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Republic of the Philippines 6657 otherwise known as the treat aquaculture lands

SUPREME COURT Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. 1 and other industrial


Manila lands, when they are
Petitioners Atlas Fertilizer similarly situated in
EN BANC Corporation, 2 Philippine Federation of violation of the
Fishfarm Producers, Inc. and petitioner- constitutional guarantee
in-intervention Archie's Fishpond, Inc. of the equal protection of
and Arsenio Al. Acuna 3 are engaged in the laws.
G.R. No. 93100 June 19, 1997 the aquaculture industry utilizing
fishponds and prawn farms. They assail 3. The questioned
Sections 3 (b), 11, 13, 16 (d), 17 and 32 provisions distort
ATLAS FERTILIZER
of R.A. 6657, as well as the employment benefits and
CORPORATION, petitioner,
implementing guidelines and procedures burdens in favor of
vs.
contained in Administrative Order Nos. 8 aquaculture employees
THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF
and 10 Series of 1988 issued by public and against other
THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN
respondent Secretary of the Department industrial workers even
REFORM, respondent.
of Agrarian Reform as unconstitutional. as Section 1 and 3,
Article XIII of the
G.R. No. 97855 June 19, 1997 Constitution mandate the
Petitioners claim that the questioned
provisions of CARL violate the State to promote equality
PHILIPPINE FEDERATION OF Constitution in the following manner: in economic and
FISHFARM PRODUCERS, employment
INC. petitioner, opportunities.
1. Sections 3 (b), 11, 13,
vs.
16 (d), 17 and 32 of
THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF 4. The questioned
CARL extend agrarian
THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN provisions deprive
reform to aquaculture
REFORM, respondent. petitioner of its
lands even as Section 4,
Article XIII of the government-induced
RESOLUTION Constitution limits investments in
agrarian reform only to aquaculture even as
agricultural lands. Sections 2 and 3, Article
XIII of the Constitution
ROMERO, J.: mandate the State to
2. The questioned
provisions similarly treat respect the freedom of
Before this Court are consolidated of aquaculture lands and enterprise and the right of
petitions questioning the constitutionality agriculture lands when enterprises to reasonable
of some portions of Republic Act No. they are differently returns on investments
situated, and differently
and to expansion and that in fishponds and prawn farms, there "Agricultural, Agricultural
growth. are no farmers, nor farm workers, who till Enterprise or Agricultural
lands, and no agrarian unrest, and Activity." (Emphasis
The constitutionality of the above- therefore, the constitutionally intended Supplied)
mentioned provisions has been ruled beneficiaries under Section 4, Art. XIII,
upon in the case of Luz Farms, 1987 Constitution do not exist in (b) Section 11 which
Inc. v.Secretary of Agrarian aquaculture. defines "commercial
Reform 4 regarding the inclusion of land farms" as private
devoted to the raising of livestock, In their second argument, they contend agricultural lands devoted
poultry and swine in its coverage. that R.A. 6657, by including in its to fishponds and prawn
coverage, the raising of fish and ponds. . . . (Emphasis
The issue now before this Court is the aquaculture operations including Supplied)
constitutionality of the same above- fishponds and prawn ponds, treating
mentioned provisions insofar as they them as in the same class or (c) Section 13 which calls
include in its coverage lands devoted to classification as agriculture or farming upon petitioner to
the aquaculture industry, particularly violates the equal protection clause of execute a production-
fishponds and prawn farms. the Constitution and is, therefore, void. sharing plan.
Further, the Constitutional Commission
In their first argument , petitioners debates show that the intent of the (d) Section 16(d) and 17
contend that in the case of Luz Farms, constitutional framers is to exclude which vest on the
Inc. v. Secretary of Agrarian "industrial" lands, to which category Department of Agrarian
Reform, 5 this Court has already ruled lands devoted to aquaculture, fishponds, reform the authority to
impliedly that lands devoted to fishing and fish farms belong. summarily determine the
are not agricultural lands. In aquaculture, just compensation to be
fishponds and prawn farms, the use of Petitioners also claim that Administrative paid for lands covered by
land is only incidental to and not the Order Nos. 8 and 10 issued by the the comprehensive
principal factor in productivity and, Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Agrarian reform Law.
