You are on page 1of 107

Magallona v. Ermita GR No.

187167 July 16, 2011

EN BANC
PROF. MERLIN M. MAGALLONA et.al, G.R No. 187167
Petitioners,
- versus HON. EDUARDO ERMITA, IN HIS
CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE
SECRETARY
Respondents. July 16, 2011
x -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This original action for the writs of certiorari and prohibition assails the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 9522 1 (RA 9522)
adjusting the countrys archipelagic baselines and classifying the baseline regime of nearby territories.
The Antecedents
In 1961, Congress passed Republic Act No. 3046 (RA 3046)2 demarcating the maritime baselines of the Philippines as an
archipelagic State.3 This law followed the framing of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone in 1958
(UNCLOS I),4 codifying, among others, the sovereign right of States parties over their territorial sea, the breadth of which,
however, was left undetermined. Attempts to fill this void during the second round of negotiations in Geneva in 1960 (UNCLOS
II) proved futile. Thus, domestically, RA 3046 remained unchanged for nearly five decades, save for legislation passed in 1968
(Republic Act No. 5446 [RA 5446]) correcting typographical errors and reserving the drawing of baselines around Sabah in North
Borneo.
In March 2009, Congress amended RA 3046 by enacting RA 9522, the statute now under scrutiny. The change was prompted by
the need to make RA 3046 compliant with the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS
III),5 which the Philippines ratified on 27 February 1984.6 Among others, UNCLOS III prescribes the water-land ratio, length, and
contour of baselines of archipelagic States like the Philippines 7 and sets the deadline for the filing of application for the extended
continental shelf.8 Complying with these requirements, RA 9522 shortened one baseline, optimized the location of some basepoints
around the Philippine archipelago and classified adjacent territories, namely, the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and the
Scarborough Shoal, as regimes of islands whose islands generate their own applicable maritime zones.
Petitioners, professors of law, law students and a legislator, in their respective capacities as citizens, taxpayers or x x x
legislators,9 as the case may be, assail the constitutionality of RA 9522 on two principal grounds, namely: (1) RA 9522 reduces
Philippine maritime territory, and logically, the reach of the Philippine states sovereign power, in violation of Article 1 of the 1987
Constitution,10 embodying the terms of the Treaty of Paris11 and ancillary treaties,12 and (2) RA 9522 opens the countrys waters
landward of the baselines to maritime passage by all vessels and aircrafts, undermining Philippine sovereignty and national
security, contravening the countrys nuclear-free policy, and damaging marine resources, in violation of relevant constitutional
provisions.13
In addition, petitioners contend that RA 9522s treatment of the KIG as regime of islands not only results in the loss of a large
maritime area but also prejudices the livelihood of subsistence fishermen.14 To buttress their argument of territorial diminution,
petitioners facially attack RA 9522 for what it excluded and included its failure to reference either the Treaty of Paris or Sabah and
its use of UNCLOS IIIs framework of regime of islands to determine the maritime zones of the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal.
Commenting on the petition, respondent officials raised threshold issues questioning (1) the petitions compliance with the case or
controversy requirement for judicial review grounded on petitioners alleged lack of locus standi and (2) the propriety of the writs
of certiorari and prohibition to assail the constitutionality of RA 9522. On the merits, respondents defended RA 9522 as the
countrys compliance with the terms of UNCLOS III, preserving Philippine territory over the KIG or Scarborough Shoal.
Respondents add that RA 9522 does not undermine the countrys security, environment and economic interests or relinquish the
Philippines claim over Sabah.
Respondents also question the normative force, under international law, of petitioners assertion that what Spain ceded to the
United States under the Treaty of Paris were the islands and all the waters found within the boundaries of the rectangular area
drawn under the Treaty of Paris.
We left unacted petitioners prayer for an injunctive writ.
The Issues

The petition raises the following issues:


1.

Preliminarily
1.

Whether petitioners possess locus standi to bring this suit; and

2.

Whether the writs of certiorari and prohibition are the proper remedies to assail the constitutionality of RA 9522.

2.

On the merits, whether RA 9522 is unconstitutional.

The Ruling of the Court


On the threshold issues, we hold that (1) petitioners possess locus standi to bring this suit as citizens and (2) the writs of certiorari
and prohibition are proper remedies to test the constitutionality of RA 9522. On the merits, we find no basis to declare RA 9522
unconstitutional.
On the Threshold Issues
Petitioners Possess Locus
Standi as Citizens
Petitioners themselves undermine their assertion of locus standi as legislators and taxpayers because the petition alleges neither
infringement of legislative prerogative15 nor misuse of public funds,16 occasioned by the passage and implementation of RA 9522.
Nonetheless, we recognize petitioners locus standi as citizens with constitutionally sufficient interest in the resolution of the merits
of the case which undoubtedly raises issues of national significance necessitating urgent resolution. Indeed, owing to the peculiar
nature of RA 9522, it is understandably difficult to find other litigants possessing a more direct and specific interest to bring the
suit, thus satisfying one of the requirements for granting citizenship standing. 17
The Writs of Certiorari and Prohibition
Are Proper Remedies to Test
the Constitutionality of Statutes
In praying for the dismissal of the petition on preliminary grounds, respondents seek a strict observance of the offices of the writs
of certiorari and prohibition, noting that the writs cannot issue absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion in the exercise of
judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial powers on the part of respondents and resulting prejudice on the part of petitioners. 18

Respondents submission holds true in ordinary civil proceedings. When this Court exercises its constitutional power of judicial
review, however, we have, by tradition, viewed the writs of certiorari and prohibition as proper remedial vehicles to test the
constitutionality of statutes,19 and indeed, of acts of other branches of government.20 Issues of constitutional import are sometimes
crafted out of statutes which, while having no bearing on the personal interests of the petitioners, carry such relevance in the life of
this nation that the Court inevitably finds itself constrained to take cognizance of the case and pass upon the issues raised, noncompliance with the letter of procedural rules notwithstanding. The statute sought to be reviewed here is one such law.
RA 9522 is Not Unconstitutional
RA 9522 is a Statutory Tool
to Demarcate the Countrys
Maritime Zones and Continental
Shelf Under UNCLOS III, not to
Delineate Philippine Territory
Petitioners submit that RA 9522 dismembers a large portion of the national territory21 because it discards the pre-UNCLOS III
demarcation of Philippine territory under the Treaty of Paris and related treaties, successively encoded in the definition of national
territory under the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. Petitioners theorize that this constitutional definition trumps any treaty or
statutory provision denying the Philippines sovereign control over waters, beyond the territorial sea recognized at the time of the
Treaty of Paris, that Spain supposedly ceded to the United States. Petitioners argue that from the Treaty of Paris technical
description, Philippine sovereignty over territorial waters extends hundreds of nautical miles around the Philippine archipelago,
embracing the rectangular area delineated in the Treaty of Paris.22

Petitioners theory fails to persuade us.


UNCLOS III has nothing to do with the acquisition (or loss) of territory. It is a multilateral treaty regulating, among others, seause rights over maritime zones (i.e., the territorial waters [12 nautical miles from the baselines], contiguous zone [24 nautical miles
from the baselines], exclusive economic zone [200 nautical miles from the baselines]), and continental shelves that UNCLOS III
delimits.23 UNCLOS III was the culmination of decades-long negotiations among United Nations members to codify norms
regulating the conduct of States in the worlds oceans and submarine areas, recognizing coastal and archipelagic States graduated
authority over a limited span of waters and submarine lands along their coasts.
On the other hand, baselines laws such as RA 9522 are enacted by UNCLOS III States parties to mark-out specific
basepoints along their coasts from which baselines are drawn, either straight or contoured, to serve as geographic starting points to
measure the breadth of the maritime zones and continental shelf. Article 48 of UNCLOS III on archipelagic States like ours could
not be any clearer:
Article 48. Measurement of the breadth of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the
continental shelf. The breadth of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental
shelf shall be measured from archipelagic baselines drawn in accordance with article 47. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, baselines laws are nothing but statutory mechanisms for UNCLOS III States parties to delimit with precision the
extent of their maritime zones and continental shelves. In turn, this gives notice to the rest of the international community of the
scope of the maritime space and submarine areas within which States parties exercise treaty-based rights, namely, the exercise of
sovereignty over territorial waters (Article 2), the jurisdiction to enforce customs, fiscal, immigration, and sanitation laws in the
contiguous zone (Article 33), and the right to exploit the living and non-living resources in the exclusive economic zone (Article
56) and continental shelf (Article 77).
Even under petitioners theory that the Philippine territory embraces the islands and all the waters within the rectangular
area delimited in the Treaty of Paris, the baselines of the Philippines would still have to be drawn in accordance with RA 9522
because this is the only way to draw the baselines in conformity with UNCLOS III. The baselines cannot be drawn from the
boundaries or other portions of the rectangular area delineated in the Treaty of Paris, but from the outermost islands and drying
reefs of the archipelago.24
UNCLOS III and its ancillary baselines laws play no role in the acquisition, enlargement or, as petitioners claim,
diminution of territory. Under traditional international law typology, States acquire (or conversely, lose) territory through
occupation, accretion, cession and prescription,25 not by executing multilateral treaties on the regulations of sea-use rights or
enacting statutes to comply with the treatys terms to delimit maritime zones and continental shelves. Territorial claims to land
features are outside UNCLOS III, and are instead governed by the rules on general international law.26
RA 9522s Use of the Framework
of Regime of Islands to Determine the
Maritime Zones of the KIG and the
Scarborough Shoal, not Inconsistent
with the Philippines Claim of Sovereignty
Over these Areas
Petitioners next submit that RA 9522s use of UNCLOS IIIs regime of islands framework to draw the baselines, and to measure
the breadth of the applicable maritime zones of the KIG, weakens our territorial claim over that area. 27 Petitioners add that the
KIGs (and Scarborough Shoals) exclusion from the Philippine archipelagic baselines results in the loss of about 15,000 square
nautical miles of territorial waters, prejudicing the livelihood of subsistence fishermen. 28 A comparison of the configuration of the
baselines drawn under RA 3046 and RA 9522 and the extent of maritime space encompassed by each law, coupled with a reading
of the text of RA 9522 and its congressional deliberations, vis--vis the Philippines obligations under UNCLOS III, belie this view.
The configuration of the baselines drawn under RA 3046 and RA 9522 shows that RA 9522 merely followed the basepoints
mapped by RA 3046, save for at least nine basepoints that RA 9522 skipped to optimize the location of basepoints and adjust the
length of one baseline (and thus comply with UNCLOS IIIs limitation on the maximum length of baselines). Under RA 3046, as
under RA 9522, the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal lie outside of the baselines drawn around the Philippine archipelago. This
undeniable cartographic fact takes the wind out of petitioners argument branding RA 9522 as a statutory renunciation of the
Philippines claim over the KIG, assuming that baselines are relevant for this purpose.
Petitioners assertion of loss of about 15,000 square nautical miles of territorial waters under RA 9522 is similarly unfounded both
in fact and law. On the contrary, RA 9522, by optimizing the location of basepoints, increased the Philippines total maritime space
(covering its internal waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone) by 145,216 square nautical miles, as shown in the table
below:29

Internal or
archipelagic
waters

Territorial
Sea

Extent of maritime area using RA


3046, as amended, taking into
account the Treaty of Paris
delimitation (in square nautical
miles)

Extent of maritime area


using RA 9522, taking
into account UNCLOS III
(in square nautical miles)

166,858

171,435

274,136

32,106

Exclusive
Economic
Zone

TOTAL

382,669

440,994

586,210

Thus, as the map below shows, the reach of the exclusive economic zone drawn under RA 9522 even extends way beyond the
waters covered by the rectangular demarcation under the Treaty of Paris. Of course, where there are overlapping exclusive
economic zones of opposite or adjacent States, there will have to be a delineation of maritime boundaries in accordance with
UNCLOS III.30
Further, petitioners argument that the KIG now lies outside Philippine territory because the baselines that RA 9522 draws do not
enclose the KIG is negated by RA 9522 itself. Section 2 of the law commits to text the Philippines continued claim of sovereignty
and jurisdiction over the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal:

SEC. 2. The baselines in the following areas over which the Philippines likewise exercises
sovereignty and jurisdiction shall be determined as Regime of Islands under the Republic of the Philippines
consistent with Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS):
a) The Kalayaan Island Group as constituted under Presidential Decree No. 1596 and
b) Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal. (Emphasis supplied)
Had Congress in RA 9522 enclosed the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal as part of the Philippine archipelago, adverse legal
effects would have ensued. The Philippines would have committed a breach of two provisions of UNCLOS III. First, Article 47 (3)
of UNCLOS III requires that [t]he drawing of such baselines shall not depart to any appreciable extent from the general
configuration of the archipelago. Second, Article 47 (2) of UNCLOS III requires that the length of the baselines shall not exceed
100 nautical miles, save for three per cent (3%) of the total number of baselines which can reach up to 125 nautical miles. 31
Although the Philippines has consistently claimed sovereignty over the KIG 32 and the Scarborough Shoal for several
decades, these outlying areas are located at an appreciable distance from the nearest shoreline of the Philippine archipelago, 33 such
that any straight baseline loped around them from the nearest basepoint will inevitably depart to an appreciable extent from the
general configuration of the archipelago.
The principal sponsor of RA 9522 in the Senate, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, took pains to emphasize the
foregoing during the Senate deliberations:
What we call the Kalayaan Island Group or what the rest of the world call[] the Spratlys and the Scarborough Shoal are
outside our archipelagic baseline because if we put them inside our baselines we might be accused of violating the provision of
international law which states: The drawing of such baseline shall not depart to any appreciable extent from the general
configuration of the archipelago. So sa loob ng ating baseline, dapat magkalapit ang mga islands. Dahil malayo ang Scarborough
Shoal, hindi natin masasabing malapit sila sa atin although we are still allowed by international law to claim them as our own.

This is called contested islands outside our configuration. We see that our archipelago is defined by the orange
line which [we] call[] archipelagic baseline. Ngayon, tingnan ninyo ang maliit na circle doon sa itaas, that is
Scarborough Shoal, itong malaking circle sa ibaba, that is Kalayaan Group or the Spratlys. Malayo na sila sa
ating archipelago kaya kung ilihis pa natin ang dating archipelagic baselines para lamang masama itong
dalawang circles, hindi na sila magkalapit at baka hindi na tatanggapin ng United Nations because of the rule
that it should follow the natural configuration of the archipelago.34 (Emphasis supplied)
Similarly, the length of one baseline that RA 3046 drew exceeded UNCLOS IIIs limits. The need to shorten this baseline,
and in addition, to optimize the location of basepoints using current maps, became imperative as discussed by respondents:
[T]he amendment of the baselines law was necessary to enable the Philippines to draw the outer limits of its maritime
zones including the extended continental shelf in the manner provided by Article 47 of [UNCLOS III]. As defined by R.A. 3046,
as amended by R.A. 5446, the baselines suffer from some technical deficiencies, to wit:
1.

The length of the baseline across Moro Gulf (from Middle of 3 Rock Awash to Tongquil Point) is 140.06 nautical
miles x x x. This exceeds the maximum length allowed under Article 47(2) of the [UNCLOS III], which states
that The length of such baselines shall not exceed 100 nautical miles, except that up to 3 per cent of the total
number of baselines enclosing any archipelago may exceed that length, up to a maximum length of 125 nautical
miles.

2.

The selection of basepoints is not optimal. At least 9 basepoints can be skipped or deleted from the baselines
system. This will enclose an additional 2,195 nautical miles of water.

3.

Finally, the basepoints were drawn from maps existing in 1968, and not established by geodetic survey methods.
Accordingly, some of the points, particularly along the west coasts of Luzon down to Palawan were later found
to be located either inland or on water, not on low-water line and drying reefs as prescribed by Article 47. 35

Hence, far from surrendering the Philippines claim over the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal, Congress decision to
classify the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal as Regime[s] of Islands under the Republic of the Philippines consistent with Article
12136 of UNCLOS III manifests the Philippine States responsible observance of its pacta sunt servanda obligation under UNCLOS
III. Under Article 121 of UNCLOS III, any naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide,
such as portions of the KIG, qualifies under the category of regime of islands, whose islands generate their own applicable
maritime zones.37
Statutory Claim Over Sabah under
RA 5446 Retained
Petitioners argument for the invalidity of RA 9522 for its failure to textualize the Philippines claim over Sabah in North Borneo is
also untenable. Section 2 of RA 5446, which RA 9522 did not repeal, keeps open the door for drawing the baselines of Sabah:
Section 2. The definition of the baselines of the territorial sea of the Philippine Archipelago as provided in this Act is without
prejudice to the delineation of the baselines of the territorial sea around the territory of Sabah, situated in North Borneo,
over which the Republic of the Philippines has acquired dominion and sovereignty. (Emphasis supplied)
UNCLOS III and RA 9522 not
Incompatible with the Constitutions
Delineation of Internal Waters
As their final argument against the validity of RA 9522, petitioners contend that the law unconstitutionally converts internal
waters into archipelagic waters, hence subjecting these waters to the right of innocent and sea lanes passage under UNCLOS III,
including overflight. Petitioners extrapolate that these passage rights indubitably expose Philippine internal waters to nuclear and
maritime pollution hazards, in violation of the Constitution.38
Whether referred to as Philippine internal waters under Article I of the Constitution39 or as archipelagic waters under UNCLOS III
(Article 49 [1]), the Philippines exercises sovereignty over the body of water lying landward of the baselines, including the air
space over it and the submarine areas underneath. UNCLOS III affirms this:
Article 49. Legal status of archipelagic waters, of the air space over archipelagic waters and of their bed and subsoil.
1.

The sovereignty of an archipelagic State extends to the waters enclosed by the


archipelagic baselines drawn in accordance with article 47, described as archipelagic waters,
regardless of their depth or distance from the coast.

2.

This sovereignty extends to the air space over the archipelagic waters, as well as to their
bed and subsoil, and the resources contained therein.

xxxx

4. The regime of archipelagic sea lanes passage established in this Part shall not in other respects
affect the status of the archipelagic waters, including the sea lanes, or the exercise by the archipelagic State
of its sovereignty over such waters and their air space, bed and subsoil, and the resources contained
therein. (Emphasis supplied)
The fact of sovereignty, however, does not preclude the operation of municipal and international law norms subjecting the
territorial sea or archipelagic waters to necessary, if not marginal, burdens in the interest of maintaining unimpeded, expeditious
international navigation, consistent with the international law principle of freedom of navigation. Thus, domestically, the political
branches of the Philippine government, in the competent discharge of their constitutional powers, may pass legislation designating
routes within the archipelagic waters to regulate innocent and sea lanes passage.40 Indeed, bills drawing nautical highways for sea
lanes passage are now pending in Congress.41

In the absence of municipal legislation, international law norms, now codified in UNCLOS III, operate to grant innocent
passage rights over the territorial sea or archipelagic waters, subject to the treatys limitations and conditions for their
exercise.42 Significantly, the right of innocent passage is a customary international law,43 thus automatically incorporated in the
corpus of Philippine law.44 No modern State can validly invoke its sovereignty to absolutely forbid innocent passage that is
exercised in accordance with customary international law without risking retaliatory measures from the international community.
The fact that for archipelagic States, their archipelagic waters are subject to both the right of innocent passage and sea
lanes passage45 does not place them in lesser footing vis--vis continental coastal States which are subject, in their territorial sea, to
the right of innocent passage and the right of transit passage through international straits. The imposition of these passage rights
through archipelagic waters under UNCLOS III was a concession by archipelagic States, in exchange for their right to claim all the
waters landward of their baselines, regardless of their depth or distance from the coast, as archipelagic waters subject to
their territorial sovereignty. More importantly, the recognition of archipelagic States archipelago and the waters enclosed by their
baselines as one cohesive entity prevents the treatment of their islands as separate islands under UNCLOS III. 46 Separate islands
generate their own maritime zones, placing the waters between islands separated by more than 24 nautical miles beyond the States
territorial sovereignty, subjecting these waters to the rights of other States under UNCLOS III. 47
Petitioners invocation of non-executory constitutional provisions in Article II (Declaration of Principles and State
Policies)48 must also fail. Our present state of jurisprudence considers the provisions in Article II as mere legislative guides, which,
absent enabling legislation, do not embody judicially enforceable constitutional rights x x x.49 Article II provisions serve as guides
in formulating and interpreting implementing legislation, as well as in interpreting executory provisions of the Constitution.
Although Oposa v. Factoran50treated the right to a healthful and balanced ecology under Section 16 of Article II as an exception,
the present petition lacks factual basis to substantiate the claimed constitutional violation. The other provisions petitioners cite,
relating to the protection of marine wealth (Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 251) and subsistence fishermen (Article XIII, Section
752), are not violated by RA 9522.
In fact, the demarcation of the baselines enables the Philippines to delimit its exclusive economic zone, reserving solely to
the Philippines the exploitation of all living and non-living resources within such zone. Such a maritime delineation binds the
international community since the delineation is in strict observance of UNCLOS III. If the maritime delineation is contrary to
UNCLOS III, the international community will of course reject it and will refuse to be bound by it.
UNCLOS III favors States with a long coastline like the Philippines. UNCLOS III creates a sui generis maritime space
the exclusive economic zone in waters previously part of the high seas. UNCLOS III grants new rights to coastal States to
exclusively exploit the resources found within this zone up to 200 nautical miles.53 UNCLOS III, however, preserves the traditional
freedom of navigation of other States that attached to this zone beyond the territorial sea before UNCLOS III.

RA 9522 and the Philippines Maritime Zones


Petitioners hold the view that, based on the permissive text of UNCLOS III, Congress was not bound to pass RA
9522.54 We have looked at the relevant provision of UNCLOS III55 and we find petitioners reading plausible. Nevertheless, the
prerogative of choosing this option belongs to Congress, not to this Court. Moreover, the luxury of choosing this option comes at a
very steep price. Absent an UNCLOS III compliant baselines law, an archipelagic State like the Philippines will find itself devoid
of internationally acceptable baselines from where the breadth of its maritime zones and continental shelf is measured. This is
recipe for a two-fronted disaster: first, it sends an open invitation to the seafaring powers to freely enter and exploit the resources
in the waters and submarine areas around our archipelago; and second, it weakens the countrys case in any international dispute
over Philippine maritime space. These are consequences Congress wisely avoided.
The enactment of UNCLOS III compliant baselines law for the Philippine archipelago and adjacent areas, as embodied in
RA 9522, allows an internationally-recognized delimitation of the breadth of the Philippines maritime zones and continental shelf.
RA 9522 is therefore a most vital step on the part of the Philippines in safeguarding its maritime zones, consistent with the
Constitution and our national interest.
WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition.

SO ORDERED.

Bangus Fry Fisherfolk v. Hon. Lazanas 405 SCRA 530

FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 131442. July 10, 2003]
BANGUS FRY FISHERFOLK DIWATA MAGBUHOS, ANGELITA BINAY, ELMA GARCIA, VIRGILIO PANGUIO,
ARSENIO CASTILLO, ARIEL PANGUIO, ANTONIO PANGUIO, ANTONIO BUNQUIN, GENEROSO
BUNQUIN, CHARLIE DIMAYACYAC, RENATO PANGUIO, ATILANO BUNQUIN, CARLOS CHAVEZ, JUAN
DIMAYACYAC, FILEMON BUNQUIN, MARIO MAGBUHOS, MAURO MAGBUHOS, NORA MAGBUHOS,
JEOVILYN, GENALYN and JORVAN QUIMUEL, minors, represented by their parents FELICIANA and
SABINO QUIMUEL, MARICAR MAGBUHOS, minor, represented by her parents CARMELITA and ANTONIO
MAGBUHOS, MARLO BINAY, minor, represented by his parents EFRENITA and CHARLITO BINAY, and the
BANGUS, BANGUS FRY and other MARINE LIFE OF MINOLO COVE, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE
ENRICO LANZANAS as Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch VII, THE DEPARTMENT OF
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES Region IV, represented by its Regional Executive Director and
its Regional Director for Environment, THE NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, ORIENTAL MINDORO
ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF ORIENTAL MINDORO, herein represented
by GOVERNOR RODOLFO VALENCIA, PUERTO GALERA MAYOR GREGORIO DELGADO, VICE
MAYOR ARISTEO ATIENZA, and MEMBERS OF THE SANGGUNIANG BAYAN OF PUERTO GALERA,
JUAN ASCAN, JR., RAFAEL ROMEY, CENON SALCEDO, JERRY DALISAY, SIMON BALITAAN, RENATO
CATAQUIS, MARCELINO BANAAG, DANIEL ENRIQUEZ, AMELYN MARCO, GABRIEL ILAGAN,
MUNICIPAL ENGINEER RODEL RUBIO, and MUNICIPAL PLANNING and DEVELOPMENT
COORDINATOR WILHELMINA LINESES, respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a petition for review[1] of the Order[2] dated 7 November 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 7 (Manila
RTC), dismissing petitioners complaint for lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction.
The Facts
On 30 June 1997, Regional Executive Director Antonio G. Principe (RED Principe) of Region IV, Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), issued an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) in favor of respondent
National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR). The ECC authorized NAPOCOR to construct a temporary mooring facility in Minolo
Cove, Sitio Minolo, Barangay San Isidro, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. The Sangguniang Bayan of Puerto Galera has declared
Minolo Cove, a mangrove area and breeding ground for bangus fry, an eco-tourist zone. [3]
The mooring facility would serve as the temporary docking site of NAPOCORs power barge, which, due to turbulent waters
at its former mooring site in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, required relocation to a safer site like Minolo Cove. The 14.4 megawatts
power barge would provide the main source of power for the entire province of Oriental Mindoro pending the construction of a
land-based power plant in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. The ECC for the mooring facility was valid for two years counted from its
date of issuance or until 30 June 1999.[4]
Petitioners, claiming to be fisherfolks from Minolo, San Isidro, Puerto Galera, [5] sought reconsideration of the ECC issuance.
RED Principe, however, denied petitioners plea on 15 July 1997. On 21 July 1997, petitioners filed a complaint with the Regional
Trial Court of Manila, Branch 7, for the cancellation of the ECC and for the issuance of a writ of injunction to stop the
construction of the mooring facility. Impleaded as defendants were the following: (1) NAPOCOR, (2) RED Principe, (3) DENR
Region IV Technical Director for Environment Oscar Dominguez, (4) Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (ORMECO), which
is engaged in the distribution of electricity in Oriental Mindoro, and (5) certain officials of Puerto Galera. [6]Petitioners
subsequently amended their complaint to include as additional defendants the elective officials of Oriental Mindoro represented by
then Governor Rodolfo G. Valencia.Petitioners further prayed for the demolition of mooring structures that respondents had
already built.
On 28 July 1997, prior to the filing of the amended complaint, the trial court issued a 20-day temporary restraining order
enjoining the construction of the mooring facility. However, the trial court lifted the same on 6 August 1997 on NAPOCORs
manifestation that the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro was the one undertaking the construction of the mooring facility.
[7]

On 28 August 1997, before filing their answers, respondents ORMECO and the provincial officials of Oriental Mindoro
moved to dismiss the complaint. These respondents claimed that petitioners failed to exhaust administrative remedies, rendering
the complaint without cause of action. They also asserted that the Manila RTC has no jurisdiction to enjoin the construction of the
mooring facility in Oriental Mindoro, which lies outside the Manila RTCs territorial jurisdiction.
Petitioners opposed the motion on the ground that there was no need to exhaust administrative remedies. They argued that the
issuance of the ECC was in patent violation of Presidential Decree No. 1605, [8] Sections 26 and 27 of Republic Act No. 7160,[9] and

the provisions of DENR Department Administrative Order No. 96-37 (DAO 96-37) on the documentation of ECC
applications. Petitioners also claimed that the implementation of the ECC was in patent violation of its terms.
In its order of 7 November 1997, the trial court granted the motion and dismissed petitioners complaint.
Hence, this petition.
The Ruling of the Trial Court
The trial courts order dismissing the complaint reads in part:
After careful evaluation and analysis, this Court finds the Motion to Dismiss tenable and meritorious.
Petitioners have clearly failed to exhaust all administrative remedies before taking this legal action in Court x x x.
It is x x x worth mentioning that the decision of the Regional Director may still be x x x elevated to the Office of the Secretary of
the DENR to fully comply with the process of exhaustion of administrative remedies. And well settled is the rule in our
jurisdiction that before bringing an action in or resorting to the Courts of Justice, all remedies of administrative character affecting
or determinative of the controversy at that level should first be exhausted by the aggrieved party (Pestanas vs. Dyogi, L-25786,
February 27, 1978). And petitioners failure to exhaust administrative remedies renders his [sic] petition dismissible (Chia vs.
Acting Collector of Customs, 177 SCRA 755). And a dismissal on the ground of failure to exhaust administrative remedies is
tantamount to a dismissal based on lack of cause of action (Baguiro vs. Basa, Jr., 214 SCRA 437; Pineda vs. CFI of Davao, 111
Phil. 643; Sarabia vs. Secretary of Agriculture & Natural Resources, L-16002, May 23, 1961; Gone, et al. vs. District Engineer, et.
al., L-22782, August 29, 1975; Abe-Abe, et al. vs. Manta, et. al., L-4827, May 31, 1979) although it does not affect the jurisdiction
of the court over the subject matter (Mun. of La Trinidad, et al. vs. CFI of Baguio-Benguet, et al., L-33889, June 28, 1983).
Moreover, this Court finds the Opposition of the Petitioners highly untenable and bereft of merits that the controverted act in
question is patently illegal and there was an immediate need for judicial intervention.
The ECC in question was issued by the Regional Office of the DENR which has jurisdiction and authority over the same x x x.
And corollary to this, the issue as to whether or not the Minolo Cove is within the enclosed coves and waters embraced by Puerto
Galera bay and protected by Medio island is a clear question of fact which the DENR may appropriately resolve before resorting to
[the] Court[s].
This Court is likewise aware and cognizant of its territorial jurisdiction in the enforcement of Writ of Injunction. That truly, [a] writ
of injunction can only be enforced within [the] territorial jurisdiction of this Court but not for acts which are being or about to be
committed outside its territorial jurisdiction. Thus, in Philippine National Bank vs. Pineda, 197 SCRA 1, the Honorable Supreme
Court ruled: Regional Trial Courts can only enforce their writs of injunction within their respective designated
territories. Furthermore, we find the issuance of the preliminary injunction directed against the Provincial Sheriff of Negros
Occidental a jurisdictional paux [sic] pas (from Black Dictionary means jurisdictional falsity) as the Courts of First Instance now
Regional Trial Court[s], can only enforce their writs of injunction within their respective designated territories.
And finally, this Court is not unmindful of the relevant and square application in the case at bar of Presidential Decree No. 1818,
Executive Order No. 380 dated November 27, 1989, and Circular No. 2-91 of the Supreme Court that the National Power
Corporation (NPC) is a public utility, created under special legislation, engaged in the generation and distribution of electric power
and energy. The mooring site of NPC in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro is one of its infrastructure projects falling within the
mantle of Executive Order No. 380, November 27, 1989 x x x.
And as held by the Supreme Court in the case of National Power Corporation vs. Honorable Abraham P. Vera, et al., 170 SCRA
721, courts are without jurisdiction to issue injunctive writs against [the] National Power Corporation. The latter enjoys the
protective mantle of P.D. 1818, (Circular No. 2-91).
xxx
Injunction in this case is not a mere ancillary [sic] writ but the main action itself together with the Annulment of the Environmental
Clearance Certificate (ECC). Even assuming arguendo that the court [can] annul the ECC how can the latter enforce the same
against the Provincial Government of Oriental Mindoro which was impleaded by the petitioners as a necessary party together with
the Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative and the government officials of Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, whose acts and
functions are being performed outside the territorial jurisdiction of this court? x x x Indisputably, the injunction and annulment
of ECC as prayed for in the petition are inseparable x x x.
The conclusion, therefore, is inescapable that petitioners have failed to exhaust all the available administrative remedies and this
Court has no jurisdiction to issue the injunctive writ prayed for in the Amended [Complaint]. [10]
The Issue
The issue is whether the trial court erred in dismissing petitioners complaint for lack of cause of action and lack of
jurisdiction.
The Ruling of the Court
The petition has no merit.

Jurisdiction of the Manila RTC over the Case


Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law. Such jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the
complaint, irrespective of whether the plaintiff is entitled to all or some of the reliefs sought. [11]
A perusal of the allegations in the complaint shows that petitioners principal cause of action is the alleged illegality of the
issuance of the ECC. The violation of laws on environmental protection and on local government participation in the
implementation of environmentally critical projects is an issue that involves the validity of NAPOCORs ECC. If the ECC is void,
then as a necessary consequence, NAPOCOR or the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro could not construct the mooring
facility. The subsidiary issue of non-compliance with pertinent local ordinances in the construction of the mooring facility becomes
immaterial for purposes of granting petitioners main prayer, which is the annulment of the ECC. Thus, if the court has jurisdiction
to determine the validity of the issuance of the ECC, then it has jurisdiction to hear and decide petitioners complaint.
Petitioners complaint is one that is not capable of pecuniary estimation. It falls within the exclusive and original jurisdiction
of the Regional Trial Courts under Section 19(1) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended by Republic Act No. 7691. The
question of whether petitioners should file their complaint in the Regional Trial Court of Manila or Oriental Mindoro then becomes
a matter of venue, to be determined by the residence of the parties.[12]
Petitioners main prayer is the annulment of the ECC. The principal respondent, DENR Region IV, has its main office at the L
& S Building, Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Regional Executive Director Principe of the DENR Region IV, who issued the ECC,
holds office there. Plainly, the principal respondent resides in Manila, which is within the territorial jurisdiction of the Manila
RTC. Thus, petitioners filed their complaint in the proper venue.
On the other hand, the jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts to issue injunctive writs is limited to acts committed or about to
be committed within their judicial region. [13] Moreover, Presidential Decree No. 1818 (PD No. 1818) prohibited [14] courts from
issuing injunctive writs against government infrastructure projects like the mooring facility in the present case.Republic Act No.
8975 (RA No. 8975), which took effect on 26 November 2000, superseded PD No. 1818 and delineates more clearly the coverage
of the prohibition, reserves the power to issue such writs exclusively with this Court, and provides penalties for its violation.
[15]
Obviously, neither the Manila RTC nor the Oriental Mindoro RTC can issue an injunctive writ to stop the construction of the
mooring facility. Only this Court can do so under PD No. 1818 and later under RA No. 8975. Thus, the question of whether the
Manila RTC has jurisdiction over the complaint considering that its injunctive writ is not enforceable in Oriental Mindoro is
academic.
Clearly, the Manila RTC has jurisdiction to determine the validity of the issuance of the ECC, although it could not issue an
injunctive writ against the DENR or NAPOCOR. However, since the construction of the mooring facility could not proceed
without a valid ECC, the validity of the ECC remains the determinative issue in resolving petitioners complaint.
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
The settled rule is before a party may seek the intervention of the courts, he should first avail of all the means afforded by
administrative processes. Hence, if a remedy within the administrative machinery is still available, with a procedure prescribed
pursuant to law for an administrative officer to decide the controversy, a party should first exhaust such remedy before resorting to
the courts. The premature invocation of a courts intervention renders the complaint without cause of action and dismissible on such
ground.[16]
RED Principe of the DENR Region IV Office issued the ECC based on (1) Presidential Decree No. 1586 (PD No. 1586) and
its implementing rules establishing the Environmental Impact Statement System, (2) DAO 96-37 [17] and (3) the Procedural Manual
of DAO 96-37. Section 4[18] of PD No. 1586 requires a proponent of an environmentally critical project, or a project located within
an environmentally critical area as declared by the President, to secure an ECC prior to the projects operation. [19] NAPOCOR thus
secured the ECC because the mooring facility in Minolo Cove, while not an environmentally critical project, is located within an
environmentally critical area under Presidential Proclamation No. 2146, issued on 14 December 1981.[20]
The rules on administrative appeals from rulings of the DENR Regional Directors on the implementation of PD No. 1586 are
found in Article VI of DAO 96-37, which provides:
SECTION 1.0. Appeal to the Office of the Secretary. Any party aggrieved by the final decision of the RED may, within 15 days
from receipt of such decision, file an appeal with the Office of the Secretary.The decision of the Secretary shall be immediately
executory.
SECTION 2.0. Grounds for Appeal. The grounds for appeal shall be limited to grave abuse of discretion and serious errors in the
findings of fact which would cause grave or irreparable injury to the aggrieved party. Frivolous appeals shall not be countenanced.
SECTION 3.0. Who May Appeal. The proponent or any stakeholder, including but not limited to, the LGUs concerned and affected
communities, may file an appeal.
The DENR Procedural Manual for DAO 96-37 explains these provisions thus:
Final decisions of the RED may be appealed. These decisions include those relating to the issuance or non-issuance of an ECC,
and the imposition of fines and penalties. By inference, the decision of the Secretary on the issuance or non-issuance of the ECC
may also be appealed based on this provision. Resort to courts prior to availing of this remedy would make the appellants action
dismissible on the ground of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies.
The right to appeal must be exercised within 15 days from receipt by the aggrieved party of such decision. Failure to file such
appeal within the requisite period will result in the finality of the REDs or Secretarys decision(s), which can no longer be
disturbed.

An appeal shall not stay the effectivity of the REDs decision, unless the Secretary directs otherwise.
The right to appeal does not prevent the aggrieved party from first resorting to the filing of a motion for reconsideration with the
RED, to give the RED an opportunity to re-evaluate his decision. (Emphasis added)
Instead of following the foregoing procedure, petitioners bypassed the DENR Secretary and immediately filed their
complaint with the Manila RTC, depriving the DENR Secretary the opportunity to review the decision of his subordinate, RED
Principe. Under the Procedural Manual for DAO 96-37 and applicable jurisprudence, petitioners omission renders their complaint
dismissible for lack of cause of action. [21] Consequently, the Manila RTC did not err in dismissing petitioners complaint for lack of
cause of action.
On the Alleged Patent Illegality of the ECC
Petitioners nevertheless contend that they are exempt from filing an appeal with the DENR Secretary because the issuance of
the ECC was in patent violation of existing laws and regulations. These are (1) Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1605, as
amended, (2) Sections 26 and 27 of Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991), and (3) the provisions of DAO 9637 on the documentary requirements for the zoning permit and social acceptability of the mooring facility.
Petitioners contention is without merit. While the patent illegality of an act exempts a party from complying with the rule on
exhaustion of administrative remedies,[22] this does not apply in the present case.
Presidential Decree No. 1605
Presidential Decree No. 1605 (PD No. 1605), [23] as amended by Presidential Decrees Nos. 1605-A and 1805, declares as
ecologically threatened zone the coves and waters embraced by Puerto Galera Bay as protected by Medio Island. This decree
provides in part:
Section 1. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the construction of marinas, hotels, restaurants, other commercial
structures; commercial or semi-commercial wharfs [sic]; commercial docking within the enclosed coves of Puerto Galera; the
destruction of its mangrove stands; the devastation of its corals and coastline by large barges, motorboats, tugboat propellers, and
any form of destruction by other human activities are hereby prohibited.
Section 2. x x x
No permit for the construction of any wharf, marina, hotel, restaurants and other commercial structures in Puerto Galera shall be
issued without prior approval of the Office of the President upon the recommendation of the Philippine Tourism Authority.
(Emphasis supplied)
NAPOCOR claims that since Minolo Cove lies outside of Puerto Galera Bay as protected by Medio Island, [24] PD No. 1605
does not apply to this case. However, petitioners assert that Minolo Cove is one of the enclosed coves of Puerto Galera [25] and thus
protected under PD No. 1605. This is a question of fact that the DENR Secretary should have first resolved. In any event, there is
no dispute that NAPOCOR will use the mooring facility for its power barge that will supply 14.4 megawatts of electricity to the
entire province of Oriental Mindoro, including Puerto Galera. The mooring facility is obviously a government-owned public
infrastructure intended to serve a basic need of the people of Oriental Mindoro. The mooring facility is not a commercial structure;
commercial or semi-commercial wharf or commercial docking as contemplated in Section 1 of PD No. 1605. Therefore, the
issuance of the ECC does not violate PD No. 1605 which applies only to commercial structures like wharves, marinas, hotels and
restaurants.
Sections 26 and 27 of RA No. 7160
Congress introduced Sections 26 and 27 in the Local Government Code to emphasize the legislative concern for the
maintenance of a sound ecology and clean environment. [26] These provisions require every national government agency or
government-owned and controlled corporation to hold prior consultations with the local government unit concerned and to secure
the prior approval of its sanggunian before implementing any project or program that may cause pollution, climatic change,
depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of cropland, rangeland, or forest cover and extinction of animal or plant
species. Sections 26 and 27 respectively provide:
Section 26. Duty of National Government Agencies in the Maintenance of Ecological Balance. - It shall be the duty of every
national agency or government-owned or controlled corporation authorized or involved in the planning and implementation of any
project or program that may cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of crop land, rangeland,
or forest cover and extinction of animal or plant species, to consult with the local government units, non-governmental
organizations, and other sectors concerned and explain the goals and objectives of the project or program, its impact upon the
people and the community in terms of environmental or ecological balance, and the measures that will be undertaken to prevent or
minimize the adverse effects thereof.
Section 27. Prior Consultations Required. - No project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless the
consultations mentioned in Section x x x 26 hereof are complied with, and prior approval of the sanggunian concerned is
obtained: Provided, That occupants in areas where such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate
relocation sites have been provided, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
In Lina, Jr. v. Pao,[27] the Court interpreted these provisions in this manner:
Section 27 of the Code should be read in conjunction with Section 26 thereof x x x.

Thus, the projects and programs mentioned in Section 27 should be interpreted to mean projects and programs whose effects are
among those enumerated in Sections 26 and 27, to wit, those that: (1) may cause pollution; (2) may bring about climatic change;
(3) may cause the depletion of non-renewable resources; (4) may result in loss of crop land, rangeland, or forest cover; (5) may
eradicate certain animal or plant species; and (6) other projects or programs that may call for the eviction of a particular group of
people residing in the locality where these will be implemented.
Again, Sections 26 and 27 do not apply to this case because as petitioners admit, [28] the mooring facility itself is not
environmentally critical and hence does not belong to any of the six types of projects mentioned in the law. There is no statutory
requirement for the concerned sanggunian to approve the construction of the mooring facility. It is another matter if the operation
of the power barge is at issue. As an environmentally critical project that causes pollution, the operation of the power barge needs
the prior approval of the concerned sanggunian. However, what is before this Court is only the construction of the mooring
facility, not the operation of the power barge. Thus, the issuance of the ECC does not violate Sections 26 and 27 of RA No. 7160.
Documentary Requirements for ECC Applications
Under DAO 96-37, an ECC applicant for a project located within an environmentally critical area is required to submit an
Initial Environment Examination, which must contain a brief description of the environmental setting and a documentation of the
consultative process undertaken, when appropriate.[29] As part of the description of the environmental setting, the ECC applicant
must submit a certificate of locational clearance or zoning certificate.
Petitioners further contend that NAPOCOR, in applying for the ECC, did not submit to the DENR Region IV Office the
documents proving the holding of consultations and the issuance of a locational clearance or zoning certificate. Petitioners assert
that this omission renders the issuance of the ECC patently illegal.
The contention is also without merit. While such documents are part of the submissions required from a project proponent,
their mere absence does not render the issuance of the ECC patently illegal. To justify non-exhaustion of administrative remedies
due to the patent illegality of the ECC, the public officer must have issued the ECC [without any] semblance of compliance, or
even an attempt to comply, with the pertinent laws; when manifestly, the officer has acted without jurisdiction or has exceeded his
jurisdiction, or has committed a grave abuse of discretion; or when his act is clearly and obviously devoid of any color of authority.
[30]

RED Principe, as chief of DENR Region IV, is the officer duly authorized under DAO 96-37 [31] to issue ECCs for projects
located within environmentally critical areas. RED Principe issued the ECC on the recommendation of Amelia Supetran, the
Director of the Environmental Management Bureau. Thus, RED Principe acted with full authority pursuant to DENR regulations.
Moreover, the legal presumption is that he acted with the requisite authority. [32] This clothes RED Principes acts with presumptive
validity and negates any claim that his actions are patently illegal or that he gravely abused his discretion. While petitioners may
present proof to the contrary, they must do so before the proper administrative forum before resorting to judicial remedies.
On the Alleged Non-Compliance with the Terms of the ECC
Lastly, petitioners claim that they are justified in immediately seeking judicial recourse because NAPOCOR is guilty of
violating the conditions of the ECC, which requires it to secure a separate ECC for the operation of the power barge. The ECC also
mandates NAPOCOR to secure the usual local government permits, like zoning and building permits, from the municipal
government of Puerto Galera.
The contention is similarly without merit. The fact that NAPOCORs ECC is subject to cancellation for non-compliance with
its conditions does not justify petitioners conduct in ignoring the procedure prescribed in DAO 96-37 on appeals from the decision
of the DENR Executive Director. Petitioners vigorously insist that NAPOCOR should comply with the requirements of
consultation and locational clearance prescribed in DAO 96-37. Ironically, petitioners themselves refuse to abide with the
procedure for filing complaints and appealing decisions laid down in DAO 96-37.
DAO 96-37 provides for a separate administrative proceeding to address complaints for the cancellation of an ECC. Under
Article IX of DAO 96-37, complaints to nullify an ECC must undergo an administrative investigation, after which the hearing
officer will submit his report to the EMB Director or the Regional Executive Director, who will then render his decision. The
aggrieved party may file an appeal to the DENR Secretary, who has authority to issue cease and desist orders. Article IX also
classifies the types of violations covered under DAO 96-37, including projects operating without an ECC or violating the
conditions of the ECC. This is the applicable procedure to address petitioners complaint on NAPOCORs alleged violations and not
the filing of the instant case in court.
A Final Word
The Court commends petitioners for their courageous efforts to safeguard and maintain the ecological balance of Minolo
Cove. This Court recognizes the utmost importance of protecting the environment. [33] Indeed, we have called for the vigorous
prosecution of violators of environmental laws.[34] Legal actions to achieve this end, however, must be done in accordance with
established rules of procedure that were intended, in the first place, to achieve orderly and efficient administration of justice.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Felipe Ysmael v. Dep. Executive Secretary 190 SCRA 573
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 79538 October 18, 1990


FELIPE YSMAEL, JR. & CO., INC., petitioner,
vs.
THE DEPUTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE
DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF FOREST DEVELOPMENT and TWIN PEAKS DEVELOPMENT AND REALTY
CORPORATION, respondents.
Taada, Vivo & Tan for petitioner.
Antonio E. Escober and Jurado Law Office for respondent Twin Peaks Development Corporation.
COURTS, J.:
Soon after the change of government in February 1986, petitioner sent a letter dated March 17, 1986 to the Office of the President,
and another letter dated April 2, 1986 to Minister Ernesto Maceda of the Ministry of Natural Resources [MNR], seeking: (1) the
reinstatement of its timber license agreement which was cancelled in August 1983 during the Marcos administration; (2) the
revocation of TLA No. 356 which was issued to Twin Peaks Development and Realty Corporation without public bidding and in
violation of forestry laws, rules and regulations; and, (3) the issuance of an order allowing petitioner to take possession of all logs
found in the concession area [Annexes "6" and "7" of the Petition; Rollo, pp. 54-63].
Petitioner made the following allegations:
(a)
That on October 12, 1965, it entered into a timber license agreement designated as TLA No. 87 with the Department of
Agriculture and Natural Resources, represented by then Secretary Jose Feliciano, wherein it was issued an exclusive license to cut,
collect and remove timber except prohibited species within a specified portion of public forest land with an area of 54,920 hectares
located in the municipality of Maddela, province of Nueva Vizcaya * from October 12, 1965 until June 30, 1990;
(b)
That on August 18, 1983, the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development [hereinafter referred to as "Bureau"], Director
Edmundo Cortes, issued a memorandum order stopping all logging operations in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces, and
cancelling the logging concession of petitioner and nine other forest concessionaires, pursuant to presidential instructions and a
memorandum order of the Minister of Natural Resources Teodoro Pena [Annex "5" of the Petition; Rollo, p. 49];
(c)

that on August 25, 1983, petitioner received a telegram from the Bureau, the contents of which were as follows:

PURSUANT TO THE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE PRESIDENT YOU ARE REQUESTED TO STOP ALL LOGGING
OPERATIONS TO CONSERVE REMAINING FORESTS PLEASE CONDUCT THE ORDERLY PULL-OUT OF LOGGING
MACHINERIES AND EQUIPMENT AND COORDINATE WITH THE RESPECTIVE DISTRICT FORESTERS FOR THE
INVENTORY OF LOGS CUT PRIOR TO THIS ORDER THE SUBMISSION OF A COMPLIANCE REPORT WITHIN THIRTY
DAYS SHALL BE APPRECIATED [Annex "4" of the Petition; Rollo, p. 48];
(d)
That after the cancellation of its timber license agreement, it immediately sent a letter addressed to then President
Ferdinand Marcos which sought reconsideration of the Bureau's directive, citing in support thereof its contributions to alleging that
it was not given the forest conservation and opportunity to be heard prior to the cancellation of its logging 531, but no operations
(Annex "6" of the Petition; Rollo, pp. 50 favorable action was taken on this letter;
(e)
That barely one year thereafter, approximately one-half or 26,000 hectares of the area formerly covered by TLA No. 87
was re-awarded to Twin Peaks Development and Reality Corporation under TLA No. 356 which was set to expire on July 31,
2009, while the other half was allowed to be logged by Filipinas Loggers, Inc. without the benefit of a formal award or license;
and,
(f)
That the latter entities were controlled or owned by relatives or cronies of deposed President Ferdinand Marcos. Acting on
petitioner's letter, the MNR through then Minister Ernesto Maceda issued an order dated July 22, 1986 denying petitioner's request.
The Ministry ruled that a timber license was not a contract within the due process clause of the Constitution, but only a privilege
which could be withdrawn whenever public interest or welfare so demands, and that petitioner was not discriminated against in
view of the fact that it was among ten concessionaires whose licenses were revoked in 1983. Moreover, emphasis was made of the
total ban of logging operations in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Ifugao imposed on April 2, 1986,
thus:
xxx

xxx

xxx

It should be recalled that [petitioner's] earlier request for reinstatement has been denied in view of the total ban of all logging
operations in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Ifugao which was imposed for reasons of conservation
and national security.
The Ministry imposed the ban because it realizes the great responsibility it bear [sic] in respect to forest t considers itself the
trustee thereof. This being the case, it has to ensure the availability of forest resources not only for the present, but also for the
future generations of Filipinos.
On the other hand, the activities of the insurgents in these parts of the country are well documented. Their financial demands on
logging concessionaires are well known. The government, therefore, is well within its right to deprive its enemy of sources of
funds in order to preserve itself, its established institutions and the liberty and democratic way of life of its people.

xxx

xxx

xxx

[Annex "9" of the Petition, pp. 2-4; Rollo, pp. 65-67.]


Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the aforestated order reiterating, among others. its request that TLA No. 356 issued to
private respondent be declared null and void. The MNR however denied this motion in an order dated September 15, 1986. stating
in part:
xxx

xxx

xxx

Regarding [petitioner's] request that the award of a 26,000 hectare portion of TLA No. 87 to Twin Peaks Realty Development
Corporation under TLA No. 356 be declared null and void, suffice it to say that the Ministry is now in the process of reviewing all
contracts, permits or other form of privileges for the exploration, development, exploitation, or utilization of natural resources
entered into, granted, issued or acquired before the issuance of Proclamation No. 3, otherwise known as the Freedom Constitution
for the purpose of amending, modifying or revoking them when the national interest so requires.
xxx

xxx

xxx

The Ministry, through the Bureau of Forest Development, has jurisdiction and authority over all forest lands. On the basis of this
authority, the Ministry issued the order banning all logging operations/activities in Quirino province, among others, where
movant's former concession area is located. Therefore, the issuance of an order disallowing any person or entity from removing cut
or uncut logs from the portion of TLA No. 87, now under TLA No. 356, would constitute an unnecessary or superfluous act on the
part of the Ministry.
xxx

xxx

xxx

[Annex "11" of the Petition, pp. 3-4; Rollo, pp. 77-78.]


