Republic of the
PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS G.R. NO. 149764
- versus - YNARES-SANTIAGO,
CALLEJO, SR., and
GUILLERMO DE UNGRIA,
JUANITO TAPEL, ANSELMO
CANUTO, FELICIANO AQUINO,
JAIME TIRA-TIRA, RODOLFO
ALVAS, CARLITO DELA CRUZ,
and EFREN GONZALES, Promulgated:
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
D E C I S I O N
Before the Court is a Petition for
Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court questioning the
The case originated from a Complaint for Forcible Entry filed by the petitioner against respondents, which the MCTC dismissed on the ground that the case involves an agrarian dispute, and, therefore, lies beyond the province of its jurisdiction.
The antecedents of the case, as recited by the MCTC and reiterated by the RTC and CA, are as follows:
[Petitioner] claims that since March 1980, it
has been in peaceful, lawful and actual possession of a parcel of land with an
area of 849,916 square meters, located at Pinugay, Baras, Rizal, covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 315142; [t]hat [the] subject land is within
the 3-kilometer radius around the Satellite Earth Station of Philcomsat and
declared a security zone under P.D. No. 1845 as amended; [t]hat on August 5,
1993, [the respondents], conspiring with one another, having organized
themselves into a group called Southern Pinugay Multi-purpose Cooperative, by
means of force, intimidation, strategy, threat and stealth, without authority
of law and without the knowledge or consent of [the petitioner], forcibly and unlawfully
entered a portion of the land consisting of 61/2 hectares, thereby
wrongfully and forcibly depriving [the petitioner] of its actual and material
possession; [t]hat in the course of forcibly entering and possessing the
premises, [the respondents] destroyed existing crops and built fences on the
subject property; [t]hat the reasonable compensation for the use and occupation
of the subject property is eight hundred (
P800.00) per hectare per
month; that inspite of repeated demands, [the respondents] refused to vacate
the premises thereby compelling [the petitioner] to engage the services of
counsel for a fee of P100,000.00 and will incur litigation expenses of
not less than P150,000.00.
[Respondent] Juanito Tapel failed to file his answer to the complaint within the reglementary period so the case against him was considered submitted for decision in accordance with the rules on summary procedure.
In his answer [respondent] Efren Gonzales denied all the material allegations of the complaint and by way of affirmative and special defenses alleged that he is a bonafide tenant-farmer and actual occupant of the land in question[,] having succeeded his parents who were legitimate tenants of the Cojuangco family, the former owner of the land; [t]hat the land in question is covered under the Compulsory Acquisition Scheme of Republic Act No. 6657 (R.A. No. 6657) and that he is one of the qualified farmer [beneficiaries] of the landholding as certified by the Department of Agrarian Reform; [t]hat the Court has no jurisdiction over the case.
[Respondents] Enrique Gutierrez, Renato Guillermo, [P]orpincio Santos, Feliciano Aquino, Jaime Tira-tira, Rodolfo Alvas and Carlito dela Cruz, in their common answer, denied all the material allegations of the complaint and by way of special and affirmative defenses posited that the Court has no jurisdiction over the case[,] considering that they are tenant-farmers of the land; that they did not enter the parcel of land unlawfully as they are tenant-farmers of the Pinugay estate; [t]hat [the petitioner] has no legal capacity to sue as the land covered by TCT No. 31542 is owned by Galaxie Agro-Industrial Corporation and that assuming that they are within the property, they are all potential CARP beneficiaries of the land which is covered by the Compulsory Acquisition Scheme of R.A. No. 6657.
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered DISMISSING the instant complaint for lack of jurisdiction.
The MCTC held that the respondents have been in possession of the land in question by themselves and through their predecessors-in-interest long before the petitioner became owner of the property; since the respondents and their predecessors have been in possession for more than one year when the complaint was filed on May 26, 1994, the action for forcible entry cannot prosper; that in view of the finding that the land in question is subject to the compulsory acquisition scheme under agrarian reform laws, and, moreover, since the respondents are farmer-tillers of the land and potential Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) beneficiaries as certified by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the case does not fall within the jurisdiction of the MCTC but with the DAR.
