LAGCAO vs JUDGE GENEROSA G. LABRA G.R. No. 155746 October 13, 2004

Fact: In 1964, the Province of Cebu donated 210 lots to the City of Cebu. One of these lots was Lot 1029, situated in Capitol Hills, Cebu City, with an area of 4,048 square meters. In 1965, petitioners purchased Lot 1029 on installment basis. But then, in late 1965, the 210 lots, including Lot 1029, reverted to the Province of Cebu. Consequently, the province tried to annul the sale of Lot 1029 by the City of Cebu to the petitioners. This prompted the latter to sue the province for specific performance and damages in the then Court of First Instance.

 

On July 9, 1986, the court a quo ruled in favor of petitioners and ordered the Province of Cebu to execute the final deed of sale in favor of petitioners and affirmed by the CA.

petitioners instituted ejectment proceedings against the squatters. The Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Branch 1, Cebu City, rendered a decision on April 1, 1998, ordering the squatters to vacate the lot. On appeal, the RTC affirmed the MTCCs decision and issued a writ of execution and order of demolition.

 

However, when the demolition order was about to be implemented, Cebu City Mayor Alvin Garcia wrote two letters[4] to the MTCC, requesting the deferment of the demolition on the ground that the City was still looking for a relocation site for the squatters. The MTCC issued two orders suspending the demolition. Unfortunately for petitioners, during the suspension period, the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) passed a resolution which identified Lot 1029 as a socialized housing site pursuant to RA 7279. Then, on June 30, 1999, the SP passed Ordinance No. 1772 which included Lot 1029 among the identified sites for socialized housing. On July, 19, 2000, Ordinance No. 1843[7] was enacted by the SP of Cebu City authorizing the mayor of Cebu City to initiate expropriation proceedings for the acquisition of Lot 1029 which was registered in the name of petitioners. This ordinance was approved by Mayor Garcia on August 2, 2000.

 

On August 29, 2000, petitioners filed with the RTC an action for declaration of nullity of Ordinance No. 1843 for being unconstitutional. The trial court rendered its decision on July 1, 2002 dismissing the complaint filed by petitioners whose subsequent motion for reconsideration was likewise denied on August 26, 2002.

 

Issue: whether or not the intended expropriation by the City of Cebu of a 4,048-square-meter parcel of land owned by petitioners contravenes the Constitution and applicable laws.

 

Held: We have found nothing in the records indicating that the City of Cebu complied strictly with Sections 9 and 10 of RA 7279. Ordinance No. 1843 sought to expropriate petitioners property without any attempt to first acquire the lands listed in (a) to (e) of Section 9 of RA 7279. Likewise, Cebu City failed to establish that the other modes of acquisition in Section 10 of RA 7279 were first exhausted. Moreover, prior to the passage of Ordinance No. 1843, there was no evidence of a valid and definite offer to buy petitioners property as required by Section 19 of RA 7160.[20] We therefore find Ordinance No. 1843 to be constitutionally infirm for being violative of the petitioners right to due process.

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