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The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is
implemented by Republic Act No. 6657 (1988) otherwise known as the
“Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law”. Prior to its enactment on 10
June 1988, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Proclamation No. 131
(1987) instituting a comprehensive agrarian reform program, and
Executive Order No. 229 (1987) providing the mechanics for its
implementation. RA 6657 took effect on 15 June 1988.
While expressly repealing specific provisions of prior enactments
on agrarian reform, RA 6657 provides that the provisions of RA 3844
(1963), Presidential Decree No. 27 (1972) and PD 266 (1973), EO 228
(1987) and EO 229 (1987) and other laws not inconsistent with it shall
have suppletory effect.
RA 6657 was enacted pursuant to the constitutional mandate
shrined in Section 4, Art. XIII of thee 1987 Constitution, which provides:
Sec.4. The State shall, by law, undertake an agrarian
reform program founded on the right of farmers and
regular farmworkers, who are landless, to own directly or
collectively the lands they till or, in the case of other
farmworkers, to receive a just share of the fruits thereof. To
this end, the State shall encourage and undertake the just
distribution of all the agricultural lands, subject to such
priorities and reasonable retention limits as the Congress
developmental, or equity considerations, and subject to the
payment of just compensation. In determining retention
limits, the State shall respect the right of small landowners.
The State shall further provide incentives for voluntary
The constitutionality of RA 6657 has been upheld in Association
of Small Landowners vs. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, 175 SCRA 342
(1989) and companion cases. The Supreme Court held that the
requirement of public use has already been settled by the Constitution
itself. It noted that “[n]o less than the 1987 Charter calls for agrarian
reform which is the reason why private agricultural lands are to be

taken from their owners, subject to the prescribed retention limits.” (at
While RA 6657 itself has been held constitutional, the Supreme
Court in a subsequent case, Luz Farms vs. Secretary of Agrarian
Reform, 192 SCRA 51 (1990), declared unconstitutional Sec. 3 (b), 10
and 11 thereof in so far as they include lands devoted to the raising of
livestock, swine and poultry within its coverage. As a result of this
ruling, Congress enacted RA 7881 (1995) amending the provisions and
incorporating new provisions to existing ones. The amendments
adopted the Luz doctrine by removing livestock, swine and poultry
farms from CARP coverage.
Scope of the CARP
The Constitution in Sec. 4, Art. XIII, mandates the just distribution
of all agricultural lands, subject to such priorities and to reasonable
retention limits that Congress may prescribe, taking into account
ecological, developmental or equity considerations and subject to the
payment of just compensation.
Prior to RA 6657, the operative law on land distribution was PD
27 (1972). However, PD 27 is limited in scope, covering only tenanted
private agricultural lands primarily devoted to rice and corn operating
under a system of share-crop or lease tenancy, whether classified as
landed estate or not. The constitutional provision thereof expanded the
scope of agrarian reform to cover all agricultural lands.
RA 6657 operationalized this constitutional mandate and
provides in Sec. 4 thereof that the CARP shall cover, regardless of
tenurial arrangement and commodity produced, all public and private
agricultural lands, as provided in Proclamation No. 131 and EO 229
including other lands of the public domain suitable of agriculture. More
specifically, the following lands are covered by CARP:

All alienable and disposable lands of public domain
devoted to or suitable for agriculture;
All lands of the public domain in excess of the specific
limits as determined by the Congress in Sec. 4 (a) of RA
All other lands owned by the government devoted to or
suitable for agriculture; and
All private lands devoted or suitable for agriculture
regardless of the agricultural products raised or that can
be raised thereon (Rep. Act No. 6657 [1988], sec. 4).

” As to what constitutes “agricultural land. defines “agricultural activity” as follows: (b) Agriculture. 225 SCRA 278 (1993).Definition of agricultural land Sec. Agricultural Enterprise or Agricultural Activity means cultivation of soil. residential. . residential. In Natalia v. 3 (c) of RA 6657 as to be exempted from CARP coverage. 3 (b) of RA 6657. the Supreme Court held: Section 4 of RA 6657 provides that the CARL “shall cover. growing of fruit trees. forest. 283). forest. and other farm activities and practices performed by a farmer in conjuction with such farming operations done by persons whether natural or juridical. planting of crops. commercial or industrial land. Agricultural lands reclassified by local governments into “forest conservation zones” Agricultural lands reclassified by the local government units (LGUs) into “forest conservation zones” even prior to the effectivity of CARL do not become forest land under Sec. all public and private agricultural lands.” The deliberations of the Constitutional Commission confirm this limitation. commercial or industrial land. DAR. “Agricultural lands” are only those lands which are “arable and suitable agricultural lands” (at 282. as amended by RA 7881 (1995). including the harvesting of such farm products. regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity produced. Sec.” it is referred to as “land devoted to agricultural activity as defined in this Act and not classified as mineral. 3 (c) of RA 6657 defines agricultural lands as follows: (c) Agricultural Land refers to land devoted to agricultural activity as defined in this Act and not classified as mineral.

20).. EO 192 [1987]). On the other hand. residential. LGUs have no authority or power to make primary classifications considering that such power is the sole prerogative of the President exercising such power upon the recommendation of the DENR. can only be subjected to secondary classification.” as follows: Xxx Agricultural land refers to those devoted to agricultural activity as defined in R. 3 (c) of RA 6657 as nonagricultural (i. commercial or industrial is lodged. 3). Forest and mineral lands are.” The same provision of the Constitution also provides that the agricultural lands of the public domain may be further classified according to the uses to which they may be devoted. Art. The forest (or mineral) land referred to in Sec. 1 (1990) makes this qualification in its definition of “agricultural land. Act No.e. while the rest are secondary classifications. 6. among others. Reclassification by LGUs of agricultural lands into “forest conservation zones” does not have the effect of converting such lands into forest lands as to be exempted from CARP. 3 (c) of RA 6657 is therefore to be understood as referring to forest (or mineral) land declared to be such by the President/DENR and not by the LGUs. 141 (1963). Firstly. The responsibility over primary classification of lands of the public domain is vested in the President who exercises such power upon the recommendation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) (Com. sec. The group of lands referred to in Sec.It should be noted that under the Constitution. commercial or industrial) is a mix of primary and secondary classifications. forest or timber. DAR Administrative Order No. under the Constitution and Commonwealth Act No. This further classification of agricultural land is referred to as secondary classification. 6657 and not classified as mineral or forest by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its predecessor agencies. the authority to reclassify agricultural lands into residential. Act No. primary classifications. 7160 [1991]. mineral. sec. lands of the public domain are classified into agricultural. sec. an agricultural land is already a primary classification and.A. in cities and municipalities (Rep. mineral lands and national parks (CONST. 141 [1963]. Secondly. These classifications are called primary classifications or “classification in the first instance. hence. and not classified in town plans and zoning ordinances as approved by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) and its preceding . forest.. XII.

