Cases Involving Writ of Possession in Expropriation Cases
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FIRST DIVISION [G.R. No. 170432, March 24, 2008] AMOS P. FRANCIA, JR., CECILIA P. FRANCIA, AND HEIRS OF BENJAMIN P. FRANCIA PETITIONERS, VS. MUNICIPALITY OF MEYCAUAYAN, RESPONDENT. RESOLUTION CORONA, J.: On February 6, 2003, respondent Municipality of Meycauayan, Bulacan filed a complaint for expropriation against petitioners Amos P. Francia, Jr., Cecilia P. Francia and Benjamin P. Francia in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 16. Respondent needed petitioners' 16,256 sq. m. idle property at the junction of the North Expressway, Malhacan-Iba-Camalig main road artery and the MacArthur Highway. It planned to use it to establish a common public terminal for all types of public utility vehicles with a weighing scale for heavy trucks. In their answer, petitioners denied that the property sought to be expropriated was raw land. It was in fact developed  and there were plans for further development. For this reason, respondent's offer price of P2,333,500 (or P111.99 per square meter) was too low. After trial, the RTC ruled that the expropriation was for a public purpose. The construction of a common terminal for all public utility conveyances (serving as a twoway loading and unloading point for commuters and goods) would improve the flow of vehicular traffic during rush hours. Moreover, the property was the best site for the proposed terminal because of its accessibility. Thus, on November 8, 2004, the RTC issued the following order: WHEREFORE, premises considered, after [respondent] has deposited with this Court the fifteen percent (15%) of the fair market value of the property based on the current tax declaration of the property to be expropriated, it may take immediate possession of the property upon issuance of writ of possession that this court will issue for that purpose. Further, the purposes of assessment and determination of the area needed that will suit the purpose of expropriation and just compensation of the lot sought to be expropriated, the court hereby appoints commissioners to be composed of the officer-in-charge of this court, Lerida Socorro E. Joson and one each from [respondent] and [petitioners]. Notify all parties concerned. SO ORDERED. Petitioners moved for the reconsideration of the November 8, 2004 order but the motion was denied in an order dated January 31, 2005.
Aggrieved, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals (CA) contending that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing its November 8, 2004 and January 31, 2005 orders. They claimed that the trial court issued the orders without conducting a hearing to determine the existence of a public purpose. On July 28, 2005, the CA rendered a decision partially granting the petition. Finding that petitioners were deprived of an opportunity to controvert respondent's allegations, the appellate court nullified the order of expropriation except with regard to the writ of possession. According to the CA, a hearing was not necessary because once the expropriator deposited the required amount (with the Court), the issuance of a writ of possession became ministerial. Petitioners moved for partial reconsideration but their motion was denied. Hence, this recourse. Petitioners essentially aver that the CA erred in upholding the RTC's orders that, in expropriation cases, prior determination of the existence of a public purpose was not necessary for the issuance of a writ of possession. We deny the petition. Section 19 of Republic Act 7160 provides: Section 19. Eminent Domain. â€• 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 that 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 percent (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) Before a local government unit may enter into the possession of the property sought to be expropriated, it must (1) file a complaint for expropriation sufficient in form and substance in the proper court and (2) deposit with the said court at least 15% of the property's fair market value based on its current tax declaration. The law does not make the determination of a public purpose a condition precedent to the issuance of a writ of possession. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED. Puno, C.J., (Chairperson), Carpio, Azcuna, and Leonardo-De Castro, JJ., concur.
SECOND DIVISION G. R. No. 154614 - November 25, 2004 THE CITY OF ILOILO, Represented by HON. JERRY P. TREÑAS, City Mayor, Petitioner, vs. HON. JUDGE EMILIO LEGASPI, Presiding Judge, RTC, Iloilo City, Branch 22, and HEIRS OF MANUELA YUSAY, Represented by SYLVIA YUSAY DEL ROSARIO and ENRIQUE YUSAY, JR., Respondents.
