SC orders Caltex to compensate owners of seized land in Isabela

MANILA The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered petroleum firm Caltex Phils. Inc. to pay PHP6 million in damages to the children of a woman whose property was seized in 1984 after she failed to settle the payment of unpaid deliveries of petroleum products when she was a dealer of the petroleum firm.

In a 33-page resolution dated July 30, the high court's first division Clerk of Court Librada C. Buena ordered the petroleum firm to pay PHP6 million to the Medina family in moral and exemplary damages.

"Caltex is ordered to pay moral damages in the amount of PHP1 million and exemplary damages in the amount of PHP1 million each to Jose Antonio Medina, Maria Luisa Medina and Milagros Medina".

The controversy arose over the 228.9 hectare land in Alibagu, Isabela consisting of 14 parcels originally in the name of Antonio Medina. When the latter died, the properties were passed on to his widow and the three Medina children. The widow, a dealer of Caltex was later sued by Caltex before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 21 for unpaid product deliveries.

On June 9, 1989, the court ruling on the case ordered the sale of the properties to Caltex who subsequently sold the same to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

In June 1995, Caltex executed a "deed of assignment" in favor of a certain lawyer Tarciso Calilung.

When Calilung attempted to register the deed in his name, the Register of Deeds of Isabela refused on the ground that Caltex already sold the properties to the government.

The children then sued Caltex claiming that the firm misappropriated their shares in the property since the widow Antonia, their mother, was entitled only to a quarter of the property they inherited upon their father's death.

"Caltex knew that it cannot acquire the entire subject properties. Thus, knowing that the sale of the entire subject properties to it. Caltex should have notified the sheriff of the error and sought for a correction of the certificate of final sale," the SC said.

Aside from damages, the SC in its ruling remanded the case to the Special Agrarian Court (SAC) for the purpose of determining the just compensation the Medinas are entitled to receive for their property. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency