CASE 2016-0085: REPUBLIC OF THE  PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY MA CT AN-CEBU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT  AUTHORITY (MCIAA), V. LIMBONHAI AND SONS, (G.R. NO. 217956, 16 NOVEMBER 2016,  PERALTA, J) (SUBJECT/S: EXPROPRIATION; EMINENT DOMAIN; LACHES; TORRENS SYSTEM; PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE) (BRIEF TITLE: REPUBLIC VS LIMBONHAI)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The Court AFFIRMS the Decision promulgated on April 10, 2014 by the Court of Appeals.

 

SO ORDERED”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

HOW DO SC LOOK AT THE LOWER COURT’S FINDINGS?

 

IF AFFIRMED BY THE CA, THESE FINDINGS  ARE FINAL AND CONCLUSIVE?

 

WHY?

 

BECAUSE SC IS NOT A TRIER OF FACTS.

 

IT IS NOT THE FUNCTION OF SC TO ANALYZE OR WEIGH EVIDENCE ALL OVER AGAIN.

 

ARE THERE EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE?

 

YES.

 

WHEN THERE IS A SHOWING THAT THE FINDINGS OF THE LOWER COURTS ARE ABSOLUTELY DEVOID OF EVIDENCE.

 

OR

 

ARE GLARINGLY ERRONEOUS AS TO CONSTITUTE PALPABLE ERROR OR GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION.

 

IN THIS CASE IS THERE A GROUND TO APPLY THE ABOVE EXCEPTIONS?


NONE.

 

THE FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS OF THE APPELLATE COURT ARE IN FULL ACCORD WITH THOSE OF THE TRIAL COURT.

 

WHAT IS THE RIGHT OF EMINENT DOMAIN?

 

IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE SOVEREIGN POWER TO APPROPRIATE ANY PROPERTY WITHIN ITS TERRITORIAL SOVEREIGNTY FOR A PUBLIC PURPOSE.

 

WHAT IS THE  NATURE AND SCOPE OF SUCH POWER?

 

IT IS AN INDISPENSABLE ATTRIBUTE OF SOVEREIGNTY;

 

A POWER GROUNDED IN THE PRIMARY DUTY OF GOVERNMENT TO SERVE THE COMMON NEED AND ADVANCE THE GENERAL WELFARE.

 

MUST THE RIGHT OF EMINENT DOMAIN BE SUPPORTED BY CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION?

 

NO.

THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT GRANT IT. IT ONLY LIMITS SUCH POWER OTHERWISE IT IS LIMITLESS.

 

IN OUR CONSTITUTION HOW IS IT LIMITED?

 

OUR CONSTITUTION PROVIDES THAT “PRIVATE  PROPERTY SHALL NOT HE TAKEN FOR PUBLIC USE WITHOUT JUST COMPENSATION.”

 

ALSO,  THE DUE PROCESS AND EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSES ACT AS ADDITIONAL SAFEGUARDS AGAINST THE ARBITRARY EXERCISE OF THIS GOVERNMENTAL POWER.

 

HOW WILL THE EXERCISE OF SUCH POWER BE REGULATED?

 

A STRICT CONSTRUCTION WILL BE GIVEN AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT WHEN IT ASSERTS SUCH  POWER.

 

WHY IS THAT SO?

 

BECAUSE THAT POWER IS NECESSARILY IN DEROGATION OF PRIVATE RIGHTS.

 

IT IS ONE OF THE HARSHEST PROCEEDINGS KNOWN TO THE LAW.

 

WHO HAS THE BURDEN OF PROVING ALL THE ESSENTIALS NECESSARY TO SHOW THE RIGHT OF CONDEMNATION?

 

THE GOVERNMENT.

 

IT HAS THE BURDEN OF PROOF TO ESTABLISH THAT IT HAS COMPLIED WITH ALL THE REQUIREMENTS PROVIDED BY LAW FOR THE VALID EXERCISE OF THE POWER OF EMINENT D0MAIN SUCH AS THE PAYMENT OF JUST COMPENSATION.

 

 IN THIS CASE DID THE GOVERNMENT  PROVED THE PAYMENT OF JUST COMPENSATION?

 

NO.

WHAT IS LACHES?

 

IT IS THE FAILURE OR NEGLECT, FOR AN UNREASONABLE LENGTH OF TIME TO DO THAT WHICH BY EXERCISING DUE DILIGENCE COULD OR SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE EARLIER;

 

IT IS NEGLIGENCE OR OMISSION TO ASSERT A RIGHT WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME WARRANTING A PRESUMPTION THAT THE PARTY ENTITLED TO ASSERT IT HAS EITHER ABANDONED IT OR HAS DECLINED TO ASSERT IT.

 

IT HAS ALSO BEEN DEFINED AS SUCH NEGLECT OR OMISSION TO ASSERT A RIGHT TAKEN IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE LAPSE OF TIME AND OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES CAUSING PREJUDICE TO AN ADVERSE PARTY.

 

WHAT IS THE BASIS OF LACHES?

 

EQUITY.

 

IS IT TO PENALIZE NEGLECT OR SLEEPING UPON ONE’S RIGHT?

 

NO.

 

IT IS TO AVOID RECOGNIZING A RIGHT WHEN TO DO SO WOULD RESULT IN A CLEARLY INEQUITABLE SITUATION.

 

IN THIS CASE IT DOES NOT CONCERN ITSELF WITH THE CHARACTER OF THE DEFENDANT’S TITLE, BUT ONLY WITH WHETHER OR NOT BY REASON OF THE PLAINTIFFS LONG INACTION OR INEXCUSABLE NEGLECT, HE SHOULD HE BARRED FROM ASSERTING THIS CLAIM AT ALL, BECAUSE TO ALLOW HIM TO DO SO WOULD HE INEQUITABLE AND UNJUST TO THE DEFENDANT.