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: Via a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order, the City of Iloilo, represented by Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, seeks the nullification and/or modification of the Order dated 05 June 2002 of Honorable Emilio Legaspi, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 22, Iloilo City, denying its Motion for Reconsideration of the courts Order dated 15 April 2002, holding in abeyance the resolution of the Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession until after it shall have rested its case. The factual antecedents are the following: On 07 March 2001, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Iloilo enacted Regulation Ordinance No. 2001-037 granting authority to its City Mayor to institute expropriation proceedings on Lot No. 935, registered in the name of Manuela Yusay, located at Barangay Sto. Niño Norte, Arevalo, Iloilo City. The regulation ordinance was approved by then City Mayor Mansueto A. Malabor.1 On 14 March 2001, Mayor Malabor wrote the heirs of Manuela Yusay, through Mrs. Sylvia Yusay del Rosario, Administratrix of the estate of Manuela Yusay, making a formal offer to purchase their property known as Cadastral Lot No. 935 with an area of 85,320 square meters covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-67506 of the Registry of Deeds of Iloilo City for P250 per square meter for the purpose of converting
the same as an on-site relocation for the poor and landless residents of the city in line with the citys housing development program.2 In a letter dated 26 June 2001, Mayor Malabor informed Administrators Sylvia Y. del Rosario and Enrique Yusay, Jr. that their counter-proposal to the Citys proposal to purchase Lot No. 935 was not acceptable to the City Government, particularly to the City Council, which insisted that an expropriation case be filed per SP Resolution No. 01-445. With their apparent refusal to sell the property, the City terminated further proceedings on the matter.3 Petitioner City of Iloilo, represented by Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, filed an Amended Complaint4 for Eminent Domain against private respondents Heirs of Manuela Yusay, represented by Sylvia Yusay del Rosario and Enrique Yusay, Jr.5 The subject of the same is Lot No. 935 of the Cadastral Survey of Arevalo covered by TCT No. T-67506. Private respondents filed an Answer,6 dated 25 September 2001, to which petitioner filed a Reply,7 dated 19 October 2001. On 23 October 2001, private respondents filed a Motion to Set Case for Preliminary Hearing on the Special and Affirmative Defenses they have raised in the Answer.8 Petitioner opposed9 the motion to which private respondents filed a Reply.10 In an Order dated 04 February 2002, public respondent Hon. Emilio B. Legaspi, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, Branch 22, found the motion to be in order and meritorious, and the grounds of the opposition to be untenable; thus, he set the case for Preliminary Hearing on the Special and Affirmative Defenses.11 Petitioner moved for the reconsideration12 of the order which private respondents opposed.13 On 01 April 2002, public respondent set the case for Pre-Trial after Atty. Amelita K. del Rosario-Benedicto, counsel for private respondents, manifested she was withdrawing the Motion for Preliminary Hearing on the Special and Affirmative Defenses. Petitioner did not interpose any objection.14 On 11 April 2002, petitioner filed a Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession alleging that since it has deposited with the Court the amount of P2,809,696.50 representing fifteen percent (15%) of the fair market value of the property sought to be expropriated based on its current tax declaration, it may immediately take possession of the property in accordance with Section 19, Republic Act No. 7160.15 On 15 April 2002, public respondent issued an Order with the following disposition: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Atty. Benedicto is given ten (10) days from today within which to file an Opposition to the pending Motion For Issuance of Writ of
Possession, furnishing copy of the same to plaintiffs counsel who has the same period to file a Reply. Parties agreed that the Court will resolve the Motion For Issuance of Writ of Possession after the plaintiffs shall have rested their case after the trial on the merits.16 Private respondents filed their Opposition to the Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession17 to which petitioner filed a Reply.18 On 09 May 2002, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration praying that the lower court reconsider its order of 15 April 2002, and to consider its Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession submitted for resolution after the filing of its Reply to private respondents Opposition to the motion. Citing the case of Robern Development Corp. v. Judge Jesus V. Quitain, et al.,19 it maintains "there is no need for a hearing before the Honorable Court can grant [its] Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession."20 Private respondents filed an Opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration with Rejoinder to Reply to Opposition. They vehemently opposed the motion arguing that counsels of the parties had agreed that the lower court will resolve the Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession after petitioner shall have rested its case after trial on the merits. They added that in view of the defects as to form and substance of the amended complaint, the issuance of a writ of possession ceases to be a ministerial duty on the court; hence, there is a need for a court hearing.21 On 05 June 2002, the assailed order was issued, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED and resolution of the Motion for Writ of Possession is hereby held in abeyance until further orders from this Court.22 Hence, this petition. The petition raises the following alleged errors of the lower court: A. THAT THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN DENYING THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION DATED MAY 9, 2002 AS CONTAINED IN ITS ORDER OF JUNE 5, 2002, AND IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONERS MOTION FOR ISSUANCE OF WRIT OF POSSESSION BE RESOLVED AFTER HEREIN PETITIONER HAS CONVINCED THE TRIAL COURT THAT IT HAS A MERITORIOUS CASE OF EMINENT DOMAIN, DESPITE THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 2, RULE 67 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE AND DESPITE THE RULING OF THE SUPREME COURT IN THE CASE OF "ROBERN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION VS. JUDGE JESUS V. QUITAIN, ET AL."
