Saturday, June 27, 2015

Laches is principally a doctrine of equity. Courts apply laches to avoid recognizing a right when to do so would result in a clearly inequitable situation or in an injustice.12 The principle of laches finds no application in the present case. There is nothing inequitable in giving due course to respondent’s claim for compensation. Both equity and the law direct that a property owner should be compensated if his property is taken for public use.
Eminent domain is the inherent power of a sovereign state to appropriate private property to particular uses to promote public welfare.13 No one questions NIA’s authority to exercise the delegated power of eminent domain. However, the power of eminent domain is not limitless. NIA cannot exercise the power with wanton disregard for property rights. One basic limitation on the State’s power of eminent domain is the constitutional directive that, "[p]rivate property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation."14
The thirteen-year interval between the execution of the 1980 deeds of sale and the filing of the complaint in 1993 does not bar respondent’s claim for compensation. In National Power Corporation v. Campos, Jr.,15 this Court reiterated the long-standing rule "that where private property is taken by the Government for public use without first acquiring title thereto either through expropriation or negotiated sale, the owner’s action to recover the land or the value thereof does not prescribe."16
Thus, in Ansaldo v. Tantuico, Jr.17 the Court allowed the landowners to seek compensation twenty-six years after the government took their land. In Amigable v. Cuenca, etc., et al.,18 Amigable filed an action to claim compensation more than thirty years after the government constructed the roads on her lot. In both cases, the property owners were silent for several years before finally bringing their claims to the attention of the authorities. In contrast, in the present case, respondent has steadfastly pursued his claim with NIA since 1972.
NIA faults respondent for "desisting from claiming just compensation from NIA in 1980,"19 referring to the 1980 deeds of sale which were never implemented. NIA conveniently fails to mention that, as the other party to the 1980 deeds of sale, it was equally delinquent when it failed to perform its obligations under the deeds.
NIA is partly to blame for the delay in this case. The trial and appellate courts found that NIA stalled and prolonged negotiations with respondent. Eight years passed before NIA even offered to buy the area occupied by the canals. More than three decades later, respondent has yet to receive an iota of compensation from NIA. In the meantime, NIA has been charging respondent and the other farmers in the area irrigation fees for the beneficial use of these canals.20
NIA’s conduct shows callous disregard for the rights of the Property’s owners and for NIA’s own duties under the law. As the expropriating agency in this case, NIA should have instituted the proceedings necessary to acquire the private property it took for public purpose and to compensate the Property’s owners. Section 2(e) of RA 3601, as amended by PD 552, expressly states that the NIA should "exercise the right of eminent domain in the manner provided by law for the institution of expropriation proceedings."21
The exercise of eminent domain entails payment of just compensation. Otherwise, title over the expropriated property cannot pass to the government.22 Following its own enabling law, NIA should have taken steps to acquire the affected portion of the Property either through "any mode of acquisition" or "the institution of expropriation proceedings."23 RA 3601, as amended, does not authorize NIA to simply appropriate part of the Property without instituting legal proceedings or compensating respondent.

G.R. No. 147245. March 31, 2005
THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES REPRESENTED BY THE NATIONAL IRRIGATION ADMINISTRATION, Petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and FRANCISCO DIAZ, IN HIS CAPACITY AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE MANUEL DIAZ, Respondents

