Robustum Agricultural Corporation vs DAR
G.R. No. 221484, November 19, 2018
Petitioner Robustum Agricultural Corporation is the registered owner of a 50,000-square meter parcel of agricultural land in Silay City per Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-15256. The subject land was formerly a part of a 300,000-square meter agricultural estate (mother estate) owned by Puyas Agro, Inc. (PAI), petitioner's predecessor-in-interest.
On December 5, 2013, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), through Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) II Teresita R. Mabunay, prepared a letter, denominated as "Transmittal of NOC to the Landowner-Transferee/s," addressed to petitioner. The letter sought to furnish petitioner with a copy of a notice of coverage previously issued by the DAR which identifies the mother estate as subject to the agrarian reform program. The letter also aims to inform petitioner that, as a transferee of a portion of the mother estate, it will be included by the DAR as an "alternative land owner and payee" for purposes of documentation of the [claim folder], the issuance of a memorandum of valuation and the payment of compensation proceeds for the mother estate.
On August 14, 2014, petitioner filed before the RTC of Silay City a petition for quieting of title and declaratory relief against the DAR and the Land Bank of the Philippines. Therein, petitioner questioned the efficacy of the notice coverage published by the DAR. Petitioner reckoned such notice as ineffective on two (2) accounts:
1. The notice of coverage - for being merely published in a newspaper of general circulation - was not properly served. The publication of the said notice was not preceded by any attempt on the part of the DAR to effect personal service of the same. Such immediate resort to publication, in turn, violates Section 16 of DAR Administrative Order (AO) No. 07-11 which prescribes personal service as the "primary" means of serving notices of coverage.
2. Even assuming that the notice of coverage was properly served by publication, the same still cannot be enforced as against the subject land. Such notice remains infirm because it was never posted at a conspicuous place within the subject land and on a bulletin board in the city or barangay hall, where the subject land is located, for seven (7) days, as required under Section 19 of DAR AO No. 07-11.
The RTC sided with the DAR and the LBP. On June 11, 2015, the RTC issued an Order dismissing the petition on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but the RTC remained steadfast.
Whether or not RTC's lack of jurisdiction to take cognizance of the petition for quieting of title and declaratory relief. Whether or not RTC have jurisdiction on the case.
RTC have no jurisdiction on the case. DAR maintains the authority to bring the said proceeding into conclusion pursuant precisely to Section 30 of RA No. 9700.WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is DENIED. The Orders dated June 11, 2015 and September 28, 2015 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 69, of Silay City in Civil Case No. 2915-69, insofar as they effectively dismissed the petition for quieting of title and declaratory relief filed by petitioner Robustum Agricultural Corporation, are AFFIRMED.