Case Digest: Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) vs Department of Education Culture and Sports(DECS) G.R. No. 158228, Mar 23, 2004,426 SCRA 217 (2004)
DAR vs DECS
G.R. No. 158228, Mar 23, 2004,
426 SCRA 217 (2004)
Subject Lot No. 2509 and Lot No. 817-D consists of an aggregate area of 189.2462 hectares located at Hacienda Fe, Escalante, Negros Occidental and Brgy. Gen. Luna, Sagay, Negros Occidental, respectively. On October 21, 1921, these lands were donated by Jalandoni to respondent DECS. Titles were transferred in the name of respondent DECS.
DECS leased the lands to Anglo Agricultural Corporation for 10 agricultural crop years, commencing from crop year 1984-1985 to crop year 1993-1994. The contract of lease was subsequently renewed for another 10 agricultural crop years, commencing from crop year1995-1996 to crop year 2004-2005.
June 10, 1993, Eugenio Alpar et.al, claim to be permanent and regular farm workers of the subject lands, filed a petition for Compulsory Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) coverage with the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office (MARO) of Escalante. After investigation, MARO Jacinto R. Piñosa, sent a “Notice of Coverage” to respondent DECS, stating that the lands are covered by CARP and inviting its representatives for a conference with the farmer beneficiaries. Then, MARO Piñosa submitted his report to OIC-PARO Stephen M. Leonidas, who recommended to the DAR Regional Director the approval of the coverage of the landholdings.
DAR Regional Director Andres, August 7, 1998 approved the recommendation and directed Provincial Agrarian Reform Office to facilitate acquisition and distribution of landholdings to qualified beneficiaries.
DECS appealed the case to the Secretary of Agrarian Reform which affirmed the Order of the Regional Director.
Aggrieved, DECS filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, which set aside the decision of the Secretary of Agrarian Reform. Hence, the instant petition for review.
Whether or not the subject properties are exempt from the coverage of Republic Act No. 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 (CARL)
NO. Section 10 of R.A. No. 6657 enumerates the types of lands which are exempted from the coverage of CARP as well as the purposes of their exemption, viz: x x x x x x x x x c) Lands actually, directly and exclusively used and found to be necessary for national defense, school sites and campuses, including experimental farm stations operated by public or private schools for educational purposes, … , shall be exempt from the coverage of this Act. x x x x x x x x x Clearly, it shows that, in order to be exempt from the coverage: a. the land must be "actually, directly, and exclusively used and found to be necessary;" and b. the purpose is "for school sites and campuses, including experimental farm stations operated by public or private schools for educational purposes." The importance of the phrase "actually, directly, and exclusively used and found to be necessary" cannot be understated, as what respondent DECS would want us to do by not taking the words in their literal and technical definitions. The words of the law are clear and unambiguous. Thus, the "plain meaning rule" or verba legis in statutory construction is applicable in this case. Where the words of a statute are clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without attempted interpretation.