Wednesday, October 29, 2014

case digest



SECTION 9 – RIGHT TO JUST COMPENSATION



MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY
Vs.
HONORABLE GREGORIO G. PINEDA

G.R. No. L-59791
February 13, 1992




Facts:

Petitioner Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) is a domestic corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of Philippines. Respondent Honorable Judge Gregorio G. Pineda is impleaded in his official capacity as the presiding judge of the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Rizal, Branch XXI, Pasig, Metro Manila. While private respondents Teofilo Arayon, Sr., Gil de Guzman, Lucito Santiago and Teresa Bautista are owners in fee simple of the expropriated property situated at Malaya, Pililla, Rizal.

On October 29, 1974, a complaint for eminent domain was filed by petitioner MERALCO against forty-two (42) defendants with the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Rizal, Branch XXII, Pasig, Metro Manila. The complaint alleges that for the purpose of constructing a 230 KV Transmission line from Barrio Malaya to Tower No. 220 at Pililla, Rizal, petitioner needs portions of the land of the private respondents consisting of an aggregate area of 237,321 square meters. Despite petitioner's offers to pay compensation and attempts to negotiate with the respondents', the parties failed to reach an agreement.

The petitioner strongly maintains that the respondent court's act of determining and ordering the payment of just compensation to private respondents without formal presentation of evidence by the parties on the reasonable value of the property constitutes a flagrant violation of petitioner's constitutional right to due process. It stressed that respondent court ignored the procedure laid down by the law in determining just compensation because it formulated an opinion of its own as to the value of the land in question without allowing the Board of Commissioners to hold hearings for the reception of evidence.


Issue:

Whether or not the respondent court can dispense with the assistance of a Board of Commissioners in an expropriation proceeding and determine for itself the just compensation.


Ruling:

                Respondent judge, in the case at bar, arrived at the valuation of P40.00 per square meter on a property declared for real estate tax purposes at P2.50 per hectare on the basis of a "Joint Venture Agreement on Subdivision and Housing Projects" executed by A.B.A Homes and private respondents on June 1, 1972. This agreement was merely attached to the motion to withdraw from petitioner's deposit. Respondent judge arrived at the amount of just compensation on its own, without the proper reception of evidence before the Board of Commissioners. Private respondents as landowners have not proved by competent evidence the value of their respective properties at a proper hearing. Likewise, petitioner has not been given the opportunity to rebut any evidence that would have been presented by private respondents. In an expropriation case such as this one where the principal issue is the determination of just compensation, a trial before the Commissioners is indispensable to allow the parties to present evidence on the issue of just compensation. Contrary to the submission of private respondents, the appointment of at least three (3) competent persons as commissioners to ascertain just compensation for the property sought to be taken is a mandatory requirement in expropriation cases. While it is true that the findings of commissioners may be disregarded and the court may substitute its own estimate of the value, the latter may only do so for valid reasons, i.e., where the Commissioners have applied illegal principles to the evidence submitted to them or where they have disregarded a clear preponderance of evidence, or where the amount allowed is either grossly inadequate or excessive (Manila Railroad Company v. Velasquez, 32 Phil. 286). Thus, trial with the aid of the commissioners is a substantial right that may not be done away with capriciously or for no reason at all. Moreover, in such instances, where the report of the commissioners may be disregarded, the trial court may make its own estimate of value from competent evidence that may be gathered from the record. The aforesaid joint venture agreement relied upon by the respondent judge, in the absence of any other proof of valuation of said properties, is incompetent to determine just compensation.

Prior to the determination of just compensation, the property owners may rightfully demand to withdraw from the deposit made by the condemnor in eminent domain proceedings. Upon an award of a smaller amount by the court, the property owners are subject to a judgment for the excess or upon the award of a larger sum, they are entitled to a judgment for the amount awarded by the court. Thus, when the respondent court granted in the Orders dated December 4, 1981 and December 21, 1981 the motions of private respondents for withdrawal of certain sums from the deposit of petitioner, without prejudice to the just compensation that may be proved in the final adjudication of the case, it committed no error.

Records, specifically Meralco's deed of sale dated October 30, 1979, in favor of Napocor show that the latter agreed to purchase the parcels of land already acquired by Meralco, the rights, interests and easements over those parcels of land which are the subject of the expropriation proceedings under Civil Case No. 20269, (Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XXII), as well as those parcels of land occupied by Meralco by virtue of grant of easements of right-of-way (see Rollo, pp. 341-342). Thus, Meralco had already ceded and in fact lost all its rights and interests over the aforesaid parcels of land in favor of Napocor. In addition, the same contract reveals that the Napocor was previously advised and actually has knowledge of the pending litigation and proceedings against Meralco (see Rollo, pp. 342-343). Hence, We find the contention of the petitioner tenable. It is therefore proper for the lower court to either implead the Napocor in substitution of the petitioner or at the very least implead the former as party plaintiff.