On November 26, 1986, petitioner's supplemental motion for reconsideration was likewise denied. Meanwhile, per MNR
Administrative Order No. 54, series of 1986, issued on November 26, 1986, the logging ban in the province of Quirino was lifted.
Petitioner subsequently appealed from the orders of the MNR to the Office of the President. In a resolution dated July 6, 1987, the
Office of the President, acting through then Deputy Executive Secretary Catalino Macaraig, denied petitioner's appeal for lack of
merit. The Office of the President ruled that the appeal of petitioner was prematurely filed, the matter not having been terminated
in the MNR. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied on August 14, 1987.
Hence, petitioner filed directly with this Court a petition for certiorari, with prayer for the issuance of a restraining order or writ of
preliminary injunction, on August 27, 1987. On October 13, 1987, it filed a supplement to its petition for certiorari. Thereafter,
public and private respondents submitted their respective comments, and petitioner filed its consolidated reply thereto. In a
resolution dated May 22, 1989, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition.
After a careful study of the circumstances in the case at bar, the Court finds several factors which militate against the issuance of a
writ of certiorari in favor of petitioner.
1.
Firstly, the refusal of public respondents herein to reverse final and executory administrative orders does not constitute
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
It is an established doctrine in this jurisdiction that the decisions and orders of administrative agencies have upon their finality, the
force and binding effect of a final judgment within the purview of the doctrine of res judicata. These decisions and orders are as
conclusive upon the rights of the affected parties as though the same had been rendered by a court of general jurisdiction. The rule
of res judicata thus forbids the reopening of a matter once determined by competent authority acting within their exclusive
jurisdiction [See Brillantes v. Castro, 99 Phil. 497 (1956); Ipekdjian Merchandising Co., Inc. v. Court of Tax Appeals, G.R. No. L15430, September 30, 1963, 9 SCRA 72; San Luis v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 80160, June 26, 1989].
In the case at bar, petitioner's letters to the Office of the President and the MNR [now the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) dated March 17, 1986 and April 2, 1986, respectively, sought the reconsideration of a memorandum order
issued by the Bureau of Forest Development which cancelled its timber license agreement in 1983, as well as the revocation of
TLA No. 356 subsequently issued by the Bureau to private respondents in 1984.
But as gleaned from the record, petitioner did not avail of its remedies under the law, i.e. Section 8 of Pres. Dec. No. 705 as
amended, for attacking the validity of these administrative actions until after 1986. By the time petitioner sent its letter dated April
2, 1986 to the newly appointed Minister of the MNR requesting reconsideration of the above Bureau actions, these were already
settled matters as far as petitioner was concerned [See Rueda v. Court of Agrarian Relations, 106 Phil. 300 (1959); Danan v.
Aspillera G.R. No. L-17305, November 28, 1962, 6 SCRA 609; Ocampo v. Arboleda G.R. No. L-48190, August 31, 1987, 153
SCRA 374].
No particular significance can be attached to petitioner's letter dated September 19, 1983 which petitioner claimed to have sent to
then President Marcos [Annex "6" of Petition, Rollo, pp. 50-53], seeking the reconsideration of the 1983 order issued by Director
Cortes of the Bureau. It must be pointed out that the averments in this letter are entirely different from the charges of fraud against
officials under the previous regime made by petitioner in its letters to public respondents herein. In the letter to then President
Marcos, petitioner simply contested its inclusion in the list of concessionaires, whose licenses were cancelled, by defending its
record of selective logging and reforestation practices in the subject concession area. Yet, no other administrative steps appear to

have been taken by petitioner until 1986, despite the fact that the alleged fraudulent scheme became apparent in 1984 as evidenced
by the awarding of the subject timber concession area to other entities in that year.
2.
Moreover, petitioner is precluded from availing of the benefits of a writ of certiorari in the present case because he failed
to file his petition within a reasonable period.
The principal issue ostensibly presented for resolution in the instant petition is whether or not public respondents herein acted with
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in refusing to overturn administrative orders issued by their
predecessors in the past regime. Yet, what the petition ultimately seeks is the nullification of the Bureau orders cancelling TLA No.
87 and granting TLA No. 356 to private respondent, which were issued way back in 1983 and 1984, respectively.
Once again, the fact that petitioner failed to seasonably take judicial recourse to have the earlier administrative actions reviewed by
the courts through a petition for certiorari is prejudicial to its cause. For although no specific time frame is fixed for the institution
of a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, the same must nevertheless be done within a
"reasonable time". The yardstick to measure the timeliness of a petition for certiorari is the "reasonableness of the length of time
that had expired from the commission of the acts complained of up to the institution of the proceeding to annul the same" [Toledo
v. Pardo, G.R. No. 56761, November 19, 1982, 118 SCRA 566, 571]. And failure to file the petition for certiorari within a
reasonable period of time renders the petitioner susceptible to the adverse legal consequences of laches [Municipality of Carcar v.
Court of First Instance of Cebu, G.R. No. L-31628, December 27, 1982, 119 SCRA 392).
Laches is defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to do that which by exercising due
diligence, could or should have been done earlier, or to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the
party entitled thereto has either abandoned it or declined to assert it [Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, G.R. No. L-21450, April 15, 1968, 23
SCRA 29; Seno v. Mangubat, G.R. No. L-44339, December 2, 1987, 156 SCRA 113]. The rule is that unreasonable delay on the
part of a plaintiff in seeking to enforce an alleged right may, depending upon the circumstances, be destructive of the right itself.
Verily, the laws aid those who are vigilant, not those who sleep upon their rights (Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt)
[See Buenaventura v. David, 37 Phil. 435 (1918)].
In the case at bar, petitioner waited for at least three years before it finally filed a petition for certiorari with the Court attacking the
validity of the assailed Bureau actions in 1983 and 1984. Considering that petitioner, throughout the period of its inaction, was not
deprived of the opportunity to seek relief from the courts which were normally operating at the time, its delay constitutes
unreasonable and inexcusable neglect, tantamount to laches. Accordingly, the writ of certiorari requiring the reversal of these
orders will not lie.
3.
Finally, there is a more significant factor which bars the issuance of a writ of certiorari in favor of petitioner and against
public respondents herein. It is precisely this for which prevents the Court from departing from the general application of the rules
enunciated above.
A cursory reading of the assailed orders issued by public respondent Minister Maceda of the MNR which were ed by the Office of
the President, will disclose public policy consideration which effectively forestall judicial interference in the case at bar,
Public respondents herein, upon whose shoulders rests the task of implementing the policy to develop and conserve the country's
natural resources, have indicated an ongoing department evaluation of all timber license agreements entered into, and permits or
licenses issued, under the previous dispensation. In fact, both the executive and legislative departments of the incumbent
administration are presently taking stock of its environmental policies with regard to the utilization of timber lands and developing
an agenda for future programs for their conservation and rehabilitation.
The ongoing administrative reassessment is apparently in response to the renewed and growing global concern over the
despoliation of forest lands and the utter disregard of their crucial role in sustaining a balanced ecological system. The legitimacy
of such concern can hardly be disputed, most especially in this country. The Court takes judicial notice of the profligate waste of
the country's forest resources which has not only resulted in the irreversible loss of flora and fauna peculiar to the region, but has
produced even more disastrous and lasting economic and social effects. The delicate balance of nature having been upset, a vicious
cycle of floods and droughts has been triggered and the supply of food and energy resources required by the people seriously
depleted.
While there is a desire to harness natural resources to amass profit and to meet the country's immediate financial requirements, the
more essential need to ensure future generations of Filipinos of their survival in a viable environment demands effective and
circumspect action from the government to check further denudation of whatever remains of the forest lands. Nothing less is
expected of the government, in view of the clear constitutional command to maintain a balanced and healthful ecology. Section 16
of Article II of the 1987 Constitution provides:
SEC. 16. The State shall protect and promote the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm
and harmony of nature.
Thus, while the administration grapples with the complex and multifarious problems caused by unbridled exploitation of these
resources, the judiciary will stand clear. A long line of cases establish the basic rule that the courts will not interfere in matters
which are addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under the
special technical knowledge and training of such agencies [See Espinosa v. Makalintal, 79 Phil. 134 (1947); Coloso v. Board of
Accountancy, 92 Phil. 938 (1953); Pajo v. Ago, 108 Phil. 905 (1960); Suarez v. Reyes, G.R. No. L-19828, February 28, 1963, 7
SCRA 461; Ganitano v. Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, G. R. No. L-21167, March 31, 1966, 16 SCRA 543;
Villegas v. Auditor General, G.R. No. L-21352, November 29, 1966, 18 SCRA 877; Manuel v. Villena, G.R. No. L-28218,
February 27, 1971, 37 SCRA 745; Lacuesta v. Herrera, G.R. No. L-33646, January 28, 1975, 62 SCRA 115; Lianga Bay Logging
Co., Inc. v. Enage, G.R. No. L-30637, July 16, 1987, 152 SCRA 80]. More so where, as in the present case, the interests of a

private logging company are pitted against that of the public at large on the pressing public policy issue of forest conservation. For
this Court recognizes the wide latitude of discretion possessed by the government in determining the appropriate actions to be
taken to preserve and manage natural resources, and the proper parties who should enjoy the privilege of utilizing these resources
[Director of Forestry v. Munoz, G.R. No. L-24796, June 28, 1968, 23 SCRA 1183; Lim, Sr. v. The Secretary of Agriculture and
Natural Resources, G.R. No. L-26990, August 31, 1970, 34 SCRA 751]. Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the
principal instruments by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare
is promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the State to qualified entities, and do
not vest in the latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the forest products therein. They may be
validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are not
deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law clause [See Sections 3 (ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as
amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry, G.R. No. L-24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302].
In fine, the legal precepts highlighted in the foregoing discussion more than suffice to justify the Court's refusal to interfere in the
DENR evaluation of timber licenses and permits issued under the previous regime, or to pre-empt the adoption of appropriate
corrective measures by the department.
Nevertheless, the Court cannot help but express its concern regarding alleged irregularities in the issuance of timber license
agreements to a number of logging concessionaires.
The grant of licenses or permits to exploit the country's timber resources, if done in contravention of the procedure outlined in the
law, or as a result of fraud and undue influence exerted on department officials, is indicative of an arbitrary and whimsical exercise
of the State's power to regulate the use and exploitation of forest resources. The alleged practice of bestowing "special favors" to
preferred individuals, regardless of merit, would be an abuse of this power. And this Court will not be a party to a flagrant mockery
of the avowed public policy of conservation enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. Therefore, should the appropriate case be brought
showing a clear grave abuse of discretion on the part of officials in the DENR and related bureaus with respect to the
implementation of this public policy, the Court win not hesitate to step in and wield its authority, when invoked, in the exercise of
judicial powers under the Constitution [Section 1, Article VIII].
However, petitioner having failed to make out a case showing grave abuse of discretion on the part of public respondents herein,
the Court finds no basis to issue a writ of certiorari and to grant any of the affirmative reliefs sought.
WHEREFORE, the present petition is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.

DENR v. Daraman 377 SCRA 39

[G.R. No. 125797. February 15, 2002]

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT and NATURAL RESOURCES (DENR), Region VIII, Tacloban City, Represented
by Regional Executive Director Israel C. Gaddi, petitioner, vs. GREGORIO DARAMAN, NARCISO LUCENECIO and
Hon. CLEMENTE C. ROSALES, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 32, Calbayog City, respondents.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Under the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, particularly Section 68-A, the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources secretary or a duly authorized representative may order the confiscation in favor of the government of, among others,
the vehicles used in the commission of offenses punishable by the said Code.
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the December 6, 1995
Decision[1] and the June 3, 1996 Order[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Calbayog City (Branch 32) in Criminal Case No.
1958. The assailed Decision disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, for insufficiency of evidence, the Court hereby declares accused GREGORIO DARAMAN and NARCISO
LUCENECIO acquitted of the crime charged, with costs de [o]ficio.
The bond of the accused is hereby cancelled.

The court hereby orders the CENR Officer of Samar, or any DENR employee who is taking custody of the Holy Cross Funeral
Services vehicle St. Jude, with Plate No. HAJ-848, to return the said vehicle to the owner thereof. [3]
The assailed Order denied the Motion for Reconsideration challenging the last paragraph of the Decision regarding the return
of the subject vehicle to herein respondents.
The Facts
In the assailed Decision, the trial court summarized the facts of this case as follows:
The accused herein Gregorio Daraman and Narciso Lucenecio are charged [with] violation of Section 68 of Presidential Decree
No. 705 as amended by Executive Order No. 277 in an information which is quoted herein below:
That on or about the 30th day of November, 1993, at about 1:00 oclock in the afternoon, at Barangay Bulao, Municipality of San
Jorge, Province of Samar, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring,
confederating together and mutually helping one another, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously gather, collect
and possess seventy two (72) pieces of assorted sizes of lumber, with a total volume of 72.93 board feet valued at SEVEN
HUNDRED TWENTY NINE PESOS (P729.30) and THIRTY CENTAVOS, without first securing and obtaining any permit or
license therefor from the proper authorities, thus Violating Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. 705, as amended and further
Amended by Executive Order No. 277, series of 1989.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Assisted by their counsels, the accused were arraigned and they entered the plea of not guilty.
Thereafter trial was conducted.
The prosecution presented Pablo Opinion who testified as follows:
That he is an employee of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as a Forest Ranger. On November 30, 1993 at
about 1:00 oclock in the afternoon, while he was in his house in Brgy. Bulao, San Jorge, Samar, a vehicle named St. Jude with
Plate No. HAJ-848 coming from barangay Blanca Aurora passed by. He stopped the said vehicle and found some lumber of
assorted sizes [and] wood shavings inside. The lumber consisted of 62 pieces of 1 x 2 x 4, 16 pieces of 1 x 24 x 2.3 and 1 piece of
1 x 2 x 4. In his estimate at the price of P10.00 per board foot the total value of the lumber would beP729.30. He asked the driver
for [the] owner of the lumber and he was informed that it was a certain Asan of Brgy. Blanca Aurora. The driver also informed him
that the vehicle was owned by his employer,Narciso Lucenecio of the Holy Cross Funeral Services in Calbayog City. He then took
hold of the vehicle and the assorted lumber and, thereafter, he issued a Seizure Receipt marked as Exhs. B and series. He also took
photographs of the lumber which are now marked as Exhs. C and series. Besides, he signed a Joint Affidavit
with Oligario Mabansag, also a Forest Ranger. When he asked the driver GregorioDaraman for some papers for the assorted
lumber, the latter replied that he had none because they were not his. Daraman further told him that [they] went to Brgy. Blanca
Aurora to secure some wood shavings from the furniture shop owned by Asan and Asan merely asked him a favor of loading his
assorted lumbers in the vehicle of the Holy Cross Funeral Services to be brought to his (Asans) house
inBarangay Abrero, Calbayog City.
The prosecution has still another witness in the person of Oligario Mabansag, but both the prosecution and the defense agreed to
dispense with his testimony considering that the case would be merely corroborative [of] those already offered by Pablo Opinion.
The prosecution rested its case with the admission of Exhs. A and B and their series. Its Exhs. C and series were rejected because
the photographer who took them did not testify to identify [them].
For the defense, only accused Gregorio Daraman testified because his co-accused would merely offer corroborative testimony.
From his testimony, the following facts have been established:
That on November 30, 1993 in the afternoon his employer Baby Lucenecio instructed him to procure some wood shavings
(sinapyo) in San Jorge, Samar. He used the service vehicle of the Holy Cross Funeral Services. His companion[s]
were Melio Bedoya, Fanny Fiel and Ragi Mabutol. They went to barangay Blanca Aurora, San Jorge, Samar and thereat, they got
some wood shavings from the furniture shop owned by a certain Asan Abing. They loaded 20 sacks of wood shavings, each sack
measuring 22 inches in height by 32 1/2 inches in circumference as he demonstrated in court. The wood shavings [were] being
used by the Holy Cross Funeral Services as cushions in the coffin. After the 20 sacks of wood shavings were
loaded, Asan Abing asked him a favor to bring his (Asan) assorted lumber to his house in Brgy. Obrero, Calbayog City where the
Holy Cross Funeral Services [was] also located. Asan himself personally loaded his assorted lumber into the vehicle. The subject
assorted lumber were already in the furniture shop where they got the wood shavings. On their way home as they passed
by Brgy. Bulao, Pablo Opinion stopped him and took the wood shavings. Opinion also inquired about the assorted lumber and he
told him that they were owned by Asan, owner of the furniture shop in Brgy. Blanca Aurora, who loaded them in his vehicle to be

brought to his (Asans) house in Barangay Obrero, CalbayogCity. He told Opinion also that Asan advised him that if somebody
would [ask] about his lumber, just to tell the person that Asan had the papers for the lumber with him in his furniture shop at Brgy.
Blanca Aurora, San Jorge, Samar. Pablo Opinion, however, did not take his word and he instead impounded the vehicle together
with the assorted lumber. At about 5:00 oclock in the afternoon, the vehicle was still not returned to him and so
Gregorio Daraman left and returned to his employer at Brgy. Obrero, Calbayog City and told the latter about what happened.[4]
After trial, the RTC acquitted both accused and ordered the return of the disputed vehicle to Lucenecio.
Prior to these court proceedings, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Community and Environment and
Natural Resources Office (DENR-CENRO) of Catbalogan,Samar conducted administrative confiscation proceedings on the seized
lumber and vehicle in the presence of private respondents. [5] The two failed to present documents to show the legality of their
possession and transportation of the lumber seized. Hence, CENRO Officer Marciano T. Talavera recommended to the Regional
Executive Director (RED) the final confiscation of the seized lumber and conveyance. [6] Atty. Pastor C. Salazar filed a
Memorandum dated January 26, 1994, concurring with the recommendation to forfeit the lumber and the vehicle seized from
private respondents. The Memorandum was approved by RED Augustus L. Momongan and Arty. Fiel I. Marmita, chief of the
Legal Division of the DENR, Region VIII,Tacloban City.[7]
Atty. Rogelio G. Bato Jr. of DENR, Region 8, Tacloban City, moved for the reconsideration of the assailed Decision, only
insofar as it ordered the return of the said vehicle to the owner thereof. [8] He contended that the vehicle had already been
administratively confiscated by the DENR on December 2, 1993, and that the RED approved its forfeiture on January 26, 1994.
[9]
He further claimed that the DENR had exclusive jurisdiction over the conveyance, which had been used in violation of the
Revised Forestry Code pursuant to Section 68-A of PD 705, as amended by EO 277.
The trial court denied the Motion via the assailed Order.
Ruling of the Trial Court
The trial court acquitted private respondents for insufficiency of evidence. The unrebutted testimony of
Respondent Daraman was that, in exchange for the wood shavings from Asan, the former agreed to take the lumber to the latters
house in Calbayog City, where the Holy Cross Funeral Services office was also located. Asan advised Daraman to reply, when
asked, that the papers showing the authorization for the lumber were in the formers shop in Barangay Blanca Aurora. Finding the
evidence against Respondent Lucenecio to be likewise insufficient, the RTC considered the vehicle as an effect of the crime and
ordered its delivery to him.
In the challenged Order, the trial court ruled that the Motion for Reconsideration was untenable on procedural and substantive
grounds. Since Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Feliciano Aguilar did not sign the Motion, the RTC deemed his silence a sign of his
disapproval of the Motion.
Substantively, the trial court ruled:
x x x [T]he Court finds the motion still wanting in merits considering that as found by the Court the owner of the vehicle in
question, St. Jude, which is the Holy Cross Funeral Parlor owned by accusedNarciso Lucenecio, did not commit any violation of
P.D. 705. Likewise, the prosecution failed to sufficiently establish that accused Gregorio Daraman had taken or kept control of the
lumber subject of the motion which would thereby demonstrate that he had x x x possession of the subject forest products. Instead,
as established by the evidence it was a certain Asan who owned the subject lumber. xxx.
xxx xxx xxx
The decision of the Court has never been brought on appeal, thereby the same has long become final and executory.
Again, as shown by the evidence in the alleged confiscation proceedings conducted by the OIC DENR
Officer Marciano Talavera of Samar on December 2, 1992, the lumber in question [was] found to be owned by Asan Abing. But
notwithstanding this fact, for reasons not known to the Court, the said Asan Abing was never made an accused in the present case.
Sec. 68-1 of P.D. 705 contemplates a situation where the owner of the vehicle is himself a violator of P.D. 705 or has been found to
have conspired with any other persons who committed the violation of Sec. 68 of P.D. 705 or consented to the use of his vehicle in
violating the said law. In the present case as shown by the evidence, neither the Holy Cross Funeral Parlor or its owner
accused Narciso Lucenecio has committed a violation of P.D. 705 as already declared by the Court in its decision of December 6,
1995 nor the driver, accused Gregorio Daraman. In fact both were declared acquitted of the violation charged, and the decision has
not been appealed.[10]
Hence, this Petition.[11]

Issues
In its Memorandum, petitioner raises the following issues for the Courts consideration:
(A) Regional Trial Courts have no jurisdiction and/or authority to order x x x the return of property already owned by
the government.
(B) Respondent judge utterly disregarded and/or misinterpreted the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 705, as
amended by Executive Order No. 277, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.
(C) The government is not estopped from protecting its interest by reason of mistake, error or failure of its officers to
perform their duties.[12]
Stated simply, the issues are: (1) whether the RTC had jurisdiction to release the confiscated vehicle; (2) whether the trial
court misconstrued PD 705, as amended; and (3) whether, as a result of its filing of the criminal action, petitioner is estopped from
confiscating the vehicle administratively.
The Courts Ruling
The Petition is meritorious.
First Issue:
Jurisdiction to Order Return of Vehicle
Petitioner contends that the RTC overstepped its jurisdiction when it ordered the return of the disputed vehicle, because the
vehicle had already become government property by virtue of the forfeiture Order issued by DENR on January 26, 1994. The
DENR secretary or his duly authorized representative, under Section 68-A of PD 705 as amended by EO 277, may order the
confiscation and disposition of all conveyances -- by land, water or air -- used in illegally cutting, gathering, removing, possessing
or abandoning forest products.
We agree. Jurisdiction is conferred by substantive law.[13] A comparison of the provisions of the two relevant sections of PD
705, as amended, shows that the jurisdiction of the RTC covers the confiscation of the timber or forest products as well as the
machinery, equipment, implements and tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products are found; it is the
DENR that has jurisdiction over the confiscation of forest products and, to stress, all conveyances used in the commission of the
offense. Section 68 reads:
Section 68. Cutting, Gathering and/or Collecting Timber, or Other Forest Products Without License. -- Any person who shall cut,
gather, collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or
from private land, without any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under
existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal
Code: x x x.
The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut, gathered,
collected, removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery, equipment, implements and tools illegally used in the area where the
timber or forest products are found.[14]
Section 68-A, in contrast, provides:
SEC. 68-A. Administrative Authority of the Department Head or His Duly Authorized Representative to Order Confiscation. -- In
all cases of violations of this Code or other forest laws rules and regulations, the Department Head or his duly authorized
representative, may order the confiscation of any forest products illegally cut, gathered, removed, or possessed or abandoned, and
all conveyances used either by land, water or air in the commission of the offense and to dispose of the same in accordance with
pertinent laws, regulations or policies on the matter.[15]
If a statute is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be understood in its literal meaning and applied without resort to
interpretation, on the presumption that its wording correctly expresses its intent or will. The courts may not construe it differently.
[16]

Machinery is a collective term for machines and appliances used in the industrial arts; [17] equipment covers physical facilities
available for production, including buildings, machineries and tools; [18] and implements pertains to whatever may supply a want,
especially an instrument, tool or utensil. [19] These terms do not include conveyances that are specifically covered by Section 68-A.
The implementing guidelines of Section 68-A define conveyance in a manner that includes any type or class of vehicle, craft,

whether motorized or not, used either in land, water or air, or a combination thereof or any mode of transport used in the
movement of any forest product.[20]
Hence, the original and exclusive jurisdiction over the confiscation of all conveyances used either by land, water or air in the
commission of the offense and to dispose of the same is vested in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
secretary or a duly authorized representative. The DENR secretary has supervision and control over the enforcement of forestry,
reforestation, parks, game and wildlife laws, rules and regulations.[21]
To implement Section 68-A, DENR promulgated Administrative Order (AO) No. 54-93, amending Department
Administrative Order (DAO) No. 59-90. AO 54-93 provides the guidelines for the confiscation, forfeiture and disposition of
conveyances used in violation of forestry laws, rules and regulations.
Even the Information filed in Criminal Case No. 1958 limited the acts attributed to private respondents to willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously gather, collect and possess seventy two (72) pieces of assorted sizes of lumber, x x x without first
securing and obtaining any permit or license therefor from the proper authorities, x x x. The Information did not contain any
allegation pertaining to the transportation or conveyance of illegally cut, gathered, possessed or abandoned lumber in violation of
Section 68-A of PD 705, as amended.
Confiscation Without Due Process
Private respondents main defense is that the Order of Forfeiture (Annex C) is a false, falsified and perjurious document. The
Order was attached to and made part of the record only when petitioner filed its Motion for Reconsideration dated February 6,
1996, or only after the trial court rendered the assailed Decision. Petitioner made it appear, according to the private respondents,
that RED Momongan had approved the Memorandum on January 26, 1994. This does not appear to be true because Atty. Marmita,
officer-in-charge (OIC) of the DENR Legal Division of Tacloban City, signed the Memorandum recommending approval only
on January 31, 1994.
Further, on April 6, 1995, Judge Rosales of the RTC of Calbayog City (Branch 32) ordered the provincial environment and
natural resources officer to transfer the confiscated vehicle and pieces of lumber in connection with the prosecution of Criminal
Case 1958.[22] Reynaldo R. Villafuerte, OIC of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), replied that his
office could not deliver the vehicle because it was not in running condition.[23]
We are not persuaded. The validity and legality of the Order of Forfeiture falls outside the ambit of the review of the assailed
Decision and Order. The basis for the assailed Order to release the vehicle was private respondents acquittal of the charge of
violating Section 68. On the other hand, the forfeiture Order issued by the DENR was based on Section 68-A, which involved a
distinct and separate matter cognizable by it. Petitioner is questioning only the RTCs jurisdiction over the assailed Order to release
the confiscated vehicle. Private respondents have not appealed the DENRs Order of Forfeiture, the validity of which can thus be
presumed.[24] The genuineness of the Order and its proper service upon them are factual issues that will not be dwelt upon by this
Court, which is not a trier of facts.[25]
The jurisdiction of this Court, under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Court, is in the main limited to reviewing legal errors
committed by a lower court.[26] Under PD 705, the actions and the decisions of the DENR are reviewable by the courts only
through special civil actions for certiorari or prohibition.[27]
Second Issue:
Construing PD 705, as Amended
Petitioner alleges that the RTC misinterpreted the law when it held that Section 68-A, PD 705 contemplated a situation in
which the very owner of the vehicle was the violator or was a conspirator with other violators of that law. Department Order No.
54, Series of 1993, provides that the proceedings for the confiscation and the forfeiture of the conveyance shall be directed against
its owner, and that lack of knowledge of its illegal use shall not bar its forfeiture.
In the present Petition, the trial court ruled in the assailed Order that Section 68-A of PD 705 contemplated a situation in
which the very owner of the vehicle violated this law or conspired with other persons who violated it or consented to the use of his
or her vehicle in violating it. Respondents Lucenecio and Daraman were not shown to have violated PD 705, and their acquittals
were not appealed.
We side with petitioner. The guilt or the innocence of the accused in the criminal case is immaterial, because what is punished
under Section 68 is the transportation, movement or conveyance of forest products without legal documents. The DENR secretary
or the authorized representatives do not possess criminal jurisdiction; thus, they are not capable of making such a ruling, which is
properly a function of the courts. Even Section 68-A of PD 705, as amended, does not clothe petitioner with that authority.

Conversely, the same law takes out of the general jurisdiction of the regional trial courts the confiscation of conveyances used
in violation of forestry laws. Hence, we cannot expect the DENR to rule on the criminal liability of the accused before it impounds
such vehicles. Section 68-A covers only the movement of lumber or forest products without proper documents. Where the
language of a statute is clear and unambiguous, the law is applied according to its express terms, and interpretation is resorted to
only where a literal interpretation would lead to either an absurdity or an injustice.[28]
We also uphold petitioners argument that the release of the vehicle to private respondents would defeat the purpose and
undermine the implementation of forestry laws. The preamble of the amendment in EO 277 underscores the urgency to conserve
the remaining forest resources of the country for the benefit of the present and future generations. Our forest resources may be
effectively conserved and protected only through the vigilant enforcement and implementation of our forestry laws. [29] Strong
paramount public policy should not be degraded by narrow constructions of the law that frustrate its clear intent or unreasonably
restrict its scope.[30]
Third Issue:
Estoppel

In view of the foregoing, it becomes unnecessary for this Court to resolve petitioners third issue. It is no longer material to rule on
whether it was erroneous for the RTC to hold that the assistant provincial prosecutors failure to comment on petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration was an implied disapproval thereof. The public prosecutors disapproval does not vest in the trial court the
jurisdiction or authority to release the vehicle to private respondents.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision and Order are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Merida v. People 554 SCRA 366

FIRST DIVISION

SESINANDO MERIDA, G.R. No. 158182


Petitioner,
Present:

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,


CARPIO,
- versus - AZCUNA,
CORONA, and
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:


Respondent. June 12, 2008

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This is a petition for review[1] of the Decision[2] dated 28 June 2002 and the Resolution dated 14 May 2003 of the Court of Appeals.
The 28 June 2002 Decision affirmed the conviction of petitioner Sesinando Merida (petitioner) for violation of Section 68,
[3]
Presidential Decree No. 705 (PD 705),[4] as amended by Executive Order No. 277. The Resolution dated 14 May 2003 denied
admission of petitioners motion for reconsideration.[5]

The Facts

Petitioner was charged in the Regional Trial Court of Romblon, Romblon, Branch 81 (trial court) with violation of
Section 68 of PD 705, as amended, for cut[ting], gather[ing], collect[ing] and remov[ing] a lone narra tree inside a private land in
Mayod, Ipil, Magdiwang, Romblon (Mayod Property) over which private complainant Oscar M. Tansiongco (Tansiongco) claims
ownership.[6]
The prosecution evidence showed that on 23 December 1998, Tansiongco learned that petitioner cut a narra tree in the
Mayod Property. Tansiongco reported the matter to Florencio Royo (Royo), the punong barangay of Ipil. On 24 December 1998,
[7]
Royo summoned petitioner to a meeting with Tansiongco. When confronted during the meeting about the felled narra tree,
petitioner admitted cutting the tree but claimed that he did so with the permission of one Vicar Calix (Calix) who, according to
petitioner, bought the Mayod Property from Tansiongco in October 1987 under a pacto de retro sale. Petitioner showed to Royo
Calixs written authorization signed by Calixs wife.[8]
On 11 January 1999, Tansiongco reported the tree-cutting to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR) forester Thelmo S. Hernandez (Hernandez) in Sibuyan, Romblon. When Hernandez confronted petitioner about the felled
tree, petitioner reiterated his earlier claim to Royo that he cut the tree with Calixs permission. Hernandez ordered petitioner not to
convert the felled tree trunk into lumber.
On 26 January 1999, Tansiongco informed Hernandez that petitioner had converted the narra trunk into lumber.
Hernandez, with other DENR employees and enforcement officers, went to the Mayod Property and saw that the narra tree had
been cut into six smaller pieces of lumber. Hernandez took custody of the lumber,[9] deposited them for safekeeping with Royo, and
issued an apprehension receipt to petitioner. A larger portion of the felled tree remained at the Mayod Property. The DENR
subsequently conducted an investigation on the matter.[10]
Tansiongco filed a complaint with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Romblon (Provincial Prosecutor) charging
petitioner with violation of Section 68 of PD 705, as amended. During the preliminary investigation, petitioner submitted a
counter-affidavit reiterating his claim that he cut the narra tree with Calixs permission. The Provincial Prosecutor[11] found probable
cause to indict petitioner and filed the Information with the trial court (docketed as Criminal Case No. 2207).
During the trial, the prosecution presented six witnesses including Tansiongco, Royo, and Hernandez who testified on the
events leading to the discovery of and investigation on the tree-cutting. Petitioner testified as the lone defense witness and claimed,
for the first time, that he had no part in the tree-cutting.
The Ruling of the Trial Court
In its Decision dated 24 November 2000, the trial court found petitioner guilty as charged, sentenced him to fourteen (14) years,
eight (8) months and one (1) day to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal and ordered the seized lumber forfeited in
Tansiongcos favor.[12] The trial court dismissed petitioners defense of denial in view of his repeated extrajudicial admissions that he
cut the narra tree in the Mayod Property with Calixs permission. With this finding and petitioners lack of DENR permit to cut the
tree, the trial court held petitioner liable for violation of Section 68 of PD 705, as amended.
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals reiterating his defense of denial. Petitioner also contended that (1) the trial court did
not acquire jurisdiction over the case because it was based on a complaint filed by Tansiongco and not by a forest officer as
provided under Section 80 of PD 705 and (2) the penalty imposed by the trial court is excessive.
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In its Decision dated 28 June 2002, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts ruling but ordered the seized lumber confiscated
in the governments favor.[13] The Court of Appeals sustained the trial courts finding that petitioner is bound by his extrajudicial
admissions of cutting the narra tree in the Mayod Property without any DENR permit. The Court of Appeals also found nothing

irregular in the filing of the complaint by Tansiongco instead of a DENR forest officer considering that the case underwent
preliminary investigation by the proper officer who filed the Information with the trial court.
On the imposable penalty, the Court of Appeals, in the dispositive portion of its ruling, sentenced petitioner to 14 years, 8 months
and 1 day to 17 years of reclusion temporal.However, in the body of its ruling, the Court of Appeals held that the penalty to be
imposed on [petitioner] should be (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal,[14] the
same penalty the trial court imposed.
Petitioner sought reconsideration but the Court of Appeals, in its Resolution dated 14 May 2003, did not admit his motion for
having been filed late.[15]
Hence, this petition. Petitioner raises the following issues:
I. WHETHER x x x SECTION 68 OF P.D. 705 AS AMENDED PROHIBITING THE CUTTING,
GATHERING, COLLECTING AND REMOVING TIMBER OR OTHER FOREST PRODUCTS FROM ANY
FOREST LAND APPLIES TO PETITIONER.
II. WHETHER x x x POSSESSION OF THE NARRA TREE CUT IN PRIVATE LAND CONTESTED BY
VICAR CALIX AND PRIVATE-COMPLAINANT OSCAR TANSIONGCO IS COVERED BY SECTION 80
OF P.D. 705 AS AMENDED.
III. WHETHER PRIVATE-COMPLAINANT CAN INITIATE THE CHARGE EVEN WITHOUT THE
STANDING AUTHORITY COMING FROM THE INVESTIGATING FORESTOFFICER OF THE
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES AS MANDATED BY SECTION 80 OF
P.D. 705 AS AMENDED.
[IV.] WHETHER x x x THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN TAKING COGNIZANCE OF THE CASE FILED BY
PRIVATE-COMPLAINANT BECAUSE IT WAS NOT THE INVESTIGATING OFFICER AS REQUIRED BY
SECTION 80 OF P.D. 705 AS AMENDED WHO MUST BE THE ONE TO INSTITUTE THE FILING OF
THE SAME.[16]
In its Comment to the petition, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) countered that (1) the trial court acquired jurisdiction
over the case even though Tansiongco, and not a DENR forest officer, filed the complaint against petitioner and (2) petitioner is
liable for violation of Section 68 of PD 705, as amended.
The Issues
The petition raises the following issues:[17]
1) Whether the trial court acquired jurisdiction over Criminal Case No. 2207 even though it was based on a complaint filed by
Tansiongco and not by a DENR forest officer; and
2) Whether petitioner is liable for violation of Section 68 of PD 705, as amended.
The Ruling of the Court
The petition has no merit.
The Trial Court Acquired Jurisdiction Over
Criminal Case No. 2207
We sustain the OSGs claim that the trial court acquired jurisdiction over Criminal Case No. 2207. The Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure (Revised Rules) list the cases which must be initiated by a complaint filed by specified individuals, [18] non-compliance
of which ousts the trial court of jurisdiction from trying such cases. [19] However, these cases concern only defamation and other
crimes against chastity[20] and not to cases concerning Section 68 of PD 705, as amended. Further, Section 80 of PD 705 does not
prohibit an interested person from filing a complaint before any qualified officer for violation of Section 68 of PD 705, as
amended. Section 80 of PD 705 provides in relevant parts:
SECTION 80. Arrest; Institution of criminal actions. x x x x
Reports and complaints regarding the commission of any of the offenses defined in this Chapter, not
committed in the presence of any forest officer or employee, or any of the deputized officers or officials, shall
immediately be investigated by the forest officer assigned in the area where the offense was allegedly
committed, who shall thereupon receive the evidence supporting the report or complaint.
If there is prima facie evidence to support the complaint or report, the investigating forest officer shall file
the necessary complaint with the appropriate official authorized by law to conduct a preliminary
investigation of criminal cases and file an information in Court. (Emphasis supplied)
We held in People v. CFI of Quezon [21] that the phrase reports and complaints in Section 80 refers to reports and
complaints as might be brought to the forest officer assigned to the area by other forest officers or employees of the Bureau of
Forest Development or any of the deputized officers or officials, for violations of forest laws not committed in their presence. [22]
Here, it was not forest officers or employees of the Bureau of Forest Development or any of the deputized officers or officials who
reported to Hernandez the tree-cutting in the Mayod Property but Tansiongco, a private citizen who claims ownership over the
Mayod Property. Thus, Hernandez cannot be faulted for not conducting an investigation to determine if there is prima facie

evidence to support the complaint or report. [23] At any rate, Tansiongco was not precluded, either under Section 80 of PD 705 or the
Revised Rules, from filing a complaint before the Provincial Prosecutor for petitioners alleged violation of Section 68 of PD 705,
as amended. For its part, the trial court correctly took cognizance of Criminal Case No. 2207 as the case falls within its exclusive
original jurisdiction.[24]
Petitioner is Liable for Cutting Timber in Private
Property Without Permit
Section 68, as amended, one of the 12 acts[25] penalized under PD 705, provides:
SECTION 68. Cutting, Gathering and/or Collecting Timber, or Other Forest Products Without License.
Any person who shall cut, gather, collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forest land,
or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land, without any authority, or possess
timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and
regulations, shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code:
Provided, That in the case of partnerships, associations, or corporations, the officers who ordered the cutting,
gathering, collection or possession shall be liable, and if such officers are aliens, they shall, in addition to the
penalty, be deported without further proceedings on the part of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation.
The court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest
products cut, gathered, collected, removed, or possessed as well as the machinery, equipment, implements and
tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products are found. (Emphasis supplied)
Section 68 penalizes three categories of acts: (1) the cutting, gathering, collecting, or removing of timber or other forest
products from any forest land without any authority; (2) the cutting, gathering, collecting, or removing of timber from alienable
or disposable public land, or from private land without any authority;[26] and (3) the possession of timber or other forest products
without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations. [27] Petitioner stands charged of having cut,
gathered, collected and removed timber or other forest products from a private land[28] without x x x the necessary permit x x x thus
his liablity, if ever, should be limited only for cut[ting], gather[ing], collect[ing] and remov[ing] timber, under the second category.
Further, the prosecution evidence showed that petitioner did not perform any acts of gathering, collecting, or removing but only the
act of cutting a lone narra tree. Hence, this case hinges on the question of whether petitioner cut x x x timber in the Mayod
Property without a DENR permit.[29]
We answer in the affirmative and thus affirm the lower courts rulings.
On the question of whether petitioner cut a narra tree in the Mayod Property without a DENR permit, petitioner adopted
conflicting positions. Before his trial, petitioner consistently represented to the authorities that he cut a narra tree in the Mayod
Property and that he did so only with Calixs permission. However, when he testified, petitioner denied cutting the tree in question.
We sustain the lower courts rulings that petitioners extrajudicial admissions bind him. [30] Petitioner does not explain why Royo and
Hernandez, public officials who testified under oath in their official capacities, would lie on the stand to implicate petitioner in a
serious criminal offense, not to mention that the acts of these public officers enjoy the presumption of regularity. Further, petitioner
does not deny presenting Calixs authorization to Royo and Hernandez as his basis for cutting the narra tree in the Mayod Property.
Petitioner has no use of Calixs authorization if, as he claimed during the trial, he did not cut any tree in the Mayod Property.
We further hold that the lone narre tree petitioner cut from the Mayod Property constitutes timber under Section 68 of PD 705, as
amended. PD 705 does not define timber, only forest product (which circuitously includes timber.) [31] Does the narra tree in
question constitute timber under Section 68? The closest this Court came to defining the term timber in Section 68 was to provide
that timber, includes lumber or processed log.[32] In other jurisdictions, timber is determined by compliance with specified
dimensions[33]or certain stand age or rotation age. [34] In Mustang Lumber, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[35] this Court was faced with a
similar task of having to define a term in Section 68 of PD 705 - lumber - to determine whether possession of lumber is punishable
under that provision. In ruling in the affirmative, we held that lumber should be taken in its ordinary or common usage meaning to
refer to processed log or timber, thus:
The Revised Forestry Code contains no definition of either timber or lumber. While the former is included in
forest products as defined in paragraph (q) of Section 3, the latter is found in paragraph (aa) of the same section
in the definition of Processing plant, which reads:
(aa) Processing plant is any mechanical set-up, machine or combination of machine used for
the processing of logs and other forest raw materials into lumber, veneer, plywood, wallboard,
blackboard, paper board, pulp, paper or other finished wood products.
This simply means that lumber is a processed log or processed forest raw material. Clearly, the Code uses the
term lumber in its ordinary or common usage. In the 1993 copyright edition of Websters Third New International
Dictionary, lumber is defined, inter alia, as timber or logs after being prepared for the market. Simply put,
lumber is a processed log or timber.
It is settled that in the absence of legislative intent to the contrary, words and phrases used in a statute
should be given their plain, ordinary, and common usage meaning. And in so far as possession
of timber without the required legal documents is concerned, Section 68 of PD No. 705, as amended, makes no
distinction between raw and procesed timber. Neither should we. [36] x x x x (Italicization in the original;
boldfacing supplied)
We see no reason why, as in Mustang, the term timber under Section 68 cannot be taken in its common acceptation as referring to
wood used for or suitable for building or for carpentry or joinery. [37] Indeed, tree saplings or tiny tree stems that are too small for
use as posts, panelling, beams, tables, or chairs cannot be considered timber.[38]

Here, petitioner was charged with having felled a narra tree and converted the same into several pieces of sawn lumber, about three
(3) pcs. 2x16x6 and three (3) pcs. 2x18x7 x x x consisting of 111 board feet x x x. These measurements were indicated in the
apprehension receipt Hernandez issued to petitioner on 26 January 1999 which the prosecution introduced in evidence. [39] Further,
Hernandez testified that the larger portion of the felled log left in the Mayod Property measured 76 something centimeters [at the
big end] while the smaller end measured 65 centimeters and the length was 2.8 meters. [40] Undoubtedly, the narra tree petitioner
felled and converted to lumber was timber fit for building or for carpentry or joinery and thus falls under the ambit of Section 68 of
PD 705, as amended.
The Penalty Imposable on Petitioner
Violation of Section 68 of PD 705, as amended, is punishable as Qualified Theft under Article 310 in relation to Article 309 of the
Revised Penal Code (RPC), thus:
Art. 310. Qualified theft. - The crime of qualified theft shall be punished by the penalties next higher by two
degrees than those respectively specified in the next preceding article x x x.
Art. 309. Penalties. - Any person guilty of theft shall be punished by:
1. The penalty of prisin mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the thing stolen is more than
12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos; but if the value of the thing stolen exceeds the latter amount, the
penalty shall be the maximum period of the one prescribed in this paragraph, and one year for each additional ten
thousand pesos, but the total of the penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases,
and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions
of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prisin mayor or reclusin temporal, as the case may be.
2. The penalty of prisin correccional in its medium and maximum periods, if the value of the thing stolen is more
than 6,000 pesos but does not exceed 12,000 pesos.
3. The penalty of prisin correccional in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the property stolen is
more than 200 pesos but does not exceed 6,000 pesos.
4. Arresto mayor in its medium period to prisin correccional in its minimum period, if the value of the property
stolen is over 50 pesos but does not exceed 200 pesos.
5. Arresto mayor to its full extent, if such value is over 5 pesos but does not exceed 50 pesos.
6. Arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if such value does not exceed 5 pesos.
7. Arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, if the theft is committed under the circumstances enumerated
in paragraph 3 of the next preceding article and the value of the thing stolen does not exceed 5 pesos. If such
value exceeds said amount, the provisions of any of the five preceding subdivisions shall be made applicable.
.
8. Arresto menor in its minimum period or a fine not exceeding 50 pesos, when the value of the thing stolen is
not over 5 pesos, and the offender shall have acted under the impulse of hunger, poverty, or the difficulty of
earning a livelihood for the support of himself or his family.

The Information filed against petitioner alleged that the six pieces of lumber measuring 111 board feet were valued at P3,330.
However, if the value of the log left at the Mayod Property is included, the amount increases to P20,930.40. To prove this
allegation, the prosecution relied on Hernandezs testimony that these amounts, as stated in the apprehension receipt he issued, are
his estimates based on prevailing local price.[41]
This evidence does not suffice. To prove the amount of the property taken for fixing the penalty imposable against the accused
under Article 309 of the RPC, the prosecution must present more than a mere uncorroborated estimate of such fact. [42] In the
absence of independent and reliable corroboration of such estimate, courts may either apply the minimum penalty under Article
309 or fix the value of the property taken based on the attendant circumstances of the case. [43] In People v. Dator[44] where, as here,
the accused was charged with violation of Section 68 of PD 705, as amended, for possession of lumber without permit, the
prosecutions evidence for the lumbers value consisted of an estimate made by the apprehending authorities whose apparent lack of
corroboration was compounded by the fact that the transmittal letter for the estimate was not presented in evidence. Accordingly,
we imposed on the accused the minimum penalty under Article 309(6)[45] of the RPC.[46]
Applying Dator in relation to Article 310 of the RPC and taking into account the Indeterminate Sentence Law, we find it proper to
impose on petitioner, under the circumstances obtaining here, the penalty of four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor, as
minimum, to three (3) years, four (4) months and twenty-one (21) days of prision correcional, as maximum.
WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision dated 28 June 2002 and the Resolution dated 14 May 2003 of the Court of Appeals
with the modification that petitioner Sesinando Merida is sentenced to four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor, as
minimum, to three (3) years, four (4) months and twenty-one (21) days of prision correcional, as maximum.
SO ORDERED.

Momongan v. Judge Omipon 242 SCRA 332


A.M. No. MTJ-93-874

March 14, 1995

AUGUSTUS L. MOMONGAN, Regional Director, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region VIII, Tacloban
City, petitioner,
vs.
JUDGE RAFAEL B. OMIPON, 6th Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Hinunangan Silago, Southern Leyte, respondent.
RESOLUTION
ROMERO, J.:
At around 10:00 o'clock of November 14, 1992, police officers of the Municipality of Hinunangan, Southern Leyte apprehended
Dionisio Golpe while he was driving his truck loaded with illegally cut lumber. The truck and logs were impounded. A complaint
was filed against Basilio Cabig, the alleged owner of the logs. After conducting the preliminary investigation, respondent Judge
Rafael B. Omipon found that a prima facie case exists against Mr. Cabig but he ordered the release of the truck inasmuch as the
owner/driver, Mr. Golpe, was not charged in the complaint.
Regional Director Augustus L. Momongan of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources filed the instant complaint
against respondent Judge alleging that his order releasing the truck used in the transport of illegally cut forest products violated
Presidential Decree 705, as amended by Executive Order No. 277, Section 68 and 68-A 1 and Administrative Order No. 59, Series
of 1990. 2 Complainant claims that respondent Judge has no authority to order the release of the truck despite the non-inclusion of
Mr. Golpe in the complaint. The truck should have been turned over to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office
of San Juan, Southern Leyte for appropriate disposition as the same falls under the administrative jurisdiction of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources Office.
In his comment, respondent Judge explained that after conducting the preliminary investigation, he found that Golpe, the owner of
the truck, is principally engaged in the hauling of sand and gravel and the delivery of hollow blocks. On his way home after
delivering hollow blocks in Barangay Sto. Nio II, he met his friend Cabig who requested him to load sliced lumber and deliver
the same at Brgy. Lungsod-daan, Hinundayan to be used for the construction of a barangay high school building. They were
apprehended when the truck had a flat tire. After changing the tire, both the lumber and the truck were ordered deposited at the
police station of Hinunangan.
Respondent Judge observed that Golpe has a lesser participation in the crime of illegal logging and, being a mere accessory, he
might be utilized by the Acting Chief of Police as prosecution witness against Cabig. More importantly, the fact that the complaint
charged only Cabig, respondent Judge, in the exercise of his sound discretion, ordered the release of the truck owned by Golpe.
The Memorandum of the Office of the Court Administrator recommended that a formal investigation be conducted. An excerpt
from its Memorandum states:
We find the explanation of respondent unsatisfactory. While he is authorized to conduct preliminary investigation in all cases of
violations of P.D. 705, as amended, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, Sec. 68-A thereof provides
that it is the Department Head or his duly authorized representative who may order the confiscation and disposition of the forest
products illegally cut, gathered, removed, or possessed or abandoned, and all conveyances used either by land, water or air in the
commission of the offense and to dispose of the same in accordance with pertinent laws, regulations or policies on the matter.
There may be some facts that are not extant in the records which can only come out during a formal investigation to better
establish clear culpability or exoneration over the respondent.
In view thereof, and to give respondent an opportunity to clear himself, it is respectfully recommended that this matter be referred
to Acting Executive Judge Leandro T. Loyao, Jr., RTC, Branch 26, San Juan, Southern Leyte, for investigation, report and
recommendation within sixty days from receipt of the records. 3
In the Resolution of November 8, 1993, the Court resolved to refer the case to Acting Executive Judge Leandro T. Loyao, Jr., RTC,
Branch 26, San Juan, Southern Leyte, for investigation, report and recommendation, within sixty (60) days from receipt of the
records. 4
During the first two hearing dates, complainant was unable to attend but sent his representatives, DENR lawyer Constantino Esber
and legal assistant Romeo Gulong. Respondent Judge appeared with his counsel. However, on the third hearing date, respondent
Judge failed to appear as he suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. Thereafter, DENR counsel Esber manifested that their office
has filed a motion for reinvestigation and for the turnover of the jeep to the PNP and subsequently, to the DENR. He also
manifested that the complainant is submitting the administrative matter for resolution and recommendation without adducing
evidence against respondent. Respondent's counsel did not object to complainant's manifestation. The counsel of both complainant
and respondent jointly agreed to submit the case for appropriate action.
The Investigating Judge's confidential report, in part, states:

In view of this development in the course of an intended investigation this investigator could not elicit additional facts than are
found in the records, whether inculpatory or exculpatory. Respondent was given an opportunity to explain the unfavorable
circumstances against him but he was overtaken by a serious illness. So much was expected from the complainant to supply the
facts not extant in the records, but he lost interest in substantiating his April 1993 report to the Supreme Court. In fact, he was
submitting this administrative matter for resolution without adducing evidence against respondent.
Except for the 21 January 1994 motion for reinvestigation of DENR counsel Esber which sought for the inclusion of jeep owner
and driver Dionisio Golpe in the criminal information, there is nothing new that can be added to the facts found by the Honorable
Deputy Court Administrator as reflected in his Memorandum for the Honorable Chief Justice dated 12 October 1993.
There being no actual investigation conducted, no additional facts could be reported and consequently, there is no basis for a
recommendation on the basis of facts.
This investigator can only recommend appropriate action by the Supreme Court on the basis of the facts already extant in the
records with a prayer for consideration of respondent plight especially so since on account of this investigation his health has
deteriorated and may affect his efficiency output as a judge. Perhaps, allowing him to bow out of the service with honor and
corresponding benefits. 5
During the pendency of this case, respondent Judge filed for disability retirement. His application was approved but his pension
was not released pending the outcome of this case.
We find respondent Judge's order to release the truck owned and driven by Mr. Dionisio Golpe legally justifiable, hence, he is not
subject to any disciplinary sanction.
According to the Revised Penal Code, Art. 45, first paragraph: "[E]very penalty imposed for the commission of a felony shall carry
with it the forfeiture of the proceeds of the crime and the instrument or tools with which it was committed." However, this cannot
be done if such proceeds and instruments or tools "be the property of a third person not liable for offense." In this case, the truck,
though used to transport the illegally cut lumber, cannot be confiscated and forfeited in the event accused therein be convicted
because the truck owner/driver, Mr. Dionisio Golpe was not indicted. Hence, there was no justification for respondent Judge not to
release the truck.
Complainant is correct in pointing out that based on Pres. Decree No. 705, Sec. 68-A and Adm. Order No. 59, the DENR Secretary
or his duly authorized representative has the power to confiscate any illegally obtained or gathered forest products and all
conveyances used in the commission of the offense and to dispose of the same in accordance with pertinent laws. However, as
complainant himself likewise pointed out, this power is in relation to the administrative jurisdiction of the DENR.
We do not find that when respondent Judge released the truck after he conducted the preliminary investigation and satisfied
himself that there was no reason to continue keeping the truck, he violated Pres. Decree No. 705 and Adm. Order No. 59. The
release of the truck did not render nugatory the administrative authority of the DENR Secretary. The confiscation proceedings
under Adm. Order No. 59 6 is different from the confiscation under the Revised Penal Code, which is an additional penalty
imposed in the event of conviction. Despite the order of release, the truck can be seized again either by filing a motion for
reinvestigation and motion to include the truck owner/driver, as co-accused, which complainant has done as manifested before the
lower court or by enforcing Adm. Order No. 59. Section 12 thereof categorically states that "[t]he confiscation of the conveyance
under these regulations shall be without prejudice to any criminal action which shall be filed against the owner thereof or any
person who used the conveyance in the commission of the offense."
Petitioner is of the opinion that under the circumstances, respondent Judge should have turned over the truck to the Community
Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of San Juan, Southern Leyte for appropriate disposition. No doubt, this
would have simplified matters and prevented the present situation from occurring wherein one government official files a
complaint against another. Under Sec. 4 of Adm. Order No. 59, if the apprehension is not made by DENR field offices, deputized
military personnel and officials of other agencies apprehending illegal logs and other forest products and their conveyances shall
notify the nearest DENR field offices and turn over said forest products and conveyances for proper action and disposition. A
period of about two weeks lapsed from the time the seizure was made before a complaint was filed. During this period, the
apprehending policemen had enough time to turn over the logs and the truck to the nearest DENR field office for proper action and
disposition since the duty to turn over the truck to the nearest DENR field office rests on the officials apprehending the illegal logs.
There being no mandatory duty on the part of respondent Judge to turn over the truck, he should not be visited with disciplinary
sanction when he did not refer the same to the DENR field office in San Juan, Southern Leyte.
The Court takes this opportunity to enjoin the National Police, the DENR, the prosecutors, and the members of the bench to
coordinate with each other for a successful campaign against illegal logging. It behooves all the concerned agencies to seriously
strive for the attainment of the constitutionally-declared policy to "protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and
healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature" 7 in order to preserve our natural resources for the benefit of
the generations still to come.
WHEREFORE, the complaint is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED
Provident Tee Farms Inc. v. Hon. Balario 231 SCRA 462
G.R. No. 92285 March 28, 1994

PROVIDENT TREE FARMS, INC., petitioner,


vs.
HON. DEMETRIO M. BATARIO, JR., Presiding Judge Branch 48, Regional Trial Court of Manila, COMMISSIONER OF
CUSTOMS and
A. J. INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION, respondents.
Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako for petitioner.
Sumulong, Sumulong, Paras & Abano Law Offices for private respondent.

