Power of eminent domain empowers govt to buy property for public use

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
The government is buying my uncle’s land for its project. Can this be validly done? How can the owners be sure that they are being paid correctly?
Al

Dear Al,
By virtue of the power of eminent domain, the government, as a sovereign, has the authority to take private property for public use upon observance of due process of law and payment of just compensation (NPC vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 106804, August 12, 2004 citing Visayan Refining Co. v. Camus, 40 Phil. 550). For purposes of taking private properties, the term national government projects shall refer to all national government structure, engineering works and service contracts, including projects undertaken by government-owned and controlled corporations, all projects covered by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6957, as amended by R.A. No. 7718 or the Build-Operate-and Transfer law, and other related and necessary activities, such as site acquisition, supply and/or installation of equipment and materials, implementation, construction, completion, operation, maintenance, improvement, repair, and rehabilitation, regardless of the source of funding (Section 2, RA No. 8974). The government may acquire private properties through donation, negotiated sale, expropriation or any other mode of acquisition as provided by law (Section 3, RA No. 8974).

Article III, Section 9 of the 1987 Constitution guarantees the right of every owner whose land is being taken for public use to be paid with just compensation. In case the government agency and the owner of the property agree on a negotiated sale of the property, the just compensation to be paid to the owner shall be based on the fair market value of the property. The following factors are considered in determining just compensation: 1) the classification and use for which the property is suited; 2) the developmental cost for improving the land; 3) the value declared by the owners; 4) the current selling price of similar lands in the vicinity; 5) the reasonable disturbance compensation for the removal and/or demolition of certain improvement on the land and for the value of improvements thereon; 6) the size, shape or location, tax declaration and zonal valuation of the land; 7) the price of the land as manifested in the ocular findings, oral as well as documentary evidence presented; and 8) such facts and events as to enable the affected property owners to have sufficient funds to acquire similarly-situated lands of approximate areas as those required from them by the government, and thereby rehabilitate themselves as early as possible (Section 5, RA 8974).

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

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