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(case no.

531)

Lagcao v. Labra
GR 155746
October 13, 2004
Art. III

Facts:

In 1964, the Province of Cebu donated 210 lots to the Ciy of Cebu. One of these lots is Lot
1029. This lot, located in Capitol Hills, was purchased by the petitioners in an instalment basis.
But in 1965, said lots were reverted to the Province of Cebu. The province tried to annul the sale
but the petitioners filed a case for specific performance in the Court of First Instance which ruled
in their favour. The Province then had to execute a deed of absolute sale.

Petitioners then discovered that such lot was occupied by informal settlers. They instituted
ejectment proceedings, which the MTCC and the RTC granted. Mayor Alvin Garcia wrote letters
to defer the demolition, as the city was still looking for a relocation site. Demolition was suspended
and during the suspension, the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Cebu City passed a resolution which
identified Lot 1029 as a socialized housing site pursuant to RA 7279. The SP of Cebu City passed
Ordinance No. 1772 and 1843, which identified the lot as a site for socialized housing and to
authorize the mayor to institute expropriation proceedings.

Petitioners filed with the RTC an action for the declaration of nullity of Ordinance 1843
for being unconstitutional as it allows for the expropriation of property for the purpose of selling
it to squatters, which is contrary to the concept of public use as enshrined in the Constitution. Such
was dismissed. Hence, this petition.

Issues:

1. Whether or not the intended expropriation by the City of Cebu of a 4,048-square-meter


parcel of land owned by petitioners contravenes the Constitution and applicable laws.

Ruling:

1. Yes. Local government units do not possess unbridled authority to exercise their power of
eminent domain in seeking solutions to the problem of housing in their jurisdiction.

There are two legal provisions which limit the exercise of this power:
a. no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law,
nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws;
b. private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.

Section 19 of the Local Government Code states that such exercise must comply with the
provisions of the Constitution and pertinent laws.

Prepared by: Gio Raymond Ceniza


(case no. 531)

The Court justified the nullification of the ordinance in the judgment in 4 points.

“first, as earlier discussed, the questioned ordinance is repugnant to the


pertinent provisions of the Constitution, RA 7279 and RA 7160;

second, the precipitate manner in which it was enacted was plain oppression
masquerading as a pro-poor ordinance;

third, the fact that petitioners small property was singled out for
expropriation for the purpose of awarding it to no more than a few squatters
indicated manifest partiality against petitioners, and

fourth, the ordinance failed to show that there was a reasonable relation
between the end sought and the means adopted. While the objective of the
City of Cebu was to provide adequate housing to slum dwellers, the means
it employed in pursuit of such objective fell short of what was legal, sensible
and called for by the circumstances.”

Petition Granted.

Prepared by: Gio Raymond Ceniza

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