BELLOSILLO, J.:
PETITIONER PROVIDENT TREE FARMS, INC. (PTFI), is a Philippine corporation engaged in industrial tree planting. It grows
gubas trees in its plantations in Agusan and Mindoro which it supplies to a local match manufacturer solely for production of
matches. In consonance with the state policy to encourage qualified persons to engage in industrial tree plantation, Sec. 36, par.
(1), of the Revised Forestry Code 1 confers on entities like PTFI a set of incentives among which is a qualified ban against
importation of wood and "wood-derivated" products.
On 5 April 1989, private respondent A. J. International Corporation (AJIC) imported four (4) containers of matches from
Indonesia, which the Bureau of Customs released on 12 April 1989, and two (2) more containers of matches from Singapore on 19
April 1989. The records do not disclose when the second shipment was released.
On 25 April 1989, upon request of PTFI, Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., of the Department of Natural Resources and
Environment issued a certification that "there are enough available softwood supply in the Philippines for the match industry at
reasonable price." 2
On 5 May 1989, PTFI filed with the Regional Court of Manila a complaint for injunction and damages with prayer for a temporary
restraining order against respondents Commissioner of Customs and AJIC to enjoin the latter from importing matches and "woodderivated" products, and the Collector of Customs from allowing and releasing the importations. It was docketed
as Civil Case No. 89-48836 and raffled to respondent Judge Demetrio M. Batario, Jr. PTFI prays for an order directing the
Commissioner of Customs to impound the subject importations and the AJIC be directed to pay petitioner P250,000.00 in actual
damages, P1,000,000.00 in exemplary damages, and P50,000.00 as attorney's fees.
On 14 June 1989, AJIC moved to dismiss the complaint alleging that:
(a) The Commissioner of Customs under Sec. 1207 of the Tariff and Customs Code and not the regular court, has "exclusive
jurisdiction to determine the legality of an importation or ascertain whether the conditions prescribed by law for an importation
have been complied with . . . . (and over cases of) seizure, detention or release of property affected . . . . ;" 3 (b) The release of
subject importations had rendered injunction moot and academic; 4 (c) The prayer for damages has no basis as the questioned acts
of the Commissioner are in accordance with law and no damages may be awarded based on future acts; 5 and, (d) The complaint
for injunction cannot stand it being mainly a provisional relief and not a principal remedy. 6
PTFI opposed the motion to dismiss. On 28 July 1989, AJIC's motion to dismiss was denied. However, on 8 February 1990, on
motion for reconsideration by AJIC and despite the opposition of PTFI, the Court reconsidered its 28 July 1989 order and
dismissed the case on the ground that it had "no jurisdiction to determine what are legal or illegal importations." 7
In this present recourse, PTFI seeks to set aside the 8 February 1990 order of respondent court and prays for the continuation of the
hearing in Civil Case No. 89-48836. PTFI claims that what was brought before the trial court was a civil case for injunction, i.e.,
"restraining the entry of safety matches into the country . . . for the purpose of securing compliance with Sec. 36 (l) of the Forestry
Code" and for damages, "to seek redress of its right which has been clearly violated by the importation of safety matches . . . .
(which) is a denial to the petitioner of the protection and incentive granted it by Section 36 (l) of the Forestry Code . . . ." 8 PTFI
asserts the inapplicability of the procedures outlined in R.A. No. 1125 relative to incidents before the Court of Tax Appeals
because the instant action is not a protest case where the aggrieved party is not an importer. It then argues that since it could not
avail of the remedies afforded by the Tariff and Customs Code, resort to the courts is warranted, citing Commissioner of Customs
v. Alikpala. 9
On the formal requirements, we hold that the claim of public respondent that the petition was filed late has no basis. The records
revealed that PTFI received the assailed order of 8 February 1990 on 20 February 1990, 10 hence, it had until 7 March 1990 to file
petition for review on certiorari. On that date, PTFI filed a motion for extension of fifteen (15) days within which to file the
petition. 11 On 19 March 1990, this Court granted PTFI a thirty (30)-day non-extendible period to file its petition, 12 thus resetting
the new deadline for the petition to 6 April 1990. On that date the petition was filed.
Petitioner anchors his complaint on a statutory privilege or incentive granted under Sec. 36, par. (l), of the Revised Forestry Code.
The only subject of this incentive is a ban against importation of wood, wood products or wood-derivated products which is to be
enforced by the Bureau of Customs since it has, under the Tariff and Customs Code, the exclusive original jurisdiction over seizure
and forfeiture cases 13 and, in fact, it is the duty of the Collector of Customs to exercise jurisdiction over prohibited importations.
14
The enforcement of the importation ban under Sec. 36, par. (l), of the Revised Forestry Code is within the exclusive realm of the
Bureau of Customs, and direct recourse of petitioner to the Regional Trial Court to compel the Commissioner of Customs to
enforce the ban is devoid of any legal basis. To allow the regular court to direct the Commissioner to impound the imported

matches, as petitioner would, is clearly an interference with the exclusive jurisdiction of the Bureau of Customs over seizure and
forfeiture cases. An order of a judge to impound, seize or forfeit must inevitably be based on his determination and declaration of
the invalidity of the importation, hence, an usurpation of the prerogative and an encroachment on the jurisdiction of the Bureau of
Customs. In other words, the reliefs directed against the Bureau of Customs 15 as well as the prayer for injunction against
importation of matches by private respondent AJIC 16 may not be granted without the court arrogating upon itself the exclusive
jurisdiction of the Bureau of Customs.
The claim of petitioner that no procedure is outlined for the enforcement of the import ban under the Tariff and Customs Code, if
true, does not at all diminish the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Customs over the subject matter. The enforcement of statutory rights
is not foreclosed by the absence of a statutory procedure. The Commissioner of Customs has the power to "promulgate all rules
and regulations necessary to enforce the provisions of this (Tariff and Customs) Code . . . subject to the approval of the Secretary
of Finance." 17 Moreover, it has been held that ". . . . (w)here the statute does not require any particular method of procedure to be
followed by an administrative agency, the agency may adopt any reasonable method to carry out its functions." 18
But over and above the foregoing, PTFI's correspondence with the Bureau of Customs 19 contesting the legality of match
importations may already take the nature of an administrative proceeding the pendency of which would preclude the court from
interfering with it under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction. In Presidential Commission on Good Government v. Pea, 20 we held
that
. . . . under the "sense-making and expeditious doctrine of primary
jurisdiction . . . the courts cannot or will not determine a controversy involving a question which is within the jurisdiction of an
administrative tribunal, where the question demands the exercise of sound administrative discretion requiring the special
knowledge, experience, and services of the administrative tribunal to determine technical and intricate matters of fact, and a
uniformity of ruling is essential to comply with the purposes of the regulatory statute administered (Pambujan Sur United Mine
Workers v. Samar Mining Co., Inc., 94 Phil. 932, 941 [1954].)
In this era of clogged court dockets, the need for specialized administrative boards or commissions with the special knowledge,
experience and capability to hear and determine promptly disputes on technical matters or essentially factual matters, subject to
judicial review in case of grave abuse of discretion, has become well nigh indispensable . . . .
Moreover, however cleverly the complaint may be worded, the ultimate relief sought by PTFI is to compel the Bureau of Customs
to seize and forfeit the match importations of AJIC. Since the determination to seize or not to seize is discretionary upon the
Bureau of Customs, the same cannot be subject of mandamus. But this does not preclude recourse to the courts by way of the
extraordinary relief of certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court if the Bureau of Customs should gravely abuse the exercise of
its jurisdiction. Otherwise stated, the court cannot compel an agency to do a particular act or to enjoin such act which is within its
prerogative, except when in the exercise of its authority it gravely abuses or exceeds its jurisdiction. In the case at bench, we have
no occasion to rule on the issue of grave abuse of discretion or excess of jurisdiction as it is not before us.
The petitioner's claim for damages against AJIC being inextricably linked with the legality of the importations, must necessarily
rise or fall with the main action to bar the question that "(e)very importation of matches by said defendant is a denial to plaintiff of
the protection and incentives granted it by Sec. 36 (l) of the Forestry Code," 21 merely indicates its reliance on the illegality of the
importations for its prayer for damages. In other words, if the importations were authorized, there would be no denial of the
plaintiff's protection and incentives under the Forestry Code. Necessarily, the claim for damages must await the decision declaring
the importations unlawful.
In Rosales v. Court of Appeals, we categorized a similar case for damages as premature since "(t)he finality of the administrative
case which gives life to petitioners' cause of action has not yet been reached." 22 The pendency of petitioner's request to the
Bureau of Customs for the implementation of the ban against the importation of matches under the Forestry Code is impliedly
admitted; in fact, it is apparent from the correspondence of counsel for petitioner that the Bureau is inclined to sustain the validity
of the importations. 23 Hence, as in Rosales, the order of the trial court granting the dismissal of the civil case must be upheld.
WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the appealed Order of the Regional Trial Court of Manila in Civil Case No. 89-48836
dated 8 February 1990, the same AFFIRMED and, consequently, the instant petition for review is DENIED.
People v. CFI Quezon 206 SCRA 187
G.R. No. L-46772

February 13, 1992

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF QUEZON (BRANCH VII), GODOFREDO ARROZAL AND LUIS FLORES, respondents.
Felipe B. Pagkanlungan for private respondents.

MEDIALDEA, J.:
This petition seeks the annulment of the order of the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Quezon in Criminal
Case No. 1591, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Godofredo, Arrozal, Luis Flares and twenty other John Does," dismissing
the information filed therein.

The antecedent facts are as follows:


The private respondents were charged with the crime of qualified theft of logs, defined and punished under Section 68 of
Presidential Decree No. 705, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, in an information which read:
That on or about the 28th, 29th and 30th days of July 1976, at Barangay Mahabang Lalim, Municipality of General Nakar,
Province of Quezon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Godofredo
Arrozal and Luis Flores, together with twenty (20) other John Does whose identities are still unknown, the first-named accused
being the administrator of the Infanta Logging Corporation, with intent to gain, conspiring and confederating together and
mutually helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously enter the privately-owned land of one
Felicitacion Pujalte, titled in the name of her deceased father, Macario Prudente, under Original Certificate of Title No. 6026, and
once inside, illegally cut, gather, take, steal and carry away therefrom, without the consent of the said owner and without any
authority under a license agreement, lease license or permit, sixty (60) logs of different species, consisting of about 541.48 cubic
meters, with total value of FIFTY THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FIVE PESOS and FIFTY TWO CENTAVOS (P50,205.52)
including government charges, to the damage and prejudice of the said owner in the aforesaid amount.
Contrary to Law.
Lucena City, 7 January 1977. (p.17, Rollo).
On March 23, 1977, the named accused filed a motion to quash the information on two (2) grounds, to wit: (1) that the facts
charged do not constitute an offense; and, (2) that the information does not conform substantially to the prescribed form.
On April 13, 1977, the trial court dismissed the information on the grounds invoked (pp. 32-42, Rollo), The reconsideration sought
was denied on August 9, 1977 (p.42, Rollo).
On October 15, 1977, this petition was filed directly with this Court, raising the following questions of law: (1) whether or not the
information charged an offense; and (2) whether or not the trial court had jurisdiction over the case.
On the first issue, the People alleged that, contrary to the allegation of the private respondents and the opinion of the trial court, the
information substantially alleged all the elements of the crime of qualified theft of logs as described in Section 68 of P.D. 705.
While it was admitted that the information did not precisely allege that the taking of the logs in question was "without the consent
of the state," nevertheless, said information expressly stated that the accused "illegally cut, gather, take, steal and carry away
therefrom, without the consent of said owner and without any authority under a license agreement, lease, lease, license or permit,
sixty (60) logs of different species. . . ." Since only the state can grant the lease, license, license agreement or permit for utilization
of forest resources, including timber, then the allegation in the information that the asportation of the logs was "without any
authority" under a license agreement, lease, license or permit, is tantamount to alleging that the taking of the logs was without the
consent of the state.
We agree with the petitioner.
Sec. 68. Cutting, gathering and/or collecting timber or other products without license. Any person who shall cut, gather, collect
or remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable public lands, or from private
lands, without any authority under a license agreement, lease, license or permit, shall be guilty of qualified theft as defined and
punished under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code. . . .
When an accused invokes in a motion to quash the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense (Rule 117, Sec. 2 [a]
Rules of Court), the sufficiency of the Information hinges on the question of whether the facts alleged, if hypothetically admitted,
meet the essential elements of the offense defined in the law (People v. Segovia, 103 Phil. 1162 [1958]; People v. Abad, L-55132,
August 30, 1988, 165 SCRA 57).
The elements of the crime of qualified theft of logs are: 1) That the accused cut, gathered, collected or removed timber or other
forest products; 2) that the timber or other forest products cut, gathered, collected or removed belongs to the government or to any
private individual; and 3) that the cutting, gathering, collecting or removing was without authority under a license agreement,
lease, license, or permit granted by the state.
The Order dismissing the complaint concluded that the information was defective because:
. . ., it is noted that the Information alleges that the cutting, gathering and carrying away of the logs were done without the consent
of the owner of the land. While the prosecution admits that timber is a forest product that belongs to the state, the information,
however, fails to allege that the taking was without the consent of the latter, for which reason the Information is patently defective.
(p. 39, Rollo)
The failure of the information to allege that the logs taken were owned by the state is not fatal. It should be noted that the logs
subject of the complaint were taken not from a public forest but from a private woodland registered in the name of complainant's
deceased father, Macario Prudente. The fact that only the state can grant a license agreement, license or lease does not make the
state the owner of all the logs and timber products produced in the Philippines including those produced in private woodlands. The
case of Santiago v. Basilan Company, G.R. No. L-15532, October 31, 1963, 9 SCRA 349, clarified the matter on ownership of
timber in private lands. This Court held therein:

The defendant has appealed, claiming that it should not be held liable to the plaintiff because the timber which it cut and gathered
on the land in question belongs to the government and not to the plaintiff, the latter having failed to comply with a requirement of
the law with respect to his property.
The provision of law referred to by appellant is a section of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended, which reads;
"Sec. 1829.
Registration of title to private forest land. Every private owner of land containing timber, firewood and other
minor forest products shall register his title to the same with the Director of Forestry. A list of such owners, with a statement of the
boundaries of their property, shall be furnished by said Director to the Collector of Internal Revenue, and the same shall be
supplemented from time to time as occasion may require.
Upon application of the Director of Forestry the fiscal of the province in which any such land lies shall render assistance in the
examination of the title thereof with a view to its registration in the Bureau of Forestry."
In the above provision of law, there is no statement to the effect that non-compliance with the requirement would divest the owner
of the land of his rights thereof and that said rights of ownership would be transferred to the government. Of course, the land
which had been registered and titled in the name of the plaintiff under that Land Registration Act could no longer be the object of a
forester license issued by the Director of Forestry because ownership of said land includes also ownership of everything found on
its surface (Art. 437, New Civil Code).
Obviously, the purpose of the registration required in section 1829 of the Administrative Code is to exempt the title owner of the
land from the payment of forestry charges as provided for under Section 266 of the National Internal Revenue Code, to wit:
"Charges collective on forest products cut, gathered and removed from unregistered private lands. The charges above prescribed
shall be collected on all forest products cut, gathered and removed from any private land the title to which is not registered with the
Director of Forestry as required by the Forest Law; Provided, however, That in the absence of such registration, the owner who
desires to cut, gather and remove timber and other forest products from such land shall secure a license from the Director of
Forestry Law and Regulations. The cutting, gathering and removing of timber and the other forest products from said private lands
without license shall be considered as unlawful cutting, gathering and removing of forest products from public forests and shall be
subject to the charges prescribed in such cases in this chapter.
xxx

xxx

xxx

On the other hand, while it is admitted that the plaintiff has failed to register the timber in his land as a private woodland in
accordance with the oft-repeated provision of the Revised Administrative Code, he still retained his rights of ownership, among
which are his rights to the fruits of the land and to exclude any person from the enjoyment and disposal thereof (Art. 429, New
Civil Code) the very rights violated by the defendant Basilan Lumber Company.
While it is only the state which can grant a license or authority to cut, gather, collect or remove forest products it does not follow
that all forest products belong to the state. In the just cited case, private ownership of forest products grown in private lands is
retained under the principle in civil law that ownership of the land includes everything found on its surface.
Ownership is not an essential element of the offense as defined in Section 60 of P.D. No. 705. Thus, the failure of the information
to allege the true owner of the forest products is not material; it was sufficient that it alleged that the taking was without any
authority or license from the government.
Anent the second issue raised, Section 80 of Presidential Decree 705, provides:
Sec. 80. Arrest; Institution of Criminal Actions. A forest officer or employee of the Bureau shall arrest even without warrant any
person who has committed or is committing in his presence any of the offenses defined in this Chapter. He shall also seize and
confiscate, in favor of the Government, the tools and equipment used in committing the offense, and the forest products cut,
gathered or taken by the offender in the process of committing the offense. The arresting forest officer or employee shall thereafter
deliver within six (6) hours from the time of arrest and seizure, the offender and the confiscated forest products, tools and
equipment to, and file the proper complaint with, the appropriate official designated by law to conduct preliminary investigations
and file informations in court.
If the arrest and seizure are made in the forests, far from the authorities designated by law to conduct preliminary investigations,
the delivery to, and filing of the complaint with, the latter shall be done within a reasonable time sufficient for ordinary travel from
the place of arrest to the place of delivery. The seized products, materials and equipment shall be immediately disposed of in
accordance with forestry administrative orders promulgated by the Department Head.
The Department Head may deputize any member or unit of the Philippine Constabulary, police agency, barangay or barrio official,
or any qualified person to protect the forest and exercise the power or authority provided for in the preceding paragraph.
Reports and complaints regarding the commission of any of the offenses defined in this Chapter, not committed in the presence of
any forest officer or employee, or any of the deputized officers or officials, shall immediately be investigated by the forest officer
assigned in the area where the offense was allegedly committed, who shall thereupon receive the evidence supporting the report or
complaint.
If there is a prima facie evidence to support the complaint or report, the investigating forest officer shall file the necessary
complaint with the appropriate official authorized by law to conduct a preliminary investigation of criminal cases and file an
information in Court.

The above cited provision covers two (2) specific instances when a forest officer may commence a prosecution for the violation of
the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines. The first authorizes a forest officer or employee of the Bureau of Forestry to arrest
without a warrant, any person who has committed or is committing, in his presence, any of the offenses described in the decree.
The second covers a situation when an offense described in the decree is not committed in the presence of the forest officer or
employee and the commission is brought to his attention by a report or a complaint. In both cases, however, the forest officer or
employee shall investigate the offender and file a complaint with the appropriate official authorized by law to conduct a
preliminary investigation and file the necessary informations in court.
The circumstances in the instant case do not fall under any of the situations covered by Section 80 of P.D. 705. The alleged offense
was committed not in the presence of a forest officer and neither was the alleged commission reported to any forest officer. The
offense was committed in a private land and the complaint was brought by a private offended party to the fiscal.
The trial court erred in dismissing the case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter because the information
was filed not pursuant to the complaint of any forest officer as prescribed in Section 80 of P.D. 705. We agree with the observation
of the Solicitor General that:
. . ., the authority given to the forest officer to investigate reports and complaints regarding the commission of offenses defined in
P.D. No. 705 by the said last and penultimate paragraphs of Section 80 may be considered as covering only such reports and
complaints as might be brought to the forest officer assigned to the area by other forest officers or employees of the Bureau of
Forest Development, or any of the deputized officers or officials, for violations of forest laws not committed in their presence.
Such interpretation becomes cogent when we consider that the whole of Section 80 deals precisely with the authority of forest
officers or employees to make arrests and institute criminal actions involving offenses defined in the Decree. (p. 26, Rollo).
Likewise, the Solicitor General was correct in insisting that P.D. 705 did not repeal Section 1687 of the Administrative Code
giving authority to the fiscal to conduct investigation into the matter of any crime or misdemeanor and have the necessary
information or complaint prepared or made against persons charged with the commission of the crime.
Sec. 1687.
Authority of fiscal to conduct investigation in criminal matter. A provincial fiscal shall have authority, if he
deems it wise, to conduct an investigation into the matter of any crime or misdemeanor. To this end, he may summon reputed
witnesses and require them to appear and testify upon oath before him. . . .
With the exception of the so-called "private crimes" 1 and in election offenses, 2 prosecutions in Courts of First Instance may be
commenced by an information signed by a fiscal after conducting a preliminary investigation. Section 80 of P.D. 705 did not divest
the fiscals of this general authority. Neither did the said decree grant forest officers the right of preliminary investigations. In both
cases under said Sec. 80 namely, 1) after a forest officer had made the arrest (for offenses committed in his presence); or 2) after
conducting an investigation of reports or complaints of violations of the decree (for violations not committed in his presence) he
is still required to file the proper complaint with the appropriate official designated by law to conduct preliminary investigations in
court. Said section should not be interpreted to vest exclusive authority upon forest officers to conduct investigations regarding
offenses described in the decree rather, it should be construed as granting forest officers and employees special authority to arrest
and investigate offenses described in P.D. 705, to reinforce the exercise of such authority by those upon whom it is vested by
general law.
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The questioned order of the trial court dismissing the information is SET ASIDE.
Criminal Cases No. 1591 is reinstated.
SO ORDERED.
Lagua v. Hon. Cusi 160 SCRA 260
G.R. No. L-44649

April 15, 1988

DAYLINDA A. LAGUA, MANUEL P. LAGUA, HONORATO ACHANZAR and RESTITUTO DONGA, petitioners,
vs.
HONORABLE VICENTE N. CUSI, JR., in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of Davao City, Branch I,
CONSTANCIO MAGLANA and the EASTCOAST DEVELOPMENT ENTERPRISES, respondents.
Wilfred D. Asis for petitioner.
Carlos A. Carbonilla for respondents.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:


This petition for mandamus originated from a complaint for damages which was instituted by the petitioners against the private
respondents for closing a logging road without authority.
In their complaint, the petitioners, alleged, among others:
In Paragraph 5(a):

a)
On 1 January 1976, Atty. Ernesto Nombrado, legal counsel for defendants, issued a memorandum to the Chief Security
Guard of Defendant Eastcoast directing the latter to prevent the passage of Plaintiff Laguas' hauling trucks loaded with logs for the
Japanese vessel (there were no other trucks hauling logs at that time) on the national highway loading towards where the vessel
was berthed. In compliance with this directive, the security force of Defendant Eastcoast closed the road to the use by plaintiffs
trucks and other equipments and effectively prevented their passage thereof while the vehicles and trucks of other people were
curiously not disturbed and were allowed passess on the same road. It resulted that the loading of logs on the M/S "Kyofuku Maru"
was discontinued. A xeroxed copy of this Nombrado memorandum, the original of which is however in the possession of
defendants, is hereto attached as Annex "C" and made an integral part hereof.
In Paragraph 5(b):
b)
Upon representations made to Indalecio L. Aspiras, Acting Station Officer-in-Charge, BFD Lambajon Forest Station, and
in response to plaintiff Laguas' complaint, a letter dated 2 January 1976 was addressed by Aspiras to the Resident Manager of
Defendant Eastcoast with instructions to open and allow Plaintiff Laguas' trucks and machineries to pass that road closed to them
(but not to others) by Defendant Eastcoast. A xeroxed copy of this letter is hereto attached as Annex "D" and made a part hereof.
Accordingly, Sagrado Constantino, Resident Manager of Defendant Eastcoast, issued an order to their Chief Security Guard for the
latter to comply with the Aspiras letter. These events, however, took the whole day of 2 January 1976 so that notwithstanding the
lifting of the road closure no hauling of logs could be made by Plaintiff Laguas on that day.
In Paragraph 5(c):
c)
When Plaintiffs Laguas were already resuming the hauling operations of their logs towards the Japanese Vessel on 3
January 1976, again that same road, only the day before ordered by the BFD to be opened for use and passage by plaintiffs, was
closed to them by Defendant Eastcoast's security men upon a radio message order of Defendant Maglana. Even the vessel M/S
"Kyofuku Maruwas" ordered by Defendant Maglana to untie her anchor contrary to existing laws, rules and regulations of the
Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Coastguard. A xeroxed copy of the Maglana message, the original of which is in the
possession of the defendants, is hereto attached as Annex "E" and made an integral part hereof.
And in paragraph 5(d):
d)
Given no recourse in the face of the blatant and illegal closure of the road in defiance of BFD orders to the contrary by the
Defendant Eastcoast through the order of Defendant Maglana, Plaintiff Laguas had to depart postpaste to Mati, Davao Oriental,
from Baganga where the shipment and the road closure were made, to seek the assistance of the PC thereat. Thus on 5 January
1976, Provincial Commander Alfonso Lumebao issued a directive to the PC Detachment Commander at Baganga to lift the illegal
checkpoint made by defendants. A xeroxed copy of this directive is hereto attached as Annex "F" and made a part hereof. (Rollo,
pp. 57-58)
The private respondents filed a motion to dismiss on two grounds, namely: (1) lack of jurisdiction, and (2) lack of cause of action.
The private respondents extended that as the acts complained of by the petitioners arose out of the legitimate exercise of
respondent Eastcoast Development Enterprises, Inc., rights as a timber licensee, more particularly in the use of its logging roads,
therefore, the resolution of this question is properly and legally within the Bureau of Forest Development, citing as authority
Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 705. The private respondents also argued that petitioner Daylinda Laguas has no capacity to sue as
her name was not registered as an "agent" or "dealer" of logs in the Bureau of Forestry.
On August 3, 1976, the trial court issued the questioned order dismissing the petitioners' complaint on the basis of the
abovementioned grounds. It ruled:
The Court agrees with the defendants that under the law, the Bureau of Forest Development has the exclusive power to regulate the
use of logging road and to determine whether their use is in violation of laws. Since the damages claimed to have been sustained
by the plaintiffs arose from the alleged illegal closure of a logging road in the language of the defendants on page 3 of their
motion to dismiss. The simple fact is there was an illegal closure of the national highway affecting the private rights of the
plaintiffs who sustained damages and losses as a consequence thereof the question whether or not the road was illegally closed
must first be determined by the Bureau of Forest Development. If the said Bureau finds that the road was legally closed, an action
for damages may be filed in Court. Otherwise, no civil action would prosper, for there would be no tortious act. (Rollo, pp. 58-69).
xxx

xxx

xxx

After the logging road was closed for the first time, more so after the second time, by the defendant Eastcoast Development
Enterprises, Inc., the plaintiffs should have asked the Bureau of Forest Development to determine the legality or illegality of the
closure since they wanted to file, as they did file, an action for damages based on the alleged illegal closure. The fact that the letter
of January 2, 1976, directed defendant Eastcoast Development Enterprises, Inc. to open the road does not necessarily mean that the
Bureau of Forest Development had found that the closure was illegal. There must be a positive finding that the closure was
illegal. ... (Rollo, p. 60)
xxx

xxx

xxx

As an attorney-in-fact, Daylinda A. Lagua is not entitled to, and cannot cannot claim, damages in her personal capacity. For she
could not have sustained damages as a result of the alleged illegal closure of the road in her personal capacity while acting in her
representative capacity. So if she and her husband sustained damages, it must have been because their legal rights were violated by
a tortious act committed by the defendants other than the alleged illegal closure of the road. But as stated elsewhere in this order,
even the plaintiffs admit that the damages they claimed to have sustained arose from the alleged illegal closure of the logging road.

Assuming, however, that another tortious act violated the legal rights of the Laguas, still they could not joint Achanzar and Donga
in this complaint for there would be misjoinder of parties. (Rollo, pp. 61-62)
Hence, this petition for mandamus which we will treat as a petition for certiorari in the interest of justice.
The petitioners maintain that since their action is for damages, the regular courts have jurisdiction over the same. According to
them, the respondent court had no basis for holding that the Bureau of Forestry Development must first determine that the closure
of a logging road is illegal before an action for damages can be instituted.
We agree.
P.D. No. 705 upon which the respondent court based its order does not vest any power in the Bureau of Forest Development to
determine whether or not the closure of a logging road is legal or illegal and to make such determination a pre-requisite before an
action for damages may be maintained. Moreover, the complaint instituted by the petitioners is clearly for damages based on the
alleged illegal closure of the logging road. Whether or not such closure was illegal is a matter to be established on the part of the
petitioners and a matter to be disproved by the private respondents. This should appropriately be threshed out in a judicial
proceeding. It is beyond the power and authority of the Bureau of Forest Development to determine the unlawful closure of a
passage way, much less award or deny the payment of damages based on such closure. Not every activity inside a forest area is
subject to the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Forest Development. As we have held in Ateneo de Manila University v. Court of
appeals (145 SCRA 100, 110):
The issue in this court was whether or not the private respondents can recover damages as a result of the of their son from the
petitioner university. This is a purely legal question and nothing of an a administrative nature is to or can be done (Gonzales v.
Hechanova, 9 SCRA 230; Tapales v. University of the Philippines, 7 SCRA 533; Limoico v. Board of Administrators. (PJA) 133
SCRA 43; Malabanan v. Ramonte, 129 SCRA 359). The case was brought pursuant to the law on damages provided in the Civil
Code. The jurisdiction to try the case belongs to the civil courts.
The private respondents, in their memorandum filed with the respondent court, alleged that the logs of petitioner Achanzar were
cut down and removed outside of the area granted to the latter under his Private Timber License No. 2 and therefore inside the
concession area of respondent company's Timber License Agreement. This, apparently, was the reason why the respondent
company denied to the petitioners the use of the logging road. If we hold the respondents to their contention that the Bureau of
Forest Development has the power and authority not only to regulate the use or blockade of logging roads but also to exclusively
determine the legality of a closure of such roads, why then did they take it upon themselves to initially close the disputed logging
road before taking up the matter with the Bureau and why did they close it again notwithstanding the Bureau's order to open it after
the petitioners had duly informed the said Bureau of the closure? To use the Bureau's authority which the respondents ignored to
now defeat the court's jurisdiction would be totally unacceptable. We, therefore, find that the trial court committed grave abuse of
discretion in dismissing the complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter.
Anent the legal capacity to sue of the petitioners, spouses Laguas, we affirm the trial court's ruling that since they were mere
agents of petitioners Achanzar and Donga and were suing in their own behalf, they did not have the capacity to sue for damages.
They are not the real parties in interest. However, the complaint can still be maintained. It cannot be dismissed because the real
parties in interest, Achanzar and Donga were also plaintiffs. Thus, the trial court should have ordered only the dropping of the
names of the spouses Laguas pursuant to Section 11, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court but not the dismissal of the complaint.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The questioned order of the respondent court is SET
ASIDE and this case is ordered remanded to the court of origin for trial on the merits
SO ORDERED.
Aquino v. People 594 SCRA 50
ERNESTO AQUINO, G.R. No. 165448
Petitioner,
Present:
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
CARPIO,
CORONA,
- versus - LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
BERSAMIN, JJ.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:
Respondent. July 27, 2009
x - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case

Before the Court is a petition for review[1] assailing the 5 June 1997 Decision[2] and 24 September 2004 Resolution[3] of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 17534.
The Antecedent Facts
On behalf of Teachers Camp, Sergio Guzman filed with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) an
application to cut down 14 dead Benguet pine trees within the Teachers Camp in Baguio City. The trees, which had a total volume
of 13.37 cubic meters, were to be used for the repairs of Teachers Camp.
On 19 May 1993, before the issuance of the permit, a team composed of members from the Community Environment and Natural
Resources Office (CENRO) and Michael Cuteng (Cuteng), a forest ranger of the Forest Section of the Office of the City Architect
and Parks Superintendent of Baguio City, conducted an inspection of the trees to be cut.
Thereafter, Sabado T. Batcagan, Executive Director of the DENR, issued a permit allowing the cutting of 14 trees under the
following terms and conditions:
2. That the cut timber shall be utilized as lumber and fuel-wood by the permittee;
3. As replacement, the permittee shall plant one hundred forty (140) pine seedlings in an appropriate place within the area. In the
absence of plantable area in the property, the same is required to plant within forest area duly designated by CENRO concerned
which shall be properly maintained and protected to ensure/enhance growth and development of the planted seedlings;
4. Violation of any of the conditions set hereof is punishable under Section 68 of PD 705 as amended by E.O. No. 277, Series of
1987; and
5. That non-compliance with any of the above conditions or violations of forestry laws and regulations shall render this permit null
and void without prejudice to the imposition of penalties in accordance with existing laws and regulations.
This PERMIT is non-transferable and shall expire ten (10) days from issuance hereof or as soon as the herein authorized volume
is exhausted whichever comes first.[4]
On 23 July 1993, Forest Rangers Ramil Windo, Moises Sobrepea, Daniel Salamo, Pablo Guinawan, Antonio Abellera, and
Forester Paul Apilis received information that pine trees were being cut at Teachers Camp without proper authority. They
proceeded to the site where they found Ernesto Aquino (petitioner), a forest ranger from CENRO, and Cuteng supervising the
cutting of the trees. They also found sawyers Benedicto Santiago (Santiago) and Mike Masing (Masing) on the site, together with
Clemente Salinas (Salinas) and Andrew Nacatab (Nacatab), who were also supervising the cutting of the trees. The forest rangers
found 23 tree stumps, out of which only 12 were covered by the permit. The volume of the trees cut with permit was 13.58 cubic
meters while the volume of the trees cut without permit was 16.55 cubic meters. The market value of the trees cut without permit
was P182,447.20, and the forest charges were P11,833.25.
An Information for violation of Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. 705[5] (PD 705) was filed against petitioner, Cuteng,
Nacatab, Masing, and Santiago, as follows:
That on or about the 23rd day of July, 1993, and subsequent thereto, in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually aiding one another, and without any
authority, license or permit, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously cut nine (9) pine trees with a total volume and
market price as P182,447.20 (Volume 16.55 M3 424 bd. ft./M3 and unit price P26.00 bd. ft.) and with a total forest charge of
P11,833.25 or having a total sum of P194,280.45 at Teachers Camp, Baguio City, without the legal documents as required under
existing forest laws and regulations, particularly the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Circular No. 05, Series of
1989, in violation of the aforecited law.[6]
Masing alleged that he was not aware of the limitations on the permit as he was not given a copy of the permit. Masing stated that
he cut 10 pine trees under the supervision of petitioner who claimed to be in possession of the necessary permit. He stated that
three of the trees were stumps about four or five feet high and were not fit for lumber. He stated that while he was cutting trees,
petitioner and Salinas were present.
Santiago testified that he cut trees under petitioners supervision. He stated that petitioner was in possession of the permit. He stated
that he cut 10 trees, six of which were cut into lumber while two were stumps and two were rotten.
Salinas testified that Masing and Santiago were merely hired as sawyers and they merely followed petitioners instructions.
Cuteng testified that he was part of the team that inspected the trees to be cut before the permit was issued. He stated that the trees
cut by Santiago were covered by the permit.
Nacatab testified that he only went to Teachers Camp on 13 July 1993 and he saw Santiago and Masing cutting down the trees in
petitioners presence.
Petitioner alleged that he was sent to supervise the cutting of trees at Teachers Camp. He allegedly informed his superior, Paul
Apilis, that he was not aware of the trees covered by the permit. However, he still supervised the cutting of trees without procuring
a copy of the vicinity map used in the inspection of the trees to be cut. He claimed that he could not prevent the overcutting of
trees because he was just alone while Cuteng and Santiago were accompanied by three other men.
The Decision of the Trial Court

In its 26 May 1994 Decision,[7] the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 5 (trial court), ruled as follows:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds and declares the accused ERNESTO AQUINO y ESTIPULAR, MICHAEL CUTENG y LESCAO
and BENEDICTO SANTIAGO y DOCLES guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged and hereby sentences EACH of
them to suffer an indeterminate penalty of SIX (6) YEARS of prision correccional, as minimum, to TWENTY (20) YEARS of
reclusion temporal, as maximum; to indemnify, jointly and severally, the Government in the amounts of P182,477.20 and
P11,833.25, representing the market value of and forest charges on the Benguet pine trees cut without permit; and to pay their
proportionate shares in the costs.
The chainsaw confiscated from the accused Santiago is hereby declared forfeited in favor of the Government.
On the other hand, the accused ANDREW NACATAB y DODOY and MIKE MASING y GANAS are acquitted on reasonable
doubt, with costs de oficio, and the cash bonds they deposited for their provisional liberty in the amount of P7,500.00 each under
O.R. Nos. 139605 and 139646, dated February 4, 1996 and February 23, 1994, respectively, are ordered released to them upon
proper receipt therefor.
SO ORDERED.[8]
The trial court ruled that the trees cut exceeded the allowed number of the trees authorized to be cut. The trial court further ruled
that the cutting of trees went beyond the period stated in the permit.
Petitioner, Cuteng and Santiago appealed from the trial courts Decision.
The Decision of the Court of Appeals
In its 5 June 1997 Decision, the Court of Appeals modified the trial courts Decision as follows:
WHEREFORE, the decision of the court a quo is MODIFIED. The accused-appellants Benedicto Santiago and Michael Cuteng are
hereby acquitted on reasonable doubt. The appellant Ernesto Aquino is found guilty, and is hereby sentenced to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum, to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months, and
one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum. The award of damages is deleted. No costs.
SO ORDERED.[9]
The Court of Appeals ruled that as a forest guard or ranger of the CENRO, DENR, petitioner had the duty to supervise the cutting
of trees and to ensure that the sawyers complied with the terms of the permit which only he possessed. The Court of Appeals ruled
that while it was Teachers Camp which hired the sawyers, petitioner had control over their acts. The Court of Appeals rejected
petitioners claim that he was restrained from taking a bolder action by his fear of Santiago because petitioner could have informed
his superiors but he did not do so. The Court of Appeals further rejected petitioners contention that the law contemplated cutting of
trees without permit, while in this case there was a permit for cutting down the trees. The Court of Appeals ruled that the trees
which were cut by the sawyers were not covered by the permit.
The Court of Appeals ruled that conspiracy was not sufficiently proven. As such, the Court of Appeals found that the prosecution
failed to prove Cutengs guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The Court of Appeals likewise acquitted Santiago because he was only
following orders as to which trees to cut and he did not have a copy of the permit.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 24 September 2004 Resolution, the Court of Appeals denied the motion for lack
of merit.
Hence, the petition before this Court.
The Issue
The only issue in this case is whether petitioner is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 68 of PD 705.
The Ruling of this Court
The petition has merit.
The Solicitor General alleges that the petition should be denied because petitioner only raises questions of facts and not questions
of law. We do not agree.
A question of law arises when there is doubt as to what the law is on a certain state of facts, while there is a question of fact when
the doubt arises as to the truth or falsity of the alleged facts.[10] For questions to be one of law, the same must not involve an
examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants.[11] The resolution of the issue must rest solely on
what the law provides on the given set of circumstances.[12]
In this case, petitioner challenges his conviction under Section 68 of PD 705.
Section 68 of PD 705 provides:

Section 68. Cutting, Gathering and/or Collecting Timber or Other Forest Products Without License.-Any person who shall cut,
gather, collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or
from private land, without any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under
existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal
Code: Provided, that in the case of partnerships, associations, or corporations, the officers who ordered the cutting, gathering,
collection or possession shall be liable, and if such officers are aliens, they shall, in addition to the penalty, be deported without
further proceedings on the part of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation.
There are two distinct and separate offenses punished under Section 68 of PD 705, to wit:
(1)
Cutting, gathering, collecting and removing timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or
disposable public land, or from private land without any authority; and
(2)
Possession of timber or other forest products without the legal documents required under existing forest laws and regulations.[13]
The provision clearly punishes anyone who shall cut, gather, collect or remove timber or other forest products from any forest
land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land, without any authority. In this case, petitioner was
charged by CENRO to supervise the implementation of the permit. He was not the one who cut, gathered, collected or removed the
pine trees within the contemplation of Section 68 of PD 705. He was not in possession of the cut trees because the lumber was
used by Teachers Camp for repairs. Petitioner could not likewise be convicted of conspiracy to commit the offense because all his
co-accused were acquitted of the charges against them.
Petitioner may have been remiss in his duties when he failed to restrain the sawyers from cutting trees more than what was covered
by the permit. As the Court of Appeals ruled, petitioner could have informed his superiors if he was really intimidated by Santiago.
If at all, this could only make petitioner administratively liable for his acts. It is not enough to convict him under Section 68 of PD
705.
Neither could petitioner be liable under the last paragraph of Section 68 of PD 705 as he is not an officer of a partnership,
association, or corporation who ordered the cutting, gathering, or collection, or is in possession of the pine trees.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. We SET ASIDE the 5 June 1997 Decision and 24 September 2004 Resolution of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 17534. Petitioner Ernesto Aquino is ACQUITTED of the charge of violation of Section 68 of
Presidential Decree No. 705. Costs de officio.
SO ORDERED.
Mustang Lumber v. CA 257 SCRA 430
[G.R. No. 104988. June 18, 1996]
MUSTANG LUMBER, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., Secretary,
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and ATTY. VINCENT A. ROBLES, Chief, Special Actions and
Investigation Division, DENR, respondents.
[G.R. No. 106424. June 18, 1996]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. HON. TERESITA DIZON-CAPULONG, in her capacity as the Presiding Judge,
Regional Trial Court National Capital Judicial Region, Branch 172, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, and RI CHUY PO, respondents.
[G.R. No. 123784. June 18, 1996]
MUSTANG LUMBER, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ATTY. VINCENT A. ROBLES, Chief, Special Actions
and Investigation Division, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), ATTY. NESTOR V. GAPUSAN, TIRSO
P. PARIAN, JR., and FELIPE H. CALLORINA, JR., respondents.
DECISION
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
The first and third cases, G.R. No. 104988 and G.R. No. 123784, were originally assigned to the Second and Third Divisions of the
Court, respectively. They were subsequently consolidated with the second, a case of the Court en banc.
Petitioner, a domestic corporation with principal office at Nos. 1350-1352 Juan Luna Street, Tondo, Manila, and with a lumberyard
at Fortune Street, Fortune Village, Paseo de Blas, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, was duly registered as a lumber dealer with the
Bureau of Forest Development (BFD) under Certificate of Registration No. NRD-4-092590-0469. Its permit as such was to expire
on 25 September 1990.
Respondent Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., and respondent Atty. Vincent A. Robles were, during all the time material to these
cases, the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Chief of the Special Actions and
Investigation Division (SAID) of the DENR, respectively.
The material operative facts are as follows:

On 1 April 1990, acting on an information that a huge stockpile of narra flitches, shorts, and slabs were seen inside the lumberyard
of the petitioner in Valenzuela, Metro Manila, the SAID organized a team of foresters and policemen and sent it to conduct
surveillance at the said lumberyard. In the course thereof, the team members saw coming out from the lumberyard the petitioner's
truck, with Plate No. CCK-322, loaded with lauan and almaciga lumber of assorted sizes and dimensions. Since the driver could
not produce the required invoices and transport documents, the team seized the truck together with its cargo and impounded them
at the DENR compound at Visayas Avenue, Quezon City.[1] The team was not able to gain entry into the premises because of the
refusal of the owner.[2]
On 3 April 1990, the team was able to secure a search warrant from Executive Judge Adriano R. Osorio of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Valenzuela, Metro Manila. By virtue thereof, the team seized on that date from the petitioners lumberyard four truckloads
of narra shorts, trimmings, and slabs; a negligible number of narra lumber; and approximately 200,000 board feet of lumber and
shorts of various species including almaciga and supa.[3]
On 4 April 1990, the team returned to the premises of the petitioner 's lumberyard in Valenzuela and placed under administrative
seizure the remaining stockpile of almaciga, supa, and lauan lumber with a total volume of 311,000 board feet because the
petitioner failed to produce upon demand the corresponding certificate of lumber origin, auxiliary invoices, tally sheets, and
delivery receipts from the source of the invoices covering the lumber to prove the legitimacy of their source and origin.[4]
Parenthetically, it may be stated that under an administrative seizure the owner retains the physical possession of the seized
articles. Only an inventory of the articles is taken and signed by the owner or his representative. The owner is prohibited from
disposing them until further orders.[5]
On 10 April 1990, counsel for the petitioner sent a letter to Robles requesting an extension of fifteen days from 14 April 1990 to
produce the required documents covering the seized articles because some of them, particularly the certificate of lumber origin,
were allegedly in the Province of Quirino. Robles denied the motion on the ground that the documents being required from the
petitioner must accompany the lumber or forest products placed under seizure.[6]
On 11 April 1990, Robles submitted his memorandum-report recommending to Secretary Factoran the following:
1. Suspension and subsequent cancellation of the lumber Dealer's Permit of Mustang Lumber, Inc. for operating an unregistered
lumberyard and resaw mill and possession of Almaciga Lumber (a banned specie) without the required documents;
2. Confiscation of the lumber seized at the Mustang Lumberyard including the truck with Plate No. CCK-322 and the lumber
loaded herein [sic] now at the DENR compound in the event its owner fails to submit documents showing legitimacy of the source
of said lumber within ten days from date of seizure;
3. Filing of criminal charges against Mr. Ri Chuy Po, owner of Mustang Lumber Inc. and Mr. Ruiz, or if the circumstances warrant
for illegal possession of narra and almaciga lumber and shorts if and when recommendation no. 2 pushes through;
4. Confiscation of Trucks with Plate No. CCS-639 and CDV-458 as well as the lumber loaded therein for transport lumber using
recycled documents.[7]
On 23 April 1990, Secretary Factoran issued an order suspending immediately the petitioner's lumber-dealer's permit No. NRD-4092590-0469 and directing the petitioner to explain in writing within fifteen days why its lumber-dealer's permit should not be
cancelled.
On the same date, counsel for the petitioner sent another letter to Robles informing the latter that the petitioner had already secured
the required documents and was ready to submit them. None, however, was submitted.[8]
On 3 May 1990, Secretary Factoran issued another order wherein, after reciting the events which took place on 1 April and 3 April
1990, he ordered CONFISCATED in favor of the government to be disposed of in accordance with law the approximately 311,000
board feet of lauan, supa, and almaciga lumber, shorts, and sticks found inside the petitioner's lumberyard.[9]
On 11 July 1990, the petitioner filed with the RTC of Manila a petition for certiorari and prohibition with a prayer for a restraining
order or preliminary injunction against Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., and Atty. Vincent A. Robles. The case (hereinafter, the
FIRST CIVIL CASE) was docketed as Civil Case No. 90-53648 and assigned to Branch 35 o the said court. The petitioner
questioned therein (a) the seizure on 1 April 1990, without any search and seizure order issued by a judge, of its truck with Plate
No. CCK-322 and its cargo of assorted lumber consisting of apitong, tanguile, and lauan of different sizes and dimensions with a
total value of P38,000.00; and (b) the orders of Secretary Factoran of 23 April 1990 for lack of prior notice and hearing and of 3
May 1990 for violation of Section 2, Article III of the Constitution.
On 17 September 1990, in response to reports that violations of P.D. No. 705 (The Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines), as
amended, were committed and acting upon instruction of Robles and under Special Order No. 897, series of 1990, a team of
DENR agents went to the business premises of the petitioner located at No. 1352 Juan Luna Street, Tondo, Manila. The team
caught the petitioner operating as a lumber dealer although its lumber-dealer's permit had already been suspended on 23 April
1990. Since the gate of the petitioner's lumberyard was open, the team went inside and saw an owner-type jeep with a trailer
loaded with lumber. Upon investigation, the team was informed that the lumber loaded on the trailer was to be delivered to the
petitioner's customer. It also came upon the sales invoice covering the transaction. The members of the team then introduced
themselves to the caretaker, one Ms. Chua, who turned out to be the wife of the petitioner's president and general manager, Mr. Ri
Chuy Po, who was then out of town. The team's photographer was able to take photographs of the stockpiles of lumber including
newly cut ones, fresh dust around sawing or cutting machineries and equipment, and the transport vehicles loaded with lumber.
The team thereupon effected a constructive seizure of approximately 20,000 board feet of lauan lumber in assorted sizes stockpiled
in the premises by issuing a receipt therefor.[10]

As a consequence of this 17 September 1990 incident, the petitioner filed with the RTC of Manila a petition for certiorari and
prohibition. The case (hereinafter, the SECOND CIVIL CASE) was docketed as Civil Case No. 90-54610 and assigned to Branch
24 of the said court.
In the meantime, Robles filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) a complaint against the petitioner's president and general
manager, Ri Chuy Po, for violation of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended by E.O. No. 277. After appropriate preliminary
investigation, the investigating prosecutor, Claro Arellano, handed down a resolution[11] whose dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is hereby recommended that an information be filed against respondent Ri Chuy Po for
illegal possession of approximately 200,000 bd. ft. of lumber consisting of almaciga and supa and for illegal shipment of almaciga
and lauan in violation of Sec. 68 of PD 705 as amended by E.O. 277, series of 1987.
It is further recommended that the 30,000 bd. ft. of narra shorts, trimmings and slabs covered by legal documents be released to the
rightful owner, Malupa.[12]
This resolution was approved by Undersecretary of Justice Silvestre H. Bello, III, who served as Chairman of the Task Force on
Illegal Logging.[13]
On the basis of that resolution, an information was filed on 5 June 1991 by the DOJ with Branch 172 of the RTC of Valenzuela,
charging Ri Chuy Po with the violation of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, which was docketed as Criminal Case No. 324V-91 (hereinafter, the CRIMINAL CASE). The accusatory portion of the information reads as follows:
That on or about the 3rd day of April 1990, or prior to or subsequent thereto, within the premises and vicinity of Mustang Lumber,
Inc. in Fortune Village, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
did then and there wilfully, feloniously and unlawfully, have in his possession truckloads of almaciga and lauan and approximately
200,000 bd. ft. of lumber and shorts of various species including almaciga and supa, without the legal documents as required under
existing forest laws and regulations.[14]
On 7 June 1991, Branch 35 of the RTC of Manila rendered its decision[15] in the FIRST CIVIL CASE, the dispositive portion of
which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment in this case is rendered as follows:
1. The Order of Respondent Secretary of the DENR, the Honorable Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., dated 3 May 1990 ordering the
confiscation in favor of the Government the approximately 311,000 board feet of lauan, supa, and almaciga lumber, shorts and
sticks, found inside and seized from the lumberyard of the petitioner at Fortune Drive, Fortune Village, Paseo de Blas, Valenzuela,
Metro Manila, on April 4, 1990 (Exhibit 10), is hereby set aside and vacated, and instead the respondents are required to report and
bring to the Hon. Adriano Osorio, Executive Judge, Regional Trial Court, NCJR, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, the said 311,000 board
feet of Lauan, supa and almaciga Lumber, shorts and sticks, to be dealt with as directed by law;
2. The respondents are required to initiate and prosecute the appropriate action before the proper court regarding the lauan and
almaciga lumber of assorted sizes and dimensions loaded in petitioner's truck bearing Plate No. CCK-322 which were seized on
April 1, 1990;
3. The Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued by the Court on August 2, 1990 shall be rendered functus oficio upon compliance by
the respondents with paragraphs 1 and 2 of this judgment;
4. Action on the prayer of the petitioner that the lauan, supa and almaciga lumber, shorts and sticks mentioned above in paragraphs
1 and 2 of this judgment be returned to said petitioner, is withheld in this case until after the proper court has taken cognizance and
determined how those lumber, shorts and sticks should be disposed of; and
5. The petitioner is ordered to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.
In resolving the said case, the trial court held that the warrantless search and seizure on 1 April 1990 of the petitioner's truck,
which was moving out from the petitioner's lumberyard in Valenzuela, Metro Manila, loaded with large volumes of lumber without
covering document showing the legitimacy of its source or origin did not offend the constitutional mandate that search and seizure
must be supported by a valid warrant. The situation fell under one of the settled and accepted exceptions where warrantless search
and seizure is justified, viz., a search of a moving vehicle.[16] As to the seizure of a large volume of almaciga, supa, and lauan
lumber and shorts effected on 4 April 1990, the trial court ruled that the said seizure was a continuation of that made the previous
day and was still pursuant to or by virtue of the search warrant issued by Executive Judge Osorio whose validity the petitioner did
not even question.[17] And, although the search warrant did not specifically mention almaciga, supa, and lauan lumber and shorts,
their seizure was valid because it is settled that the executing officer is not required to ignore contrabands observed during the
conduct of the search.[18]
The trial court, however, set aside Secretary Factoran's order of 3 May 1990 ordering the confiscation of the seized articles in favor
of the Government for the reason that since the articles were seized pursuant to the search warrant issued by Executive Judge
Osorio they should have been returned to him in compliance with the directive in the warrant.

