HERMANO OIL MANUFACTURING & SUGAR CORPORATION, Petitioner,
TOLL REGULA TORY BOARD, ENGR. JAIME S. DUMLAO, JR., PHILIPPINE NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION (PNCC) and DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS (DPWH), Respondents.
G.R. No. 167290 November 26, 2014
TOPIC: Easement of right of way, due process, equal protection, eminent domain
The petitioner owned a parcel of land located at the right side of the Sta. Rita Exit of the NLEX. The parcel of land was bounded by an access fence along the NLEX. In its letter, the petitioner requested that respondent Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) grant an easement of right of way, contending that it had been totally deprived of the enjoyment and possession of its property by the access fence that had barred its entry into and exit from the NLEX. However, the TRB denied the petitioner’s request.
- Whether or not the petitioner has the right to demand access to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) by way of an easement of right of way.
- Whether or not the limited access imposed on the petitioner’s property may be considered as a compensable taking due to the exercise of the power of eminent domain.
First issue: NO
The putting up of the access fence on the petitioner’s property was in the valid exercise of police power, assailable only upon proof that such putting up unduly violated constitutional limitations like due process and equal protection of the law. In Mirasol v. Department of Public Works and Highways, the Court has further noted that:
A toll way is not an ordinary road. As a facility designed to promote the fastest access to certain destinations, its use, operation, and maintenance require close regulation. Public interest and safety require the imposition of certain restrictions on toll ways that do not apply to ordinary roads. As a special kind of road, it is but reasonable that not all forms of transport could use it.
Clearly, therefore, the access fence was a reasonable restriction on the petitioner’s property given the location thereof at the right side of Sta. Rita Exit of the NLEX. Although some adjacent properties were accorded unrestricted access to the expressway, there was a valid and reasonable classification for doing so because their owners provided ancillary services to motorists using the NLEX, like gasoline service stations and food stores. A classification based on practical convenience and common knowledge is not unconstitutional simply because it may lack purely theoretical or scientific uniformity.
Second issue: NO
The limited access imposed on the petitioner’s property did not partake of a compensable taking due to the exercise of the power of eminent domain. There is no question that the property was not taken and devoted for public use. Instead, the property was subjected to a certain restraint, i.e. the access fence, in order to secure the general safety and welfare of the motorists using the NLEX. There being a clear and valid exercise of police power, the petitioner was certainly not entitled to any just compensation.