Roxas & Co. v. DAMBA-NFSW
G.R. No. 149548, Dec 04, 2009,
607 SCRA 33 (2009)
Petitioner, Roxas & Co. is a domestic corporation and is the registered owner of three haciendas. On July 27, 1987, the Congress of the Philippines formally convened and took over legislative power from the President. This Congress passed Republic Act No. 6657, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) of 1988. The Act was signed by the President on June 10, 1988 and took effect on June 15, 1988. Before the law’s effectivity, on May 6, 1988, petitioner filed with respondent DAR a voluntary offer to sell Hacienda Caylaway pursuant to the provisions of E.O. No. 229. Haciendas Palico and Banilad were later placed under compulsory acquisition by Department of Agrarian Reform in accordance with the CARL. On August 6, 1992 petitioner, through its President, sent a letter to the Secretary of DAR withdrawing its voluntary offer to sell of Hacienda Caylaway.
The Sangguniang Bayan of Nasugbu, Batangas allegedly authorized the reclassification of Hacienda Caylaway from agricultural to non-agricultural. As a result, petitioner informed respondent DAR that it was applying for conversion of Hacienda Caylaway from agricultural to other uses. The petitions nub on the interpretation of Presidential Proclamation No. 1520 reads: DECLARING THE MUNICIPALITIES OF MARAGONDON AND TERNATE IN CAVITE PROVINCE AND THE MUNICIPALITY OF NASUGBU IN BATANGAS AS A TOURIST ZONE, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. Essentially, Petitioner, filed its application for conversion of its three haciendas from agricultural to non-agricultural on the assumption that the issuance of Presidential Proclamation No. 1520 which declared Nasugbu, Batangas as a tourism zone, reclassified them to non-agricultural uses. Its pending application notwithstanding, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) issued Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) to the farmer-beneficiaries in the three haciendas including CLOA No. 6654 which was issued on October 15, 1993 covering 513.983 hectares, the subject of G.R. No. 167505. Petitioner filed with the DAR an application for exemption from the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of 1988 on the basis of PP 1520 and of DAR Administrative Order (AO) No. 6, Series of 19943 which states that all lands already classified as commercial, industrial, or residential before the effectivity of CARP no longer need conversion clearance from the DAR.
Whether or not Presidential Proclamation No. 1520 reclassified in 1975 all lands in the Maragondon-Ternate-Nasugbu tourism zone to non- agricultural use to exempt Roxas & Co.’s three haciendas in Nasugbu from CARP coverage.
No. Presidential Proclamation No. 1520 did not automatically convert the agricultural lands in the three municipalities including Nasugbu to non-agricultural lands. Presidential Proclamation No. 1520 merely recognized the "potential tourism value" of certain areas within the general area declared as tourism zones. It did not reclassify the areas to non-agricultural use. It bears emphasis that a mere reclassification of an agricultural land does not automatically allow a landowner to change its use since there is still that process of conversion before one is permitted to use it for other purposes.
Petitioner, Roxas & Co., can only look to the provisions of the Tourism Act, and not to Presidential Proclamation No. 1520, for possible exemption.