As to the propriety of the 23 April 1990 order of Secretary Factoran, the trial court ruled that the same had been rendered moot and
academic by the expiration of the petitioner's lumber-dealer's permit on 25 September 1990, a fact the petitioner admitted in its
memorandum.
The petitioner forthwith appealed from the decision in the FIRST CIVIL CASE to the Court of Appeals, which docketed the appeal
as CA-G.R. SP No. 25510.
On 7 July 1991, accused Ri Chuy Po filed in the CRIMINAL CASE a Motion to Quash and/or to Suspend Proceedings based on
the following grounds: (a) the information does not charge an offense, for possession of lumber, as opposed to timber, is not
penalized in Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, and even granting arguendo that lumber falls within the purview of the said
section, the same may not be used in evidence against him for they were taken by virtue of an illegal seizure; and (b) Civil Case
No. 90-53648 of Branch 35 of the RTC of Manila, the FIRST CIVIL CASE, then pending before the Court of Appeals, which
involves the legality of the seizure, raises a prejudicial question.[19]
The prosecution opposed the motion alleging that lumber is included in Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, and possession
thereof without the required legal documents is penalized therein. It referred to Section 3.2 of DENR Administrative Order No. 19,
series of 1989, for the definitions of timber and lumber, and then argued that exclusion of lumber from Section 68 would defeat the
very purpose of the law, i.e., to minimize, if not halt, illegal logging that has resulted in the rapid denudation of our forest
resources.[20]
In her order of 16 August 1991 in the CRIMINAL CASE,[21] respondent Judge Teresita Dizon-Capulong granted the motion to
quash and dismissed the case on the ground that "possession of lumber without the legal documents required by forest laws and
regulations is not a crime."[22]
Its motion for reconsideration having been denied in the order of 18 October 1991,[23] the People filed a petition for certiorari
with this Court in G.R. No. 106424, wherein it contends that the respondent Judge acted with grave abuse of discretion in granting
the motion to quash and in dismissing the case.
On 29 November 1991, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision[24] in CA-G.R. SP No. 25510 dismissing for lack of merit the
petitioner's appeal from the decision in the FIRST CIVIL CASE and affirming the trial court's rulings on the issues raised. As to
the claim that the truck was not carrying contraband articles since there is no law punishing the possession of lumber, and that
lumber is not timber whose possession without the required legal documents is unlawful under P.D. No. 705, as amended, the
Court of Appeals held:
This undue emphasis on lumber or the commercial nature of the forest product involved has always been foisted by those who
claim to be engaged in the legitimate business of lumber dealership. But what is important to consider is that when appellant was
required to present the valid documents showing its acquisition and lawful possession of the lumber in question, it failed to present
any despite the period of extension granted to it.[25]
The petitioner's motion to reconsider the said decision was denied by the Court of Appeals in its resolution of 3 March 1992.[26]
Hence, the petitioner came to this Court by way of a petition for review on certiorari in G.R. No. 104988, which was filed on 2
May 1992.[27]
On 24 September 1992, Branch 24 of the RTC of Manila handed down a decision in the SECOND CIVIL CASE dismissing the
petition for certiorari and prohibition because (a) the petitioner did not exhaust administrative remedies; (b) when the seizure was
made on 17 September 1990 the petitioner could not lawfully sell lumber, as its license was still under suspension; (c) the seizure
was valid under Section 68-A of P.D. No. 705, as amended; and (d) the seizure was justified as a warrantless search and seizure
under Section 80 of P.D. No. 705, as amended.
The petitioner appealed from the decision to the Court of Appeals, which docketed the appeal as CA-G.R. SP No. 33778.
In its decision[28] of 31 July 1995, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petitioner's appeal in CA-G.R. SP No. 33778 for lack of
merit and sustained the grounds relied upon by the trial court in dismissing the SECOND CIVIL CASE. Relying on the definition
of "lumber" by Webster, viz., "timber or logs, especially after being prepared for the market," and by the Random House
Dictionary of the English Language, viz., "wood, esp. when suitable or adapted for various building purposes," the respondent
Court held that since wood is included in the definition of forest product in Section 3(q) of P.D. No. 705, as amended, lumber is
necessarily included in Section 68 under the term forest product.
The Court of Appeals further emphasized that a forest officer or employee can seize the forest product involved in a violation of
Section 68 of P.D. No. 705 pursuant to Section 80 thereof, as amended by P.D. No. 1775, which provides in part as follows:
SEC. 80. Arrest, Institution of Criminal Actions. A forest officer or employee of the Bureau or any personnel of the Philippine
Constabulary/Integrated National Police shall arrest even without warrant any person who has committed or is committing in his
presence any of the offenses defined in this chapter. He shall also seize and confiscate, in favor of the Government, the tools and
equipment used in committing the offense, or the forest products cut, gathered or taken by the offender in the process of
committing the offense.
Among the offenses punished in the chapter referred to in said Section 80 are the cutting, gathering, collection, or removal of
timber or other forest products or possession of timber or other forest products without the required legal documents.
Its motion to reconsider the decision having been denied by the Court of Appeals in the resolution of 6 February 1996, the
petitioner filed with this Court on 27 February 1996 a petition for review on certiorari in G.R. No. 123784.

We shall now resolve these three cases starting with G.R. 106424 with which the other two were consolidated.
G.R. No. 106424
The petitioner had moved to quash the information in Criminal Case No. 324-V-91 on the ground that it does not charge an
offense. Respondent Judge Dizon-Capulong granted the motion reasoning that the subject matter of the information in the
CRIMINAL CASE is LUMBER, which is neither "timber" nor "other forest product" under Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as
amended, and hence, possession thereof without the required legal documents is not prohibited and penalized under the said
section.
Under paragraph (a), Section 3, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, an information may be quashed on the ground that the facts
alleged therein do not constitute an offense. It has been said that "the test for the correctness of this ground is the sufficiency of the
averments in the information, that is, whether the facts alleged, if hypothetically admitted, constitute the elements of the offense,
[29] and matters aliunde will not be considered." Anent the sufficiency of the information, Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules of
Court requires, inter alia, that the information state the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense.
Respondent Ri Chuy Po is charged with the violation of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended by E.O. No. 277, which provides:
SEC. 68. Cutting, Gathering and/or collecting Timber, or Other Forest Products Without License. Any person who shall cut, gather,
collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from
private land, without any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under
existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal
Code: Provided, That in the case of partnerships, associations, or corporations, the officers who ordered the cutting, gathering,
collection or possession shall be liable, and if such officers are aliens, they shall, in addition to the penalty, be deported without
further proceedings on the part of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation.
The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut, gathered,
collected, removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery, equipment, implements and tools illegally used in the area where the
timber or forest products are found.
Punished then in this section are (1) the cutting, gathering, collection, or removal of timber or other forest products from the places
therein mentioned without any authority; and (b) possession of timber or other forest products without the legal documents as
required under existing forest laws and regulations.
Indeed, the word lumber does not appear in Section 68. But conceding ex gratia that this omission amounts to an exclusion of
lumber from the section's coverage, do the facts averred in the information in the CRIMINAL CASE validly charge a violation of
the said section?
A cursory reading of the information readily leads us to an infallible conclusion that lumber is not solely its subject matter. It is
evident therefrom that what are alleged to be in the possession of the private respondent, without the required legal documents, are
truckloads of
(1) almaciga and lauan; and
(2) approximately 200,000 bd. ft. of lumber and shorts of various species including almaciga and supa.
The almaciga and lauan specifically mentioned in no. (1) are not described as lumber. They cannot refer to the lumber in no. (2)
because they are separated by the words approximately 200,000 bd. ft. with the conjunction and, and not with the preposition of.
They must then be raw forest products or, more specifically, timbers under Section 3(q) of P.D. No. 705, as amended, which reads:
SEC. 3. Definitions.
xxx xxx xxx
(q) Forest product means timber, pulpwood, firewood, bark, tree top, resin, gum, wood, oil, honey, beeswax, nipa, rattan, or other
forest growth such as grass, shrub, and flowering plant, the associated water, fish, game, scenic, historical, recreational and
geological resources in forest lands.
It follows then that lumber is only one of the items covered by the information. The public and the private respondents obviously
miscomprehended the averments in the information. Accordingly, even if lumber is not included in Section 68, the other items
therein as noted above fall within the ambit of the said section, and as to them, the information validly charges an offense.
Our respected brother, Mr. Justice Jose C. Vitug, suggests in his dissenting opinion that this Court go beyond the four corners of
the information for enlightenment as to whether the information exclusively refers to lumber. With the aid of the pleadings and the
annexes thereto, he arrives at the conclusion that only lumber has been envisioned in the indictment.
The majority is unable to subscribe to his view. First, his proposition violates the rule that only the facts alleged in the information
vis-a-vis the law violated must be considered in determining whether an information charges an offense.
Second, the pleadings and annexes he resorted to are insufficient to justify his conclusion. On the contrary, the Joint Affidavit of
Melencio Jalova, Jr., and Araman Belleng, which is one of the annexes he referred to,[30] cannot lead one to infer that what the
team seized was all lumber. Paragraph 8 thereof expressly states:

8. That when inside the compound, the team found approximately four (4) truckloads of narra shorts, trimmings and slabs and a
negligible amount of narra lumber, and approximately 200,000 bd. ft. of lumber and shorts of various species including almaciga
and supa which are classified as prohibited wood species. (Italics supplied)
In the same vein, the dispositive portion of the resolution[31] of the investigating prosecutor, which served as the basis for the
filing of the information, does not limit itself to lumber; thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is hereby recommended that an information be filed against respondent Ri Chuy Po for
illegal possession of 200,000 bd. ft. of lumber consisting of almaciga and supa and for illegal shipment of almaciga and lauan in
violation of Sec. 63 of PD 705 as amended by E.O. 277, series of 1987. (Italics supplied)
The foregoing disquisitions should not, in any manner, be construed as an affirmance of the respondent Judge's conclusion that
lumber is excluded from the coverage of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, and thus possession thereof without the required
legal documents is not a crime. On the contrary, this Court rules that such possession is penalized in the said section because
lumber is included in the term timber.
The Revised Forestry Code contains no definition of either timber or lumber. While the former is included in forest products as
defined in paragraph (q) of Section 3, the latter is found in paragraph (aa) of the same section in the definition of Processing plant;
which reads:
(aa) Processing plant is any mechanical set-up, machine or combination of machine used for the processing of logs and other forest
raw materials into lumber, veneer, plywood, wallboard, block-board, paper board, pulp, paper or other finished wood products.
This simply means that lumber is a processed log or processed forest raw material. Clearly, the Code uses the term lumber in its
ordinary or common usage. In the 1993 copyright edition of Webster's Third New International Dictionary, lumber is defined, inter
alia, as timber or logs after being prepared for the market.[32] Simply put, lumber is a processed log or timber.
It is settled that in the absence of legislative intent to the contrary, words and phrases used in a statute should be given their plain,
ordinary, and common usage meaning.[33] And insofar as possession of timber without the required legal documents is concerned,
Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, makes no distinction between raw or processed timber. Neither should we. Ubi lex non
distanguit nec nos distinguere debemus.
Indisputably, respondent Judge Teresita Dizon-Capulong of Branch 172 of the RTC of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, committed grave
abuse of discretion in granting the motion to quash the information in the CRIMINAL CASE and in dismissing the said case.
G.R. No. 104988
We find this petition to be without merit. The petitioner has miserably failed to show that the Court of Appeals committed any
reversible error in its assailed decision of 29 November 1991.
It was duly established that on 1 April 1990, the petitioner's truck with Plate No. CCK-322 was coming out from the petitioner's
lumberyard loaded with lauan and almaciga lumber of different sizes and dimensions which were not accompanied with the
required invoices and transport documents. The seizure of such truck and its cargo was a valid exercise of the power vested upon a
forest officer or employee by Section 80 of P.D. No. 705, as amended by P.D. No. 1775. Then, too, as correctly held by the trial
court and the Court of Appeals in the FIRST CIVIL CASE, the search was conducted on a moving vehicle. Such a search could be
lawfully conducted without a search warrant.
Search of a moving vehicle is one of the five doctrinally accepted exceptions to the constitutional mandate[34] that no search or
seizure shall be made except by virtue of a warrant issued by a judge after personally determining the existence of probable cause.
The other exceptions are (1) search as an incident to a lawful arrest, (2) seizure of evidence in plain view, (3) customs searches,
and (4) consented warrantless search.[35]
We also affirm the rulings of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals that the search on 4 April 1990 was a continuation of the
search on 3 April 1990 done under and by virtue of the search warrant issued on 3 April 1990 by Executive Judge Osorio. Under
Section 9, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, a search warrant has a lifetime of ten days. Hence, it could be served at any time within
the said period, and if its object or purpose cannot be accomplished in one day, the same may be continued the following day or
days until completed. Thus, when the search under a warrant on one day was interrupted, it may be continued under the same
warrant the following day, provided it is still within the ten-day period.[36]
As to the final plea of the petitioner that the search was illegal because possession of lumber without the required legal documents
is not illegal under Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, since lumber is neither specified therein nor included in the term forest
product, the same hardly merits further discussion in view of our ruling in G.R. No. 106424.
G.R. No. 123784
The allegations and arguments set forth in the petition in this case palpably fail to show prima facie that a reversible error has been
committed by the Court of Appeals in its challenged decision of 31 July 1995 and resolution of 6 February 1996 in CA-G.R. SP
No. 33778. We must, forthwith, deny it for utter want of merit. There is no need to require the respondents to comment on the
petition.
The Court of Appeals correctly dismissed the petitioner's appeal from the judgment of the trial court in the SECOND CIVIL
CASE. The petitioner never disputed the fact that its lumber-dealer's license or permit had been suspended by Secretary Factoran
on 23 April 1990. The suspension was never lifted, and since the license had only a lifetime of up to 25 September 1990, the

petitioner has absolutely no right to possess, sell, or otherwise dispose of lumber. Accordingly, Secretary Factoran or his authorized
representative had the authority to seize the lumber pursuant to Section 68-A of P.D. No. 705, as amended, which provides as
follows:
Section 68-A. Administrative Authority of the Department Head or his Duly Authorized Representative to Order Confiscation. In
all cases of violations of this Code or other forest laws, rules and regulations, the Department Head or his duly authorized
representative may order the confiscation of any forest products illegally cut, gathered, removed, or possessed or abandoned. . . .
The petitioner's insistence that possession or sale of lumber is not penalized must also fail in view of our disquisition and ruling on
the same issue in G.R. No. 106424. Besides, the issue is totally irrelevant in the SECOND CIVIL CASE which involves
administrative seizure as a consequence of the violation of the suspension of the petitioner's license as lumber dealer.
All told then, G.R. No. 104988 and G.R. No. 123784 are nothing more than rituals to cover up blatant violations of the Revised
Forestry Code of the Philippines (P.D. No. 705), as amended. They are presumably trifling attempts to block the serious efforts of
the DENR to enforce the decree, efforts which deserve the commendation of the public in light of the urgent need to take firm and
decisive action against despoilers of our forests whose continuous destruction only ensures to the generations to come, if not the
present, an inheritance of parched earth incapable of sustaining life. The Government must not tire in its vigilance to protect the
environment by prosecuting without fear or favor any person who dares to violate our laws for the utilization and protection of our
forests.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered
1. (a) GRANTING the petition in G.R. No. 106424; (b) SETTING ASIDE and ANNULLING, for having been rendered with grave
abuse of discretion, the challenged orders of 16 August 1991 and 18 October 1991 of respondent Judge Teresita Dizon-Capulong,
Branch 172, Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, in Criminal Case No. 324-V-91, entitled People of the Philippines
vs. Ri Chuy Po; (c) REINSTATING the information in the said criminal case; and (d) DIRECTING the respondent Judge on her
successor to hear and decide the case with purposeful dispatch; and
2. DENYING the petitions in G.R. No. 104988 and in G. R. No. 123784 for utter failure of the petitioner to show that the
respondent Court of Appeals committed any reversible error in the challenged decisions of 29 November 1991 in CA-G.R. SP No.
25510 in the FIRST CIVIL CASE and of 31 July 1995 in CA-G.R. SP No. 33778 in the SECOND CIVIL CASE.
Costs against the petitioner in each of these three cases.
SO ORDERED.

Tan v. People 290 SCRA 117


[G.R. No. 115507. May 19, 1998]
ALEJANDRO TAN, ISMAEL RAMILO and FRED MORENO, petitioners, vs. THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and
THE COURT OF APPEALS,respondents.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
In denying this petition, the Court reiterates that the gathering, collection and/or possession, without license, of lumber, which
is considered timber or forest product, are prohibited and penalized under the Forestry Reform Code, as amended.
The Case
In this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioners seek to set aside the Decision [1] of the
Court of Appeals[2] in CA-GR No. CR-12815 promulgated on July 30, 1993, and its Resolution [3] promulgated on April 28,
1994. The assailed Decision affirmed the judgment [4] of the Regional Trial Court of Romblon, Branch 81, [5] which, in the complaint
against petitioners for violation of Section 68, PD 705 (Forestry Reform Code) as amended, disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, this Court finds:
a) the accused ALEJANDRO TAN, ISMAEL RAMILO and FRED MORENO GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
illegal possession of lumber under the Information, dated March 16, 1990, under Section 68, P.D. No. 705, as amended by
Executive Order No. 277, and sentences each of them to an indeterminate sentence of SIX (6) MONTHS, as minimum, to FOUR
(4) YEARS and TWO (2) MONTHS, as maximum, with the accessory penalties of the law, and to pay the costs, and
b) the accused ALEJANDRO TAN, ISMAEL RAMILO and CRISPIN CABUDOL GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
of illegal possession of lumber under the Information, dated March 16, 1990, under Section 68, P.D. No. 705, as amended by
Executive Order No. 277, and sentences each of them to an indeterminate sentence of SIX (6) MONTHS, as minimum, to FOUR
(4) YEARS and TWO (2) MONTHS, as maximum, with the accessory penalties of the law, and to pay the costs.

The two (2) terms of imprisonment of each of the accused shall be served successively under Article 70, RPC.
The preventive imprisonment which any of the accused may have suffered is credited in his favor to its full extent.
The Court further orders the confiscation of the lumber described in the aforesaid Informations in favor of the government.
SO ORDERED.
The Facts
On October 26, 1989, about 6:30 p.m., in the town proper of Cajidiocan, Sibuyan Island, Romblon, Forest Guards Joseph
Panadero and Eduardo Rabino intercepted a dump truck loaded with narra and white lauan lumber. The truck was driven by
Petitioner Fred Moreno, an employee of A & E Construction. Again, about 8:00 p.m. on October 30, 1989, this time in Barangay
Cambajao, Forest Guards Panadero and Rabino apprehended another dump truck with Plate No. DEK-646 loaded
with tanguile lumber. Said truck was driven by Crispin Cabudol, also an employee of A & E Construction. Both motor vehicles, as
well as the construction firm, were owned by Petitioner Alejandro Tan. In both instances, no documents showing legal possession
of the lumber were, upon demand, presented to the forest guards; thus, the pieces of lumber were confiscated.
On March 16, 1990, Tan and Moreno, together with Ismael Ramilo, caretaker and timekeeper of A & E Construction, were
charged by First Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Felix R. Rocero with violation of Section 68, [6] PD No. 705, as amended by EO
No. 277, in an Information[7] which reads:
That on or about the 26th day of October, 1989, at around 6:30 oclock in the evening, in the Poblacion, municipality of Cajidiocan,
province of Romblon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, conspiring, confederating
and mutually helping one another, with intent of gain and without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and
regulations, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in their possession and under their custody and control 13
pieces narra lumber about 171 board feet and 41 pieces tanguile lumber about 834 board feet valued at P8,724.00, Philippine
currency, to the damage and prejudice of the government in the aforestated amount.
In another Information,[8] Tan and Ramilo, together with Crispin Cabudol, were also charged for the same violation in
connection with the October 30, 1989 incident.
On April 26, 1990, all the accused, assisted by counsel, were arraigned on the basis of the aforementioned Informations; each
pleaded not guilty.[9] The cases were thence jointly tried, pursuant to Section 14, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court.[10]
During the trial, the defense did not contest the above factual circumstances except to deny that the forest guards demanded,
on either of the two occasions, papers or documents showing legal possession of the lumber. Additionally, Prisco Marin, who
claimed to have been the officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Bureau of Forest Development of Sibuyan, testified that the seized pieces
of lumber were bought by Tans Cajidiocan Trading, one of the licensed lumber dealers in the island, from Matzhou Development
Corporation (Matzhou) which thus delivered to the former Auxiliary Invoice No. 763850 [11] dated March 19, 1987 issued by the
Bureau of Internal Revenue office in Romblon. According to Marin, the director of forestry had granted Matzhou a Tree Recovery
Permit covering the entire island of Sibuyan. He added that he had inspected the lumber in question in the compound of A & E
Construction or Cajidiocan Trading, where he was shown the auxiliary invoice covering the subject. [12]
Ruling of the Trial Court
The trial court brushed aside the version of the defense and ruled that the confiscated pieces of lumber which were admittedly
owned by Accused Tan were not legitimate deliveries but aborted nocturnal haulings. It convicted all the accused as charged for
their failure to comply with the Forestry Reform Code, which requires the following legal documents: (1) an auxiliary invoice, (2)
a certificate of origin, (3) a sales invoice, (4) scale/tally sheets and (5) a lumber dealer permit.

Ruling of Respondent Court of Appeals


On appeal, the accused assigned to the trial court these ten errors: (1) holding them liable under Section 68 of EO 277; (2)
ruling that their possession of the lumber were unauthorized or illegal; (3) retroactively applying E.O. 277; (4) ruling that the
accused did not have the necessary documents to make their possession legal; (5) convicting them despite the absence of
the corpus delicti; (6) admitting in evidence the alleged seizure receipts or, assuming their admissibility, considering them as
evidence of corpus delicti; (7) finding that the deliveries were aborted nocturnal haulings; (8) convicting Alejandro Tan on the
ground of conspiracy; (9) ruling that the guilt of the accused was proved beyond reasonable doubt; and (10) sustaining the
constitutionality of EO 277.[13]

As regards the first assigned error, the Court of Appeals held petitioners artful distinction between timber and lumber to be
fallacious and utterly unmeritorious. It thereby upheld the solicitor generals manifestation that forest products include wood which
is defined by Websters Dictionary as the hard fibrous substance beneath the back of trees and shrubs. Respondent Court succinctly
ruled that to construe sawn lumber as not covered by sawn timber would defeat the evident intent and purpose of the law, for what
would prevent an illegal logger [from bringing] with him a portable saw and having the timber illegally cut/gathered [and] sawn
right on the spot, thus gaining immunity for himself[?][14]
As to the next three assigned errors which relied heavily on Prisco Marins testimony, Respondent Court dismissed the said
witness account as anything but credible. It added that Marins testimony largely focused on a certification he made stating that,
five years ago, he inspected the same confiscated lumber which were to be used for the repair of school buildings by A & E
Construction in Sibuyan. But during the cross-examination, he admitted that he made the inspection in December 1989. The
appellate tribunal noted that, by then, he had already been relieved of his position as OIC of the Bureau of Forest Development in
Romblon; hence, he had no business inspecting the lumberyard of Petitioner Tan. In fact, he admitted that in December 1989, it
was Romulae Gadaoni who was already the highest forest officer in the island.[15]
As to the fifth and sixth alleged errors, Respondent Court ruled that corpus delicti does not refer literally to the object of the
crime -- in this case, the forest products possessed without the required legal documents. The fact that the crimes charged were
perpetrated by the petitioners was credibly and amply proven by the detailed testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, including
the admission of Defense Witness Ismael Ramilo. The seizure receipts merely served to corroborate their testimonies.[16]
The seventh and ninth assigned errors were deemed answered in the foregoing discussions. As to the eighth, no other than the
admission of his caretaker or katiwala, Co-Accused Ramilo, proved that Tan was involved in the conspiracy. Ramilo testified that
the deliveries of lumber on the subject dates (October 26 and 30, 1989) were made pursuant to the instruction of Tan; and that the
latter owned said lumber, the trucks and the construction firm. The two accused truck drivers who were caught in flagrante
delicto were mere employees of Tan.[17]
The last assigned error was set aside by Respondent Court as unnecessary. Absolutely of no concern to the petitioners, who
were caught in possession of lumber without the required legal documents, was the alleged unconstitutionality of the inclusion of
firewood, bark, honey, beeswax, and even grass, shrub, the associated water or fish in EO 277. There being other grounds to
resolve the case, the constitutionality of said phrase was not passed upon.[18]
In their motion for reconsideration, petitioners raised these additional grounds: (1) the Forestry Reform Code and the laws
and regulations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) distinguish between timber and lumber and
between lumber and other forest products; (2) the Informations alleged and the facts proved that lumber is not covered by the
provision supposedly violated; (3) judicial interpretation or construction may not be resorted to in order to fill a gap or clear an
ambiguity in penal statutes and, assuming the propriety thereof, construction should be in favor of the accused; (4) lack of
documents for possession of lumber is not punishable under the law; and (5) the perceived weakness in the testimony of Defense
Witness Prisco Marin should not strengthen the case for the prosecution. In its April 28, 1994 Resolution, Respondent Court found
no cogent reason for the reversal or modification of its Decision. Hence, this petition.[19]
The Issues
Petitioners now ask this Court to likewise pass upon their foregoing submissions. Many of the errors raised, however, involve
factual questions, the review of which is not within the ambit of this Courts functions, particularly in this case where the findings
of the trial court were affirmed by the appellate court and where petitioners failed to show any misappreciation of the evidence
presented.[20] We shall therefore limit our review only to questions of law.
Accordingly, we shall rule on the following legal issues: (1) the constitutionality of Section 68 of EO 277, (2) the treatment
by the lower courts of lumber as timber and/or forest productwithin the contemplation of PD 705, as amended, and (3) the alleged
retroactive application of EO 277.
The Courts Ruling
The petition is not meritorious.
Preliminary Issue:
Constitutionality of Sec. 68, E.O. 277
The impugned legal provision reads:
Sec. 68. Cutting, Gathering and/or Collecting Timber, or other Forest Products Without License. - Any person who shall cut,
gather, collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or

from private land without any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under
existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal
Code: Provided, That in the case of partnerships, associations or corporations, the officers who ordered the cutting, gathering,
collection or possession shall be liable and if such officers are aliens, they shall, in addition to the penalty, be deported without
further proceedings on the part of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation.
The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut, gathered,
collected, removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery, equipment, implements and tools illegally used in the area where the
timber or forest products are found.
Petitioners aver that the above provision is violative of substantive due process, because it requires the possession of certain
legal documents to justify mere possession of forest products which, under Section 3(q) of PD 705, includes, among others,
firewood, bark, honey, beeswax, and even grass, shrub, flowering plant, the associated water or fish and penalizes failure to present
such required documents.
One of the essential requisites for a successful judicial inquiry into the constitutionality of a law is the existence of an actual
case or controversy involving a conflict of legal rights susceptible of judicial determination. [21] As Respondent Court of Appeals
correctly pointed out, petitioners were not charged with the [unlawful] possession of firewood, bark, honey, beeswax, and even
grass, shrub, the associated water or fish; thus, the inclusion of any of these enumerated items in EO 277 is absolutely of no
concern to petitioners. They are not asserting a legal right for which they are entitled to a judicial determination at this
time. Besides, they did not present any convincing evidence of a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution that would
justify the nullification of said provision. [22] A statute is always presumed to be constitutional, and one who attacks it on the ground
of unconstitutionality must convincingly prove its invalidity.[23]
Main Issue: Under PD 705 and EO 277, Is Lumber Considered Timber or Forest Product?
Petitioners contend that possession of manufactured lumber is not punishable under the Forestry Reform Code, as
amended. As explicitly provided in Section 68 of both PD 705 and EO 277 (the law that amended the former), only the cutting,
gathering, collecting and/or possession, without license, of timber and other forest products are prohibited. As expressly defined
under Section 3(q) of PD 705, lumber is not timber or a forest product. It is only in Section 79 of the same law where the sale of
lumber, without compliance with established grading rules and standards, is prohibited. Petitioners submit that the forest laws and
regulations sufficiently differentiate between timber and lumber; therefore, courts should not construe lumber astimber.
The question of whether lumber is excluded from the coverage of Section 68 of PD 705, as amended, has been settled
in Mustang Lumber, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals,[24] in which this Court expressly ruled that lumber is included in the term timber.
[25]
We quote at length the Courts discussion:
The Revised Forestry Code contains no definition of either timber or lumber. While the former is included in forest products as
defined in paragraph (q) of Section 3, the latter is found in paragraph (aa) of the same section in the definition of Processing plant,
which reads:
(aa) Processing plant is any mechanical set-up, machine or combination of machine used for the processing of logs and other forest
raw materials into lumber, veneer, plywood, wallboard, blackboard, paper board, pulp, paper or other finished wood products.
This simply means that lumber is a processed log or processed forest raw material. Clearly, the Code uses the term lumber in its
ordinary or common usage. In the 1993 copyright edition of Websters Third New International Dictionary, lumber is defined, inter
alia, as timber or logs after being prepared for the market. Simply put, lumber is a processed log or timber.
It is settled that in the absence of legislative intent to the contrary, words and phrases used in a statute should be given their plain,
ordinary, and common usage meaning. And insofar as possession of timber without the required legal documents is concerned,
Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, makes no distinction between raw or processed timber. Neither do we.Ubi lex non
distinguit nec nos distinguire debemus.[26]
Mustang was recently reiterated in Lalican vs. Vergara,[27] where we also said that [t]o exclude possession of lumber from the
acts penalized in Sec. 68 would certainly emasculate the law itself. x x x After all, the phrase forest products is broad enough to
encompass lumber which, to reiterate, is manufactured timber. Indeed, to mention lumber in the aforesaid section would simply
result in tautology.
In addition, under American jurisprudence, lumber has been legally accepted as a term referring to the manufactured product
of logs[28] or to timber sawed or split into marketable form, especially for use in buildings.[29]
Consistent with Mustang, we find no error in the holding of both lower courts. Clearly, petitioners are liable for violation of
Section 68 of the Forestry Reform Code, as amended.

Corollary Issue:
No Retroactive Application of EO 277
Petitioners insist that EO 277 is not applicable to them, because the seized lumber had been lawfully possessed by Cajidiocan
Trading since March 1987, while the amendatory law was issued only on July 25, 1987, and took effect fifteen days after
publication. This strained reasoning deserves scant consideration. First, at no time during the apprehensions did petitioners claim
that the lumber belonged to Cajidiocan Trading. In fact, Petitioner Ramilo and the drivers openly claimed that the lumber and the
trucks belonged to A & E Construction which was, in turn, owned by Petitioner Tan. It was only during the course of the trial,
through the testimony of Prisco Marin (characterized by the appellate court as anything but credible), that the alleged ownership
thereof by Cajidiocan Trading was brought out. Second, the supposed sale of the subject lumber by Matzhou to Cajidiocan
Trading, as evidenced by the auxiliary invoice, occurred in March 1987, or more than two and a half years prior to the
apprehension and seizure that gave rise to this case. It is highly doubtful if the lumber bought at the earlier date was the very same
lumber confiscated in October 1989. No evidence was presented to overcome this veritable doubt. Third and most important,
assuming that indeed they were the very same lumber, forest laws and regulations also require the following documents: (1)
certificate of lumber origin, (2) sales invoice, (3) delivery receipt, (4) tally sheet, and (5) certificate of transport agreement.
[30]
None of these documents were proffered in court or elsewhere.
Petitioners unlawful possession of the subject lumber occurred in October 1989. EO 277, which specifically included
possession of timber and other forest products within the contemplation of PD 705, had already been issued and in effect more
than two years previous thereto. Nothing will prevent the indictment of petitioners for violation of EO 277 at the time they were
caught by the forest guards in flagrante delicto. The prohibited act is a malum prohibitum, and absence of malice or criminal intent
will not save the day for them.[31]
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for utter lack of merit. The questioned Decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby
AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

Taopa v. People 571 SCRA 610


AMADO TAOPA, G.R. No. 184098
Petitioner,
Present:
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
CARPIO,
- v e r s u s - CORONA,
AZCUNA and
TINGA, JJ.*
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondent. Promulgated:
November 25, 2008
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:
On April 2, 1996, the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of Virac, Catanduanes seized a truck loaded with
illegally-cut lumber and arrested its driver, Placido Cuison. The lumber was covered with bundles of abaca fiber to prevent
detection. On investigation, Cuison pointed to petitioner Amado Taopa and a certain Rufino Ogalesco as the owners of the seized
lumber.
Taopa, Ogalesco and Cuison were thereafter charged with violating Section 68 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 705,[1] as
amended, in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Virac, Catanduanes. The information against them read:
That on or about the 2nd day of April 1996 at around 9:00 oclock in the morning at Barangay Capilihan, Municipality of Virac,
Province of Catanduanes, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent to
possess, conspiring, confederating and helping one another, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully, criminally possess, transport
in a truck bearing Plate No. EAS 839 and have in their control forest products, particularly one hundred thirteen (113) pieces of
lumber of Philippine Mahogany Group and Apitong species with an aggregate net volume of One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty
Four (1,684) board feet with an approximate value of Ninety-Nine Thousand One Hundred Twenty (Php99,120.00) Pesos,
Philippine Currency, without any authority and/or legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations,
prejudicial to the public interest.

ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW.[2]

Taopa, Ogalesco and Cuison pleaded not guilty on arraignment. After trial on the merits, the RTC found them guilty as charged
beyond reasonable doubt.[3]
Only Taopa and Cuison appealed the RTC decision to the Court of Appeals (CA). Cuison was acquitted but Taopas conviction was
affirmed.[4] The dispositive portion of the CA decision read:
WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is REVERSED with respect to accused-appellant Placido Cuison, who is
ACQUITTED of the crime charged on reasonable doubt, and MODIFIED with respect to accused-appellants Amado Taopa and
Rufino Ogalesco by reducing the penalty imposed on them to four (4) years, nine (9) months and eleven (11) days of prision
correccional, as minimum, to ten (10) years of prision mayor, as maximum.
SO ORDERED.[5]

In this petition,[6] Taopa seeks his acquittal from the charges against him. He alleges that the prosecution failed to prove that he
was one of the owners of the seized lumber as he was not in the truck when the lumber was seized.
We deny the petition.
Both the RTC and the CA gave scant consideration to Taopas alibi because Cuisons testimony proved Taopas active participation
in the transport of the seized lumber. In particular, the RTC and the CA found that the truck was loaded with the cargo in front of
Taopas house and that Taopa and Ogalesco were accompanying the truck driven by Cuison up to where the truck and lumber were
seized. These facts proved Taopas (and Ogalescos) exercise of dominion and control over the lumber loaded in the truck. The acts
of Taopa (and of his co-accused Ogalesco) constituted possession of timber or other forest products without the required legal
documents. Moreover, the fact that Taopa and Ogalesco ran away at the mere sight of the police was likewise largely indicative of
guilt. We are thus convinced that Taopa and Ogalesco were owners of the seized lumber.
However, we disagree with both the RTC and CA as to the penalty imposed on Taopa.
Section 68 of PD 705, as amended,[7] refers to Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for the penalties to be
imposed on violators. Violation of Section 68 of PD 705, as amended, is punished as qualified theft.[8] The law treats cutting,
gathering, collecting and possessing timber or other forest products without license as an offense as grave as and equivalent to the
felony of qualified theft.
Articles 309 and 310 read:
Art. 309. Penalties. Any person guilty of theft shall be punished by:
1. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the thing stolen is more 12,000 pesos but
does not exceed 22,000 pesos; but if the value of the thing stolen exceeds the latter amount, the penalty shall be the maximum
period of the one prescribed in this paragraph, and one year for each additional ten thousand pesos, but the total of the penalty
which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be
imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal,
as the case may be. (emphasis supplied)
2.

xxx

Art. 310. Qualified theft. The crime of theft shall be punished by the penalties next higher by two degrees than those respectively
specified in the next preceding articles xxx (emphasis supplied).

The actual market value of the 113 pieces of seized lumber was P67,630.[9] Following Article 310 in relation to Article 309, the
imposable penalty should be reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods or a period ranging from 14 years, eight
months and one day to 20 years plus an additional period of four years for the excess of P47,630.
The minimum term of the indeterminate sentence[10] imposable on Taopa shall be the penalty next lower to that prescribed in the
RPC. In this case, the minimum term shall be anywhere between 10 years and one day to 14 years and eight months or prision
mayor in its maximum period to reclusion temporal in its minimum period.
The maximum term shall be the sum of the additional four years and the medium period[11] of reclusion temporal in its medium
and maximum periods or 16 years, five months and 11 days to 18 years, two months and 21 days of reclusion temporal. The
maximum term therefore may be anywhere between 16 years, five months and 11 days of reclusion temporal to 22 years, two
months and 21 days of reclusion perpetua.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The January 31, 2008 decision and July 28, 2008 resolution of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 30380 are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Petitioner Amado Taopa is hereby found GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Section 68 of PD No. 705, as amended, and sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty
of imprisonment from 10 years and one day of prision mayor, as minimum, to 20 years of reclusion temporal as maximum, with
the accessory penalties provided for by law.

SO ORDERED.
Mange v. People 548 SCRA 42
GALO MONGE, G.R. No. 170308
Petitioner,
Present:

CARPIO,
Acting Chairperson,
- versus - CARPIO MORALES,
AZCUNA,*
TINGA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondent. Promulgated:
March 7, 2008
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
RESOLUTION
TINGA, J.:
This is a Petition for Review[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court whereby petitioner Galo Monge (petitioner) assails the
Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals dated 28 June 2005 which affirmed his conviction as well as the discharge of accused Edgar
Potencio (Potencio) as a state witness.
The factual antecedents follow. On 20 July 1994, petitioner and Potencio were found by barangay tanods Serdan and Molina in
possession of and transporting three (3) pieces of mahogany lumber in Barangay Santo Domingo, Iriga City. Right there and then,
the tanods demanded that they be shown the requisite permit and/or authority from the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) but neither petitioner nor Potencio was able to produce any.[3] Petitioner fled the scene in that instant whereas
Potencio was brought to the police station for interrogation, and thereafter, to the DENR-Community Environment and Natural
Resources Office (DENR-CENRO).[4] The DENR-CENRO issued a seizure receipt for the three pieces of lumber indicating that
the items, totaling 77 board feet of mahogany valued at P1,925.00, had been seized from Potencio.[5] Later on, petitioner was
arrested, but Potencios whereabouts had been unknown since the time of the seizure[6] until he surfaced on 3 January 1998.[7]

An information was filed with the Regional Trial Court of Iriga City, Branch 35 charging petitioner and Potencio with violation of
Section 68[8] of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 705,[9] as amended by Executive Order (E.O.) No. 277, series of 1997. The
inculpatory portion of the information reads:
That on or about the 20th day of [July 1994], at about 9:30 oclock in the morning, in Barangay Sto. Domingo, Iriga City,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating with each
other, without any authority of law, nor armed with necessary permit/license or other documents, with intent to gain, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, transport and have in their possession three (3) pieces of Mahogany of assorted
[dimension] with a[n] appropriate volume of seventy-seven (77) board feet or point eighteen (0.18) cubic meter with a total market
value of P1,925.00, Philippine currency, to the damage and prejudice of the DENR in the aforesaid amount.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[10]

At the 26 November 1996 arraignment, petitioner entered a negative plea.[11]


Trial ensued. On 17 June 1997, Serdan testified on the circumstances of the apprehension but for failing to appear in court for
cross examination, his testimony was stricken out.[12] On 16 January 1998, Potencio was discharged to be used as a state witness
on motion of the prosecutor.[13] Accordingly, he testified on the circumstances of the arrest but claimed that for a promised fee he
was merely requested by petitioner, the owner of the log, to assist him in hauling the same down from the mountain. Potencios
testimony was materially corroborated by Molina.[14] Petitioner did not contest the allegations, except that it was not he but
Potencio who owned the lumber. He lamented that contrary to what Potencio had stated in court, it was the latter who hired him to
bring the log from the site to the sawmill where the same was to be sawn into pieces.[15]

The trial court found petitioner guilty as charged. Petitioner was imposed nine (9) years, four (4) months and one (1) day to ten
(10) years and eight (8) months of prision mayor in its medium and maximum periods and ordered to pay the costs.[16]

Aggrieved, petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals where he challenged the discharge of Potencio as a state witness on
the ground that the latter was not the least guilty of the offense and that there was no absolute necessity for his testimony.[17] The
appellate court dismissed this challenge and affirmed the findings of the trial court. However, it modified the penalty to an
indeterminate prison sentence of six (6) years of prision correccional as minimum to ten (10) years and eight (8) months of prision
mayor as maximum.[18] His motion for reconsideration was denied, hence the present appeal whereby petitioner reiterates his
challenge against the discharge of Potencio.
The petition is utterly unmeritorious.
Petitioner and Potencio were caught in flagrante delicto transporting, and thus in possession of, processed mahogany lumber
without proper authority from the DENR. Petitioner has never denied this fact. But in his attempt to exonerate himself from
liability, he claims that it was Potencio, the owner of the lumber, who requested his assistance in hauling the log down from the
mountain and in transporting the same to the sawmill for processing. The contention is unavailing.
Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended by E.O. No. 277, criminalizes two distinct and separate offenses, namely: (a) the cutting,
gathering, collecting and removing of timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable
public land, or from private land without any authority; and (b) the possession of timber or other forest products without the legal
documents required under existing laws and regulations.[19] DENR Administrative Order No. 59 series of 1993 specifies the
documents required for the transport of timber and other forest products. Section 3 thereof materially requires that the transport of
lumber be accompanied by a certificate of lumber origin duly issued by the DENR-CENRO. In the first offense, the legality of the
acts of cutting, gathering, collecting or removing timber or other forest products may be proven by the authorization duly issued by
the DENR. In the second offense, however, it is immaterial whether or not the cutting, gathering, collecting and removal of forest
products are legal precisely because mere possession of forest products without the requisite documents consummates the crime.
[20]
It is thus clear that the fact of possession by petitioner and Potencio of the subject mahogany lumber and their subsequent failure to
produce the requisite legal documents, taken together, has already given rise to criminal liability under Section 68 of P.D. No. 705,
particularly the second act punished thereunder. The direct and affirmative testimony of Molina and Potencio as a state witness on
the circumstances surrounding the apprehension well establishes petitioners liability. Petitioner cannot take refuge in his denial of
ownership over the pieces of lumber found in his possession nor in his claim that his help was merely solicited by Potencio to
provide the latter assistance in transporting the said lumber. P.D. No. 705 is a special penal statute that punishes acts essentially
malum prohibitum. As such, in prosecutions under its provisions, claims of good faith are by no means reliable as defenses
because the offense is complete and criminal liability attaches once the prohibited acts are committed.[21] In other words, mere
possession of timber or other forest products without the proper legal documents, even absent malice or criminal intent, is illegal.
[22] It would therefore make no difference at all whether it was petitioner himself or Potencio who owned the subject pieces of
lumber.
Considering the overwhelming body of evidence pointing to nothing less than petitioners guilt of the offense charged, there is no
cogent reason to reverse his conviction.
Petitioners challenge against Potencios discharge as a state witness must also fail. Not a few cases established the doctrine that the
discharge of an accused so he may turn state witness is left to the
exercise of the trial courts sound discretion[23] limited only by
the requirements set forth in Section 17,[24] Rule 119 of the Rules of Court. Thus, whether the accused offered to be discharged
appears to be the least guilty and whether there is objectively an absolute necessity for his testimony are questions that lie within
the domain of the trial court, it being competent to resolve issues of fact. The discretionary judgment of the trial court with respect
this highly factual issue is not to be interfered with by the appellate courts except in case of grave abuse of discretion.[25] No such
grave abuse is present in this case. Suffice it to say that issues relative to the discharge of an accused must be raised in the trial
court as they cannot be addressed for the first time on appeal.[26]
Moreover and more importantly, an order discharging an accused from the information in order that he may testify for the
prosecution has the effect of an acquittal.[27] Once the discharge is ordered by the trial court, any future development showing that
any or all of the conditions provided in Section 17, Rule 119 have not actually been fulfilled will not affect the legal consequence
of an acquittal.[28] Any witting or unwitting error of the prosecution, therefore, in moving for the discharge and of the court in
granting the motionno question of jurisdiction being involvedwill not deprive the discharged accused of the benefit of acquittal and
of his right against double jeopardy. A contrary rule would certainly be unfair to the discharged accused because he would then be
faulted for a failure attributable to the prosecutor. It is inconceivable that the rule has adopted the abhorrent legal policy of placing
the fate of the discharged accused at the mercy of anyone who may handle the prosecution.[29] Indeed, the only instance where the
testimony of a discharged accused may be disregarded is when he deliberately fails to testify truthfully in court in accordance with
his commitment,[30] as provided for in Section 18, Rule 119. Potencio lived up to his commitment and for that reason, petitioners
challenge against his discharge must be dismissed.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Rodolfo Tigoy v. CA 492 SCRA 539
RODOLFO TIGOY, G.R. No. 144640

Petitioner,
Present:
PUNO, J., Chairperson,
versus SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA,
AZCUNA, and
GARCIA, JJ.
COURT OF APPEALS AND
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:
Respondents.
June 26, 2006
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION
AZCUNA, J.:

This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the decision and resolution, dated March 6, 2000 and
August 23, 2000, respectively, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20864 entitled People of the Philippines v. Nestor Ong
and Rodolfo Tigoy, acquitting Nestor Ong for insufficiency of evidence, while convicting Rodolfo Tigoy for violating Section 68
of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, as amended by Executive Order (E.O.) No.
277, Series of 1987, in relation to Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code.
The facts of the case are as follows:
On August 3, 1993, Nestor Ong, who had been engaged in the trucking business in Iligan City since 1986, was allegedly
introduced by his friend Gamad Muntod to Lolong Bertodazo who signified his intent to rent the trucks of Ong to transport
construction materials from Larapan, Lanao del Norte to Dipolog City. A Contract to Transport was supposedly entered into
between Ong and Bertodazo, the salient portions of which state:
1.

That the party of the First Part is an owner of Cargo Trucks with place of business at Iligan City;

2.
That the party of the Second Part is a businessman dealing in buy and sell of General Merchandise, dry goods and
construction materials;
3.

That the party of the Second Part will engage the services of the two (2) cargo trucks of the party of the First Part;

4.
That the services agreed upon should be rendered by the party of the First Part on August 3, 1993 from Larapan,
Linamon, Lanao del Norte to Dipolog City for an agreed amount of TEN THOUSAND (P10,000.00) Pesos per truck or a total of
TWENTY THOUSAND (P20,000.00) Pesos, Philippine Currency for the carriage of cement and other merchandise owned by the
party of the Second Part;
5.
That any legal controversy involving the cargo or of and when the cargo trucks are not actually used for the purpose
herein stipulated, it is agreed that the same is the sole responsibility of the party of the Second Part without any liability of the
party of the First Part.[1]
In the evening of October 3, 1993, Ong allegedly ordered Nestor Sumagang and petitioner Rodolfo Tigoy who had been employed
by him as truck drivers for two (2) years and ten (10) years, respectively, to bring the two trucks to Lolong Bertodazo in Larapan,
Lanao del Norte which is about fifteen (15) minutes away from Iligan City. He instructed the two drivers to leave the trucks in
Larapan for the loading of the construction materials by Lolong Bertodazo, and to go back at dawn for the trip to Dipolog City.
Thus, after meeting with Bertodazo, Sumagang and petitioner Tigoy allegedly went home to return to Larapan at four oclock in the
morning the next day. When they arrived, the trucks had been laden with bags of cement and were half-covered with canvas.[2]
Before departing, they allegedly checked the motor oil, water, engine and tires of the trucks to determine if the same were in good
condition.
That same morning of October 4, 1993, Senior Inspector Rico Lacay Tome (then Deputy Chief of Police of Ozamis City), while
escorting Provincial Director Dionisio Coloma at the ICC Arts Center in Ozamis City, along with the members of the Special
Operation Group, received a dispatch from the 466th PNP Company situated at Barangay Bongbong, Ozamis City, informing him
that two trucks, a blue and green loaded with cement, that were going towards Ozamis City did not stop at the checkpoint. Upon
receiving the report, Tome, along with PO2 Peter Paul Nuqui and PO3 Bienvenido Real, boarded their patrol vehicle, a mini
cruiser jeep, to intercept the two trucks at Lilian Terminal, Ozamis City.[3]
At the Lilian Terminal, PO2 Nuqui, who was the only one in uniform among the police officers, flagged down the two trucks but
the same just sped away and proceeded towards the direction of Oroquieta City. Aboard their patrol vehicle, they chased the trucks
and overtook the same at Barangay Manabay. They blocked the road with their vehicle causing the two trucks to stop.
According to Senior Inspector Tome, he asked the driver who had alighted from the green truck why he did not stop at the
checkpoint but the latter did not answer. When he inquired what was loaded in the truck, the driver replied that there is S.O.P,
which means grease money in street parlance.[4] This raised the suspicion of Tome that the trucks were loaded with hot items.

