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G.R. No. 132073 & G.R. No. 132361 - REMMAN ENTERPRISES, INC. v. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

G.R. No. 132073 & G.R. No. 132361 - REMMAN ENTERPRISES, INC. v. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. NO. 132073 : September 27, 2006]

REMMAN ENTERPRISES, INC., Petitioner, v. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. ERNESTO D. GARILAO, in his capacity as SECRETARY OF THE DEPT. OF AGRARIAN REFORM and EDUARDO ADRIANO, PABLITO ADRIANO, IGNACIO VILLENA, DOMINGO SAYOTO, DOMINADOR MANTILLAS, PABLITO MANTILLAS, GRACIANO MAGLIAN, LEOPOLDO CALITIS, PRIMO GALANG, RENE GALANG, FRANCISCO HAYAG, MARCOS MENDOZA, NOE CABALLERO, ROLANDO PADAR, FRANCISCO SANTARIN, PEDRO PASTOR, JR., ROLANDO PASTOR, MELCHOR MENDOZA, MARIANO CAPILI, CONRADO FERRER, and MARGARITO MENDOZA, Respondent.

[G.R. NO. 132361 : September 27, 2006]

EDUARDO ADRIANO, PABLITO ADRIANO, IGNACIO VILLENA, DOMINGO SAYOTO, DOMINADOR MANTILLAS, PABLITO MANTILLAS, GRACIANO MAGLIAN, LEOPOLDO CALITIS, PRIMO GALANG, RENE GALANG, FRANCISCO HAYAG, MARCOS MENDOZA, NOE CABALLERO, ROLANDO PADAR, FRANCISCO SANTARIN, PEDRO PASTOR, SR., ROLANDO PASTOR, MELCHOR MENDOZA, MARCIANO CAPILI, CONRADO FERRER, and MARGARITO MENDOZA,* Petitioners, v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, REMMAN ENTERPRISES, INC., and HON. ERNESTO D. GARILAO, in his capacity as SECRETARY OF AGRARIAN REFORM, Respondents.

R E S O L U T I O N

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

Before this Court is a consolidation of two separate Petitions for Review on Certiorari filed by petitioner Remman Enterprises, Inc. (REMMAN) in G.R. No. 132073, and petitioners Eduardo Adriano, et al., in G.R. No. 132361. Both Petitions assail the Decision1 dated 30 April 1997 and Resolution2 dated 8 January 1998 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 42004.

REMMAN is a private domestic corporation engaged in the business of developing subdivisions. On 17 August 1995, REMMAN filed with the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), through the Socialized Housing One-Stop Processing Center (SHOPC),3 an application for exemption from the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) over 17 parcels of land with a total land area of 46.9180 hectares located at Bo. San Jose, Dasmariñas, Cavite.4

As culled from the records, the subject parcels of land were covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-7707, in the names of Nieves Arguelles vda. de Saulog and Ignacio, Luciano, Virginia, Teodoro, Melquiades, Maura, Ruben, and Lilia, all surnamed Saulog (Saulog family). The Saulog family acquired the same by inheritance from Eliseo Saulog, deceased spouse of Nieves. On 7 February 1995, the Saulog family and REMMAN executed a Deed of Sale over the subject parcels of land.

In support of its application, REMMAN proffered, inter alia: (1) a certification by the Human Settlements Regulatory Commission (HSRC)5 dated 16 February 1995, to the effect that the subject parcels of land are within the residential zone; (2) a certification by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) dated 21 December 1995 signifying that the subject parcels of land are not irrigated or irrigable within the areas programmed for irrigation development under the NIA Irrigation Development Program; and (3) a certification from the Office of the Municipal Engineering of the Municipality of Dasmariñas, Cavite, dated 8 February 1998, attesting that the subject parcels of land are within the residential zone.

On 5 June 1996, the DAR Secretary Ernesto D. Garilao rendered an Order6 denying the application for lack of merit.

