Heirs of Juancho Ardona vs. Reyes, 125 SCRA 220 (1983) G.R. Nos. L-60549, 60553 to 60555 October 26, 1983

Fact:  The Philippine Tourism Authority filed four (4) Complaints with the Court of First Instance of Cebu City for the expropriation of some 282 hectares of rolling land situated in barangays Malubog and Babag, Cebu City, The defendants filed their respective Opposition with Motion to Dismiss and/or Reconsideration, manifestation adopting the answer.

In their motions to dismiss, the petitioners alleged, in addition to the issue of public use, that there is no specific constitutional provision authorizing the taking of private property for tourism purposes; that assuming that PTA has such power, the intended use cannot be paramount to the determination of the land as a land reform area; that limiting the amount of compensation by Legislative fiat is constitutionally repugnant; and that since the land is under the land reform program, it is the Court of Agrarian Relations and not the Court of First Instance that has jurisdiction over the expropriation cases.

The Philippine Tourism Authority having deposited with The Philippine National Bank, Cebu City Branch, an amount equivalent to 10% of the value of the properties pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1533. the lower court issued separate orders authorizing PTA to take immediate possession of the premises and directing the issuance of writs of possession.

 

Issue: Whether the actions to expropriate properties are constitutionally infirm in the taking of private property for the promotion of tourism?

 

Held: No, petitioners have also failed to overcome the deference that is appropriately accorded to formulations of national policy expressed in legislation. The expressions of national policy are found in the revised charter of the Philippine Tourism Authority, Presidential Decree No. 564: 2. Acquisition of Private Lands, Power of Eminent Domain. — To acquire by purchase, by negotiation or by condemnation proceedings any private land within and without the tourist zones for any of the following reasons: (a) consolidation of lands for tourist zone development purposes, (b) prevention of land speculation in areas declared as tourist zones, (c) acquisition of right of way to the zones, (d) protection of water shed areas and natural assets with tourism value, and (e) for any other purpose expressly authorized under this Decree and accordingly, to exercise the power of eminent domain under its own name, which shall proceed in the manner prescribed by law and/or the Rules of Court on condemnation proceedings. The Authority may use any mode of payment which it may deem expedient and acceptable to the land owners: Provided, That in case bonds are used as payment, the conditions and restrictions set forth in Chapter III, Section 8 to 13 inclusively, of this Decree shall apply.

 

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