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THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT REGIONAL

TRAIL COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION


OVER THE ISSUES IN CIVIL CASE Nos.
P-1838 and P-1815.

There is no rule in procedural law as basic as the precept that jurisdiction is


conferred by law, and is determined by the allegations in the complaint. Thus in OCA v.
Court of Appeals, 428 Phil. 696 (2002) the Supreme Court ruled:
It is determined exclusively by the Constitution and the law. It cannot be
conferred by the voluntary act or agreement of the parties, or acquired
through or waived, enlarged or diminished by their act or omission, nor
conferred by the acquiescence of the court. Well to emphasize, it is neither for
the court nor the parties to violate or disregard the rule, this matter being
legislative in character.

RA 6657 has vested the exclusive jurisdiction over matters involving the
implementation of agrarian reform to the petitioner Department of Agrarian Reform.
SECTION 50. Quasi-Judicial Powers of the DAR. The DAR is hereby
vested with the primary jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate agrarian
reform matters and shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over all matters
involving the implementation of agrarian reform except those falling under the
exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Thus, By no possible means can exclusive jurisdiction to try a specific class
of cases be construed so as to permit of another court entertaining jurisdiction
over such cases. To give a grant of unrestricted exclusive jurisdiction over a
specific class of litigation to one court its only proper sense, all other courts
must be barred from exercising jurisdiction in such cases.
To hold that another court has jurisdiction also such in cases is to destroy the
grant of exclusive jurisdiction given to the first. It is no longer exclusive when
shared by another court, but merely concurrent. 1

In July 2009, the exclusivity of the jurisdiction of the DAR has been strengthened
when RA 9700 took effect. Section 19 thereof inserted a new provision in RA 6657 Section
50-A which states:
"SEC. 50-A. Exclusive Jurisdiction on Agrarian Dispute. - No court or

prosecutor's office shall take cognizance of cases pertaining to the


implementation of the CARP except those provided under Section 57 of
Republic Act No. 6657, as amended. If there is an allegation from any of the
1 Barrameda v. Moir GR No. L-7927 August 8 1913

parties that the case is agrarian in nature and one of the parties is a farmer,
farmworker, or tenant, the case shall be automatically referred by the judge or
the prosecutor to the DAR which shall determine and certify within fifteen (15)
days from referral whether an agrarian dispute exists: Provided, That from the
determination of the DAR, an aggrieved party shall have judicial recourse. In
cases referred by the municipal trial court and the prosecutor's office, the
appeal shall be with the proper regional trial court, and in cases referred by
the regional trial court, the appeal shall be to the Court of Appeals.
"In cases where regular courts or quasi-judicial bodies have competent
jurisdiction, agrarian reform beneficiaries or identified beneficiaries and/or
their associations shall have legal standing and interest to intervene
concerning their individual or collective rights and/or interests under the
CARP.
"The fact of non-registration of such associations with the Securities and
Exchange Commission, or Cooperative Development Authority, or any
concerned government agency shall not be used against them to deny the
existence of their legal standing and interest in a case filed before such courts
and quasi-judicial bodies."

On 28 April 2010, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) of the Supreme Court
promulgated Circular No. 62-2010 enjoining all judges of lower courts to strictly observe
Section 50-A of R.A. No. 6657, as amended by R.A. No. 9700, and refer all cases before it
alleged to involve an agrarian dispute to the DAR for the necessary determination and
certification.
It must be emphasized that nothing in the said circular states that the courts should
only refer cases filed to them after the effectivity of RA 9700 and OCA Circular No. 62-2010.
In fact, the Circular directed all lower court judges to refer all cases before it- the plain
meaning of which includes those already filed. Such includes all cases in whatever stage of
the proceeding because the law did not distinguish.
The Order of the Public Respondent Judge dated 6 January 2011 was issued upon
the initiative of the Private Respondents herein through a Motion for Issuance of a Writ of
Demolition dated 7 September 2010. The defendants, petitioners herein, answered the
Motion with a Comment/Opposition which included allegations that they were farmer
beneficiaries entitled to the land on the strength of the CLOA. The allegations of the
petitioners should have already prompted the Public Respondent Judge to refer the case to

