Sta. Ana vs Carpo
572 SCRA 463 ,
G.R. No. 164340
November 28, 2008
Respondent Leon Carpo and his brother Francisco G. Carpo are the registered co-owners of a parcel of land situated at Sta. Rosa, Laguna with an area of 91,337 square meters, more or less.
A portion thereof, consisting of 3.5 hectares, pertained to Leon and his wife, respondent Aurora Carpo. It was devoted to rice and corn production (subject land) and wastenanted by one Domingo Pastolero (Domingo), husband of Adoracion Pastolero (Adoracion). When Domingo passed away, Adoracion together with her son Elpidio Pastolero, assumed the tenancy rights of Domingo over the subject land.
However, on December 29, 1983, Adoracion, by executing a notarized Pinanumpaang Salaysay with the conformity of Leon, and for a consideration of P72,500.00, transferred her rights in favor of petitioner Otilia Sta. Ana (petitioner) who, together with her husband, Marciano de la Cruz (Marciano), became the new tenants of the subject land.
Circumstances transpired which abraded the relationship, and on December 1, 1989, respondents filed Complaint for Ejectment due to Non-Payment of Lease Rentals.
Respondents alleged that it was their agreement with petitioner and Marciano to increase the existing rentals from 36 cavans to 45 cavans, and that, if respondents wanted to repossess the property, they only had to pay the petitioner the amount of P72,500.00, the same amount paid by the latter to Adoracion. Respondents further averred that despite repeated demands, petitioner refused to pay the actual rentals from July 1985 to September 1989, in violation of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 817; and that the subject land had been declared, upon the recommendation of theHuman Settlements Committee, suitable for commercial and industrial purposes, per Zoning Ordinance of 1981 of the Municipality of Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Respondents prayed that petitioner be ejected from the subject land and be directed to pay P75,016.00 as unpaid rentals.
Petitioner and Marciano denied that there was an agreement to increase the existing rental which was already fixed at 36 cavans of palay, once or twice a year depending on the availability of irrigation water; that neither was there an agreement as to the future surrender of the land in favor of the respondents; that they did not refuse to pay the rentals because they even sent verbal and written notices to the respondents, advising them to accept the same; and that in view of the latter’s failure to respond, petitioner and Marciano were compelled to sell the harvest and to deposit the proceeds thereof in Savings Account No. 9166 with the Universal Savings Bank at Sta. Rosa, Laguna under the names of Leon and Marciano. As their special affirmative defense, petitioner and Marciano claimed that Marciano is a farmer-beneficiary of the subject land pursuant to P.D. 27. Petitioner and Marciano prayed for the outright dismissal of the complaint and for the declaration of Marciano as full owner of the subject land.PARAD held that petitioner should be ejected for non-payment of lease rentals. It also ruled that the subject land is not covered by P.D. No. 27, R.A. No. 6657, and E.O. No. 228, not on the basis of the allegation in the complaint, but on the respondents' right of retention:
“The intent of the defendant to subject the said area under PD 27 should pass the criteria set. Foremost is the determination of the aggregate riceland of plaintiff. He must have more than seven (7) hectares of land principally devoted to the planting of palay. Area over seven (7) hectares shall be the one to be covered by PD 27 on Operation Land Transfer (OLT). In the case at bar, defendants failed to prove that plaintiff has more than the required riceland. In fact the subject 3.5 hectares are jointly owned by two. Hence, coverage for OLT is remote.
Defendant claimed that plaintiff is covered by LOI 474, and therefore, he is zero retention of area. In reference to said law, wherein it provides landowner with other agricultural land of more than 7 hectares, or have other industrial lands from where he and his family derived resources, then, the owner cannot retain any riceland. However, this is not applicable in the instant case, as the defendant failed to prove that plaintiffhas other source of income from where they will derive their sustenance.”
