Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 174588 December 11, 2013 DAV AO NEW TOWN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioner, vs. SPOUSES GLORIA ESPINO SALIGA and CESAR SALIGA, and SPOUSES DEMETRIO EHARA and ROBERTA SUGUE EHARA, Respondents.

The subject property had been
reclassified as non-agricultural prior
to June 15, 1988; hence, they are no
longer covered by R.A. No. 6657
At the core of the controversy is the questioned reclassification of the property to non-agricultural uses. This issue is intertwined with and on which depends the resolution of the issue concerning the claimed agricultural leasehold relationship.
In reversing the PARAD and holding that the property was still agricultural, the DARAB considered the Comprehensive Development Plan (approved by the HSRC through Board Resolution R-39-4 dated July 31, 1980) and Davao City Ordinance No. 363, series of 1982 (adopting the Comprehensive Development Plan) as invalid reclassification measures. It gave as reason the absence of the requisite certification from the HLURB and the approval of the DAR. In the alternative, and citing P.D. No. 27, in relation with R.A. No. 6657, as basis, the DARAB considered the alleged reclassification ineffective so as to free the property from the legal effects of P.D. No. 27 that deemed it taken under the government’s operation land transfer (OLT) program as of October 21, 1972.
We differ from, and cannot accept, the DARAB’s position.
We hold that the property had been reclassified to non-agricultural uses and was, therefore, already outside the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) after it took effect on July 15, 1988.
1. Power of the local government units to
reclassify lands from agricultural to nonagricultural
uses; the DAR approval is not
required
Indubitably, the City Council of Davao City has the authority to adopt zoning resolutions and ordinances. Under Section 3 of R.A. No. 226430 (the then governing Local Government Code), municipal and/or city officials are specifically empowered to "adopt zoning and subdivision ordinances or regulations in consultation with the National Planning Commission."31
In Pasong Bayabas Farmers Asso., Inc. v. Court of Appeals,32 the Court held that this power of the local government units to reclassify or convert lands to non-agricultural uses is not subject to the approval of the DAR.33 There, the Court affirmed the authority of the Municipal Council of Carmona to issue a zoning classification and to reclassify the property in dispute from agricultural to residential through the Council’s Kapasiyahang Bilang 30, as approved by the HSRC.
In the subsequent case of Junio v. Secretary Garilao,34 this Court clarified, once and for all, that "with respect to areas classified and identified as zonal areas not for agricultural uses, like those approved by the HSRC before the effectivity of RA 6657 on June 15, 1988, the DAR’s clearance is no longer necessary for conversion."35 The Court in that case declared the disputed landholding as validly reclassified from agricultural to residential pursuant to Resolution No. 5153-A of the City Council of Bacolod.
Citing the cases of Pasong Bayabas Farmers Asso., Inc. and Junio, this Court arrived at significantly similar ruling in the case of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (ARBA) v. Nicolas.36
Based on these considerations, we hold that the property had been validly reclassified as non-agricultural land prior to June 15, 1988. We note the following facts established in the records that support this conclusion: (1) the Davao City Planning and Development Board prepared the Comprehensive Development Plan for the year 1979-2000 in order to provide for a comprehensive zoning plan for Davao City; (2) the HSRC approved this Comprehensive Development Plan through Board Resolution R-39-4 dated July 31, 1980; (3) the HLURB confirmed the approval per the certification issued on April 26, 2006;37 (4) the City Council of Davao City adopted the Comprehensive Development Plan through its Resolution No. 894 and City Ordinance No. 363, series of 1982;38 (5) the Office of the City Planning and Development Coordinator, Office of the Zoning Administrator expressly certified on June 15, 1995 that per City Ordinance No. 363, series of 1982 as amended by S.P. Resolution No. 2843, Ordinance No. 561, series of 1992, the property (located in barangay Catalunan Pequeño) is within an "urban/urbanizing" zone;39 (6) the Office of the City Agriculturist confirmed the above classification and further stated that the property is not classified as prime agricultural land and is not irrigated nor covered by an irrigation project as certified by the National Irrigation Administration, per the certification issued on December 4, 1998;40 and (7) the HLURB, per certification dated May 2, 1996,41 quoted the April 8, 1996 certification issued by the Office of the City Planning and Development Coordinator stating that "the Mintal District which includes barangay Catalunan Pequeño, is identified as one of the ‘urbaning [sic] district centers and priority areas and for development and investments’ in Davao City."

FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 200454 October 22, 2014 HOLY TRINITY REALTY & DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioner, vs. VICTORIO DELA CRUZ, LORENZO MANALAYSAY, RICARDO MARCELO, JR. and LEONCIO DE GUZMAN, Respondents.