No. commercial or industrial LGUs into Taking into consideration the effectivity of the law. DAR Adm. prior to 15 June 1988 are covered by CARP. 3 (c) of RA 6657 are treated according to whether they were classified as such before or after the effectivity of the law on June 15. 44 (1990) was validated by the Supreme Court in Natalia v. 1988. the authority of the DAR to approve such conversion may be exercised from the date of its effectivity or on 15 June 1988. O. an exemption clearance from DAR is still necessary to confirm or declare its exempt status (DAR Adm. the secondary classifications mentioned in Sec. sec. commercial or industrial use. 44 (1990) which provides that with respect to the conversion of agricultural lands covered by RA 6657 to non-agricultural uses. 1 [1991]). industrial or residential before that date no longer need ay conversion clearance from the DAR. 6657 [1988]. If an agricultural land is reclassified after 15 June 1988. supra. commercial or industrial use. as approved by HLURB and its precursor agencies. 6 [1994]). all lands already classified as commercial. vs. O. This case involved the question of whether or not lands already classified for residential. Natalia Realty. This is based on Department of Justice Opinion No. 3 (c) of RA 6657 and is therefore not covered by CARP. No. or its predecessor agencies. Inc. the land will be recognized as so classified under Sec. the provisions on land conversion under CARL and its implementing rules will apply (Rep. Department of Agrarian Reform 225 SCRA 278 (1993) . Thus.competent authorities prior to 15 June 1988 for residential. commercial or industrial by the LGU and approved by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). prior to 15 June 1988. Agricultural lands reclassified by residential. 65. Act No. If the agricultural land was classified as residential. DAR. Conversion prior to 15 June 1988 through presidential proclamation binding before DAR The reasoning in DOJ Opinion No. However.

and approved by the HLURB and its predecessor agencies prior to 15 June 1988. 1637 prior to the effectivity of RA 6657 and in effect converted these lands into residential use. Estate Developers and Investors Corporation (EDIC).0078-ha land set aside by the Presidential Proclamation No. commercial or industrial use. all public and private and agricultural lands” and as per the transcripts of the Constitutional Commission. Since the Natalia lands were converted prior to 15 June 1988. Issue: Are lands already classified for residential. 4 of RA 6657 states that the CARL covers “regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity produced. is the owner of a 125. the developer of the area. 1637 (1979) as townsite area for the Lungsod Silangan Reservation. Inc. industrial and residential lands. “agricultural lands” covered by agrarian reform refers only to those which are “arable and suitable lands” and “do not include commercial. DAR is bound by such conversion.Facts: Petitioner Natalia Realty. and thus it was an error to include these within the coverage of CARL.” The land subject of the controversy has been set aside for the Lungsod Silangan Reservation by Proclamation No. covered by RA 6657? Held: Sec. was granted preliminary approval and locational clearances by then Human Settlements Regulatory Commission (HSRC) for the establishment of the Antipolo Hills Subdivision therein. In November 1990. Exemptions and Exclusions . The developer filed its objections and filed this case imputing grave abuse of discretion to respondent AR for including the undeveloped portions of its landholding within the coverage of CARP. a Notice of Coverage was issued by DAR on the undeveloped portion of the landholding.

including experimental farm stations operated by public or private schools for educational purposes. Luz Farms vs. Before its amendment by RA 7881. poultry or fish”. directly and exclusively used and found to be necessary for national defense. except those already developed (Sec. penal colonies and penal farms actually worked by the inmates. swine and poultry. Likewise. reforestation. as amended by Rep. Lands actually. Private lands actually. That said prawn farms and fishponds have not been distributed and Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) issued to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) under CARP (Sec. communal burial grounds and cemeteries. specifically enumerates the exemptions and exclusions from CARP. fish sanctuaries and breeding grounds. 10 [b]). Act No. the Supreme Court in Luz Farms v. 3 (b) and Sec. 11 of RA 6657 on commercial farming provided that “lands devoted to commercial livestock. Secretary of Agrarian Reform. 13 and 32) are unconstitutional in so far as they include the raising of livestock and swine in the coverage of CARP. Lands devoted to raising of livestock. Sec. 10 [c]). poultry and swine raising shall be subject to compulsory acquisition within ten (10) years from the effectivity of the Act. as amended by RA 7881 (1995). mosque sites and Islamic centers appurtenant thereto. 6657 [1988]. church sites and convents appurtenant thereto. as follows: a) b) c) Lands actually. directly and exclusively used for prawn farms and fishponds: Provided. 3 (b) of RA 6657 included in its definition of agricultural activity the “raising of livestock. The Luz Farms Case. forest reserves.Sec. 11 of RA 6657 (along with Sec.” However. Act No. the original Sec. sec. supra. school sites and campuses.10 [a]. watersheds and mangroves (Rep. 7881[1995]). directly or exclusively used for parks and wildlife. held that Sec. seeds and seedling research and pilot production center. 10 of RA 6657. government ad private research and quarantine centers and all lands within eighteen percent (18%) slope and over. Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform 192 SCRA 51 (1990) .