All premises considered, this Court is convinced that the respondent judge's act of determining and ordering the payment of just compensation without the assistance of a Board of Commissioners is a flagrant violation of petitioner's constitutional right to due process and is a gross violation of the mandated rule established by the Revised Rules of Court.

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED and the order dated February 9, 1982 issued by the respondent judge insofar as it finally determined the amount of just compensation is nullified. This case is hereby ordered remanded to the lower court for trial with the assistance of a Board of Commissioners. Further, the National Power Corporation is impleaded as party plaintiff therein.





















SECTION 5 – FREEDOM OF RELIGION


Iglesia Ni Cristo
Vs.
Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 119673
July 26, 1996


Facts:

Petitioner has a television program entitled "Ang Iglesia Ni Cristo" aired on Channel 2 every Saturday and on Channel 13 every Sunday. The program presents and propagates petitioner's religious beliefs, doctrines and practices often times in comparative studies with other religions. Petitioner submitted to the respondent Board of Review for Moving Pictures and Television the VTR tapes of its TV program Series Nos. 116, 119, 121 and 128. The Board classified the series as "X" or not for public viewing on the ground that they "offend and constitute an attack against other religions which is expressly prohibited by law." 

On December 14, 1992, petitioner also filed against the respondent Board Civil Case No. Q-92-14280, with the RTC, NCR Quezon City.  Petitioner alleged that the respondent Board acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in requiring petitioner to submit the VTR tapes of its TV program and in x-rating them. It cited its TV Program Series Nos. 115, 119, 121 and 128.
The RTC ruled in favour of the petitioners. The Court of Appeals however reversed it, hence this petition. 

Issues:

1.      Whether or Not the "ang iglesia ni cristo" program is not constitutionally protected as a form of religious exercise and expression.

2.      Whether the respondent Board has the power to review petitioner's TV program "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo," 

Ruling:
           
Yes. Any act that restrains speech is accompanied with presumption of invalidity. Under our constitutional scheme, it is not the task of the State to favor any religion by protecting it against an attack by another religion. Religious dogmas and beliefs are often at war and to preserve peace among their followers, especially the fanatics, the establishment clause of freedom of religion prohibits the State from leaning towards any religion. Respondent board cannot censor the speech of petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo simply because it attacks other religions, even if said religion happens to be the most numerous church in our country. The basis of freedom of religion is freedom of thought and it is best served by encouraging the marketplace of dueling ideas. It is only where it is unavoidably necessary to prevent an immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the community that infringement of religious freedom may be justified, and only to the smallest extent necessary to avoid the danger. There is no showing whatsoever of the type of harm the tapes will bring about especially the gravity and imminence of the threatened harm. Prior restraint on speech, including religious speech, cannot be justified by hypothetical fears but only by the showing of a substantive and imminent evil. It is inappropriate to apply the clear and present danger test to the case at bar because the issue involves the content of speech and not the time, place or manner of speech. 

The second issue can be resolved by examining the powers of the Board under PD No. 1986 particularly Section 3. The law gives the Board the power to screen, review and examine all "television programs." By the clear terms of the law, the Board has the power to "approve, delete . . . and/or prohibit the . . . exhibition and/or television broadcast of . . . television programs . . ." The law also directs the Board to apply "contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard" to determine those which are objectionable for being "immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs, injurious to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines and its people, or with a dangerous tendency to encourage the commission of violence or of a wrong or crime."
           
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Decision of the respondent Court of Appeals dated March 24, 1995 is affirmed insofar as it sustained the jurisdiction of the respondent MTRCB to review petitioner's TV program entitled "Ang Iglesia ni Cristo," and is reversed and set aside 









SECTION 7 – RIGHT TO INFORMATION


VALENTIN L. LEGASPI
vs.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION

G.R. No. L-72119
May 29, 1987



Facts:

The fundamental right of the people to information on matters of public concern is invoked in this special civil action for mandamus instituted by petitioner Valentin L. Legaspi against the Civil Service Commission. The respondent had earlier denied Legaspi's request for information on the civil service eligibilities of certain persons employed as sanitarians in the Health Department of Cebu City. These government employees, Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, had allegedly represented themselves as civil service eligibles who passed the civil service examinations for sanitarians.