DAR per the mandate of the law and the directive of the OCA. His failure to do so, with all
due respect, constituted grave abuse of discretion.
The Supreme Court in the case of Ualat v. Ramos (AM No. MTJ-91-567, December
6 1996) held:
In the case of Ocier vs Court of Appeals, we reiterated the ruling we made in
Puertollano in this wise:
Private respondent, in her original complaint before the lower court, alleged
that petitioner violated the Land Reform Code and could be ejected under
P.D. 816. Petitioner answered that he was a tenant of private respondent.
There was, at that point in time, no need for referral to the Department of
Agrarian Reform as the landowner-tenant relationship was admitted.
However, when private respondents amended complaint -- where she alleged
violation of a civil law lease agreement -- was admitted, the issue of actual
tenancy -- raised by petitioner in both his Answer and Amended Answer -- had
to be referred to the Department of Agrarian Reform for determination as this
was now a genuine issue.
It was also held in Puertollano case where this Court ruled that (i)t is mandatory for
the trial court to refer the case to the Secretary of Agrarian Reform or his authorized
representative for a preliminary determination of the relationship between the contending
parties if it is a case of ejectment or attempt to harass or remove a tenant in agricultural
land primarily devoted to rice and corn. Even without a motion, the trial court may motu
propio order such referral.

ASSUMING THE REGIONAL TRIAL


COURT HAD JURISDICTION, STILL
THE FINDINGS OF THE DAR SHOULD
BE CONCLUSIVE UPON THE RIGHTS
OF THE AFFECTED PARTIES AND
MUST BE ACCORDED GREAT
RESPECT.
It is the predecessor of the Public respondent Judge himself, in his Joint Decision for
both Civil Case No. P-1815 and Civil Case No. P-1838, the mother case of this whole issue,
who quoted Ysmael v. Deputy et. al. (GR No. 79538 October 18 1990) and Villanueva Jr. v.
Leogardo, Jr. (215 SCRA 835 [1991]) when he wrote: Decisions and orders od
administrative agencies have upon their finality the force and binding effect of a final
judgment within the purview of teh doctrine of res judicata. These decisions and orders are

as conclusive upon the rights and the affected parties as though the same had been
rendered by a court of general jurisdiction. Said doctrine forbids the re-opening of a m,atter
once determined by competent authority acting within their exclusive jurisdiction. (Ysmael v
Deputy) That findings of the administrative agencies are generally accorded not only
respect but even finality is well established. (Villanueva Jr. v. Leogardo, Jr).
The case at bar is evident that the DAR has consistently held that since 1998 the
subject landholding is not exempted from the coverage of the CARP, that the private
respondents have already been divested of their ownership over the land, and the issuance
of CLOA in favour of the petitioners herein has already granted them ownership and the
right of possession over the said lot. In fact, no less than the Office of the President has
affirmed with finality this Decision through a Resolution dated 3 June 2013.
Thus, the Public Respondnt should have desisted from entertaining the Motion odf
teh private respondents to execute its previous decisions and to demolish te houses of teh
petitioners and should have adopted the reasonable findings of the DAR. As was held in the
case of Sta. Ana v. Carpo (GR NO. 164340 Nov. 28, 2008):
The doctrine of primary jurisdiction precludes the courts from resolving a
controversy over which jurisdiction has initially been lodged in an
administrative body of special competence. For agrarian reform cases,
jurisdiction is vested in the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR); more
specifically, in the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board
(DARAB). Executive Order 229 vested the DAR with (1) quasi-judicial powers
to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters; and (2) jurisdiction over
all matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform, except those
falling under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture
and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
THE ISSUANCE OF CLOA TO THE
PETITIONERS BY THE DAR EFFECTED
A CHANGE IN SITUATION OF THE
PARTIES MAKING THE EXECUTION OF
THE RTC DECISION INEQUITABLE OR
UNJUST.