hence, as held in "Luz Farms," they too Reform are, likewise, unconstitutional, as
should be excluded from R.A. 6657 just held in "Luz Farms," and are therefore (e) Section 32 which
as lands devoted to livestock, swine, and void as they implement the assailed spells out the production-
poultry have been excluded for the same provisions of CARL. sharing plan mentioned
reason. They also argue that they are in section 13 —
entitled to the full benefit of "Luz Farms" The provisions of CARL being assailed
to the effect that only five percent of the as unconstitutional are as follows: . . . (W)hereby three
total investment in aquaculture activities, percent (3%) of the gross
fishponds, and prawn farms, is in the (a) Section 3 (b) which sales from the production
form of land, and therefore, cannot be includes the "raising of such lands are
classified as agricultural activity. Further, of fish in the definition of
distributed within sixty by Congress. Provisions of said Act of fruit
(60) days at the end of pertinent to the assailed provisions of trees,
the fiscal year as CARL are the following: including
compensation to regular the
and other farmworkers in Sec. 1. Section 3, harvestin
such lands over and Paragraph (b) of g of such
above the compensation Republic Act No. 6657 is farm
they currently receive: hereby amended to read products
Provided, That these as follows: and other
individuals or entities farm
realize gross sales in Sec. 3. activities
excess of five million Definition and
pesos per annum unless s. — For practices
the DAR, upon proper the performed
application, determines a purpose by a
lower ceiling. of this farmer in
Act, conjunctio
In the event that the unless the n with
individual or entity context such
realizes a profit, an indicates farming
additional ten percent otherwise: operation
(10%) of the net profit s done by
after tax shall be persons
(b)
distributed to said regular whether
Agricultur
and other farmworkers natural or
e,
within ninety (90) days of juridical.
Agricultur
the end of the fiscal year. al
... Enterprise Sec. 2. Section 10 of
or Republic Act No. 6657 is
While the Court will not hesitate to Agricultur hereby amended to read
declare a law or an act void when al Activity as follows:
confronted squarely with constitutional means
issues, neither will it preempt the the Sec. 10.
Legislative and the Executive branches cultivation Exemptio
of the government in correcting or of the soil, ns and
clarifying, by means of amendment, said planting Exclusion
law or act. On February 20, 1995, of crops, s. —
Republic Act No. 7881 6 was approved growing
xxx xxx xxx Compreh regular
ensive workers
b) Private Agrarian or tenants
lands Reform must
actually, Program. consent
directly to the
and In cases exemptio
exclusivel where the n within
y used for fishponds one (1)
prawn or prawn year from
farms and farms the
fishponds have effectivity
shall be been of this
exempt subjected Act. when
from the to the the
coverage Compreh workers
of this ensive or tenants
Act: Agrarian do not
Provided, Reform agree to
That said Law, by this
prawn voluntary exemptio
farms and offer to n, the
fishponds sell, or fishponds
have not commerci or prawn
been al farms farms
distribute deferment shall be
d and or notices distribute
Certificate of d
of Land compulso collectivel
Ownershi ry y to the
p Award acquisitio worker —
(CLOA) n, a beneficiari
issued to simple es or
agrarian and tenants
reform absolute who shall
beneficiari majority form a
es under of the cooperati
the actual ve or
associatio Sec. 3. Section 11, n and
n to Paragraph 1 is hereby distributio
manage amended to read as n after ten
the same. follows: (10) years
from the
In cases Sec. 11. effectivity
where the Commerci of this
fishponds al Act. In the
or prawn Farming. case of
farms — new
have not Commerci farms, the
been al farms, ten-year
subjected which are period
to the private shall
Compreh agricultur begin
ensive al lands from the
Agrarian devoted first year
Reform to of
Law, the saltbeds, commerci
consent fruit al
of the farms, productio
farm orchards, n and
workers vegetable operation,
shall no and cut- as
longer be flower determine
necessary farms and d by the
, cacao, DAR.
however, coffee During
the and the ten-
provision rubber year
of Section plantation period,
32-A s, shall be the
hereof on subject to Governm
incentives immediat ent shall
shall e initiate
apply. compulso steps
ry necessary
xxx xxx xxx acquisitio to acquire
these Incentives profit
lands, .— before tax
upon Individual from the
payment s or operation
of just entities of the
compens owning or fishpond
ation for operating or prawn
the land fishponds farms are
and the and distribute
improvem prawn d within
ents farms are sixty (60)
thereon, hereby days at
preferably mandated the end of
in favor of to the fiscal
organized execute year as
cooperati within six compens
ves or (6) ation to
associatio months regular
ns, which from the and other
shall effectivity pond
thereafter of this workers in
manage Act, an such
the said incentive ponds
lands for plan with over and
the their above the
workers regular compens
— fishpond ation they
beneficiari or prawn currently
es. farm receive.
workers'
Sec. 4. There shall be organizati In order to
incorporated after on, if any, safeguard
Section 32 of Republic whereby the right
Act No. 6657 a section to seven of the
read as follows point five regular
percent fishpond
Sec. 32- (7.5%) of or prawn
A. their net farm
workers the size of
under the the land
incentive converted
plan, the does not
books of exceed
the the
fishpond retention
or prawn limit of the
owners landowne
shall be r.
subject to
periodic The above-mentioned provisions of R.A.
audit or No. 7881 expressly state that fishponds
inspection and prawn farms are excluded from the
by coverage of CARL. In view of the
certified foregoing, the question concerning the
public constitutionality of the assailed
accounta provisions has become moot and
nts academic with the passage of R.A. No.
chosen by 7881.
the
workers. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby
DISMISSED.
The
foregoing SO ORDERED.
provision
shall not
apply to
agricultur
al lands
subseque
ntly
converted
to
fishponds
or prawn
farms
provided