Meanwhile, the blue truck which had been speeding behind the green truck and was being driven by Sumagang was intercepted by
PO3 Real. Upon inspection, the police officers discovered piles of sawn lumber beneath the cement bags in both trucks. Tome
inquired if the drivers had a permit for the lumber but the latter could not produce any.
The drivers were brought and turned over to the investigator at the City Hall in Ozamis City. The truckmen, namely, Felix Arante
and Doro Lopez, and another passenger whom Tigoy identified as Lolong Bertodazo, who were riding with them in the trucks,
were not investigated. According to Nuqui, they did not notice that the group had left. It was later learned that they were instructed
by Sumagang to inform Nestor Ong of the incident.
Afterwards, the group of Tome proceeded back to the ICC Arts Center and informed the Provincial Director of the apprehension.
Meanwhile, the drivers, Tigoy and Sumagang, were detained at the Ozamis City Police Station while Arante and Lopez were
released.[5]
Meanwhile, Ermelo delos Santos, Chief of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Community and Environment
and Natural Resources Office (DENR-CENRO),[6] after receiving a call from the Ozamis City Police Station that two trucks were
apprehended transporting sawn lumber without a permit and were brought to the City Hall, sent Rolando Dingal, Forester of the
DENR, together with Teodoro Echavez, Juanito Taruc and Lucio Penaroya, to investigate.
Petitioner Tigoy and Sumagang presented to Dingal the registration papers of the two trucks and appearing therein was the name of
Nestor Ong as the owner. After ascertaining that the sawn lumber loaded on the two trucks did not have supporting documents,
Dingal and his companions scaled the subject lumber and prepared a tally sheet. Loaded in the blue Nissan ten-wheeler truck were
229 pieces of lumber with a total volume of 6,232.46 board feet; and, in the green Isuzu eight-wheeler truck, 333 pieces of lumber
with a total volume of 5,095.5 board feet.[7] Consequently, the lumber and the vehicles were seized upon the order of the DENR
Regional Executive Director.[8]
On October 6, 1993, an Information was filed against Nestor Ong, Sumagang, Lolong Bertodazo and petitioner Tigoy for
possession of forest products without legal permit, thus:
That on or about the 4th day of August, 1993 at Barangay Catadman, Ozamiz City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping each other, for a common
design, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, feloniously and illegally possess and transport without the necessary legal
documents nor permit from the lawful authorities, sawn dipterocarp lumbers (Philippine Mahogany), in the following manner, to
wit: accused Nestor Ong, being the owner of 2 ten wheeler trucks with Plate Nos. GDA-279 and PNH-364 facilitated and allowed
the use and transport of above-stated sawn [lumber] from Larapan, Lanao del Norte, but intercepted by the PNP authorities in
Ozamiz City; while the accused Lolong Bertodazo facilitated the loading and transport of said sawn lumbers, while accused Nestor
Sumagang y Lacson drove the Nissan 10 wheeler cargo truck bearing Plate No. GDA-279 which was loaded with 333 pieces of
said sawn dipterocarp lumbers (Philippine Mahogany) of assorted sizes equivalent [to] 5,095.5 board feet which was concealed
under piled bags of cement, which lumbers [were] valued at P134, 242.36; while accused Rodolfo Tigoy drove the 8 wheeler Isuzu
truck bearing Plate No. ONH-364, which was loaded and transported with 229 pieces of sawn dipterocarp lumbers (Philippine
Mahogany) of assorted sizes equivalent to 6,232.46 board feet which was concealed under piled bags of cement which lumbers
[were] valued at P92,316.77 or total value of P226,559.13, without, however, causing damage to the government, inasmuch as the
aforestated lumbers were recovered.
CONTRARY to Section 68 of Presidential Decree 705, as amended by Executive Order No. 277, Series of 1987, in relation to
Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code.[9]
Ong and petitioner Tigoy entered pleas of not guilty during the arraignment. Sumagang died after the case was filed while the other
co-accused, Lolong Bertodazo, was not arrested and has remained at large.
On October 11, 1996, the Regional Trial Court rendered its Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, finding accused Nestor Ong and Rodolfo Tigoy [GUILTY] beyond reasonable doubt of possession of dipterocarp
lumber [VALUED] at more than P22,000.00 without the legal documents as required by existing laws and regulations, penalized as
qualified theft, this Court sentences them to an indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor to eighteen
(18) years and three (3) months of reclusion temporal. The lumber and the conveyances used are forfeited in favor of the
government. With costs.
The DENR is ordered to sell/dispose of the lumber and conveyances in accordance with the existing laws, WITHOUT DELAY. Let
the Court of Appeals, Fourteenth Division, before which accused Ongs appeal of this Courts denial of his action for replevin
relative to his trucks is pending, be furnished with a copy of this judgment.
With costs.
SO ORDERED.[10]
Declaring that constructive possession of unlicensed lumber is not within the contemplation of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, and for
failure by the prosecution to prove the complicity of Ong, the Court of Appeals
rendered its decision on March 6, 2000 modifying the ruling of the lower court, thus:

WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby MODIFIED in that accused-appellant Nestor Ong is acquitted for
insufficiency of evidence and his two (2) trucks are ordered returned to him. The conviction of Rodolfo Tigoy is upheld and the
decision dated October 11, 1996 is AFFIRMED in all respects.
SO ORDERED.[11]
On March 24, 2000, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a Motion for Reconsideration praying for his acquittal but the same
was denied on August 23, 2000.
Hence, this petition, with the following assignment of errors:
I
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING COLLUSION BETWEEN LOLONG BERTODAZO AND PETITIONER
TIGOY;
II
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN COMPLETELY DISREGARDING THE AFFIDAVIT OF LOLONG BERTODAZO
AGAINST HIS PENAL INTEREST;
III
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING PETITIONER TIGOY TO HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LUMBER HE
WAS TRANSPORTING; AND,
IV
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT PETITIONER TIGOY HAD ACTUAL AND PHYSICAL
POSSESSION OF THE UNDOCUMENTED LUMBER.[12]
Stated otherwise, the core issue presented is whether or not petitioner Tigoy is guilty of conspiracy in possessing or transporting
lumber without the necessary permit in violation of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.
Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended by E.O. No. 277, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines,
provides:
Section 68. Cutting, Gathering and/or Collecting Timber or Other Forest Products Without License. Any person who shall cut,
gather, collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or
from private land, without any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under
existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal
Code. . . .

There are two ways of violating Section 68 of the above Code: 1) by cutting, gathering and/or collecting timber or other forest
products without a license; and, 2) by possessing timber or other forest products without the required legal documents.
Petitioner was charged with and convicted of transporting lumber without a permit which is punishable under Section 68 of the
Code. He, Sumagang and the rest of their companions were apprehended by the police officers in flagrante delicto as they were
transporting the subject lumber from Larapan to Dipolog City.
Petitioner maintains that he could not have conspired with Lolong Bertodazo as he did not know about the unlicensed lumber in
the trucks. He believed that what he was transporting were bags of cement in view of the contract between Ong and Bertodazo.
Also, he was not around when Bertodazo loaded the trucks with the lumber hidden under the bags of cement.
This contention by petitioner, however, was not believed by the lower court. In declaring that petitioner connived with Bertodazo
in transporting the subject lumber, the court a quo noted:
x x x The evidence of the prosecution established that the two drivers of accused Ong refused to stop at a checkpoint, a fact
admitted by both in their affidavit, Exhs. E and E-2. Likewise, the two drivers refused to stop on the national highway near a bus
terminal when required by a uniformed policeman. When finally accosted, one of the drivers, whom witness Tome identified as the
driver of the green truck, Sumagang, but who actually was Tigoy (as he was the driver of the green truck and who came to the road
block first, being the lead driver) offered S.O.P. which to witness Tome meant that the trucks were carrying hot items.
Why would the drivers refuse to stop when required? Did they fear inspection of their cargo? Why would S.O.P. (which in street
parlance is grease money) be offered to facilitate the passage of the trucks? The only logical answer to all these questions is that
the drivers knew that they were carrying contraband lumber. This Court believes that the drivers had knowledge of the fact that
they were transporting and were in possession of undocumented lumber in violation of law.[13]
In offenses considered as mala prohibita or when the doing of an act is prohibited by a special law such as in the present case, the
commission of the prohibited act is the crime itself. It is sufficient that the offender has the intent to perpetrate the act prohibited
by the special law, and that it is done knowingly and consciously.[14]
Direct proof of previous agreement to commit an offense is not necessary to prove conspiracy.[15] Conspiracy may be proven by
circumstantial evidence.[16] It may be deduced from the mode, method and manner by which the offense is perpetrated, or
inferred from the acts of the accused when such acts point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action and community of
interest.[17] It is not even required that the participants have an agreement for an appreciable period to commence it.[18]

Petitioners actions adequately show that he intentionally participated in the commission of the offense for which he had been
charged and found guilty by both the trial court and the Court of Appeals.
Finding that petitioners conviction was reached without arbitrariness and with sufficient basis, this Court upholds the same. The
Court accords high respect to the findings of facts of the trial court, its calibration of the collective testimonies of the witnesses, its
assessment of the probative weight of the evidence of the parties as well as its conclusions[19] especially when these are in
agreement with those of the Court of Appeals, which is the case here. As a matter of fact, factual findings of the trial court, when
adopted and confirmed by the Court of Appeals, are generally final and conclusive.[20]
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the Decision and Resolution, dated March 6, 2000 and August 23, 2000, respectively,
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20864 are hereby AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Dagudag v. Paderanga 555 SCRA 217
A.M. No. RTJ-06-2017

June 19, 2008

LT. GEN. ALFONSO P. DAGUDAG (Ret.), complainant,


vs.
JUDGE MAXIMO G.W. PADERANGA, Regional Trial Court, Branch 38, Cagayan de Oro City, respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM, J.:
This is a complaint for gross ignorance of the law and conduct unbecoming a judge filed by retired Lt. Gen. Alfonso P. Dagudag
(Gen. Dagudag), Head of Task Force Sagip Kalikasan, against Judge Maximo G. W. Paderanga (Judge Paderanga), Presiding
Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 38, Cagayan de Oro City.
On or about 30 January 2005, the Region VII Philippine National Police Regional Maritime Group (PNPRMG) received
information that MV General Ricarte of NMC Container Lines, Inc. was shipping container vans containing illegal forest products
from Cagayan de Oro to Cebu. The shipments were falsely declared as cassava meal and corn grains to avoid inspection by the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).1
On 30 and 31 January 2005, a team composed of representatives from the PNPRMG, DENR, and the Philippine Coast Guard
inspected the container vans at a port in Mandaue City, Cebu. The team discovered the undocumented forest products and the
names of the shippers and consignees:
Container Van No.
Shipper
Consignee
NCLU 2000492-22GI
Polaris Chua
Polaris Chua
IEAU 2521845-2210
Polaris Chua
Polaris Chua
NOLU 2000682-22GI
Rowena Balangot
Rowena Balangot
INBU 3125757-BB2210
Rowena Balangot
Rowena Balangot

NCLU 20001591-22GI
Jovan Gomez
Jovan Gomez
GSTU 339074-US2210
Jovan Gomez
Jovan Gomez
CRXU 2167567
Raffy Enriquez
Raffy Enriquez
NCLU 2001570-22GI
Raffy Enriquez
Raffy Enriquez
The crew of MV General Ricarte failed to produce the certificate of origin forms and other pertinent transport documents covering
the forest products, as required by DENR Administrative Order No. 07-94. Gen. Dagudag alleged that, since nobody claimed the
forest products within a reasonable period of time, the DENR considered them as abandoned and, on 31 January 2005, the
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Richard N. Abella, issued a seizure
receipt to NMC Container Lines, Inc.2
On 1 February 2005, Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) OIC Loreto A. Rivac (Rivac) sent a notice
to NMC Container Lines, Inc. asking for explanation why the government should not confiscate the forest products.3 In an
affidavit4 dated 9 February 2005, NMC Container Lines, Inc.s Branch Manager Alex Conrad M. Seno stated that he did not see
any reason why the government should not confiscate the forest products and that NMC Container Lines, Inc. had no knowledge of
the actual content of the container vans.
On 2, 9, and 15 February 2005, DENR Forest Protection Officer Lucio S. Canete, Jr. posted notices on the CENRO and PENRO
bulletin boards and at the NMC Container Lines, Inc. building informing the unknown owner about the administrative adjudication
scheduled on 18 February 2005 at the Cebu City CENRO. Nobody appeared during the adjudication.5 In a resolution6 dated 10
March 2005, Rivac, acting as adjudication officer, recommended to DENR Regional Executive Director Clarence L. Baguilat that
the forest products be confiscated in favor of the government.
In a complaint7 dated 16 March 2005 and filed before Judge Paderanga, a certain Roger C. Edma (Edma) prayed that a writ of
replevin be issued ordering the defendants DENR, CENRO, Gen. Dagudag, and others to deliver the forest products to him and
that judgment be rendered ordering the defendants to pay him moral damages, attorneys fees, and litigation expenses. On 29
March 2005, Judge Paderanga issued a writ of replevin8 ordering Sheriff Reynaldo L. Salceda to take possession of the forest
products.
In a motion to quash the writ of replevin,9 the defendants DENR, CENRO, and Gen. Dagudag prayed that the writ of replevin be
set aside: (1) Edmas bond was insufficient; (2) the forest products were falsely declared as cassava meal and corn grains; (3)
Edma was not a party-in-interest; (4) the forest products were not covered by any legal document; (5) nobody claimed the forest
products within a reasonable period of time; (6) the forest products were already considered abandoned; (7) the forest products
were lawfully seized under the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines; (8) replevin was not proper; (9) courts could not take
cognizance of cases pending before the DENR; (10) Edma failed to exhaust administrative remedies; and (11) the DENR was the
agency responsible for the enforcement of forestry laws. In a motion to dismiss ad cautelam10 dated 12 April 2005, the defendants
prayed that the complaint for replevin and damages be dismissed: (1) the real defendant is the Republic of the Philippines; (2)
Edma failed to exhaust administrative remedies; (3) the State cannot be sued without its consent; and (4) Edma failed to allege that
he is the owner or is entitled to the possession of the forest products.
In an order11 dated 14 April 2005, Judge Paderanga denied the motion to quash the writ of replevin for lack of merit.
Gen. Dagudag filed with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) an affidavit-complaint12 dated 8 July 2005 charging Judge
Paderanga with gross ignorance of the law and conduct unbecoming a judge. Gen. Dagudag stated that:
During the x x x hearing, [Judge Paderanga] showed manifest partiality in favor of x x x Edma. DENRs counsel was lambasted,
cajoled and intimidated by [Judge Paderanga] using words such as "SHUT UP" and "THATS BALONEY."
xxxx
Edma in the replevin case cannot seek to recover the wood shipment from the DENR since he had not sought administrative
remedies available to him. The prudent thing for [Judge Paderanga] to have done was to dismiss the replevin suit outright.
xxxx

[Judge Paderangas] act[s] of taking cognizance of the x x x replevin suit, issuing the writ of replevin and the subsequent denial of
the motion to quash clearly demonstrates [sic] ignorance of the law.
In its 1st Indorsement13 dated 1 August 2005, the OCA directed Judge Paderanga to comment on the affidavit-complaint. In his
comment14 dated 6 September 2005, Judge Paderanga stated that he exercised judicial discretion in issuing the writ of replevin
and that he could not delve into the issues raised by Gen. Dagudag because they were related to a case pending before him.
In its Report15 dated 10 July 2006, the OCA found that Judge Paderanga (1) violated the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative
remedies; (2) violated the doctrine of primary jurisdiction; and (3) used inappropriate language in court. The OCA recommended
that the case be re-docketed as a regular administrative matter; that Judge Paderanga be held liable for gross ignorance of the law
and for violation of Section 6, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary;16 and that he be fined
P30,000.
In its Resolution17 dated 16 August 2006, the Court re-docketed the case as a regular administrative matter and required the
parties to manifest whether they were willing to submit the case for decision based on the pleadings already filed. Judge Paderanga
manifested his willingness to submit the case for decision based on the pleadings already filed.18 Since Gen. Dagudag did not file
any manifestation, the Court considered him to have waived his compliance with the 16 August 2006 Resolution.19
The Court finds Judge Paderanga liable for gross ignorance of the law and for conduct unbecoming a judge.
The DENR is the agency responsible for the enforcement of forestry laws. Section 4 of Executive Order No. 192 states that the
DENR shall be the primary agency responsible for the conservation, management, development, and proper use of the countrys
natural resources.
Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. 705, as amended by Executive Order No. 277, states that possessing forest products without
the required legal documents is punishable. Section 68-A states that the DENR Secretary or his duly authorized representatives
may order the confiscation of any forest product illegally cut, gathered, removed, possessed, or abandoned.
In the instant case, the forest products were possessed by NMC Container Lines, Inc. without the required legal documents and
were abandoned by the unknown owner. Consequently, the DENR seized the forest products.
Judge Paderanga should have dismissed the replevin suit outright for three reasons. First, under the doctrine of exhaustion of
administrative remedies, courts cannot take cognizance of cases pending before administrative agencies. In Factoran, Jr. v. Court of
Appeals,20 the Court held that:
The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is basic. Courts, for reasons of law, comity and convenience, should not
entertain suits unless the available administrative remedies have first been resorted to and the proper authorities have been given
an appropriate opportunity to act and correct their alleged errors, if any, committed in the administrative forum. (Emphasis ours)
In Dy v. Court of Appeals,21 the Court held that a party must exhaust all administrative remedies before he can resort to the courts.
In Paat v. Court of Appeals,22 the Court held that:
This Court in a long line of cases has consistently held that before a party is allowed to seek the intervention of the court, it is a
pre-condition that he should have availed of all the means of administrative processes afforded him. Hence, if a remedy within the
administrative machinery can still be resorted to by giving the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to decide on a
matter that comes within his jurisdiction then such remedy should be exhausted first before courts judicial power can be sought.
The premature invocation of courts intervention is fatal to ones cause of action. Accordingly, absent any finding of waiver or
estoppel the case is susceptible of dismissal for lack of cause of action. (Emphasis ours)
In the instant case, Edma did not resort to, or avail of, any administrative remedy. He went straight to court and filed a complaint
for replevin and damages. Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 705, as amended, states that (1) all actions and decisions of the
Bureau of Forest Development Director are subject to review by the DENR Secretary; (2) the decisions of the DENR Secretary are
appealable to the President; and (3) courts cannot review the decisions of the DENR Secretary except through a special civil action
for certiorari or prohibition. In Dy,23 the Court held that all actions seeking to recover forest products in the custody of the DENR
shall be directed to that agency not the courts. In Paat,24 the Court held that:
Dismissal of the replevin suit for lack of cause of action in view of the private respondents failure to exhaust administrative
remedies should have been the proper course of action by the lower court instead of assuming jurisdiction over the case and
consequently issuing the writ [of replevin]. Exhaustion of the remedies in the administrative forum, being a condition precedent
prior to ones recourse to the courts and more importantly, being an element of private respondents right of action, is too
significant to be waylaid by the lower court.
xxxx
Moreover, the suit for replevin is never intended as a procedural tool to question the orders of confiscation and forfeiture issued by
the DENR in pursuance to the authority given under P.D. 705, as amended. Section 8 of the said law is explicit that actions taken
by the
Director of the Bureau of Forest Development concerning the enforcement of the provisions of the said law are subject to review
by the Secretary of DENR and that courts may not review the decisions of the Secretary except through a special civil action for
certiorari or prohibition. (Emphasis ours)

Second, under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, courts cannot take cognizance of cases pending before administrative agencies
of special competence. The DENR is the agency responsible for the enforcement of forestry laws. The complaint for replevin itself
stated that members of DENRs Task Force Sagip Kalikasan took over the forest products and brought them to the DENR
Community Environment and Natural Resources Office. This should have alerted Judge Paderanga that the DENR had custody of
the forest products, that administrative proceedings may have been commenced, and that the replevin suit had to be dismissed
outright. In Tabao v. Judge Lilagan25 a case with a similar set of facts as the instant case the Court held that:
The complaint for replevin itself states that the shipment x x x [was] seized by the NBI for verification of supporting documents. It
also states that the NBI turned over the seized items to the DENR "for official disposition and appropriate action." x x x To our
mind, these allegations [should] have been sufficient to alert respondent judge that the DENR has custody of the seized items and
that administrative proceedings may have already been commenced concerning the shipment. Under the doctrine of primary
jurisdiction, courts cannot take cognizance of cases pending before administrative agencies of special competence. x x x The
prudent thing for respondent judge to have done was to dismiss the replevin suit outright. (Emphasis ours)
In Paat,26 the Court held that:
[T]he enforcement of forestry laws, rules and regulations and the protection, development and management of forest lands fall
within the primary and special responsibilities of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources. By the very nature of its function, the DENR should be given a free hand unperturbed by judicial intrusion to
determine a controversy which is well within its jurisdiction. The assumption by the trial court, therefore, of the replevin suit filed
by private respondents constitutes an unjustified encroachment into the domain of the administrative agencys prerogative. The
doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not warrant a court to arrogate unto itself the authority to resolve a controversy the
jurisdiction over which is initially lodged with an administrative body of special competence. (Emphasis ours)
Third, the forest products are already in custodia legis and thus cannot be the subject of replevin. There was a violation of the
Revised Forestry Code and the DENR seized the forest products in accordance with law. In Calub v. Court of Appeals,27 the Court
held that properties lawfully seized by the DENR cannot be the subject of replevin:
Since there was a violation of the Revised Forestry Code and the seizure was in accordance with law, in our view the [properties
seized] were validly deemed in custodia legis. [They] could not be subject to an action for replevin. For it is property lawfully
taken by virtue of legal process and considered in the custody of the law, and not otherwise. (Emphasis ours)
Judge Paderangas acts of taking cognizance of the replevin suit and of issuing the writ of replevin constitute gross ignorance of
the law. In Tabao,28 the Court held that:
Under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, courts cannot take cognizance of cases pending before administrative of special
competence. x x x [T]he plaintiff in the replevin suit who [sought] to recover the shipment from the DENR had not exhausted the
administrative remedies available to him. The prudent thing for respondent judge to have done was to dismiss the replevin suit
outright.
Under Section 78-A of the Revised Forestry Code, the DENR secretary or his authorized representatives may order the
confiscation of forest products illegally cut, gathered, removed, or possessed or abandoned.
xxxx
Respondent judges act of taking cognizance of the x x x replevin suit clearly demonstrates ignorance of the law. x x x [J]udges are
expected to keep abreast of all laws and prevailing jurisprudence. Judges are duty bound to have more than just a cursory
acquaintance with laws and jurisprudence. Failure to follow basic legal commands constitutes gross ignorance of the law from
which no one may be excused, not even a judge. (Emphasis ours)
Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary states that competence is a prerequisite to the due
performance of judicial office. Section 3 of Canon 6 states that judges shall take reasonable steps to maintain and enhance their
knowledge necessary for the proper performance of judicial duties. Judges should keep themselves abreast with legal
developments and show acquaintance with laws.29
The rule that courts cannot prematurely take cognizance of cases pending before administrative agencies is basic. There was no
reason for Judge Paderanga to make an exception to this rule. The forest products were in the custody of the DENR and Edma had
not availed of any administrative remedy. Judge Paderanga should have dismissed the replevin suit outright. In Espaol v. ToledoMupas,30 the Court held that:
Being among the judicial front-liners who have direct contact with the litigants, a wanton display of utter lack of familiarity with
the rules by the judge inevitably erodes the confidence of the public in the competence of our courts to render justice. It subjects
the judiciary to embarrassment. Worse, it could raise the specter of corruption.
When the gross inefficiency springs from a failure to consider so basic and elemental a rule, a law, or a principle in the discharge
of his or her duties, a judge is either too incompetent and undeserving of the exalted position and title he or she holds, or the
oversight or omission was deliberately done in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial authority.
The OCA found Judge Paderanga liable for using inappropriate language in court: "We x x x find respondents intemperate use of
"Shut up!" and "Baloney!" well nigh inappropriate in court proceedings. The utterances are uncalled for."31

Indeed, the 14 and 22 April 2005 transcripts of stenographic notes show that Judge Paderanga was impatient, discourteous, and
undignified in court:
Atty. Luego: Your Honor, we want to have this motion because that is...
Judge Paderanga: I am asking you why did you not make any rejoinder[?]
xxxx
Atty. Luego: I apologize, Your Honor. We are ready to...
Judge Paderanga: Ready to what? Proceed.
Atty. Luego: Yes, Your Honor. We filed this motion to quash replevin, Your Honor, on the grounds, first and foremost, it is our
contention, Your Honor, with all due respect of [sic] this Honorable Court, that the writ of replevin dated March 29, 2005 was
improper, Your Honor, for the reasons that the lumber, subject matter of this case, were apprehended in accordance with...
Judge Paderanga: Where is your proof that it was apprehended? Where is your proof? Is that apprehension proven by a seizure
receipt? Where is your seizure receipt?
Atty. Luego: Under the rules...
Judge Paderanga: Where is your seizure receipt? You read your rules. What does [sic] the rules say? Where in your rules does it
say that it does not need any seizure receipt? You look at your rules. You point out the rules. You take out your rules and then you
point out. Do you have the rules?
xxxx
Atty. Luego: Your Honor, there was no seizure receipt, but during the apprehension, Your Honor, there was no claimant.
Judge Paderanga: Answer me. Is there a seizure receipt?
Atty. Luego: But during the apprehension, Your Honor, no owner has [sic] appeared.
xxxx
Atty. Luego: According to [the] rules, Your Honor, if there is no...
Judge Paderanga: Whom are you seizing it from? To [sic] whom are you taking it from?
Atty. Luego: From the shipping company, Your Honor.
xxxx
Atty. Luego: Your Honor please, the shipping company denied the ownership of that lumber.
xxxx
Atty. Luego: But the shipping company, Your Honor,...
Judge Paderanga: Shut up. Thats baloney. You are seizing it from nobody. Then how can you seize it from the shipping company.
Are you not? You are a lawyer. Who is in possession of the property? The shipping company. Why did you not issue [a] seizure
receipt to the shipping company?
Atty. Luego: But the... May I continue, Your Honor?
xxxx
Judge Paderanga: Stop talking about the shipping company. Still you did not issue a seizure receipt here. Well, Im telling you you
should have issued [a] seizure receipt to the shipping company.
xxxx
Judge Paderanga: You are a lawyer. You should know how to write pleadings. You write the pleadings the way it should be, not the
way you think it should be.
Atty. Luego: Im sorry, Your Honor.
Judge Paderanga: You are an officer of the court. You should be careful with your language. You say that I am wrong. Its you who
are [sic] wrong because you do not read the law.
xxxx

Judge Paderanga: Then you read the law. How dare you say that the Court is wrong.
xxxx
Judge Paderanga: Are you not representing [the DENR]?
Atty. Luego: Yes, in this case, Your Honor.
Judge Paderanga: Then you are representing them. They are your clients. What kind of a lawyer are you?32
xxxx
Atty. Tiamson: Specifically it was stated in the [Factoran] versus Court of Appeals [case] that the Court should not interfere, Your
Honor.
Judge Paderanga: No.
xxxx
Judge Paderanga: The problem with you people is you do not use your heads.
Atty. Tiamson: We use our heads, your Honor.
xxxx
Atty. Tiamson: Your Honor, we would like to put on record that we use our heads, your Honor.33 (Emphasis ours)
Section 6, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary states that judges shall be patient, dignified,
and courteous in relation to lawyers. Rule 3.04, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct states that judges should be patient and
courteous to lawyers, especially the inexperienced. They should avoid the attitude that the litigants are made for the courts, instead
of the courts for the litigants.
Judicial decorum requires judges to be temperate in their language at all times. They must refrain from inflammatory, excessively
rhetoric, or vile language.34 They should (1) be dignified in demeanor and refined in speech; (2) exhibit that temperament of
utmost sobriety and self-restraint; and (3) be considerate, courteous, and civil to all persons who come to their court.35 In Juan de
la Cruz v. Carretas,36 the Court held that:
A judge who is inconsiderate, discourteous or uncivil to lawyers x x x who appear in his sala commits an impropriety and fails in
his duty to reaffirm the peoples faith in the judiciary. He also violates Section 6, Canon 6 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for
the Philippine Judiciary.
xxxx
It is reprehensible for a judge to humiliate a lawyer x x x. The act betrays lack of patience, prudence and restraint. Thus, a judge
must at all times be temperate in his language. He must choose his words x x x with utmost care and sufficient control. The wise
and just man is esteemed for his discernment. Pleasing speech increases his persuasiveness.
Equanimity and judiciousness should be the constant marks of a dispenser of justice. A judge should always keep his passion
guarded. He can never allow it to run loose and overcome his reason. He descends to the level of a sharp-tongued, ill-mannered
petty tyrant when he utters harsh words x x x. As a result, he degrades the judicial office and erodes public confidence in the
judiciary.
Judge Paderangas refusal to consider the motion to quash the writ of replevin, repeated interruption of the lawyers, and utterance
of "shut up," "thats baloney," "how dare you say that the court is wrong," "what kind of a lawyer are you?," and "the problem with
you people is you do not use your heads" are undignified and very unbecoming a judge. In Office of the Court Administrator v.
Paderanga,37 the Court already reprimanded Judge Paderanga for repeatedly saying "shut up," being arrogant, and declaring that
he had "absolute power" in court. He has not changed.
Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court classifies gross ignorance of the law as a serious offense. It is punishable by (1)
dismissal from the service, forfeiture of benefits, and disqualification from reinstatement to any public office; (2) suspension from
office without salary and other benefits for more than three months but not exceeding six months; or (3) a fine of more than
P20,000 but not exceeding P40,000.38 Section 10 of Rule 140 classifies conduct unbecoming a judge as a light offense. It is
punishable by (1) a fine of not less than P1,000 but not exceeding P10,000; (2) censure; (3) reprimand; or (4) admonition with
warning.39
The Court notes that this is Judge Paderangas third offense. In Office of the Court Administrator v. Paderanga,40 the Court held
him liable for grave abuse of authority and simple misconduct for unceremoniously citing a lawyer in contempt while declaring
himself as having "absolute power" and for repeatedly telling a lawyer to "shut up." In Beltran, Jr. v. Paderanga,41 the Court held
him liable for undue delay in rendering an order for the delay of nine months in resolving an amended formal offer of exhibits. In
both cases, the Court sternly warned Judge Paderanga that the commission of another offense shall be dealt with more severely.
The instant case and the two cases decided against him demonstrate Judge Paderangas arrogance, incorrigibility, and unfitness to
become a judge.

Judge Paderanga has two other administrative cases pending against him one42 for gross ignorance of the law, knowingly
rendering an unjust judgment, and grave abuse of authority, and the other43 for gross misconduct, grave abuse of authority, and
gross ignorance of the law.
The Court will not hesitate to impose the ultimate penalty on those who have fallen short of their accountabilities. It will not
tolerate any conduct that violates the norms of public accountability and diminishes the faith of the people in the judicial system.44
WHEREFORE, the Court finds Judge Maximo G.W. Paderanga, Regional Trial Court, Branch 38, Cagayan de Oro City, GUILTY
of GROSS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW and UNBECOMING CONDUCT. Accordingly, the Court DISMISSES him from the
service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, and with prejudice to reinstatement or appointment
to any public office, including government-owned or controlled corporations.
SO ORDERED.

Calub v. CA 331 SCRA 55

[G.R. No. 115634. April 27, 2000]


FELIPE CALUB and RICARDO VALENCIA, DEPARTMENT of ENVIRONMENT and NATURAL RESOURCES
(DENR), CATBALOGAN, SAMAR, petitioners, vs.COURT OF APPEALS, MANUELA T. BABALCON, and
CONSTANCIO ABUGANDA, respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
For review is the decision.[1] dated May 27, 1994, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 29191, denying the petition filed by
herein petitioners for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, in order to annul the Order dated May 27, 1992, by the Regional Trial
Court of Catbalogan, Samar. Said Order had denied petitioners (a) Motion to Dismiss the replevin case filed by herein private
respondents, as well as (b) petitioners Motion for Reconsideration of the Order of said trial court dated April 24, 1992, granting an
application for a Writ of replevin..[2] h Y
The pertinent facts of the case, borne by the records, are as follows:
On January 28, 1992, the Forest Protection and Law Enforcement Team of the Community Environment and Natural Resources
Office (CENRO) of the DENR apprehended two (2) motor vehicles, described as follows:
"1. Motor Vehicle with Plate No. HAK-733 loaded with one thousand and twenty six (1,026) board feet of
illegally sourced lumber valued at P8,544.75, being driven by one Pio Gabon and owned by [a certain] Jose
Vargas.
2. Motor Vehicle with Plate No. FCN-143 loaded with one thousand two hundred twenty four and ninety seven
(1,224.97) board feet of illegally-sourced lumber valued at P9,187.27, being driven by one Constancio Abuganda
and owned by [a certain] Manuela Babalcon. ".[3]
Constancio Abuganda and Pio Gabon, the drivers of the vehicles, failed to present proper documents and/or licenses. Thus, the
apprehending team seized and impounded the vehicles and its load of lumber at the DENR-PENR (Department of Environment
and Natural Resources-Provincial Environment and Natural Resources) Office in Catbalogan. .[4] Seizure receipts were issued but
the drivers refused to accept the receipts..[5] Felipe Calub, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer, then filed before
the Provincial Prosecutors Office in Samar, a criminal complaint against Abuganda, in Criminal Case No. 3795, for violation of
Section 68 [78), Presidential Decree 705 as amended by Executive Order 277, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code.
[6]
Mis sc
On January 31, 1992, the impounded vehicles were forcibly taken by Gabon and Abuganda from the custody of the DENR,
prompting DENR Officer Calub this time to file a criminal complaint for grave coercion against Gabon and Abuganda. The
complaint was, however, dismissed by the Public Prosecutor..[7]
On February 11, 1992, one of the two vehicles, with plate number FCN 143, was again apprehended by a composite team of
DENR-CENR in Catbalogan and Philippine Army elements of the 802nd Infantry Brigade at Barangay Buray, Paranas, Samar. It
was again loaded with forest products with an equivalent volume of 1,005.47 board feet, valued at P10,054.70. Calub duly filed a

criminal complaint against Constancio Abuganda, a certain Abegonia, and several John Does, in Criminal Case No. 3625, for
violation of Section 68 [78], Presidential Decree 705 as amended by Executive Order 277, otherwise known as the Revised
Forestry Code..[8]
In Criminal Cases Nos. 3795 and 3625, however, Abegonia and Abuganda were acquitted on the ground of reasonable doubt. But
note the trial court ordered that a copy of the decision be furnished the Secretary of Justice, in order that the necessary criminal
action may be filed against Noe Pagarao and all other persons responsible for violation of the Revised Forestry Code. For it
appeared that it was Pagarao who chartered the subject vehicle and ordered that cut timber be loaded on it. .[9]
Subsequently, herein private respondents Manuela Babalcon, the vehicle owner, and Constancio Abuganda, the driver, filed a
complaint for the recovery of possession of the two (2) impounded vehicles with an application for replevin against herein
petitioners before the RTC of Catbalogan. The trial court granted the application for replevin and issued the corresponding writ in
an Order dated April 24, 1992..[10] Petitioners filed a motion to dismiss which was denied by the trial court.[11]
Thus, on June 15, 1992, petitioners filed with the Supreme Court the present Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition
and Mandamus with application for Preliminary Injunction and/or a Temporary Restraining Order. The Court issued a TRO,
enjoining respondent RTC judge from conducting further proceedings in the civil case for replevin; and enjoining private
respondents from taking or attempting to take the motor vehicles and forest products seized from the custody of the petitioners.
The Court further instructed the petitioners to see to it that the motor vehicles and other forest products seized are kept in a secured
place and protected from deterioration, said property being in custodia legis and subject to the direct order of the Supreme Court..
[12]
In a Resolution issued on September 28, 1992, the Court referred said petition to respondent appellate court for appropriate
disposition..[13]
On May 27, 1994, the Court of Appeals denied said petition for lack of merit. It ruled that the mere seizure of a motor vehicle
pursuant to the authority granted by Section 68 [78] of P.D. No. 705 as amended by E.O. No. 277 does not automatically place said
conveyance in custodia legis. According to the appellate court, such authority of the Department Head of the DENR or his duly
authorized representative to order the confiscation and disposition of illegally obtained forest products and the conveyance used
for that purpose is not absolute and unqualified. It is subject to pertinent laws, regulations, or policies on that matter, added the
appellate court. The DENR Administrative Order No. 59, series of 1990, is one such regulation, the appellate court said. For it
prescribes the guidelines in the confiscation, forfeiture and disposition of conveyances used in the commission of offenses
penalized under Section 68 [78] of P.D. No. 705 as amended by E.O. No. 277..[14]
Additionally, respondent Court of Appeals noted that the petitioners failed to observe the procedure outlined in DENR
Administrative Order No. 59, series of 1990. They were unable to submit a report of the seizure to the DENR Secretary, to give a
written notice to the owner of the vehicle, and to render a report of their findings and recommendations to the Secretary. Moreover,
petitioners failure to comply with the procedure laid down by DENR Administrative Order No. 59, series of 1990, was confirmed
by the admission of petitioners counsel that no confiscation order has been issued prior to the seizure of the vehicle and the filing
of the replevin suit. Therefore, in failing to follow such procedure, according to the appellate court, the subject vehicles could not
be considered in custodia legis..[15]
Respondent Court of Appeals also found no merit in petitioners claim that private respondents complaint for replevin is a suit
against the State. Accordingly, petitioners could not shield themselves under the principle of state immunity as the property sought
to be recovered in the instant suit had not yet been lawfully adjudged forfeited in favor of the government. Moreover, according to
respondent appellate court, there could be no pecuniary liability nor loss of property that could ensue against the government. It
reasoned that a suit against a public officer who acted illegally or beyond the scope of his authority could not be considered a suit
against the State; and that a public officer might be sued for illegally seizing or withholding the possession of the property of
another..[16]
Respondent court brushed aside other grounds raised by petitioners based on the claim that the subject vehicles were validly seized
and held in custody because they were contradicted by its own findings..[17] Their petition was found without merit.[18] Rtc spped
Now, before us, the petitioners assign the following errors:.[19]
(1) THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT MERE SEIZURE OF A CONVEYANCE
PURSUANT TO SECTION 68-A [78-A] OF P.D. NO. 705 AS AMENDED BY EXECUTIVE ORDER 277
DOES NOT PLACE SAID CONVEYANCE IN CUSTODIA LEGIS;
(2) THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE OPERATIVE ACT GIVING RISE
FOR THE SUBJECT CONVEYANCE TO BE IN CUSTODIA LEGIS IS ITS LAWFUL SEIZURE BY THE
DENR PURSUANT TO SECTION 68-A [78-A] OF P.D. NO. 705, AS AMENDED BY E.O. NO. 277; AND
(3) THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE COMPLAINT FOR REPLEVIN
AGAINST THE PETITIONERS IS NOT A SUIT AGAINST THE STATE.

In brief, the pertinent issues for our consideration are:


(1) Whether or not the DENR-seized motor vehicle, with plate number FCN 143, is in custodia legis.
(2) Whether or not the complaint for the recovery of possession of impounded vehicles, with an application for replevin, is a suit
against the State.
We will now resolve both issues.
The Revised Forestry Code authorizes the DENR to seize all conveyances used in the commission of an offense in violation of
Section 78. Section 78 states:
Sec. 78. Cutting, Gathering, and or Collecting Timber, or Other Forest Products without License. Any person
who shall cut, gather, collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forestland, or timber from
alienable or disposable public land, or from private land, without any authority, or possess timber or other forest
products without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished
with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Codeslx mis
The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut,
gathered, collected, removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery, equipment, implements and tools illegally
used in the area where the timber or forest products are found.
This provision makes mere possession of timber or other forest products without the accompanying legal documents unlawful and
punishable with the penalties imposed for the crime of theft, as prescribed in Articles 309-310 of the Revised Penal Code. In the
present case, the subject vehicles were loaded with forest products at the time of the seizure. But admittedly no permit evidencing
authority to possess and transport said load of forest products was duly presented. These products, in turn, were deemed illegally
sourced. Thus there was a prima facieviolation of Section 68 [78] of the Revised Forestry Code, although as found by the trial
court, the persons responsible for said violation were not the ones charged by the public prosecutor.
The corresponding authority of the DENR to seize all conveyances used in the commission of an offense in violation of Section 78
of the Revised Forestry Code is pursuant to Sections 78-A and 89 of the same Code. They read as follows: Sc
Sec. 78-A. Administrative Authority of the Department Head or His Duly Authorized Representative to Order
Confiscation. -- In all cases of violation of this Code or other forest laws, rules and regulations, the Department
Head or his duly authorized representative, may order the confiscation of any forest products illegally cut,
gathered, removed, or possessed or abandoned, and all conveyances used either by land, water or air in the
commission of the offense and to dispose of the same in accordance with pertinent laws, regulations or policies
on the matter.
Sec. 89. Arrest; Institution of criminal actions. -- A forest officer or employee of the Bureau [Department] or any
personnel of the Philippine Constabulary/Philippine National Police shall arrest even without warrant any
person who has committed or is committing in his presence any of the offenses defined in this Chapter. He shall
also seize and confiscate, in favor of the Government, the tools and equipment used in committing the offense...
[Emphasis supplied.]
Note that DENR Administrative Order No. 59, series of 1990, implements Sections 78-A and 89 of the Forestry Code, as follows:
Sec. 2. Conveyances Subject to Confiscation and Forfeiture. -- All conveyances used in the transport of any
forest product obtained or gathered illegally whether or not covered with transport documents, found spurious or
irregular in accordance with Sec. 68-A [78-A] of P.D. No. 705, shall be confiscated in favor of the government or
disposed of in accordance with pertinent laws, regulations or policies on the matter.
Sec. 4. Who are Authorized to Seize Conveyance. -- The Secretary or his duly authorized representative such as
the forest officers and/or natural resources officers, or deputized officers of the DENR are authorized to
seize said conveyances subject to policies and guidelines pertinent thereto. Deputized military personnel and
officials of other agencies apprehending illegal logs and other forest products and their conveyances shall notify
the nearest DENR field offices, and turn over said forest products and conveyances for proper action and
disposition. In case where the apprehension is made by DENR field officer, the conveyance shall be deposited
with the nearest CENRO/PENRO/RED Office as the case may be, for safekeeping wherever it is most
convenient and secured. [Emphasis supplied.]

Upon apprehension of the illegally-cut timber while being transported without pertinent documents that could evidence title to or
right to possession of said timber, a warrantless seizure of the involved vehicles and their load was allowed under Section 78 and
89 of the Revised Forestry Code. Slxs c
Note further that petitioners failure to observe the procedure outlined in DENR Administrative Order No. 59, series of 1990 was
justifiably explained. Petitioners did not submit a report of the seizure to the Secretary nor give a written notice to the owner of the
vehicle because on the 3rd day following the seizure, Gabon and Abuganda, drivers of the seized vehicles, forcibly took the
impounded vehicles from the custody of the DENR. Then again, when one of the motor vehicles was apprehended and impounded
for the second time, the petitioners, again were not able to report the seizure to the DENR Secretary nor give a written notice to the
owner of the vehicle because private respondents immediately went to court and applied for a writ of replevin. The seizure of the
vehicles and their load was done upon their apprehension for a violation of the Revised Forestry Code. It would be absurd to
require a confiscation order or notice and hearing before said seizure could be effected under the circumstances.
Since there was a violation of the Revised Forestry Code and the seizure was in accordance with law, in our view the subject
vehicles were validly deemed in custodia legis. It could not be subject to an action for replevin. For it is property lawfully taken by
virtue of legal process and considered in the custody of the law, and not otherwise..[20]
In Mamanteo, et. al. v. Deputy Sheriff Magumun, A.M. No. P-98-1264, promulgated on July 28, 1999, the case involves property
to be seized by a Deputy Sheriff in a replevin suit. But said property were already impounded by the DENR due to violation of
forestry laws and, in fact, already forfeited in favor of the government by order of the DENR. We said that such property was
deemed in custodia legis. The sheriff could not insist on seizing the property already subject of a prior warrant of seizure. The
appropriate action should be for the sheriff to inform the trial court of the situation by way of partial Sheriffs Return, and wait for
the judges instructions on the proper procedure to be observed.
Note that property that is validly deposited in custodia legis cannot be the subject of a replevin suit. In Mamanteo v. Deputy
Sheriff Magumun, we elucidated further:
". . . the writ of replevin has been repeatedly used by unscrupulous plaintiffs to retrieve their chattel earlier taken
for violation of the Tariff and Customs Code, tax assessment, attachment or execution. Officers of the court,
from the presiding judge to the sheriff, are implored to be vigilant in their execution of the law otherwise, as in
this case, valid seizure and forfeiture proceedings could easily be undermined by the simple devise of a writ of
replevin...".[21] Scslx
On the second issue, is the complaint for the recovery of possession of the two impounded vehicles, with an application for
replevin, a suit against the State?
Well established is the doctrine that the State may not be sued without its consent. .[22] And a suit against a public officer for his
official acts is, in effect, a suit against the State if its purpose is to hold the State ultimately liable. .[23] However, the protection
afforded to public officers by this doctrine generally applies only to activities within the scope of their authority in good faith and
without willfulness, malice or corruption.[24] In the present case, the acts for which the petitioners are being called to account were
performed by them in the discharge of their official duties. The acts in question are clearly official in nature. [25] In implementing
and enforcing Sections 78-A and 89 of the Forestry Code through the seizure carried out, petitioners were performing their duties
and functions as officers of the DENR, and did so within the limits of their authority. There was no malice nor bad faith on their
part. Hence, a suit against the petitioners who represent the DENR is a suit against the State. It cannot prosper without the States
consent.
Given the circumstances in this case, we need not pursue the Office of the Solicitor Generals line for the defense of petitioners
concerning exhaustion of administrative remedies. We ought only to recall that exhaustion must be raised at the earliest time
possible, even before filing the answer to the complaint or pleading asserting a claim, by a motion to dismiss. .[26] If not invoked at
the proper time, this ground for dismissal could be deemed waived and the court could take cognizance of the case and try it.
[27]
Mesm
ACCORDINGLY, the Petition is GRANTED, and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 29191
is SET ASIDE. Consequently, the Order issued by the Regional Trial Court of Catbalogan, dated May 27, 1992, and the Writ of
replevin issued in the Order dated April 24, 1992, are ANNULLED. The Sheriff of the Regional Trial Court of Catbalogan,
Branch 29, is directed to take possession of the subject motor vehicle, with plate number FCN 143, for delivery to the custody of
and appropriate disposition by petitioners. Let a copy of this decision be provided the Honorable Secretary of Justice for his
appropriate action, against any and all persons responsible for the abovecited violation of the Revised Forestry Code.
Costs against private respondents.
SO ORDERED.

