By Ben Rosario
Compensation of property sold to the government is deemed by the Commission on Audit (COA) as reasonable if its price is determined by the audit agency.
The COA Commission Proper issued this ruling as it recently dismissed a claim for payment of P42,294,555.00 balance for the price of parcels of land in Lobo, Batangas sought by landowner Samuel Macatangay.
The properties located in barangay Lagadlarin were sold by Macatangay to the Batangas State University based on a contract to to sell the parties entered in 2004.
The BSU was able to pay P48,705,445.00 for the property measuring 260,000 square meters that COA appraised at P198.00 per square meter.
In a motion for reconsideration, Macatangay maintained that the price was P320.00 per square meter as agreed upon by the BSU Board of Regents.
However, the Technical Committee of COA appraised the value of the property at P130 per square meter.
In his petition for review, Macatangay said the appraised value as claimed by COA is “preposterous.”
The landowner pointed out that under accepted business norm fair market price should be determined by the owner if he or she does not want to sell the property.
“If the said contract will not be respected and observed, the non-payment of the unpaid balance of the purchase price agreed upon by the parties is in effect taking petitioner’s property without just compensation,” Macatangay stressed.
In issuing the ruling, the three-man COA CP headed by Chairman Michael Aguinaldo pointed out that while there is indeed a contract executed by the BSU and Macatangay, the sale is not covered by expropriations proceedings.
“Unlike in voluntary sale, the FMV (Fair Market Value) of the land acquired through expropriation proceedings is determined by the court. In the herein case, the land was acquired through voluntary sale, hence this Commission has the power to determine the reasonableness of the contract cost,” the audit panel stated.
The COA CP affirmed with finality its earlier ruling which granted Macatangay’s money claim to just P2,774,555.