MORE than 23 years after the city government took over its 6,901 square meter property in Maypajo, Caloocan City, a land owner will finally receive full compensation.
In a decision issued last September 24 but released only last week, the Commission on Audit affirmed its 2017 ruling granting Recom Realty’s claim for payment against the Caloocan City government amounting to P47.288 million representing the unpaid balance on the property. (Recom Realty is not connected to former Caloocan City mayor Enrico Echiverri who goes by the nickname “Recom.”)
The lot was valued at P7,208 per square meter or a total of P49,735,200, according to the assessment of the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court branch 125.
But based on the COA ruling, the property owner stands to receive at least P60 million more in legal interest computed at six percent computed all the way back to 1996.
It also awarded the sum of P472,883 in attorney’s fees that the realty firm can collect against the LGU.
Records showed that Caloocan City took over the property through expropriation in 1996 and was issued a writ of possession in 1998. Five years later, the Caloocan RTC fixed the just compensation for the lot at P49,735,200.
Having paid P2.447 million as partial payment in 1998, the COA determined that the city government still had an unpaid balance of P47.288 million.
In its September 27, 2017 ruling, the COA said that out of the P59.583 million interest due to the lot owner, the city government is liable only for P29.319 million representing interest from August 1996 to November 2006 when the Caloocan City RTC decision on the compensation cost became final.
It said responsible city officials who failed to enact the ordinance allocating funds for the full payment must shoulder the interest from November 2006 until the obligation is satisfied.
However, in its most recent resolution, the COA sustained the argument of city officials that they cannot be held liable since they only acted in good faith to protect government funds since Recom Realty’s claim was still pending with the commission.
In granting the appeal, the COA said the city government officers only observed due process in waiting for the court to render a final decision to determine proper compensation.
“The action of the city officials only shows prudence on their part. They should not be made liable to pay the accrued legal interest,” the Commission said.