XXX

Just compensation is "the fair value of the property as between one who receives, and one who desires to sell, x x x fixed at the time of the actual taking by the government."40 This rule holds true when the property is taken before the filing of an expropriation suit, and even if it is the property owner who brings the action for compensation.41
In affirming the trial court’s award, the Court of Appeals cited Garcia v. Court of Appeals,42 which provides an exception to the rule. In Garcia, the Court held that when the government takes property, not for the purpose of eminent domain, and the government does not initiate condemnation proceedings or other attempts to acquire such property, just compensation should be reckoned not at the time of taking but at the time the trial court made its order of expropriation.43
However, the Garcia ruling does not apply to the present case. The 15,677, 1,897 and 4,499 square meter portions – a total of 22,073 square meters ("Canal Sites") – of the Property identified in the 1980 deeds of sale are occupied by irrigation canals. There is no dispute that the Canal Sites serve a public purpose because the canals provide much-needed irrigation to farms in the locality. There is also no dispute that when NIA actually took over the Canal Sites, the purpose was to exercise NIA’s delegated power of eminent domain.
Just compensation for the Canal Sites must thus be computed as of the time of taking. In this case, respondent does not contest that NIA’s valuation of P1.39 per square meter was the approximate fair market value of the Property in 1972. Respondent even agreed to this price when he signed the 1980 deeds of sale. At the least, P1.39 per square meter was "that sum of money which a person, desirous but not compelled to buy, and an owner, willing but not compelled to sell, would agree on as a price."44

Friday, June 26, 2015

Just compensation has been defined as "the full and fair equivalent of the property taken from its owner by the expropriator. The measure is not the taker's gain, but the owner’s loss. The word ‘just’ is used to qualify the meaning of the word ‘compensation’ and to convey thereby the idea that the amount to be tendered for the property to be taken shall be real, substantial, full and ample."13 The payment of just compensation for private property taken for public use is guaranteed no less by our Constitution and is included in the Bill of Rights.14 As such, no legislative enactments or executive issuances can prevent the courts from determining whether the right of the property owners to just compensation has been violated. It is a judicial function that cannot "be usurped by any other branch or official of the government."15 Thus, we have consistently ruled that statutes and executive issuances fixing or providing for the method of computing just compensation are not binding on courts and, at best, are treated as mere guidelines in ascertaining the amount thereof.16 In National Power Corporation v. Bagui,17 where the same petitioner also invoked the provisions of Section 3A of RA No. 6395, we held that:
Moreover, Section 3A-(b) of R.A. No. 6395, as amended, is not binding on the Court. It has been repeatedly emphasized that the determination of just compensation in eminent domain cases is a judicial function and that any valuation for just compensation laid down in the statutes may serve only as a guiding principle or one of the factors in determining just compensation but it may not substitute the court’s own judgment as to what amount should be awarded and how to arrive at such amount.18

Monday, June 1, 2015

Content-neutral restrictions (also called non-content-based restrictions)

Content-neutral restrictions (also called non-content-based restrictions) regulate speech without regard to its subject matter or the viewpoint conveyed.[1] The Supreme Court has held that the “government may impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place, or manner of protected speech, provided the restrictions ‘are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, that they are narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest, and that they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.’”[2] Such content-neutral restrictions may be permissible even when they incidentally affect the content of speech to some degree because, in most cases, such regulations “pose a less substantial risk of excising certain ideas or viewpoints from the public dialogue.”[3]
Examples of content-neutral restrictions that have been held to be constitutional include laws that restrict the distribution of printed materials to prevent litter in a public space[4] or laws that prohibit the use of loudspeakers in order to reduce noise.[5] Facially neutral regulations, however, can be invalid if they have a disproportionate effect on a particular type of speech or expression.[6]

what is a captive audience doctrine?

Captive-audience doctrine refers to a legal principle prohibiting a person from making intrusive speech. It is also known as the captive-audience rule. The rule is recognized under both constitutional law and labor law. Under labor law, the rule prohibits a party to a union election from making a speech on company time to a mass assembly of employees within 24 hours of an election.
However, the captive-audience doctrine does not apply when the unwilling audience is located on a public street or sidewalk because they can avoid the unwanted message simply by walking away or averting their eyes. The captive-audience doctrine can be used outside the residential setting when the degree of captivity makes it impractical for the unwilling viewer or auditor to avoid exposure. [Sabelko v. City of Phoenix, 846 F. Supp. 810, 825 (D. Ariz. 1994)].