B. THAT THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN ISSUING THE ORDER OF JUNE 5, 2002 WHICH IN EFFECT UPHELD THE CONTENTION OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS THAT THE AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR EXPROPRIATION FILED BY HEREIN PETITIONER IS NOT SUFFICIENT IN FORM AND SUBSTANCE, HENCE THE LATTER IS NOT ENTITLED TO AN IMMEDIATE ISSUANCE OF A WRIT OF POSSESSION.23 As to its Amended Complaint, petitioner maintains that the same is sufficient in form and substance since it has complied with Section 19 of Rep. Act No. 7160 (1991 Local Government Code) and Section 1, Rule 67 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. It explains that since public respondent has ordered the parties to proceed with the Pre-Trial Conference and trial of the case, it can be concluded that the Amended Complaint is sufficient in form and substance. In compliance with Section 19 of the 1991 Local Government Code, petitioner says it deposited the amount of P2,809,696.50 with the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo, which is equivalent to fifteen percent (15%) of the fair market value of the property sought to be expropriated based on its current tax declaration. It further argues that in the cases of Robern Development Corporation v. Judge Jesus Quitain, et al.,24 and Salvador BiglangAwa v. Hon. Judge Marciano I. Bacalla, et al.,25 the duty to issue a Writ of Possession becomes a ministerial duty upon the trial court without necessity of a hearing once the provisional deposit under Section 2 of Rule 6726 has been complied with. In their Comment, private respondents maintain that there was nothing for the lower court to reconsider because the order dated 15 April 2002 which was dictated in open court, and which petitioner sought to be reconsidered, was already final (on 30 April 2002) when the latter filed its Motion for Reconsideration on 09 May 2002. Second, they insist that petitioner is estopped to change its position with respect to the immediate issuance of the writ of possession. The agreement entered into is binding and is the law between the parties and should be accorded respect since it was approved by public respondent. Third, they claim there is waiver on the part of petitioner to ask for the immediate possession of Lot No. 935 since it took the latter eight (8) months and twelve (12) days from the filing of the Amended Complaint, and nine (9) months and thirteen (13) days from the filing of the Original Complaint before it filed the Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession. Moreover, they assert that there is a need for a court hearing before a writ of possession can be issued, because the amended complaint is being assailed before the lower court for not being sufficient in form and substance. Finally, they aver that the issuance of the writ of possession ceases to be ministerial when the complaint for expropriation fails to allege compliance with the mandatory requirements for the exercise of the power of eminent domain for purposes of socialized housing as interpreted in the cases of Filstream International Incorporated v. Court of Appeals, et al.27 In its Reply, petitioner avers that the order of 15 April 2002 became final only after fifteen (15) days from the time the same was received by it on 26 April 2002, and not fifteen (15) days from the time the order was made in open court on 15 April 2002.
Petitioner argues that there is nothing in the rules which prohibits it from reversing its position with respect to the issuance of the writ of possession in light of Section 2, Rule 67 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure which allows taking immediate possession of property sought to be expropriated upon compliance with said section. Further, it adds that its stand to seek immediate possession of the property is supported by the Robern and Biglang-awa cases. It insists that there is no waiver or estoppel on its part. There is no provision of law which sets a time limit within which to file a motion for the issuance of a writ of possession. It reiterated that the sufficiency of the form and substance of the Amended Complaint can be determined and resolved by the lower court through an examination of the allegations contained therein and if the same complies with the requisites set forth in Section 19 of Rep. Act No. 7160 and Section 1 of Rule 67.28 Thus, there is no necessity of a trial before the lower court can resolve the Motion for Issuance of a Writ of Possession. Finally, it argues that the Filstream29 cases are not applicable. It adds that the provisions of Rep. Act No. 7279 which private respondents allege as not to have been complied with are not conditions precedent for the exercise of the power of eminent domain. We first rule on the issue of whether the Order dated 15 April 2002, which was dictated in open court, was already final when petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration on 09 May 2002. Petitioner maintains that the motion for reconsideration was filed before the order became final fifteen (15) days from the time it received a copy thereof in writing, and not from the time the same was dictated in open court as claimed by private respondents. Time-honored and of constant observance is the principle that no judgment, or order, whether final or interlocutory, has juridical existence until and unless it is set in writing, signed, and promulgated, i.e., delivered by the Judge to the Clerk of Court for filing, release to the parties and implementation, and that indeed, even after promulgation, it does not bind the parties until and unless notice thereof is duly served on them by any of the modes prescribed by law. This is so even if the order or judgment has in fact been orally pronounced in the presence of the parties, or a draft thereof drawn up and signed and/or a copy thereof somehow read or acquired by any party.30 In the case at bar, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioner was filed before the 15 April 2002 order became final. The order dictated in open court had no juridical existence before it is set in writing, signed, promulgated and served on the parties. Since the order orally pronounced in court had no juridical existence yet, the period within which to file a motion for reconsideration cannot be reckoned therefrom, but from the time the same was received in writing. Petitioner had fifteen (15) days from its receipt of the written order on 26 April 2002 within which to file a motion for reconsideration. Thus, when it filed the motion for reconsideration on 09 May 2002, the said motion was timely filed.
