The Supreme Court has temporarily stopped a Las Piñas City court from issuing a final judgment that would have ordered the government to pay P48 million to a woman whose property was submerged after a portion of it was expropriated for the construction of Coastal Road in 1985.
In a temporary restraining order (TRO) dated July 22 but issued only on Friday, the Supreme Court’s Third Division gave the property owner and respondent in the case, Julita Tan, 10 days to comment on the petition for certiorari filed by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA).
Signed by Division Clerk of Court Lucita Abjelina Soriano, the TRO was to take effect immediately and remain in force “until further orders from the court.”
The PRA appealed the decision of the Court of Appeals’ 12th Division released on May 24, which ordered the Las Piñas Regional Trial Court (RTC) to issue a final judgment that would have made PRA pay Tan P48 million for 2,242 square meters of her property that was affected by the road project.
Tan originally owned a 7,161-sq-m residential lot on the southern bank of Zapote River in Sitio Wawa, Pulanglupa, Las Piñas.
Court records show that the previous owner allowed the PRA’s predecessor, the Public Estates Authority (PEA), to enter the property and construct Coastal Road in 1985. In 1996, PEA established a toll-way corporation to manage Coastal Road, which is also known as Manila-Cavite Expressway or Aguinaldo Boulevard.
In the meantime, negotiations for the sale of the property dragged on for 20 years until Tan acquired the lot in 2001.
In 2003, the PEA filed an expropriation case in the RTC for 4,719 sq m of the lot that was eaten up by Coastal. After a dispute on the details of the expropriation and the valuation of the property which reached the Supreme Court, the PEA (renamed PRA in 2006) finally paid Tan P140.6 million for the 4,719 sq m in 2008.
But Tan contended that PRA must pay compensation for the remaining 2,242 sq m which she said had been flooded and rendered useless by the construction of the southern abutment of Zapote Bridge along Coastal. The construction, she said, diverted the river’s natural flow.
She said she should be paid P20,000 per square meter, the same value of the expropriated land as approved by the Supreme Court.