EXEMPTION TO IMMUTABILITY OF JUDGEMENT

Under the doctrine of finality of judgment or immutability of judgment, a decision that


has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified in

any respect, even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and
law, and whether it be made by the court that rendered it or by the Highest Court of the land.
Any act which violates this principle must immediately be struck down.

But like any other rule, it has exceptions, namely: (1) the correction of clerical errors;
(2) the so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party; (3) void
judgments; and (4) whenever circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision
rendering its execution unjust and inequitable.

The exception to the doctrine of immutability of judgment has been applied in several
cases in order to serve substantial justice. The early case of City of Butuan vs. Ortiz is one
where the Court held as follows:

Obviously a prevailing party in a civil action is entitled to a writ of


execution of the final judgment obtained by him within five years from its entry
(Section 443, Code of Civil Procedure). But it has been repeatedly held, and
it is now well-settled in this jurisdiction, that when after judgment has been
rendered and the latter has become final, facts and circumstances transpire
which render its execution impossible or unjust, the interested party may ask
the court to modify or alter the judgment to harmonize the same with justice
and the facts (Molina vs. De la Riva, 8 Phil. 569; Behn, Meyer & Co. vs.
McMicking, 11 Phil. 276; Warner, Barnes & Co. vs. Jaucian, 13 Phil. 4;
Espiritu vs. Crossfield and Guash, 14 Phil. 588; Flor Mata vs. Lichauco and
Salinas, 36 Phil. 809). In the instant case the respondent Cleofas alleged that
subsequent to the judgment obtained by Sto. Domingo, they entered into an
agreement which showed that he was no longer indebted in the amount
claimed of P995, but in a lesser amount. Sto. Domingo had no right to an
execution for the amount claimed by him. (De la Costa vs. Cleofas, 67 Phil.
686-693).
Shortly after City of Butuan v. Ortiz, the case of Candelario v. Caizares was
promulgated, where it was written that:
After a judgment has become final, if there is evidence of an event or
circumstance which would affect or change the rights of the parties thereto,
the court should be allowed to admit evidence of such new facts and
circumstances, and thereafter suspend execution thereof and grant relief as
the new facts and circumstances warrant. We, therefore, find that the ruling of
the court declaring that the order for the payment of P40,000.00 is final and
may not be reversed, is erroneous as above explained.

These rulings were reiterated in the cases of Abellana vs. Dosdos, The City of Cebu
vs. Mendoza and PCI Leasing and Finance, Inc. v Antonio Milan. In these cases, there were
compelling circumstances which clearly warranted the exercise of the Courts equity
jurisdiction.2

In the case at bar, the Orders dated 9 July 1999, November 5 1999, and February 7
2007 of the Department of Agrarian Reform which declared the validity of the coverage of
the subject landholding under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and the
consequent issuance of the Certificate of Land Ownership (CLOA) to the fifty-eight farmerbeneficiaries, very well qualifies to be within the contemplation of the evidence of such new
facts and circumstances which warrants the exercise of the Courts equity jurisdiction.

Moreso, when a Resolution was issued by the Office of the President dated 3 June
2013 which was thereafter confirmed by the same office through a Resolution dated 11
February 2011 confirming the Orders of the Department of Agrarian Reform, it solidified the
fact that there had been a clear change in the situation of the parties which definitely makes
the execution of the Order of the Regional Trial Court inequitable and unjust.

The private respondents have already been divested of their ownership over the land
from the moment the petitioners were issued their CLOA. Consequently, the petitioners
have been granted the ownership as well as the right of possession to the said land. Under
Section 24 of RA 6657, once a CLOA has been issued to a beneficiary and his name has
been registered as such, he already acquires rights and responsibilities as the owner of the
land.