The Dakila property was not an agricultural land within the coverage of R.A.No. 6657 or P.D. No. 27
The CA declared that the Dakila property as an agricultural land; and that there was no valid reclassification under Municipal Resolution No. 16-98 because the law required an ordinance, not a resolution.
We agree in part with the CA.
Under Republic Act No. 7160, local government units, such as the Municipality of Malolos, Bulacan, are vested with the power to reclassify lands. However, Section 20, Chapter II, Title I of Republic Act No. 7160 ordains:
Section 20. Reclassification of Lands. – (a) A city or municipality may, through an ordinance passed by the sanggunian after conducting public hearings for the purpose, authorize the reclassification of agricultural lands and provide for the manner of their utilization or disposition in the following cases: (1) when the land ceases to be economically feasible and sound for agricultural purposes as determined by the Department of Agriculture or(2) where the land shall have substantially greater economic value for residential, commercial, or industrial purposes, as determined by the sanggunian concerned: x x x. (Emphasis supplied)
Clearly, an ordinance is required in order to reclassify agricultural lands, and such may only be passed after the conduct of public hearings.
The petitioner claims the reclassification on the basis of Municipal Resolution No. 16-98. Given the foregoing clarifications, however, the resolution was ineffectual for that purpose. A resolution was a mere declaration of the sentiment or opinionof the lawmaking body on a specific matter that was temporary in nature, and differed from an ordinance in that the latter was a law by itself and possessed a general and permanent character.49 We also note that the petitioner did not show if the requisite public hearings were conducted at all.In the absence of any valid and complete reclassification,therefore, the Dakila property remained under the category of an agricultural land.
Nonetheless, the Dakila property was not an agricultural land subject to the coverage of Republic Act No. 6657 or Presidential Decree No. 27.

THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 171674 August 4, 2009 DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM (DAR), represented by HON. NASSER C. PANGANDAMAN, in his capacity as DAR OIC-Secretary, Petitioner, vs. CARMEN S. TONGSON, Respondent.

The date of taking of the subject land for purposes of computing just compensation should be reckoned from the issuance dates of the emancipation patents. An emancipation patent constitutes the conclusive authority for the issuance of a Transfer Certificate of Title in the name of the grantee. It is from the issuance of an emancipation patent that the grantee can acquire the vested right of ownership in the landholding, subject to the payment of just compensation to the landowner.30G.R. No. 168533, February 4, 2008, 543 SCRA 627, 640.

FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 153817 March 31, 2006 NOLITO D. SOLMAYOR, VICENTE LASTIMA, JUANITO B. SUAREZ, GERVACIO BATAUSA (dec.) represented by Antonio Batausa, VICTORIANO CANDIA, PRIMITIVO BORRES (dec.) represented by Rogelio Borres, TIBURCIO MANULAT (dec.) represented by Teresita Manulat Palaca, PATRICIO ASTACAAN, JUANITO AMIGABLE, OZITA MENDOZA, LUIS CANDOG (dec.) represented by Jovencia Candog and SABINO CELADES (dec.) represented by Sergia Estante, Petitioners, vs. ANTONIO L. ARROYO, Respondent.

The crux of this case is whether or not grounds exist to warrant the cancellation of CLTs and EPs issued to appellees as the identified tenant-beneficiaries on the land. The determination of this issue in turn hinges on the question of whether or not the subject land is exempt under OLT coverage of PD 27.
In the recent case of Eudosia Daez vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 133507, February 17, 2000, the Supreme Court set forth the requirements for coverage under the OLT program in this wise:
"PD 27, which implemented the Operation Land Transfer (OLT) Program, covers tenanted rice or corn lands. The requisites for coverage under the OLT Program are the following: (1) the land must be devoted to rice or corn crops; and (2) there must be a system of share-crop or lease tenancy obtaining therein. If either requisite is absent, a landowner may apply for exemption. If either for [sic] those requisites is absent, the land is not covered under OLT.
x x x x
Thus, on one hand, exemption from coverage of OLT lies if: (1) the land is not devoted to rice or corn crops even if it is tenanted; or (2) the land is untenanted even though it is devoted to rice or corn crops."
Guided by the foregoing, it is essential to determine whether or not tenancy relationship exists between Mr. Arroyo and the appellees. In the absence of the all important element of tenancy, the subject land falls outside OLT coverage of PD 27 even if incidentally it is devoted to rice and/or corn. In the case of Prudential Bank vs. Gapultos, 181 SCRA 160 [1990], the Supreme Court lists the requisites essential for the establishment of tenancy relationship, thus:
"The essential requisites of tenancy relationship are: (1) the parties are the landowner and the tenant; (2) the subject is agricultural land; (3) there is consent; (4) the purpose is agricultural production; (5) there is personal cultivation; and (6) there is sharing of harvests. All these requisites must concur in order to create a tenancy relationship between the parties. The absence of one does not make an occupant of a parcel of land, or a cultivator thereof, or a planter thereon, a de jure tenant. Unless a person has established his status as a de jure tenant, he is not entitled to security of tenure nor is he covered by Land Reform Program of the government under existing tenancy laws."

