Fact: On September 5, 1938, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic) instituted a special civil action for expropriation with the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Cebu, involving Lots of the Banilad Friar Land Estate, Lahug, Cebu City, for the purpose of establishing a military reservation for the Philippine Army. After depositing ₱9,500.00 with the Philippine National Bank, the Republic took possession of the lots. Thereafter, the CFI rendered its Decision ordering the Republic to pay the Denzons the sum of ₱4,062.10 as just compensation. In 1950, Jose Galeos, one of the heirs of the Denzons, filed with the National Airports Corporation a claim for rentals for the two lots, but it “denied knowledge of the matter.” Another heir, Nestor Belocura, brought the claim to the Office of then President Carlos Garcia who wrote the Civil Aeronautics Administration and the Secretary of National Defense to expedite action on said claim. in 1962, the CFI promulgated its Decision in favor of Valdehueza and Panerio, holding that they are the owners and have retained their right as such over Lots 932 and 939 because of the Republic’s failure to pay the amount of ₱4,062.10, adjudged in the expropriation proceedings. In view of “the differences in money value from 1940 up to the present,” the court adjusted the market value at ₱16,248.40, to be paid with 6% interest per annum from April 5, 1948, date of entry in the expropriation proceedings, until full payment.
Meanwhile, in 1964, Valdehueza and Panerio mortgaged and foreclosed Lot 932 to Vicente Lim for failure to pay. in 1992, respondent filed a complaint for quieting of title with the (RTC) seeking an absolute and exclusive possession of the property. in 2001, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of respondent. Petitioners elevated the case to the CA but the Ruling of the RTC was upheld and affirmed.
Issue: Whether the owner of the expropriated land is entitled for the repossession of his property when party condemning refuses to pay the compensation which has been assessed or agreed upon?
Held: Yes, while the prevailing doctrine is that “the non-payment of just compensation does not entitle the private landowner to recover possession of the expropriated lots,26 however, in cases where the government failed to pay just compensation within five (5) years from the finality of the judgment in the expropriation proceedings, the owners concerned shall have the right to recover possession of their property. This is in consonance with the principle that “the government cannot keep the property and dishonor the judgment.” To be sure, the five-year period limitation will encourage the government to pay just compensation punctually. This is in keeping with justice and equity. After all, it is the duty of the government, whenever it takes property from private persons against their will, to facilitate the payment of just compensation which the court defined as not only the correct determination of the amount to be paid to the property owner but also the payment of the property within a reasonable time. Without prompt payment, compensation cannot be considered “just.”