Municipality of Meycauyan v. IAC, 157 SCRA 640 (1988)
In 1975, the Philippine Pipes and Merchandising Corporation (PPMC) filed with the Office of the Municipal Mayor of Meycauayan, Bulacan, an application for a permit to fence a parcel of land with a width of 26.8 meters and a length of 184.37 meters covered by TCTs 215165 and 37879. The fencing of said property was allegedly to enable the storage of PMC's heavy equipment and various finished products such as large diameter steel pipes, pontoon pipes for ports, wharves, and harbors, bridge components, pre-stressed girders and piles, large diameter concrete pipes, and parts for low cost housing. In the same year, the Municipal Council of Meycauayan, headed by then Mayor Celso R. Legaspi, passed Resolution 258, Series of 1975, manifesting the intention to expropriate the respondent's parcel of land covered by TCT 37879. An opposition to the resolution was filed by the PPMC with the Office of the Provincial Governor, which, in turn, created a special committee of four members to investigate the matter. On 10 March 1976, the Special Committee recommended that the Provincial Board of Bulacan disapprove or annul the resolution in question because there was no genuine necessity for the Municipality of Meycauayan to expropriate the respondent's property for use as a public road. On the basis of this report, the Provincial Board of Bulacan passed Resolution 238, Series of 1976, disapproving and annulling Resolution 258, Series of 1975, of the Municipal Council of Meycauayan. The PPMC, then, reiterated to the Office of the Mayor its petition for the approval of the permit to fence the aforesaid parcels of land. On 21 October 1983, however, the Municipal Council of Meycauayan, now headed by Mayor Adriano D. Daez, passed Resolution 21, Series of 1983, for the purpose of expropriating anew PPMC's land. The Provincial Board of Bulacan approved the aforesaid resolution on 25 January 1984. Thereafter, the Municipality of Meycauayan, on 14 February 1984, filed with the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch VI, a special civil action for expropriation. Upon deposit of the amount of P24,025.00, which is the market value of the land, with the Philippine National Bank, the trial court on 1 March 1984 issued a writ of possession in favor of the municipality. On 27 August 1984, the trial court issued an order declaring the taking of the property as lawful and appointing the Provincial Assessor of Bulacan as court commissioner who shall hold the hearing to ascertain the just compensation for the property. PPMC went to the Intermediate Appellate Court on petition for review. On 10 January 1985, the appellate court affirmed the trial court's decision. However, upon motion for reconsideration by PPMC, the decision was re-examined and reversed. The appellate court held that there is no genuine necessity to expropriate the land for use as a public road as there were several other roads for the same purpose and another more appropriate lot for the proposed public road. The court, taking into consideration the location and size of the land, also opined that the land is more ideal for use as storage area for respondent's heavy equipment and finished products. After its motion for reconsideration was denied, the municipality went to the Supreme Court on petition for review on certiorari on 25 October 1985.
Whether there is genuine necessity to expropriate PPMC’s property for the purpose of a connecting road, in light of other appropriate lots for the purpose.
There is no question here as to the right of the State to take private property for public use upon payment of just compensation. What is questioned is the existence of a genuine necessity therefor. The foundation of the right to exercise the power of eminent domain is genuine necessity and that necessity must be of a public character. Condemnation of private property is justified only if it is for the public good and there is a genuine necessity of a public character. Consequently, the courts have the power to require into the legality of the exercise of the right of eminent domain and to determine whether there is a genuine necessity therefor. The government may not capriciously choose what private property should be taken. With due recognition then of the power of Congress to designate the particular property to be taken and how much thereof may be condemned in the exercise of the power of expropriation, it is still a judicial question whether in the exercise of such competence, the party adversely affected is the victim of partiality and prejudice. That the equal protection clause will not allow. The Special Committee's Report, dated 10 March 1976, stated that "there is no genuine necessity for the Municipality of Meycauayan to expropriate the aforesaid property of the Philippine Pipes and Merchandizing Corporation for use as a public road. Considering that in the vicinity there are other available road and vacant lot offered for sale situated similarly as the lot in question and lying idle, unlike the lot sought to be expropriated which was found by the Committee to be badly needed by the company as a site for its heavy equipment after it is fenced together with the adjoining vacant lot, the justification to condemn the same does not appear to be very imperative and necessary and would only cause unjustified damage to the firm. The desire of the Municipality of Meycauayan to build a public road to decongest the volume of traffic can be fully and better attained by acquiring the other available roads in the vicinity maybe at lesser costs without causing harm to an establishment doing legitimate business therein. Or, the municipality may seek to expropriate a portion of the vacant lot also in the vicinity offered for sale for a wider public road to attain decongestion of traffic because as observed by the Committee, the lot of the Corporation sought to be taken will only accommodate a one-way traffic lane and therefore, will not suffice to improve and decongest the flow of traffic and pedestrians in the Malhacan area." There is absolutely no showing in the petition why the more appropriate lot for the proposed road which was offered for sale has not been the subject of the municipalities's attempt to expropriate assuming there is a real need for another connecting road.