Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1966 > January 1966 Decisions > G.R. No. L-20098 January 31, 1966 SILVERIO LATAG v. MARCELO BANOG:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-20098. January 31, 1966.]

SILVERIO LATAG, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. MARCELO BANOG, Defendant-Appellee.

Endaya, Caleasal & Delgado for the plaintiff and Appellant.

Suanes, Barbosa & Atienza for the defendant and appellee.


SYLLABUS


1. TENANCY; SHARE TENANCY; CASE AT BAR. — A share tenancy exists where, as in this case, a person has physical possession of another’s land for the purpose of cultivating it and giving the owner a share in the crop. In the case at bar, the contract entered into by the parties provided that plaintiff would take care of the plants that are planted and those still to be planted on the lands within a period of five years, giving the defendant, as owner of the lands, share in the crop. A tenancy relationship, therefore was established between the parties.

2. ID.; ID.; CARETAKER OF LAND CONSIDERED CULTIVATOR. — A caretaker" of an agricultural land is also considered "cultivator" of the land.

3. ID.; ID.; JURISDICTION; CLAIM FOR DAMAGES BASED ON DISPOSSESSION OF PROPERTY. — Plaintiff-appellant’s claim for damages was based on his having been allegedly disposed unlawfully or unjustifiably by the defendant-appellee of the two parcels of land under his care and management. The action, therefore, relates to an incident arising from the landlord and tenant relationship which existed before the filing of the complaint. Under the circumstances, the Court of Agrarian Relations has the original and exclusive jurisdiction over the case, even if the tenancy relationship no longer existed at the time of the filing of the action.


D E C I S I O N


ZALDIVAR, J.:


This is an appeal from the order of the Court of First Instance of Batangas dismissing the complaint in its Civil Case No. 1263, on the ground that said court has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the case.

On February 13, 1962 the plaintiff-appellant filed a complaint against the defendant-appellee alleging, in substance: that the defendant is the absolute owner of two parcels of land situated in Barrio Quilib, Rosario, Batangas; that on December 7, 1960, the plaintiff and the defendant entered into a written contract whereby it was agreed that the former was to act as manager, cultivator and caretaker of the two parcels of land owned by the latter, and of all the useful plants planted, and to be planted, on said lands, with the understanding that all the expenses incident to the management, cultivation and care would have to be shouldered by the plaintiff, and that all the products of the orange and the calamansi trees planted thereon would be divided into three equal parts: two-thirds of which would be the share of the plaintiff and one-third would be the share of the defendant, while the sharing in the other products like coffee, bananas, mangoes, black pepper and others would be on the fifty-fifty basis; and it was further agreed that said relationship and sharing would continue for a period of five years from December 7, 1960; that pursuant to said agreement the plaintiff entered into the management, cultivation and care of the above-mentioned properties, and had built a house costing P70.00 on one of the two parcels of land, that the plaintiff had incurred actual expenses in the total amount of P2,286.80 aside from other miscellaneous expenses for food and viand of his laborers; that on January 1, 1962, without any legal ground nor justification whatsoever, the defendant drove the plaintiff out of the lands and even destroyed the house that the plaintiff had built thereon; that notwithstanding all efforts of the plaintiff to make the defendant comply with his part of the agreement in their written contract, the defendant had adamantly refused. The complaint prayed that judgment be rendered ordering the defendant to pay the plaintiff actual damages in the amount of P2,656.80, unrealized profits in the amount that the court would fix after hearing the evidence, moral damages in the amount of at least P5,000.00, exemplary damages in the amount of at least P5,000.00, plus attorney’s fees equivalent to 20% of the total amount collected and the cost of the suit. A copy of the written agreement in question was attached to the complaint as Annex "A."

On March 2, 1962 the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the court has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the case and that the complaint did not state a cause of action. It is contended by the defendant that, based on the allegations in the complaint and as stated in the written agreement which was attached to the complaint as Annex "A", a relationship of landlord and tenant had existed between the plaintiff and the defendant — the plaintiff being the tenant and the defendant being the landlord, and the complaint being one that seeks to secure a decision or settlement of difference or dispute in connection with the relationship of landlord and tenant involving the cultivation and use of agricultural land, it is the Court of Agrarian Relations and not the Court of First Instance that has jurisdiction to hear and decide the case. The defendant points out that the complaint of the plaintiff poses the question of whether the act of the defendant, as landlord, in dispossessing the plaintiff, as tenant, of the two parcels of land was justified or not under the law.