The DAR Secretary ruled that REMMAN has no personality to file the action as the Deed of Sale between the Saulog family and REMMAN was neither notarized nor registered with the Register of Deeds; hence, the same is not binding against third parties, and the Saulog family must still be deemed the owners of the subject premises. In denying REMMAN's application for exemption, the DAR Secretary further relied on a certification dated 3 November 1995, issued by the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office of Dasmariñas, Cavite, avowing to the effect that the subject properties are covered by Operation Land Transfer under Presidential Decree No. 27, and that there are twenty-four (24) farmer-beneficiaries occupying a total of 46.5935 hectares of the subject lots. In the same order, the DAR Secretary found the subject parcels of land to be irrigated; therefore, non-negotiable for conversion.

Moreover, in the Order of 5 June 1996, the DAR Secretary took note of DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92, filed by the Saulog family for annulment and cancellation of the emancipation patents issued to Eduardo Adriano, et al., herein petitioners in G.R. No. 132361. The controverted emancipation patents in DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92 cover the subject parcels of land which are sought to be exempted by REMMAN from coverage of the CARP. DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92 was remanded by the DARAB Central Office to the Adjudicator of Cavite for further proceedings.7

The dispositive portion of the Order of 5 June 1996, reads, thus:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, and after having found that the instant application lacks merit, Order is hereby issued denying the same and placing the herein properties involving seventeen (17) parcels of land with an aggregate area of 46.9180 hectares located at Brgy. San Jose, Dasmariñas, Cavite under CARP coverage.8

REMMAN filed a Motion for Reconsideration thereon.

On 4 September 1996, the DAR Secretary Ernesto D. Garilao issued an Order, modifying the Order of 5 June 1996. The DAR Secretary held that when Presidential Decree No. 27 took effect, the subject parcels of land were owned in common by the Saulog family. The same law applies to lands primarily devoted to rice and corn under a system of share-crop or lease tenancy. The issue as to the type of crops planted in the subject parcels of land and the tenancy relationship not having been controverted, the DAR Secretary applied the rules on retention limits as specified in Presidential Decree No. 27 and Letter of Instruction No. 474.9 Ruling on the retention limits, the DAR Secretary reached the following conclusion, viz10 :

Name of Co-owner

Tenanted R/C lands owned

Other Agri. Lands

PD 27 Coverage

Area Retained of Tenanted R/C Lands

Nieves

15.31915 has.

10.48575 has.

15.31915 has.

0.0 has.

Ignacio

1.39265 has.

0.95325 has.

0.0 has.

1.39265 has.

Luciano

1.39265 has.

0.95325 has.

0.0 has.

1.39265 has.

Virginia

1.39265 has.

0.95325 has.

0.0 has.

1.39265 has.

Teodoro

1.39265 has.

0.95325 has.

0.0 has.

1.39265 has.

Melquiades

1.39265 has.

0.95325 has.

0.0 has.

1.39265 has.

Maura

1.39265 has.

0.95325 has.

0.0 has.

1.39265 has.

Ruben

1.39265 has.

0.95325 has.

0.0 has.

1.39265 has.

Lilia

1.39265 has.

0.95325 has.

0.0 has.

1.39265 has.

Marietta

1.39265 has.

0.95325 has.

0.0 has.

1.39265 has.

Further, it was held that the farmer-tenants occupying the retained area of the children of Nieves vda. de Saulog shall remain therein, subject to the option of the farmers to accept disturbance compensation, in which case, they can vacate the retained lands. The remaining lands were declared to be outside of the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law by virtue of Section 3(c)11 of Republic Act No. 6657, subject to the payment of disturbance compensation to qualified farmer-beneficiaries. In the same vein, the DAR Secretary ruled that Presidential Decree No. 27 has not been expressly repealed by Republic Act No. 6657; hence, the tenant-farmers' vested rights should still be respected. Thus, the municipal reclassification of the subject parcels of land cannot remove the vested rights of the tenant-farmers granted to them by statute. Finally, on the issue of lack of standing on the part of REMMAN to file the application for exemption, the DAR Secretary, instead of strictly applying the procedural rules, relaxed the same.

