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175 SCRA 343 Political Law Constitutional Law Bill of Rights Equal Protection

Valid Classification
Eminent Domain Just Compensation
These are four consolidated cases questioning the constitutionality of the Comprehensive
Agrarian Reform Act (R.A. No. 6657 and related laws i.e., Agrarian Land Reform Code or
R.A. No. 3844).
Brief background: Article XIII of the Constitution on Social Justice and Human Rights
includes a call for the adoption by the State of an agrarian reform program. The State shall,
by law, undertake an agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers and regular
farmworkers, who are landless, to own directly or collectively the lands they till or, in the
case of other farmworkers, to receive a just share of the fruits thereof. RA 3844 was
enacted in 1963. P.D. No. 27 was promulgated in 1972 to provide for the compulsory
acquisition of private lands for distribution among tenant-farmers and to specify maximum
retention limits for landowners. In 1987, President Corazon Aquino issued E.O. No. 228,
declaring full land ownership in favor of the beneficiaries of PD 27 and providing for the
valuation of still unvalued lands covered by the decree as well as the manner of their
payment. In 1987, P.P. No. 131, instituting a comprehensive agrarian reform program
(CARP) was enacted; later, E.O. No. 229, providing the mechanics for its (PP131s)
implementation, was also enacted. Afterwhich is the enactment of R.A. No. 6657,
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law in 1988. This law, while considerably changing the
earlier mentioned enactments, nevertheless gives them suppletory effect insofar as they are
not inconsistent with its provisions.
[Two of the consolidated cases are discussed below]
G.R. No. 78742: (Association of Small Landowners vs Secretary)
The Association of Small Landowners in the Philippines, Inc. sought exception from the land
distribution scheme provided for in R.A. 6657. The Association is comprised of landowners
of ricelands and cornlands whose landholdings do not exceed 7 hectares. They invoke that
since their landholdings are less than 7 hectares, they should not be forced to distribute
their land to their tenants under R.A. 6657 for they themselves have shown willingness to till
their own land. In short, they want to be exempted from agrarian reform program because
they claim to belong to a different class.
G.R. No. 79777: (Manaay vs Juico)

Nicolas Manaay questioned the validity of the agrarian reform laws (PD 27, EO 228, and
229) on the ground that these laws already valuated their lands for the agrarian reform
program and that the specific amount must be determined by the Department of Agrarian
Reform (DAR). Manaay averred that this violated the principle in eminent domain which
provides that only courts can determine just compensation. This, for Manaay, also
violated due process for under the constitution, no property shall be taken for public use
without just compensation.
Manaay also questioned the provision which states that landowners may be paid for their
land in bonds and not necessarily in cash. Manaay averred that just compensation has
always been in the form of money and not in bonds.
1. Whether or not there was a violation of the equal protection clause.
2. Whether or not there is a violation of due process.
3. Whether or not just compensation, under the agrarian reform program, must be in terms
of cash.
1. No. The Association had not shown any proof that they belong to a different class exempt
from the agrarian reform program. Under the law, classification has been defined as the
grouping of persons or things similar to each other in certain particulars and different from
each other in these same particulars. To be valid, it must conform to the following
(1) it must be based on substantial distinctions;
(2) it must be germane to the purposes of the law;
(3) it must not be limited to existing conditions only; and
(4) it must apply equally to all the members of the class.
Equal protection simply means that all persons or things similarly situated must be treated
alike both as to the rights conferred and the liabilities imposed. The Association have not
shown that they belong to a different class and entitled to a different treatment. The

argument that not only landowners but also owners of other properties must be made to
share the burden of implementing land reform must be rejected. There is a substantial
distinction between these two classes of owners that is clearly visible except to those who
will not see. There is no need to elaborate on this matter. In any event, the Congress is
allowed a wide leeway in providing for a valid classification. Its decision is accorded
recognition and respect by the courts of justice except only where its discretion is abused to
the detriment of the Bill of Rights. In the contrary, it appears that Congress is right in
classifying small landowners as part of the agrarian reform program.
2. No. It is true that the determination of just compensation is a power lodged in the courts.
However, there is no law which prohibits administrative bodies like the DAR from
determining just compensation. In fact, just compensation can be that amount agreed upon
by the landowner and the government even without judicial intervention so long as both
parties agree. The DAR can determine just compensation through appraisers and if the
landowner agrees, then judicial intervention is not needed. What is contemplated by law
however is that, the just compensation determined by an administrative body is merely
preliminary. If the landowner does not agree with the finding of just compensation by an
administrative body, then it can go to court and the determination of the latter shall be the
final determination. This is even so provided by RA 6657:
Section 16 (f): Any party who disagrees with the decision may bring the matter to the court
of proper jurisdiction for final determination of just compensation.
3. No. Money as [sole] payment for just compensation is merely a concept in traditional
exercise of eminent domain. The agrarian reform program is a revolutionary exercise of
eminent domain. The program will require billions of pesos in funds if all compensation have
to be made in cash if everything is in cash, then the government will not have sufficient
money hence, bonds, and other securities, i.e., shares of stocks, may be used for just