Petitioner has the irrefutable right to exercise its power of eminent domain. It being a local government unit, the basis for its exercise is granted under Section 19 of Rep. Act No. 7160, 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 percent (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. The requisites for authorizing immediate entry are as follows: (1) the filing of a complaint for expropriation sufficient in form and substance; and (2) the deposit of the amount equivalent to fifteen percent (15%) of the fair market value of the property to be expropriated based on its current tax declaration.31 Upon compliance with these requirements, the issuance of a writ of possession becomes ministerial.32 In the case at bar, petitioner avers that the Amended Complaint it filed complies with both requisites, thus entitling it to a writ of possession as a matter of right and the issuance thereof becoming ministerial on the part of the lower court even without any hearing. On the other hand, private respondents allege that the Amended Complaint is not sufficient in form and substance since it failed to allege compliance with the mandatory requirements for the exercise of the power of eminent domain for purposes of socialized housing. Section 1 of Rule 67 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure reads: Section 1. The complaint. The right of eminent domain shall be exercised by the filing of a verified complaint which shall state with certainty the right and purpose of expropriation, describe the real or personal property sought to be expropriated, and join as defendants all persons owning or claiming to own, or occupying, any part hereof or interest therein, showing, so far as practicable, the separate interest of each defendant. If the title to any property sought to be expropriated appears to be in the Republic of the Philippines, although occupied by private individuals, or if the title is otherwise obscure or doubtful so that the plaintiff cannot with accuracy or certainty specify who are the real owners, averment to that effect shall be made in the complaint. The Court finds the Amended Complaint sufficient in form and substance, and the amount of P2,809,696.50 deposited with the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo is equivalent
to fifteen percent (15%)33 of the fair market value of the property sought to be expropriated per current tax declaration. On the averment of private respondents that the Amended Complaint failed to allege compliance with the mandatory requirements34 for the exercise of the power of eminent domain for purposes of socialized housing as interpreted in the Filstream cases, it appears that the Amended Complaint did contain allegations showing compliance therewith.35 However, whether there is, indeed, compliance with these requirements, the Court deems it not proper to resolve the issue at this time. Hearing must be held to establish compliance. In City of Manila v. Serrano,36 this Court ruled that "hearing is still to be held to determine whether or not petitioner indeed complied with the requirements provided in Rep. Act No. 7279. x x x The determination of this question must await the hearing on the complaint for expropriation, particularly the hearing for the condemnation of the properties sought to be expropriated." From the foregoing, it is clear that an evidentiary hearing must be conducted if compliance with the requirements for socialized housing has been made. This hearing, however, is not a hearing to determine if a writ of possession is to be issued, but whether there was compliance with the requirements for socialized housing. For a writ of possession to issue, only two requirements are required: the sufficiency in form and substance of the complaint and the required provisional deposit. In fact, no hearing is required for the issuance of a writ of possession. The sufficiency in form and substance of the complaint for expropriation can be determined by the mere examination of the allegations of the complaint. In this case, the sufficiency of the Amended Complaint was further confirmed by public respondent when he set the case for pre-trial and hearing. We likewise find private respondents claim that petitioner cannot change its position regarding the immediate issuance of the writ of possession on the ground of estoppel, to be untenable. First, estoppel may be successfully invoked only if the party fails to raise the question in the early stages of the proceedings.37 In the case before us, petitioner, through its counsel, undeniably committed a mistake when it agreed that the resolution of its Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession be made by public respondent after a hearing is conducted and after it has adduced its evidence. To remedy this, petitioner immediately filed a Motion for Reconsideration. The filing thereof was precisely for the purpose of rectifying the error it committed. With the timely filing of the motion for reconsideration, petitioner cannot be held in estoppel because it right away asked the court to nullify the agreement it entered into. The filing of the motion for reconsideration which was done at the earliest possible time clearly negates the presence of estoppel. Second, under the facts of the case, estoppel should not apply because petitioner is simply following the procedure laid down by the rules and jurisprudence. Under Section 1938 of
Rep. Act No. 7160 (law governing exercise of eminent domain by local government units [LGU]) and Section 239 of Rule 67 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure (law governing exercise of eminent domain by entities other than LGUs), and in the cases of Robern Development Corporation v. Quitain, et al., and Biglang-awa v. Bacalla, et al., a prior hearing is not required before a writ of possession can be issued. As above discussed, a complaint, sufficient in form and substance, and the required deposit, are the only requirements before a writ of possession can be issued. Thus, petitioner should not be prevented from changing and correcting its position when the same is in accord with the rules and jurisprudence. Private respondents argue that petitioner waived its right to ask for the immediate possession of Lot No. 935 since it took the latter eight (8) months and twelve (12) days from the filing of the Amended Complaint, and nine (9) months and thirteen (13) days from the filing of the Original Complaint, before it filed the Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession. Petitioner did not waive its right. Section 19 of Rep. Act No. 7160 does not put a time limit as to when a local government may immediately take possession of the real property. Said section provides that the local government unit may take immediate possession of the property upon the filing of the expropriation proceedings and upon making a deposit of at least fifteen percent (15%) of the fair market value of the property based on its current tax declaration. As long as the expropriation proceedings have been commenced and the deposit has been made, the local government unit cannot be barred from praying for the issuance of a writ of possession. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed orders of respondent judge in Civil Case No. 01-26801 dated 05 June 2002 and 15 April 2002 are set aside. Respondent Judge is directed to issue the writ of possession prayed for and to continue hearing the case. No costs. SO ORDERED. Puno, Acting C.J., Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ., concur.
