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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 143275. September 10, 2002.]

LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. ARLENE DE LEON and BERNARDO DE LEON, Respondents.

D E C I S I O N


CORONA, J.:


Before us is a petition for review of the resolution, 1 dated February 15, 2000, of the Court of Appeals 2 dismissing the ordinary appeal of petitioner Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP, for brevity), and resolution 3 dated May 22, 2000 denying the motion for reconsideration thereof.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

The undisputed facts as found by the appellate court are as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

The petitioners-appellees Arlene de Leon and Bernardo de Leon are the registered owners of a parcel of land situated at San Agustin, Concepcion, Tarlac covered by TCT No. 163051 with a total area of 50.1171 hectares. The subject property was voluntarily offered for sale to the government pursuant to RA 6657 at P50,000.00 per hectare. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) made a counter offer of P17,656.20 per hectare, or a total amount of P884,877.54, but the same was rejected. Another offer was made by DAR increasing the amount to P1,565,369.35. In view of the petitioners-appellees’ failure to respond to the new offer made by DAR, the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) took cognizance of the case pursuant to Sec. 16 (d) of RA 6657. Subsequently, the DARAB issued an Order directing respondent-appellant LBP to recompute the value of the subject property in accordance with DAR Administrative Order No. 6, Series of 1992. Applying the pertinent provisions of the said DAR administrative order, respondent-appellant arrived at a recomputed land value as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Land Use Area Acquired Value/hectare Total/Land Value

Sugarland 32.4187 P61,758.85 P2,002,141.63

Riceland 16.6984 P28,449.80 P475,066.14

Idle land 1.0000 P14,523.78 P14,523.78

or an aggregate amount of P2,491,731.65, which was again rejected by the Petitioners-Appellees.

In a Petition dated October 27, 1994, filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 63, Tarlac, which is the designated Special Agrarian Court in the area, petitioners-appellees asked the court, among others, to fix the just compensation of the subject property.

In due time the court rendered a summary judgment on December 19, 1997 fixing the compensation of the subject property as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

a. P1,260,000.00 for the 16.69 hectares of riceland;

b. P2,957,250.00 for the 30.4160 hectares of sugarland.

Within the time allowed, respondent-appellant filed a Motion for Reconsideration which was subsequently denied by the Court. 4

x       x       x


On March 17, 1998, the Department of Agrarian Reform filed in the Court of Appeals a petition for review of the decision of the Special Agrarian Court. The said petition, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 47005, was assigned to the Special Third (3rd) Division of the Court of Appeals. Petitioner LBP also initiated in the Court of Appeals an appeal of the same decision of the Special Agrarian Court by filing a notice of appeal. Docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 60365, the said ordinary appeal was assigned to the Fourth (4th) Division of the Court of Appeals.

On November 6, 1998, the Special Third (3rd) Division of the appellate court, through then Associate Justice Minerva Gonzaga-Reyes, 5 rendered in CA-G.R. SP No. 47005 a decision, 6 the dispositive portion of which reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review is GIVEN DUE COURSE. The decision dated February 9, 1998 is partially reconsidered. The trial court is ordered to recompute the compensation based on the selling price of palay at 213.00 per cavan. Petitioner is ordered to pay legal interest at 6% of the compensation so fixed from 1990 until full payment is made by the government.

SO ORDERED. 7

Thereafter, on February 15, 2000, the Fourth (4th) Division of the Court of Appeals dismissed petitioner LBP’s ordinary appeal (CA-G.R. CV No. 60365), in a resolution dated February 15, 2000, the dispositive portion of which reads:chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED for lack of merit. 8

In dismissing the ordinary appeal (CA-G.R. CV No. 60365) instituted by petitioner LBP, the appellate court reasoned that the mode of appeal followed by the petitioner was erroneous considering that Section 60 of RA 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, mandates that appeals from decisions of Special Agrarian Courts should be by petition for review. Therefore, the notice of appeal filed by LBP was ineffectual and did not stop the running of the period of appeal. Also, the appellate court took note of the decision rendered by the Special Third (3rd) Division of the same court involving the same issue and parties, to wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

All these notwithstanding LBP does not stand to lose anything at all. While it did suffer a setback in this instant case LBP in one way or the other still we note that it is likewise victorious in the appeal brought by the DAR (CA-G.R. SP 47005). In a decision rendered on November 6, 1998 this court ordered the trial court to recompute the compensation based on the selling price of palay at P213.00 per cavan. Thus to this effect with more reason that we should deny the appeal — even granting the mode of appeal as availed of is correct — to avoid any contradiction of this division’s with that of the other. 9

Petitioner LBP filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied in a resolution dated May 22, 2000.

