City of Naga vs. MANDECOR case dismissed

NAGA CITY (Bicol Standard)—The city government of Naga, represented by Mayor Nelson S. Legacion has suffered another legal setback when the Regional Trial Court dismissed its Petition for Determination of Just Compensation with Prayer for the issuance of writ of preliminary injunction.

In an order dated January 31, 2020, Branch 62 Presiding Judge Laurencio A. Puto declared that for lack of cause of action, the petition was dismissed.

The legal issue stemmed over a parcel of land that is now being used as a road that connects from the junction of the Pacol to Carolina road to the Naga City Sports Complex, Ateneo de Naga High School, and several other subdivisions in the area.

Manubay Agro-Industrial Development Corporation (MANDECOR), the defendant, argued that the petition filed by the City of Naga lacks cause of action as it did not first institute an expropriation proceeding, or did not have an order of expropriation issued by the court.

Moreover, there was no ordinance enacted by the City Council of Naga authorizing the mayor to exercise the power of eminent domain or to expropriate the property subject of the case.
This, MANDECOR clarified, was a patent violation of Section 19 of the Local Government Code of 1991.

On the other hand, the city government claimed that it had cause of action, based on the ruling in Estanislao Alfonso vs. Pasay City.

Court’s explanation

On this issue, the court said the city government had no cause of action against MANDECOR.
“The only way for [the city government] to acquire said property is through expropriation proceeding in accordance with the provision of Section 19 of RA 7160, and by strictly observing the procedure under Rule 67 of the Revised Rules of Court, since [MANDECOR] has already manifested its unwillingness to sell the property to the [city government]. Under the aforementioned provision of law, the city government must file first the appropriate expropriation proceeding, not just a simple determination of just compensation,” the order reads.

The court also said that the case of Estanislao Alfonso vs. Pasay City, which was relied upon by the city government, is not applicable to the instant case.

This is because the plaintiff in said case is the landowner who filed the case for recovery of possession against Pasay City.

The Supreme Court considered this as an inverse condemnation proceeding, thereby ordering Pasay City to pay just compensation to the registered owner of the land.

“In the instant case, it is the City of Naga that filed the case for determination of just compensation against the registered owner of the land, without first filing an expropriation proceeding.”

The court emphasized: “The [city government] has no clear and unmistakable right over the subject property, which is one of the requisites for the grant of preliminary mandatory injunction.”