Facts: Petitioner Luz Farms is a corporation engaged in livestock and poultry business. including but not limited to crop lands. fishponds. Vol. The Committee adopted the definition of “agricultural land” as defined under Section 166 of RA 3844. Held: Sec. III. saltbeds. idle and abandoned land (Record. 3 and Sec. 11). The proposal however was not considered because the Committee contemplated that agricultural lands are limited to arable and suitable agricultural lands and therefore. August 7. The Supreme Court held that: The transcripts of deliberations of the Constitutional Commission of 1986 on the meaning of the word “agricultural”. as land devoted to any growth. p. The use of land is incidental to but not the principal factor or consideration of productivity in this industry. . 11 of RA 6657 are unconstitutional in so far as they include lands devoted to raising livestock. CONCOM. clearly show that it was never the intention of the framers of the Constitution to include livestock and poultry industry in the coverage of the constitutionally-mandated agrarian reform program of the government. The Supreme Court noted that the intention of the Committee to limit the application of the word “agriculture” is further shown by the proposal of Commissioner Jamir to insert the word “arable” to distinguish this kind of agricultural land from such lands as commercial and industrial lands and residential properties. 11 of RA 6657 in so far as they apply to livestock and poultry business. do not include commercial. swine and poultry within its coverage. It seeks to nullify Sec. 3 (b) and Sec. 1986.

August 2. p. Moreover. carabao and horse raising Maximum of 1 to 1 hectare. poultry and livestock workers (Record. To be exempted. livestock. Commissioner Tadeo clarified that the term “farmworkers” was used instead of “agricultural worker” in order to exclude therein piggery. O. poultry and swine raising as of 15 June 1988. 3[1995]). directly. fishponds and prawn ponds are also exempted from the coverage of CARP. a landowner or his authorized representative still has to file a written application for land exemption/exclusion with DAR Provincial Office (DAR Adm. and (b) the farm must satisfy the ratios of land. the agricultural land must have been actually. or actually used for livestock.5126 hectare of infrastructure poultry raising 500 layers for every 0.53 hectare of infrastructure or 1000 boilers for every 1. Vol.428 hectares of infrastructure Fishponds and prawn ponds With the amendment of Sec. 10 and 11 of RA 6657 by RA 7881. To avail of the exemption. CONCOM. 147 heads for every 0. the date of effectivity of RA 7881. 1986.7815 hectares of infrastructure Sheep and goat raising 7 heads to 1 hectare. directly and exclusively used for prawn farms and fishponds as of 12 March 1995. 621).7205 hectare of infrastructure Sine raising 21 heads of hogs for every 0. DAR AO 9 (1993) imposes two (2) conditions in order that these lands may be exempted: (a) that the land or portion thereof is exclusively. in his answer to Commissioner Regalado’s interpellation.industrial and residential lands (Record. as follows: Cattle. III. 3 (c). II. p. . CONCOM. 7 August 1986. 30). provided that said lands have not been distributed to ARBs and no CLOAs have been issued. 2 heads for every 1. No. Vol. poultry and swine.

however. Act No. Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board 215 SCRA 86 (1992) Facts: . in cases where the fishponds or prawnponds have not been subjected to CARP. DARAB. including experimental farm stations operated by public or private schools for educational purposes provided for under Sec. 215 SCRA 85 (1992). by voluntary offer to sell.In cases were the fishponds or prawn farms have been subjected to CARP. as amended. does not apply to agricultural lands subsequently converted to fishponds or prawnfarms provided that the size of the land converted does not exceed the retention limit of the landowner. commercial farms deferment or notice of compulsory acquisition. This incentive plan requirement. In Central Mindanao University vs.5%) of nrt profits before tax from the operation of the fishpond or prawn farms are distributed within sixty (60) days at the end of the fiscal year as compensation to regular and other pond workers over and above their current compensation. 6657 [1998]. 10[b]. the consent of the farm workers shall no longer be necessary (Rep. The CMU case. 4 of RA 7881 also amended RA 6657 by introducing a new provision mandating the introduction of an incentive plan for employees of all fishponds and prawn farms. 10 of RA 6657. as amended. actually and exclusively used and found to be necessary for school sites and campuses. sec. they can be exempt from CARP if a simple and absolute majority of the actual regular workers or tenants consent to the exemption within one (1) year from the effectivity of RA 7881 or on 12 March 1995. if any. Central Mindanao University vs. Lands used for academic or educational use. the Supreme Court passed upon the exemption of lands directly.) Sec. Operators and entities owning or operating fishponds and prawn farms are directed to execute within six (6) months from its effectivity an incentive plan with their regular fishpond or prawn farm worker’s organization. whereby seven point five percent (7.

467 reserving for the Mindanao Agricultural College. and exclusively used” for educational purposes. In 1984. The agreement explicitly provided that there will be no tenancy relationship between the lessees and the CMU. among others. ordered. DARAB. it is not “actually. training and other kinds of assistance. CMU embarked on a project titled “Kilusang Sariling Sikap” wherein parcels of land were leased to its faculty members and employees. Issue: Is the CMU land covered by CARP? Who determines whether lands reserved for public use by presidential proclamation is no longer actually. now the CMU. In its resolution. apiece of land to be used as its future campus. CMU is in the best position to resolve and answer the question of when and what lands are found necessary for its use. President Carlos Garcia issued Proclamation No.On 16 January 1958. a case was filed by the participants of the “Kilusang Sariling Sikap” for declaration of status as tenants under the CARP. In turn. they paid the CMU a service fee for use of the land. the segregation of 400 hectares of the land for distribution under CARP. Under the terms of the program. When the program was terminated. CMU will assist faculty members and employee groups through the extension of technical know-how. actively exploited and utilized by the university in carrying out its present educational program with its present student population and academic faculty” overlooked the very significant factor of growth of the university in the years to come. . The Court also chided the DARAB for resolving this issue of exemption on the basis of “CMU’s present needs. directly. that is. directly. The land was subjected to coverage on the basis of DAR’s determination that the lands do not meet the condition for exemption. and exclusively used and necessary for the purpose for which they are reserved? Held: The land is exempted from CARP.” The Court stated that the DARAB decision stating that for the land to be exempt it must be “presently.