It must be emphasized that the ejectment cases filed by the private respondents
were anchored upon their right to possess the land by virtue of their ownership thereof.
However, as reflected in the facts, the Fajardos ceased to be the owners of the land by 8
December 1997 and the ownership and right to possess thereof were transferred to the
farmer beneficiaries on 29 December 1997.
2 FGU INSURANCE CORPORATION vs. REGIONAL TRIAL Court Of Makati City, Branch 66, And G.P. Sarmiento
Trucking Corporation G.R. No. 161282 February 23, 2011

SUPERVENING EVENT

Also in the case of SIMPLICIA O. ABRIGO and DEMETRIO ABRIGO vs. JIMMY F.
FLORES G.R. No. 160786 June 17, 2013, the Supreme Court discussed at length the
doctrine of supervening event as such:
We deem it highly relevant to point out that a supervening event is an
exception to the execution as a matter of right of a final and immutable
judgment rule, only if it directly affects the matter already litigated and settled,
or substantially changes the rights or relations of the parties therein as to
render the execution unjust, impossible or inequitable. A supervening event
consists of facts that transpire after the judgment became final and executory,
or of new circumstances that develop after the judgment attained finality,
including matters that the parties were not aware of prior to or during the trial
because such matters were not yet in existence at that time. In that event, the
interested party may properly seek the stay of execution or the quashal of the
writ of execution, or he may move the court to modify or alter the judgment in
order to harmonize it with justice and the supervening event. The party who
alleges a supervening event to stay the execution should necessarily
establish the facts by competent evidence; otherwise, it would become all too
easy to frustrate the conclusive effects of a final and immutable judgment.
[Emphasis supplied.]

Thus, the issuance of CLOAs to the petitioners is a supervening event which


substantially changes the rights and relations of the parties rendering the execution unjust, if
not absurd. The Supreme Court itself through the foretasted jurisprudence dictates that in
such cases, it is but proper to stay the execution or the quashal of the writ of execution to
harmonize it with the supervening event.
Indeed, the suggested recourse of the Court of Appeals to prove it in a separate
action initiated for that purpose appears to be circuitous and will definitely cause more
hardship to the farmer beneficiaries who should have long been exercising their rights and
responsibilities over the subject land. In effect, the petitioners will be forced to dispossess
their farms and houses only to be re installed by virtue of the CARP. Meanwhile, precious
amount of time and resources would have to be wasted causing unnecessary adversity to
the farmer beneficiaries.

THE REGISTRTION OF THE TITLE IN


THE NAME OF TE REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES AND THE ISSUANCE OF
THE CLOA IN FAVOR OF THE
PETITIONERS HAVE RENDERED THE
ISSUES IN CIVIL CASE P-1838 AND CA
GR CV NO.51376 MOOT AND
ACADEMIC.
Agrarian Reform means redistribution of lands, regardless of crops or fruits
produced, to farmers and regular farmworkers who are landless, irrespective of tenurial
arrangement, to include the totality of factors and support services designed to lift the
economic status of the beneficiaries and all other arrangements alternative to the physical
redistribution of lands, such as production or profit-sharing, labor administration, and the
distribution of shares of stocks, which will allow beneficiaries to receive a just share of the
fruits of the lands they work.3
Benefitting from the program carries with it certain responsibilities. In paragraph 14
Section 2 of RA 6657 as amended by RA 9700 the law states that Owners of agricultural
land have the obligation to cultivate directly or through labor administration the lands they
own and thereby make the land productive. Further, Section 22 of the same indicates: A
basic qualification of a beneficiary shall be his willingness, aptitude, and ability to cultivate
and make the land as productive as possible. The Court in Ordering the beneficiaries who
are declared owners of the land be deprived of their possession of the land due to an action
for possession by someone who is not the owner or possessor of the land the ends of the
program will be frustrated.
Based on the findings of fact by the DAR, the subject land is covered in agrarian
reform. In fact, it is already awarded the said lands to petitioners. Assuming for the sake of
argument therefore that the honorable courts were correct in upholding the possessory
rights of ten Fajardos based on their original 1992 pleadings, those decisions have no effect
on the award of CLOA granted by the DAR to the petitioners which was done within the
authority granted by law. In short, while indeed the court has decided that the private
respondents had the right to possess the land and to eject the petitioners at the same time
the case was filed, the status has long been changed.

3 Section 3(a) RA 6657

To decide otherwise would be an indirect attack to the CLOA awarded under CARP
which is a valid title under the Torrens System. Such will undoubtedly create a bad
precedent for landowners to file ejectment cases to circumvent the coverage of their lands
under CARP.

