The case at bar involves a land in Aroroy, Masbate, inherited by respondents which has been devoted exclusively to cow and calf breeding. On October 26, 1987, pursuant to the then existing agrarian reform program of the government, respondents made a voluntary offer to sell (VOS) their landholdings to petitioner DAR to avail of certain incentives under the law.
On June 10, 1988, CARL took effect.
In view of the Luz Farms ruling, respondents filed with petitioner DAR a formal request to withdraw their VOS as their landholding was devoted exclusively to cattle-raising and thus exempted from the coverage of the CARL. MARO inspected respondents’ land and found that it was devoted solely to cattle-raising and breeding. He recommended to the DAR Secretary that it be exempted from the coverage of the CARL.
DAR ignored their request. DAR issued A.O. No. 9, series of 1993, which provided that only portions of private agricultural lands used for the raising of livestock, poultry and swine as of June 15, 1988 shall be excluded from the coverage of the CARL. In determining the area of land to be excluded, the A.O. fixed the following retention limits, viz: 1:1 animal-land ratio.
DAR Secretary Garilao issued an Order partially granting the application of respondents for exemption from the coverage of CARL. Respondents moved for reconsideration. They contend that their entire landholding should be exempted as it is devoted exclusively to cattle-raising. Their motion was denied.
Office of the President affirmed the order of DAR.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the respondents. It declared DAR A.O. No. 9, s. 1993, void for being contrary to the intent of the 1987 Constitutional Commission to exclude livestock farms from the land reform program of the government
Whether or not Sections 3(b), 11, 13 and 32 of R.A. No. 6657 (the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988), insofar as the said law includes the raising of livestock, poultry and swine in its coverage as well as the Implementing Rules and Guidelines promulgated in accordance therewith are constitutional.
YES. In the case at bar, we find that the impugned A.O. is invalid as it contravenes the Constitution. The A.O. sought to regulate livestock farms by including them in the coverage of agrarian reform and prescribing a maximum retention limit for their ownership. However, the deliberations of the 1987 Constitutional Commission show a clear intent to exclude, inter alia, all lands exclusively devoted to livestock, swine and poultry- raising. The Court clarified in the Luz Farms case that livestock, swine and poultry-raising are industrial activities and do not fall within the definition of "agriculture" or "agricultural activity." The raising of livestock, swine and poultry is different from crop or tree farming. It is an industrial, not an agricultural, activity. A great portion of the investment in this enterprise is in the form of industrial fixed assets, such as:animal housing structures and facilities, drainage, waterers and blowers, feedmill with grinders, mixers, conveyors, exhausts and generators, extensive warehousing facilities for feeds and other supplies, anti-pollution equipment like bio-gas and digester plants augmented by lagoons and concrete ponds, deepwells, elevated water tanks, pumphouses, sprayers, and other technological appurtenances.15
Clearly, petitioner DAR has no power to regulate livestock farms which have been exempted by the Constitution from the coverage of agrarian reform. It has exceeded its power in issuing the assailed A.O.
The subsequent case of Natalia Realty, Inc. v. DAR16 reiterated our ruling in the Luz Farms case. In Natalia Realty, the Court held that industrial, commercial and residential lands are not covered by the CARL.17 We stressed anew that while Section 4 of R.A. No. 6657 provides that the CARL shall cover all public and private agricultural lands, the term "agricultural land" does not include lands classified as mineral, forest, residential, commercial or industrial. Thus, in Natalia Realty, even portions of the Antipolo Hills Subdivision, which are arable yet still undeveloped, could not be considered as agricultural lands subject to agrarian reform as these lots were already classified as residential lands.
A similar logical deduction should be followed in the case at bar. Lands devoted to raising of livestock, poultry and swine have been classified as industrial, not agricultural, lands and thus exempt from agrarian reform.