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Agrarian Law Case Digest

Agrarian Law Case Digest

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Published by: Julius John Ramos Tamayao on Jul 18, 2012
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06/15/2014

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 G.R. No.162070
 Facts
: 
 This is a petition for review filed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) of the Decision andResolution of the Court of Appeals, dated September 19, 2003 and February 4, 2004,respectively, which declared DAR Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 9, series of 1993, null and voidfor being violative of the Constitution. 
 The case involves a land in Aroroy, Masbate, inherited by respondents which has been devotedexclusively to cow and calf breeding. On October 26, 1987, pursuant to the then existing agrarianreform program of the government, respondents made a voluntary offer to sell (VOS) their landholdings to petitioner DAR to avail of certain incentives under the law. 
 On June 10, 1988, a new agrarian law, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6657, also known as theComprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) of 1988, took effect. It included in its coveragefarms used for raising livestock, poultry and swine. 
 On December 4, 1990, in an
en banc 
decision in the case of Luz Farms v. Secretary of DAR, theCourt ruled that lands devoted to livestock and poultry-raising are not included in the definition of agricultural land and declared as unconstitutional certain provisions of the CARL insofar as theyincluded livestock farms in the coverage of agrarian reform. In view of this, respondents filed withpetitioner DAR a formal request to withdraw their VOS as their landholding was devotedexclusively to cattle-raising and thus exempted from the coverage of the CARL. 
 On December 21, 1992, the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer of Aroroy, Masbate, inspectedrespondents' land and found that it was devoted solely to cattle-raising and breeding. Herecommended to the DAR Secretary that it be exempted from the coverage of the CARL. 
 On April 27, 1993, respondents reiterated to petitioner DAR the withdrawal of their VOS andrequested the return of the supporting papers they submitted in connection therewith. Petitioner ignored such request. 
 On December 27, 1993, DAR issued A.O. No. 9, series of 1993, which provided that only portionsof private agricultural lands used for the raising of livestock, poultry and swine as of June 15,1988 shall be excluded from the coverage of the CARL. In determining the area of land to beexcluded, the A.O. fixed the following retention limits,
viz.
: 1:1 animal-land ratio and a ratio of 1.7815 hectares for livestock infrastructure for every 21 heads of cattle shall likewise be excludedfrom the operations of the CARL. 
 On February 4, 1994, respondents wrote the DAR Secretary and advised him to consider as finaland irrevocable the withdrawal of their VOS as, under the Luz Farms doctrine, their entirelandholding is exempted from the CARL. 
 On September 14, 1995, then DAR Secretary Ernesto D. Garilao issued an Order partiallygranting the application of respondents for exemption from the coverage of CARL. Applying theretention limits outlined in the DAR A.O. No. 9, petitioner exempted 1,209 hectares of respondents' land for grazing purposes, and a maximum of 102.5635 hectares for infrastructure.Petitioner ordered the rest of respondents' landholding to be segregated and placed under Compulsory Acquisition. 
 Respondents moved for reconsideration, contending that their entire landholding should beexempted as it is devoted exclusively to cattle-raising. Said motion was denied. Respondentsfiled a notice of appeal with the Office of the President assailing: (1) the reasonableness and
 
validity of DAR A.O. No. 9, s. 1993, which provided for a ratio between land and livestock indetermining the land area qualified for exclusion from the CARL, and (2) the constitutionality of DAR A.O. No. 9, s. 1993, in view of the Luz Farms case which declared cattle-raising landsexcluded from the coverage of agrarian reform. The OP affirmed the impugned order. On appealto CA, the CA ruled in favor of respondents and declared A.O. No. 9, Series of 1993 as void. 
Issue
: 
 
Whether or not DAR Administrative Order No. 09, Series of 1993 which prescribes a maximum retention for owners of lands devoted to livestock raising is constitutional? 
 