Factoran v. CA 320 SCRA 531

[G.R. No. 93540. December 13, 1999]


FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, VICENTE A.
ROBLES and NESTOR GAPUZAN, petitioners, vs.COURT OF APPEALS (Third Division), Hon. BENIGNO T.
DAYAW,as, Judge, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 80, JESUS SY and LILY FRANCISCO
UY, respondents.
DECISION
DE LEON, JR., J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated March 30, 1990
and May 18, 1990, respectively, dismissing petitioners charge that Honorable Benigno T. Dayaw, Presiding Judge of Branch 80 of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering them to deliver to private
respondents the six-wheeler truck and its cargo, some 4,000 board feet of narra lumber which were confiscated by the Department
of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and forfeited in favor of the government.[1]
The antecedent facts:
On August 9, 1988, two (2) police officers of the Marikina Police Station, Sub-Station III, intercepted a six-wheeler truck,
with Plate No. NJT-881, carrying 4,000 board feet of narra lumber as it was cruising along the Marcos Highway. They
apprehended the truck driver, private respondent Jesus Sy, and brought the truck and its cargo to the Personnel Investigation
Committee/Special Actions and Investigation Division (PIC/SAID) of the DENR Office in Quezon City. There, petitioner Atty.
Vicente Robles of the PIC/SAID investigated them, and discovered the following discrepancies in the documentation of the narra
lumber:[2]
a. What were declared in the documents (Certificate of Timber Origin, Auxiliary Invoices and various Certifications) were narra
flitches, while the cargo of the truck consisted of narra lumber;
b. As appearing in the documents, the Plate Numbers of the truck supposed to carry the forest products bear the numbers BAX404, PEC-492 or NSN-267, while the Plate Number of the truck apprehended is NVT-881;
c. Considering that the cargo is lumber, the transport should have been accompanied by a Certificate of Lumber Origin, scale sheet
of said lumber and not by a Certificate of Timber Origin, which merely covers only transport of logs and flitches;
d. The Log Sale Purchase Agreement presented is between DSM Golden Cup International as the seller and Bonamy Enterprises as
the buyer/consignee and not with Lily Francisco Lumber and Hardware,[3]
which are in violation of Bureau of Forestry Development (BFD) Circular No. 10. The said BFD Circular requires possession or
transportation of lumber to be supported by the following documents: (1) Certificate of Lumber Origin (CLO) which shall be
issued only by the District Forester, or in his absence, the Assistant District Forester; (2) Sales Invoice; (3) Delivery Receipt; and
(4) Tally Sheets.[4] Such omission is punishable under Sec. 68 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 705 otherwise known as the
Revised Forestry Code.[5] Thus, petitioner Atty. Robles issued a temporary seizure order and seizure receipt for the narra lumber
and the six-wheeler truck.[6]
On January 20, 1989, petitioner Fulgencio S. Factoran, then Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (hereinafter
referred to as petitioner Secretary) issued an order for the confiscation of the narra lumber and the six-wheeler truck. [7]
Private respondents neither asked for reconsideration of nor appealed, the said order to the Office of the
President. Consequently, the confiscated narra lumber and six-wheeler truck were forfeited in favor of the government. They were
subsequently advertised to be sold at public auction on March 20, 1989.[8]
On March 17, 1989, private respondents filed a complaint with prayer for the issuance of writs of replevin and preliminary
injunction and/or temporary restraining order for the recovery of the confiscated lumber and six-wheeler truck, and to enjoin the
planned auction sale of the subject narra lumber, respectively. [9] Said complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-89-2045 and
raffled to Branch 80 of the RTC of Quezon City.
On the same day, the trial court issued an Order directing petitioners to desist from proceeding with the planned auction sale
and setting the hearing for the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction on March 27, 1989.[10]

On March 20, 1989, the scheduled date of the auction sale, private respondents filed an Ex-Parte Motion for Release and
Return of Goods and Documents (Replevin) supported by an Affidavit for Issuance of Writ of Replevin and Preliminary Injunction
and a Replevin Bond in the amount of P180,000.00. [11] The trial court granted the writ of replevin on the same day and directed the
petitioners to deliver the xxx [n]arra lumber, original documents and truck with plate no. NJT
881 to the custody of the plaintiffs and/or their representative x x x.[12]
On March 22, 1989, the trial court issued a writ of seizure. However, petitioners refused to comply therewith. [13] David G.
Brodett, Sheriff of Branch 80 of the RTC of Quezon City (hereinafter referred to as the Sheriff) reported that petitioners prevented
him from removing the subject properties from the DENR Compound and transferring them to the Mobil Unit Compound of the
Quezon City Police Force.To avoid any unwarranted confrontation between them, he just agreed to a constructive possession of the
properties in question.[14] In the afternoon of the same day, petitioners filed a Manifestation stating their intention to file a
counterbond under Rule 60 of the Rules of Court to stay the execution of the writ of seizure and to post a cash bond in the amount
of P180,000.00. But the trial court did not oblige petitioners for they failed to serve a copy of the Manifestation on private
respondents. Petitioners then immediately made the required service and tendered the cash counterbond in the amount of
P180,000.00, but it was refused, petitioners Manifestation having already been set for hearing on March 30, 1989. [15]
On March 27, 1989, petitioners made another attempt to post a counterbond which was, however, denied for the same
reason. [16]
On the same day, private respondents filed a motion to declare petitioners in contempt for disobeying the writ of seizure.
The trial court gave petitioners twenty-four (24) hours to answer the motion. Hearing thereon was scheduled on March 30,
1989.
[17]

However, on March 29, 1989, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and/or
Mandamus to annul the Orders of the trial court dated March 20, 1989 and March 27, 1989.[18]
On March 30, 1989, the Court of Appeals granted petitioners temporary relief in the form of a temporary restraining order
(TRO).
On September 11, 1989, the Court of Appeals converted the TRO into a writ of preliminary injunction upon filing by
petitioners of a bond in the amount of P180,000.00.[19]
However, on March 30, 1990, the Court of Appeals lifted the writ of preliminary injunction and dismissed the petition. It
declared that as the complaint for replevin filed by private respondents complied with the requirements of an affidavit and bond
under Secs. 1 and 2 of Rule 60 of the Revised Rules of court, issuance of the writ of replevin was mandatory.[20]
As for the contempt charges against petitioners, the Court of Appeals believed the same were sufficiently based on a written
charge by private respondents and the report submitted by the Sheriff.[21]
On April 25, 1990, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the foregoing decision. However, that motion was denied
by the Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated May 18, 1990.[22]
Hence this petition.
On the one hand, petitioners contend, thus:
(1) Confiscated lumber cannot be subject of replevin.[23]
(2) Petitioners not compelled to criminally prosecute private respondents but may opt only to confiscate lumber". [24]
(3) Private respondent charged criminally in court.[25] and
(4) Writ of Replevin issued in contravention of PD #605.[26]
On the other hand, private respondents argue that:
(1) The respondent
Judge
complaint for recovery of personal property and, therefore, had
connection therewith.[27]
(2)

had jurisdiction to take cognizance of the


jurisdiction to issue the necessary orders in

The issuance of the order for the delivery of personal property


upon application, affidavit and filing of replevin bond by the plaintiff is mandatory and not discretionary, hence, no
abuse of discretion can be committed by the trial court in the issuance thereof.[28]

(3) The Order of March 20, 1989 was in accordance with Section 4, Rule 60 of the Rules of Court and is, therefore,
valid.[29]
(4) The private respondents have not been proven to have violated Section 68 of the Revised Forestry Code.[30]
(5) The petitioners do not have the authority to keep private respondents property for an indefinite period, more so, to
dispose of the same without notice and hearing or without due process. [31]
(6) Contrary to the allegation of petitioners, no formal investigation was conducted by the PIC with respect to the
subject lumber in this case.[32]
(7) The alleged Order dated January 20, 1989 of the petitioner Secretary Fulgencio Factoran, Jr. of the DENR is not
valid and does not make the issuance of the order of replevin illegal.[33] and
(8) The subject properties were not in custody of the law and may be replevied.[34]
At the outset we observe that herein respondents never appealed the confiscation order of petitioner Secretary to the Office of
the President as provided for in Sec. 8 of P.D. No. 705 which reads:
All actions and decisions of the Director are subject to review, motu propio or upon appeal of any person aggrieved thereby, by the
Department Head whose decision shall be final and executory after the lapse of thirty (30) days from receipt by the
aggrieved party of said decision unless appealed to the President x x x. The decision of the Department Head may not be reviewed
by the courts except through a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition.
The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is basic. Courts, for reasons of law, comity and convenience, should not
entertain suits unless the available administrative remedies have first been resorted to and the proper authorities have been given
an appropriate opportunity to act and correct their alleged errors, if any, committed in the administrative forum. [35] As to the
application of this doctrine in cases involving violations of P.D. No. 705, our ruling in Paat v. Court of Appeals, is apropos:
Moreover, it is important to point out that the enforcement of forestry laws, rules and regulations and the protection, development
and management of forest lands fall within the primary and special responsibilities of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources. By the very nature of its function, the DENR should be given a free hand unperturbed by judicial intrusion to determine
a controversy which is well within its jurisdiction. The assumption by the trial court, therefore, of the replevin suit filed by private
respondents constitutes an encroachment into the domain of the administrative agencys prerogative. The doctrine of primary
jurisdiction does not warrant a court to arrogate unto itself the authority to resolve a controversy the jurisdiction over which is
initially lodged with an administrative body of special competence. In Felipe Ismael, Jr. and Co. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary,
which was reiterated in the recent case of Concerned Officials of MWSS vs. Vasquez, this Court held:
Thus, while the administration grapples with the complex and multifarious problems caused by unbridled exploitation of these
resources, the judiciary will stand clear. A long line of cases establish the basic rule that the courts will not interfere in matters
which are addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under the
special technical knowledge and training of such agencies.[36]
However, petitioners did not file a motion to dismiss based on the ground of non-exhaustion of administrative
remedies. Thus, it is deemed waived.[37]
Nonetheless, the petition is impressed with merit.
First. A writ of replevin does not just issue as a matter of course upon the applicants filing of a bond and affidavit, as the
Court of Appeals has wrongly put it. The mere filing of an affidavit, sans allegations therein that satisfy the requirements of Sec. 2,
Rule 60 of the Revised Rules of Court, cannot justify the issuance of a writ of replevin. Said provision reads:
Affidavit and bond. - Upon applying for such order the plaintiff must show by his own affidavit or that of some other person who
personally knows the facts:
(a) That the plaintiff is the owner of the property claimed, particularly describing it, or entitled to the possession thereof;
(b) That the property is wrongfully detained by the defendant, alleging the cause of detention thereof to his best knowledge,
information, and belief;
(c) That it has not been taken for a tax assessment or fine pursuant to law, or seized under an execution, or an attachment against
the property of the plaintiff, or, if so seized, that it is exempt from such seizure; and

(d) The actual value of the property.


xxxxxxxxx.
Wrongful detention by the defendant of the properties sought in an action for replevin must be satisfactorily established. If
only a mechanistic averment thereof is offered, the writ should not be issued.
In the case at bar, the subject narra lumber and six-wheeler truck were confiscated by petitioner Secretary pursuant to Section
68-A of P.D. No. 705, as amended by Executive Order (E.O.) No. 277, to wit:
SEC. 68-A. Administrative Authority of the Department Head or His Duly Authorized Representative to Order Confiscation. - In
all cases of violations of this Code or other forest laws, rules and regulations, the Department Head or his duly authorized
representative, may order the confiscation of any forest products illegally cut, gathered, removed, or possessed or abandoned, and
all conveyances used either by land, water, or air in the commission of the offense and to dispose of the same in accordance with
pertinent laws, regulations or policies on the matter.[38]
As the petitioner Secretarys administrative authority to confiscate is clearly provided by law, the taking of the subject properties is
not wrongful and does not warrant the issuance of a writ of replevin prayed for by private respondents.
Second. Issuance of the confiscation order by petitioner Secretary was a valid exercise of his power under Sec. 68-A of P.D.
No. 705. By virtue of said order, the narra lumber and six-wheeler truck of private respondents were held in custodia legis and
hence, beyond the reach of replevin.
Property lawfully taken by virtue of legal process is deemed to be in custodia legis. [39] When a thing is in official custody of a
judicial or executive officer in pursuance of his execution of a legal writ, replevin will not lie to recover it.[40] Otherwise, there
would be interference with the possession before the function of law had been performed as to the process under which the
property was taken.[41] So basic is this doctrine that it found inclusion in the 1997 amendments introduced to the Rules of Civil
Procedure. Thus, Sec. 2(c), Rule 60 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides that:
Affidavit and bond. - Upon applying for such order the plaintiff must show by his own affidavit or that of some other person who
personally knows the facts:
x x x x x x x x x;
(c) That the property has not been distrained or taken for a tax assessment or fine pursuant to law, or seized under a writ of
execution, or preliminary attachment or otherwise placed under custodia legis, or if so seized, that it is exempt from such seizure or
custody; x x x
x x x x x x x x x.[42]
Third. Petitioner Secretarys authority to confiscate forest products under Sec. 68-A of P.D. No. 705 is distinct from and
independent of the confiscation of forest products in a criminal action provided for in Section 68 of P.D. No. 705. Thus, in Paat, we
held that:
x x x precisely because of the need to make forestry laws more responsive to present situations and realities and in view of the
urgency to conserve the remaining resources of the country, that the government opted to add Section 68-A. This amendatory
provision is an administrative remedy totally separate and distinct from criminal proceedings. x x x. The preamble of EO 277 that
added Section 68-A to PD 705- is most revealing:
WHEREAS, there is an urgency to conserve the remaining forest resources of the country for the benefit and welfare of the present
and future generations of Filipinos;
WHEREAS, our forest resources may be effectively conserved and protected through the vigilant enforcement and implementation
of our forestry laws, rules and regulations;
WHEREAS, the implementation of our forestry laws suffers from technical difficulties, due to certain inadequacies in the Penal
provisions of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines; and
WHEREAS, to overcome this [sic] difficulties, there is a need to penalize certain acts more responsive to present situations and
realities;
It is interesting to note that Section 68-A is a new provision authorizing the DENR to confiscate, not only conveyances but forest
products as well. On the other hand, confiscation of forest products by the court in a criminal action has long been provided for in

Section 68. If as private respondents insist, the power of confiscation cannot be exercised except only through the court under
Section 68, then Section 68-A would have no purpose at all. Simply put, Section 68-A would not have provided any solution to the
problem perceived in EO 277, x x x.[43]
Sec. 68-A was added precisely to supplant the inadequacies and supplement criminal enforcement of forestry laws.
Fourth. Sec. 80 of P. D. No. 705 which requires delivery of the seized forest products within six (6) hours from the time of
the seizure to the appropriate official designated by law to conduct preliminary investigations applies only to criminal prosecutions
provided for in Sec. 68, and not to administrative confiscation provided for in Section 68-A.
Sec. 80 of P.D. No. 705 provides:
SEC. 80. Arrest; Institution of criminal actions. - A forest officer or employee of the Bureau shall arrest even without a warrant any
person who has committed or is committing in his presence any of the offenses defined in this Chapter. He shall also seize and
confiscate, in favor of the Government, the tools and equipment used in committing the offense, and the forest products cut,
gathered or taken by the offender in the process of committing the offense. The arresting officer or employee shall thereafter
deliver within six (6) hours from the time of arrest and seizure, the offender and the confiscated forest products, tools and
equipment to, and file the proper complaint with, the appropriate official designated by law to conduct preliminary investigations
and file informations in court.
x x x x x x x x x.
The title of Sec. 80 - Arrest; Institution of Criminal Actions - bespeaks this intendment of the law. The fact, too, that Secs. 68 and
80 were co-existing prior to the introduction of Sec. 68-A, proves that Sec. 80 applies to the criminal prosecutions subject of Sec.
68 and not to the administrative confiscation subject of Sec. 68-A. Sec. 68-A, therefore, should not be interpreted in relation to
Sec. 80 as to require that criminal charges be filed with and seized forest products be immediately delivered to, the fiscal in case of
administrative confiscation, for this renders nugatory the purpose sought to be achieved thereby. Statutes should always be
construed in the light of the object to be achieved and the evil or mischief to be suppressed, and they should be given such
interpretation as will advance the object, suppress the mischief, and secure the benefits intended. [44]
Fifth. Nothing in the records supports private respondents allegation that their right to due process was violated as no
investigation was conducted prior to the confiscation of their properties.
On the contrary, by private respondents own admission, private respondent Sy who drove the six-wheeler truck was properly
investigated by petitioner Atty. Robles at the PIC/SAID Office of the DENR.Thereafter, private respondent Sy and his witnesses
were given full opportunity to explain the deficiencies in the documents. [45] Private respondents categorically stated that they made
a continuous and almost daily follow-up and plea x x x with the PIC for the return of the truck and lumber x x x. [46] Finally in a
letter dated December 30, 1989, private respondent Lily Francisco Uy requested petitioner Secretary for immediate resolution and
release of the impounded narra sawn lumber.[47]
Undoubtedly, private respondents were afforded an opportunity to be heard before the order of confiscation was issued. There
was no formal or trial type hearing but the same is not, in all instances, essential in administrative proceedings. It is settled that due
process is satisfied when the parties are afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy or an
opportunity to move for a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.[48]
Moreover, respondents claim that the order of confiscation was antedated and not the product of the investigation supposedly
conducted by the PIC of the DENR. However, they proffer no proof to support that allegation. On the other hand, there is the legal
presumption that official duty has been regularly performed. The presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties is
even particularly strong with respect to administrative agencies like the DENR which are vested with quasi-judicial powers in
enforcing the laws affecting their respective fields of activity, the proper regulation of which requires of them such technical
mastery of all relevant conditions obtaining in the nation.[49]
Finally. The writ of seizure and the writ of replevin were issued by the trial court in grave abuse of its discretion. Thus,
disobedience thereto cannot constitute indirect contempt of court which presupposes that the court order thereby violated was valid
and legal. Without a lawful order having been issued, no contempt of court could be committed.[50]
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated March 30, 1990 and
its Resolution dated May 18, 1990 in CA-G.R. SP No. 17194 are hereby SET ASIDE and REVERSED. Respondent Presiding
Judge Benigno T. Dayaw, of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, is PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from enforcing the Orders
dated March 20, 1989 and March 22, 1989 in Civil Case No. Q-89-2045, or if said orders have already been enforced, the said
respondent Judge is directed to render judgment of forfeiture on the replevin bond filed by private respondents. Finally, the said
respondent Judge is PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from further acting on the Motion for Contempt filed by private respondents
against the petitioners.

Costs against private respondents.


SO ORDERED.

Paat v. CA 265 SCRA 167

[G.R. No. 111107. January 10, 1997]


LEONARDO A. PAAT, in his capacity as Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Regional Executive Director (RED), Region 2 and
JOVITO LAYUGAN, JR., in his capacity as Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO),
both of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS,
HON. RICARDO A. BACULI in his capacity as Presiding Judge of Branch 2, Regional Trial Court at Tuguegarao,
Cagayan, and SPOUSES BIENVENIDO and VICTORIA DE GUZMAN, respondents.
DECISION
TORRES, JR., J.:
Without violating the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies, may an action for replevin prosper to recover a
movable property which is the subject matter of an administrative forfeiture proceeding in the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources pursuant to Section 68-A of P. D. 705, as amended, entitled The Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines?
Are the Secretary of DENR and his representatives empowered to confiscate and forfeit conveyances used in transporting
illegal forest products in favor of the government?
These are two fundamental questions presented before us for our resolution.
The controversy on hand had its incipiency on May 19, 1989 when the truck of private respondent Victoria de Guzman while
on its way to Bulacan from San Jose, Baggao, Cagayan, was seized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR, for brevity) personnel in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya because the driver could not produce the required documents for the
forest products found concealed in the truck. Petitioner Jovito Layugan, the Community Environment and Natural Resources
Officer (CENRO) in Aritao, Cagayan, issued on May 23, 1989 an order of confiscation of the truck and gave the owner thereof
fifteen (15) days within which to submit an explanation why the truck should not be forfeited. Private respondents, however, failed
to submit the required explanation. On June 22, 1989,[1] Regional Executive Director Rogelio Baggayan of DENR
sustained petitioner Layugans action of confiscation andordered the forfeiture of the truck invoking Section 68-A of Presidential
Decree No. 705 as amended by Executive Order No. 277. Private respondents filed a letter of reconsideration dated June 28, 1989
of the June 22, 1989 order of Executive Director Baggayan, which was, however, denied in a subsequent order of July 12, 1989.
[2]
Subsequently, the case was brought by the petitioners to the Secretary of DENR pursuant to private respondents statement in
their letter dated June 28, 1989 that in case their letter for reconsideration would be denied then this letter should be considered as
an appeal to the Secretary.[3] Pending resolution however of the appeal, a suit for replevin, docketed as Civil Case 4031, was filed
by the private respondents against petitioner Layugan and Executive Director Baggayan [4] with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 2
of Cagayan,[5] which issued a writ ordering the return of the truck to private respondents. [6] Petitioner Layugan and Executive
Director Baggayan filed a motion to dismiss with the trial court contending, inter alia, that private respondents had no cause of
action for their failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss in an order dated December
28, 1989.[7] Their motion for reconsideration having been likewise denied, a petition for certiorari was filed by the petitioners with
the respondent Court of Appeals which sustained the trial courts order ruling that the question involved is purely a legal question.
[8]
Hence, this present petition,[9] with prayer for temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction, seeking to reverse the
decision of the respondent Court of Appeals was filed by the petitioners on September 9, 1993. By virtue of the Resolution dated
September 27, 1993,[10] the prayer for the issuance of temporary restraining order of petitioners was granted by this Court.
Invoking the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, petitioners aver that the trial court could not legally entertain
the suit for replevin because the truck was under administrative seizure proceedings pursuant to Section 68-A of P.D. 705, as
amended by E.O. 277. Private respondents, on the other hand, would seek to avoid the operation of this principle asserting that the
instant case falls within the exception of the doctrine upon the justification that (1) due process was violated because they were not
given the chance to be heard, and (2) the seizure and forfeiture was unlawful on the grounds: (a) that the Secretary of DENR and
his representatives have no authority to confiscate and forfeit conveyances utilized in transporting illegal forest products, and (b)
that the truck as admitted by petitioners was not used in the commission of the crime.
Upon a thorough and delicate scrutiny of the records and relevant jurisprudence on the matter, we are of the opinion that the
plea of petitioners for reversal is in order.

This Court in a long line of cases has consistently held that before a party is allowed to seek the intervention of the court, it is
a pre-condition that he should have availed of all the means of administrative processes afforded him. Hence, if a remedy within
the administrative machinery can still be resorted to by giving the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to decide on
a matter that comes within his jurisdiction then such remedy should be exhausted first before courts judicial power can be sought.
The premature invocation of courts intervention is fatal to ones cause of action. [11] Accordingly, absent any finding of waiver
or estoppel the case is susceptible of dismissal for lack of cause of action. [12] This doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies
was not without its practical and legal reasons, for one thing, availment of administrative remedy entails lesser expenses and
provides for a speedier disposition of controversies. It is no less true to state that the courts of justice for reasons of comity and
convenience will shy away from a dispute until the system of administrative redress has been completed and complied with so as
to give the administrative agency concerned every opportunity to correct its error and to dispose of the case. However, we are not
amiss to reiterate that the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies as tested by a battery of cases is not an ironclad rule.
This doctrine is a relative one and its flexibility is called upon by the peculiarity and uniqueness of the factual and circumstantial
settings of a case. Hence, it is disregarded (1) when there is a violation of due process, [13] (2) when the issue involved is purely a
legal question,[14] (3) when the administrative action is patently illegal amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, [15] (4) when there
is estoppel on the part of the administrative agency concerned, [16] (5) when there is irreparable injury,[17] (6) when the respondent is
a department secretary whose acts as an alter ego of the President bears the implied and assumed approval of the latter, [18] (7) when
to require exhaustion of administrative remedies would be unreasonable, [19] (8) when it would amount to a nullification of a claim,
[20]
(9) when the subject matter is a private land in land case proceedings, [21] (10) when the rule does not provide a plain, speedy and
adequate remedy, and (11) when there are circumstances indicating the urgency of judicial intervention. [22]
In the case at bar, there is no question that the controversy was pending before the Secretary of DENR when it was forwarded
to him following the denial by the petitioners of the motion for reconsideration of private respondents through the order of July 12,
1989. In their letter of reconsideration dated June 28, 1989, [23] private respondents clearly recognize the presence of an
administrative forum to which they seek to avail, as they did avail, in the resolution of their case. The letter, reads, thus:
xxx
If this motion for reconsideration does not merit your favorable action, then this letter should be considered as an appeal to the
Secretary.[24]
It was easy to perceive then that the private respondents looked up to the Secretary for the review and disposition of their
case. By appealing to him, they acknowledged the existence of an adequate and plain remedy still available and open to them in
the ordinary course of the law. Thus, they cannot now, without violating the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies,
seek courts intervention by filing an action for replevin for the grant of their relief during the pendency of an administrative
proceedings.
Moreover, it is important to point out that the enforcement of forestry laws, rules and regulations and the protection,
development and management of forest lands fall within the primary and special responsibilities of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources. By the very nature of its function, the DENR should be given a free hand unperturbed by
judicial intrusion to determine a controversy which is well within its jurisdiction. The assumption by the trial court, therefore, of
the replevin suit filed by private respondents constitutes an unjustified encroachment into the domain of the administrative agencys
prerogative. The doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not warrant a court to arrogate unto itself the authority to resolve a
controversy the jurisdiction over which is initially lodged with an administrative body of special competence. [25] In Felipe Ismael,
Jr. and Co. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary,[26] which was reiterated in the recent case of Concerned Officials of MWSS vs.
Vasquez,[27] this Court held:
Thus, while the administration grapples with the complex and multifarious problems caused by unbriddled exploitation of these
resources, the judiciary will stand clear. A long line of cases establish the basic rule that the courts will not interfere in matters
which are addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under the
special technical knowledge and training of such agencies.
To sustain the claim of private respondents would in effect bring the instant controversy beyond the pale of the principle of
exhaustion of administrative remedies and fall within the ambit of excepted cases heretofore stated. However, considering the
circumstances prevailing in this case, we can not but rule out these assertions of private respondents to be without merit. First, they
argued that there was violation of due process because they did not receive the May 23, 1989 order of confiscation of petitioner
Layugan. This contention has no leg to stand on. Due process does not necessarily mean or require a hearing, but simply an
opportunity or right to be heard. [28] One may be heard , not solely by verbal presentation but also, and perhaps many times more
creditably and practicable than oral argument, through pleadings. [29] In administrative proceedings moreover, technical rules of
procedure and evidence are not strictly applied; administrative process cannot be fully equated with due process in its strict judicial
sense.[30] Indeed, deprivation of due process cannot be successfully invoked where a party was given the chance to be heard on his
motion for reconsideration,[31] as in the instant case, when private respondents were undisputedly given the opportunity to present
their side when they filed a letter of reconsideration dated June 28, 1989 which was, however, denied in an order of July 12, 1989
of Executive Director Baggayan. In Navarro III vs. Damasco,[32] we ruled that :

The essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to
explain ones side or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. A formal or trial type hearing is
not at all times and in all instances essential. The requirements are satisfied when the parties are afforded fair and reasonable
opportunity to explain their side of the controversy at hand. What is frowned upon is the absolute lack of notice or hearing.
Second, private respondents imputed the patent illegality of seizure and forfeiture of the truck because the administrative
officers of the DENR allegedly have no power to perform these acts under the law. They insisted that only the court is authorized
to confiscate and forfeit conveyances used in transporting illegal forest products as can be gleaned from the second paragraph of
Section 68 of P.D. 705, as amended by E.O. 277. The pertinent provision reads as follows:
SECTION 68. xxx
xxx
The court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut, gathered,
collected, removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery, equipments, implements and tools illegaly [sic] used in the area where
the timber or forest products are found. (Underline ours)
A reading, however, of the law persuades us not to go along with private respondents thinking not only because the
aforequoted provision apparently does not mention nor include conveyances that can be the subject of confiscation by the courts,
but to a large extent, due to the fact that private respondents interpretation of the subject provision unduly restricts the clear
intention of the law and inevitably reduces the other provision of Section 68-A , which is quoted herein below:
SECTION 68-A. Administrative Authority of the Department or His Duly Authorized Representative To Order Confiscation. In all
cases of violation of this Code or other forest laws, rules and regulations, theDepartment Head or his duly authorized
representative, may order the confiscation of any forest products illegally cut, gathered, removed, or possessed or abandoned,
and all conveyances used either by land, water or air in the commission of the offense and to dispose of the same in accordance
with pertinent laws, regulations and policies on the matter. (Underline ours)
It is, thus, clear from the foregoing provision that the Secretary and his duly authorized representatives are given the authority
to confiscate and forfeit any conveyances utilized in violating the Code or other forest laws, rules and regulations. The phrase to
dispose of the same is broad enough to cover the act of forfeiting conveyances in favor of the government. The only limitation is
that it should be made in accordance with pertinent laws, regulations or policies on the matter. In the construction of statutes, it
must be read in such a way as to give effect to the purpose projected in the statute. [33] Statutes should be construed in the light of
the object to be achieved and the evil or mischief to be suppressed, and they should be given such construction as will advance the
object, suppress the mischief, and secure the benefits intended. [34] In this wise, the observation of the Solicitor General is
significant, thus:
But precisely because of the need to make forestry laws more responsive to present situations and realities and in view of the
urgency to conserve the remaining resources of the country, that the government opted to add Section 68-A. This amendatory
provision is an administrative remedy totally separate and distinct from criminal proceedings. More than anything else, it is
intended to supplant the inadequacies that characterize enforcement of forestry laws through criminal actions. The preamble of EO
277-the law that added Section 68-A to PD 705-is most revealing:
WHEREAS, there is an urgency to conserve the remaining forest resources of the country for the benefit and welfare of the present
and future generations of Filipinos;
WHEREAS, our forest resources may be effectively conserved and protected through the vigilant enforcement and implementation
of our forestry laws, rules and regulations;
WHEREAS, the implementation of our forestry laws suffers from technical difficulties, due to certain inadequacies in the penal
provisions of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines; and
WHEREAS, to overcome this difficulties, there is a need to penalize certain acts more responsive to present situations and
realities;
It is interesting to note that Section 68-A is a new provision authorizing the DENR to confiscate, not only conveyances, but forest
products as well. On the other hand, confiscation of forest products by the court in a criminal action has long been provided for in
Section 68. If as private respondents insist, the power on confiscation cannot be exercised except only through the court under
Section 68, then Section 68-A would have no purpose at all. Simply put, Section 68-A would not have provided any solution to the
problem perceived in EO 277, supra.[35]

Private respondents, likewise, contend that the seizure was illegal because the petitioners themselves admitted in the Order
dated July 12, 1989 of Executive Director Baggayan that the truck of private respondents was not used in the commission of the
crime. This order, a copy of which was given to and received by the counsel of private respondents, reads in part ,viz. :
xxx while it is true that the truck of your client was not used by her in the commission of the crime, we uphold your claim that the
truck owner is not liable for the crime and in no case could a criminal case be filed against her as provided under Article 309 and
310 of the Revised Penal Code. xxx[36]
We observed that private respondents misread the content of the aforestated order and obviously misinterpreted the intention
of petitioners. What is contemplated by the petitioners when they stated that the truck "was not used in the commission of the
crime" is that it was not used in the commission of the crime of theft, hence, in no case can a criminal action be filed against the
owner thereof for violation of Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code. Petitioners did not eliminate the possibility that the
truck was being used in the commission of another crime, that is, the breach of Section 68 of P.D.705 as amended by E.O. 277. In
the same order of July 12, 1989, petitioners pointed out:
xxx However, under Section 68 of P.D.705 as amended and further amended by Executive Order No.277 specifically provides for
the confiscation of the conveyance used in the transport of forest products not covered by the required legal documents. She may
not have been involved in the cutting and gathering of the product in question but the fact that she accepted the goods for a fee or
fare the same is therefor liable. xxx[37]
Private respondents, however, contended that there is no crime defined and punishable under Section 68 other than qualified
theft, so that, when petitioners admitted in the July 12, 1989 order that private respondents could not be charged for theft as
provided for under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code, then necessarily private respondents could not have committed
an act constituting a crime under Section 68. We disagree. For clarity, the provision of Section 68 of P.D. 705 before its
amendment by E.O. 277 and the provision of Section 1 of E.O. No.277 amending the aforementioned Section 68 are reproduced
herein, thus:
SECTION 68. Cutting, gathering and/or collecting timber or other products without license. - Any person who shall cut , gather ,
collect , or remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable and disposable public lands, or
from private lands, without any authority under a license agreement, lease, license or permit, shall be guilty of qualified theft as
defined and punished under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code xxx. (Underscoring ours; Section 68, P.D.705 before
its amendment by E.O.277 )
SECTION 1. Section 68 of Presidential Decree No.705, as amended, is hereby amended to read as follows:
Section 68. Cutting, gathering and/or collecting timber or other forest products without license. -Any person who shall cut, gather,
collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from
private land, without any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under
existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal
Code xxx." (Underscoring ours; Section 1, E.O No. 277 amending Section 68, P.D. 705 as amended)
With the introduction of Executive Order No. 277 amending Section 68 of P.D. 705, the act of cutting, gathering, collecting,
removing, or possessing forest products without authority constitutes a distinct offense independent now from the crime of theft
under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code, but the penalty to be imposed is that provided for under Article 309 and
310 of the Revised Penal Code. This is clear from the language of Executive Order No. 277 when it eliminated the phrase shall be
guilty of qualified theft as defined and punished under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code and inserted the words shall
be punished with the penalties imposed under Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code . When the statute is clear and
explicit, there is hardly room for any extended court ratiocination or rationalization of the law.[38]
From the foregoing disquisition, it is clear that a suit for replevin can not be sustained against the petitioners for the subject
truck taken and retained by them for administrative forfeiture proceedings in pursuant to Section 68-A of the P. D. 705, as
amended. Dismissal of the replevin suit for lack of cause of action in view of the private respondents failure to exhaust
administrative remedies should have been the proper course of action by the lower court instead of assuming jurisdiction over the
case and consequently issuing the writ ordering the return of the truck. Exhaustion of the remedies in the administrative forum,
being a condition precedent prior to ones recourse to the courts and more importantly, being an element of private respondents
right of action, is too significant to be waylaid by the lower court.
It is worth stressing at this point, that a suit for replevin is founded solely on the claim that the defendant wrongfully
withholds the property sought to be recovered. It lies to recover possession of personal chattels that are unlawfully detained. [39] To
detain is defined as to mean to hold or keep in custody, [40] and it has been held that there is tortuous taking whenever there is an
unlawful meddling with the property, or an exercise or claim of dominion over it, without any pretense of authority or right; this,
without manual seizing of the property is sufficient. [41] Under the Rules of Court, it is indispensable in replevin proceedings, that
the plaintiff must show by his own affidavit that he is entitled to the possession of property, that the property is wrongfully

detained by the defendant, alleging the cause of detention, that the same has not been taken for tax assessment, or seized under
execution, or attachment, or if so seized, that it is exempt from such seizure, and the actual value of the property. [42] Private
respondents miserably failed to convince this Court that a wrongful detention of the subject truck obtains in the instant case. It
should be noted that the truck was seized by the petitioners because it was transporting forest products with out the required permit
of the DENR in manifest contravention of Section 68 of P.D. 705 as amended by E.O 277. Section 68-A of P.D. 705, as amended,
unquestionably warrants the confiscation as well as the disposition by the Secretary of DENR or his duly authorized
representatives of the conveyances used in violating the provision of forestry laws. Evidently, the continued possession or
detention of the truck by the petitioners for administrative forfeiture proceeding is legally permissible, hence , no wrongful
detention exists in the case at bar.
Moreover, the suit for replevin is never intended as a procedural tool to question the orders of confiscation and forfeiture
issued by the DENR in pursuance to the authority given under P.D.705, as amended. Section 8 of the said law is explicit that
actions taken by the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development concerning the enforcement of the provisions of the said law
are subject to review by the Secretary of DENR and that courts may not review the decisions of the Secretary except through a
special civil action for certiorari or prohibition. It reads :
SECTION 8 . REVIEW - All actions and decisions of the Director are subject to review, motu propio or upon appeal of any person
aggrieved thereby, by the Department Head whose decision shall be final and executory after the lapse of thirty (30) days from the
receipt of the aggrieved party of said decision, unless appealed to the President in accordance with Executive Order No. 19, Series
of 1966. The Decision of the Department Head may not be reviewed by the courts except through a special civil action
for certiorari or prohibition.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED; the Decision of the respondent Court of Appeals dated October 16, 1991 and its
Resolution dated July 14, 1992 are hereby SET ASIDE AND REVERSED; the Restraining Order promulgated on September 27,
1993 is hereby made permanent; and the Secretary of DENR is directed to resolve the controversy with utmost dispatch.
SO ORDERED.

Alvarez v. Picop 508 SCRA 498

and

Albarez v. Picop 606 SCRA 444

HON. HEHERSON ALVAREZ substituted by HON. ELISEA G. GOZUN, in her capacity as Secretary of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources,
Petitioner,
- versus PICOP RESOURCES, INC.,
Respondent.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
PICOP RESOURCES, INC.,
Petitioner,
- versus HON. HEHERSON ALVAREZ substituted by HON. ELISEA G. GOZUN, in her capacity as Secretary of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources
Respondent.
x-----------------------x
THE HON. ANGELO T. REYES (formerly Hon. Elisea G. Gozun), in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environment
and Natural Resources (DENR),
Petitioner,
- versus PAPER INDUSTRIES CORP. OF THE PHILIPPINES (PICOP),
Respondent.
G.R. No. 162243
G.R. No. 164516
G.R. No. 171875
Present:

PUNO, C.J.,
CARPIO,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,*
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.,
Promulgated:
December 3, 2009
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

RESOLUTION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

The cause of action of PICOP Resources, Inc. (PICOP) in its Petition for Mandamus with the trial court is clear: the government is
bound by contract, a 1969 Document signed by then President Ferdinand Marcos, to enter into an Integrated Forest Management
Agreement (IFMA) with PICOP. Since the remedy of mandamus lies only to compel an officer to perform a ministerial duty, and
since the 1969 Document itself has a proviso requiring compliance with the laws and the Constitution, the issues in this Motion for
Reconsideration are the following: (1) firstly, is the 1969 Document a contract enforceable under the Non-Impairment Clause of
the Constitution, so as to make the signing of the IFMA a ministerial duty? (2) secondly, did PICOP comply with all the legal and
constitutional requirements for the issuance of an IFMA?
To recall, PICOP filed with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) an application to have its Timber
License Agreement (TLA) No. 43 converted into an IFMA. In the middle of the processing of PICOPs application, however,
PICOP refused to attend further meetings with the DENR. Instead, on 2 September 2002, PICOP filed before the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Quezon City a Petition for Mandamus[1] against then DENR Secretary Heherson T. Alvarez. PICOP seeks the
issuance of a privileged writ of mandamus to compel the DENR Secretary to sign, execute and deliver an IFMA to PICOP, as well
as to
[I]ssue the corresponding IFMA assignment number on the area covered by the IFMA, formerly TLA No. 43, as amended; b) to
issue the necessary permit allowing petitioner to act and harvest timber from the said area of TLA No. 43, sufficient to meet the
raw material requirements of petitioners pulp and paper mills in accordance with the warranty and agreement of July 29, 1969
between the government and PICOPs predecessor-in-interest; and c) to honor and respect the Government Warranties and
contractual obligations to PICOP strictly in accordance with the warranty and agreement dated July 29, [1969] between the
government and PICOPs predecessor-in-interest. x x x.[2]

On 11 October 2002, the RTC rendered a Decision granting PICOPs Petition for Mandamus, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition for Mandamus is hereby GRANTED.
The Respondent DENR Secretary Hon. Heherson Alvarez is hereby ordered:
1.
to sign, execute and deliver the IFMA contract and/or documents to PICOP and issue the corresponding IFMA
assignment number on the area covered by the IFMA, formerly TLA No. 43, as amended;
2.
to issue the necessary permit allowing petitioner to act and harvest timber from the said area of TLA No. 43,
sufficient to meet the raw material requirements of petitioners pulp and paper mills in accordance with the warranty and agreement
of July 29, 1969 between the government and PICOPs predecessor-in-interest; and
3.
to honor and respect the Government Warranties and contractual obligations to PICOP strictly in accordance with the
warranty and agreement dated July 29, 1999 (sic) between the government and PICOPs predecessor-in-interest (Exhibits H, H-1 to
H-5, particularly the following:
a)

the area coverage of TLA No. 43, which forms part and parcel of the government warranties;

b)
PICOP tenure over the said area of TLA No. 43 and exclusive right to cut, collect and remove sawtimber and pulpwood for
the period ending on April 26, 1977; and said period to be renewable for [an]other 25 years subject to compliance with
constitutional and statutory requirements as well as with existing policy on timber concessions; and
c)
The peaceful and adequate enjoyment by PICOP of the area as described and specified in the aforesaid amended Timber
License Agreement No. 43.
The Respondent Secretary Alvarez is likewise ordered to pay petitioner the sum of P10 million a month beginning May 2002 until
the conversion of TLA No. 43, as amended, to IFMA is formally effected and the harvesting from the said area is granted.[3]

On 25 October 2002, the DENR Secretary filed a Motion for Reconsideration.[4] In a 10 February 2003 Order, the RTC denied the
DENR Secretarys Motion for Reconsideration and granted PICOPs Motion for the Issuance of Writ of Mandamus and/or Writ of
Mandatory Injunction.[5] The fallo of the 11 October 2002 Decision was practically copied in the 10 February 2003 Order,
although there was no mention of the damages imposed against then DENR Secretary Alvarez.[6] The DENR Secretary filed a
Notice of Appeal[7] from the 11 October 2002 Decision and the 10 February 2003 Order.
On 19 February 2004, the Seventh Division of the Court of Appeals affirmed[8] the Decision of the RTC, to wit:
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is hereby AFFIRMED with modification that the order directing then DENR Secretary
Alvarez to pay petitioner-appellee the sum of P10 million a month beginning May, 2002 until the conversion to IFMA of TLA No.
43, as amended, is formally effected and the harvesting from the said area is granted is hereby deleted. [9]
Challenging the deletion of the damages awarded to it, PICOP filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration[10] of this Decision,
which was denied by the Court of Appeals in a 20 July 2004 Resolution.[11]
The DENR Secretary and PICOP filed with this Court separate Petitions for Review of the 19 February 2004 Court of Appeals
Decision. These Petitions were docketed as G.R. No. 162243 and No. 164516, respectively. These cases were consolidated with
G.R. No. 171875, which relates to the lifting of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction enjoining the execution pending appeal of the
foregoing Decision.
On 29 November 2006, this Court rendered the assailed Decision on the Consolidated Petitions:
WHEREFORE, the Petition in G.R. No. 162243 is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals insofar as it affirmed the
RTC Decision granting the Petition for Mandamus filed by Paper Industries Corp. of the Philippines (PICOP) is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Petition in G.R. No. 164516 seeking the reversal of the same Decision insofar as it nullified the
award of damages in favor of PICOP is DENIED for lack of merit. The Petition in G.R. No. 171875, assailing the lifting of the
Preliminary Mandatory Injunction in favor of the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources is DISMISSED on the ground
of mootness.[12]

On 18 January 2006, PICOP filed the instant Motion for Reconsideration, based on the following grounds:
I.
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE CONTRACT WITH PRESIDENTIAL WARRANTY SIGNED
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC ON 29 JUNE 1969 ISSUED TO PICOP IS A MERE PERMIT OR LICENSE AND
IS NOT A CONTRACT, PROPERTY OR PROPERTY RIGHT PROTECTED BY THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE
CONSTITUTION

II.
THE EVALUATION OF PICOPS MANAGEMENT OF THE TLA 43 NATURAL FOREST CLEARLY SHOWED
SATISFACTORY PERFORMANCE FOR KEEPING THE NATURAL FOREST GENERALLY INTACT AFTER 50 YEARS OF
FOREST OPERATIONS. THIS COMPLETES THE REQUIREMENT FOR AUTOMATIC CONVERSION UNDER SECTION 9
OF DAO 99-53.

III.
WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT, IN REVERSING THE FINDINGS OF FACTS OF THE TRIAL COURT
AND THE COURT OF APPEALS, MISAPPRECIATED THE EVIDENCE, TESTIMONIAL AND DOCUMENTARY, WHEN IT
RULED THAT:

i.
PICOP FAILED TO SUBMIT A FIVE-YEAR FOREST PROTECTION PLAN AND A SEVEN-YEAR REFORESTATION PLAN
FOR THE YEARS UNDER REVIEW.

ii.
PICOP FAILED TO COMPLY WITH THE PAYMENT OF FOREST CHARGES.

iii.
PICOP DID NOT COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENT FOR A CERTIFICATION FROM THE NCIP THAT THE AREA OF
TLA 43 DOES NOT OVERLAP WITH ANY ANCESTRAL DOMAIN.

iv.
PICOP FAILED TO HAVE PRIOR CONSULTATION WITH AND APPROVAL FROM THE SANGUNIAN CONCERNED, AS
REQUIRED BY SECTION 27 OF THE REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7160, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT
CODE OF 1991.

v.
PCIOP FAILED TO SECURE SOCIAL ACCEPTABILITY UNDER PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1586.
IV
THE MOTIVATION OF ALVAREZ IN RECALLING THE CLEARANCE FOR AUTOMATIC CONVERSION HE ISSUED ON
25 OCTOBER 2001 WAS NOT DUE TO ANY SHORTCOMING FROM PICOP BUT DUE TO HIS DETERMINATION TO
EXCLUDE 28,125 HECTARES FROM THE CONVERSION AND OTHER THINGS.

On 15 December 2008, on Motion by PICOP, the Third Division of this Court resolved to refer the consolidated cases at bar to the
Court en banc. On 16 December 2008, this Court sitting en banc resolved to accept the said cases and set them for oral arguments.
Oral arguments were conducted on 10 February 2009.
PICOPs Cause of Action: Matters PICOP Should Have Proven to Be Entitled to a Writ of Mandamus

In seeking a writ of mandamus to compel the issuance of an IFMA in its favor, PICOP relied on a 29 July 1969 Document, the socalled Presidential Warranty approved by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos in favor of PICOPs predecessor-in-interest, Bislig
Bay Lumber Company, Inc. (BBLCI). PICOPs cause of action is summarized in paragraphs 1.6 and 4.19 of its Petition for
Mandamus:
1.6 Respondent Secretary impaired the obligation of contract under the said Warranty and Agreement of 29 July 1969 by refusing
to respect the tenure; and its renewal for another twenty five (25) years, of PICOP over the area covered by the said Agreement
which consists of permanent forest lands with an aggregate area of 121,587 hectares and alienable and disposable lands with an
aggregate area of approximately 21,580 hectares, and petitioners exclusive right to cut, collect and remove sawtimber and
pulpwood therein and the peaceful and adequate enjoyment of the said area as described and specified in petitioners Timber
License Agreement (TLA) No. 43 guaranteed by the Government, under the Warranty and Agreement of 29 July 1969.[13]
4.19 Respondent is in violation of the Constitution and has impaired the obligation of contract by his refusal to respect: a) the
tenurial rights of PICOP over the forest area covered by TLA No. 43, as amended and its renewal for another twenty five (25)
years; b) the exclusive right of PICOP to cut, collect and remove sawtimber and pulpwood therein; and c) PICOPs peaceful and
adequate enjoyment of the said area which the government guaranteed under the Warranty and Agreement of 29 July 1969.[14]

The grounds submitted by PICOP in its Petition for Mandamus are as follows:
I
Respondent secretary has unlawfully refused and/or neglected to sign and execute the IFMA contract of PICOP even as the latter
has complied with all the legal requirements for the automatic conversion of TLA No. 43, as amended, into an IFMA.
II
Respondent Secretary acted with grave abuse of discretion and/or in excess of jurisdiction in refusing to sign and execute PICOPs
IFMA contract, notwithstanding that PICOP had complied with all the requirements for Automatic Conversion under DAO 99-53,
as in fact Automatic Conversion was already cleared in October, 2001, and was a completed process.
III

Respondent Secretary has impaired the obligation of contract under a valid and binding warranty and agreement of 29 July 1969
between the government and PICOPs predecessor-in-interest, by refusing to respect: a) the tenure of PICOP, and its renewal for
another twenty five (25) years, over the TLA No.43 area covered by said agreement; b) the exclusive right to cut, collect and
remove sawtimber and pulpwood timber; and c) the peaceful and adequate enjoyment of the said area.
IV
As a result of respondent Secretarys unlawful refusal and/or neglect to sign and deliver the IFMA contract, and violation of the
constitutional rights of PICOP against non-impairment of the obligation of contract (Sec. 10, Art. III, 1997 [sic] Constitution),
PICOP suffered grave and irreparable damages.[15]

Petitions for Mandamus are governed by Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, Section 3 of which provides:
SEC. 3. Petition for mandamus.When any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an
act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the
use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in
the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging the facts with
certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the respondent, immediately or at some other time to be specified by
the court, to do the act required to be done to protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the damages sustained by the petitioner
by reason of the wrongful acts of the respondent. (Emphasis supplied.)

PICOP is thus asking this Court to conclude that the DENR Secretary is specifically enjoined by law to issue an IFMA in its favor.
An IFMA, as defined by DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 99-53,[16] is [A] production-sharing contract entered into by and between the DENR and a qualified applicant wherein the DENR grants to the
latter the exclusive right to develop, manage, protect and utilize a specified area of forestland and forest resource therein for a
period of 25 years and may be renewed for another 25-year period, consistent with the principle of sustainable development and in
accordance with an approved CDMP, and under which both parties share in its produce.[17]

PICOP stresses the word automatic in Section 9 of this DAO No. 99-53:
Sec. 9. Qualifications of Applicants. The applicants for IFMA shall be:
(a) A Filipino citizen of legal age; or,
(b) Partnership, cooperative or corporation whether public or private, duly registered under Philippine laws.
However, in the case of application for conversion of TLA into IFMA, an automatic conversion after proper evaluation shall be
allowed, provided the TLA holder shall have signified such intention prior to the expiry of the TLA, PROVIDED further, that the
TLA holder has showed satisfactory performance and have complied in the terms of condition of the TLA and pertinent rules and
regulations. (Emphasis supplied.)[18]

This administrative regulation provision allowing automatic conversion after proper evaluation can hardly qualify as a law, much
less a law specifically enjoining the execution of a contract. To enjoin is to order or direct with urgency; to instruct with authority;
to command.[19] Enjoin is a mandatory word, in legal parlance, always; in common parlance, usually.[20] The word allow, on the
other hand, is not equivalent to the word must, and is in no sense a command.[21]
As an extraordinary writ, the remedy of mandamus lies only to compel an officer to perform a ministerial duty, not a discretionary
one; mandamus will not issue to control the exercise of discretion of a public officer where the law imposes upon him the duty to
exercise his judgment in reference to any manner in which he is required to act, because it is his judgment that is to be exercised
and not that of the court.[22]
The execution of agreements, in itself, involves the exercise of discretion. Agreements are products of negotiations and mutual
concessions, necessitating evaluation of their provisions on the part of both parties. In the case of the IFMA, the evaluation on the
part of the government is specifically mandated in the afore-quoted Section 3 of DAO No. 99-53. This evaluation necessarily
involves the exercise of discretion and judgment on the part of the DENR Secretary, who is tasked not only to negotiate the sharing
of the profit arising from the IFMA, but also to evaluate the compliance with the requirements on the part of the applicant.
Furthermore, as shall be discussed later, the period of an IFMA that was merely automatically converted from a TLA in accordance
with Section 9, paragraph 2 of DAO No. 99-53 would only be for the remaining period of the TLA. Since the TLA of PICOP
expired on 26 April 2002, the IFMA that could have been granted to PICOP via the automatic conversion provision in DAO No.
99-53 would have expired on the same date, 26 April 2002, and the PICOPs Petition for Mandamus would have become moot.
This is where the 1969 Document, the purported Presidential Warranty, comes into play. When PICOPs application was brought to
a standstill upon the evaluation that PICOP had yet to comply with the requirements for such conversion, PICOP refused to attend
further meetings with the DENR and instead filed a Petition for Mandamus, insisting that the DENR Secretary had impaired the
obligation of contract by his refusal to respect: a) the tenurial rights of PICOP over the forest area covered by TLA No. 43, as

amended, and its renewal for another twenty-five (25) years; b) the exclusive right of PICOP to cut, collect and remove sawtimber
and pulpwood therein; and c) PICOPs peaceful and adequate enjoyment of the said area which the government guaranteed under
the Warranty and Agreement of 29 July 1969. [23]
PICOP is, thus, insisting that the government is obligated by contract to issue an IFMA in its favor because of the 1969 Document.
A contract, being the law between the parties, can indeed, with respect to the State when it is a party to such contract, qualify as a
law specifically enjoining the performance of an act. Hence, it is possible that a writ of mandamus may be issued to PICOP, but
only if it proves both of the following:
1) That the 1969 Document is a contract recognized under the non-impairment clause; and
2) That the 1969 Document specifically enjoins the government to issue the IFMA.
If PICOP fails to prove any of these two matters, the grant of a privileged writ of mandamus is not warranted. This was why we
pronounced in the assailed Decision that the overriding controversy involved in the Petition was one of law.[24] If PICOP fails to
prove any of these two matters, more significantly its assertion that the 1969 Document is a contract, PICOP fails to prove its
cause of action.[25] Not even the satisfactory compliance with all legal and administrative requirements for an IFMA would save
PICOPs Petition for Mandamus.
The reverse, however, is not true. The 1969 Document expressly states that the warranty as to the tenure of PICOP is subject to
compliance with constitutional and statutory requirements as well as with existing policy on timber concessions. Thus, if PICOP
proves the two above-mentioned matters, it still has to prove compliance with statutory and administrative requirements for the
conversion of its TLA into an IFMA.
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

PICOP uses the same argument that the government is bound by contract to issue the IFMA in its refusal to exhaust all
administrative remedies by not appealing the alleged illegal non-issuance of the IFMA to the Office of the President. PICOP
claimed in its Petition for Mandamus with the trial court that:
1.10 This petition falls as an exception to the exhaustion of administrative remedies. The acts of respondent DENR Secretary
complained of in this petition are patently illegal; in derogation of the constitutional rights of petitioner against non-impairment of
the obligation of contracts; without jurisdiction, or in excess of jurisdiction or so capriciously as to constitute an abuse of
discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction; and moreover, the failure or refusal of a high government official such as a
Department head from whom relief is brought to act on the matter was considered equivalent to exhaustion of administrative
remedies (Sanoy v. Tantuico, 50 SCRA 455 [1973]), and there are compelling and urgent reasons for judicial intervention
(Bagatsing v. Ramirez, 74 SCRA 306 [1976]).

Thus, if there has been no impairment of the obligation of contracts in the DENR Secretarys non-issuance of the IFMA, the proper
remedy of PICOP in claiming that it has complied with all statutory and administrative requirements for the issuance of the IFMA
should have been with the Office of the President. This makes the issue of the enforceability of the 1969 Document as a contract
even more significant.
The Nature and Effects of the Purported 29 July 1969 Presidential Warranty

Base Metals Case

PICOP challenges our ruling that the 1969 Document is not a contract. Before we review this finding, however, it must be pointed
out that one week after the assailed Decision, another division of this Court promulgated a Decision concerning the very same
1969 Document. Thus, in PICOP Resources, Inc. v. Base Metals Mineral Resources Corporation,[26] five other Justices who were
still unaware of this Divisions Decision,[27] came up with the same conclusion as regards the same issue of whether former
President Marcoss Presidential Warranty is a contract:
Finally, we do not subscribe to PICOPs argument that the Presidential Warranty dated September 25, 1968 is a contract protected
by the non-impairment clause of the 1987 Constitution.
An examination of the Presidential Warranty at once reveals that it simply reassures PICOP of the governments commitment to
uphold the terms and conditions of its timber license and guarantees PICOPs peaceful and adequate possession and enjoyment of
the areas which are the basic sources of raw materials for its wood processing complex. The warranty covers only the right to cut,
collect, and remove timber in its concession area, and does not extend to the utilization of other resources, such as mineral
resources, occurring within the concession.
The Presidential Warranty cannot be considered a contract distinct from PTLA No. 47 and FMA No. 35. We agree with the OSGs
position that it is merely a collateral undertaking which cannot amplify PICOPs rights under its timber license. Our definitive
ruling in Oposa v. Factoran that a timber license is not a contract within the purview of the non-impairment clause is edifying. We
declared:

Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is not a contract, property or a property right
protected by the due process clause of the Constitution. In Tan vs. Director of Forestry, this Court held:
"x x x A timber license is an instrument by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end
that public welfare is promoted. A timber license is not a contract within the purview of the due process clause; it is only a license
or a privilege, which can be validly withdrawn whenever dictated by public interest or public welfare as in this case.
A license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and is not a contract between the authority,
federal, state, or municipal, granting it and the person to whom it is granted; neither is it a property or a property right, nor does it
create a vested right; nor is it taxation' (C.J. 168). Thus, this Court held that the granting of license does not create irrevocable
rights, neither is it property or property rights (People vs. Ong Tin, 54 O.G. 7576). x x x"
We reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe Ysmael, Jr. & Co., Inc. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary:
"x x x Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal instruments by which the State regulates the utilization
and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely
evidence a privilege granted by the State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the
particular concession area and the forest products therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the
Chief Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of
law clause [See Sections 3(ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry, G.R. No. L-24548,
October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302]."
Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which reads:
"SEC. 10. No law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed.
cannot be invoked.
The Presidential Warranty cannot, in any manner, be construed as a contractual undertaking assuring PICOP of exclusive
possession and enjoyment of its concession areas. Such an interpretation would result in the complete abdication by the State in
favor of PICOP of the sovereign power to control and supervise the exploration, development and utilization of the natural
resources in the area.[28]

The Motion for Reconsideration was denied with finality on 14 February 2007. A Second Motion for Reconsideration filed by
PICOP was denied on 23 May 2007.
PICOP insists that the pronouncement in Base Metals is a mere obiter dictum, which would not bind this Court in resolving this
Motion for Reconsideration. In the oral arguments, however, upon questioning from the ponente himself of Base Metals, it was
agreed that the issue of whether the 1969 Document is a contract was necessary in the resolution of Base Metals:
JUSTICE TINGA:
And do you confirm that one of the very issues raised by PICOP in that case [PICOP Resources Inc. v. Base Metal Mineral
Resources Corporation] revolves around its claim that a Presidential Warranty is protected by the non-impairment c[l]ause of the
Constitution.
ATTY. AGABIN:
Yes, I believe that statement was made by the Court, your Honor.
JUSTICE TINGA:
Yes. And that claim on the part of PICOP necessarily implies that the Presidential Warranty according to PICOP is a contract
protected by the non-impairment clause.
ATTY. AGABIN:
Yes, Your Honor.
JUSTICE TINGA:
Essentially, the PICOP raised the issue of whether the Presidential Warranty is a contract or not.
ATTY. AGABIN:
Yes, Your Honor.
JUSTICE TINGA:
And therefore any ruling on the part of the Court on that issue could not be an obiter dictum.