On appeal, the RTC affirmed the MCTC Decision, the dispositive portion of its Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is dismissed for lack of merit. The decision of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Teresa-Baras is affirmed.
The RTC held:
It is clearly established that the land in issue is covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL). It is not also disputed that the [respondents] are certified potential CARP beneficiaries. If this is the situation, the ejectment of the [respondents] from the property covered by CARP certainly creates an agrarian issue because the [respondents] who are certified potential CARP beneficiaries will be deprived of the rights and benefits of the Agrarian Reform Program. Such issue must be decided by the Department of Agrarian Reform by authority of Section 50 of R.A. No. 6657 which provides:
Sec. 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).
x x x x
The RTC denied the motion for reconsideration of the petitioner. On appeal to the CA, the petitioner raised the following grounds:
1. THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT’S FINDING THAT THE LATTER HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE CLAIM.
2. THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT THE EXISTENCE OF TENANCY IS NOT AN ELEMENT OF AN AGRARIAN DISPUTE.
3. THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN ITS FACTUAL FINDINGS THAT THE RESPONDENTS ARE CERTIFIED POTENTIAL CARP BENEFICIARIES.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed decision of the Regional Trial Court is accordingly AFFIRMED.
based on the following findings:
In the petition before Us, petitioner seems to imply that the findings of the court a quo [are] based solely on the certification issued by the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO) that the respondents are “potential CARP beneficiaries”. This is hardly accurate. The said certification was only one of the evidence presented by respondents during the trial which was given weight by the MCTC.
It is clear from the decision of the MCTC that more than the evidence presented by herein petitioner, it gave more weight and credit to the evidence presented by respondents. Thus, in its findings of fact, it did not believe that the respondents have forcibly entered the subject land as claimed by the petitioner. Rather, it was found out that respondents have been in possession of the subject parcel of land by themselves and through their predecessors-in-interest long before the petitioner became the owner of the property. Hence, the forcible entry case filed by petitioner could not prosper since the respondents have been in possession of the land for more than one (1) year when the complaint was filed.
It was likewise held by the trial court that it was clearly established during the trial that the land subject matter of this case is subject to the compulsory acquisition scheme under Republic Act No. 6641. The respondents have also proven that they are farmer-tillers of the subject land even before the petitioner acquired the same. The certification of MARO Efren De Jesus of the Department of Agrarian Reform likewise proves that respondents are potential CARP beneficiaries.
All these are findings of facts by the trial court which should not be disturbed on appeal. It is a well settled rule in this jurisdiction that the findings of fact of trial courts are given great weight on appeal because they are in a better position to examine the real evidence. x x x
In view of all these surrounding circumstances, We hold that the case at bar goes beyond a mere case of forcible entry which could be decided by the regular courts. The issues involved in this case would best be resolved by the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudicat[ion] Board. As held by the RTC, the ejectment of the respondents from the subject property would certainly create an agrarian issue since respondents, who are certified potential CARP beneficiaries, would be deprived of the rights and benefits of the agrarian reform program.
x x x x
Hence, the instant Petition raising the following:
STATEMENT OF THE ISSUES
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT:
1. THE CASE INVOLVES AN AGRARIAN DISPUTE;
2. THE COMPLAINT WAS FILED BEYOND THE ONE-YEAR PRESCRIPTIVE PERIOD.
STATEMENT OF ARGUMENTS/SUBMISSIONS
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT THE CASE INVOLVES AN AGRARIAN DISPUTE, IN THAT:
1. THE COURT OF APPEALS FAILED TO CONSIDER THE ESSENTIAL REQUISITES TO DETERMINE THE EXISTENCE OF AN AGRARIAN DISPUTE.
2. RESPONDENTS NEITHER ALLEGED NOR PROVED THE EXISTENCE OF TENANCY RELATIONS.
3. EVEN ASSUMING THAT RESPONDENTS ARE POTENTIAL CARP BENEFICIARIES, THE SAME IS WOEFULLY INSUFFICIENT TO ESTABLISH THE EXISTENCE OF AN AGRARIAN DISPUTE.
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED PALPABLE ERROR IN RULING THAT THE COMPLAINT WAS FILED BEYOND THE ONE-YEAR PRESCRIPTIVE PERIOD.
The petition is meritorious.
