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[G.R. No. 139051. June 26, 2000]

KSMP, INC. vs. DARAB, et al.

FIRST DIVISION

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated JUN 26 2000.

G.R. No. 139051 (Kooperatiba ng Sandigan ng Magsasakang Pilipino, Inc. (KSMP) vs. Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board, et al.)

Petitioner questions the dismissal of its complaint-in-intervention filed in DARAB Case No. 0335 before the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) "Group Developers, Inc., Bio-Loop Farms, Inc., Petitioners vs. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, Land Bank of the Philippines, Respondents; Kooperatiba ng Sandigan ng Magsasakang Pilipino, Inc. (KSMP), Intervenor vs. Gonzalo Puyat and Sons, Group Developers, Inc., Secretary, department of Agrarian Reform and Land Bank of the Philippines, Respondents-in-Intervenors."

On February 25, 1975, the private respondents filed with the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (MAR) a request for conversion of 1,837.30 hectares of agricultural land situated in Nasugbu, Batangas, into residential, commercial, industrial and other urban purposes.

After surveys and investigations made by the Department of Local Government and Community Development (DLGCD) and the Agrarian Reform District Officer, the DAR through Secretary Conrado Estrella issued an order on May 27, 1975 stating that:

xxx (T)he subject land is not economically suited for agricultural cultivation, the parcels of land subject hereof are hereby declared suitable for residential, economical, industrial and other urban purposes and the request of the petitioner for conversion thereof to non-agricultural use is hereby given due course, subject however, to the payment of the disturbance compensation to the tenant-tillers, if there are any, according to law."1 Rollo, p. 50.

To this Order, a motion for reconsideration was filed by fifteen (15) occupants, assisted by the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) who claimed to be tenants of a forty-four-hectare portion of the subject landholding.

Prior to this, or on November 27, 1975, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued a Proclamation No. 1520 declaring the Municipalities of Maragondon and Ternate, Cavite and Nasugbu, Batangas as tourist zone. The proclamation declared and reserved the area as more suitable for residential, commercial, industrial and urban uses.2 Id., at 105.

In December 1989, apparently unaware of the conversion orders and the presidential proclamation, then DAR Secretary Miriam Defensor-Santiago, issued Notices of Acquisition, dated December 14-27, 1989, making the subject land available for immediate acquisition and distribution by the government to tenant-beneficiaries/actual tillers.

Consequently, the private respondents filed their objections to these Santiago notices.

On January 22, 1991, Secretary Benjamin T. Leong who succeeded Secretary Santiago issued an Order finally resolving the motion for reconsideration earlier interposed by the fifteen movants. The dispositive portion of the Order reads as follows:

Based on these findings and recommendations of the DLGCD and the DAR by the District Officer which were concurred in by the DAR Regional Director of Region IV, and by the Chief of Land Acquisition Division of the DAR, the questioned Order was issued on May 27, 1975.

In fine, on November 27, 1975, or before the movants filed the instant motion for reconsideration, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Proclamation No. 1520, declaring the municipalities of Maragondon and Ternate in the province of Batangas as tourist zone. Precisely the landholdings in issue are included in said proclamation. Up to now this office is not aware that said issuance has been repealed or amended.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, Order is hereby issued denying the instant motion for reconsideration and affirming the Order dated May 27, 1975 issued by then Secretary Conrado F. Estrella.3 Id., at 152-153.

On May 14, 1991, the private respondents filed a Petition with the DARAB docketed as DARAB Case No. 0335 for the purpose of implementing the Conversion Orders. The petition suggested the manner of execution and to lift/invalidate the Santiago notices as it was being exploited and/or causing chaos in view of the Leong Order of January 22, 1991.

On November 24, 1991, petitioners KSMP filed a Complaint-in-Intervention, the subject of the controversy.

On April 21, 1998, the DAR issued a decision, disposing to wit:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the complaint-in-intervention is dismissed because as far as the Dar is concerned the conversion orders dated May 27, 1975 and January 22, 1991 have become final and executory to which the Board has no jurisdiction to review, amend or to declare their nullity.4 Id., at 92.

Thus, on May 29, 1998, KSMP filed a Petition for Certiorari with the Court of Appeals docketed as G.R. No. 47813 imputing to the DARAB grave abuse of discretion in holding that it has no jurisdiction over the matter subject of petitioner's complaint-in-intervention.5 Id., at 14.

On June 17, 1999, the CA promulgated a decision holding that the petition was not sufficient in form and in substance for failure to conform to Sec. 6 Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure6 Sec. 6. Contents of the petition.- The petition for review shall x x x be accompanied by a clearly legible duplicate original or a certificate true copy of the award, judgment, final order or resolution appealed from, together with certified true copies of such material portions of the record referred to therein and other supporting papers; xxx petitioner having failed to attach to its supposed "Complaint-in-Intervention" its alleged "tenancy arrangement" with private respondents and copies of the Conversion Orders dated May 27, 1975 and January 22, 1991. At the same time, the CA upheld the findings of the DARAB that the Estrella-Leong Orders for the conversion of the land had long become final and executory.

The motion for reconsideration was denied.

Hence, this petition.

Respondents were required to file their Comments to which petitioner filed a Reply thereto, averring that the issue is merely a question of procedure - whether or not the complaint-in-intervention was done during the pendency of the case in accordance with the rules.

We find no merit in the petition.

Petitioner cannot deny that its complaint-in-intervention, in effect, seeks to nullify the Conversion Orders and to recognize its rights as tenants of the land in question. The complaint-in-intervention prayed among others, to wit:

1. To declare as withdrawn, cancelled or annulled the conversion orders of May 27, 1975 and January 22, 1991 of then Secretaries, Conrado Estrella and Benjamin Leong respectively;

2. Ordering respondent Secretary to implement the Notice of Acquisition of then Sec. Miriam Defensor Santiago dated December, 1989 in favor of the petitioners tenants-beneficiaries/actual tillers involving the agricultural lands in question;7 Rollo, p. 29.

We find no error with the ruling of the CA that petitioner's cause is lost considering that the Conversion Orders have long become final and executory. There was, therefore, no more case to which it could intervene. The complain-in-intervention was, therefore, correctly dismissed pursuant to the 19976 Rules of Civil Procedure.8 Rule 19. Sec. 2. Time to intervene.- The motion to intervene may be filed at any time before rendition of the judgment by the trial court. xxx Petitioner's insistence that there was no final disposition yet of the conversion case, as in fact, DARAB CASE No. 0335 was initiated by the private respondents is untenable. A perusal of the records reveal that DARAB Case No. 0335 was filed by the private respondents for the purpose of implementing the Conversion Orders particularly the final fixing of the disturbance compensation to legitimate farmer-occupants. The complaint-in-intervention, however, puts in issue petitioner's alleged tenancy relationship and security of tenure which the DARAB does not have any jurisdiction.

Furthermore, petitioner, a juridical entity, has no personality to file the instant petition nor to intervene in the case as the real parties-in-interest are the members thereof who were not even recognized as the rightful tenants occupying the subject land. As observed by the DAR, "members of petitioners are merely holding on to an expectancy that they will become the beneficiaries assuming that the land is still CARPable." 9 Rollo, p. 193. The fact, however, remains that the land in question has already been excluded from the purview of the Comprehensive Agrarian reform Law (CARL) by the Estrella and Leong Orders which had long become final and executory.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Court resolved to DENY the petition for lack of merit.

Very truly yours,

VIRGINIA ANCHETA-SORIANO

Clerk of Court


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