The DAR Secretary disposed, thus:

PREMISES CONSIDERED, after having gone through all arguments, this Order is hereby issued:

1. Confirming the coverage of the 15.31915 hectare tenanted rice and corn share of Nieves vda. de Saulog under Operation Land Transfer;

2. Granting the retention of the other heirs of 1.39265 hectares of tenanted rice and corn, each, subject to the filing by the applicant of the proper petition in the proper forum [or a total of 12.53385 hectares];

3. Requiring the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer to cause the preparation of Contracts of Agricultural Leaseholds between the owners of the lands and the farmer-tenants of the retained areas;

4. Excluding from the coverage of Agrarian Reform the 19.065 hectare land planted to mango by virtue of Section 3(c) of R.A. No. 6657, subject to the payment of disturbance compensation; andcralawlibrary

5. Instructing the Regional Director of Region IV and the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer to cause the proper execution of this Order.12

Thereafter, REMMAN challenged the Orders of the DAR Secretary by filing a Petition for Review with the Court of Appeals.

In its Decision dated 30 April 1997, the Court of Appeals declined to rule purely on the technical matters. Thus, the question as to REMMAN's personality to file the proceeding a quo was dispensed with. It affirmed the finding of the DAR Secretary on the grant of partial exemption to the extent of the 19.065 hectares planted with mango trees from the coverage of the CARP, as enunciated in par. 413 of the dispositive portion of the Order of the DAR Secretary dated 4 September 1996; it differed, however, as to the grant of disturbance compensation. The appellate court rationalized that the tenant-farmers are deemed owners of the land they are tilling under Presidential Decree No. 27, and subsequently, Executive Order No. 22814 declared them full owners thereof. Hence, their ownership as vested can no longer be disturbed by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, and as such, the provisions of the aforesaid law which allow for exemptions from its coverage cannot apply to lands already declared under Operation Land Transfer under Presidential Decree No. 27.

On the issue of whether the subject lands are irrigated or irrigable, the Court of Appeals held that the question loses its significance because the rule on the non-negotiability of irrigated lands applies only to conversion proceedings but not to exclusion proceedings, as in the case at bar. The Court of Appeals decreed:

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Secretary is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION only with respect to No. 4 of the dispositive portion, deleting therefrom the payment of disturbance compensation, such that should read thiswise:

4. Excluding from the coverage of Agrarian Reform the 19.065 hectare land planted with mango by virtue of Sections 3 (c) and 11 of RA 6657.15

REMMAN filed a Partial Motion for Reconsideration. In like manner, Eduardo Adriano, et al., filed a Motion for Reconsideration thereon. On 8 January 1998, the Court of Appeals denied the Motions.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, REMMAN instituted the instant Petition, docketed as G.R. No. 132073, setting forth numerous assignments of error, which we hereafter synthesize for purposes of clarity. Similarly, Eduardo Adriano, et al., filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 132361.16

REMMAN, petitioner in G.R. No. 132073, alleges that the Court of Appeals failed to rule on the decisive factual and legal issues properly interposed therewith. Simply stated, REMMAN posits that the Court of Appeals failed to rule on the factual issues anent the reclassification of the subject lands into residential land; the location of the subject lands in an urbanized area; and on the validity of the emancipation patents issued to therein private respondents, Eduardo Adriano, et al. It claims that the subject lands were effectively converted into residential lands by virtue of their being re-zoned as such by the Sangguniang Bayan of Dasmariñas, Cavite, and approved by the Human Settlements Regulatory Commission (HSRC), now the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. Relying on Republic Act No. 7279,17 it theorizes that the lands in question are already urban land, especially in light of the fact that Dasmariñas, Cavite, has a population density of some 2,000 persons per square kilometer. Moreover, it avers that the Court of Appeals failed to address the crucial issue of whether Eduardo Adriano, et al., qualified as farmer-beneficiaries under Presidential Decree No. 27. REMMAN similarly assigns as error the conclusion of the Court of Appeals that Eduardo Adriano, et al., are full owners of the subject premises by virtue of Executive Order No. 228 and Presidential Decree No. 27, reiterating the arguments that it had raised before the appellate court.

