Expropriation - Power Of Eminent Domain

In an expropriation case, NPC insisted that if any amount should be paid to the landowners, it should only be an easement fee of 10% the value of the property, not the full value, since it acquired only a simple right-of-way easement for the passage of its overhead transmission lines. It pointed out that its charter authorizes the acquisition only of a right-of-way easement for its transmission lines and the payment of an easement fee. Is the contention correct?

No. The determination of just compensation is a judicial function. No statute, decree, or executive order can mandate that its own determination shall prevail over the court’s findings.

    In National Power Corporation v. Manubay Agro-Industrial Development Corporation, G.R. No. 150936, August 18, 2004, 437 SCRA 60, it was said that granting arguendo that what petitioner acquired over respondent’s property was purely an easement of a right of way, still, the Court cannot sustain its view that it should pay only an easement fee, and not the full value of the property. The acquisition of such an easement falls within the purview of the power of eminent domain. (Republic v. PLDT, 136 Phil. 20 (1969)).

    True, an easement of a right of way transmits no rights except the easement itself, and owner retains full ownership of the property. The acquisition of such easement is, nevertheless, not gratis. Considering the nature and the effect of the installation of power lines, the limitations on the use of the land for an indefinite period would deprive owner of normal use of the property. For this reason, the latter is entitled to payment of just compensation which must be neither more nor less than the monetary equivalent of the land. (NPC v. Dr. Antero Bongbong, et al., G.R. No. 164079, April 3, 2007).