Claiming that his right to be informed of the eligibilities of Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, is guaranteed by the Constitution, and that he has no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy to acquire the information, petitioner prays for the issuance of the extraordinary writ of mandamus to compel the respondent Commission to disclose said information.

The Solicitor General interposes procedural objections to give due course to this Petition. He challenges the petitioner's standing to sue upon the ground that the latter does not possess any clear legal right to be informed of the civil service eligibilities of the government employees concerned. He calls attention to the alleged failure of the petitioner to show his actual interest in securing this particular information. He further argues that there is no ministerial duty on the part of the Commission to furnish the petitioner with the information he seeks.

Issues:

a.      Whether or not the Civil Service Commission is obliged to produce the information regarding the eligibilities of certain persons employed as sanitarians in the Health Department of Cebu City?

b.      Whether or not the petitioner has a standing to assert the right to information?

Ruling:

            a. This question is first addressed to the government agency having custody of the desired information. However, as already discussed, this does not give the agency concerned any discretion to grant or deny access. In case of denial of access, the government agency has the burden of showing that the information requested is not of public concern, or, if it is of public concern, that the same has been exempted by law from the operation of the guarantee. To hold otherwise will serve to dilute the constitutional right. As aptly observed, ". . . the government is in an advantageous position to marshall and interpret arguments against release . . ." (87 Harvard Law Review 1511 [1974]). To safeguard the constitutional right, every denial of access by the government agency concerned is subject to review by the courts, and in the proper case, access may be compelled by a writ of Mandamus.

In determining whether or not a particular information is of public concern there is no rigid test which can be applied. "Public concern" like "public interest" is a term that eludes exact definition. Both terms embrace a broad spectrum of subjects which the public may want to know, either because these directly affect their lives, or simply because such matters naturally arouse the interest of an ordinary citizen. In the final analysis, it is for the courts to determine in a case by case basis whether the matter at issue is of interest or importance, as it relates to or affects the public.

            b. In the instant, case while refusing to confirm or deny the claims of eligibility, the respondent has failed to cite any provision in the Civil Service Law which would limit the petitioner's right to know who are, and who are not, civil service eligibles. We take judicial notice of the fact that the names of those who pass the civil service examinations, as in bar examinations and licensure examinations for various professions, are released to the public. Hence, there is nothing secret about one's civil service eligibility, if actually possessed. Petitioner's request is, therefore, neither unusual nor unreasonable. And when, as in this case, the government employees concerned claim to be civil service eligibles, the public, through any citizen, has a right to verify their professed eligibilities from the Civil Service Commission.

The civil service eligibility of a sanitarian being of public concern, and in the absence of express limitations under the law upon access to the register of civil service eligibles for said position, the duty of the respondent Commission to confirm or deny the civil service eligibility of any person occupying the position becomes imperative. Mandamus, therefore lies.

WHEREFORE, the Civil Service Commission is ordered to open its register of eligibles for the position of sanitarian, and to confirm or deny, the civil service eligibility of Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, for said position in the Health Department of Cebu City, as requested by the petitioner Valentin L. Legaspi.

SECTION 6 – LIBERTY OF ABODE AND TRAVEL


Ferdinand E. Marcos
Versus
Hon. Raul Manglapus

G.R. No. 88211
September 15, 1989

Facts:
After Ferdinand Marcos was deposed from the presidency through the “People Power” revolution, he and his family fled to Hawaii. Eventually, Corazon Aquino was declared President of the Republic under a revolutionary government. Now in his deathbed, petitioners are asking the court to order the respondents to issue their travel documents and enjoin the implementation of the President’s decision to bar their return to the Philippines. Petitioners contend under the provision of the Bill of Rights that the President is without power to impair their liberty of abode because only a court may do so “within the limits prescribed by law.” Nor, according to the petitioners, may the President impair their right to travel because no law has authorized her to do so. President Aquino, considering the dire consequence to the nation of his return, has stood firmly on the decision to bar the return of Marcos and his family.

