Cecilio’s last source of authority to collect payment from the proceeds of the expropriation is the SPA executed on 18 October 1996 by the Hernandezes in favor of Cecilio as their “true and lawful” attorney with respect to the expropriation of the Hernandez property. At the outset, it must be underscored that the SPA did not specify the compensation of Cecilio as attorney-in-fact of the Hernandezes.
The SPA, however, must be appreciated in the light of the fact that Cecilio was appointed and acted as appraisal commissioner in the expropriation case under the provisions of Section 5, Rule 67 of the Rules of Court, which provides:
SEC. 5. Ascertainment of compensation. — Upon the rendition of the order of expropriation, the court shall appoint not more than three (3) competent and disinterested persons as commissioners to ascertain and report to the court the just compensation for the property sought to be taken. The order of appointment shall designate the time and place of the first session of the hearing to be held by the commissioners and specify the time within which their report shall be submitted to the court. (Emphasis ours).
The commissioner to be appointed is specifically required to be disinterested. As defined, such person must be free from bias, prejudice or partiality. The record of performance by Cecilio of his duties as commissioner shows: (1) Order dated 13 September 1996 appointing Cecilio and three others as court commissioners; (2) Agreement on the course of action of the commissioners appointed 13 September 1996 whereby respondent Cecilio signed as a court commissioner; (3) Appraisal Commission Report dated 10 January 1997 signed by respondent and his fellow court commissioners; (4) Dissenting Opinion on the Lone Minority Report dated 14 February 1997 signed by respondent and two other court commissioners; and (5) Decision dated 7 February 1997 which sets the fees of the court commissioners.
When Cecilio accepted the position as commissioner and proceeded to perform the duties of such commissioner until the completion of his mandate as such, he created a barrier that prevented his performance of his duties under the SPA. Due to the nature of his duties and functions as commissioner, Cecilio became an officer of the court. As stated in Section 5, Rule 67 of the Rules of Court, the commissioner’s duty is to “ascertain and report to the court the just compensation for the property to be taken.” The undertaking of a commissioner is further stated under the rules, to wit:
SEC. 6. Proceedings by commissioners.—Before entering upon the performance of their duties, the commissioners shall take and subscribe an oath that they will faithfully perform their duties as commissioners, which oath shall be filed in court with the other proceedings in the case. Evidence may be introduced by either party before the commissioners who are authorized to administer oaths on hearings before them, and the commissioners shall, unless the parties consent to the contrary, after due notice to the parties to attend, view and examine the property sought to be expropriated and its surroundings, and may measure the same, after which either party may, by himself or counsel, argue the case. The commissioners shall assess the consequential damages to the property not taken and deduct from such consequential damages the consequential benefits to be derived by the owner from the public use or purpose of the property taken, the operation of its franchise by the corporation or the carrying on of the business of the corporation or person taking the property. But in no case shall the consequential benefits assessed exceed the consequential damages assessed, or the owner be deprived of the actual value of his property so taken.
Cecilio acted for the expropriation court. He cannot be allowed to consider such action as an act for or in behalf of the defendant in the same case. Cecilio could not have been a hearing officer and a defendant at the same time. Indeed, Cecilio foisted fraud on both the Court and the Hernandezes when, after his appointment as commissioner, he accepted the appointment by the Hernandezes to “represent” and “sue for” them.
It should be noted, finally, that, as completion of his appointment as commissioner, compensation for the work he has done for the court was awarded, as stated in the decision rendered in the case…