ATTY. AGABIN:
Your Honor, actually we believe that the basic issue in that case was whether or not Base Metals could conduct mining activities
underneath the forest reserve allotted to PICOP and the Honorable Court ruled that the Mining Act of 1995 as well as the
Department Order of DENR does not disallow mining activity under a forest reserve.
JUSTICE TINGA:
But it was PICOP itself which raised the claim that a Presidential Warranty is a contract. And therefore be, should be protected on
the under the non-impairment clause of the Constitution.
ATTY. AGABIN:
Yes, Your Honor. Except that
JUSTICE TINGA:
So, how can you say now that the Court merely uttered, declared, laid down an obiter dictum in saying that the Presidential
Warranty is not a contract, and it is not being a contract, it is not prohibited by the non-impairment clause.
ATTY. AGABIN:
This Honorable Court could have just ruled, held that the mining law allows mining activities under a forest reserve without
deciding on that issue that was raised by PICOP, your Honor, and therefore we believe.
JUSTICE TINGA:
It could have been better if PICOP has not raised that issue and had not claimed that the Presidential Warranty is not a contract.
ATTY. AGABIN:
Well, that is correct, your Honor except that the Court could have just avoided that question. Because
JUSTICE TINGA:
Why[?]
ATTY. AGABIN:
It already settled the issue, the basic issue.
JUSTICE TINGA:
Yes, because the Court in saying that merely reiterated a number of rulings to the effect that the Presidential Warranty, a Timber
License for that matter is not a contract protected by the non-impairment laws.
ATTY. AGABIN:
Well, it is our submission, your Honor, that it is obiter because, that issue even a phrase by PICOP was not really fully argued by
the parties for the Honorable Court and it seems from my reading at least it was just an aside given by the Honorable Court to
decide on that issue raised by PICOP but it was not necessary to the decision of the court.
JUSTICE TINGA:
It was not necessary[?]
ATTY. AGABIN:
To the decision of the Court.
JUSTICE TINGA:
It was.
ATTY. AGABIN:
It was not necessary.
JUSTICE TINGA:

It was.
ATTY. AGABIN:
Yes.
JUSTICE TINGA:
And PICOP devoted quite a number of pages in [its] memorandum to that issue and so did the Court [in its Decision].
ATTY. AGABIN:
Anyway, your Honor, we beg the Court to revisit, not to[29]

Interpretation of the 1969 Document That Would Be in Harmony with the Constitution

To remove any doubts as to the contents of the 1969 Document, the purported Presidential Warranty, below is a complete text
thereof:
Republic of the Philippines
Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
Diliman, Quezon City
D-53, Licenses (T.L.A. No. 43)
Bislig Bay Lumber Co., Inc.
(Bislig, Surigao)
July 29, 1969
Bislig Bay Lumber Co., Inc.
[unreadable word] Bldg.
Makati, Rizal
S i r s:
This has reference to the request of the Board of Investments through its Chairman in a letter dated July 16, 1969 for a warranty on
the boundaries of your concession area under Timber License Agreement No. 43, as amended.
We are made to understand that your company is committed to support the first large scale integrated wood processing complex
hereinafter called: The Project) and that such support will be provided not only in the form of the supply of pulpwood and other
wood materials from your concession but also by making available funds generated out of your own operations, to supplement
PICOPs operational sources of funds and other financial arrangements made by him. In order that your company may provide such
support effectively, it is understood that you will call upon your stockholders to take such steps as may be necessary to effect a
unification of managerial, technical, economic and manpower resources between your company and PICOP.
It is in the public interest to promote industries that will enhance the proper conservation of our forest resources as well as insure
the maximum utilization thereof to the benefit of the national economy. The administration feels that the PICOP project is one such
industry which should enjoy priority over the usual logging operations hitherto practiced by ordinary timber licensees: For this
reason, we are pleased to consider favorably the request.
We confirm that your Timber License Agreement No. 43, as amended (copy of which is attached as Annex A hereof which shall
form part and parcel of this warranty) definitely establishes the boundary lines of your concession area which consists of
permanent forest lands with an aggregate area of 121,587 hectares and alienable or disposable lands with an aggregate area of
approximately 21,580 hectares.
We further confirm that your tenure over the area and exclusive right to cut, collect and remove sawtimber and pulpwood shall be
for the period ending on April 26, 1977; said period to be renewable for other 25 years subject to compliance with constitutional
and statutory requirements as well as with existing policy on timber concessions.
The peaceful and adequate enjoyment by you of your area as described and specified in your aforesaid amended Timber License
Agreement No. 43 is hereby warranted provided that pertinent laws, regulations and the terms and conditions of your license
agreement are observed.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) FERNANDO LOPEZ
Secretary of Agriculture

and Natural Resources


Encl.:
RECOMMENDED BY:
(Sgd.) JOSE VIADO
Acting Director of Forestry
APPROVED:
(Sgd.) FERDINAND E. MARCOS
President of the Philippines

ACCEPTED:
BISLIG BAY LBR. CO., INC.
By:
(Sgd.) JOSE E. SORIANO
President

PICOP interprets this document in the following manner:


6.1 It is clear that the thrust of the government warranty is to establish a particular area defined by boundary lines of TLA No. 43
for the PICOP Project. In consideration for PICOPs commitment to pursue and establish the project requiring huge
investment/funding from stockholders and lending institutions, the government provided a warranty that ensures the continued and
exclusive right of PICOP to source its raw materials needs from the forest and renewable trees within the areas established.
6.2 As a long-term support, the warranty covers the initial twenty five (25) year period and is renewable for periods of twenty five
(25) years provided the project continues to exist and operate. Very notably, the wording of the Presidential Warranty connotes that
for as long as the holder complies with all the legal requirements, the term of the warranty is not limited to fifty (50) years but
other twenty five (25) years.
6.3 Note must be made that the government warranted that PICOPs tenure over the area and exclusive right to cut, collect and
remove saw timber and pulpwood shall be for the period ending on 26 April 1977 and said period to be renewable for other 25
years subject to compliance with constitutional and statutory requirements as well as existing policy on timber requirements. It is
clear that the renewal for other 25 years, not necessarily for another 25 years is guaranteed. This explains why on 07 October 1977,
TLA No. 43, as amended, was automatically renewed for another period of twenty five (25) years to expire on 26 April 2002.[30]

PICOPs interpretation of the 1969 Document cannot be sustained. PICOPs claim that the term of the warranty is not limited to fifty
years, but that it extends to other fifty years, perpetually, violates Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution which provides:
Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy,
fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of
agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural
resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may
enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at
least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five
years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of
water rights for irrigation, water supply fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may
be the measure and limit of the grant.

Mr. Justice Dante O. Tingas interpretation of the 1969 Document is much more in accord with the laws and the Constitution. What
one cannot do directly, he cannot do indirectly. Forest lands cannot be alienated in favor of private entities. Granting to private
entities, via a contract, a permanent, irrevocable, and exclusive possession of and right over forest lands is tantamount to granting
ownership thereof. PICOP, it should be noted, claims nothing less than having exclusive, continuous and uninterrupted possession
of its concession areas,[31] where all other entrants are illegal,[32] and where so-called illegal settlers and squatters are
apprehended.[33]
IFMAs are production-sharing agreements concerning the development and utilization of natural resources. As such, these
agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such
terms and conditions as may be provided by law. Any superior contract requiring the State to issue TLAs and IFMAs whenever
they expire clearly circumvents Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, which provides for the only permissible schemes
wherein the full control and supervision of the State are not derogated: co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing
agreements within the time limit of twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-five years.

On its face, the 1969 Document was meant to expire on 26 April 2002, upon the expiration of the expected extension of the
original TLA period ending on 26 April 1977:
We further confirm that your tenure over the area and exclusive right to cut, collect and remove sawtimber and pulpwood shall be
for the period ending on April 26, 1977; said period to be renewable for other 25 years subject to compliance with constitutional
and statutory requirements as well as with existing policy on timber concessions.

Any interpretation extending the application of the 1969 Document beyond 26 April 2002 and any concession that may be granted
to PICOP beyond the said date would violate the Constitution, and no amount of legal hermeneutics can change that. Attempts of
PICOP to explain its way out of this Constitutional provision only led to absurdities, as exemplified in the following excerpt from
the oral arguments:
JUSTICE CARPIO:
The maximum trend of agreement to develop and utilize natural resources like forest products is 25 years plus another 25 years or
a total of 50 years correct?
ATTY. AGABIN
Yes, Your Honor.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
That is true for the 1987, 1973, 1935 Constitution, correct?
ATTY. AGABIN:
Yes, Your Honor.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
The TLA here, TLA 43, expired, the first 25 years expired in 1977, correct?
ATTY. AGABIN:
Yes, Your Honor.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
And it was renewed for another 25 years until 2002, the 50th year?
ATTY. AGABIN:
Yes, Your Honor.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
Now, could PICOP before the end of the 50th year lets say in 2001, one year before the expiration, could it have asked for an
extension of another 25 years of its TLA agreement[?]
ATTY. AGABIN:
I believe so, Your Honor.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
But the Constitution says, maximum of fifty years. How could you ask for another 25 years of its TLA.
ATTY. AGABIN:
Well, your Honor, we believe on a question like this, this Honorable Court should balance the interest.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
The Constitution is very clear, you have only a maximum of 50 years, 25 plus another 25. PICOP could never have applied for an
extension, for a third 25-year term whether under the 1935 Constitution, the 1973 Constitution and the 1987 Constitution, correct?
ATTY. AGABIN:

Your Honor, except that we are invoking the warranty, the terms of the warranty.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
Can the warranty prevail over the Constitution?
ATTY. AGABIN:
Well, it is a vested right, your Honor.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
Yes, but whatever it is, can it prevail over the Constitution?
ATTY. AGABIN:
The Constitution itself provides that vested rights should be .
JUSTICE CARPIO:
If it is not in violation of specific provision of the Constitution. The Constitution says, 25 years plus another 25 years, thats the end
of it. You mean to say that a President of the Philippines can give somebody 1,000 years license?
ATTY. AGABIN:
Well, that is not our position, Your Honor. Because our position is that .
JUSTICE CARPIO:
My question is, what is the maximum term, you said 50 years. So, my next question is, can PICOP apply for an extension of
another 25 years after 2002, the 50th year?
ATTY. AGABIN:
Yes, based on the contract of warranty, Your Honor, because the contract of warranty.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
But in the PICOP license it is very clear, it says here, provision 28, it says the license agreement is for a total of 50 years. I mean it
is very simple, the President or even Congress cannot pass a law extending the license, whatever kind of license to utilize natural
resources for more than fifty year[s]. I mean even the law cannot do that. It cannot prevail over the Constitution. Is that correct,
Counsel?
ATTY. AGABIN:
It is correct, Your Honor, except that in this case, what is actually our application is that the law provides for the conversion of
existing TLA into IFMA.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
So, they file the petition for conversion before the end of the 50th year for IFMA.
ATTY. AGABIN:
Yes, Your Honor.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
But IFMA is the same, it is based on Section 2, Article 12 of the Constitution, develop and utilize natural resources because as you
said when the new constitution took effect we did away with the old licensing regime, we have now co-production, a production
sharing, joint venture, direct undertaking but still the same developing and utilizing the natural resources, still comes from section
2, Art. 12 of the Constitution. It is still a license but different format now.
ATTY. AGABIN:
It is correct, Your Honor, except that the regimes of joint venture, co-production and production sharing are what is referred to in
the constitution, Your Honor, and still covered
JUSTICE CARPIO:

Yes, but it is covered by same 25 year[s], you mean to say people now can circumvent the 50 year maximum term by calling their
TLA as IFMA and after fifty years calling it ISMA, after another 50 years call it MAMA.
ATTY. AGABIN:
Yes, Your Honor. Because
JUSTICE CARPIO:
It can be done.
ATTY. AGABIN:
That is provided for by the department itself.[34]

PICOP is, in effect, arguing that the DENR issued DAO No. 99-53 in order to provide a way to circumvent the provisions of the
Constitution limiting agreements for the utilization of natural resources to a maximum period of fifty years. Official duties are,
however, disputably considered to be regularly performed,[35] and good faith is always presumed.
DAO No. 99-53 was issued to change the means by which the government enters into an agreement with private entities for the
utilization of forest products. DAO No. 99-53 is a late response to the change in the constitutional provisions on natural resources
from the 1973 Constitution, which allowed the granting of licenses to private entities,[36] to the present Constitution, which
provides for co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements as the permissible schemes wherein private entities
may participate in the utilization of forest products. Since the granting of timber licenses ceased to be a permissible scheme for the
participation of private entities under the present Constitution, their operations should have ceased upon the issuance of DAO No.
99-53, the rule regulating the schemes under the present Constitution. This would be iniquitous to those with existing TLAs that
would not have expired yet as of the issuance of DAO No. 99-53, especially those with new TLAs that were originally set to
expire after 10 or even 20 or more years. The DENR thus inserted a provision in DAO No. 99-53 allowing these TLA holders to
finish the period of their TLAs, but this time as IFMAs, without the rigors of going through a new application, which they have
probably just gone through a few years ago.
Such an interpretation would not only make DAO No. 99-53 consistent with the provisions of the Constitution, but would also
prevent possible discrimination against new IFMA applicants:

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE DE CASTRO:


I ask this question because of your interpretation that the period of the IFMA, if your TLA is converted into IFMA, would cover a
new a fresh period of twenty-five years renewable by another period of twenty-five years.
DEAN AGABIN:
Yes, Your Honor.
ASSOCIATE JUSTICE DE CASTRO:
Dont you think that will, in effect, be invidious discrimination with respect to other applicants if you are granted a fresh period of
twenty-five years extendible to another twenty-five years?
DEAN AGABIN:
I dont think it would be, Your Honor, considering that the IFMA is different regime from the TLA. And not only that, there are
considerations of public health and ecology which should come into play in this case, and which we had explained in our opening
statement and, therefore the provision of the Constitution on the twenty-five limits for renewal of co-production, joint venture and
production sharing agreements, should be balanced with other values stated in the Constitution, like the value of balanced ecology,
which should be in harmony with the rhythm of nature, or the policy of forest preservation in Article XII, Section 14 of the
Constitution. These are all important policy considerations which should be balanced against the term limits in Article II of the
Constitution.
ASSOCIATE JUSTICE DE CASTRO:
The provision of this Administrative Order regarding automatic conversion may be reasonable, if, I want to know if you agree with
me, if we limit this automatic conversion to the remaining period of the TLA, because in that case there will be a valid ground to
make a distinction between those with existing TLA and those who are applying for the first time for IFMA?
DEAN AGABIN:
Well, Your Honor, we beg to disagree, because as I said TLAs are completely different from IFMA. The TLA has no production
sharing or co-production agreement or condition. All that the licensee has to do is, to pay forest charges, taxes and other
impositions from the local and national government. On the other hand, the IFMAs contained terms and conditions which are

completely different, and that they either impose co-production, production sharing or joint venture terms. So its a completely
different regime, Your Honor.
ASSOCIATE JUSTICE DE CASTRO:
Precisely, that is the reason why there should be an evaluation of what you mentioned earlier of the development plan.
DEAN AGABIN:
Yes, Your Honor.
ASSOCIATE JUSTICE DE CASTRO:
So it will be reasonable to convert a TLA into an IFMA without considering the development plan submitted by other applicants or
the development plan itself of one seeking conversion into IFMA if it will only be limited to the period, the original period of the
TLA. But once you go beyond the period of the TLA, then you will be, the DENR is I think should evaluate the different proposals
of the applicants if we are thinking of a fresh period of twenty-five years, and which is renewable under the Constitution by
another twenty-five years. So the development plan will be important in this case, the submission of the development plan of the
different applicants must be considered. So I dont understand why you mentioned earlier that the development plan will later on be
a subject matter of negotiation between the IFMA grantee and the government. So it seems that it will be too late in the day to
discuss that if you have already converted the TLA into IFMA or if the government has already granted the IFMA, and then it will
later on study the development plan, whether it is viable or not, or it is sustainable or not, and whether the development plan of the
different applicants are, are, which of the development plan of the different applicants is better or more advantageous to the
government.[37]
PICOP insists that the alleged Presidential Warranty, having been signed on 29 July 1969, could not have possibly considered the
limitations yet to be imposed by future issuances, such as the 1987 Constitution. However, Section 3, Article XVIII of said
Constitution, provides:
Section 3. All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions, and other executive issuances not
inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed, or revoked.
In the recent case Sabio v. Gordon,[38] we ruled that (t)he clear import of this provision is that all existing laws, executive orders,
proclamations, letters of instructions and other executive issuances inconsistent or repugnant to the Constitution are repealed.
When a provision is susceptible of two interpretations, the one that will render them operative and effective and harmonious with
other provisions of law[39] should be adopted. As the interpretations in the assailed Decision and in Mr. Justice Tingas ponencia
are the ones that would not make the subject Presidential Warranty unconstitutional, these are what we shall adopt.
Purpose of the 1969 Document: Assurance That the Boundaries of Its Concession Area Would Not Be Altered Despite the
Provision in the TLA that the DENR Secretary Can Amend Said Boundaries
In the assailed Decision, we ruled that the 1969 Document cannot be considered a contract that would bind the government
regardless of changes in policy and the demands of public interest and social welfare. PICOP claims this conclusion did not take
into consideration that PICOP already had a valid and current TLA before the contract with warranty was signed in 1969.[40]
PICOP goes on: The TLA is a license that equips any TLA holder in the country for harvesting of timber. A TLA is signed by the
Secretary of the DANR now DENR. The Court ignored the significance of the need for another contract with the Secretary of the
DANR but this time with the approval of the President of the Republic.[41] PICOP then asks us: If PICOP/BBLCI was only an
ordinary TLA holder, why will it go through the extra step of securing another contract just to harvest timber when the same can be
served by the TLA signed only by the Secretary and not requiring the approval of the President of the Republic(?)[42]
The answer to this query is found in TLA No. 43 itself wherein, immediately after the boundary lines of TLA No. 43 were
established, the following conditions were given:
This license is granted to the said party of the second part upon the following express conditions:
I. That authority is granted hereunder to the party of the second part[43] to cut, collect or remove firewood or other minor forest
products from the area embraced in this license agreement except as hereinafter provided.
II. That the party of the first part[44] may amend or alter the description of the boundaries of the area covered by this license
agreement to conform with official surveys and that the decision of the party of the first part as to the exact location of the said
boundaries shall be final.
III. That if the party of the first part deems it necessary to establish on the ground the boundary lines of the area granted under this
license agreement, the party of the second part shall furnish to the party of the first part or its representatives as many laborers as it
needs and all the expenses to be incurred on the work including the wages of such laborers shall be paid by the party of the second
part.[45]
Thus, BBLCI needed an assurance that the boundaries of its concession area, as established in TLA No. 43, as amended, would not
be altered despite this provision. Hence, BBLCI endeavored to obtain the 1969 Document, which provides:

We confirm that your Timber License Agreement No. 43, as amended (copy of which is attached as Annex A hereof which shall
form part and parcel of this warranty) definitely establishes the boundary lines of your concession area which consists of
permanent forest lands with an aggregate area of 121,587 hectares and alienable or disposable lands with an aggregate area of
approximately 21,580 hectares.
We further confirm that your tenure over the area and exclusive right to cut, collect and remove sawtimber and pulpwood shall be
for the period ending on April 26, 1977; said period to be renewable for other 25 years subject to compliance with constitutional
and statutory requirements as well as with existing policy on timber concessions.
The peaceful and adequate enjoyment by you of your area as described and specified in your aforesaid amended Timber License
Agreement No. 43 is hereby warranted provided that pertinent laws, regulations and the terms and conditions of your license
agreement are observed.[46]
In Koa v. Court of Appeals,[47] we ruled that a warranty is a collateral undertaking and is merely part of a contract. As a collateral
undertaking, it follows the principal wherever it goes. When this was pointed out by the Solicitor General, PICOP changed its
designation of the 1969 Document from Presidential Warranty or government warranty in all its pleadings prior to our Decision, to
contract with warranty in its Motion for Reconsideration. This, however, is belied by the statements in the 29 July 1969 Document,
which refers to itself as this warranty.
Re: Allegation That There Were Mutual Contract Considerations
Had the 29 July 1969 Document been intended as a contract, it could have easily said so. More importantly, it could have clearly
defined the mutual considerations of the parties thereto. It could have also easily provided for the sanctions for the breach of the
mutual considerations specified therein. PICOP had vigorously argued that the 1969 Document was a contract because of these
mutual considerations, apparently referring to the following paragraph of the 1969 Document:
We are made to understand that your company is committed to support the first large scale integrated wood processing complex
hereinafter called: The Project) and that such support will be provided not only in the form of the supply of pulpwood and other
wood materials from your concession but also by making available funds generated out of your own operations, to supplement
PICOPs operational surces (sic) of funds and other financial arrangements made by him. In order that your company may provide
such support effectively, it is understood that you will call upon your stockholders to take such steps as may be necessary to effect
a unification of managerial, technical, economic and manpower resources between your company and PICOP.
This provision hardly evinces a contract consideration (which, in PICOPs interpretation, is in exchange for the exclusive and
perpetual tenure over 121,587 hectares of forest land and 21,580 hectares of alienable and disposable lands). As elucidated by
PICOP itself in bringing up the Investment Incentives Act which we shall discuss later, and as shown by the tenor of the 1969
Document, the latter document was more of a conferment of an incentive for BBLCIs investment rather than a contract creating
mutual obligations on the part of the government, on one hand, and BBLCI, on the other. There was no stipulation providing for
sanctions for breach if BBLCIs being committed to support the first large scale integrated wood processing complex remains a
commitment. Neither did the 1969 Document give BBLCI a period within which to pursue this commitment.
According to Article 1350 of the Civil Code, "(i)n onerous contracts the cause is understood to be, for each contracting party, the
prestation or promise of a thing or service by the other.[48] Private investments for ones businesses, while indeed eventually
beneficial to the country and deserving to be given incentives, are still principally and predominantly for the benefit of the
investors. Thus, the mutual contract considerations by both parties to this alleged contract would be both for the benefit of one of
the parties thereto, BBLCI, which is not obligated by the 1969 Document to surrender a share in its proceeds any more than it is
already required by its TLA and by the tax laws.
PICOPs argument that its investments can be considered as contract consideration derogates the rule that a license or a permit is
not a contract between the sovereignty and the licensee or permittee, and is not a property in the constitutional sense, as to which
the constitutional proscription against the impairment of contracts may extend. All licensees obviously put up investments, whether
they are as small as a tricycle unit or as big as those put up by multi-billion-peso corporations. To construe these investments as
contract considerations would be to abandon the foregoing rule, which would mean that the State would be bound to all licensees,
and lose its power to revoke or amend these licenses when public interest so dictates.
The power to issue licenses springs from the States police power, known as the most essential, insistent and least limitable of
powers, extending as it does to all the great public needs.[49] Businesses affecting the public interest, such as the operation of
public utilities and those involving the exploitation of natural resources, are mandated by law to acquire licenses. This is so in
order that the State can regulate their operations and thereby protect the public interest. Thus, while these licenses come in the
form of agreements, e.g., Timber License Agreements, they cannot be considered contracts under the non-impairment clause.[50]
PICOP found this argument lame, arguing, thus:
43. It is respectfully submitted that the aforesaid pronouncement in the Decision is an egregious and monumental error.
44. The Decision could not dismiss as preposterous the mutual covenants in the Presidential Warranty which calls for a huge
investment of Php500 million at that time in 1969 out of which Php268,440,000 raised from domestic foreign lending institution to
establish the first large scale integrated wood processing complex in the Philippines.
45. The Decision puts up a lame explanation that all licensees put up investments in pursuing their business

46. Now there are about a hundred timber licenses issued by the Government thru the DENR, but these are ordinary timber
licenses which involve the mere cutting of timber in the concession area, and nothing else. Records in the DENR shows that no
timber licensee has put up an integrated large wood processing complex in the Philippines except PICOP.[51]
PICOP thus argues on the basis of quantity, and wants us to distinguish between the investment of the tricycle driver and that of the
multi-billion corporation. However, not even billions of pesos in investment can change the fact that natural resources and,
therefore, public interest are involved in PICOPs venture, consequently necessitating the full control and supervision by the State
as mandated by the Constitution. Not even billions of pesos in investment can buy forest lands, which is practically what PICOP is
asking for by interpreting the 1969 Document as a contract giving it perpetual and exclusive possession over such lands. Among
all TLA holders in the Philippines, PICOP has, by far, the largest concession area at 143,167 hectares, a land area more than the
size of two Metro Manilas.[52] How can it not expect to also have the largest investment?
Investment Incentives Act
PICOP then claims that the contractual nature of the 1969 Document was brought about by its issuance in accordance with and
pursuant to the Investment Incentives Act. According to PICOP:
The conclusion in the Decision that to construe PICOPs investments as a consideration in a contract would be to stealthily render
ineffective the principle that a license is not a contract between the sovereignty and the licensee is so flawed since the contract with
the warranty dated 29 July 1969 was issued by the Government in accordance with and pursuant to Republic Act No. 5186,
otherwise known as The Investment Incentives Act.[53]
PICOP then proceeds to cite Sections 2 and 4(d) and (e) of said act:
Section 2. Declaration of Policy To accelerate the sound development of the national economy in consonance with the principles
and objectives of economic nationalism, and in pursuance of a planned, economically feasible and practicable dispersal of
industries, under conditions which will encourage competition and discharge monopolies, it is hereby declared to be the policy of
the state to encourage Filipino and foreign investments, as hereinafter set out, in projects to develop agricultural, mining and
manufacturing industries which increase national income most at the least cost, increase exports, bring about greater economic
stability, provide more opportunities for employment, raise the standards of living of the people, and provide for an equitable
distribution of wealth. It is further declared to be the policy of the state to welcome and encourage foreign capital to establish
pioneer enterprises that are capital intensive and would utilize a substantial amount of domestic raw materials, in joint venture with
substantial Filipino capital, whenever available.
Section 4. Basic Rights and Guarantees. All investors and enterprises are entitled to the basic rights and guarantees provided in the
constitution. Among other rights recognized by the Government of the Philippines are the following:
xxxx
d) Freedom from Expropriation. There shall be no expropriation by the government of the property represented by investments or
of the property of enterprises except for public use or in the interest of national welfare and defense and upon payment of just
compensation. x x x.
e) Requisition of Investment. There shall be no requisition of the property represented by the investment or of the property of
enterprises, except in the event of war or national emergency and only for the duration thereof. Just compensation shall be
determined and paid either at the time of requisition or immediately after cessation of the state of war or national emergency.
Payments received as compensation for the requisitioned property may be remitted in the currency in which the investment was
originally made and at the exchange rate prevailing at the time of remittance, subject to the provisions of Section seventy-four of
republic Act Numbered Two hundred sixty-five.
Section 2 speaks of the policy of the State to encourage Filipino and foreign investments. It does not speak of how this policy can
be implemented. Implementation of this policy is tackled in Sections 5 to 12 of the same law,[54] which PICOP failed to mention,
and for a good reason. None of the 24 incentives enumerated therein relates to, or even remotely suggests that, PICOPs proposition
that the 1969 Document is a contract.
PICOP could indeed argue that the enumeration is not exclusive. Certainly, granting incentives to investors, whether included in
the enumeration or not, would be an implementation of this policy. However, it is presumed that whatever incentives may be given
to investors should be within the bounds of the laws and the Constitution. The declaration of policy in Section 2 cannot, by any
stretch of the imagination, be read to provide an exception to either the laws or, heaven forbid, the Constitution. Exceptions are
never presumed and should be convincingly proven. Section 2 of the Investment Incentives Act cannot be read as exempting
investors from the Constitutional provisions (1) prohibiting private ownership of forest lands; (2) providing for the complete
control and supervision by the State of exploitation activities; or (3) limiting exploitation agreements to twenty-five years,
renewable for another twenty-five years.
Section 4(d) and (e), on the other hand, is a recognition of rights already guaranteed under the Constitution. Freedom from
expropriation is granted under Section 9 of Article III[55] of the Constitution, while the provision on requisition is a negative
restatement of Section 6, Article XII.[56]
Refusal to grant perpetual and exclusive possession to PICOP of its concession area would not result in the expropriation or
requisition of PICOPs property, as these forest lands belong to the State, and not to PICOP. This is not changed by PICOPs
allegation that:

Since it takes 35 years before the company can go back and harvest their residuals in a logged-over area, it must be assured of
tenure in order to provide an inducement for the company to manage and preserve the residuals during their growth period. This is
a commitment of resources over a span of 35 years for each plot for each cycle. No company will undertake the responsibility and
cost involved in policing, preserving and managing residual forest areas until it were sure that it had firm title to the timber.[57]
The requirement for logging companies to preserve and maintain forest areas, including the reforestation thereof, is one of the
prices a logging company must pay for the exploitation thereof. Forest lands are meant to be enjoyed by countless future
generations of Filipinos, and not just by one logging company. The requirements of reforestation and preservation of the
concession areas are meant to protect them, the future generations, and not PICOP. Reforestation and preservation of the
concession areas are not required of logging companies so that they would have something to cut again, but so that the forest
would remain intact after their operations. That PICOP would not accept the responsibility to preserve its concession area if it is
not assured of tenure thereto does not speak well of its corporate policies.
Conclusion
In sum, PICOP was not able to prove either of the two things it needed to prove to be entitled to a Writ of Mandamus against the
DENR Secretary. The 1969 Document is not a contract recognized under the non-impairment clause and, even if we assume for the
sake of argument that it is, it did not enjoin the government to issue an IFMA in 2002 either. These are the essential elements in
PICOPs cause of action, and the failure to prove the same warrants a dismissal of PICOPs Petition for Mandamus, as not even
PICOPs compliance with all the administrative and statutory requirements can save its Petition now.
Whether PICOP Has Complied with the Statutory and Administrative Requirements for the Conversion of the TLA to an IFMA
In the assailed Decision, our ruling was based on two distinct grounds, each one being sufficient in itself for us to rule that PICOP
was not entitled to a Writ of Mandamus: (1) the 1969 Document, on which PICOP hinges its right to compel the issuance of an
IFMA, is not a contract; and (2) PICOP has not complied with all administrative and statutory requirements for the issuance of an
IFMA.
When a court bases its decision on two or more grounds, each is as authoritative as the other and neither is obiter dictum.[58]
Thus, both grounds on which we based our ruling in the assailed Decision would become judicial dictum, and would affect the
rights and interests of the parties to this case unless corrected in this Resolution on PICOPs Motion for Reconsideration. Therefore,
although PICOP would not be entitled to a Writ of Mandamus even if the second issue is resolved in its favor, we should
nonetheless resolve the same and determine whether PICOP has indeed complied with all administrative and statutory
requirements for the issuance of an IFMA.
While the first issue (on the nature of the 1969 Document) is entirely legal, this second issue (on PICOPs compliance with
administrative and statutory requirements for the issuance of an IFMA) has both legal and factual sub-issues. Legal sub-issues
include whether PICOP is legally required to (1) consult with and acquire an approval from the Sanggunian concerned under
Sections 26 and 27 of the Local Government Code; and (2) acquire a Certification from the National Commission on Indigenous
Peoples (NCIP) that the concession area does not overlap with any ancestral domain. Factual sub-issues include whether, at the
time it filed its Petition for Mandamus, PICOP had submitted the required Five-Year Forest Protection Plan and Seven-Year
Reforestation Plan and whether PICOP had paid all forest charges.
For the factual sub-issues, PICOP invokes the doctrine that factual findings of the trial court, especially when upheld by the Court
of Appeals, deserve great weight. However, deserving of even greater weight are the factual findings of administrative agencies
that have the expertise in the area of concern. The contentious facts in this case relate to the licensing, regulation and management
of forest resources, the determination of which belongs exclusively to the DENR:
SECTION 4. Mandate. The Department shall be the primary government agency responsible for the conservation, management,
development and proper use of the countrys environment and natural resources, specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral
resources, including those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of the public domain, as well as the licensing and
regulation of all natural resources as may be provided for by law in order to ensure equitable sharing of the benefits derived
therefrom for the welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos.[59]
When parties file a Petition for Certiorari against judgments of administrative agencies tasked with overseeing the implementation
of laws, the findings of such administrative agencies are entitled to great weight. In the case at bar, PICOP could not have filed a
Petition for Certiorari, as the DENR Secretary had not yet even determined whether PICOP should be issued an IFMA. As
previously mentioned, when PICOPs application was brought to a standstill upon the evaluation that PICOP had yet to comply
with the requirements for the issuance of an IFMA, PICOP refused to attend further meetings with the DENR and instead filed a
Petition for Mandamus against the latter. By jumping the gun, PICOP did not diminish the weight of the DENR Secretarys initial
determination.
Forest Protection and Reforestation Plans
The Performance Evaluation Team tasked to appraise PICOPs performance on its TLA No. 43 found that PICOP had not submitted
its Five-Year Forest Protection Plan and its Seven-Year Reforestation Plan.[60]
In its Motion for Reconsideration, PICOP asserts that, in its Letter of Intent dated 28 August 2000 and marked as Exhibit L in the
trial court, there was a reference to a Ten-Year Sustainable Forest Management Plan (SFMP), in which a Five-Year Forest
Protection Plan and a Seven-Year Reforestation Plan were allegedly incorporated. PICOP submitted a machine copy of a certified
photocopy of pages 50-67 and 104-110 of this SFMP in its Motion for Reconsideration. PICOP claims that the existence of this
SFMP was repeatedly asserted during the IFMA application process.[61]

Upon examination of the portions of the SFMP submitted to us, we cannot help but notice that PICOPs concept of forest protection
is the security of the area against illegal entrants and settlers. There is no mention of the protection of the wildlife therein, as the
focus of the discussion of the silvicultural treatments and the SFMP itself is on the protection and generation of future timber
harvests. We are particularly disturbed by the portions stating that trees of undesirable quality shall be removed.
However, when we required the DENR Secretary to comment on PICOPs Motion for Reconsideration, the DENR Secretary did
not dispute the existence of this SFMP, or question PICOPs assertion that a Ten-Year Forest Protection Plan and a Ten-Year
Reforestation Plan are already incorporated therein. Hence, since the agency tasked to determine compliance with IFMA
administrative requirements chose to remain silent in the face of allegations of compliance, we are constrained to withdraw our
pronouncement in the assailed Decision that PICOP had not submitted a Five-Year Forest Protection Plan and a Seven-Year
Reforestation Plan for its TLA No. 43. As previously mentioned, the licensing, regulation and management of forest resources are
the primary responsibilities of the DENR.[62]
The compliance discussed above is, of course, only for the purpose of determining PICOPs satisfactory performance as a TLA
holder, and covers a period within the subsistence of PICOPs TLA No. 43. This determination, therefore, cannot prohibit the
DENR from requiring PICOP, in the future, to submit proper forest protection and reforestation plans covering the period of the
proposed IFMA.
Forest Charges
In determining that PICOP did not have unpaid forest charges, the Court of Appeals relied on the assumption that if it were true
that PICOP had unpaid forest charges, it should not have been issued an approved Integrated Annual Operation Plan (IAOP) for
the year 2001-2002 by Secretary Alvarez himself.[63]
In the assailed Decision, we held that the Court of Appeals had been selective in its evaluation of the IAOP, as it disregarded the
part thereof that shows that the IAOP was approved subject to several conditions, not the least of which was the submission of
proof of the updated payment of forest charges from April 2001 to June 2001.[64] We also held that even if we considered for the
sake of argument that the IAOP should not have been issued if PICOP had existing forestry accounts, the issuance of the IAOP
could not be considered proof that PICOP had paid the same. Firstly, the best evidence of payment is the receipt thereof. PICOP
has not presented any evidence that such receipts were lost or destroyed or could not be produced in court.[65] Secondly, the
government cannot be estopped by the acts of its officers. If PICOP has been issued an IAOP in violation of the law, allegedly
because it may not be issued if PICOP had existing forestry accounts, the government cannot be estopped from collecting such
amounts and providing the necessary sanctions therefor, including the withholding of the IFMA until such amounts are paid.
We therefore found that, as opposed to the Court of Appeals findings, which were based merely on estoppel of government
officers, the positive and categorical evidence presented by the DENR Secretary was more convincing with respect to the issue of
payment of forestry charges:
1.
Forest Management Bureau (FMB) Senior Forest Management Specialist (SFMS) Ignacio M. Evangelista testified that
PICOP had failed to pay its regular forest charges covering the period from 22 September 2001 to 26 April 2002 in the total
amount of P15,056,054.05[66] PICOP also allegedly paid late most of its forest charges from 1996 onwards, by reason of which,
PICOP is liable for a surcharge of 25% per annum on the tax due and interest of 20% per annum which now amounts to
P150,169,485.02.[67] Likewise, PICOP allegedly had overdue and unpaid silvicultural fees in the amount of P2,366,901.00 as of
30 August 2002.[68] Summing up the testimony, therefore, it was alleged that PICOP had unpaid and overdue forest charges in the
sum of P167,592,440.90 as of 10 August 2002.[69]
2.
Collection letters were sent to PICOP, but no official receipts are extant in the DENR record in Bislig City evidencing
payment of the overdue amount stated in the said collection letters.[70] There were no official receipts for the period covering 22
September 2001 to 26 April 2002.
We also considered these pieces of evidence more convincing than the other ones presented by PICOP:
1.
PICOP presented the certification of Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Officer Philip A.
Calunsag, which refers only to PICOPs alleged payment of regular forest charges covering the period from 14 September 2001 to
15 May 2002.[71] We noted that it does not mention similar payment of the penalties, surcharges and interests that PICOP incurred
in paying late several forest charges, which fact was not rebutted by PICOP.
2.
The 27 May 2002 Certification by CENRO Calunsag specified only the period covering 14 September 2001 to 15 May
2002 and the amount of P53,603,719.85 paid by PICOP without indicating the corresponding volume and date of production of the
logs. This is in contrast to the findings of SFMS Evangelista, which cover the period from CY 1996 to 30 August 2002 and
includes penalties, interests, and surcharges for late payment pursuant to DAO 80, series of 1987.
3.
The 21 August 2002 PICOP-requested certification issued by Bill Collector Amelia D. Arayan, and attested to by CENRO
Calunsag himself, shows that PICOP paid only regular forest charges for its log production covering 1 July 2001 to 21 September
2001. However, there were log productions after 21 September 2001, the regular forest charges for which have not been paid,
amounting to P15,056,054.05.[72] The same certification shows delayed payment of forest charges, thereby corroborating the
testimony of SFMS Evangelista and substantiating the imposition of penalties and surcharges.
In its Motion for Reconsideration, PICOP claims that SFMS Evangelista is assigned to an office that has nothing to do with the
collection of forest charges, and that he based his testimony on the Memoranda of Forest Management Specialist II (FMS II)
Teofila Orlanes and DENR, Bislig City Bill Collector Amelia D. Arayan, neither of whom was presented to testify on his or her

Memorandum. PICOP also submitted an Addendum to Motion for Reconsideration, wherein it appended certified true copies of
CENRO Summaries with attached Official Receipts tending to show that PICOP had paid a total of P81,184,747.70 in forest
charges for 10 January 2001 to 20 December 2002, including the period during which SFMS Evangelista claims PICOP did not
pay forest charges (22 September 2001 to 26 April 2002).
Before proceeding any further, it is necessary for us to point out that, as with our ruling on the forest protection and reforestation
plans, this determination of compliance with the payment of forest charges is exclusively for the purpose of determining PICOPs
satisfactory performance on its TLA No. 43. This cannot bind either party in a possible collection case that may ensue.
An evaluation of the DENR Secretarys position on this matter shows a heavy reliance on the testimony of SFMS Evangelista,
making it imperative for us to strictly scrutinize the same with respect to its contents and admissibility.
PICOP claims that SFMS Evangelistas office has nothing to do with the collection of forest charges. According to PICOP, the
entity having administrative jurisdiction over it is CENRO, Bislig City by virtue of DENR Administrative Order No. 96-36, dated
20 November 1996, which states:
1. In order for the DENR to be able to exercise closer and more effective supervision, management and control over the forest
resources within the areas covered by TLA No. 43, PTLA No. 47 and IFMA No. 35 of the PICOP Resources, Inc., (PRI) and, at the
same time, provide greater facility in the delivery of DENR services to various publics, the aforesaid forest holdings of PRI are
hereby placed under the exclusive jurisdiction of DENR Region No. XIII with the CENR Office at Bislig, Surigao del Sur, as
directly responsible thereto. x x x.

We disagree. Evangelista is an SFMS assigned at the Natural Forest Management Division of the FMB, DENR. In Evangelistas
aforementioned affidavit submitted as part of his direct examination, Evangelista enumerated his duties and functions as SFMS:
1. As SFMS, I have the following duties and functions:
a) To evaluate and act on cases pertaining to forest management referred to in the Natural forest Management Division;
b) To monitor, verify and validate forest management and related activities by timber licences as to their compliance to
approved plans and programs;
c) To conduct investigation and verification of compliance by timber licenses/permittees to existing DENR rules and
regulations;
d) To gather field data and information to be used in the formulation of forest policies and regulations; and
e) To perform other duties and responsibilities as may be directed by superiors.[73]

PICOP also alleges that the testimony of SFMS Evangelista was based on the aforementioned Memoranda of Orlanes and Arayan
and that, since neither Orlanes nor Arayan was presented as a witness, SFMS Evangelistas testimony should be deemed hearsay.
SFMS Evangelistas 1 October 2002 Affidavit,[74] which was offered as part of his testimony, provides:
2. Sometime in September, 2001 the DENR Secretary was furnished a copy of forest Management Specialist II (FMS II) Teofila L.
Orlanes Memorandum dated September 24, 2001 concerning unopaid forest charges of PICOP. Attached to the said Memorandum
was a Memorandum dated September 19, 2001 of Amelia D. Arayan, Bill collector of the DENR R13-14, Bislig City. Copies of
the said Memoranda are attached as Annexes 1 and 2, respectively.
3. The said Memoranda were referred to the FMB Director for appropriate action.
4. Thus, on August 5, 2002, I was directed by the FMB Director to proceed to Region 13 to gather forestry-related data and
validate the report contained in the Memoranda of Ms. Orlanes and Arayan.
5. On August 6, 2002, I proceeded to DENR Region 13 in Bislig City. A copy of my Travel Order is attached as Annex 3.
6. Upon my arrival at CENRO, Bislig, surigao del Sur, I coordinated with CENRO Officer Philip A. Calunsag and requested him
to make available to me the records regarding the forest products assessments of PICOP.
7. After I was provided with the requested records, I evaluated and collected the data.
8. After the evaluation, I found that the unpaid forest charges adverted to in the Memoranda of Mr. Orlanes and Arayan covering
the period from May 8, 2001 to July 7, 2001 had already been paid but late. I further found out that PICOP had not paid its forest
charges covering the period from September 22, 2001 to April 26, 2002 in the total amount of P15,056,054.05.
9. I also discovered that from 1996 up to august 30, 2002, PICOP paid late some of its forest charges in 1996 and consistently
failed to pay late its forest charges from 1997 up to the present time.
10. Under Section 7.4 of DAO No. 80 Series of 197\87 and Paragraph (4a), Section 10 of BIR revenue Regulations No. 2-81 dated
November 18, 1980, PICOP is mandated to pay a surcharge of 25% per annum of the tax due and interest of 20% per annum for
late payment of forest charges.
11. The overdue unpaid forest charges of PICOP as shown in the attached tabulation marked as Annex 4 hereof is
P150,169,485.02. Likewise, PICOP has overdue and unpaid silvicultural fees in the amount of P2,366,901.00 from 1996 to the
present.

12. In all, PICOP has an outstanding and overdue total obligation of P167,592,440.90 as of August 30, 2002 based on the attached
tabulation which is marked as Annex 5 hereof.[75]

Clearly, SFMS Evangelista had not relied on the Memoranda of Orlanes and Arayan. On the contrary, he traveled to Surigao del
Sur in order to verify the contents of these Memoranda. SFMS Evangelista, in fact, revised the findings therein, as he discovered
that certain forest charges adverted to as unpaid had already been paid.
This does not mean, however, that SFMS Evangelistas testimony was not hearsay. A witness may testify only on facts of which he
has personal knowledge; that is, those derived from his perception, except in certain circumstances allowed by the Rules.[76]
Otherwise, such testimony is considered hearsay and, hence, inadmissible in evidence.[77]
SFMS Evangelista, while not relying on the Memoranda of Orlanes and Arayan, nevertheless relied on records, the preparation of
which he did not participate in.[78] These records and the persons who prepared them were not presented in court, either. As such,
SFMS Evangelistas testimony, insofar as he relied on these records, was on matters not derived from his own perception, and was,
therefore, hearsay.
Section 44, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, which speaks of entries in official records as an exception to the hearsay rule, cannot
excuse the testimony of SFMS Evangelista. Section 44 provides:
SEC. 44. Entries in official records. Entries in official records made in the performance of his duty by a public officer of the
Philippines, or by a person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law, are prima facie evidence of the facts therein
stated.

In Africa v. Caltex,[79] we enumerated the following requisites for the admission of entries in official records as an exception to
the hearsay rule: (1) the entries were made by a public officer or a private person in the performance of a duty; (2) the performance
of the duty is especially enjoined by law; (3) the public officer or the private person had sufficient knowledge of the facts stated by
him, which must have been acquired by him personally or through official information.
The presentation of the records themselves would, therefore, have been admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule even if the
public officer/s who prepared them was/were not presented in court, provided the above requisites could be adequately proven. In
the case at bar, however, neither the records nor the persons who prepared them were presented in court. Thus, the above requisites
cannot be sufficiently proven. Also, since SFMS Evangelista merely testified based on what those records contained, his testimony
was hearsay evidence twice removed, which was one step too many to be covered by the official-records exception to the hearsay
rule.
SFMS Evangelistas testimony of nonpayment of forest charges was, furthermore, based on his failure to find official receipts
corresponding to billings sent to PICOP. As stated above, PICOP attached official receipts in its Addendum to Motion for
Reconsideration to this Court. While this course of action is normally irregular in judicial proceedings, we merely stated in the
assailed Decision that the DENR Secretary has adequately proven that PICOP has, at this time, failed to comply with
administrative and statutory requirements for the conversion of TLA No. 43 into an IFMA,[80] and that this disposition confers
another chance to comply with the foregoing requirements.[81]
In view of the foregoing, we withdraw our pronouncement that PICOP has unpaid forestry charges, at least for the purpose of
determining compliance with the IFMA requirements.
NCIP Certification
The Court of Appeals held that PICOP need not comply with Section 59 of Republic Act No. 8371, which requires prior
certification from the NCIP that the areas affected do not overlap with any ancestral domain before any IFMA can be entered into
by the government. According to the Court of Appeals, Section 59 should be interpreted to refer to ancestral domains that have
been duly established as such by the continuous possession and occupation of the area concerned by indigenous peoples since time
immemorial up to the present. The Court of Appeals held that PICOP had acquired property rights over TLA No. 43 areas, being in
exclusive, continuous and uninterrupted possession and occupation of these areas since 1952 up to the present.
In the assailed Decision, we reversed the findings of the Court of Appeals. Firstly, the Court of Appeals ruling defies the settled
jurisprudence we have mentioned earlier, that a TLA is neither a property nor a property right, and that it does not create a vested
right.[82]
Secondly, the Court of Appeals resort to statutory construction is misplaced, as Section 59 of Republic Act No. 8379 is clear and
unambiguous:
SEC. 59. Certification Precondition. All departments and other governmental agencies shall henceforth be strictly enjoined from
issuing, renewing or granting any concession, license or lease, or entering into any production-sharing agreement, without prior
certification from the NCIP that the area affected does not overlap with any ancestral domain. Such certification shall only be
issued after a field-based investigation is conducted by the Ancestral Domains Office of the area concerned: Provided, That no
certification shall be issued by the NCIP without the free and prior informed and written consent of the ICCs/IPs concerned:
Provided, further, That no department, government agency or government-owned or controlled corporation may issue new
concession, license, lease, or production sharing agreement while there is a pending application for a CADT: Provided, finally,

That the ICCs/IPs shall have the right to stop or suspend, in accordance with this Act, any project that has not satisfied the
requirement of this consultation process.

PICOP had tried to put a cloud of ambiguity over Section 59 of Republic Act No. 8371 by invoking the definition of Ancestral
Domains in Section 3(a) thereof, wherein the possesssion by Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs)
must have been continuous to the present. However, we noted the exception found in the very same sentence invoked by PICOP:
a) Ancestral domains Subject to Section 56 hereof, refers to all areas generally belonging to ICCs/IPs comprising lands, inland
waters, coastal areas, and natural resources therein, held under a claim of ownership, occupied or possessed by ICCs/IPs, by
themselves or through their ancestors, communally or individually since time immemorial, continuously to the present except
when interrupted by war, force majeure or displacement by force, deceit, stealth or as a consequence of government projects or any
other voluntary dealings entered into by government and private individuals/corporations, and which are necessary to ensure their
economic, social and cultural welfare. It shall include ancestral lands, forests, pasture, residential, agricultural, and other lands
individually owned whether alienable and disposable or otherwise, hunting grounds, burial grounds, worship areas, bodies of
water, mineral and other natural resources, and lands which may no longer be exclusively occupied by ICCs/IPs but from which
they traditionally had access to for their subsistence and traditional activities, particularly the home ranges of ICCs/IPs who are
still nomadic and/or shifting cultivators;

Ancestral domains, therefore, remain as such even when possession or occupation of these areas has been interrupted by causes
provided under the law, such as voluntary dealings entered into by the government and private individuals/corporations.
Consequently, the issuance of TLA No. 43 in 1952 did not cause the ICCs/IPs to lose their possession or occupation over the area
covered by TLA No. 43.
Thirdly, we held that it was manifestly absurd to claim that the subject lands must first be proven to be part of ancestral domains
before a certification that the lands are not part of ancestral domains can be required, and invoked the separate opinion of now
Chief Justice Reynato Puno in Cruz v. Secretary of DENR[83]:
As its subtitle suggests, [Section 59 of R.A. No. 8371] requires as a precondition for the issuance of any concession, license or
agreement over natural resources, that a certification be issued by the NCIP that the area subject of the agreement does not lie
within any ancestral domain. The provision does not vest the NCIP with power over the other agencies of the State as to determine
whether to grant or deny any concession or license or agreement. It merely gives the NCIP the authority to ensure that the ICCs/IPs
have been informed of the agreement and that their consent thereto has been obtained. Note that the certification applies to
agreements over natural resources that do not necessarily lie within the ancestral domains. For those that are found within the said
domains, Sections 7(b) and 57 of the IPRA apply.

PICOP rejects the entire disposition of this Court on the matter, relying on the following theory:
84. It is quite clear that Section 59 of R.A. 8371 does not apply to the automatic conversion of TLA 43 to IFMA.
First, the automatic conversion of TLA 43 to an IFMA is not a new project. It is a mere continuation of the harvesting process in an
area that PICOP had been managing, conserving and reforesting for the last 50 years since 1952. Hence any pending application
for a CADT within the area, cannot affect much less hold back the automatic conversion. That the government now wishes to
change the tenurial system to an IFMA could not change the PICOP project, in existence and operating for the last 30 (sic) years,
into a new one.[84]

PICOPs position is anything but clear. What is clearly provided for in Section 59 is that it covers issuing, renewing or granting (of)
any concession, license or lease, or entering into any production sharing agreement. PICOP is implying that, when the government
changed the tenurial system to an IFMA, PICOPs existing TLA would just be upgraded or modified, but would be the very same
agreement, hence, dodging the inclusion in the word renewing. However, PICOP is conveniently leaving out the fact that its TLA
expired in 2002. If PICOP really intends to pursue the argument that the conversion of the TLA into an IFMA would not create a
new agreement, but would only be a modification of the old one, then it should be willing to concede that the IFMA expired as
well in 2002. An automatic modification would not alter the terms and conditions of the TLA except when they are inconsistent
with the terms and conditions of an IFMA. Consequently, PICOPs concession period under the renewed TLA No. 43, which is
from the year 1977 to 2002, would remain the same.
PICOP cannot rely on a theory of the case whenever such theory is beneficial to it, but refute the same whenever the theory is
damaging to it. In the same way, PICOP cannot claim that the alleged Presidential Warranty is renewable for other 25 years and
later on claim that what it is asking for is not a renewal. Extensions of agreements must necessarily be included in the term
renewal. Otherwise, the inclusion of renewing in Section 59 would be rendered inoperative.
PICOP further claims:
85. Verily, in interpreting the term held under claim of ownership, the Supreme Court could not have meant to include claims that
had just been filed and not yet recognized under the provisions of DENR Administrative Order No. 2 Series of 1993, nor to any
other community / ancestral domain program prior to R.A. 8371.
xxxx

87. One can not imagine the terrible damage and chaos to the country, its economy, its people and its future if a mere claim filed
for the issuance of a CADC or CADT will already provide those who filed the application, the authority or right to stop the
renewal or issuance of any concession, license or lease or any production-sharing agreement. The same interpretation will give
such applicants through a mere application the right to stop or suspend any project that they can cite for not satisfying the
requirements of the consultation process of R.A. 8371. If such interpretation gets enshrined in the statures of the land, the
unscrupulous and the extortionists can put any ongoing or future project or activity to a stop in any part of the country citing their
right from having filed an application for issuance of a CADC or CADT claim and the legal doctrine established by the Supreme
Court in this PICOP case.[85]

We are not sure whether PICOPs counsels are deliberately trying to mislead us, or are just plainly ignorant of basic precepts of law.
The term claim in the phrase claim of ownership is not a document of any sort. It is an attitude towards something. The phrase
claim of ownership means the possession of a piece of property with the intention of claiming it in hostility to the true owner.[86]
It is also defined as a partys manifest intention to take over land, regardless of title or right.[87] Other than in Republic Act No.
8371, the phrase claim of ownership is thoroughly discussed in issues relating to acquisitive prescription in Civil Law.
Before PICOPs counsels could attribute to us an assertion that a mere attitude or intention would stop the renewal or issuance of
any concession, license or lease or any production-sharing agreement, we should stress beforehand that this attitude or intention
must be clearly shown by overt acts and, as required by Section 3(a), should have been in existence since time immemorial,
continuously to the present except when interrupted by war, force majeure or displacement by force, deceit, stealth or as a
consequence of government projects or any other voluntary dealings entered into by government and private
individuals/corporations.
Another argument of PICOP involves the claim itself that there was no overlapping:
Second, there could be no overlapping with any Ancestral Domain as proven by the evidence presented and testimonies rendered
during the hearings in the Regional Trial Court. x x x.
x x x x.
88. The DENR issued a total of 73 CADCs as of December 11, 1996. The DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations had
recommended another 11 applications for issuance of CADCs. None of the CADCs overlap the TLA 43 area.
89. However former DENR Secretary Alvarez, in a memorandum dated 13 September, 2002 addressed to PGMA, insisted that
PICOP had to comply with the requirement to secure a Free and Prior Informed Concent because CADC 095 was issued covering
17,112 hectares of TLA 43.
90. This CADC 095 is a fake CADC and was not validly released by the DENR. While the Legal Department of the DENR was
still in the process of receiving the filings for applicants and the oppositors to the CADC application, PICOP came across filed
copies of a CADC 095 with the PENRO of Davao Oriental as part of their application for a Community Based Forest Management
Agreement (CBFMA). Further research came across the same group filing copies of the alleged CADC 095 with the Mines and
Geosciences Bureau in Davao City for a mining agreement application. The two applications had two different versions of the
CADCs second page. One had Mr. Romeo T. Acosta signing as the Social reform Agenda Technical Action Officer, while the other
had him signing as the Head, Community-Based Forest Management Office. One had the word Eight crossed out and Seven
written to make it appear that the CADC was issued on September 25, 1997, the other made it appear that there were no alterations
and the date was supposed to be originally 25 September 1997.

