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CAMITAN, Godly Ann T.

AGRARIAN REFORM LAWS


LAND USE CONVERSION
CASE DIGEST

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G.R. No. 204964


October 15, 2014

REMIGIO D. ESPIRITU AND NOEL AGUSTIN, Petitioners,


vs.
LUTGARDA TORRES DEL ROSARIO represented by SYLVIA R. ASPERILLA, Respondents.

 FACTS
The controversy in this case started when Zoning Ordinance No. 13 was passed, classifying areas at
certain Barangays in Angeles, Pampanga as agricultural land. Upon knowing such, respondent Lutgarda
Del Rosario requested City Zoning Administrator to exempt her two lots – Lot no. 854 and Lot no. 855,
from the ordinance. Said request was approved.

In the year 1988, Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was enacted. Afraid that her lots
will be included under said program, Lutgarda then seeks to exempt her lands under the CARP coverage
which was later on granted by then Secretary of Agrarian Reform Pagdanganan on the grounds that the
subject lands were already classified as non-agricultural before the enactment of CARP, hence, beyond
its coverage.

Due to such order, the farmers in the said lots led by petitioner Remigio Espirito seeks to oppose the
decision by filing a motion for reconsideration, contending that under the Housing and Land Regulatory
Board Resolution and Angeles City Council Resolution, the lots were classified as agricultural which
means they are under the coverage of the CARP.

Espiritu’s motion was considered by the new secretary of agrarian reform, Secretary Pangandaman.
Because of this Del Rosario appealed to the Office of the President. However, her appeal was dismissed
by the Deputy Executive Secretary of Legal Affairs Manuel B. Gaite.

Now, respondent Del Rosario assails the decision of Gaite, arguing that said decision should be
declared void on the following grounds:

 respondent claims that she was denied of due process, saying that the notice was sent on a
wrong address, hence, she failed to timely filed her motion;
 that the decision of Gaite shall be declared void since he was already appointed to the Securities
and Exchange Commission two months before his decision as Deputy Executive Secretary was
rendered, thus, a violation of Art. VII, Sec. 13 of the Constitution;
 and lastly, the zoning ordinance and certification prove that said lots were already classified as
non-agricultural.
CAMITAN, Godly Ann T.

 ISSUES
1. Whether or not respondent Lutgarda was denied of due process?

2. Whether or not Gaite’s decision is in violation of Art. VII, Sec. 13 of the Constitution, thus,
void?

3. Whether or not the lots in question shall be exempt from the coverage of CARP?

 HELD

ISSUE #1:

The court ruled in the NEGATIVE.


Respondent was not deprived of due process.

Despite the motion being filed late, Secretary Pangandaman still gave due course to the motion and
resolved it on its merits. This is clear from his order dated March 3, 2008, which reads:

While it may be true that respondent was prevented from filing a timely motion for reconsideration of
Secretary Pangandaman's order, it would be erroneous to conclude that she had been completely
denied her opportunity to be heard.

When respondent filed her motion for reconsideration assailing Secretary Pangandaman's order, she
was able to completely and exhaustively present her arguments. The denial of her motion was on the
basis of the merits of her arguments and any other evidence she was able to present. Moreover, due
process in administrative proceedings does not mean that a person should be heard in a court
proceedings, it is sufficient that she was given a fair and reasonable opportunity to present her side,
which was given to herein respondent, hence, there was no deprivation of due process.

ISSUE #2:

The court ruled in the NEGATIVE.


Deputy Executive Secretary Gaite's decision is presumed valid, effective, and binding.

It is alleged that Gaite was appointed Commissioner to the Securities and Exchange Commission on
March 16, 2009. It is also alleged that he has already lost his authority as Deputy Executive Secretary for
Legal Affairs when he rendered the decision dated May 7, 2009 since he is constitutionally prohibited
from holding two offices during his tenure. This, however, is not conclusive since no evidence was
presented as to when he accepted the appointment, took his oath of office, or assumed the position.

Assuming that Gaite's appointment became effective on March 16, 2009, he can be considered a de
facto officer at the time he rendered the decision dated May 7, 2009. Consequently, the acts of the de
facto officer are just as valid for all purposes as those of a dejure officer, in so far as the public or third
persons who are interested therein are concerned.
CAMITAN, Godly Ann T.

Furthermore, respondent has not presented evidence showing that the decision was rendered ultra
vires, other than her allegation that Gaite had already been appointed to another office. Unless there is
clear and convincing evidence o the contrary, the decision is conclusively presumed to have been
rendered in the regular course of business.

ISSUE #3:

The court ruled in the NEGATIVE.


Respondent's lots were agricultural, not industrial, hence, shall be under the coverage of CARP.

Lutgarda failed to provide sufficient proof to justify that her lots were reclassified under the zoning
ordinance as non-agricultural land. She argued that her land has ceased to be agricultural by virtue of
reclassification under Ordinance No. 13, however, it cannot be recognized since the records of the case
or the evidence presented thereto are bereft of any indication showing the same. As a matter of fact,
nowhere was it shown that a certified true copy of the said Ordinance was presented before this
Office.

Morever, during the ocular inspection conducted by the CLUPPI Inspection Team, it was found that the
area remained agricultural - it is still dominantly planted with sugar, cane, and corn. There is also this
certification which indicates that the land in question is, indeed, an agricultural land. Thus, the
questioned lots, numbered 854 and 855, are considered agricultural land, hence, subject of CARP.