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Case Digest: Sta. Rosa Realty Development Corporation vs Amante, G.R. No. 112526453 SCRA 432 , March 16, 2005
Sta. Rosa Realty Development Corporation vs Amante
G.R. No. 112526
453 SCRA 432 , March 16, 2005
The Canlubang Estate in Laguna is a vast landholding previously titled in the name of the late Speaker and Chief Justice Jose Yulo, Sr. Within this estate are two parcels of land (hereinafter referred to as the "subject property") covered by TCT Nos. 81949 and 84891 measuring 254.766 hectares and part of Barangay Casile, subsequently titled in the name of Sta. Rosa Realty Development Corporation (SRRDC), the majority stockholder of which is C.J. Yulo and Sons, Inc.
On December 6, 1985, Amante, et al., who are the private respondents in G.R. No. 112526 and petitioners in G.R. No. 118838, instituted an action for injunction with damages in the Regional Trial Court of Laguna (Branch 24) against Luis Yulo, SRRDC, and several SRRDC security personnel,docketed as Civil Case No. B-2333. Amante, et al. alleged that: they are residents of Barangay Casile, Cabuyao, Laguna, which covers an area of around 300 hectares; in 1910, their ancestors started occupying the area, built their houses and planted fruit-bearing trees thereon, and since then, have been peacefully occupying the land; some time in June 3, 1985, SRRDC’s security people illegally entered Bgy. Casile and fenced the area; SRRDC’s men also entered the barangay on November 4, 1985, cut down the trees, burned their huts, and barred the lone jeepney from entering the Canlubang Sugar Estate; as a result of these acts, Amante, et al. were deprived of possession and cultivation of their lands.
While the injunction and ejectment cases were still in process, it appears that in August, 1989, the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office (MARO) issued a Notice of Coverage to SRRDC.
On December 12, 1989, Secretary of Agrarian Reform Miriam Defensor Santiago sent two (2) notices of acquisition to petitioner, stating that petitioner’s landholdings covered by TCT Nos. T-81949 and T-84891, containing an area of 188.2858 and 58.5800 hectares, valued at P4,417,735.65 and P1,220,229.93, respectively, had been placed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.On March 18, 1991, SRRDC submitted a petition to the Board for the latter to resolve SRRDC’s petition for exemption from CARP coverage before any administrative valuation of their landholding could be had by the Board.
On December 19, 1991, the DARAB promulgated a decision, affirming the dismissal of the protest of SRRDC against the compulsory coverage of the property SRRDC had filed with the CA a petition for review of the DARAB’s decision. On November 5, 1993, the CA affirmed the decision of DARAB.
Whether or not DARAB has jurisdiction to pass upon the issue of whether the SRRDC properties are subject to CARP coverage.
No. There is no question that the power to determine whether a property is subject to CARP coverage lies with the DAR Secretary. Section 50 of R.A. No. 6657 provides that:
SEC. 50. Quasi-Judicial Powers of the DAR. - The DAR is hereby vested with primary jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters and shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over all matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform, except those falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The DAR’s jurisdiction under Section 50 of R.A. No. 6657 is two-fold. The first is essentially executive and pertains to the enforcement and administration of the laws, carrying them into practical operation and enforcing their due observance, while the second is judicial and involves the determination of rights and obligations of the parties.Pursuant to Section 50 of RA 6657, the DAR adopted the DARAB Revised Rules, Rule II (Jurisdiction of the Adjudication Board), which of which provides:
SECTION 1. Primary, Original and Appellate Jurisdiction. – The Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board shall have primary jurisdiction, both original and appellate, to determine and adjudicate all agrarian disputes, cases, controversies, and matters or incidents involving the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program under Republic Act No. 6657, Executive Order Nos. 229, 228 and 129-A, Republic Act No. 3844 as amended by Republic Act No. 6389, Presidential Decree No. 27 and other agrarian laws and their implementing rules and regulations.
Specifically, such jurisdiction shall extend over but not be limited to the following:
a) Cases involving the rights and obligations of persons engaged in the cultivation and use of agricultural land covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and other agrarian laws;
b) Cases involving the valuation of land, and determination and payment of just compensation, fixing and collection of lease rentals, disturbance compensation, amortization payments, and similar disputes concerning the functions of the Land Bank;
c) Cases involving the annulment or cancellation of orders or decisions of DAR officials other than the Secretary, lease contracts or deeds of sale or their amendments under the administration and disposition of the DAR and LBP;
d) Cases arising from, or connected with membership or representation in compact farms, farmers’ cooperatives and other registered farmers’ associations or organizations, related to land covered by the CARP and other agrarian laws;
e) Cases involving the sale, alienation, mortgage, foreclosure, pre-emption and redemption of agricultural lands under the coverage of the CARP or other agrarian laws;
f) Cases involving the issuance of Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT), Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) and Emancipation Patent (EP) and the administrative correction thereof;
g) And such other agrarian cases, disputes, matters or concerns referred to it by the Secretary of the DAR.
Provided, however, that matters involving strictly the administrative implementation of the CARP and other agrarian laws and regulations, shall be the exclusive prerogative of and cognizable by the Secretary of the DAR.
On the other hand, Administrative Order No. 06-00,89 which provides for the Rules of Procedure for Agrarian Law Implementation (ALI) Cases, govern the administrative function of the DAR. Under said Rules of Procedure, the DAR Secretary has exclusive jurisdiction over classification and identification of landholdings for coverage under the CARP, including protests or oppositions thereto and petitions for lifting of coverage. Section 2 of the said Rules specifically provides, inter alia, that:SECTION 2. Cases Covered. - These Rules shall govern cases falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of the DAR Secretary which shall include the following:
(a) Classification and identification of landholdings for coverage under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), including protests or oppositions thereto and petitions for lifting of coverage;
(b) Identification, qualification or disqualification of potential farmer-beneficiaries;
(c) Subdivision surveys of lands under CARP;
(d) Issuance, recall or cancellation of Certificates of Land Transfer (CLTs) and CARP Beneficiary Certificates (CBCs) in cases outside the purview of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 816, including the issuance, recall or cancellation of Emancipation Patents (EPs) or Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) not yet registered with the Register of Deeds;
(e) Exercise of the right of retention by landowner;…
Here, SRRDC questions the DARAB’s jurisdiction to entertain the question of whether the subject property is subject to CARP coverage. As the DARAB succinctly pointed out, it was SRRDC that initiated and invoked the DARAB’s jurisdiction to pass upon the question of CARP coverage. It was SRRDC’s own act of summoning the DARAB’s authority that cured whatever jurisdictional defect it now raises. It is elementary that the active participation of a party in a case pending against him before a court or a quasi-judicial body, is tantamount to a recognition of that court’s or body’s jurisdiction and a willingness to abide by the resolution of the case and will bar said party from later on impugning the court’s or body’s jurisdiction.
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