[G.R. No. 155065. July 28, 2005] NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. HON. SYLVA G. AGUIRRE PADERANGA, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Danao City, Branch 25, PETRONA O. DILAO, FEDIL T. OSMEÑA, ISABEL T. OSMEÑA, CELESTINO O. GALON, POTENCIA O. BATUCAN, TRINIDAD T. OSMEÑA, LULIA T. OSMEÑA, LOURDES O. DAFFON, VICTORIA O. BARRIGA and JUAN T. OSMEÑA, JR., and ESTEFANIA ENRIQUEZ, respondents. DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: The Court of Appeals Decision dated June 6, 2002, as well as its Resolution dated August 30, 2002, affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Danao City, Branch 25 which granted the complaint for expropriation filed by herein petitioner National Power Corporation (NPC) against herein respondents “Petrona Dilao et al.” are being assailed in the present Petition for Review on Certiorari. To implement its Leyte-Cebu Interconnection Project, the NPC filed on March 19, 1996 before the Regional Trial Court of Danao City a complaint for expropriation of parcels of land situated at Baring and Cantumog, Carmen, Cebu against the following defendants: NAMES
1. Petrona O. Dilao Poblacion, Carmen, Cebu 2.
Fidel T. Osmeña
Isabel T. Osmeña
Celestina O. Galon
Potenciana O. Batucan
Trinidad T. Osmeña
Lourdes O. Daffon
Victoria O. Barriga
10. Juan T. Osmeña, Jr.
11. Estefania Enriquez Marijoy Realty Corp. Natalio Bacalso Ave. Mambaling, Cebu City (Underscoring supplied) The complaint covers (a) 7,281 square meters of the 25,758 square meters of land co-owned by herein respondents Petrona O. Dilao (Dilao) and the above-listed defendant Nos. 2-10 who are her siblings, and (b) 7,879 square meters of the 17,019 square meters of land owned by Estefania Enriquez (Enriquez). A day after the complaint was filed or on March 20, 1996, NPC filed an urgent ex parte motion for the issuance of writ of possession of the lands. Dilao filed her Answer with Counterclaim on April 19, 1996. Enriquez did not. On May 9, 1996, Branch 25 of the RTC Danao, issued an Order granting NPC’s motion for the issuance of writ of possession. It then appointed a Board of Commissioners to determine just compensation.  The commissioners submitted on April 15, 1999 their report to the trial court containing, among other things, their recommended appraisal of the parcel of land co-owned by defendants Dilao and her siblings at P516.66 per square meter. To the Commissioners’ Report, the NPC filed its Comment/Opposition assailing the correctness of the appraisal for failing to take into account Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6395 (an act revising the charter of the national power corporation), as amended, specifically Section 3A thereof which provides that the just compensation for right-of-way easement (for which that portion of the Dilao property is being expropriated) shall be equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the market value of the property. The traversed land, NPC asserted, could still be used for agricultural purposes by the
defendants, subject only to its easement. It added that the lots were of no use to its operations except for its transmission lines. By Decision of November 10, 1999, the trial court rendered a decision on the complaint, adopting the commissioners’ recommended appraisal of the land co-owned by Dilao and her siblings. The dispositive portion of the decision reads: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered condemning the property of Petrona Dilao et al. which has been affected by 7,281 square meters in favor of plaintiff; declaring in favor of defendants for plaintiff to pay the fair market value of said area affected at P516.66 per square or a total of P3,761,801.40 plus P250,000.00 for the value of the improvements affected by herein expropriation. SO ORDERED. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied). Copy of the decision was received by NPC on November 18, 1999. NPC filed a Notice of Appeal but the trial court, by Order of January 17, 2000, denied the same for NPC’s failure to file and perfect it within the reglementary period, it having failed to file a record on appeal. To the Order, NPC filed a motion for reconsideration, contending that a record on appeal was not required as the trial court rendered judgment against all the defendants including Enriquez as shown, so it claimed, by the dispositive portion of the decision referring to “Petrona Dilao et al.” By Resolution of March 7, 2000, the trial court denied NPC’s motion for reconsideration, clarifying that the reference to “Petrona Dilao et al.” in the dispositive portion of its decision was meant to cover only Dilao and her co-owner-siblings. NPC subsequently filed before the trial court a petition for relief from the denial of its appeal on the ground that its failure to file a record on appeal was due to honest mistake and excusable neglect, it having believed that a record on appeal was not required in light of the failure of the other defendant, Enriquez, to file an answer to the complaint.  The trial court denied NPC’s petition for relief for lack of factual and legal basis.
