The Court of Appeals has affirmed its ruling that gives the Philippine International Air Terminals Company Inc. the right to exercise ownership over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal III until the government releases the P16 billion in “just compensation” earlier awarded to Piatco by a lower court.
In a two-page resolution, the CA’s Former Special Thirteenth Division through Associate Justice Franchito Diamante denied the motion filed by the government subcontractors Takenaka and Asahikosan Corporations seeking the reversal of its decision issued on October 20, 2014.
“A considered scrutiny of the arguments set forth in the respective motions for reconsideration filed by respondent Republic of the Philippines and intervenors-respondents Takenaka Corporation and Asahikosan Corporation directed against our October 20, 2014 decision, as well as the separate comments thereto by petitioner PIATCO elicits the finding that there are no new grounds or bases sufficient to compel modification or reversal of the challenged decision,” the CA ruled.
Associate Justices Danto Bueser and Melchor Sadang concurred with the ruling.
In its October 20, 2014 ruling, the CA held that Presiding Judge Judge Eugenio de la Cruz of Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 117, “gravely abused its discretion” in allowing the government to deposit in escrow account the amount of $371.43 million or P16 billion and imposing conditions for its release to Piatco.
The omnibus order was issued pursuant to the decision dated May 23, 2011 of the Pasay City RTC directing the government to pay Piatco just compensation in the amount of US$175.787, 245, less the preferred value (P3,002,125,000).
It also ordered that the amount be placed in escrow and imposed several conditions before the money could be released to Piatco.
The appellate court stressed that the lower court’s ruling allowing the government to exercise full rights of ownership over the NAIA Terminal 3 upon payment of just compensation in an escrow account is void for lack of basis under the law and is not supported by any jurisprudence.
In denying the motion for reconsideration, the CA said the government and the two Japanese firms failed to raise new arguments that would warrant the reversal of its decision.
The CA earlier pointed out that the amount of just compensation is still the subject of appeal before the Supreme Court, thus, it was wrong for the Pasay RTC to allow the to exercise full ownership of the airport facilities by mere deposit of just compensation to an escrow account.
Among the conditions imposed by the Pasay RTC are: Piatco must submit a warranty that the structures and facilities of NAIA III are free from all liens and encumbrances; Piatco must submit an undertaking that it is assuming sole responsibility for any claims from third persons arising from or relating to the design or construction of any structure or facility of NAIA III structures, if any; and Piatco must submit a duly executed deed transferring the title of the NAIA III structures and facilities to the government, without prejudice to the amount which will finally be awarded to it by the appellate court.
The CA however said these conditions violate the law and Supreme Court rulings on expropriation proceedings.
The appellate court pointed out that the SC has ruled that any delay in the payment of just compensation is tantamount to a deprivation of one’s property.