Ansaldo vs. Tantuico G.R. 50147, August 3, 1990

Fact:   The lots belong to the petitioners are covered by title in their names. These lots were taken from the Ansaldos sometime in 1947 by the Department of Public Work Transportation and Communication and made part of what used to be Sta. Mesa Street and is now Ramon Magsaysay Avenue at San Juan, Metro Manila. This, to repeat, without demur on the part of the owners. Said owners made no move whatever until twenty-six years later. They wrote to ask for compensation for their land on January 22, 1973. Their claim was referred to the Secretary of Justice who in due course rendered an opinion dated February 22, 1973, that just compensation should be paid in accordance with Presidential Decree No. 76. The Decree provided that the basis for the payment of just compensation of property taken for public use should be the current and fair market value thereof as declared by the owner or administrator, or such market value as determined by the assessor, whichever was lower. The Secretary of Justice thus advised that the corresponding expropriation suit be forthwith instituted to fix the just compensation to be paid to the Ansaldos.

Pursuant to this opinion, the Commissioner of Public Highways requested the Provincial Assessor of Rizal to make a redetermination of the market value of the Ansaldos’ property in accordance with PD 76. 6 The new valuation was made, after which the Auditor of the Bureau of Public Highways forwarded the Ansaldos’ claim to the Auditor General with the recommendation that payment be made on the basis of the “current and fair market value, . . . and not on the fair market value at the time of taking.

The Commission on Audit, however, declined to adopt the recommendation. In a decision handed down on September 26, 1973, the Acting Chairman ruled that “the amount of compensation to be paid to the claimants is to be determined as of the time of the taking of the subject lots, 8 i.e. 1947. The ruling was reiterated by the Commission on September 8, 1978, and again on January 25, 1979 when it denied the Ansaldos’ motion for reconsideration.9 It is these rulings of the Commission on Audit that the Ansaldos have appealed to this Court.

Issue: Whether the amount of compensation to be paid to the claimants is to be determined as of the time of the taking of the subject land?

Held: Yes which is in 1947. there is a “taking” when the owner is actually deprived or dispossessed of his property; when there is a practical destruction or a material impairment of the value of his property or when he is deprived of the ordinary use thereof. There is a “taking” in this sense when the expropriator enters private property not only for a momentary period but for a more permanent duration, for the purpose of devoting the property to a public use in such a manner as to oust the owner and deprive him of all beneficial enjoyment thereof. For ownership, after all, “is nothing without the inherent rights of possession, control and enjoyment. Where the owner is deprived of the ordinary and beneficial use of his property or of its value by its being diverted to public use, there is taking within the Constitutional sense. Under these norms, there was undoubtedly a taking of the Ansaldos’ property when the Government obtained possession thereof and converted it into a part of a thoroughfare for public use. Clearly, then, the value of the Ansaldos’ property must be ascertained as of the year 1947, when it was actually taken, and not at the time of the filing of the expropriation suit, which, by the way, still has to be done. It is as of that time that the real measure of their loss may fairly be adjudged. The value, once fixed, shall earn interest at the legal rate until full payment is effected, conformably with other principles laid down by case law

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