On August 17, 2001, the trial court granted Dilao et al.’s motion for execution of judgment. NPC thereupon filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals with prayer for temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction assailing the trial court’s order denying its appeal and other orders related thereto, as well as the order granting Dilao et al.’s motion for execution. The appellate court, however, denied NPC’s petition, it holding that under Rule 41, Section 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the filing of a record on appeal is required in special proceedings and other cases of multiple or separate appeals, as in an action for expropriation in which the order determining the right of the plaintiff to expropriate and the subsequent adjudication on the issue of just compensation may be the subject of separate appeals. Aggrieved, NPC challenged the appellate court’s decision via the present petition, it contending that the trial court’s questioned orders “effectively deprived it of its constitutional right to due process.” NPC argues that a complaint for expropriation is a Special Civil Action under Rule 67 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, not a “special proceeding” as contemplated under Rule 41, Section 2 of the Rules of Civil Procedure; that there is no law or rules specifically requiring that a record on appeal shall be filed in expropriation cases; and of the two sets of defendants in the present case, the Dilaos and Enriquez, the first, while they filed an answer, did not appeal the trial court’s decision, while with respect to the second, there is no showing that summons was served upon her, hence, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over her and, therefore, no appeal could arise whatsoever with respect to the complaint against her. Ergo, petitioner concludes, no possibility of multiple appeals arose from the case. The petition fails. Rule 41, Section 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, clearly provides: SEC. 2. Modes of Appeals. — (a) Ordinary appeal. — The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction shall be taken by filing a notice of appeal with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party. No record on appeal shall be
required except in special proceedings and other cases of multiple or separate appeals where the law or these Rules so require. In such cases, the record on appeal shall be filed and served in like manner. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied). While admittedly a complaint for expropriation is not a special proceeding, the above-quoted rule requires the filing of a record on appeal in “other cases of multiple or separate appeal.” Jurisprudential law, no doubt, recognizes the existence of multiple appeals in a complaint for expropriation.Municipality of Biñan v. Garcia vividly expounds on the matter, viz: The case of 1. There are two (2) stages in every action of expropriation. The first is concerned with the determination of the authority of the plaintiff to exercise the power of eminent domain and the propriety of its exercise in the context of the facts involved in the suit. It ends with an order, if not of dismissal of the action, "of condemnation declaring that the plaintiff has a lawful right to take the property sought to be condemned, for the public use or purpose described in the complaint, upon the payment of just compensation to be determined as of the date of the filing of the complaint." An order of dismissal, if this be ordained, would be a final one, of course, since it finally disposes of the action and leaves nothing more to be done by the Court on the merits. So, too, would an order of condemnation be a final one, for thereafter, as the Rules expressly state, in the proceedings before the Trial Court, "no objection to the exercise of the right of condemnation (or the propriety thereof) shall be filed or heard. The second phase of the eminent domain action is concerned with the determination by the Court of "the just compensation for the property sought to be taken." This is done by the Court with the assistance of not more than three (3) commissioners. The order fixing the just compensation on the basis of the evidence before, and findings of, the commissioners would be final, too. It would finally dispose of the second stage of the suit, and leave nothing more to be done by the Court regarding the issue. Obviously, one or another of the parties may believe the order to be erroneous in its appreciation of the evidence or findings of fact or otherwise. Obviously, too, such a dissatisfied party may seek reversal of the order by taking an appeal therefrom. (Underscoring supplied).
Thus, in Municipality of Biñan, this Court held that in actions for eminent domain, since no less than two appeals are allowed by law, the period for appeal from an order of condemnation is thirty days counted from notice thereof and not the ordinary period of fifteen days prescribed for actions in general. As such, the complaint falls under the classification of “other cases of multiple or separate appeal where the law or these rules so require” in above-quoted Section 2(a) of Rule 41 of the Rules of Civil Procedure in which a record on appeal is required to be filed and served. Respecting NPC’s claim that the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the other defendant, Enriquez, there being no evidence that summons was served on her and, therefore, no appeal with respect to the case against her arose, the trial court’s Order of May 9, 1996 belies said claim: xxx In the letter-appeal by defendant Estefania V. Enriquez addressed to the Court, defendant did manifest no opposition to the right of plaintiff to the use of her land but only wich (sic) that payment be based on the actual market value of the property sought to be expropriated. In comment to said letter-appeal, plaintiff stressed that the amount deposited was purely to secure a writ of possession as provided under PD 42. It agreed with defendant that the fair market value or actual market value shall be the basis for the just compensation of the property. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) That the defendant Enriquez did not file an answer to the complaint did not foreclose the possibility of an appeal arising therefrom. For Section 3 of Rule 67 provides: Sec. 3. Defenses and objections. – If a defendant has no objection or defense to the action or the taking of his property, he may file and serve a notice of appearance and a manifestation to that effect, specifically designating or identifying the property in which he claims to be interested, within the time stated in the summons. Thereafter, he shall be entitled to notice of all proceedings affecting the same. If a defendant has any objection to the filing of or the allegations in the complaint, or any objection or defense to the taking of his property, he shall serve his answer within the time stated in the
