The Supreme Court (SC) has given due course to the petition filed by the Social Security System (SSS) and stopped the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) from taking over an almost seven-hectare government lot owned by the SSS in the reclamation area in Pasay City.
In a resolution, the court’s 3rd Division chaired by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. issued a Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO) against NGCP’s takeover of the property.
It also required the company to file its comment within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice.
Government Corporate Counsel Rudolf Philip Jurado, legal counsel for SSS, lauded the SC ruling, saying it “has given a transcendental importance to the issues involved.”
In a petition for certiorari, the SSS officers pointed out that Pasay City Judge Palamos erroneously applied Section 6 of Republic Act (RA) 10752, also known as “The Right-of-Way Act,” which provides the guidelines for expropriation proceedings or the taking of a private property with just compensation.
The disputed lot is 60,872 square meters and has a market value of P24,000 per square meter or a total value of P1,460,928,000. It was covered by the expropriation proceedings before Palamos issued a writ of possession in favor of NGCP, a ruling the SSS wants reversed and nullified.
The petitioners asked the high court to issue a SQAO and/or writ of preliminary mandatory injunction against the RTC’s orders, and dismiss NGCP’s petition before the lower court.
The NGCP filed a complaint with the RTC on July 16, 2015 for expropriation of 42,218 square meters of the subject SSS property for the construction of a substation, which shall be known as the Pasay 230kV Substation Project. It later amended its complaint placing the total land area for expropriation at 60,872 square meters.
The lower court ruled in favor of the NGCP and issued the writ of possession on March 2, 2017. It junked the SSS’ motion for reconsideration on April 24, 2017.
But the petitioners pointed out that the RTC should have first resolved NGCP’s authority to expropriate government property.
According to the petitioners, Palamos merely relied on the portion of the guidelines which provides that “upon the filing of an expropriation complaint, the service of notice to the defendant and the deposit of 100% of the relevant BIR zonal value of the land to be expropriated, the issuance of a writ of possession becomes ministerial on the part of the [trial court],” but the judge failed to apply the provision which states that where the real property sought to be acquired is for right-of-way site or location for any government infrastructure, “the appropriate implementing agency, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), Office of the Government Corporate Counsel [OGCC] or their deputized counsel, shall initiate the expropriation proceedings.