the Supreme Court seems to have overlooked EO 407 (1990). In ruling that the CMU is in the best position to determine the use of the land and not DAR. the said land was already set aside for a specific purpose and. can determine whether the purpose or use for which the lands reserved continues to exist and therefore establish if they continue to be exempt from CARP coverage. Thus. All lands or portions thereof reserved by virtue of Presidential proclamations for specific public uses by the government. directly and exclusively used or necessary for the purposes for which thay have been reserved. shall be segregated from the reservation and transferred to the Department of Agrarian Reform for distribution to qualified beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. directly. as determined by the Department of Agrarian Reform in coordination with the government agency or instrumentality concerned in whose favor the reservation was established. as amended by EO 448 (1991). and not because of the determination of the CMU of what it needs and how it intends to use it. exclusively used and necessary for the purpose for which they are reserved.The CMU case is unique as it involves land transferred by the state to CMU through PD 467 which provided for its communication to a specific use and purpose. 1-A. in effect.both present and futurehas been determined by law. Said EO provides that: Sec. . was taken outside the coverage of agrarian reform by law. DAR. including government-owned or controlled corporations suitable for agriculture and no longer actually. Thus. which provides that DAR is vested with power to determine whether lands reserved for public uses by presidential proclamation is no longer actually. It is submitted that a more accurate basis for the exemption should have been that the exclusive use of the land. in coordination with the agency or department involved. its agencies and instrumentalities.

directly. 10 is explicit that only those lands that are “actually. to form part of the forest reserves. the institution may file before DAR for clearance to convert these lands into non-agricultural use. A literal interpretation of the provision implies that the exemption applies only to those lands already committed for the enumerated purposes at the dare of the effectivity of the law on 15 June 1988. Thus. Sec. where the occupant is qualified for a free patent under the Public Land Act. 15 thereof states that “no land of the public domain eighteen per cent (18%) in slope or over shall be classified as alienable and disposable” and that “lands eighteen per cent (18%) in slope or over which have already been declared as alienable and disposable shall be reverted to the classification of forest lands by the Department Head. are covered by CARP. and directly to the abovementioned uses before or on such date. agricultural land acquired by academic institutions for academic. For its exclusion from acquisition and distribution. or those owned by them but not committed exclusively. or the “Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines. educational. Lands with 18% slope Lands with 18% slope over are exempt from CARP coverage unless these are found to be agriculturally developed as of 15 June 1988. directly and exclusively used for educational or research purposes at the time of the effectivity of the RA 6657 to be exempt from CARP also fails to consider Sec. 10 of RA 6657.” which provides that lands with a slope of 18% or over are generally reserved as forest lands. If the land has 18% slope pr over and is agriculturally developed as od 15 June 1988. or research purposes after 15 June 1988. adversely and publicly for a period of not less than thirty (30) years as of the effectivity of this Code.The Supreme Court’s statement that the lands of universities and academic institutions need not be actually. actually. This rule on exemption is based on PD (1975). or actually occupied openly. and for its commitment to said purposes. the same shall be allocated to the qualified applicants in the following manner: . Sec. and exclusively” used and found necessary for the uses enumerated therein are exempt from CARP coverage. continuously. unless they are already covered by existing titles or approved public land application.

Effects of exemption Sec. 3 (c) of RA 6657.a) If land is classified as forest land. 10 of RA 6657 provides that exempted or excluded lands are removed from the coverage of CARP. The basis of this interpretation is the phraseology of Sec. Thus. b) If classified as alienable and disposable. and c) If private agricultural land. 10 and are then subject to CARP coverage. commercial or industrial lands.” The legal effect of this interpretation is that the owner can use and dispose the land as he deems fit without the need for any clearance from DAR. there are two (2) contending views on whether these exempted or excluded lands are perpetually taken out from coverage of the CARP. 13 [1990]. and therefore is inalienable and indisposable. . they are removed from the exemption and are treated like any other agricultural land. as amended by RA 7881 (except lands with an 18% slope). forest. that is. However. No. this shall be acquired in accordance with the provisions of RA 6657 (DAR Adm. in the event that these lands cease to be used or necessary for the purposes for which they are exempted. residential. 10 which states that exempted lands are “exempt from the coverage of the law. they are in fact suitable to agriculture and not classified as mineral. when the reason for exemption ceases to exist for lands exempt under the Luz Farms ruling or Sec. The first view is that lands exempted or excluded from the law are permanently taken out from coverage of the CARP. 10. part II). Thus. they are removed from the application of Sec. O. 10 of RA 6657 and the Luz Farms ruling are considered agricultural lands as defined by Sec. this shall be allocated by the DENR under its Integrated Social Forestry Program. It must be remembered that the lands subject of exemption under Sec. this shall be allocated by the Land Management Bureau-DENR and DAR pursuant to the provisions of CA 141 and the Joint DAR-DENR AO 2 (1998). but are exempt or excluded from CARP by reason of their actual use and their necessity for other purposes. The second view is that excluded and exempted lands can be covered by CARP when the reason for their exemption ceases to exist. item E.

CA. it was held that: The Homestead Act has been enacted for the welfare and protection of the poor. In addition. While PD 27 decreed the emancipation of tenants from the bondage of the soil and transferring to them ownership of the land they till. Moreover. O. Bayog. Alita vs. Homesteads In Alita vs. The law gives a needy citizen a piece of land where he . As to farmworkers. Court of Appeals 170 SCRA 706 (1989) Facts: Subject matter of the case consists of two (2) parcels of land acquired by respondents’ predecessors-in-interest through homestead patent under the provisions of CA 141. the Supreme Court stated that homesteads are exempt from agrarian reform. but the petitioners refused to vacate. Respondents wanted personally to personally cultivate these lands. Issue: Are lands obtained covered under PD 27? through homestead patent Held: No. 13 [1990]. as RA 6657 is a social welfare legislation the rules of exemption and exclusions must be interpreted restrictively and any doubts as to the applicability of the law should be resolved in favor of inclusion. No. the same cannot be invoked to defeat the very purpose of the enactment of the Public Land Act or CA 141. 112 SCRA 45. they are granted preference in the award of other lands covered by CARP (DAR Adm. relying on the provisions of PD 27 and PD 316 and appurtenant regulations issued by the then Ministry of Agrarian Reform. In Patricio v. the exemption of the land shall not cause the loss of the benefits to which they are entitled under other laws. In either case. the security of tenure of tenants enjoyed prior to 19 June 1988 shall be respected even when the lands are exempted.The second view is anchored on the spirit and intent of the law to cover all agricultural lands suitable to agriculture. part II).

