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Legal Definitions

ACTION

An action is “defined as an ordinary suit in a court of justice, by which one party prosecutes another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong.”

Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. v. Santos, supra note 55 at 236, citing Ancheta v. Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, Inc., 507 Phil. 161 (2005).

ADMISSION

Finally, as to whether respondent’s assent to the initial partition agreement serves as an admission against interest, in that the respondent is deemed to have admitted the existence of co-ownership between him and petitioner, we rule in the negative.

An admission is any statement of fact made by a party against his interest or unfavorable to the conclusion for which he contends or is inconsistent with the facts alleged by him.[38] Admission against interest is governed by Section 26 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, which provides:

Sec. 26. Admissions of a party. – The act, declaration or omission of a party as to a relevant fact may be given in evidence against him.

To be admissible, an admission must (a) involve matters of fact, and not of law; (b) be categorical and definite; (c) be knowingly and voluntarily made; and (d) be adverse to the admitter’s interests, otherwise it would be self-serving and inadmissible.[39]

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BAD FAITH
“Bad faith” connotes not only bad judgment or negligence, but also a dishonest purpose, a conscious wrongdoing, or a breach of duty amounting to fraud.

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CAUSE OF ACTION
Cause of action is defined as “the act or omission by which a party violates the right of another.”[42]

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DISHONESTY
Dishonesty refers to a person’s “disposition to lie, cheat, deceive, or defraud; untrustworthiness; lack of integrity; lack of honesty, probity or integrity in principle; lack of fairness and straightforwardness; disposition to defraud, deceive or betray.”[65]

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GROSS NEGLIGENCE

“Gross negligence,” on the other hand, is characterized by the want of even slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally, with a conscious indifference to consequences as far as other persons are concerned.[16]

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Gross negligence connotes want of care in the performance of one’s duties, while habitual neglect implies repeated failure to perform one’s duties for a period of time, depending on the circumstances. The single or isolated act of negligence does not constitute a just cause for the dismissal of an employee.[39]

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JUST COMPENSATION

By this argument, the LBP effectively attempts to make a distinction between the just compensation given to landowners whose properties are taken for the government’s agrarian reform program and properties taken for other public purposes. This perceived distinction, however, is misplaced and is more apparent than real.

The constitutional basis for our agrarian reform program is Section 4, Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution, which mandates:

Section 4. The State shall, by law, undertake an agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers and regular farm workers, who are landless, to own directly or collectively the lands they till or, in the case of other farm workers, to receive a just share of the fruits thereof. To this end, the State shall encourage and undertake the just distribution of all agricultural lands, subject to such priorities and reasonable retention limits as the Congress may prescribe, taking into account ecological, developmental, or equity considerations, and subject to the payment of just compensation.

This provision expressly provides that the taking of land for use in the government’s agrarian reform program is conditioned on the payment of just compensation. Nothing in the wording of this provision even remotely suggests that the just compensation required from the taking of land for the agrarian reform program should be treated any differently from the just compensation required in any other case of expropriation. As explained by Commissioner Roberto R. Concepcion during the deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission:

[T]he term “just compensation” is used in several parts of the Constitution, and, therefore, it must have a uniform meaning. It cannot have in one part a meaning different from that which appears in the other portion. If, after all, the party whose property is taken will receive the real value of the property on just compensation, that is good enough.[7]

In fact, while a proposal was made during the deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission to give a lower market price per square meter for larger tracts of land, the Commission never intended to give agricultural landowners less than just compensation in the expropriation of property for agrarian reform purposes.[8]

To our mind, nothing is inherently contradictory in the public purpose of land reform and the right of landowners to receive just compensation for the expropriation by the State of their properties. That the petitioners are corporations that used to own large tracts of land should not be taken against them. As Mr. Justice Isagani Cruz eloquently put it:

[S]ocial justice – or any justice for that matter – is for the deserving, whether he be a millionaire in his mansion or a pauper in his hovel. It is true that, in case of reasonable doubt, we are called upon to tilt the balance in favor of the poor, to whom the Constitution fittingly extends its sympathy and compassion. But never is it justified to prefer the poor simply because they are poor, or to reject the rich simply because they are rich, for justice must always be served, for poor and rich alike, according to the mandate of the law.[9]

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