APO FRUITS vs LAND BANK (November 2010)

April 10, 2014
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Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 164195               November 23, 2010

APO FRUITS CORPORATION and HIJO PLANTATION, INC., Petitioners,

vs.

LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

R E S O L U T I O N

In our resolution dated October 12, 2010, the Court En Banc ordered the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to pay interest at the rate of 12% per annum on the unpaid balance of just compensation from the time the government took the properties until LBP paid the balance on the principal amount. This ruling was based on the following:

a) Just compensation, to be just, must not only be made in full, but must also be made without delay. In the present case, not only did the LBP undervalue the landowners’ lands by a total of P1,131,799,897.00, it only paid the balance of the just compensation due more than 10 years after it had already taken these properties;

b) In several cases where there was delay in payment of just compensation, the Court imposed interest at the rate of 12% per annum from the time the government expropriated properties until the time the just compensation was fully paid;

c) In the present case, the landowners had volunteered to sell their properties to the government for its agrarian reform program. However, they were forced to file complaints for the determination of just compensation when the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) grossly undervalued their properties;

d) Furthermore, the DAR was responsible for delaying the proceedings when it failed to act on the landowners’ complaints for just compensation for more than 3 years;

e) This Court has, in the past, reversed final judgments on second or third motions for reconsiderations where issues of substantial justice were concerned, or in cases with special or compelling circumstances. This case does not just involve a constitutionally guaranteed limitation on the State’s right to expropriate property, i.e., the corresponding right of the landowner to expect just compensation; it also involves the stability and credibility of the government’s agrarian reform program.

In its motion for reconsideration, LBP asserts that:

a) There is no transcendental importance or violation of substantial justice to justify the negation of an already immutable 2007 resolution that deleted the awards of interests and attorney’s fees;

b) LBP is not guilty of delay in the payment of just compensation;

c) An overvaluation, not undervaluation, was made in this case, as the special agrarian court computed the just compensation by averaging the values of residential and industrial lands, in utter disregard of Section 17 of R.A. No. 6657 (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Act);

d) The acquisition of agricultural lands under R.A. No. 6657 done in the exercise of eminent domain and the police power of the state is not an ordinary purchase or sale that guarantees a huge profit for the landowner;

e) The rulings which the petitioners invoke are not applicable to the expropriation for agrarian reform.

The LBP essentially reiterates the same issues already passed upon and discussed by the Court in the assailed Resolution. We see no substantial argument that would compel us to modify our conclusions on these issues.

If at all, the only new matter the motion raises is the alleged overvaluation of the properties involved and the Court’s failure to apply Section 17 of R.A. No. 6657 in determining the value of the properties in question. However, even the respondent admits that “this finding of fact with respect to the issue of just compensation is now beyond question.”1

On these considerations, we hereby DENY the Motion for Reconsideration with FINALITY. No further pleadings shall be entertained. Let entry of judgment be made in due course.

The Court further Resolved to NOTE the Urgent/Verified Motion/Application (for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order [TRO] or Writ of Preliminary Injunction) dated November 5, 2010 filed by the OGCC for respondent Land Bank of the Philippines.”

Carpio, J., no part. Del Castillo, J., on official leave.

 

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.) ENRIQUETA E. VIDAL
Clerk of Court

Footnote

1 LBP’s Motion for Reconsideration, rollo, p. 1781.

READ CASE DIGEST HERE.

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