On December 22, 1988, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Petitioner passed Resolution authorizing the Provincial Governor to purchase or expropriate property contiguous to the provincial capitol site. The San Joaquins failed to appear at the hearing of the motion, moved to dismiss the complaints on the ground of inadequacy of the price offered for their property. The trial court denied the motion and authorized the Petitioner to take possession of the property upon the deposit with the Clerk of Court, The trial court issued a writ of possession in an order dated January18, 1990. The San Joaquins filed a motion for relief from the order, authorizing the Petitioner to take possession of their property and a motion to admit an amended motion to dismiss. Both motions were denied in the order dated February 1990.
the San Joaquins petitioned before the Court of Appeals, In its answer to the petition, the Petitioner claimed that it has the authority to initiate the expropriation proceedings under Sections 4 and 7 of Local Government Code (B.P. Blg. 337) and that the expropriations are for a public purpose. The Solicitor General stated there was no need for the approval by the Office of the President of the exercise by the Petitioner of the right of eminent domain. However, the Solicitor General expressed the view that the Petitioner must first secure the approval of the Department of Agrarian Reform of the plan to expropriate the lands of petitioners for use as a housing project.
The Court of Appeals set aside the order of the trial court, allowing the Province of Camarines Sur to take possession of private respondents’ lands and the order denying the admission of the amended motion to dismiss. It also ordered the trial court to suspend the expropriation proceedings until after the Petitioner shall have submitted the requisite approval of the Department of Agrarian Reform to convert the classification of the property of the private respondents from agricultural to non-agricultural land.
Issue: Whether the resolution is valid and that the expropriation is for a public purpose or public use?
Held: Yes, there has been a shift from the literal to a broader interpretation of “public purpose” or “public use” for which the power of eminent domain may be exercised. Under the new concept, “public use” means public advantage, convenience or benefit, which tends to contribute to the general welfare and the prosperity of the whole community, like a resort complex for tourists or housing project. The expropriation of the property authorized by the questioned resolution is for a public purpose. The establishment of a pilot development center would inure to the direct benefit and advantage of the people of the Province of Camarines Sur. Once operational, the center would make available to the community invaluable information and technology on agriculture, fishery and the cottage industry. Ultimately, the livelihood of the farmers, fishermen and craftsmen would be enhanced. The housing project also satisfies the public purpose requirement of the Constitution.