The principal question is whether jurisdiction over the subject matter lies with the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) or with the regular courts.
In their findings, nowhere did the courts a quo specify the concurrence of the elements of a tenancy relationship, a species of agrarian disputes. Nor did the respondents’ special and affirmative defenses, as well as the proof adduced to support them, establish this juridical tie.
In the recent case of Mateo v. Court of Appeals, the Court held that for the DARAB to have jurisdiction over the case, there must be a tenancy relationship between the parties. In order for a tenancy agreement to arise, it is essential to establish all its indispensable elements, viz: 1) the parties are the landowner and the tenant or agricultural lessee; 2) the subject matter of the relationship is an agricultural land; 3) there is consent between the parties to the relationship; 4) the purpose of the relationship is to bring about agricultural production; 5) there is personal cultivation on the part of the tenant or agricultural lessee; and 6) the harvest is shared between the landowner and the tenant or agricultural lessee. These requisites for the jurisdiction of the DARAB have been reiterated by the Court in a number of cases.
Neither the findings of the courts a quo nor the records themselves show any factual determination of the third, fourth, and sixth requisites, namely, consent between the parties to the relationship, the purpose of the relationship, which is agricultural production, and sharing of harvests. The factual findings of the courts a quo at best only point to the following: 1) respondents have been in possession of the land in question for more than one year before the complaint for ejectment was filed; 2) the land in question is subject to the compulsory acquisition scheme under existing agrarian reform laws; 3) the respondents are farmers-tillers of the land; and 4) they are “potential CARP beneficiaries.” Regrettably, these factual findings fall short to convince this Court of any tenancy relationship, and, hence, the DARAB does not have jurisdiction over the present case. Jurisdiction lies with the regular courts.
Even if the respondents are indeed “potential CARP beneficiaries” as they so claim, it does not follow that a tenancy relationship arises. Section 22 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, provides:
Sec. 22. Qualified Beneficiaries. - The lands covered by the CARP shall be distributed as much as possible to landless residents of the same barangay, or in the absence thereof, landless residents of the same municipality in the following order of priority:
(a) agricultural lessees and share tenants;
(b) regular farmworkers;
(c) seasonal farmworkers;
(d) other farmworkers;
(e) actual tillers or occupants of public lands;
(f) collectives or cooperatives of the above beneficiaries; and
(g) others directly working on the land.
x x x x
It is clear from the aforequoted provisions that “agricultural lessees and share tenants” comprise only one class of qualified beneficiaries. The petitioner is correct in pointing out that even those who do not enjoy a tenancy relationship with the landowner can become qualified beneficiaries.
As to the question of timeliness, the findings of the MCTC also fail to categorically show that the one-year prescriptive period for ejectment suits had lapsed, reckoned from the time of discovery, viz:
all the defendants have long been in possession of the parcel of land through
their predecessors and by themselves for more than one year when the complaint
was filed on
This silence was repeated by the CA:
Thus, in its findings of fact, [the MCTC] did not believe that the respondents have forcibly entered the subject land as claimed by the petitioner. Rather, it was found out that respondents have been in possession of the subject parcel of land by themselves and through their predecessors-in-interest long before the petitioner became the owner of the property. Hence, the forcible entry case filed by petitioner could not prosper since the respondents have been in possession of the land for more than one (1) year when the complaint was filed.
Considering that the allegations of the Complaint for
Forcible Entry include stealth, strategy, and lack of knowledge of respondents’
intrusion, the one-year period should be counted from the time of discovery
by the petitioner of respondents’ possession of the property and not from the
time of occupation. Well-settled
is the rule that where forcible entry was thus made clandestinely, the one-year
prescriptive period should be counted from the time the possessor demanded that
the defendant desist from such dispossession when the former learned thereof. The owner or possessor of the land cannot be
expected to enforce his right to its possession against the illegal occupant
and sue the latter before learning of the clandestine intrusion. Where entry is allegedly obtained by stealth,
as in this case, the intruder might manage to conceal the trespass for more
than one year, and it is but just that the one year period should be counted
from discovery and demand to vacate. Petitioner filed its Complaint on
The factual findings of the MCTC, taken together, do not discredit the fact that petitioner came to learn about respondents’ intrusion well within the one-year prescriptive period, even if the trial court found that the testimonies of petitioner’s witnesses suffered some inconsistencies, viz:
After a careful and meticulous examination of the evidence submitted and testimonies of [the] witnesses presented, this Court cannot help but notice the glaring inconsistencies in the testimonies of the witnesses for the plaintiff. Consider the following:
(1) SPO3 Antonio Tamalayan in his affidavit (Exhibit “B” par. 4), declared that when he assumed his duties as detachment commander of the Pinugay Coordinating Center of the PNP on July 1, 1993, the subject property was free of squatters.