Hence, this petition questioning the resolutions of the Fourth (4th) Division of the Court of Appeals on the following assignment of errors:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

I


IN RULING THAT SECTION 60 OF RA 6657 PROVIDES THE PROPER MODE FOR THE REVIEW OF THE DECISIONS OF THE SPECIAL AGRARIAN COURTS DESPITE SECTION 61 OF RA 6657 WHICH EXPRESSLY MANDATES THAT THE RULES OF COURT SHALL GOVERN THE REVIEW OF THE DECISIONS OF THE SPECIAL AGRARIAN COURTS BY THE COURT OF APPEALS;

II


IN NOT RECOGNIZING THAT SECTION 61 OF RA 6657 PREVAILS OVER SECTION 60 OF RA 6657, INASMUCH AS THE MODE OF APPEAL OF A COURT’S DECISION IS A MATTER OF PROCEDURE WHICH IS COVERED BY THE EXCLUSIVE RULE-MAKING POWER OF THE SUPREME COURT UNDER SECTION 5(5), ARTICLE VIII OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE;

III


IN DECLARING THAT THE SUPREME COURT MERELY MADE AN INADVERTENT "MISTAKE" IN REVISING SECTION 1, RULE 43 OF THE RULES OF COURT AND REMOVING THE DECISIONS OF THE SPECIAL AGRARIAN COURT FROM THE LIST OF THOSE APPEALABLE TO THE COURT OF APPEALS BY PETITION FOR REVIEW; AND

IV


IN DISMISSING THE APPEAL OF THE PETITIONER, DESPITE ITS RULING THAT THE SUPREME COURT MADE A MISTAKE IN ITS ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS, RENDERING SUCH DISMISSAL AS HIGHLY UNJUST, OPPRESSIVE AND CONTRARY TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW. 10

The case at bar requires an interpretation of Sections 60 and 61 of RA 6657. The said provisions provide that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Section 60. Appeals. — An appeal may be taken from the decision of the Special Agrarian Courts by filing a petition for review with the Court of Appeals within fifteen (15) days from receipt of notice of the decision; otherwise, the decision shall become final.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Section 61. Procedure in Review. — Review by the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, shall be governed by the Rules of Court. The Court of Appeals, however, may require the parties to file simultaneous memoranda within a period of fifteen (15) days from notice, after which the case is deemed submitted for decision.

Respondent spouses point to Section 60 of RA 6657 to support their view that the mode of appeal initiated by petitioner LBP was erroneous. On the other hand, petitioner LBP believes that the mode of appeal it used is permissible under Section 61 of the same law.

What indeed is the proper mode of appeal from decisions of the Regional Trial Courts, sitting as Special Agrarian Courts, in the determination of just compensation — an appeal by way of a petition for review or an ordinary appeal?

Section 2 of Rule 41 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure provides for three modes of appeal, to wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Sec. 2. Modes of Appeal. —

(a) Ordinary appeal. — The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction shall be taken by filing a notice of appeal with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party. No record on appeal shall be required except in special proceedings and other cases or multiple or separate appeals where the law or these Rules so require. In such cases, the record on appeal shall be filed and served in like manner.

(b) Petition for Review. — The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction shall be by petition for review in accordance with Rule 42.

(c) Appeal by Certiorari. — In all cases where only questions of law are raised or involved, the appeal shall be to the Supreme Court by petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45.