Issue:
Whether or not, in the exercise of the powers granted by the Constitution, the President may prohibit the Marcoses from returning to the Philippines


Ruling:
Petition dismissed.
The right to return to one's country is not among the rights specifically guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, which treats only of the liberty of abode and the right to travel, but it is our well-considered view that the right to return may be considered, as a generally accepted principle of international law and, under our Constitution, is part of the law of the land [Art. II, Sec. 2 of the Constitution.] However, it is distinct and separate from the right to travel and enjoys a different protection under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, i.e., against being "arbitrarily deprived" thereof [Art. 12 (4).
The request of the Marcoses must not be treated only in the light of constitutional provisions, it must be treated as a matter that is appropriately addressed to those residual unstated powers of the President which are implicit in to the paramount duty residing in that office to safeguard and protect general welfare. Such request or demand should submit to the exercise of a broader discretion on the part of the President to determine whether it must be granted or denied. 
SECTION 1 – RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS


Ray Peter O. Vivo
Versus
Philippine Amusement and Game Corporation (PAGCOR)

G.R. No. 187854
November 12, 2013

Facts:
The petitioner was employed by respondent Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) on September 9, 1986, and was PAGCOR’s Managing Head of its Gaming Department. On February 21, 2002, he received a letter from Teresita S. Ela, the Senior Managing Head of PAGCOR’s Human Resources Department, advising that he was being administratively charged with gross misconduct, rumor-mongering, conduct prejudicial to the interest of the company, and loss of trust and confidence; that he should submit a written explanation of the charges; and that he was at the same time being placed under preventive suspension.

On February 26, 2002, the petitioner’s counsel, replying to Ela’s letter, assailed the propriety of the show-cause memorandum as well as the basis for placing the petitioner under preventive suspension. On March 14, 2002, the petitioner received the summons for him to attend an administrative inquiry, instructing him to appear before PAGCOR’s Corporate Investigation Unit (CIU) on March 15, 2002. At the petitioner’s request, however, the inquiry was conducted at his residence on said date. His statement was taken in a question-and-answer format.  He was also furnished the memorandum of charges that recited the accusations against him and indicated the acts and omissions constituting his alleged offenses. Thereafter, the CIU tendered its investigation report to PAGCOR’s Adjudication Committee. The Adjudication Committee summoned the petitioner to appear before it on May 8, 2002 in order to address questions regarding his case.  His counsel moved for the re-scheduling of the meeting because he would not be available on said date, but the Adjudication Committee denied the request upon the reason that the presence of counsel was not necessary in the proceedings. His counsel moved for the reconsideration of the denial of the request.

The petitioner received the letter dated May 15, 2002 from Ela informing him of the resolution of the PAGCOR Board of Directors in its May 14, 2002 meeting to the effect that he was being dismissed from the service. In its resolution dated April 11, 2007, the CSC ruled that PAGCOR had violated the petitioner’s right to due process, and accordingly set aside his dismissal from the service. On February 27, 2009, the CA promulgated its decision reversing and setting aside the decision of the CSC upon its finding that the petitioner had been accorded procedural due process.
Issues:

1.      The conclusion of the Court of Appeals that Petitioner’s right for due process was not violated transgressed the fundamental rules in administrative due process.

2.       The Court of Appeals decision in setting aside CSC Resolutions Nos. 070732, dated 01 April 2007, and 071485, dated 01 August 2007, is contrary to the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service and settled jurisprudence.

Ruling:

                The petition for review lacks merit.

The petitioner actively participated in the entire course of the investigation and hearings conducted by PAGCOR.  He received the letter from Ela apprising him of his being administratively charged for several offenses, and directing him to submit an explanation in writing.  He was later on properly summoned to appear before the CIU, which conducted its proceedings in his own residence upon his request. During the administrative inquiry, the CIU served him a copy of the memorandum of charges, which detailed the accusations against him and specified the acts and omissions constituting his alleged offenses. He was also given the opportunity to appear before the Adjudication Committee to answer clarificatory questions.  Lastly, he was informed through a memorandum of the decision of the Board of Directors dismissing him from the service.
            In contrast, the petitioner could not dispute the observance of his right to due process by PAGCOR as set forth herein. He made no credible showing of the supposed violation of his right to due process.  He was heard through the written statement he submitted in response to the memorandum of the charges against him.  He actively participated in the administrative inquiry conducted by the CIU at his own residence. He was afforded the opportunity to clarify his position in the proceedings before the Adjudication Committee. He was also able to appeal the adverse decision to dismiss him from the service to the CSC. There is also no question that PAGCOR complied with the twin-notice requirement prior to the termination of his employment, the first notice being made through Ela’s letter dated February 21, 2002 informing him on his being administratively charged for the offenses mentioned, and the second being through the letter dated May 15, 2002 advising him that PAGCOR’s Board of Directors had resolved to dismiss him from the service. It is settled that there is no denial of procedural due process where the opportunity to be heard either through oral arguments or through pleadings is accorded. The right to counsel is not imperative because administrative investigations are themselves inquiries conducted only to determine whether there are facts that merit disciplinary measures against erring public officers and employees, with the purpose of maintaining the dignity of government service. It is noteworthy, however, that the petitioner was actually assisted by his counsel from the outset of the administrative case against him.

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