Furthermore, REMMAN argues that the subject parcels of land are "strip lands" which are reserved for uses other than agricultural under the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 399; hence, the DAR Secretary was without reason to deny the exemption applied for. REMMAN contests the validity of the emancipation patents issued to Eduardo Adriano, et al., on the ground that there was a failure to comply with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 27 in that there was neither payment of amortizations as required by the law nor was there payment of realty taxes thereon by the tenant-farmers. According to REMMAN, the emancipation patents were issued without payment of just compensation to the Saulog family who are the previous owners of the parcels of land in question.

For their part, Eduardo Adriano, et al., petitioners in G.R. No. 132361, asseverate that they have been denied due process because they were not made parties to REMMAN's application for exemption from the coverage of the CARP; hence, they cannot be deemed affected thereby. They assail REMMAN's failure to notify or apprise them of the application for exemption in light of the fact that they are the actual tenants of the subject lands which they have cultivated for more than thirty (30) years. Moreover, they contend that the Court of Appeals failed to heed their prayer for ocular inspection of the subject properties, such that, a full adjudication on the facts be rightly determined. In fine, it is prayed that the case be remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings and to grant them an opportunity to refute the evidence presented by REMMAN before the DAR.

At the crux of the instant controversy is whether the subject parcels of land are exempted from the coverage of the CARP.

Republic Act No. 6657, otherwise referred to as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL), was enacted as a piece of social legislation pursuant to the policy of the State to pursue a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. It became effective on 15 June 1988. Section 4 thereof, specifies the lands covered by the CARP, thus:

SECTION 4. Scope - The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 shall cover, regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity produced, all public and private agricultural lands as provided in Proclamation No. 131 and Executive Order No. 229, including other lands of the public domain suitable for agriculture.

More specifically, the following lands are covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program:

(a) All alienable and disposable lands of the public domain devoted to or suitable for agriculture. No reclassification of forest or mineral lands to agricultural lands shall be undertaken after the approval of this Act until Congress, taking into account ecological, developmental and equity considerations, shall have determined by law, the specific limits of the public domain;

(b) All lands of the public domain in excess of the specific limits as determined by Congress in the preceding paragraph;

(c) All other lands owned by the Government devoted to or suitable for agriculture; andcralawlibrary

(d) All private lands devoted to or suitable for agriculture regardless of the agricultural products raised or that can be raised thereon.

The exemption and exclusions of Republic Act No. 6657 are contained in Section 10 thereof, viz:

SECTION 10. Exemptions and Exclusions - Lands actually, directly and exclusively used and found to be necessary for parks, wildlife, forest reserves, reforestration, fish sanctuaries and breeding grounds, watersheds and mangroves, national defense, school sites and campuses including experimental farm stations operated by public or private schools for educational purposes, seeds and seedlings research and pilot production centers, church sites and convents appurtenant thereto, mosque sites and Islamic centers appurtenant thereto, communal burial grounds and cemeteries, penal colonies and penal farms actually worked by the inmates, government and private research and quarantine centers and all lands with eighteen percent (18%) slope and over, except those already developed shall be exempt from the coverage of this Act.

In the main, REMMAN hinges its application for exemption on the ground that the subject lands had ceased to be agricultural lands by virtue of the zoning classification by the Sangguniang Bayan of Dasmariñas, Cavite, and approved by the HSRC, specifying them as residential.

In Natalia Realty, Inc. v. Department of Agriculture,18 this Court resolved the issue of whether lands already classified for residential, commercial or industrial use, as approved by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) and its precursor agencies, i.e., National Housing Authority and Human Settlements Regulatory Commission, prior to 15 June 1988, are covered by Republic Act No. 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988. We answered in the negative, thus:

We now determine whether such lands are covered by the CARL. Section 4 of R.A. 6657 provides that the CARL shall "cover, regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity produced, all public and private agricultural lands." As to what constitutes "agricultural land," it is referred to as "land devoted to agricultural activity as defined in this Act and not classified as mineral, forest, residential, commercial or industrial land."The deliberations of the Constitutional Commission confirm this limitation. "Agricultural lands" are only those lands which are "arable and suitable agricultural lands" and "do not include commercial, industrial and residential land."