Petitioner LBP, in its bid to maintain the legitimacy of its appeal, contends that the proper mode of appeal from a decision of the Special Agrarian Court is by way of a notice of appeal due to the reference by Section 61 of RA 6657 to the Rules of Court as the governing procedure for appeals to the Court of Appeals. This being the case, the petitioner claims that the procedure for ordinary appealed cases provided for in Section 2(a) of Rule 41 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure must be followed, that is, a notice of appeal is required in order to perfect the appeal. According to the petitioner, this is the proper mode of appeal in the case at bar considering that the appealed decision is that of the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction. Moreover, Section 1 of Rule 43 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure 11 (pertaining to appeals by way of petitions for review to the Court of Appeals of decisions of quasi-judicial agencies and the Court of Tax Appeals), does not include decisions of the Regional Trial Courts acting as Special Agrarian Courts.

We deny the petition.

A petition for review, not an ordinary appeal, is the proper procedure in effecting an appeal from decisions of the Regional Trial Courts acting as Special Agrarian Courts in cases involving the determination of just compensation to the landowners concerned. Section 60 of RA 6657 clearly and categorically states that the said mode of appeal should be adopted. There is no room for a contrary interpretation. Where the law is clear and categorical, there is no room for construction, but only application. 12

According to the petitioner, Section 61 of RA 6657 should be followed, not Section 60. The reference by Section 61 to the Rules of Court implies that an ordinary appeal requiring a notice of appeal is the proper manner of appealing decisions of Special Agrarian Courts on just compensation because Section 2(a) of Rule 41 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure provides that decisions of the Regional Trial Courts in the exercise of their original jurisdiction follow the procedure governing ordinary appeals.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

We do not agree.

First, there is no conflict between Section 60 and 61 of RA 6657 inasmuch as the Rules of Court do not at all prescribe the procedure for ordinary appeals as the proper mode of appeal for decisions of Special Agrarian Courts. Section 61 in fact makes no more than a general reference to the Rules of Court and does not even mention the procedure for ordinary appeals in Section 2, Rule 41 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure as the appropriate method of elevating to the Court of Appeals decisions of Special Agrarian Courts in eminent domain cases.

Second, the failure to mention Special Agrarian Courts in Section 1 of Rule 43 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure cannot be construed to mean that a petition for review is not permissible for decisions of the said special courts. In fact, the said Rule is not relevant to determine whether a petition for review is the proper mode of appeal from decisions of Regional Trial Courts in agrarian cases, that is, when they act as Special Agrarian Courts. Section 1 of Rule 43 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure merely mentions the Court of Tax Appeals and the other different quasi-judicial agencies without exclusivity in its phraseology. Such omission cannot be construed to justify the contention that a petition for review is prohibited for decisions on special agrarian cases inasmuch as the category is for quasi-judicial agencies and tax courts to which the Regional Trial Courts do not properly belong. Although Supreme Court Circular No. 1-91 13 (precursor to Rule 43 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure) included the decisions of Special Agrarian Courts in the enumeration requiring petition for review, its non-inclusion later on in Rule 43 merely signifies that it was inappropriately classified as a quasi-judicial agency.

What is indisputable is that Section 60 expressly regards a petition for review as the proper way of appealing decisions of agrarian courts. So far, there is no rule prescribed by this Court expressly disallowing the said procedure.

Third, far from being in conflict, Section 61 of RA 6657 can easily be harmonized with Section 60. The reference to the Rules of Court means that the specific rules for petitions for review in the Rules of Court and other relevant procedures in appeals filed before the Court of Appeals shall be followed in appealed decisions of Special Agrarian Courts. Considering that RA 6657 cannot and does not provide the details on how the petition for review shall be conducted, a suppletory application of the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court is necessary. In fact, Section 61 uses the word "review" to designate the mode by which the appeal is to be effected. The reference therefore by Section 61 to the Rules of Court only means that the procedure under Rule 42 for petitions for review is to be followed for appeals in agrarian cases.

According to the petitioner, an ordinary appeal prescribed under the Rules of Court should prevail over a petition for review provided under Section 60 of RA 6657 inasmuch as a contrary interpretation would violate the constitutional provision granting to the Supreme Court the power to "promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleadings, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and Legal Assistance to the underprivileged." (Emphasis supplied) 14

As earlier mentioned, there is nothing in the Rules of Court that categorically prohibits the adoption of the procedure for petitions for review of decisions of Special Agrarian Courts. Section 60 of RA 6657 and the provisions of the Rules of Court can be harmonized and can co-exist.

