yet been acquired; and
(f) Privately-owned lands.
Where on-site development is found more practicable and advantageous to the beneficiaries, the priorities mentioned in this section shall not apply. The local government units shall give budgetary priority to on-site development of government lands.
Sec. 10. Modes of Land Acquisition. — The modes of acquiring lands for purposes of this Act shall include, among others, community mortgage, land swapping, land assembly or consolidation, land banking, donation to the Government, joint-venture agreement, negotiated purchase, and expropriation. Provided, however, That expropriation shall be resorted to only when other modes of acquisition have been exhausted. Provided further, That where expropriation is resorted to, parcels of land owned by small property owners shall be exempted for purposes of this Act. Provided, finally, That abandoned property, as herein defined, shall be reverted and escheated to the State in a proceeding analogous to the procedure laid down in Rule 91 of the Rules of Court.
For the purpose of socialized housing, government-owned and foreclosed properties shall be acquired by the local government units, or by the National Housing Authority primarily through negotiated purchase: Provided, That qualified beneficiaries who are actual occupants of the land shall be given the right of first refusal. (Emphasis supplied).
Very clear from the abovequoted provisions are the limitations with respect to the order of priority in acquiring private lands and in resorting to expropriation proceedings as a means to acquire the same. Private lands rank last in the order of priority for purposes of socialized housing. In the same vein, expropriation proceedings are to be resorted to only when the other modes of acquisition have been exhausted. Compliance with these conditions must be deemed mandatory because these are the only safeguards in securing the right of owners of private property to due process when their property is expropriated for public use.
Proceeding from the parameters laid out in the above disquisitions, we now pose the crucial question: Did the City of Manila comply with the abovementioned conditions when it expropriated petitioner Filstream's properties? We have carefully scrutinized the records of this case and found nothing that would indicate that respondent City of Manila complied with Sec. 9 and Sec. 10 of R.A. 7279. Petitioner Filstream's properties were expropriated and ordered condemned in favor of the City of Manila sans any showing that resort to the acquisition of other lands listed under Sec. 9 of RA 7279 have proved futile. Evidently, there was a violation of petitioner Filstream's right to due process which must accordingly be rectified.
Indeed, it must be emphasized that the State has a paramount interest in exercising its power of eminent domain for the general good considering that the right of the State to expropriate private property as long as it is for public use always takes precedence over the interest of private property owners. However we must not lose sight of the fact that the individual rights affected by the exercise of such right are also entitled to protection, bearing in mind that the exercise of this superior right cannot override the guarantee of due process extended by the law to owners of the property to be expropriated. In this regard, vigilance over compliance with the due process requirements is in order.
WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby GRANTED. In G.R. 125218, the resolutions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. SP NO. 36904 dated March 18, 1996 and May 20, 1996 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. In G.R. No. 128077, the resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 43101 dated January 28, 1997 and February 18, 1997 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
Narvasa, C.J., Romero, Melo and Panganiban, JJ., concur.
1 Annex C, G.R. No. 128077, Rollo, pp. 72-79.
2 G.R. No. 128077, Rollo, pp. 204-211.
3 Annex E, G.R. No. 128077, Rollo, p. 86.
4 Annex F, G.R. No. 128077, Rollo, p. 88.
5 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 44.
6 Covered by T.C.T. Nos. 203937, 203936, 169198, 169199, 169200 and 199202 of the Registry of Deeds of Manila.
7 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 62.
8 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, pp. 50-51.
9 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, pp. 68-70.
10 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, pp. 71, 76.
11 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, pp. 79.
12 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 85.
13 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 86.
14 G. R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 90.
15 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 95.
16 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 41.
17 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 43.
18 G.R. No. 128077, Rollo, pp. 106, 107.
19 G.R. No. 128077, Rollo, p. 108.
20 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 119.
21 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 137.
22 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 138.
23 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 157.
24 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 159.
25 G.R. No. 128077, Rollo, p. 181.
26 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 194.
27 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, pp. 190-191.
28 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 42.
29 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 32.
30 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, pp. 40-41.
31 G.R. No. 125218, Rollo, p. 427.
32 228 SCRA 668.
33 228 SCRA 668, 673.
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