x x x x

 
Applying the above-stated requirements in the case at bar, we find the absence of tenancy relationship between the parties. Firstly, subject land is not an agricultural land, as the term is understood. Uncontroverted evidence shows that the subject land had been classified as residential/commercial even prior to the effectivity of PD 27. Per Official Zoning Map of the City of Davao adopted under Resolution No. 711, Ordinance No. 281, s. of 1972 (p. 243, Records), the land was classified as "Commercial Zone and Residential Zone Class B". This classification confirmed the residential character of the subject land as appearing in Mr. Arroyo’s tax declarations filed way back in 1968 (pp. 187-190, Records). x x x
The residential character of the subject property is likewise confirmed by the following government agencies or offices:
1. The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), Davao City, which issued a Zoning Certification to the effect that the subject land is within the Residential/Commercial Zone under the Zoning Ordinance of Davao City adopted through a Sangguniang Bayan Resolution and ratified by the HLURB, through Board Resolution No. 39-4, s. of 1980 dated July 31, 1980 (p. 208, Records).
2. The Office of the Zoning Administrator, City of Davao, certifying to the effect that the subject land is within a Residential Zone Class "B" in the Zonification Ordinance of Davao City (p. 126, Records).
3. The Bureau of Soils of then Ministry of Agriculture, Davao City, which submitted a Certification to the effect that the subject land is suitable for urban use/housing projects (p. 127, Records).
4. The Office of the City Planning and Development Coordinator, Office of the Zoning Administrator, certifying to the effect that the subject land was classified as Major Commercial Zone (C-2) and High Density Residential Zone (R-2) in the City Ordinance No. 363, s. of 1982 or better known as Expanded Zoning Ordinance of Davao City (p. 160, Records).
To cap it all, even the DAR Provincial Task Force on Illegal Conversion, after conducting on April 10, 2000 an investigation on the reported illegal conversion of the subject land, admitted on its report of June 2, 2000 that it is no longer agricultural, it being classified as commercial and residential zones. Consequently, they ruled out any act of illegal conversion. 

x x x

 
Secondly, the records show that the land in dispute was never intended for agricultural production. For one, no agricultural improvements were introduced upon the land since its acquisition by Mr. Arroyo in 1951. In fact, for more than a decade since 1972, the disputed land was subject of numerous business proposals (attached to Appeal/Memorandum) from various land developers for purposes of developing it into a residential and commercial area. For another, the subject property is situated in a commercial and residential area. As the records show, it is adjacent to the Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS) subdivision and other residential or commercial establishments, and surrounded by GSIS Heights, Villa Josefina Subdivision, Flores Village, Central Park Subdivision, Poly Subdivision, San Miguel Village, New Matina Golf Club, Davao Memorial Park, Shrine of the Infant Jesus, Matina Public Market and Venees hotel.
The fact that appellees may perhaps have planted rice or corn on the said land, situated in the middle of what appears to be a fast growing residential and business area in the heart of a metropolitan area, is of little moment. Such agricultural activity cannot, by any strained interpretation of law, amount to converting the land in question into agricultural land and subject it to the agrarian reform program of the government. The Supreme Court in Hilario vs. Intermediate Appellate Court (supra) held that:
"x x x. But even if the claim of the private respondent that some corn was planted on the lots is true, this does not convert residential land into agricultural land.
The presumption assumed by the appellate court, that a parcel of land which is located in a poblacion is not necessarily devoted to residential purposes, is wrong. It should be the other way around. A lot inside the poblacion should be presumed residential, or commercial or non-agricultural unless there is clearly preponderant evidence to show that it is agricultural." (underlining supplied)
Clearly, therefore, two (2) requisites – that the land is agricultural and that the purpose thereof is agricultural production – necessary to establish the existence of tenancy relationship between Mr. Arroyo and the appellees are absent. On the other requirements for the creation of tenancy relationship, suffice it to reiterate the well-established rule that "[A]ll these requisites must concur in order to create a tenancy relationship between the parties. The absence of one does not make an occupant of a parcel of land, or a cultivator thereof, or a planter thereon, a de jure tenant. Unless a person has established his status as a de jure tenant, he is not entitled to security of tenure nor is he covered by Land Reform Program of the government under existing tenancy laws" (Prudential Bank v. Gapultos, supra).