ENCARNACION V. COURT OF APPEALS- Easement of Right of Way
An easement of right of way exists as a matter of law when a private property has no access to a public road and the needs of such property determines the width of the easement which requires payment of indemnity which consists of the value of the land and the amount of the damages caused.
Tomas Encarnacion is the owner of the dominant estate which is bounded on the north by the servient estates of Eusebio de Sagun and Mamerto Masigno, on the south by a dried river and the Taal Lake. The servient estate is bounded on the north by the National Highway.
Prior to 1960, persons going to the national highway would just cross the servient estate at no particular point. In 1960, Sagun and Masigno enclosed their lands with a fence but provided a roadpath 25 meters long and about 1 meter in width. At this time, Encarnacion started his plant nursery business on his land. When his business flourished, it became more difficult to transfer the plants and garden soil through the use of a pushcart so Encarnacion bought an owner-type jeep for transporting the plants. However, the jeep could not pass through the roadpath so he approached Sagun and Masigno asking them if they would sell to him 1 ½ meters of their property to add to the existing roadpath but the 2 refused the offer.
Encarnacion then instituted an action before the RTC to seek the issuance of a writ of easement of a right of way over an additional width of at least 2 meters. The RTC dismissed the complaint for there is another outlet, which is through the dried river bed. This was affirmed by the CA thus the case at bar.
Whether or not Encarnacion is entitled to an widening of an already existing easement of right-of-way
Encarnacion has sufficiently established his claim. Generally, a right of way may be demanded: (1) when there is absolutely no access to a public highway, and (2) when, even if there is one, it is difficult or dangerous to use or is grossly insufficient. In the case at bar, although there is a dried river bed, t it traversed by a semi-concrete bridge and there is no egress or ingress from the highway. For the jeep to reach the level of the highway, it must literally jump 4-5 meters up. And during rainy season, it is impassable due to the floods. When a private property has no access to a public road, it has the right of easement over adjacent servient estates as a matter of law. With the non-availability of the dried river bed as an alternative route, the servient estates should accommodate the needs of the dominant estate. Art. 651 provides that “the width of the easement of right of way shall be that which is sufficient for the needs of the dominant estate …” To grant the additional easement of right of way of 1 ½ meters, Encarnacion must indemnify Sagun and Masigno the value of the land occupied plus amount of the damages caused until his offer to buy the land is considered.