Moreover, the same Section 5(5), Article VIII, of the 1987 Philippine Constitution quoted by the petitioner states that" (r)ules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court." Section 60 is obviously a special procedure. Contrary to the petitioner’s contention, it cannot be otherwise merely because it was formulated by the legislature and not by any special body. As long as the said section provides for a particular process for the governance of the special court concerned, the provision is accurately classified as a special procedure. Subject to constitutional limitations, the statutory enactment of a special procedure cannot be said to encroach on the power of this Court to formulate rules of procedure for the reason that we have not yet provided for a particular process specifically governing agrarian courts. In fact, this Court exercises its constitutional power to promulgate special rules of procedure by adopting Sections 60 and 61 of RA 6657 declaring a petition for review as the proper mode of appeal to the Court of Appeals.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

The reason why it is permissible to adopt a petition for review when appealing cases decided by the Special Agrarian Courts in eminent domain cases is the need for absolute dispatch in the determination of just compensation. Just compensation means not only paying the correct amount but also paying for the land within a reasonable time from its acquisition. Without prompt payment, compensation cannot be considered "just" for the property owner is made to suffer the consequences of being immediately deprived of his land while being made to wait for a decade or more before actually receiving the amount necessary to cope with his loss. 15 Such objective is more in keeping with the nature of a petition for review.

Unlike an ordinary appeal, a petition for review dispenses with the filing of a notice of appeal or completion of records as requisites before any pleading is submitted. A petition for review hastens the award of fair recompense to deprived landowners for the government-acquired property, an end not foreseeable in an ordinary appeal. This is exemplified by the case at bar in which the petition for review before the Special Third (3rd) Division (CA-G.R. SP No. 47005) was disposed of way ahead of the ordinary appeal filed before the Fourth (4th) Division (CA-G.R. CV No. 60365) in the Court of Appeals.

Inasmuch as the notice of appeal filed by petitioner LBP did not stop the running of the reglementary period to file a petition for review, the time to appeal the decision of the Special Agrarian Court has lapsed, rendering the said decision final and executory.

WHEREFORE, the appealed RESOLUTIONS, dated February 15, 2000, and May 22, 2000, respectively, of the Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Puno, Panganiban and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.

Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., is on leave.

Endnotes:



1. Penned by Associate Justice Romeo Brawner and concurred in by Associate Justices Fermin Martin, Jr. and Renato C. Dacudao; Rollo, pp. 7-13.

2. Fourth Division.

3. Rollo, p. 14.

4 Rollo, pp. 7-8.

5. Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

6. Rollo, pp. 96-102.

7. Rollo, p. 101.

8. Rollo, p. 13.

9. Rollo, pp. 12-13.

10. Rollo, pp. 24-25.

11. Section 1. Scope. — This Rule shall apply to appeals from judgments or final orders of the Court of Tax Appeals and from awards, judgments, final orders or resolutions of or authorized by any quasi-judicial agency in the exercise of its quasi-judicial functions. Among these agencies are the Civil Service Commission, Central Board of Assessment Appeals, Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of the President, Land Registration Authority, Social Security Commission, Civil Aeronautics Board, Bureau of Patents, Trademarks and Technology Transfer, National Electrification Administration, Energy Regulatory Board, National Telecommunications Commission, Department of Agrarian Reform under Republic Act No. 6657, Government Service Insurance System, Employees Compensation Commission, Philippine Atomic Energy Commission, Board of Investments, Construction Industry Arbitration Commission, and voluntary arbitrators authorized by law.

12. National Telecommunications Commission v. Court of Appeals, 311 SCRA 508, 514 (1999).

13. The Circular is entitled "Prescribing the Rules Governing Appeals to the Court of Appeals from a Final Order or Decision of the Court of Tax Appeals and Quasi-Judicial Agencies."cralaw virtua1aw library

14. Section 5(5), Article VIII, 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

15. Estate of Salud Jimenez v. Philippine Export Processing Zone, 349 SCRA 240, 264 (2001).

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