InterAksyon – Senate approves bill easing rules on govt right of way acquisitions

By Jelly Musico | InterAksyon

InterAksyon_featured_image.jpgThe Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill that strengthens the process of acquiring the right-of-way (ROW) for government infrastructure projects.

Voting 15-0 early this month, the Senate adopted House Bill 5588 as an amendment to Senate Bill 3004 sponsored by Senator Ferrdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Marcos said the complicated ROW acquisition involving infrastructure projects has prompted Congress to repeal Republic Act 8974 of 2000, otherwise known as an “Act to facilitate the acquisition of right-of-ay, site or location for national government infrastructure projects.”

“Delay in right-of-way acquisition involving infrastructure projects were precisely sought to be addressed by the enactment of RA 8974 way back in 2000. But 15 years on, we now realize that the old problem has become more complex than Congress had ever imagined it would become,” Marcos said.

Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on public works, said SBN 3004 seeks to provide clearer guidelines, notably in the appraisal of values, procedure for expropriation, acquisition of easements and the corresponding appropriation of relevant funds for the implementing agencies.

The proposed process

Under the measure, a private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation, and that the State shall ensure that owners of the real property acquired for national government infrastructure projects are promptly paid just compensation.

The property owner is given 30 days to decide whether or not to accept the offer of payment for his property. Upon refusal or failure of the property owner to accept such offer or fails and/or refuses to submit the document necessary for payments, the implementing agency shall immediately initiate expropriation proceedings.

The government shall have the option to acquire the right-of-way through donation, expropriation, or any other mode of acquisitions as provided by law, according to the proposed legislation.

In case the landowner is a government-owned or controlled corporation, the government may utilize donation or similar modes of acquisition, the measure said.

Implementing agencies shall have to pay the capital gains tax, as well as the documentary stamp tax, transfer tax and registration fees, while the property owner shall shoulder the unpaid real property tax.

Both property owner and implementing agency shall have to execute a deed of absolute sale, provided that the property owner has submitted the transfer certificate of title, tax declaration, real property tax certificate, and other documents necessary to transfer the title to the government.

In the event the owner of the property contests the implementing agency’s offer the court shall determine the just compensation to be paid to the owner within 60 days from the date of filing expropriation proceedings.

The implementing agency shall pay the property owner the difference between the amount already paid and the just compensation as determined by the court, the measure said.

Demolition allowed

In case the land is occupied by informal settlers who refuse or unable to demolish their structures despite a court order, the court shall issue the order to demolish or dismantle any and all structures found within the property, the measure added.

“Before, the process of expropriating entails a long-drawn litigation battle that frequently requires more than a year to terminate. Some cases have been litigated and have reached for more than 10 years,” Marcos said.

“This bill acknowledges that time is of the essence in implementing a government infrastructure project. More than anything else, this bill prioritizes efficiency and speed of the acquisition of right-of-way,” he explained.

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