summons. The answer shall specifically designate or identify the property in which he claims to have an interest, state the nature and extent of the interest claimed, and adduce all his objections and defenses to the taking of his property. No counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint shall be alleged or allowed in the answer or any subsequent pleading. A defendant waives all defenses and objections not so alleged but the court, in the interest of justice, may permit amendments to the answer to be made not later than ten (10) days from the filing thereof. However, at the trial of the issue of just compensation, whether or not a defendant has previously appeared or answered, he may present evidence as to the amount of the compensation to be paid for his property, and he may share in the distribution of the award. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied). In other words, once the compensation for Enriquez’ property is placed in issue at the trial, she could, following the third paragraph of the immediately-quoted Section 3 of Rule 67, participate therein and if she is not in conformity with the trial court’s determination of the compensation, she can appeal therefrom. Multiple or separate appeals being existent in the present expropriation case, NPC should have filed a record on appeal within 30 days from receipt of the trial court’s decision. The trial court’s dismissal of its appeal, which was affirmed by the appellate court, was thus in order. En passant, glossing over NPC’s failure to file record on appeal, its appeal would still not prosper on substantive grounds. NPC anchored its appeal on the alleged overvalued appraisal by the commissioners of the compensation to be awarded to Dilao et al., the commissioners having allegedly lost sight of the already mentioned 10% limit provided under Section 3A of R.A. No. 6395. In National Power Corporation v. Chiong, petitioner similarly argued therein that the Court of Appeals gravely erred in upholding the RTC order requiring it to pay the full market value of the expropriated properties, despite the fact that it was only acquiring an easement of right-of-way for its transmission lines. It pointed out, as it does in the present case, that under Section 3A of RA No. 6395, as amended, where only an easement of right-of-way shall be acquired, with the principal purpose for which the land is actually devoted is
unimpaired, the compensation should not exceed ten percent (10%) of the market value of the property. Upholding the trial court and the Court of Appeals’s approval of the commissioners’ recommendation in that case, this Court declared: In fixing the valuation at P500.00 per square meter, the Court of Appeals noted that the trial court had considered the reports of the commissioners and the proofs submitted by the parties. This includes the fair market value of P1,100.00 per square meter proffered by the respondents. This valuation by owners of the property may not be binding upon the petitioner or the court, although it should at least set a ceiling price for the compensation to be awarded. The trial court found that the parcels of land sought to be expropriated are agricultural land, with minimal improvements. It is the nature and character of the land at the time of its taking that is the principal criterion to determine just compensation to the landowner. Hence, the trial court accepted not the owner’s valuation of P1,100 per square meter but only P500 as recommended in the majority report of the commissioners. xxx In finding that the trial court did not abuse its authority in evaluating the evidence and the reports placed before it nor did it misapply the rules governing fair valuation, the Court of Appeals found the majority report’s valuation of P500 per square meter to be fair. Said factual finding of the Court of Appeals, absent any showing that the valuation is exorbitant or otherwise unjustified, is binding on the parties as well as this Court. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied). Indeed, expropriation is not limited to the acquisition of real property with a corresponding transfer of title or possession. The right-of-way easement resulting in a restriction or limitation on property rights over the land traversed by transmission lines, as in the present case, also falls within the ambit of the term “expropriation.” As explained in National Power Corporation v. Gutierrez, viz: The trial court’s observation shared by the appellate court show that “x x x While it is true that plaintiff [is] only after a right-of-way easement, it nevertheless perpetually deprives defendants of their proprietary rights as manifested by the imposition by the plaintiff upon defendants that below said transmission lines no
plant higher than three (3) meters is allowed. Furthermore, because of the high-tension current conveyed through said transmission lines, danger to life and limbs that may be caused beneath said wires cannot altogether be discounted, and to cap it all, plaintiff only pays the fee to defendants once, while the latter shall continually pay the taxes due on said affected portion of their property.” The foregoing facts considered, the acquisition of the right-ofway easement falls within the purview of the power of eminent domain. Such conclusion finds support in similar cases of easement of right-of-way where the Supreme Court sustained the award of just compensation for private property condemned for public use (See National Power Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 129 SCRA 665, 1984; Garcia vs. Court of Appeals, 102 SCRA 597, 1981). The Supreme Court, in Republic of the Philippines vs. PLDT, thus held that: “Normally, of course, the power of eminent domain results in the taking or appropriation of title to, and possession of, the expropriated property; but no cogent reason appears why said power may not be availed of to impose only a burden upon the owner of condemned property, without loss of title and possession. It is unquestionable that real property may, through expropriation, be subjected to an easement of right-of-way.” In the case at bar, the easement of right-of-way is definitely a taking under the power of eminent domain. Considering the nature and effect of the installation of the 230 KV Mexico-Limay transmission lines, the limitation imposed by NPC against the use of the land for an indefinite period deprives private respondents of its ordinary use. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied). From the Commissioners’ Report chronicling the following findings: xxx 1. The parcel of land owned by the defendant PETRONA O. DILAO, et al. is very fertile, plain, suited for any crops production, portion of which planted with coco trees and mango trees, portion planted with corn, sometimes planted with sugar cane, the said land has a distance of about 1 kilometer from the trading center, about 100 meters from an industrial land (Shemberg Biotech Corp.) adjacent to a Poultry Farm and lies along the Provincial Road.
xxx IMPROVEMENTS AFFECTED Per ocular inspection made on lot own by PETRONA O. DILAO, et al. traversed by a transmission line of NPC and with my verification as to the number of improvements, the following trees had been damaged. 1.