What is required in Section 59 of Republic Act No. 8379 is a Certification from the NCIP that there was no overlapping with any
Ancestral Domain. PICOP cannot claim that the DENR gravely abused its discretion for requiring this Certification, on the ground
that there was no overlapping. We reiterate that it is manifestly absurd to claim that the subject lands must first be proven to be part
of ancestral domains before a certification that they are not can be required. As discussed in the assailed Decision, PICOP did not
even seek any certification from the NCIP that the area covered by TLA No. 43, subject of its IFMA conversion, did not overlap
with any ancestral domain.[88]
Sanggunian Consultation and Approval
While PICOP did not seek any certification from the NCIP that the formers concession area did not overlap with any ancestral
domain, PICOP initially sought to comply with the requirement under Sections 26 and 27 of the Local Government Code to
procure prior approval of the Sanggunians concerned. However, only one of the many provinces affected approved the issuance of
an IFMA to PICOP. Undaunted, PICOP nevertheless submitted to the DENR the purported resolution[89] of the Province of
Surigao del Sur indorsing the approval of PICOPs application for IFMA conversion, apparently hoping either that the disapproval
of the other provinces would go unnoticed, or that the Surigao del Sur approval would be treated as sufficient compliance.
Surprisingly, the disapproval by the other provinces did go unnoticed before the RTC and the Court of Appeals, despite the
repeated assertions thereof by the Solicitor General. When we pointed out in the assailed Decision that the approval must be by all
the Sanggunians concerned and not by only one of them, PICOP changed its theory of the case in its Motion for Reconsideration,
this time claiming that they are not required at all to procure Sanggunian approval.
Sections 2(c), 26 and 27 of the Local Government Code provide:
SEC. 2. x x x.

xxxx
(c) It is likewise the policy of the State to require all national agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with
appropriate local government units, nongovernmental and peoples organizations, and other concerned sectors of the community
before any project or program is implemented in their respective jurisdictions.

SEC. 26. Duty of National Government Agencies in the Maintenance of Ecological Balance. It shall be the duty of every national
agency or government-owned or controlled corporation authorizing or involved in the planning and implementation of any project
or program that may cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of crop land, rangeland, or forest
cover, and extinction of animal or plant species, to consult with the local government units, nongovernmental organizations, and
other sectors concerned and explain the goals and objectives of the project or program, its impact upon the people and the
community in terms of environmental or ecological balance, and the measures that will be undertaken to prevent or minimize the
adverse effects thereof.
SEC. 27. Prior Consultations Required. No project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless the
consultations mentioned in Sections 2(c) and 26 hereof are complied with, and prior approval of the sanggunian concerned is
obtained: Provided, That occupants in areas where such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate
relocation sites have been provided, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

As stated in the assailed Decision, the common evidence of the DENR Secretary and PICOP, namely, the 31 July 2001
Memorandum of Regional Executive Director (RED) Elias D. Seraspi, Jr., enumerated the local government units and other groups
which had expressed their opposition to PICOPs application for IFMA conversion:
7. During the conduct of the performance evaluation of TLA No. 43 issues complaints against PRI were submitted thru Resolutions
and letters. It is important that these are included in this report for assessment of what are their worth, viz:
xxxx
7.2 Joint Resolution (unnumbered), dated March 19, 2001 of the Barangay Council and Barangay Tribal Council of Simulao,
Boston, Davao Oriental (ANNEX F) opposing the conversion of TLA No. 43 into IFMA over the 17,112 hectares allegedly
covered with CADC No. 095.
7.3
Resolution Nos. 10, s-2001 and 05, s-2001 (ANNEXES G & H) of the Bunawan Tribal Council of Elders (BBMTCE)
strongly demanding none renewal of PICOP TLA. They claim to be the rightful owner of the area it being their alleged ancestral
land.
7.4
Resolution No. 4, S-2001 of Sitio Linao, San Jose, Bislig City (ANNEX I) requesting not to renew TLA 43 over the 900
hectares occupied by them.
7.5
Resolution No. 22, S-2001 (ANNEX J) of the Sanguniang Bayan, Lingig, Surigao del Sur not to grant the conversion of
TLA 43 citing the plight of former employees of PRI who were forced to enter and farm portion of TLA No. 43, after they were
laid off.
7.6
SP Resolution No. 2001-113 and CDC Resolution Nos. 09-2001 of the Sanguniang Panglungsod of Bislig City
(ANNEXES K & L) requesting to exclude the area of TLA No. 43 for watershed purposes.
7.7
Resolution No. 2001-164, dated June 01, 2001 (ANNEX M) Sanguniang Panglungsod of Bislig City opposing the
conversion of TLA 43 to IFMA for the reason that IFMA do not give revenue benefits to the City.[90]

PICOP had claimed that it complied with the Local Government Code requirement of obtaining prior approval of the Sanggunian
concerned by submitting a purported resolution[91] of the Province of Surigao del Sur indorsing the approval of PICOPs
application for IFMA conversion. We ruled that this cannot be deemed sufficient compliance with the foregoing provision. Surigao
del Sur is not the only province affected by the area covered by the proposed IFMA. As even the Court of Appeals found, PICOPs
TLA No. 43 traverses the length and breadth not only of Surigao del Sur but also of Agusan del Sur, Compostela Valley and Davao
Oriental.[92]
On Motion for Reconsideration, PICOP now argues that the requirement under Sections 26 and 27 does not apply to it:
97. PICOP is not a national agency. Neither is PICOP government owned or controlled. Thus Section 26 does not apply to PICOP.
98. It is very clear that Section 27 refers to projects or programs to be implemented by government authorities or governmentowned and controlled corporations. PICOPs project or the automatic conversion is a purely private endevour. First the PICOP
project has been implemented since 1969. Second, the project was being implemented by private investors and financial
institutions.
99. The primary government participation is to warrant and ensure that the PICOP project shall have peaceful tenure in the
permanent forest allocated to provide raw materials for the project. To rule now that a project whose foundations were commenced

as early as 1969 shall now be subjected to a 1991 law is to apply the law retrospectively in violation of Article 4 of the Civil Code
that laws shall not be applied retroactively.
100. In addition, under DAO 30, Series of 1992, TLA and IFMA operations were not among those devolved function from the
National Government / DENR to the local government unit. Under its Section 03, the devolved function cover only:
a)
b)
c)

Community Based forestry projects.


Communal forests of less than 5000 hectares
Small watershed areas which are sources of local water supply.[93]

We have to remind PICOP again of the contents of Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution:
Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy,
fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of
agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural
resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may
enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at
least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five
years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of
water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may
be the measure and limit of the grant.

All projects relating to the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources are projects of the State. While the State
may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or
associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by these citizens, such as PICOP, the projects nevertheless remain
as State projects and can never be purely private endeavors.
Also, despite entering into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements, the State remains in full control and
supervision over such projects. PICOP, thus, cannot limit government participation in the project to being merely its bouncer,
whose primary participation is only to warrant and ensure that the PICOP project shall have peaceful tenure in the permanent
forest allocated to provide raw materials for the project.
PICOP is indeed neither a national agency nor a government-owned or controlled corporation. The DENR, however, is a national
agency and is the national agency prohibited by Section 27 from issuing an IFMA without the prior approval of the Sanggunian
concerned. As previously discussed, PICOPs Petition for Mandamus can only be granted if the DENR Secretary is required by law
to issue an IFMA. We, however, see here the exact opposite: the DENR Secretary was actually prohibited by law from issuing an
IFMA, as there had been no prior approval by all the other Sanggunians concerned.
As regards PICOPs assertion that the application to them of a 1991 law is in violation of the prohibition against the nonretroactivity provision in Article 4 of the Civil Code, we have to remind PICOP that it is applying for an IFMA with a term of 2002
to 2027. Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution allows exploitation agreements to last only for a period not exceeding twentyfive years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years. PICOP, thus, cannot legally claim that the projects term started in 1952
and extends all the way to the present.
Finally, the devolution of the project to local government units is not required before Sections 26 and 27 would be applicable.
Neither Section 26 nor 27 mentions such a requirement. Moreover, it is not only the letter, but more importantly the spirit of
Sections 26 and 27, that shows that the devolution of the project is not required. The approval of the Sanggunian concerned is
required by law, not because the local government has control over such project, but because the local government has the duty to
protect its constituents and their stake in the implementation of the project. Again, Section 26 states that it applies to projects that
may cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of crop land, rangeland, or forest cover, and
extinction of animal or plant species. The local government should thus represent the communities in such area, the very people
who will be affected by flooding, landslides or even climatic change if the project is not properly regulated, and who likewise have
a stake in the resources in the area, and deserve to be adequately compensated when these resources are exploited.
Indeed, it would be absurd to claim that the project must first be devolved to the local government before the requirement of the
national government seeking approval from the local government can be applied. If a project has been devolved to the local
government, the local government itself would be implementing the project. That the local government would need its own
approval before implementing its own project is patently silly.
EPILOGUE AND DISPOSITION
PICOPc cause of action consists in the allegation that the DENR Secretary, in not issuing an IFMA, violated its constitutional right
against non-impairment of contracts. We have ruled, however, that the 1969 Document is not a contract recognized under the nonimpairment clause, much less a contract specifically enjoining the DENR Secretary to issue the IFMA. The conclusion that the
1969 Document is not a contract recognized under the non-impairment clause has even been disposed of in another case decided
by another division of this Court, PICOP Resources, Inc. v. Base Metals Mineral Resources Corporation,[94] the Decision in
which case has become final and executory. PICOPs Petition for Mandamus should, therefore, fail.
Furthermore, even if we assume for the sake of argument that the 1969 Document is a contract recognized under the nonimpairment clause, and even if we assume for the sake of argument that the same is a contract specifically enjoining the DENR

Secretary to issue an IFMA, PICOPs Petition for Mandamus must still fail. The 1969 Document expressly states that the warranty
as to the tenure of PICOP is subject to compliance with constitutional and statutory requirements as well as with existing policy on
timber concessions. Thus, if PICOP proves the two above-mentioned matters, it still has to prove compliance with statutory and
administrative requirements for the conversion of its TLA into an IFMA.
While we have withdrawn our pronouncements in the assailed Decision that (1) PICOP had not submitted the required forest
protection and reforestation plans, and that (2) PICOP had unpaid forestry charges, thus effectively ruling in favor of PICOP on all
factual issues in this case, PICOP still insists that the requirements of an NCIP certification and Sanggunian consultation and
approval do not apply to it. To affirm PICOPs position on these matters would entail nothing less than rewriting the Indigenous
Peoples Rights Act and the Local Government Code, an act simply beyond our jurisdiction.
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration of PICOP Resources, Inc. is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.

Matuguina Integrated Wood Products v. CA 263 SCRA

[G.R. No. 98310. October 24, 1996]


MATUGUINA INTEGRATED WOOD PRODUCTS, INC., petitioner, vs. The HON. COURT OF APPEALS, DAVAO
ENTERPRISES CORPORATION, The HON. MINISTER, (NOW SECRETARY) of NATURAL RESOURCES
AND PHILLIP CO, respondents.
DECISION
TORRES, JR., J.:
Matuguina Integrated Wood Products Inc. (MIWPI, for brevity) filed this action for prohibition, Damages and Injunction, in
order to prevent the respondent Minister (now Secretary) of Natural Resources from enforcing its Order of Execution against it, for
liability arising from an alleged encroachment of the petitioner over the timber concession of respondent DAVENCOR located in
Mati, Davao Oriental.
The Regional Trial Court, Branch 17, Davao City, ruled in favor of the petitioner, but on appeal, was reversed by the
respondent Court of Appeals in its decision dated February 25, 1991, which found MIWPI, as an alter ego of Milagros Matuguina
and/or Matuguina Logging enterprises (MLE, to be liable to DAVENCOR for illegal encroachment.
The following are the antecedent facts:
On June 28, 1973, the Acting Director of the Bureau of Forest Development issued Provisional Timber License (PTL) No.
30, covering an area of 5,400 hectares to Ms. Milagros Matuguina who was then doing business under the name of MLE, a sole
proprietorship venture. A portion, covering 1,900 hectares, of the said area was located within the territorial boundary of Gov.
Generoso in Mati, Davao Oriental, and adjoined the timber concession of Davao Enterprises Corporation (DAVENCOR), the
private respondent in this case.
On July 10, 1974, petitioner Matuguina Integrated Wood Products, Inc. (MIWPI), was incorporated, having an authorized
capital stock of Ten Million Pesos (P10,000,000.00).[1] The incorporators/stockholders of MIWPI, and their stock subscriptions
were as follows:
Name No. Of Shares Subscribed Amount of Capital
Stock Subscribed
1. Henry Wee 1,160,000 1,160,000.00
2. Ma. Milagros Matuguina 400,000 400,000.00
3. Alejandro Chua Chun 200,000 200,000.00
4. Bernadita Chua 120,000 120,000.00
5. Domingo Herrera 40,000 40,000.00

6. Manuel Hernaez 40,000 40,000.00


7. Luis Valderama 40,000 40,000.00
----------------- -----------------2,000,000 2,000,000.00
=========== ===========
Milagros Matuguina became the majority stockholder of MIWPI on September 24, 1974, when the latters Board of
Directors approved by Resolution the transfer of 1,000,000 shares from Henry Wee to Milagros Matuguina, thus giving her
seventy percent (70%) stock ownership of MIWPI.
In an undated letter[2] to the Director of Forest Development (BFD) on November 26, 1974, Milagros Matuguina requested
the Director for a change of name and transfer of management of PTL No. 30, from a single proprietorship under her name, to that
of MIWPI.
This request was favorably endorsed on December 2, 1974[3] by the BFDs Acting Director, Jose Viado to respondent
Secretary of Natural Resources, who approved the same onSeptember 5, 1975.[4]
On July 17, 1975, Milagros Matuguina and petitioner MIWPI executed a Deed of Transfer [5] transferring all of the formers
rights, interests, ownership and participation in Provincial Timber License No. 30 to the latter for and in consideration of 148,000
shares of stocks in MIWPI.
A copy of said deed was submitted to the Director of Forest Development and Petitioner MIWPI had since been acting as
holder and licensee of PTL No. 30.
On July 28, 1975, pending approval of the request to transfer the PTL to MIWPI, DAVENCOR, through its Assistant General
Manager, complained to the District Forester at Mati, Davao Oriental that Milagros Matuguina/MLE had encroached into and was
conducting logging operations in DAVENCORs timber concession.
After investigation of DAVENCORs complaint, the Investigating Committee which looked into DAVENCORs complaint
submitted its report to the Director, finding that MLE had encroached on the concession area of DAVENCOR. In line with this, the
Director of Forest Development issued an Order[6] on July 15, 1981, finding and declaring MLE to have encroached upon, and
conducted illegal logging operations within the licensed or concession area of DAVENCOR.
MLE appealed the Order to the Ministry of Natural Resources, which appeal was docketed as MNR CASE No. 6450. During
the pendency of the appealed case with the Minister of Natural Resources, Ma. Milagros Matuguina disposed of her shares in
petitioner MIWPI, thereby ceasing to be a stockholder of the petitioner of March 16, 1986.[7]
On October 1, 1986, The Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Ernesto M. Maceda rendered his Decision, [8] affirming the
aforesaid order of the Director of Forest Development, stating thus:
DECISION
For our Resolution is the appeal by MATUGUINA LOGGING ENTERPRISES (MLR, for short) of the Order dated 15 July
1991 of the Director of Forest Development finding and declaring MLE to have encroached upon, and conducted illegal logging
operations within the license or concession area of DAVAO ENTERPRISES CORPORATION. The aforesaid Order dispositively
states:
WHEREFORE, there being a clear and convincing proof that Matuguina Conducted illegal operation within the licensed area of
DAVENCOR, above named respondent is hereby ordered to pay to the complainant the equivalent value in pesos of 2,352.04 cubic
meters of timber based on the market price obtaining, at the logpond of the respondent at the time of cutting, minus the cost of
production, or to restitute to the complainant equal volume of 2,352.04 cubic meters of logs owned by respondent to be taken at
respondents logpond. The respondent is hereby directed to comply with this Order within a period of ninety (90) days from receipt
of this Order and after the lapse of the said period, no compliance has been made by the respondent, its logging operations
shall ipso facto become automatically suspended until respondent shall have complied as directed.
The Regional Director of Region II, Davao City is hereby instructed to implement this Order and to submit his compliance report
within ten (10) days after the lapse of the ninety (90) days period within which the respondent is directed to comply with this order.
And that the dispositive portion of the said decision states;

WHEREFORE, the Order dated 15 July 1981 of the Director of Forest Development is hereby AFFIRMED.
When the Decision of the Minister of Natural Resources became final and executory, Philip Co and DAVENCOR requested
the respondent Minister on October 30, 1986 to issue immediately a writ of execution against MLE and/or MIWPI. [9] The Order of
Execution[10] was issued on January 6, 1987 by the Minister through the latters Assistant on Legal Affairs. The said Order directed
the issuance of a writ of execution, not only against MLE, but likewise against MIWPI. The dispositive portion of the order
provides:
WHEREFORE, let a Writ of Execution be issued against Matuguina Logging Enterprises and/or Matuguina Integrated Wood
Products, Inc. For the satisfaction of the Decision of the Bureau of Forest Development dated 15 July 1981, and the Order of this
office dated 1 October 1986.
SO ORDERED.
Subsequently, a writ of execution[11] dated January 8, 1987 was issued in favor of the respondent DAVENCOR, which states:
The City/Provincial Sheriff
Davao City
GREETINGS:
You are hereby directed to enforce, implement and execute the Order of Execution dated 06 June 1987 of this Office in the aboveentitled case against Matuguina Logging Enterprises and/or Matuguina Integrated Wood Products, Inc. its officers or any person or
corporation in its behalf and conformably with the Order dated 15 July 1981 of the Director of Forest Development, stating
dispositively.
xxx
You are hereby requested to submit your return to this Office within the period of sixty (60) days from your receipt hereof as to
action taken hereon.
SO ORDERED."
On February 11, 1987, MIWPI filed the instant complaint [12] for prohibition, damages and injunction, with prayer for
restraining order, which case was docketed as Civil Case No. 18,457-87 in the Regional Trial Court Davao City, Branch
17. MIWPI stated its primary cause of action, the relevant portion of which reads, viz.:
5. That plaintiff which has a distinct and separate personality of its own under the law, and was never a party to the case between
DAVENCOR and MLE, suddenly became a party to the case after the decision became final and executory with the issuance of
Annex B hereof for reasons known to the defendants alone:
6. That the issuance of Annex B hereof (the order of execution) by the defendant Minister has been made not only without or in
excess of his authority but that the same was issued patently without any factual or legal basis, hence, a gross violation of plaintiffs
constitutional rights under the due process clause;
7. That plaintiff, in the face of the order (Annex B) complained of, there being no appeal or any plain, speedy, and adequate
remedy in the ordinary course of law, does not have any alternative but to ventilate the present recourse;
8. That defendant Minister is doing, threatens or is about to do, or is procuring or suffering to be done, some act which definitely is
in violation of the plaintiffs rights respecting the subject matter of the action, and unless said act or acts are restrained or prohibited
at least during the pendency of this case, said act or acts would probably work not only injustice to plaintiff but world tend to
render the judgment of this Honorable court ineffectual;
9. That the commission or continuance of the acts complained of during the present litigation would not only cause great and
irreparable injury, but will also work injustice to the plaintiff, and would complicate, aggravate and multiply the issues in this case;
10. That the plaintiff is entitled to the relief demanded, and the whole or part of such relief consist in restraining the commission or
continuance of the acts complained of, or in the performance of acts, either for a limited period or perpetually;
11. That great and irreparable injury would inevitably result to the plaintiff before the matter can be heard on notice, hence,
immediate issuance of a restraining order is necessary and proper;

12. That the plaintiff is willing and able to file the necessary bond executed to the defendants, in an amount to be fixed by the
Court, to the effect that the plaintiff will pay to the defendants all damages which they may sustain by reason of the injunction if
the court should finally decide that the plaintiff was not entitled thereto.
MIWPI, likewise alleges that in wantonly and imprudently procuring the Writ of Execution against it, which DAVENCOR
and Philip Co seek to enforce a 2.5 Million Peso liability of plaintiff, the latter has been constrained to bring the present action,
thereby incurring damages in the sum of P500,000.00 in concept of actual and compensatory damages, andP250,000.00 in
attorneys fees, which amount petitioner now seeks to recover.
The trial court issued a temporary restraining order the next day, February 12, 1987, restraining and/or enjoining the private
respondents and the Hon. Secretary of Natural Resources from enforcing, implementing and/or carrying into effect, the decision of
the respondent Secretary dated October 1, 1986, as well as the order of execution dated January 6, 1987.
On February 17, 1987, private respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss [13] alleging that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the
case under Presidential Decree No. 705, to which Motion to Dismiss, petitioner filed an Opposition [14] dated February 1987. On
March 9, 1987, the trial court issued an order [15] denying private respondents Motion to Dismiss. Hence, private respondents filed
their Answer[16] dated March 13, 1987 and an Amended Answer[17]
In the latter pleading, private respondents raised the following special and affirmative defenses:
7. That neither Milagros Matuguina nor Matuguina Integrated Wood Products, Inc. advised defendant Davencor of the change of
name, and transfer of management of PTL No. 30. From Milagros Matuguina to Matuguina Integrated Wood Products, Inc., during
the pendency of MNR Case No. 6540 before the Bureau of Forest Develoment and the Ministry of Natural Resources,
notwithstanding that the lawyer of matuguina Integrated Wood Products, Inc., who was also a stockholder thereof, had appeared
for Milagros Matuguina in said administrative case.
8. That plaintiff has acted in bad faith and is now in estoppel from questioning the Writ of Execution issued against Milagros
Matuguina (now Matuguina Integrated Wood Products, Inc.) to satisfy the judgment in MNR Case No. 6540.
9. This Honorable Court has no jurisdiction over the nature and subject matter of this action, especially because:
(a) The plaintiff has not exhausted administrative remedies available to it before initiating this action;
(b) In the guise of entertaining an action for damages, this Court is being misled by the plaintiff into deciding questions
properly for the Department of Natural Resources to decide exclusively in the lawful exercise of its regulatory
jurisdiction;
(c) The plaintiff is now precluded and estopped from filing this action.
10. The plaintiff has no cause of action against the defendants and has not stated any in its complaint, especially because:
(a) Having failed to exhaust administrative remedies, plaintiff is without a ripe cause of action that can be pleaded
before this Honorable Court;
(b) In substance, there is no justifiable question raised under the facts and circumstances of this case.
Meanwhile, on June 2, 1987, the trial court issued an order [18] granting the petitioners prayer for the issuance of a writ of
preliminary injunction against the private respondents and the Secretary of Natural Resources, ordering them to desist, refrain and
prevent from enforcing respondent Secretarys Decision dated October 1, 1986 as well as the writ of execution dated January 8,
1987.
On May 10, 1989, the trial court rendered its Decison[19] in favor of the petitioner, disposing of the action as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, finding the evidence of plaintiff, Matuguina Integrated Wood Products, Inc. sufficient to
sustain a preponderance of evidence, showing that the order of execution dated January 6, 1987, issued by the Minister of Natural
Resources, through Alexander C. Castro, Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs, included therein, plaintiff Matuguina Integrated
Wood Products, Inc., despite non-inclusion of plaintiff in the decision of the then Minister of Natural Resources, dated October 1,
1986, already final and executory before the issuance of the order and execution, said order or execution is hereby declared null
and void and without any legal effect.
As a consequence thereof, the writ of preliminary injunction issued by this court, dated June 2, 1987 is hereby made permanent.

Moreover, as a result of the filing of this case, defendant Philip Co and Davencor Corporation, are ordered to jointly and severally
pay the amount of P100,000.00 as actual and compensatory damages, along with another amount of P20,000.00 as attorneys fees
and costs of this action, in favor of plaintiff Matuguina Integrated Wood Products, Inc.
SO ORDERED.
Private respondents appealed the trial courts decision on May 19, 1989. Their notice of appeal was approved by the trial
court. The appealed case was docketed with respondent Honorable Court of Appeals as CA-G.R. SP No. 19887.
On February 25, 1991, the respondent Court rendered its Decision, [20] reversing the lower courts pronouncement. The
dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision appealed from is reversed and set aside and the Order of Execution issued by
the Minister of Natural Resources dated January 6, 1987 is affirmed. Without pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
In due time, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. [21] Private respondents filed their opposition[22] to the same on April
2, 1991. In a Resolution[23] dated April 12, 1991, the motion was denied by the respondent Court.
Not content with the courts pronouncement, petitioner is now before us on a Petition for Review on Certiorari,[24] alleging
that the respondent court acted with grave abuse of discretion in rendering the questioned decision and its companion resolution,
denying the motion for reconsideration.
The reasons relied upon by the Petitioner in filing its petition are hereby restated:
I
PETITIONER WAS DENIED DUE PROCESS OF LAW WHEN IT WAS MADE LIABLE BY RESPONDENT
SECRETARY OF NATURAL RESOURCES IN HIS ORDER OF EXECUTION DATED 06 JANUARY 1987 (EXHIBIT
B OF ATTACHMENT O) ISSUED IN MNR CASE NO. 6540 DESPITE THE FACT THAT PETITIONER WAS NEVER
A PARTY NOR A PARTICIPANT IN THE SAID CASE: IN FACT, PETITIONER NEVER HAD NOTICE OF THE
PROCEEDINGS IN MNR CASE NO. 6540.
II
THE FAILURE TO AFFORD PETITIONER THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE
LEVEL (MNR CASE NO. 6540) COULD NOT HAVE BEEN CURED BY THE INSTITUTION OF THE ACTION FOR
PROHIBITION IN THE TRIAL COURT BECAUSE SAID COURT HAD NO JURISDICTION TO DETERMINE
WHETHER PETITIONER WAS GUILTY OF ENCROACHMENT ON PRIVATE RESPONDENT DAVENCORS
TIMBER CONCESSION; FURTHERMORE, THE QUESTION ON WHETHER PETITIONER WAS GUILTY OF
ENCROACHMENT WAS NEVER PUT IN ISSUE IN THE CASE BEFORE THE TRIAL COURT.
III
THE LIABILITY OF MILAGROS/MLE AS FOUND BY RESPONDENT SECRETARY IN ITS DECISION DATED 01
OCTOBER 1986 (EXHIBIT A OF THE ATTACHMENT 0) CANNOT BE IMPUTED AGAINST PETITIONER SINCE
THE LATTER IS A CORPORATION HAVING A PERSONALITY SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM
MILAGROS/MLE.
IV
PETITIONER CANNOT BE MADE LIABLE TO PRIVATE RESPONDENTS UNDER THE DEED OF TRANSFER
DATED 18 JULY 1975 (EXHIBIT 3 OF ATTACHMENT P) AND SECTION 61 OF THE REVISED FORESTRY CODE OF
THE PHILIPPINES (P.D. 705, AS AMENDED):
A. THE ALLEGED TRANSFER OF PTL NO. 30 FROM MILAGROS/MLE TO PETITIONER NEVER BECAME
BINDING AND EFFECTIVE SINCE PTL NO. 30 REMAINED IN THE NAME OF MILAGROS/MLE UNTIL
ITS EXPIRATION ON 30 JUNE 1977: THIS IS DUE TO THE FACT THAT SAID TRANSFER WAS NEVER
APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY OF NATURAL RESOURCES.
B. GRANTING ARGUENDO THAT THERE WAS AN EFFECTIVE TRANSFER OF PTL NO. 30 FROM
MILAGROS/MLE TO PETITIONER, THE TRANSFER COULD NOT MAKE PETITIONER LIABLE FOR

THE ALLEGED ENCROACHMENT OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT DAVENCORS TIMBER CONCESSION,


SINCE:
1. SAID TRANSFER WAS EXECUTED PRIOR TO THE COMMISSION OF THE ALLEGED
ENCROACHMENT AND THE FILING OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLAINT FOR
ENCROACHMENT DATED 28 JULY 1975; THUS, PETITIONER CANNOT BE MADE LIABLE
FOR OBLIGATONS OF MILAGROS/MLE WHICH WERE INCURRED AFTER DATE OF THE
SAID TRANSFER.
2. SAID TRANSFER COVERED ONLY FORESTRY CHARGES AND OTHER GOVERNMENT FEES, AND
DID NOT INCLUDE THE PERSONAL LIABILITY OF MILAGROS/MLE THAT AROSE FROM
THE ENCROACHMENT OF THE TIMBER CONCESSION OF RESPONDENT DAVENCOR.[25]
Private Respondent DAVENCOR and the public respondent Hon. Minister (now Secretary) of Natural Resources filed
separate Comments[26] on September 5, 1991 and June 8, 1992 respectively.
The essential issues of the present controversy boil down to the following:
Was the Petitioner denied due process when it was adjudged liable with MLE for encroaching upon the timber concession of
DAVENCOR in the respondent Minister's order of Execution?
Is the petitioner a transferee of MLE's interest, as to make it liable for the latters illegal logging operations in DAVENCORs
timber concession, or more specifically, is it possible to pierce the veil of MIWPIs corporate existence, making it a mere conduit or
successor of MLE?
Generally accepted is the principle that no man shall be affected by any proceeding to which he is a stranger, and strangers to
a case are not bound by judgment rendered by the court.In the same manner an execution can be issued only against a party and
not against one who did not have his day in court. In Lorenzo vs. Cayetano, 78 SCRA 485 [1987], this Court held that only real
parties in interest in an action are bound by judgment therein and by writs of execution and demolition issued pursuant thereto. [27]
Indeed a judgment cannot bind persons who are not parties to the action. [28] It is elementary that strangers to a case are not
bound by the judgment rendered by the court and such judgment is not available as an adjudication either against or in favor of
such other person. A decision of a court will not operate to divest the rights of a person who has not and has never been a party to a
litigation, either as plaintiff or as defendant. Execution of a judgment can only be issued against one who is a party to the action,
and not against one who, not being a party in the action has not yet had his day in court.[29]
The writ of execution must conform to the judgment which is to be executed, as it may not vary the terms of the judgment it
seeks to enforce.[30] Nor may it go beyond the terms of the judgment which sought to be executed. Where the execution is not in
harmony with the judgment which gives it life and exceeds it, it has pro tanto no validity. To maintain otherwise would be to
ignore the constitutional provision against depriving a person of his property without due process of law.[31]
The writ of execution issued by the Secretary of Natural Resources on January 8, 1987 clearly varies the term of his Decision
of October 1, 1986, inasmuch as the Writ includes the MIWPI as party liable whereas the Decision only mentions Milagros
Matuguina/MLE.
There is no basis for the issuance of the Order of Execution against the petitioner. The same was issued without giving the
petitioner an opportunity to defend itself and oppose the request of DAVENCOR for the issuance of a writ of execution against
it. In fact, it does not appear that petitioner was at all furnished with a copy of DAVENCORs letter requesting for the Execution of
the Honorable Secretarys decision against it. Petitioner was suddenly made liable upon the order of execution by the
respondent Secretarys expedient conclusions that MLE and MIWPI are one and the same, apparently on the basis merely of
DAVENCORs letter requesting for the Order, and without hearing or impleading MIWPI. Until the issuance of the Order of
execution, petitioner was not included or mentioned in the proceedings as having any participation in the encroachment in
DAVENCORs timber concession. This action of the respondent Secretary disregards the most basic tenets of due process and
elementary fairness.
The liberal atmosphere which pervades the procedure in administrative proceedings does not empower the presiding officer
to make conclusions of fact before hearing all the parties concerned. [32] In Police Commission vs. Hon Judge Lood, [33] we held that
the formalities usually attendant in court hearings need not be present in an administrative investigation, provided that the parties
are heard and given the opportunity to adduce their evidence. The right to notice and hearing is essential to due process and its
non-observance will, as a rule, invalidate the administrative proceedings.

As observed by the appellate court, to wit:


the appellant should have filed a Motion with the Minister with Notice to the appellee to include the latter as party liable for the
judgment in order to afford the appellee an opportunity to be heard on its liability for the judgment rendered against Ma. Milagros
Matuguina doing business under the name Matuguina Logging Enterprises. [34]
Continuing, the said court stated further that:
Nevertheless, the failure to comply with the procedure in order to satisfy the requirements of due process was cured by the present
action for prohibition where the liability of appellee has been ventilated.
We do not agree. Essentially, Prohibition is a remedy to prevent inferior courts, corporations, boards or persons from
usurping or exercising a jurisdiction or power with which they have not been vested by law [35] As we held in Mafinco Trading
Corporation vs. Ople, et al, [36] in a certiorari or prohibition case, only issues affecting the jurisdiction of the tribunal, board and
offices involved may be resolved on the basis of undisputed facts.
The issue of whether or not petitioner is an alter ego of Milagros Matuguina/MLE, is one of fact, and which should have been
threshed out in the administrative proceedings, and not in the prohibition proceedings in the trial court, where it is precisely the
failure of the respondent Minister of Natural Resources to proceed as mandated by law in the execution of its order which is under
scrutiny.
Assuming, arguendo, that prohibition is the proper remedy for determining the propriety of piercing the separate personality
of petitioner with its stockholders, the evidence presented at said trial does not warrant such action.
It is settled that a corporation is clothed with a personality separate and distinct from that of persons composing it. It may not
generally be held liable for that of the persons composing it. It may not be held liable for the personal indebtedness of its
stockholders or those of the entities connected with it. Conversely, a stockholder cannot be made to answer for any of its financial
obligations even if he should be its president. [37] But when the juridical personality of the corporation is used to defeat public
convenience, justify wrong, protect fraud or defend crime, the corporation shall be considered as a mere association of persons
(Koppel, Inc. vs. Yatco, 77 Phil 496, Palay, Inc. vs. Clave, G.R. No. 56076, September 21, 1983, 124 SCRA 638), and its
responsible officers and/or stockholders shall be individually liable (Namarco vs. Associated Finance Co., Inc., G.R. No. L- 20886,
April 27, 1967, 19 SCRA 962). For the same reasons, a corporation shall be liable for the obligations of a stockholder (Palacio vs.
Fely Transportation Co., G.R. No. L-15121, August 31, 1963, 5 SCRA 1011), or a corporation and its successor-in-interest shall be
considered as one and the liability of the former attach to the latter.[38]
But for the separate juridical personality of a corporation to be disregarded, the wrongdoing must be clearly and convincingly
established. It cannot be presumed.[39]
In the case at bar, there is, insufficient basis for the appellate courts ruling that MIWPI is the same as Matuguina. The trial
courts observation is enlightening.
Despite apparently opposing evidence of both parties, the Court gathered and finds, that defendants attempt to pierce the veil of
corporate personality of plaintiff corporation, as to consider plaintiff corporations merely an adjunct or alter ego of Maria Milagros
Matuguina Logging Enterprises, to justify defendants claim against plaintiff corporation, suffers heavily from insufficiency of
evidence.
It is the vehement contention of defendants, to bolster its claim, that plaintiff corporation is the alter ego of Maria Milagros
Matuguina Logging Enterprises, because when Milagros Matuguina became the Chairman of the Board of Directors of plaintiff
corporation, she requested for the change of name and transfer of management of PTL No. 30, from her single proprietorship, to
plaintiff corporation.
Secondly, when Milagros Matuguina executed the deed of transfer, transferring her forest concession under PTL No, 30, together
with all the structures and improvements therein, to plaintiff corporation, for a consideration of P14,800.00 representing 148,000
shares of stocks of plaintiff corporation actually all existing shares of stocks of Milagros Matuguina, in plaintiff corporation
represents 77.4% therein; suffice to say that plaintiff corporation practically became an alter ego of Milagros Matuguina.
Defendants arguments on this peripheral aspect of corporate existence, do not at all indicate that such a legal fiction, was granted.

In the first place the alleged control of plaintiff corporation was not evident in any particular corporate acts of plaintiff corporation,
wherein Maria Milagros Matuguina Logging Enterprises using plaintiff corporation, executed acts or powers directly involving
plaintiff corporation.
Neither was there any evidence of defendants, that Maria Milagros Matuguina Logging Enterprises, using the facilities and
resources of plaintiff corporation, involved itself in transaction using both single proprietorship and plaintiff corporation in such
particular line of business undertakings.
As stated by this court in resolving plaintiffs prayer for issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, said:
There is actually, no evidence presented by defendant, showing that sometime on March 15, 1986, to January 1987, during which
period, the subject decision of Hon. Secretary of Natural Resources and corresponding writ of execution, Maria Milagros
Matuguina was a stockholder of plaintiff corporation in such amount or was she an officer of plaintiff corporation in whatever
capacity.
The above circumstances is relevant and significant to assume any such justification of including plaintiff corporation in the
subject writ of execution, otherwise as maintained by defendants, what matters most was the control of Milagros Matuguina
Logging Enterprises of plaintiff corporation in 1974 and 1975, when the administrative case was pending, this circumstance alone
without formally including plaintiff corporation in said case, will not create any valid and sufficient justification for plaintiff
corporation, to have been supposedly included in the suit against defendants and Maria Milagros Matuguina Logging Enterprises,
in the administrative case.
Yet, granting as claimed by defendants, that in 1974 or in 1975, Maria Milagros Matuguina became the controlling stockholder of
plaintiff corporation, on account of the change of name and transfer of management of PTL No. 30, this circumstance, we repeat,
does not of itself prove that plaintiff corporation was the alter ego of Maria Milagros Matuguina Logging Enterprise, as enunciated
in various decisions of this Court, to wit:
It is important to bear in mind that mere ownership by a single stockholder or by another corporation of all or nearly all of the
capital stocks of the corporation, is not itself a sufficient warrant for disregarding the fiction of separate personality. (Liddel and
Co. vs. Collector of Internal revenue, G.R. No. 9687, June 30, 1961).
It is recognized as lawful to obtain a corporation charter, even with a single substantial stockholder, to engage in specific activity
and such activity may co-exist with other private activities of the stockholders.
If the corporation is substantial one, conducted lawfully; without fraud on another, its separate identity is to be respected. [40]
In this jurisdiction, it is a settled rule that conclusions and findings of fact by trial court are entitled to great weight on appeal
and should not be disturbed unless for strong and cogent reasons because the trial court is in a better position to examine real
evidence, as well as to observe the demeanor of the witnesses while testifying in the case. [41]
It is likewise improper to state that the MIWPI is the privy or the successor-in-interest of MLE, as the liability for the
encroachment over DAVENCORs timber concession is concerned, by reason of the transfer of interest in PTL No. 30 from MLE to
MIWPI.
First at all, it does not appear indubitable that the said transfer ever became effective, since PTL No. 30 remained in the name
of Milagros Matuguina/MLE until it expired on June 30, 1977.[42]
More importantly, even if it is deemed that there was a valid change of name and transfer of interest in the PTL No. 30, this
only signifies a transfer of authority, from MLE to MIWPI, to conduct logging operations in the area covered by PTL No. 30. It
does not show indubitable proof that MIWPI was a mere conduit or successor of Milagros Matuguina/MLE, as far the latters
liability for the encroachment upon DAVENCORs concession is concerned. This is the only conclusion which we can discern from
the language of Section 61 of P.D. 705, [43] and the letters of the Acting Minister of Natural Resources to Milagros Matuguina/MLE
and to MIWPI, on September 16, 1975.[44] In Soriano vs. Court of Appeals, this Court stated in clear language, thatIt is the general rule that the protective mantle of a corporations separate and distinct personality could only be pierced and liability
attached directly to its officers and/or members stockholders, when the same is used for fraudulent, unfair, or illegal purpose. In the
case at bar, there is no showing that the Association entered into the transaction with the private respondent for the purpose of
defrauding the latter of his goods or the payment thereof. xxx. Therefore, the general rule on corporate liability, not the exception,
should be applied in resolving this case. (G.R. No. 49834, June 22, 1989)
The respondents cite Section 61 of P.D. 705 to establish MIWPIs succession to the liability of Milagros Matuguina/MLE:

SEC. 61. Transfer. Unless authorized by the Department Head, no licensee, lessee, or permittee may transfer, exchange, sell, or
convey his license agreement, license, lease or permit, or any of his rights or interest therein, or any of his assets used in
connection therewith.
The licensee, lessee, or permittee shall be allowed to transfer or convey his license agreement, license, lease, or permit only if he
has not violated any forestry law, rule or regulation; has been faithfully complying with the terms and conditions of the license
agreement, license, lease or permit; the transferee has all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications to hold a license
agreement, license, lease or permit; there is no evidence that such transfer or conveyance is being made for purposes of
speculation; and the transferee shall assume all the obligations of the transferor.
The transferor shall forever be barred from acquiring another license agreement, license, lease or permit.
Even if it is mandated in the abovestated provision that the transferee shall assume all the obligations of the transferor this
does not mean that all obligations are assumed, indiscriminately.
Invariably, it is not the letter, but the spirit of the law and intent of the legislature that is important. When the interpretation of
a statute according to the exact and literal import of its words would lead to absurdity, it should be construed according to the spirit
and reason, disregarding if necessary the letter of the law.[45]
In construing statutes, the terms used therein are generally to be given their ordinary meaning, that is, such meaning which is
ascribed to them when they are commonly used, to the end that absurdity in the law must be avoided. [46] The term obligations as
used in the final clause of the second paragraph of Section 61 of P.D. 705 is construed to mean those obligations incurred by the
transferor in the ordinary course of business. It cannot be construed to mean those obligations or liabilities incurred by the
transferor as a result of transgressions of the law, as these are personal obligations of the transferor, and could not have been
included in the term obligations absent any modifying provision to that effect.
In the September 16, 1975 letters of Acting Director of the Bureau of Forest Development to Milagros Matuguina and
MIWPI informing them of the approval of Matuguina's request for the change of name and transfer of management of PTL No. 30,
the following statements were made by the Acting Director:
"In view hereof, (Matuguina Integrated Wood Products, Inc.) shall assume the responsibility of paying whatever pending liabilities
and/or accounts remaining unsettled, if any, by the former licensee, Milagros Matuguina, with the government." (Emphasis ours)[47]
Accordingly, the letter's language implies that the obligations which MIWPI are to assume as transferee of Milagros
Matuguina/MLE are those obligations in favor of the government only, and not to any other entity. Thus this would include
Forestry Charges, Taxes, Fees, and similar accountabilities.
In sum, the Court makes the following pronouncements:
(a) The respondent Honorable Minister of Natural Resources gravely abuse its discretion when it issued its Order of
Execution on January 6, 1987, including therein as one of the parties liable the petitioner Matuguina Integrated Wood
Products, Inc., which was never a party to the assailed proceeding resulting in the issuance of such Order and, without
affording the same an opportunity to be heard before it was adjudged liable.
(b) The petitioner is a corporate entity separate and distinct from Milagros Matuguina/Matuguina Logging Enterprises,
there being no clear basis for considering it as a mere conduit or alter ego of Matuguina/MLE, and therefore, cannot be made
liable for the obligations of the same for encroachment over the timber concession of private respondent DAVENCOR.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is hereby GRANTED, and the Decision dated February 25, 1991 is SET
ASIDE. The decision of the Regional Trial Court is hereby REINSTATED, and correspondingly, Order of Execution of the
respondent Secretary of Natural Resources is declared Null and Void and without effect.
No pronouncement as to cost.
SO ORDERED.

Dy v. CA 304 SCRA 331

[G.R. No. 121587. March 9, 1999]

SOLEDAD DY, doing business under the name and style RONWOOD LUMBER, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and
ODEL BERNARDO LAUSA, respondent.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is a petition for review of the decision [1] of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. SP 33099 setting aside two orders of the
Regional Trial Court of Butuan City (Branch 5) and the appellate courts resolution denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.
The facts are as follows.
On May 31, 1993, the Mayor of Butuan City issued Executive Order No. 93-01 creating Task Force Kalikasan to combat
illegal logging, log smuggling or possession of and/or transport of illegally cut or produced logs, lumber, flitches and other forest
products in that city.[2] The team was composed of personnel of the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police (PNP), the
Department of Natural Resources (DENR), and the Office of the City Mayor of Butuan. Respondent Odel Bernardo Lausa, who
was the acting chief of civilian security in the mayors office, was a member of the team.
On July 1, 1993, the members of the task force received confidential information that two truckloads of illegally cut lumber
would be brought to Butuan City from the Ampayon-Taguibe-Tiniwisan area. Accordingly, the team set up a check-point along
kilometer 4 in Baan, Butuan City.[3] What happened thereafter is summarized in the following portion of the decision of the Court
of Appeals:[4]
At around 10:00 p.m., two trucks with Plate Nos. KAK-542 and KBL-214 and loaded with lumber approached the
checkpoint. They were flagged down by the operatives but instead of stopping, they accelerated their speed hence, the task force
gave chase. They finally caught up with the two vehicles at the compound of Young Metalcraft and Peterwood Agro-Forest
Industries at Baan, Butuan City, about two kilometers from the checkpoint. When requested by the operatives, Pulcita Lucero,
caretaker/in charge of the compound could not produce any document as proof of the legality of the origin/possession of the forest
products.
Forester Resurreccion Maxilom of the DENR issued a temporary seizure order and a seizure receipt for the two vehicles and
their cargo consisting of several pieces of lumber of different sizes and dimensions, but Lucero, the caretaker of the compound
where they were seized, refused to accept them. The seized lumber and vehicles were then taken to the City motorpool and placed
in the custody of respondent Lausa.
The next day, July 2, 1993, Maxilom submitted a memorandum-report to the Community Environment and Natural
Resources Officer (CENRO) of Butuan City on the seizure of the lumber and the two vehicles. [5] On July 6, the CENRO issued a
notice of confiscation which was duly posted for three days.
For lack of claimants, DENR Regional Technical Director Raoul Geollegue recommended to the Secretary on July 29,
1993 the forfeiture of the lumber and the two vehicles. [6] Accordingly, on July 30, 1993, DENR Regional Director De la Rosa
ordered the CENRO of Butuan City to issue the requisite forfeiture orders, [7] which CENRO Angelita Orcasitas issued on August
15, 1993.[8]
On October 20, 1993, more than two months after the lumber had been forfeited, petitioner, claiming to be the owner of the
lumber, filed a suit for replevin in the Regional Trial Court of Butuan City (Branch 5) for its recovery. The next day, October 21,
1993, the trial court issued a preliminary writ of replevin.
On October 29, 1993, respondent Lausa filed a motion for the approval of a counterbond. Before the court could act on
his motion, he moved to dismiss and/or quash the writ of replevin on the ground that the lumber in question, having been seized
and forfeited by the DENR pursuant to P.D. No. 705, as amended (Revised Forestry Code), was under its custody and, therefore,
resort should first be made to the DENR.
On November 29, 1993, the trial court denied respondent Lausas application for the approval of the counterbond as well as
his motion to dismiss and/or quash the suit for replevin. For this reason, respondent filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of
Appeals in which he sought the approval of his counterbond and the nullification of the two orders, dated October 21, 1993 and
November 29, 1993, granting petitioners prayer for a preliminary writ of replevin and denying his Motion to Dismiss Case and/or
Quash Writ of Replevin.
On January 19, 1995, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED, and

a. The Orders dated 21 October 1993 and 29 November 1993 are SET ASIDE.
b. Respondent judge is directed to approve a duly qualified counterbond to be filed by petitioner, even with a period of at least one
year.
No pronouncements as to costs.
SO ORDERED.[9]
Petitioners subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied in a resolution, dated July 26, 1995. Hence, this petition.
Petitioner alleges that:
FIRST ERROR
WITH DUE RESPECT RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE VERIFICATION MADE BY
LORENCIO DY AND NOT BY PETITIONER SOLEDAD Y. DY WAS INSUFFICIENT TO JUSTIFY THE ISSUANCE OF
THE REPLEVIN WRIT.[10]
SECOND ERROR
THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT A COUNTERBOND IN REPLEVIN WHICH IS
EFFECTIVE FOR ONLY ONE YEAR IS VALID TO CAUSE THE RETURN OF THE PROPERTY TO DEFENDANT.[11]
THIRD ERROR
THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN GIVING DUE COURSE TO PRIVATE RESPONDENTS PETITION
FOR CERTIORARI.[12]
The appeal is without merit. The threshold question is whether the Regional Trial Court could in fact take cognizance of the
replevin suit, considering that the object was the recovery of lumber seized and forfeited by law enforcement agents of the DENR
pursuant to P.D. No. 705 (Revised Forestry Code), as amended by Executive Order No. 277.
The rule is that a party must exhaust all administrative remedies before he can resort to the courts. In a long line of cases, we
have consistently held that before a party may be allowed to seek the intervention of the court, it is a pre-condition that he should
have availed himself of all the means afforded by the administrative processes. Hence, if a remedy within the administrative
machinery can still be resorted to by giving the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to decide on a matter that
comes within his jurisdiction then such remedy should be exhausted first before a courts judicial power can be sought. The
premature invocation of a courts intervention is fatal to ones cause of action. Accordingly, absent any finding of waiver or
estoppel, the case is susceptible of dismissal for lack of cause of action.[13]
Section 8 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, provides:
SEC. 8. Review. All actions and decisions of the Director are subject to review, motu propio or upon appeal of any person
aggrieved thereby, by the Department Head whose decision shall be final and executory after the lapse of thirty (30) days from
receipt by the aggrieved party of said decision, unless appealed to the President in accordance with Executive Order No. 19, series
of 1966. The Decision of the Department Head may not be reviewed by the courts except through a special civil action
for certiorari or prohibition.
In Paat v. Court of Appeals,[14] where, as in the case at bar, the trial court issued a writ of replevin against the DENR, thus
allowing the claimant to obtain possession of the conveyance used in transporting undocumented forest products, this Court stated:
Dismissal of the replevin suit for lack of cause of action in view of the private respondents failure to exhaust
administrative remedies should have been the proper cause of action by the lower court instead of assuming jurisdiction
over the case and consequently issuing the writ ordering the return of the truck. Exhaustion of the remedies in the
administrative forum, being a condition precedent prior to ones recourse to the courts and more importantly, being an
element of private respondents right of action, is too significant to be waylaid by the lower court.[15]
As petitioner clearly failed to exhaust available administrative remedies, the Court of Appeals correctly set aside the assailed
orders of the trial court granting petitioners application for a replevin writ and denying private respondents motion to dismiss.
Having been forfeited pursuant to P.D. No. 705, as amended, the lumber properly came under the custody of the DENR and all
actions seeking to recover possession thereof should be directed to that agency.

The appellate courts directive to the trial court judge to allow the respondent agent of the DENR to file a counterbond in
order to recover custody of the lumber should be disregarded as being contrary to its order to dismiss the replevin suit of
petitioner. For, indeed, what it should have done was to dismiss the case without prejudice to petitioner filing her claim before the
Department of Natural Resources (DENR).
In view of the conclusion reached in this case, it is unnecessary to discuss the errors assigned by petitioner. These pertain to
the questions whether petitioners complaint below was properly verified and whether private respondents counterbond should be
approved. Both are based on the premise that the trial court can take cognizance over the case. As shown above, however, such is
not the case.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals, dated January 19, 1995, and its Resolution, dated July 26, 1995, in
CA-G.R. SP 33099 are AFFIRMED with the modification that the complaint for recovery of personal property is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.