 

WHAT IS THE BASIS OF THE DOCTRINE OF LACHES OR STALE DEMANDS?

 

PUBLIC POLICY.

 

FOR THE PEACE OF SOCIETY,.

 

IT  IS PRINCIPALLY A QUESTION OF THE INEQUITY OR UNFAIRNESS OF PERMITTING A RIGHT OR CLAIM TO BE ENFORCED OR ASSERTED.

 

IN THIS CASE THE GOVERNMENT’S INACTION IN PAYING THE JUST COMPENSATION FOR THE PROPERTY FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS IS FATAL TO THEIR CAUSE OF ACTION AS LACHES HAS INDEED ALREADY SET IN.

 

HOW WILL THE APPLICATION OF LACHES BE DETERMINED?

 

IT IS  ADDRESSED TO THE SOUND DISCRETION OF THE COURT AS ITS APPLICATION IS CONTROLLED BY EQUITABLE CONSIDERATIONS.

 

IN THIS CASE  THE INACTION OF MCIAA FOR OVER 30 YEARS HAS REDUCED ITS RIGHT TO REGAIN POSSESSION OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY TO A STALE DEMAND.

 

THE GOVERNMENT ARGUED THAT THE RESPONDENT CORPORATION ACTED IN BAD FAITH IN ACQURING TITLE OVER SUBJECT PROPERTY. IS THIS ARGUMENT CORRECT?

 

NO.

IT IS IMMATERIAL WHETHER THERE WAS BAD FAITH BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO TITLE TO SPEAK OF. IT DID NOT COMPLETE THE EXPROPRIATION PROCESS BY ITS FAILURE TO PAY JUST COMPENSATION.

 

SUPPOSE THE PROCUREMENT OF TITLE WAS TAINTED WITH FRAUD AND MISREPRESENATION, WILL SUCH DEFECTIVE TITLE BE THE SOURCE OF A VALID TITLE?

 

YES. WHERE  INNOCENT THIRD PERSONS, RELYING ON THE CORRECTNESS OF THE CERTIFICATE OF TITLE THUS ISSUED, ACQUIRE RIGHTS OVER THE PROPERTY.

 

THE COURT CANNOT DISREGARD SUCH RIGHTS AND ORDER THE TOTAL CANCELLATION OF THE CERTIFICATE.

 

THE EFFECT OF SUCH AN OUTRIGHT CANCELLATION WOULD BE TO IMPAIR PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN THE CERTIFICATE OF TITLE, FOR EVERYONE DEALING WITH PROPERTY REGISTERED UNDER THE TORRENS SYSTEM WOULD HAVE TO INQUIRE IN EVERY INSTANCE WHETHER THE TITLE HAS BEEN REGULARLY OR IRREGULARLY ISSUED.

 

THIS IS CONTRARY TO THE EVIDENT PURPOSE OF THE LAW AS EVERY PERSON DEALING WITH REGISTERED LAND MAY SAFELY RELY ON THE CORRECTNESS OF THE CERTIFICATE OF TITLE ISSUED THEREFOR AND THE LAW WILL IN NO WAY OBLIGE HIM TO GO BEHIND THE CERTIFICATE TO DETERMINE THE CONDITION OF THE PROPERTY. THEY ARE ONLY CHARGED WITH NOTICE OF THE LIENS AND ENCUMBRANCES ON THE PROPERTY THAT ARE NOTED ON THE CERTIFICATE.

 

WHAT IS THE MAIN PURPOSE OF THE TORRENS SYSTEM?

 

TO AVOID POSSIBLE CONFLICTS OF TITLE TO REAL ESTATE

 

AND

 

TO FACILITATE TRANSACTIONS RELATIVE THERETO BY GIVING THE PUBLIC THE RIGHT TO RELY UPON THE FACE OF A TORRENS CERTIFICATE OF TITLE AND TO DISPENSE WITH THE NEED OF INQUIRING FURTHER, EXCEPT WHEN THE PARTY CONCERNED HAS ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES THAT SHOULD IMPEL A REASONABLY CAUTIOUS MAN TO MAKE SUCH FURTHER INQUIRY.

 

IN CIVIL CASES, WHAT MUST BE ESTABLISHED?

 

THE PARTY HAVING THE BURDEN OF PROOF MUST ESTABLISH HIS CASE BY A PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE.

 

WHAT IS PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE?

 

IT IS THE WEIGHT, CREDIT, AND VALUE OF THE AGGREGATE EVIDENCE ON EITHER SIDE, AND IS USUALLY CONSIDERED TO BE SYNONYMOUS WITH THE TERM GREATER WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE OR GREATER WEIGHT OF THE CREDIBLE EVIDENCE.

 

PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE IS A PHRASE THAT MEANS, IN THE LAST ANALYSIS, PROBABILITY OF THE TRUTH.

 

IT IS EVIDENCE THAT IS MORE CONVINCING TO THE COURT AS WORTHY OF BELIEF THAN THAT WHICH IS OFFERED IN OPPOSITION THERETO.

 

IN THE CASE AT BAR, MCIAA FAILED TO DISPENSE ITS BURDEN OF PROVING BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT IT HAS A RIGHT TO HAVE THE TCT ISSUED IN THE NAME OF RESPONDENT CORPORATION CANCELLED.

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

scd-2016-0085-republic-of-the-philippines-vs-limbonhai-and-sons

 

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