x x x

Indeed, lands not devoted to agricultural activity are outside the coverage of CARL. These include lands previously converted to non-agricultural uses prior to the effectivity of CARL by government agencies other than respondent DAR. In its Revised Rules and Regulations Governing Conversion of Private Agricultural Lands to Non-Agricultural Uses, DAR itself defined "agricultural land" thus '

x x x Agricultural lands refers to those devoted to agricultural activity as defined in R.A. 6657 and not classified as mineral or forest by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its predecessor agencies, and not classified in town plans and zoning ordinances as approved by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) and its preceding competent authorities prior to 15 June 1988 for residential, commercial or industrial use.

Since the NATALIA lands were converted prior to 15 June 1988, respondent DAR is bound by such conversion. x x x.

However, Natalia should be cautiously applied in light of Administrative Order 04, Series of 2003, which outlines the rules on the Exemption on Lands from CARP Coverage under Section (3) of Republic Act No. 6657, and Department of Justice (DOJ) Opinion No. 44, Series of 1990. It reads:

I. Prefatory Statement

Republic Act (RA) 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL), Section 3, Paragraph (c) defines "agricultural land" as referring to "land devoted to agricultural activity as defined in this Act and not classified as mineral, forest, residential, commercial or industrial land."

Department of Justice Opinion No. 44, Series of 1990, (or "DOJ Opinion 44-1990" for brevity) and the case of Natalia Realty v. Department of Agrarian Reform (12 August 2993, 225 SCRA 278) opines that with respect to the conversion of agricultural land covered by RA 6657 to non-agricultural uses, the authority of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to approve such conversion may be exercised from the date of its effectivity, on 15 June 1988. Thus, all lands that are already classified as commercial, industrial or residential before 15 June 1988 no longer need any conversion clearance.

However, the reclassification of lands to non-agricultural uses shall not operate to divest tenant[-]farmers of their rights over lands covered by Presidential Decree (PD) No. 27, which have been vested prior to 15 June 1988. (Emphasis supplied.)

As emphasized, the reclassification of lands to non-agricultural cannot be applied to defeat vested rights of tenant-farmers under Presidential Decree No. 27.

Indeed, in the recent case of Sta. Rosa Realty Development Corporation v. Amante,19 where the Court was confronted with the issue of whether the contentious property therein is agricultural in nature on the ground that the same had been classified as "park" since 1979 under the Zoning Ordinance of Cabuyao, as approved by the HLURB, the Court said:

The Court recognizes the power of a local government to reclassify and convert lands through local ordinance, especially if said ordinance is approved by the HLURB. Municipal Ordinance No. 110-54 dated November 3, 1979, enacted by the Municipality of Cabuyao, divided the municipality into residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and institutional districts, and districts and parks for open spaces. It did not convert, however, existing agricultural lands into residential, commercial, industrial, or institutional. While it classified Barangay Casile into a municipal park, as shown in its permitted uses of land map, the ordinance did not provide for the retroactivity of its classification. In Co v. Intermediate Appellate Court, it was held that an ordinance converting agricultural lands into residential or light industrial should be given prospective application only, and should not change the nature of existing agricultural lands in the area or the legal relationships existing over such land. x x x.

A reading of Metro Manila Zoning Ordinance No. 81-01, series of 1981, does not disclose any provision converting existing agricultural lands in the covered area into residential or light industrial. While it declared that after the passage of the measure, the subject area shall be used only for residential or light industrial purposes, it is not provided therein that it shall have retroactive effect so as to discontinue all rights previously acquired over lands located within the zone which are neither residential nor light industrial in nature. This simply means that, if we apply the general rule, as we must, the ordinance should be given prospective operation only. The further implication is that it should not change the nature of existing agricultural lands in the area or the legal relationships existing over such lands. (Emphasis supplied.)

