Fact: Petitioners inherited a piece of land located at P. Burgos Street, Calzada, Taguig. Metro Manila, with an area of about four hundred ninety-two (492) square meters. When the parcel was ascertained by the NHI to have been the birthsite of Felix Y. Manalo, the founder of Iglesia Ni Cristo, it passed Resolution No. 1, Series of 1986, pursuant to Section 42 of Presidential Decree No. 260, declaring the land to be a national historical landmark. The resolution was approved by the Minister of Education, Culture and Sports At the same time, respondent Republic filed an urgent motion for the issuance of an order to permit it to take immediate possession of the property. The motion was opposed by petitioners. After a hearing, the trial court issued an order fixing the provisional market and assessed values of the property and authorizing the Republic to take over the property once the required sum would have been deposited with the Municipal Treasurer of Taguig, Metro Manila.
Petitioners moved to dismiss the complaint on the main thesis that the intended expropriation was not for a public purpose and, incidentally, that the act would constitute an application of public funds, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of Iglesia ni Cristo, a religious entity, contrary to the provision of the Constitution. Petitioners sought, in the meanwhile, a suspension in the implementation of the 03rd August 1989 order of the trial court. On 15 February 1990, following the filing by respondent Republic of its reply to petitioners’ motion seeking the dismissal of the case, the trial court issued its denial of said motion to dismiss.6 Five (5) days later, or on 20 February 1990,7 another order was issued by the trial court, declaring moot and academic the motion for reconsideration and/or suspension of the order of 03 August 1989 with the rejection of petitioners’ motion to dismiss. Petitioners’ motion for the reconsideration of the 20th February 1990 order was likewise denied by the trial court in its 16th April 1991 order. Petitioners then lodged a petition with the Court of Appeals which the appellate court dismissed for failure to show any grave abuse of discretion or lack of jurisdictional competence on the part of the trial court. A motion for the reconsideration of the decision was denied subsequently by appellate court.
Issue: Whether the expropriation was not for a public purpose and, incidentally, that the act would constitute an application of public funds, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of Iglesia ni Cristo, a religious entity, contrary to the provision of Section 29(2), Article VI, of the 1987 Constitution.
Held: No, Public Use. Eminent domain. The constitutional and statutory basis for taking property by eminent domain. For condemnation purposes, “public use” is one which confers same benefit or advantage to the public; it is not confined to actual use by public. It is measured in terms of right of public to use proposed facilities for which condemnation is sought and, as long as public has right of use, whether exercised by one or many members of public, a “public advantage” or “public benefit” accrues sufficient to constitute a public use. The idea that “public use” is strictly limited to clear cases of “use by the public” has long been discarded.