55 coco trees productive
10 mango trees productive
30 cacao trees productive
400 ipil-ipil trees
x x x, it cannot be gainsaid that NPC’s complaint merely involves a simple case of mere passage of transmission lines over Dilao et al.’s property. Aside from the actual damage done to the property traversed by the transmission lines, the agricultural and economic activity normally undertaken on the entire property is unquestionably restricted and perpetually hampered as the environment is made dangerous to the occupant’s life and limb. The determination of just compensation in expropriation proceedings being a judicial function, this Court finds the commissioners’ recommendation of P516.66 per square meter, which was approved by the trial court, to be just and reasonable compensation for the expropriated property of Dilao and her siblings. In fine, the appeal sought by NPC does not stand on both procedural and substantive grounds. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. SO ORDERED. Panganiban, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Corona, JJ., concur. Garcia, J., no part.
 Rollo at 38-42.  Id. at 44-45.  Id. at 81-86.  Id. at 46-51.  Id. at 39 and 69.  “O” for Osmeña.  Rollo at 47.  Id. at 39.  Id. at 66.  Id. at 39.  Id. at 67.  Id. at 40.  Id. at 73. The commissioners’ recommendation are as follows: 1.
Sebastian T. Ocon
P480.00 per square meter
600.00 per square meter
Fortunato C. Ligutom
470.00 per square meter
TOTAL P1,550.00/3 = P516.66  Id. at 77.  Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 938 - FURTHER AMENDING CERTAIN SECTIONS OF REPUBLIC ACT NUMBERED SIXTY-THREE HUNDRED NINETY-FIVE ENTITLED, “AN ACT REVISING THE CHARTER OF THE NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION,” AS AMENDED BY PRESIDENTIAL DECREES NOS. 380, 395 AND 758 provides:
SECTION 4. A new section shall be inserted to be known as Section 3A of the same Act to read as follows: “Sec. 3A. In acquiring private property or private property rights through expropriation proceedings where the land or portion thereof, will be traversed by the transmission lines, only a right-of-way easement thereon shall be acquired. When the principal purpose for which such land itself or portions thereof will be needed for the projects or works, such land or portion thereof as necessary shall be acquired. In determining the just compensation of the property or property sought to be acquired through expropriation proceedings, the same shall – (a) With respect to the acquired land or portion thereof, not to exceed the market value declared by the owner or administrator or anyone having legal interest in the property, or such market values as determined by the assessor, whichever is lower. (b) With respect to the acquired right-of-way easement over the land or portion thereof, not to exceed ten percent (10%) of the market value declared by the owner or administrator or anyone having legal interest in the property, or such market value as determined by the assessor, whichever is lower. In addition to the just compensation to the easement of right-of-way, the owner of the land or owner of the improvement, as the case may be, shall be compensated for the improvement actually damaged by the construction and maintenance of the transmission lines, in an amount not exceeding the market value thereof as declared by the owner or administrator, or anyone having legal interest in the property, or such market value as determined by the assessor whichever is lower; Provided, that in cases any buildings, houses and similar structures are actually affected by the right-of-way for the transmission lines, their transfer, if feasible, shall be effected at the expense of the Corporation; Provided, further, that such market value prevailing at the time the Corporation gives notice to the landowner or administrator or anyone having legal interest in the property, to the effect that his land or portion thereof is needed for its projects or works shall be used as basis to determine the just compensation therefor.” (Emphasis supplied).  Rollo at 79-80.
 Id. at 86.  Id. at 40.  Id. at 87. NPC’s Notice of Appeal reads: “Notice is hereby given that Plaintiff National Power Corporation hereby appeals to the Court of Appeals from the Decision made and entered into by this Court on November 10, 1999 in favor of plaintiff, condemning the property of Petrona Dilao et al which has been affected by 7,281 square meters in favor of plaintiff; declaring in favor of defendants for plaintiff to pay the fair market value of said area affected at P516.66 per square or a total of P3,761,801.40 plus P250,000.00 for the value of the improvements affected by herein expropriation.” (Emphasis supplied).  Id. at 91.  Id. at 92-94.  Id. at 97. See also Rollo at 40.  Id. at 98. Resolution of the lower court to NPC’s Motion for Reconsideration.  Id. at 99-100.  Id. at 107.  Id. at 117.  CA Rollo at 2.  Rollo at 38-41.  Id. at 40-41.  Id. at 12-36.  Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila v. Court of Appeals, 258 SCRA 186, 194 (1996).  180 SCRA 576, 583-584 (1989).  Id. at 587.
 CA Rollo at 58.  CA Rollo at 100.  404 SCRA 527, 537-539 (2003).  193 SCRA 1, 6-8 (1991).  Annex H, Rollo at 73-75.  Rollo at 73.  National Power Corporation v. Jocson, 206 SCRA 520, 540 (1992) citing Export Processing Zone Authority v. Dulay, 149 SCRA 305, 316 (1987)