In the case at bar, it appears on record that petitioners in G.R. No. 132361, Eduardo Adriano, et al., were issued their respective emancipation patents20 on various dates.21 However, as was noted by the DAR Secretary in his Order of 5 June 1996, there is a pending action involving the subject parcels of land, docketed as DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92. The same action similarly involves the annulment of the Certificates of Land Transfer (CLT) and the emancipation patents issued to Eduardo Adriano, et al., thus:

[T]he subject parcels of land are also the subject matter of DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92, which is one for "annulment of the Resolution of DAR Regional Director for Region IV, Certificates of Land Transfer, Emancipation Patents or CLOAs, which was resolved in favor of cancellation. However, in a Resolution by the DARAB Central Office on the same case dated May 18, 1995, it was ruled that the decision decreeing the cancellation of the questioned EPs is not enforceable against the recipients as they were not impleaded. Hence, the case was remanded to the Adjudicator of Cavite for further proceedings.22

Moreover, REMMAN, in its Petition before this Court, presents the antecedents of DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92. Culled therefrom, it appears that on 6 February 1993, the Saulog family filed with the Office of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD), an action against DAR Regional Director Wilfredo B. Leaño, Region IV Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer of Cavite, Serapio T. Magpayo, and Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer, Leticia R. Crucido of Dasmariñas, Cavite, which case became DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92. The CLT and the emancipation patents issued to Eduardo Adriano, et al., are the subject matters therein. On 26 April 1993, the PARAD rendered a decision against Eduardo Adriano, et al.23 However, on appeal to the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB), DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92 was remanded to the PARAD for further proceedings on the ground that the tenant-farmers, Eduardo Adriano, et al., were not impleaded in the case. The record also shows that Eduardo Adriano, et al. filed with the PARAD a Petition, docketed as DARAB Case No. CA-0154-93, seeking to annul the 26 April 1993 decision of the PARAD. The current status of DARAB Case No. CA-0154-93 does not appear on the records.

At any rate, DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92, involves, inter alia, the validity of the emancipation patents issued to tenant-farmers, Eduardo Adriano, et al., who are the petitioners in G.R. No. 132361, and the private respondents in G.R. No. 132073. Inasmuch as the consolidated petitions before us raise the question of the exemption of the subject parcels of land from CARP, which parcels of land are similarly covered by existing emancipation patents, it behooves this Court to hold in abeyance the judgment on the propriety of the exemption sought by REMMAN, until after the issue as to the validity of the emancipation patents (which precisely cover most of the subject parcels of land) has been conclusively and finally determined.

To our mind, a complete resolution of the application for exemption of the subject parcels of land from coverage of the CARP entails a finding of whether the emancipation patents issued to Eduardo Adriano, et al., are null and void, or valid and subsisting.

The issues are inextricably linked. We cannot decide on the question of exemption without causing a preemption on the question of the validity of the aforesaid emancipation patents. To ensure that our judgment on REMMAN's application for exemption is complete, the parties, and especially, the tenant-farmers, Eduardo Adriano, et al., must be afforded due opportunity to ventilate their defenses in support of the emancipation patents issued in their names in the proceedings before the DARAB, in particular, DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92. This is especially significant in light of the principles and policies behind the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. Indeed, Section 2 of Republic Act No. 6657, pronounces in no uncertain terms that the welfare of the landless farmers and farmworkers will receive the highest consideration to promote social justice and to move the nation toward sound rural development and industrialization, and the establishment of owner cultivatorship of economic-size farms as the basis of Philippine agriculture.

IN LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, we hold in abeyance the Resolution of the consolidated Petitions in G.R. No. 132073 and G.R. No. 132361 until after a final determination as to the validity of the emancipation patents issued to Eduardo Adriano, et al. in DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Panganiban, C.J., Chairperson, Ynares-Santiago, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.

Endnotes:


* The following did not sign the Verification/Certification, to wit: Domingo Sayoto, Pablito Mantillas, Francisco Hayag, Marcos Mendoza, Noe Caballero, Rolando Padar, Pedro Pastor, Sr., and Conrado Ferrer.

1 Penned by Associate Justice Antonio M. Martinez with Associate Justices Lourdes K. Tayao-Jaguros and Romeo A. Brawner, concurring; rollo (G.R. No. 132073), pp. 54-61.

2 Penned by Associate Justice Romeo A. Brawner (vice J. Antonio Martinez, who was appointed to the Supreme Court) with Associate Justices Ricardo P. Galvez and Marina L. Buzon, concurring; id. at 82.