Sec. However. and the rights of indigenous communities to their ancestral lands. Moreover. in the disposition or utilization of other natural resources. to wit: . subject to prior rights. reading: Section 6. homestead rights of small settlers. Retention Limits. Sec. In this regard. 6 of RA 6657 provides that homesteaders are allowed to retain the total homestead lot subject to the conditions provided in the same section and as set out in DAR MC 4 (1991). 6 of RA 6657 contains a proviso supporting the inapplicability of PD to lands covered by homestead patents like those of the property in question. xxx Provided further. They have a right to live with a certain degree of comfort as become human beings. including lands of public domain under lease or concession suitable to agriculture. That original homestead grantees or their direct compulsory heirs who still own the original homestead at the time of the approval of this Act shall retain the same areas as long as they continue to cultivate said homestead. Xxx xxx xxx While homestead lots are declared exempt under PD 27. 6 of Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution provides: Section 6. whenever applicable in accordance with law. they are not expressly declared as such under RA 6657. and the State which looks after the welfare of the people’s happiness is under a duty to safeguard the satisfaction of this vital right. The State shall apply the principles of agrarian reform or stewardship. Sec. The right of the citizens to their homes and to the things necessary for their subsistence is as vital as the right to life itself.may build a modest house for himself and family and plant what is necessary for the subsistence and for the satisfaction of life’s other needs.

and Private agricultural lands with areas above the retention limit up to 24 hectares Schedule 1988-1992 1992-1995 1988-1992 1994-1998 . all arable public agricultural lands under agroforest. 27. Schedule of Implementation Sec. all lands acquired by the Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG). all private lands voluntarily offered by the owners for agrarian reform. b) It also provides that tenants of lands covered by homestead patents exempted from PD 27 or retained under RA 6657 shall not be ejected therefrom but shall remain as leaseholders therein. all idle or abandoned lands. and all private agricultural lands in excess of fifty (50) hectares. and all other lands owned by the government devoted to or suitable for agriculture All alienable and disposable public agricultural lands. The original homestead grantee or his or her compulsory heirs cultivate the land as of 15 June 1988 and continue to cultivate the same. 7 of RA 6657 lays out the schedule of acquisition and distribution of all the agricultural lands through a period of ten (10) years from the effectivity of the Act: Phas e Lands Covered I       II     III-A  III-B  Rice and corn lands under Presidential Decree No. all public agricultural lands which are to be opened for new development and resettlement. pasture and agricultural leases already cultivated and planted to crops in accordance. Landholdings above twenty-four (24) hectares up to fifty (50) hectares. all lands foreclosed by the government financial institutions.a) That original homestead grantee or his/her direct compulsory heirs still own the land on 15 June 1988.

such land was previously used for agricultural to other economic purpose. It has been held that the difference between a mandatory and a directory provision is often determined in grounds of expediency. 5 of RA 6657 should not be construed as a prescriptive period. provided that prior to such event. In view of the passing of the ten (10) year period in 1998.Though Sec. Sec. This is the gist of DOJ Opinion No. 9 (1997). this provision should be interpreted as merely directory. Sec. titled or developed to produce any crop not devoted to any specific economic purpose continuously for a period of three (3) years immediately prior to the receipt of notice of acquisition by the government as provided under RA 6657. DAR need not wait for the full coverage of those lands in the first phase before those in the succeeding phases could be covered. the lapse of which bars the DAR from covering the land under CARP. Thus. 3 (e) of RA 6657 defines idle or abandoned land as “any agricultural land not cultivated. 7 of RA 6657 provides a fixed time table for the implementation of the CARP law. Sec.22 of Art. The ten (10) year period is merely a time frame given to DAR for the acquisition and distribution of private and public agricultural lands covered by RA 6657. However land that has become permanently or regularly devoted to nonagricultural purposes is not to be considered as idle or abandoned. the provision as to time will be regarded as directory only notwithstanding the mandatory nature of the language used. DAR may also proceed with the coverage of lands in different phases simultaneously.” Lands owned by government . a limitation of its authority. rather than mandatory in character. It is merely a guide to DAR in setting its priorities. Congress passed RA 8532 (1998) providing for the funding for land acquisitions for another ten (10) years. 5 of RA 6657 is more procedural in nature than substantive. by any means. Neither can it be considered as abandoned or idle any land which has become unproductive by reason of force majeure or any other fortuitous event. Hence. Where a provision embodies a rule of procedure rather than one of substance. XVIII of the 1987 Constitution and Sec. 18 (h) of EO 229 prioritizes the immediate expropriation or acquisition of the idle or abandoned lands. Idle or abandoned land Sec. and it is not.

11 of RA 6657 allowed the deferment of the coverage of commercial farms.000 meters elevation or above 50 percent slope until such time that they are segregated for agricultural purposes or retained under the National Integrated Protected Areas System. trhough the DAR. 3 of EO 407 (1990) likewise provides for the redistribution and award of fishponds. EO 448 (1991) and EO 506 (1992) amended EO 407 by including all lands or portions thereof reserved by virtue of presidential proclamations for specific public uses by the government. DAR AO 16 (1988) provided a 60-day period for the filing of application of deferment which lapsed on 2 May 1989. its agencies and instrumentalities. These also excluded national parks and other protected areas. Commercial farms Sec. . it must have been planted to commercial crop or devoted to commercial farming operations before 15 June 1988. wildlife reserves. game refuge. DAR AO 16 (1988) explicitly allows the DAR to automatically subject the lands to redistribution when it determines that the purpose for which deferment s granted no longer exists as when the particular farm area ceases to be economically productive. For a commercial farm to be qualified for deferment. Deferred commercial farms shall be subject to immediate compulsory acquisition and distribution after ten (10) years from the effectivity of RA 6657 on 15 June 1988. The acquisition and distribution of these deferred commercial farms are governed by DAR AO 9 (1998). Final land transfer to the beneficiaries shall be effected at the end of the deferment period. For new farms. wilderness areas and other protected areas. pasturelands and other lands of public domain suitable for agriculture subject of cancelled or amended lease agreement to the agrarian reform beneficiaries. government agencies. government owned and controlled corporations or financial institutions to transfer to the Republic of the Philippines. the ten (10)-year deferment will begin from the first year of commercial production and operation. all landholdings suitable for agriculture. Sec. bird sanctuaries. the DAR shall initiate steps to acquire the lands. including old growth or virgin forests and all forests above 1. directly or exclusively used or necessary for the purposes for which they have been reserved. President Corzaon Aquino issued EO 407 (1990) directing all government instrumentalities.To expedite the disposition of lands owned by the government. and no longer actually. proposed national parks. During the deferment period.