The Supreme Court in Estribillo vs. DAR (G.R. No. 159674, June 30, 2006) declared
that titles of land awarded under any agrarian reform program are indefeasible and
imprescriptible. The titles (i.e. EP and CLOA) will be afforded the same protection as
Torrens title under the Torrens system. This provision provides protection to the CLOAs or
EPs of farmers being cancelled after it has been registered already for a long time.
Section 24 as amended by RA 9700. that the emancipation patents, the certificates of
land ownership award, and other titles issued under any agrarian reform program shall be
indefeasible and imprescriptible after one (1) year from its registration with the office of the
registry of deeds, subject to the conditions, limitations and qualifications of this act, the
property registration decree, and other pertinent laws. the emancipation patents or the
certificates of land ownership award being titles brought under the operation of the Torrens
system, are conferred with the same indefeasibility and security afforded to all titles under
the said system, as provided for by presidential decree no. 1529.

THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS HAVE


ALREADY AVAILED OF THE LAND
VALUATION OF THE DAR SIGNIFYING
THEIR ABNEGATION OF OWNERSHIP
OVER THE SUBJECT LAND.
Section 16 of RA 6657 as amended by RA 9700 delineates the procedure for the
Acquisition an d Distribution of Public Lands:
(a) After having identified the land, the landowners and the beneficiaries,
the DAR shall send its notice to acquire the land to the owners thereof, by
personal delivery or registered mail, and post the same in a conspicuous
place in the municipal building and barangay hall of the place where the
property is located. Said notice shall contain the offer of the DAR to pay a
corresponding value in accordance with the valuation set forth in Sections 17,
18,
and
other
pertinent
provisions hereof.
(b) Within thirty (30) days from the date of receipt of written notice by personal
delivery or registered mail, the landowner, his administrator or representative
shall inform the DAR of his acceptance or rejection of the offer.

(c) If the landowner accepts the offer of the DAR, the Land Bank of
the Philippines (LBP) shall pay the landowner the purchase price of the land
within thirty (30) days after he executes and delivers a deed of transfer in
favor of the government and surrenders the Certificate of Title and other
muniments of title.
(d) In case of rejection or failure to reply, the DAR shall conduct
summary administrative proceedings to determine the compensation for the
land requiring the landowner, the LBP and other interested parties to submit
evidence as to the just compensation for the land, within fifteen (15) days
from the receipt of the notice. After the expiration of the above period, the
matter is deemed submitted for decision. The DAR shall decide the case
within thirty (30) days after it is submitted for decision.
(e) Upon receipt by the landowner of the corresponding payment or, in
case of rejection or no response from the landowner, upon the deposit with
an accessible bank designated by the DAR of the compensation in cash or in
LBP bonds in accordance with this Act, the DAR shall take immediate
possession of the land and shall request the proper Register of Deeds to
issue a Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) in the name of the Republic of the
Philippines. The DAR shall thereafter proceed with the redistribution of the
land to the qualified beneficiaries.
(f) Any party who disagrees with the decision may bring the matter to
the court of proper jurisdiction for final determination of just compensation.

As early as 1998, the private respondents have already filed in a petition for
determination of land valuation /compensation over the subject landholding before the DAR
Adjudication Board-Regional Agrarian Reform Adjudicators Office in Legazpi City Albay.
This clearly is tantamount to their abnegation of the ownership of the land as well as an
admission of the application of CARP over the subject land.

THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WRIT


OF EXECUTION AND WRIT OF
DEMOLITION WILL FRUSTRATE THE
OBJECTIVES OF THE AGRARIAN
REFORM.

The implementation of the assailed Orders would consequently cause irreparable


injury to petitioners as they would be deprived not only of their houses but of their farms
which provide for their subsistence as well. Further, the execution of the Writ of Demolition

would render nugatory the resolution dated 11 February 2011 of the Department of Agrarian
Reform which placed the subject land under CARP. Consequently therefore, such execution
would weaken or destroy the entire agrarian reform of the government as the demolition of
the subject houses can be taken to mean that the government has no power to fully protect
the rights of farmers-beneficiaries.