This declaration of
SPO3 Tamalayan is contradicted by Alberto Quinto, another witness for plaintiff
that as early as
Likewise the declaration of SPO3 Tamalayan is contradicted by the allegations of plaintiff in Civil Case No. 774-B, that Vivencio David, Fernando Austria and Efren Rebocas forcibly entered the subject property in June 14, 1993 (See par. 4, Complaint in Civil Case No. 774-B).
Furthermore, the contents of Exhibit “R” for plaintiff in Civil Case No. 751-B, which has been adopted by the defendants as their Exhibit “3” in this case is an indubitable truth that SPO3 Antonio Tamalayan is not telling the truth when he made the claim that the subject property is free from squatters when he assumed his duty as detachment commander in [sic] July 1, 1993. Said exhibit is a list of squatters on the subject property as of October 11, 1991, prepared and submitted by plaintiff as Exhibit “R” in Civil Case No. 751-B, showing that as early as October 11, 1991, Conrado Sardia and Nicanor Bronzal were already on the property.
(2) Major Pedro S. Gregorio claimed that the
subject property was vacant from 1980 to 1990, giving the impression that
the property was no longer vacant after 1990. (Exh. “A”, 3), again contradicting the claim
of SPO3 Tamalayan that the property was free of squatters as of
(3) Contrary to the claim of Major Gregorio
that he was the one who reported the incident of
Pedro Gregorio never mentioned the incident of
x x x x
aforequoted findings, even if they are taken to be
inconsistent, are indeed only minor inconsistencies—they are inconsistent only
so far as to the dates of occupancy. And
although there is some variance as to these dates, they still fall within the
one-year period. Thus, even if we reckon
the running of the prescriptive period from the earliest date, i.e.,
June 4, 1993, as declared by one witness, petitioner’s filing of the Complaint
on May 26, 1994 is still timely—the Court finds that any of the dates as
testified by the witnesses still converge to some point in time after
May 26, 1993, the date the one-year period starts to run. These testimonies remain uncontroverted. Incidentally, the testimony that a certain
Conrado Sardia and a Nicanor Bronzal “were already on the property” “as early
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED.
The Decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Another judgment is entered REVERSING the
The records of the case are hereby REMANDED to the MCTC which is ORDERED to PROCEED with the trial on the merits.
No pronouncement as to costs.
MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ
ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.
Associate Justice Associate Justice
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.
ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
 Penned by Associate Justice Eloy R. Bello, Jr., with Associate Justices Eugenio S. Labitoria and Perlita J. Tria Tirona, concurring.
 Rollo, pp. 66-67.
G.R. No. 128392,
 Avila v. Sialana, G.R. No. 143598, July 20, 2006; Mateo v. Court of Appeals, supra note 10; Atuel v. Valdez, 451 Phil. 631 (2003); Arzaga v. Copias, 448 Phil. 171 (2003); Monsanto v. Zerna, 423 Phil. 151 (2001); Almuete v. Andres, 421 Phil. 522 (2001); Heirs of Santos v. Court of Appeals, 384 Phil. 26 (2000); Benavidez v. Court of Appeals, 372 Phil. 615 (1999); Isidro v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 105586, December 15, 1993, 228 SCRA 503.
 Rollo, p.71.
v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 80638,
 Prieto v. Reyes, 121 Phil. 1218, 1220 (1965). See Go, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, 415 Phil. 172, 187 (2001).
 See Ganancial v. Atillo, 121 Phil. 1249, 1253 (1965).
 Incidentally, these persons are not parties to the case.
 Again, these persons are not parties to the case.
 Rollo, pp.70-71.