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Case Digest: Association of Small Landowners in the Philippines vs Secretary of Agrarian Reform, G.R. No. 78742,Jul 14, 1989
Association of Small Landowners in the Philippines vs Secretary of Agrarian Reform, G.R. No. 78742,
Jul 14, 1989,
On September 3, 1986, the petitioner protested the erroneous inclusion of his small landholding under Operation Land transfer and asked for the recall and cancellation of the Certificates of Land Transfer in the name of the private respondents.
The petitioner contends that the issuance of E.0. Nos. 228 and 229 shortly before Congress convened is anomalous and arbitrary, besides violating the doctrine of separation of powers.
The petitioner also invokes his rights not to be deprived of his property without due process of law and to the retention of his small parcels of rice holding as guaranteed under Article XIII, Section 4 of the Constitution
Whether or not CARL violates due process because landowner is divested of his property even before actual payment to him in full of just compensation, in contravention of a well- accepted principle of eminent domain
NO. The recognized rule, indeed, is that title to the property expropriated shall pass from the owner to the expropriator only upon full payment of the just compensation. Jurisprudence on this settled principle is consistent both here and in other democratic jurisdictions.
It is true that P.D. No. 27 expressly ordered the emancipation of tenant-farmer as October 21, 1972 and declared that he shall "be deemed the owner" of a portion of land consisting of a family-sized farm except that "no title to the land owned by him was to be actually issued to him unless and until he had become a full-fledged member of a duly recognized farmers' cooperative." It was understood, however, that full payment of the just compensation also had to be made first, conformably to the constitutional requirement.
When E.O. No. 228, categorically stated in its Section 1 that:
All qualified farmer-beneficiaries are now deemed full owners as of October 21, 1972 of the land they acquired by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 27.
it was obviously referring to lands already validly acquired under the said decree, after proof of full-fledged membership in the farmers' cooperatives and full payment of just compensation. Hence, it was also perfectly proper for the Order to also provide in its Section 2 that the "lease rentals paid to the landowner by the farmer- beneficiary after October 21, 1972 (pending transfer of ownership after full payment of just compensation), shall be considered as advance payment for the land."
The CARP Law, for its part, conditions the transfer of possession and ownership of the land to the government on receipt by the landowner of the corresponding payment or the deposit by the DAR of the compensation in cash or LBP bonds with an accessible bank. Until then, title also remains with the landowner. No outright change of ownership is contemplated either.
Hence, the argument that the assailed measures violate due process by arbitrarily transferring title before the land is fully paid for must also be rejected.