(DAR Adm. 6 of RA 6657 and subsequently acquires a five (5)-hectare landholding of his parent by succession can retain only five (5) hectares of the total landholding... In the absence of such an agreement. In no case. Thus.e. Art.Retention Sec. The retention limits under Sec. No. which took effect on 3 August 1988. their maximum retention limit is determined by the nature of their property relations. i. However. 9 [h]). (DAR Adm. 9 [g]) For marriages covered by the Family Code. Sec. paraphernal and conjugal) shall be considered to be held in absolute community. however. terrain. .e. award. in the absence of an agreement for the judicial separation of property. spouses who own only conjugal properties may retain a total of not more than five (5) hectares of such properties. 6 of RA 6657 operationalizes this mandate and observes the right of the persons to own. and soil fertility. 5 [2000]. Juridical persons like corporations and partnerships are therefore subject to five (5)-hectare limit. 4. The five (5)-hectare retention limit applies to all lands regardless of how acquired (i. O. With respect to married couples. sec. For marriages covered by the New Civil Code. 6 of RA 6657 covers all persons whether natural or juridical. O. by purchase. a child who was awarded three (3) hectares as a preferred beneficiary under Sec. succession. sec. they may retain not more than five (5) hectares of their respective landholdings. donation) as the law does not distinguish. infrastructure. any public or private agricultural land. but in no case shall exceed five (5) hectares. all properties (capital. or retain. a husband owning capital property and/or a wife owning paraphernal property may retain not more than five (5) hectares each provided they executed a judicial separation of properties prior to entering into marriage. the size of which shall vary according to the factors governing a viable family-size farm such as commodity produced. if either or both of them are landowners in their own respective rights (capital and/paraphernal). and therefore. 5 [2000]. shall the total retention of such couple exceed ten (10) hectares. directly or indirectly. only a total of five (5) hectares may be retained. No. the ownership relation is one. XIII of the 1987 Constitution subjects the distribution of agricultural lands for agrarian reform to “reasonable retention limits as Congress may prescribe”.

Landowners have the obligation to cultivate directly or through labor administration. responsibilities and limitations imposed on all agrarian reform beneficiaries. 6657 [1988]. 1 [1999]). and thereby make productive the area he retains. otherwise he can be held liable for premature conversion (see DAR Adm. As the right of the child is derived from his being a beneficiary. Thus. O. he must first secure a conversion order from DAR. Before a landowner can commit the retained land to non-agricultural purposes. he must also be landless. and that he is actually tilling the land or directly managing it. The award to the child is not to be taken from the retained land of the owner and is awarded to the child in his own right as a beneficiary. Exceptions to the 5-hectare retention limit The five (5)-hectare retention limit under RA 6657 does not apply to original homestead grantees or their direct compulsory heirs at the time of the approval of RA 6657 who continue to cultivate the same. the award is not automatic. DAR MC 4 (1994)define the term “directly managing” as the cultivation of the land through personal supervision under the system of labor administration. he must not only meet the requirements of preference laid out in Sec. and must have the willingness. He is also prohibited from making any constructions therein or commit it to purposes incompatible with its agricultural nature. 22 of RA 6657. No. The child is merely given a preference over other beneficiaries. . a resident of the barangays or municipality where the land is located. Thus. Moreover. 6 of RA 6657. and to those entitled to retain seven (7) hectares under PD 27. Award to children If a landowner has children. but also all the other qualifications of a beneficiary enumerated under Sec. aptitude and ability to cultivate and make the land as productive as possible. sec. (Rep. three (3) hectares may be awarded to each subject to the following qualifications: a) b) that he is at least fifteen (15) years old as of 15 June 1988. Act No. 6). he is subject to the same liabilities.

and Heirs of a deceased landowner who manifested. 4 of DAR AO 5 (2000) provides that under the Compulsory Acquisition (CA) scheme. prior to the promulgation of RA 6657.(DAR Adm. 2 [b]). However. 41. the following OLT owners are still entitled to retain seven (7) hectares even if they exercised their right of retention under PD 27 after 15 June 1988: a) b) c) d) Those landowners who complied with the requirement of either LOI 41. Thus. the Court qualified that those who. Secretary of DAR. sec. O. (DAR Adm.In Association cases. it requires that the area be compact and contiguous. Hon. 45 and 52 regarding the registration of the land holdings. 45 or 52. demand that their retention limit be determined under PD 27. the landowner shall exercise his right of retention within sixty (60) days from receipt of the Notice of Coverage from DAR. supra. All those who refused to comply with the requirements cannot. complied with the requirements under Letter of Instruction (LOI) Nos. 45 and 52. while still alive. Those who filed their applications after the deadline but complied with the requirements of LOI 41. 6 of RA 6657 and retain only five (5) hectares.6 of RA 6657 acknowledges the right of the landowners to choose the area to be retained. Failure to exercise this right within the prescribed period means that the landowner waives his right to choose which area to . 45 or 52. and shall be least prejudicial to the entire landholding and the majority of the farmers therein. the Supreme Court held that landowners who failed to exercise their rights to retain under PD 27 can avail of the rights of retention under Sec. Those who filed their applications before the deadline set (27 August 1985 as provided by AO. 4 [1991]). 41. in the resolution of the Supreme Court on the motion for reconsideration in the said case. in view of the passage of CARL. O. Exercise of right of retention While Sec. No. 5 [2000]. Sec. the intention to exercise the right of retention prior to 23 August 1990 (the finality of the Supreme Court decision in Association of Small Landowners vs. shall be allowed to enjoy the seven (7) hectare retention limit. 1 [1985]) whether or not they have complied with LOI Nos. No.

