Political Law

Didipio Earth Savers Multipurpose Association et al vs DENR Sec Elisea Gozun et al

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G.R. No. 157882 – 485 SCRA 586 – Police Power – Eminent Domain

In 1987, Cory rolled out EO 279 w/c empowered DENR to stipulate with foreign companies when it comes to either technical or financial large scale exploration or mining. In 1995, Ramos signed into law RA 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act. In 1994, Ramos already signed an FTAA with Arimco Mining Co, an Australian company. The FTAA authorized AMC (later CAMC) to explore 37,000 ha of land in Quirino and N. Vizcaya including Brgy Didipio. After the passage of the law, DENR rolled out its implementing RRs. Didipio petitioned to have the law and the RR to be annulled as it is unconstitutional and it constitutes unlawful taking of property. In seeking to nullify Rep. Act No. 7942 and its implementing rules DAO 96-40 as unconstitutional, petitioners set their sight on Section 76 of Rep. Act No. 7942 and Section 107 of DAO 96-40 which they claim allow the unlawful and unjust “taking” of private property for private purpose in contradiction with Section 9, Article III of the 1987 Constitution mandating that private property shall not be taken except for public use and the corresponding payment of just compensation. They assert that public respondent DENR, through the Mining Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, cannot, on its own, permit entry into a private property and allow taking of land without payment of just compensation.

Traversing petitioners’ assertion, public respondents argue that Section 76 is not a taking provision but a valid exercise of the police power and by virtue of which, the state may prescribe regulations to promote the health, morals, peace, education, good order, safety and general welfare of the people.  This government regulation involves the adjustment of rights for the public good and that this adjustment curtails some potential for the use or economic exploitation of private property.  Public respondents concluded that “to require compensation in all such circumstances would compel the government to regulate by purchase.”

ISSUE: Whether or not RA 7942 and the DENR RRs are valid.

HELD: The SC ruled against Didipio. The SC noted the requisites of eminent domain. They are:

(1)  the expropriator must enter a private property;

(2)  the entry must be for more than a momentary period.

(3)  the entry must be under warrant or color of legal authority;

(4)  the property must be devoted to public use or otherwise informally appropriated or injuriously affected;

(5)  the utilization of the property for public use must be in such a way as to oust the owner and deprive him of beneficial enjoyment of the property.

In the case at bar, Didipio failed to show that the law is invalid. Indeed there is taking involved but it is not w/o just compensation. Sec 76 of RA 7942 provides for just compensation as well as section 107 of the DENR RR. To wit,

Section 76. xxx Provided, that any damage to the property of the surface owner, occupant, or concessionaire as a consequence of such operations shall be properly compensated as may be provided for in the implementing rules and regulations.

Section 107. Compensation of the Surface Owner and Occupant- Any damage done to the property of the surface owners, occupant, or concessionaire thereof as a consequence of the mining operations or as a result of the construction or installation of the infrastructure mentioned in 104 above shall be properly and justly compensated.

Further, mining is a public policy and the government can invoke eminent domain to exercise entry, acquisition and use of private lands.

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