3 CREATING SOCIALIZED HOUSING ONE-STOP PROCESSING CENTERS TO FACILITATE THE PROCESSING AND ISSUANCE OF PERMITS, CLEARANCES, CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES APPROPRIATE AND NECESSARY FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SOCIALIZED HOUSING PROJECTS, AND DIRECTING ALL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES CONCERNED TO SUPPORT THE OPERATIONS OF THE SAID CENTERS (27 June 1994); SHOPCs were created pursuant to Republic Act No. 7279, otherwise known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, Section 1 and Section 3, thereof, provides, thus:Sec. 1. Creation of Socialized Housing One-Stop Processing Centers - The creation of Socialized Housing One-Stop Processing Centers (SHOPCs) is hereby directed in all the administrative regions of the country to be manned by representatives from the following agencies:

x x x

c. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR);

x x x

Sec. 3. Agency Responsibilities. - The SHOPC Desks shall have the following responsibilities:

3. DAR Desk

A. Determine and fix the amount of disturbance compensation based on the formula jointly set by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) pursuant to Sec. 7 (1) of RA No. 6389, and ensure that the affected tenant-farmers/farmworkers are duly compensated;

b. Evaluate applications for land conversion/exemption from CARP coverage that may be referred or recommended by the HLURB Desk, and in meritorious cases, issue conversion/exemption certificates therefor; andcralawlibrary

c. Perform such other responsibilities as may be required. (Italics supplied.)

4 Records, Vol. II, p. 329; The subject parcels of land are more particularly described, to wit:

Name of Registered Owner Title No. Area (in has.)

Marietta Saulog Vergara T-231847 3.0000

Maura Saulog Aguinaldo T-231848 3.0000

Virginia A. Saulog T-231849 3.0000

Teodoro A. Saulog T-231850 3.0000

Ruben A. Saulog T-231851 3.0000

Lilia Saulog Venturina T-231852 3.0000

Melquiades A. Saulog T-231853 3.0000

Luciana A. Saulog T-231854 3.0000

Nieves Arguelles Saulog T-240093 1.5124

-do - T-240094 1.5124

-do - T-240095 1.5124

-do - T-240096 1.5124

-do - T-240097 1.5124

-do - T-240098 1.5124

-do - T-240099 1.5124

-do - T-240100 2.3322

-do - T-240101 9.9990

5 Executive Order No. 90 (1986) renamed the HSRC as the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) and was designated as the regulatory body for housing and land development under the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

6 Rollo (G.R. No. 132073), pp. 223-227.

7 The pertinent portion of the Order of 5 June 1996 narrates the antecedents of DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92, to wit:

x x x

Records reveal that the herein properties are likewise the subject of DARAB Case No. IV-Ca. 0087-92 for annulment of the Resolution of DAR Regional Director for Region IV, Certificates of Land Transfer, Emancipation Patents or CLOAs, which was resolved in favor of cancellation. However, in a Resolution by the DARAB Central Office on the same case dated May 18, 1995, it was ruled that the "decision decreeing the cancellation of the questioned EPs is not enforceable against the recipients as they were not impleaded." Hence, the case was remanded to the Adjudicator of Cavite for further proceedings. Rollo (G.R. No. 132073), pp. 224-225.

8 Id. at 226.

9 Letter of Instruction No. 474 to the Secretary of Agrarian Reform, dated 21 October 1976, places under the Land Transfer Program of the government pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 27, all tenanted rice/corn lands with areas of seven hectares or less belonging to landowners who own other agricultural lands of more than seven hectares in aggregate areas or lands used for residential, commercial, industrial or other urban purposes from which they derive adequate income to support themselves and their families.

10 Rollo (G.R. No. 132073), pp. 272-273.

11 SEC. 3. Definitions. - For the purpose of this Act, unless the context indicates otherwise:

x x x

( c ) Agricultural Land refers to land devoted to agricultural activity as defined in this Act and not classified as mineral, forest, residential, commercial or industrial land.