DARAB set aside PARAD’s decision, ruling that petitioner and Marciano did not deliberately fail to pay said rentals
CA reversed DARAB ruling and affirmed the factual findings of the PARAD. The CA, however, also held that the subject land had already become a residential, commercial and industrial area based on the vicinity map showing that the land was surrounded by commercial and industrial establishments.
1. WON the PARAD acted without jurisdiction when it held that the subject land was no longer covered by our agrarian laws because of the retention rights of the respondents.
2. WON CA acted without jurisdiction when it ruled that the land had become non-agricultural based on a zoning ordinance of 1981– on the strength of a mere vicinity map
1. YES. Issues with respect to the retention rights of the respondents as landowners and the exclusion/exemption of the subject land from the coverage of agrarian reform are issues not cognizable by the PARAD and the DARAB, but by the DAR Secretary because, as aforementioned, the same are Agrarian Law Implementation (ALI) Cases.
The doctrine of primary jurisdiction precludes the courts from resolving a controversy over which jurisdiction has initiallybeen lodged in an administrative body of special competence. For agrarian reform cases, jurisdiction is vested in the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR); more specifically, in the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB). Executive Order 229 vested the DAR with (1) quasi-judicial powers to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters; and (2) jurisdiction over all matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform, except those falling under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Simply put, agrarian disputes, as defined by law and settled in jurisprudence, are within the primary and exclusive original jurisdiction of the PARAD and the DARAB, while issues of retention and non-coverage of a land under agrarian reform, among others, are within the domain of the DAR Secretary.
Thus, Section 3, Rule II of the 2003 DARAB Rules of Procedure provides:
SECTION 3. Agrarian Law Implementation Cases. – The Adjudicator or the Board shall have no jurisdiction over matters involving the administrative implementation of RA No. 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) of 1988 and other agrarian laws as enunciated by pertinent rules and administrative orders, which shall be under the exclusive prerogative of and cognizable by the Office of the Secretary of the DAR in accordance with his issuances, to wit:
3.1 Classification and identification of landholdings for coverage under the agrarian reform program and the initialissuance of CLOAs and EPs, including protests or oppositions thereto and petitions for lifting of such coverage;
3.2 Classification, identification, inclusion, exclusion, qualification, or disqualification of potential/actual farmer-beneficiaries;
3.3 Subdivision surveys of land under CARP;
3.4 Recall, or cancellation of provisional lease rentals, Certificates of Land Transfers (CLTs) and CARP Beneficiary Certificates (CBCs) in cases outside the purview of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 816, including the issuance, recall, or cancellation of EPs or CLOAs not yet registered with the Register of Deeds;
3.5 Exercise of the right of retention by the landowner;
3.6 Application for exemption from coverage under Section 10 of RA 6657;
3.7 Application for exemption pursuant to Department of Justice (DOJ) Opinion No. 44 (1990);
3.8 Exclusion from CARP coverage of agricultural land used for livestock, swine, and poultry raising;
3.9 Cases of exemption/exclusion of fish pond and prawn farms from the coverage of CARP pursuant to RA 7881;
3.10 Issuance of Certificate of Exemption for land subject of Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) and Compulsory Acquisition (CA) found unsuitable for agricultural purposes;3.11 Application for conversion of agricultural land to residential, commercial, industrial, or other non-agricultural uses and purposes including protests or oppositions thereto;
3.12 Determination of the rights of agrarian reform beneficiaries to homelots;
3.13 Disposition of excess area of the tenants/farmer-beneficiary's landholdings;
3.14 Increase in area of tillage of a tenant/farmer-beneficiary;
3.15 Conflict of claims in landed estates administered by DAR and its predecessors; or
3.16 Such other agrarian cases, disputes, matters or concerns referred to it by the Secretary of the DAR.
2. YES. The CA ruled that the land had ceased being agricultural on the basis of a mere vicinity map, in open disregard of the Doctrine of Primary Jurisdiction, since the issue was within the province of the Secretary of DAR.