Held
: 
 The impugned A.O. is invalid as it contravenes the Constitution. The A.O. sought to regulatelivestock farms by including them in the coverage of agrarian reform and prescribing a maximumretention limit for their ownership. However, the deliberations of the 1987 ConstitutionalCommission show a clear intent to exclude,
inter alia,
all lands exclusively devoted to livestock,swine and poultry-raising. The Court clarified in the Luz Farms case that livestock, swine andpoultry-raising are industrial activities and do not fall within the definition of "agriculture" or "agricultural activity." The raising of livestock, swine and poultry is different from crop or treefarming. It is an industrial, not an agricultural, activity. A great portion of the investment in thisenterprise is in the form of industrial fixed assets, such as: animal housing structures andfacilities, drainage, waterers and blowers, feedmill with grinders, mixers, conveyors, exhausts andgenerators, extensive warehousing facilities for feeds and other supplies, anti-pollution equipmentlike bio-gas and digester plants augmented by lagoons and concrete ponds, deepwells, elevatedwater tanks, pumphouses, sprayers, and other technological appurtenance. 
 Petitioner DAR has no power to regulate livestock farms which have been exempted by theConstitution from the coverage of agrarian reform. It has exceeded its power in issuing theassailed A.O. 
 Moreover, it is a fundamental rule of statutory construction that the reenactment of a statute byCongress without substantial change is an implied legislative approval and adoption of theprevious law. On the other hand, by making a new law, Congress seeks to supersede an earlier one. In the case at bar, after the passage of the 1988 CARL, Congress enacted R.A. No. 7881which amended certain provisions of the CARL. Specifically, the new law changed the definitionof the terms "agricultural activity" and "commercial farming" by dropping from its coverage landsthat are devoted to commercial livestock, poultry and swine-raising. With this significantmodification, Congress clearly sought to align the provisions of our agrarian laws with the intent of the 1987 Constitutional Commission to exclude livestock farms from the coverage of agrarianreform. 
 It is doctrinal that rules of administrative bodies must be in harmony with the provisions of theConstitution. They cannot amend or extend the Constitution. To be valid, they must conform toand be consistent with the Constitution. In case of conflict between an administrative order andthe provisions of the Constitution, the latter prevails. The assailed A.O. of petitioner DAR wasproperly stricken down as unconstitutional as it enlarges the coverage of agrarian reform beyondthe scope intended by the 1987 Constitution. 
 
 Tolentino was the owner of two parcels of land and a caretaker of another. The said parcels weretenanted by Castillo who promised to remit lease rentals to Tolentino. Castillo wrote the PARO informingthe latter of his intention to construct a water reservoir. Tolentino also received a copy of the letter andopposed the same. Despite this, Castillo proceeded with the construction of the water dike. Tolentino fileda case for ejectment. PARAD ruled for the ejectment of Castillo. DARAB initially affirmed the Decision butreversed itself in a Motion for Reconsideration. CA reinstated the Decision of the PARAD since it held thatthe appeal was filed out of time. 
1. OBLIGATIONS OF A TENANT WITH RESPECT TO CONSTRUCTION OF IMPROVEMENTSON THE LANDHOLDING
 Section 32 of R.A. No. 3844 specifically requires notice to and consent of the agricultural lessor before the agricultural lessee may embark upon the construction of a permanent irrigation system.It is only when the former refuses to bear the expenses of construction that the latter may chooseto shoulder the same. More importantly, any change in the use of tillable land in theleasehold,
e.g.
through the construction of a sizeable water reservoir, impacts upon the agriculturallessor's share in the harvest, which is the only consideration he receives under the agrarian law.This being the case, before the agricultural lessee may use the leasehold for a purpose other thanwhat had been agreed upon, the consent of the agricultural lessor must be obtained, lest he bedispossessed of his leasehold. The law (Sec. 32 of R.A. No. 3844) does not give blanket authority to the agricultural lessee toconstruct an irrigation system at anytime and for any reason; instead, it presupposes primarily thatthe same is necessary. 
2. IMPLIED OBLIGATION OF A TENANT
 The fact that CASTILLO was convicted by final judgment of an offense against TOLENTINO's son,George, demonstrates how relations between the two have deteriorated. While R.A. No. 3844authorizes termination by the agricultural lessee of the lease for a crime committed by theagricultural lessor against the former or any member of his immediate farm household, the sameprivilege is not granted to the agricultural lessor. Yet, this does not mean that the courts should nottake into account the circumstance that the agricultural lessee committed a crime against theagricultural lessor or any member of his immediate family. By committing a crime againstTOLENTINO's son, CASTILLO violated his obligation to his lessor to act with justice, giveeveryone his due, and observe honesty and good faith, an obligation that is deemed included in hisleasehold agreement. Provisions of existing laws form part of and are read into every contractwithout need for the parties expressly making reference to them. 
3. VIOLATION OF OBLIGATION OF A TENANT
GROUND FOR DISPOSSESSION
 In sum, we hold that the construction of the reservoir constitutes a violation of Section 36 of R.A.No. 3844, an unauthorized use of the landholding for a purpose other than what had been agreedupon, and a violation of the leasehold contract between CASTILLO and TOLENTINO, for which theformer is hereby penalized with permanent dispossession of his leasehold.SEAHcT 

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