12 Rollo (G.R. No. 132073), pp. 276-277.

13 Par. 4 of the fallo of the Order of 4 September 1996, states, to wit:

(4) Excluding from the coverage of Agrarian Reform the 19.065 hectare land planted to mango by virtue of Section 3(c) of R.A. No. 6657, subject to the payment of disturbance compensation.

14 DECLARING FULL LAND OWNERSHIP TO QUALIFIED FARMER-BENEFICIARIES COVERED BY P.D. NO. 27; DETERMINING THE VALUE OF REMAINING UNVALUED RICE AND CORN LANDS SUBJECT OF P.D. NO. 27; AND PROVIDING FOR THE MANNER OF PAYMENT BY THE FARMER-BENEFICIARY AND MODE OF COMPENSATION TO THE LANDOWNER; Enacted on 17 July 1987.

15 Rollo (G.R. No. 132073), p. 61.

16 Rollo (G.R. No. 132361), p. 325; In our Resolution dated 26 July 1999, the Court resolved to deny the Petition in G.R. No. 132361 for the failure of counsel of Eduardo Adriano, et al., Atty. Antonio K. Tupaz to comply with our Resolution dated 27 January 1999, requiring him to file the reply to respondent's comment within the period allotted therein. On 22 September 1999, we reconsidered the denial, and reinstated the Petition for further proceeding. G.R. No. 132073 and G.R. No. 132361 were consolidated per our Resolution dated 10 November 2003.

17 URBAN DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING ACT.

18 G.R. No. 103302, 12 August 1993, 225 SCRA 278, 282-284.

19 G.R. NOS. 112526 and 118838, 16 March 2005, 453 SCRA 432, 459-460.

20 Rollo (G.R. No. 132361), pp. 136-199. See also Rollo (G.R. No. 132073), pp. 138-205.

21 On the face of the emancipation patents, it can be gleaned that they were issued on the following dates, viz: 16 March 1989, 20 December 1989, and 21 December 1989.

22 Rollo (G.R. No. 132073), pp. 224-225.

23 The dispositive portion thereof, reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:

1. Declaring the entire land in question consisting of the mango land and riceland formerly under TCT No. T-7707, now TCT Nos. T-240093 to TCT No. T-24101 inclusive and TCT Nos. T-231847 to TCT Nos. T-23154 inclusive as exempted from coverage of P.D. No. 27 and the CARP, considering that the mango land is not subject of coverage by P.D. 27 and considering further, that the entire land have been legally reclassified and converted into non-agricultural uses on 1981 before the CARP Law took effect on June 15, 1988. Undue haste in the coverage of said land under P.D. 27, without CLTs, based on a wrong title, without hearing, amount to denial of due process. Transfer of titles (EPs) without paying the landowner, is also in violation of law. In fine, the Resolution Exh. "D," of the defendant-Regional Director Wilfredo B. Leano, and the Emancipation Patent (E.P.s) issued to the farmers under Exh. "3" to "26" are rendered ineffective, and the cancellation thereof, is in order.

2. Declaring as binding the reclassification and conversion of said land upon the present farmers named in said 25 EPs whose tenancy relationship are (sic) hereby terminated[,] reckoned with at the time of approval of the conversion on 1981, and accordingly, ordering plaintiffs as landowners to pay said farmers the disturbance compensation and other benefits in accordance with law.

3. Allowing plaintiffs to exercise their rights of retention of the land in question pursuant to the CARP Law under the conditions therein prescribed.

4. Allowing plaintiffs to construct a perimeter fence on the portion of land planted to mango trees subject to the restrictions provided by law, and to segregate same from the riceland portion being not within the area covered by the E.Ps of the farmers and not covered by P.D. 27 nor the CARP.

Pursuant to Rule XII, Sec. 2, this decision shall be immediately executory regardless of appeal that may be taken insofar as the mango land is concerned, not the Riceland portion where the farmers-holders of E.P.s are afforeded (sic) their rights to be heard. The mango land, if tenanted, the tenants are entitled to disturbance compensation reckoned with at the time of approval of the conversion on 1981. See Rollo (G.R. No. 132073), pp. 212-213.

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