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THE DARAB….

the COURT for the DAR OR of the DAR

(First of many series)

In this prolix age, practically everything a person does and owns affects the public interest directly or at
least vicariously, unavoidably drawing him within the embrace of the law. Increasingly, he is hemmed in
by all manner of statutory and procedural platforms required by law. That is why, all over the world, you
will observe every country including the Philippineshas provided different courts with specific issues as
their respective jurisdictions in order for individuals seeking relief from courts will know where to file
their cases.

In the Philippines, we have the labor courts for labor cases; civil courts for civil cases (no penalty of
imprisonment) and criminal cases (with penalty of imprisonment); and agrarian courts, which is the
DARAB (Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board), for agrarian cases, e.g. where the subject
matter involve is agricultural lands, and all matters or incidents involving the implementation of the
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, Extension with reforms or CARPER (R.A. 9700).

As Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD) since my appointment in November 1990 up to this
writing, covering six DAR Secretaries from Honorables Garilao, Morales, Pagdanganan, Braganza, Villa,
and presently Pangandaman, and for credential purposes, with my unsurpassed record as the consistent
number 1 performer for six (6) consecutive years from 2003 to 2008 (October 6, 2008 issue of the Manila
Bulletin), I will venture to talk about the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board or DARAB,
which I served with the same position as PARAD for almost nineteen (19) years now.

The DARAB like all courts of the land under its aegis is a special court created to handle cases only
involving agrarian issues, meaning, where the subject matter is public and private lands which are
agricultural in nature, and all matters and issues connected with the implementation of the
CARPER except those falling under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture
and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The key factor for determination is whether
the subject matter in dispute is agricultural land. Therefore, if the land involve is not agricultural in
nature, the parties should not file their cases before the DARAB. Please see the following authorities:
BACALING v MUYA, G.R. No. 148404-5, April 11, 2002; PASONG BAYABAS FARMERS ASSO., ET AL., G.R.
No. 142359 and 142980, May 25, 2004; PROVINCE OF CAMARINES SUR v COUR OF APPEALS, G.R. No.
103125, May 17, 1993; NATALIA REALTY v DAR, G.R. No. 103302, August 12, 1993;FORTICH vs.
CORONA, G.R. No. 131457, Nov. 17,1998; FORTICH vs. CORONA, G.R. No. 131457; GONZALES, ET AL.vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL., G.R. No. 36213, June 29, 1989.

The DARAB is a co-equal body with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and its decisions are beyond
the RTC’s control (SPRINGFIELD DEVT. CORP., INC., ET AL. VS. HON.PRES. JUDGE ETC., ET AL. G.R. No.
142628. February 6, 2007). As to its role to the CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
Extension with Reforms, R.A. 9700), the DARAB, is the Adjudicatory arm of the DAR and was mandated
by law to determine disputes between and among litigants, landowners and tenants, tillers, and farmer
beneficiaries over agricultural lands covered under the CARPER of the government, and protecting the
parties against arbitrary or oppressive action by the DAR administrative agency which was mandated by
law to implement the CARPER. The DARAB stands between the citizens and the DAR officials, among
others, as a bulwark against executive excesses and misuse or abuse of power by the DAR administrative
agency in connection with its implementation of the CARPER.

The E.Os 229, 129-A, and later R.A. 6657, the laws creating the DARAB are basically a charter of
limitations of the DAR administrative agency and enshrine a system of separation of powers and checks
and balances from its counterpart, the DARAB, under which no one is the law nor above the law. It
ordains the weaker department, the DARAB, as the guardian and arbiter of the legal and property rights
in agrarian disputes. It postulates and requires a free and independent body, the DARAB, sworn to
defend and enforce the CARPER without fear or favor.Like His Holiness, the Pope, the DARAB has no
battalions, tanks or guns to enforce its decisions. Its strength lies in that its verdicts would be obeyed by
the sheer moral force and truth of its judgments for as long as it kept the faith and confidence reposed in
it by the people through the law upon which it was created to render justice and sustained its moral
conviction that through the DARAB, justice and the voice of reason and truth would prevail in the end.

To elucidate further, the DAR has dual functions in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian
Reform Law (CARL, now CARPER), namely:

1. The implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms
(CARPER) based on the law, which is the task performed by the DAR Administrative Agency; and

2. Adjudication of agrarian cases, and all matters and disputes involving the implementation of CARPER,
which is the function exercised by the DARAB.

Therefore, the DAR is divided into two branches, these are: the administrative agency, on the one hand,
and the DARAB, on the other hand, and each is independent from each other because one is exercising
incompatible duties and responsibilities in every point from each other. However, when it comes to
judicial issue in agrarian reform, the DARAB is supreme. It is because it is vested with the power to annul
the acts of the DAR administrative agency when not conformable to the fundamental law. This is the
reason for what some quarters call the doctrine of judicial supremacy. Circumstantially, the DAR
administrative agency cannot intrude into the function of the DARAB without running afoul of the
independence thereof. Otherwise, this would be inimical to the public interest since a cabal between the
DAR administrative agency and the DARAB would be perceived and or, that the administrative agency is
exercising complete and absolute control over the DARAB.

Pursuant to the foregoing premises, the purpose for the enactment of E.Os 229, and later R.A. 6657, and
now R.A. 9700, is to provide a sensible equilibrium against suspicion by the landowners of bias and
collusion between the administrative agency and the DARAB since they are both under the umbrella of
the DAR. Correspondingly, the administrative agency cannot muscle into the turf of the DARAB by
whatever moral dominance otherwise the purpose for which the law was designed would be put to
naught.

Nevertheless, even if the DARAB and its Adjudicators are absolutely dependent for their existence on the
DAR as to logistics to run their offices and personnel, in my almost nineteen (19) years of service as
Adjudicator, I have never been approached, pressured, influenced, intimidated, much less, forced by any
DAR officials to decide the cases I handled one way or the other. That is why, the DARAB from its
inception in 1991, it has remained the repositories of judicial power whose judges are sworn and
committed to render impartial justice to all alike who seek the enforcement or protection of a right or
the prevention or redress of a wrong, without fear or favor and removed from the pressures of power
and prejudice.

Regarding the perception whether the DARAB is the court for the DAR or of the DAR, without any mental
reservation or purpose of evasion, my straightforward answer is that the DARAB is the Court of the DAR.

INTERLUDE

In this proud land, I was taught to fight, grow strong, and learn how to win. I became strong I never
thought I could lose. But life’s battles are hard to conquer. I found myself a man whose dreams have all
deserted. A proud land as no one wants you when you lose (abeto a. salcedo, jr.).

On my next post, the author will discuss the latest amendment found in current primary law on agrarian
reform, which is the CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Extension with Reforms), R.A. 9700,
signed by the President on August 7, 2009. This will enable everyone, especially lawyers, to understand
and be updated regarding the important features of the LAW. Because they will be explained clearly in
simple words by the author who is a Judge/Adjudicator for nineteen (19) years already in the DARAB and
a consistent and unsurpassed number one performer from 2003 to 2008, and the most senior of all the
Judges/Adjudicators in the DARAB throughout the country, he speaks and writes with authority regarding
agrarian reform and related topics. You can ask questions in the comment found below if you wish.
Please spread the news regarding my blog site because it is only here that you will know and understand
clearly all about agrarian reform and other topics of interest. To find my blog, type on the website
portion, NOT on the search portion—

realtruestories.blogspot.com.