Where Certificates of Land Transfer (CLTs).retain. Moreover. As a matter of policy. O. he shall be considered a lease holder and shall lose his right to be a beneficiary. 5 [2000]. 10). otherwise. The tenant must exercise either option within one (1) year after the landowner manifests his choice of the area for retention. O. No. 5 [2000]. No. the DAR shall immediately inform the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) concerned and provide them the opportunity to contest the landowner’s claim. should they so desire. the DAR shall ensure that the affected ARBs. sec. 10 of DAR AO 5 (2000) further provides that in case the tenant declines to enter into leasehold and there is no available land to transfer. 4). If he chooses to remain in the area retained. . O. the tenant has two (2) options: a) To remains as a lessee. No. Under the Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) scheme. Sec. Emancipation Patents (EPs) or Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) have already been issued on the land chosen by the landowner as retention area. the landowner shall be deemed to have waived his right of retention over the subject property (DAR Adm. sec. 5 [2000]. be given priority in the distribution of other lands of the landowner or other lands identified by the DAR for redistribution. the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO) shall designate the retained area for the landowner. or from the time the MARO has chosen the area to be retained by the landowner. Thereafter. he may choose to be paid disturbance compensation by the landowner. sec. all rights acquired by the tenant-farmers under PD 27 and the security tenure of the farmers or farmworkers on the land prior to the approval of RA 6657 shall be respected (DAR Adm. No. subject to the rights of those already in the area (DAR Adm. 2 [c]). 11). O. In case the area selected by the landowner or awarded for retention by the DAR is tenanted. The offer should specify and segregate the portion covered by VOS and the portion applied for retentions. or if there is. sec. 5 [2000]. or b) Be a beneficiary in the same or another agricultural land with similar or comparable features. or from the time an order is issued granting the retention (DAR Adm. the tenant refuses the same. the right of retention shall be exercised at the time the land is offered to sell.

9 thereof classifies alienable or disposable lands of the public domain as (a) agricultural. CA 141 (1936). otherwise known as the “Public Land Act”.Waiver of right of retention Sec. industrial or for similar productive purposes. such as the form letter of the LBP on the disposition of the cash and bond portions of a land transfer claim for payment. letter or any other document duly attested by the MARO. or other . and g) Doing such act or acts as would amount to a valid waiver in accordance with applicable law and jurisprudence. Sec. warranties and undertaking executed in favor of the LBP. e) Signing/submission of other documents indicating consent to have the entire property covered. c) Entering into a Voluntary Land Transfer/Direct Payment Scheme (VLT-DPS) agreement as evidenced by a Deed of Transfer over the subject property. governs the administration and disposition of lands of the public domain. Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) or Regional Director (RD) indicating that he is expressly waiving his retention right over subject landholding. charitable. (c) educational. d) Offering the subject landholding under VOS scheme and failure to indicate his retained area. b) Signing of the Landowner-Tenant Production Agreement and Farmer’s Undertaking (LTPA-FU) or Application to Purchase and Farmer’s Undertaking (APFU) covering subject property. Public Lands Public lands pertain to all lands that were not acquired by private persons or corporations either by grant or purchase. These lands are either (a) disposable (alienable) public lands or (b) non-disposable public lands. and the Deed of Assignment. f) Performing acts which constitute estoppel by laches. commercial. 7 of DAR AO 5 (2000) provides that the following acts constitute waiver on the landowner’s right of retention: a) Executing an affidavit. (b) residential.

it has been held that there should be no distinction in the application of the la where non is indicated therein (SSS vs. 176 (1992) which stated: xxx… Thus. whether titled or untitled.4 of RA 6657. RA 6657 mandates DAR to acquire and distribute these public lands to agrarian beneficiaries while CA 141 vests upon the DENR the power to control. classification. sale or any other form for concession or disposition and management of the lands of the public domain. lease. 115 SCRA 412) …By said rule. and (b) mineral lands which are governed by RA 7942 (1995) or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and other related laws.3 and Sec. Under Sec. Non-disposable public lands or those not susceptible of private appropriation and include the following: (a) timber lands which are governed by PD 705 (1975) or the Revised Forestry Code. City of Bacolod.6 of CA 141 (see also EO 192 [1987]) reserves the power to classify lands in the public domain into either agricultural (disposable. survey. timber or mineral lands to the President. instructions. that all alienable and disposable lands of the public domain devoted or suitable or devoted to agriculture (Sec. rules and regulations consistent with the Public Land Act. among others. with the recommendation of the Secretary of DENR. It has also been determined that public agricultural lands that are untitled and privately claimed are covered by CARP. the term “private agricultural lands” in the aforementioned section should be interpreted as including all private lands. or (d) reservations for town sites and for public and quasi-public uses.similar purposes. Sec. the Department of Justice issued Opinion No. public and private agricultural lands and lands of the public domain suitable for agriculture are covered by CARP. In response to a query by DAR. It is empowered to prepare and issue such forms. All lands of the public domain are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the DENR except those placed by law and/or by executive issuances under the jurisdiction of other government agencies. Under Sec. the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources (now the Secretary of DENR) is the executive officer charged with carrying out the provisions of the Public Land Act. 4 [a]) and all lands of the public domain in excess of the specific limits of the public domain a determined by Congress (Sec. xxx RA 6657 has created an overlapping of jurisdictions between the DENR and the DAR over the disposition of these lands. 4 [b]) shall be covered by CARP. It provides. . 5 of CA 141.

