The Department of Transportation is now starting to send out Notices of Expropriation to property owners, affected by the Mindanao Railway, who rejected, or failed to respond, to their Offers To Buy.
This article will help you understand what "expropriation" means and the legal basis for this action.
What is Expropriation
Expropriation is the seizure of private property, by the government, for the benefit of the public. It is a practice rooted in the state's "Power of Eminent Domain". The Philippine Supreme Court, in G.R. No. 223366, defined the power as follows:
Eminent domain is the right or power of a sovereign state to appropriate private property to particular uses to promote public welfare. It is an indispensable attribute of sovereignty; a power grounded in the primary duty of government to serve the common need and advance the general welfare.
This power, however, is not absolute. It requires the government to observe specific requirements in its use. For matters involving the acquisition of land for purposes of obtaining Right-of-Way (ROW), as is the case with the Mindanao Railway, those requirements are spelled out in Republic Act 10752, otherwise known as the Right of Way Act. This law was approved on March 7, 2016.
Section 5 of this law enumerated the process for initiating a negotiated sale with the affected property owner. Sub-paragraph A of the same section explicitly stated the following:
If the property owner does not accept the price offer, the implementing agency shall initiate expropriation proceedings pursuant to Section 6 hereof.
The property owner is given thirty (30) days to decide whether or not to accept the offer as payment for his property. Upon refusal or failure of the property owner to accept such offer or fails anchor refuses to submit the documents necessary for payments, the implementing agency shall immediately initiate expropriation proceedings as provided in Section 6 herein.
An irreconcilable impasse had been reached with some Affected Persons. Prompting the DOTr to act upon provisions of the law shown above.
At the 2nd Quarter regular meeting of the Infrastructure Development Committee (IDC) of Regional Development Council XI on May 18, 2021, Christense Denise L. Geonzon, Community Development Officer III of the MRP-PMO, revealed that the Mindanao Railway Project Office revealed that had initiated talks with the Office of the Solicitor General to discuss expropriation options for certain properties that are affected by the Mindanao Railway.
How expropriation works
The following are image excerpts of the resettlement framework document from the DOTr about expropriation. This specifically comes from the department's South Commuter Railway project.
Republic Act 10752: Right of Way Act, Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, March 7, 2016
New expropriation law, Inquirerdotnet, March 21, 2016