Amigable vs. Cuenca

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VICTORIA AMIGABLE, Plaintiff-Appellant,
NICOLAS CUENCA, as Commissioner of Public Highways and REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Defendants-Appellees.

G.R. NO. L-26400
FEBRUARY 29, 1972


Amigable is the registered owner of a lot covered by a Transfer Certificate of Title, where no annotation in favor of the government of any right or interest in the property appears at the back of the certificate. Without prior expropriation or negotiated sale, the government used a portion of said lot for the construction of the Mango and Gorordo Avenues.

It appears that said avenues already existed since 1921. In 1958, Amigable’s counsel wrote the President of the Philippines, requesting payment of the portion of her lot, which had been appropriated by the government. The claim was indorsed to the Auditor General, who disallowed it. Amigable then filed in the court a quo a complaint against the Republic of the Philippines and Nicolas Cuenca, in his capacity as Commissioner of Public Highways for the recovery of ownership and possession of the land traversed by the Mango and Gorordo Avenues. She also sought the payment of compensatory damages for the illegal occupation of her land, moral damages, attorney’s fees and the costs of the suit. The Government had not given its consent to be sued.


WON the appellant may properly sue the government under the facts of the case.


YES. Where the government takes away property from a private landowner for public use without going through the legal process of expropriation or negotiated sale, the aggrieved party may properly maintain a suit against the government without thereby violating the doctrine of governmental immunity from suit without its consent. The doctrine of governmental immunity from suit cannot serve as an instrument for perpetrating an injustice on a citizen. Had the government followed the procedure indicated by the governing law at the time, a complaint would have been filed by it, and only upon payment of the compensation fixed by the judgment, or after tender to the party entitled to such payment of the amount fixed, may it “have the right to enter in and upon the land so condemned, to appropriate the same to the public use defined in the judgment.” If there were an observance of procedural regularity, petitioners would not be in the sad plaint they are now. It is unthinkable then that precisely because there was a failure to abide by what the law requires, the government would stand to benefit. It is not too much to say that when the government takes any property for public use, which is conditioned upon the payment of just compensation, to be judicially ascertained, it makes manifest that it submits to the jurisdiction of a court. There is no thought then that the doctrine of immunity from suit could still be appropriately invoked.

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