For these privately claimed public alienable and disposable lands. Joint DAR-DENR MC 14 (1997) provides that all untitled public alienable and disposable lands are deemed “private” if the criteria specified in RA 6940 for the determination of whether or not a person has already acquired a recognizable private right over a landholding is met. b) Lands which are placed by law under jurisdiction of DAR.To resolve the overlapping mandates of the DENR and DAR in the disposition and distribution of public lands for CARP purposes. the Integrated Social Forestry). 176 (1992). and There are no adverse claims on the land. However. as amended by EO 448 and 506. Untitled public alienable and disposable lands are still within the exclusive jurisdiction of DENR pursuant to CA 141. in accordance with DOJ Opinion No. The responsibility and authority of DAR to distribute public lands shall be limited to the following: a) Lands proclaimed by the President as DAR Resettlement Projects and placed under the administration of the DAR for distribution to qualified farmer beneficiaries under CARP. the disposition of non-registrable lands of the public domain is the exclusive responsibility of the DENR under its various programs (i. and c) Lands previously proclaimed for the various government departments. One must have paid the real estate tax thereon. In this instance. the two agencies issued Joint DAR-DENR MC 9 (1995) which recognizes that all lands of the public domain are under the jurisdiction of the DENR unless placed by law and/or by executive issuances under the jurisdiction of other government departments or entities. Under the said circular. agencies and instrumentalities and subsequently turned over to the DAR pursuant to EO 407 (1990). The land must have been classified as alienable and disposable for at least thirty (30) years prior to the effectivity on 16 April 1990. namely: a) b) c) d) Continuous occupancy and cultivation by oneself or through one’s predecessors-in-interest for at least thirty (30) years prior to the effectivity of RA 6940 on 16 April 1990.. the DENR first issues a Free Patent to qualified applicants for the . the role of the DAR is to assist the DENR in identifying and screening of farmer beneficiaries.e.

and the public land claimant lacks the requisite thirty (30)-year possession. and thus. It is submitted. Needless to say. however. effectively removes remaining public alienable and disposable lands out of the scope of CARP. If the alienable and disposable land is no tenanted but has actual farm occupants. . As these claimants/tenants are mere occupants and can not be granted Free Patents by the DENR. including those lands not specifically placed under the jurisdiction of other government agencies. Sec. It directs all Regional Executive Directors to strictly exercise DENR’s jurisdiction over all alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. DENR MC 22 (1999) poses another roadblock which if not corrected or legally challenged in court can derail the already delayed coverage of public agricultural lands. A recently issued DENR MC 22 (1999) entitled “DENR Jurisdiction over Alienable and Disposable Lands of the Public Domain”. the political implications of government’s reluctance to commit public agricultural lands for agrarian ends in the face of its relentless expropriation of private landholdings is serious. these lands should instead be committed for agrarian purposes. the disposition shall be under the jurisdiction of the DENR. 7 of RA 6657 explicitly provides that alienable and disposable public agricultural lands are among the priority lands for distribution. that these alienable and disposable lands that are privately claimed by claimants who are not qualified under the criteria set under RA 6940 (1990) should be turned over to DAR for distribution under CARP. seems to abrogate or set aside Joint DAR_DENR MC 14 (1997). The role of the DAR ijn the case is limited to the documentation and protection of the leasehold arrangement between public and land claimant and the tenants. This recent issuance prohibits the turnover of alienable and disposable lands to CARP. The DAR shall then cover the excess area and issue a CLOA or EP and distribute these to qualified beneficiaries. For untitled public alienable and disposable lands which are tenanted and with claimants not qualified under the criteria specified in RA 6940. While merely an administrative order that can not overturn legislation on the matter.retained area of not more than five (5) hectares. and prepare the same for disposition to qualified and legitimate recipients under the People’s Alliance for the Rehabilitation of Environment of the Office of the Secretary of the DENR. these shall be under the jurisdiction of DENR and the appropriate tenurial instrument shall be applied.

while Sec. but not limited to. stealth or as a consequence of government projects and other voluntary dealings entered into by government and private individuals/corporations. continuous and open possession of an indigenous cultural community and its members. to the present. It shall also respect laws on ancestral domain enacted by the respective legislators of autonomous regions. For one. System of land ownership. notwithstanding any law to the contrary. Policy for ancestral lands under CARP CARP ensures the protection of the right of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral lands to ensure their economic. force majeure or displacement by force. social and cultural well being. residential lots. has more encompassing definition. refers to lands occupied. rice terraces or paddies. families and clans who are members of the ICCs/IPs (indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples) since time immemorial. and modes of settling land disputes of ICCs/IPs shall be recognized and respected in line with the principles of self-determination and autonomy. private forests. swidden farms and treelots. 3 (b) of RA 8371 (1997) or the “Indigenous Peoples Rights Act”. land use. 9 of RA 6657 defines ancestral lands as those that include. However. including.Ancestral Lands Sec. the full protection of the rights of the ICCs/IPs to their ancestral lands under CARP is hampered by various legal constrains. has the power to suspend the implementation of the CARP with respect to ancestral lands for the purpose of identifying and delineating such lands. Sec. The Presidential Agrarian Reform Committee (PARC). Definition of Terms. subject to the provision of the Constitution and the principles enunciated in RA 6657 and other national laws. to wit: Sec. 9 respects or protects the rights of the ICCs/IPs to . lands in actual. –xxx c) Ancestral Lands – Subject to Section 56 hereof. except when interrupted by war. by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest. 3. under claims of individual or traditional group ownership continuously. deceit. but not limited to. possessed and utilized by individuals.

it likewise recognizes the claim of the ICC over these lands and allows them to access support services from DAR. This is a fundamental legal setback to the rights of ICCs/IPs. is vested. social and cultural well-being. RA 8371 is a clear departure from either law and regulation for not only does it expand the definition of ancestral lands but recognizes the right of the ICCs/IPs to own these lands.their ancestral lands as means to protect their economic. DAR issues member/s of the ICCs who are engaged in agricultural activities over the said lands CARP Beneficiary Certificate (CBC). It should be noted that the vested rights of these communities to ancestral lands have not been recognized to have pre-existed the Regalian Doctrine which underlie the government’s perspective to full ownership and control over natural resources as well as the current legal system that regulates private property rights. In any case. among others with the power and to issue Certificates of Ancestral Domain/Land Titles over ancestral lands. its definition of ancestral lands is circumscribed by the limitation that the Torrens System shall be respected. Thus. a body created by RA 8371. Though these do not vest title. the benefit of being awarded CLOAs over ancestral lands to these ICCs/IPs are limited to private agricultural lands and public agricultural lands transferred to DAR. National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). CARP involves alienable and disposable lands only while ancestral lands of ICCs/IPs encompass forest and mineral lands and other lands of the public domain which are by definition inalienable and indisposable. to promote and protect the rights of the ICCs/IPs over ancestral alnds situated in inalienable and indisposable public lands. . RA 8371 (1997) has a more expensive definition of ancestral domains and ancestral lands which includes lands that are legally determined as indisposable and inalienable public lands.