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Ros v. DAR
G.R. No. 132477, Aug. 31, 2005, 468 SCRA 471 (2005)
Petitioners are the owners/developers of several parcels of land located in Arpili, Balamban, Cebu. By virtue of Municipal Ordinance No. 101 passed by the Municipal Council of Balamban, Cebu, these lands were reclassified as industrial lands.
On 03 April 1995, the Provincial Board of Cebu approved Balamban’s land use plan and adopted en toto Balamban’s Municipal Ordinance No. 101 with the passage of Resolution No. 836-95 and Provincial Ordinance No. 95-8, respectively. As part of their preparation for the development of the subject lands as an industrial park, petitioners secured all the necessary permits and appropriate government certifications.
Despite these permits and certifications, petitioner Matthias Mendezona received a letter from Mr. Jose Llames, Director of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Regional Office for Region 7, informing him that the DAR was disallowing the conversion of the subject lands for industrial use and directed him to cease and desist from further developments on the land to avoid the incurrence of civil and criminal liabilities.
Petitioners filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Toledo City a Complaint dated 29 July 1996 for Injunction with Application for Temporary Restraining Order and a Writ of Preliminary Injunction. RTC, ruling that it is the DAR which has jurisdiction, dismissed the Complaint for lack of jurisdiction.
Court of Appeals affirmed RTC decision.
Whether or not the reclassification of the subject lands to industrial use by the Municipality of Balamban, Cebu pursuant to its authority under Section 20(a) of Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 (the "LGC") has the effect of taking such lands out of the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) and beyond the jurisdiction of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
No. The authority of the DAR to approve conversions of agricultural lands covered by Rep. Act No. 6657 to non-agricultural uses has not been pierced by the passage of the Local Government Code. The Code explicitly provides that "nothing in this section shall be construed as repealing or modifying in any manner the provisions of Rep. Act No. 6657."
After the passage of Republic Act No. 6657, otherwise known as Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, agricultural lands, though reclassified, have to go through the process of conversion, jurisdiction over which is vested in the DAR. However, agricultural lands already reclassified before the effectivity of Rep. Act No. 6657 on June 15, 1988 are exempted from conversion.