On March 5, 1962 the plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss the complaint and at the same time moved to amend the original complaint by striking out the words "cultivator" and "cultivation" in paragraphs 3 & 4, of the original complaint, claiming that the one who drafted the original complaint was not well versed in Tagalog such that the phrase "tagapamahala at tagapagalaga" was translated into "manager, cultivator and caretaker" whereas that phrase "tagapamahala at tagapagalaga" ought to be translated into English only as "manager and caretaker" without including any statement about cultivation. In his opposition to the motion to dismiss the plaintiff contends that in the contract, Annex A to the complaint, no tenancy relationship was agreed upon and the complaint was intended to recover damages so that it is the court of general jurisdiction, which is the Court of First Instance, and not the Court of Agrarian Relations, which is a court of limited jurisdiction, that has competence to hear and decide the case.

On March 27, 1962 the Court of First Instance of Batangas, acting on the motion to dismiss the complaint, issued an order dismissing the case. In its order of dismissal the court a quo stated:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"This Court believes and so holds that the argument of the defendant is well-taken, and agrees with him that the document, Annex ‘A’, indicates the existence of tenancy relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant, considering the ruling of our Supreme Court in the case of Teodorico B. Santos v. Court of Industrial Relations, Et Al., 113 Phil., 725, Dec. 28, 1961, "that any matter that may pertain to the relation of tenant and landlord comes under the Agricultural Tenancy Act (Republic Act No. 1199), as amended by Republic Act No. 2263) and any controversy that may arise between them as an incident of their relationship comes under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Agrarian Relations created by Republic Act No. 1267. It was created for enforcement of all laws and regulations governing the relation of capital and labor on all agricultural lands under any system of cultivation (Section 1, Republic Act 1267, as amended by Republic Act 1409) and was given exclusive jurisdiction over the entire Philippines to consider, investigate, decide, and settle all questions, matters, controversies or disputes established by law which determine the varying rights of persons in the cultivation and use of agricultural land where one of the parties works the land’, and so this Court believes and so declares that it has no jurisdiction to pass upon the issues of the case at bar, falling as they do, according to the above citations under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Agrarian Relations."cralaw virtua1aw library

Before this Court, plaintiff-appellant insists that the contract (Annex A) does not establish any tenancy relationship, or if it did, such relationship had already ceased in as much as he does not ask for reinstatement as tenant. He claims that this case is a simple suit for damages which the Court of Agrarian Relations cannot take cognizance of, it being a court of special and limited jurisdiction.

The contract (Annex A) contains the following pertinent stipulations:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Na si Silverio Latag, ganap na gulang, Pilipino, asawa ni Cipriana Alday at naninirahan sa Tambo, Lipa City ay aking ginawang tagapamahala at tagapag-alaga sa naulit na lupa; na siya rin ang mamomosession, mamamahala sa mga halamang nakatanim at itatanim sa lupang naulit sa loob ng limang taon.

"Na si Silverio Latag, ang magaalaga sa mga halaman ng lupang nabanggit; ng ang lahat ng kagastusan maaaring makamit o kailanganin sa pagaalaga ay siyang lahat ang nakakaalam; at walang PAKIALAM ng may-ari ng lupa.

"Na ang kasunduan naming ito ay tatagal sa loob ng limang (5) taon simula ngayon; na ang kasunduang ito ay nagpapatunay din na ang bahagi ay akong may-ari ng lupa ay saikatlo (1/3) sa sinturis at kalamansing aanihin dito; at hati (50-50) parte sa bunga ng mga halamang sumusunod: (1) kape; (2) saging; (3) mangga; (4) at paminta at sa mga ibang halamang itatanim pa ng naulit si Silverio Latag."cralaw virtua1aw library

In the original complaint the plaintiff used the words "manager, cultivator and caretaker" of the two parcels of land concerned, but on the excuse that the one who prepared the complaint was not well versed in Tagalog, the complaint was subsequently amended whereby the word "cultivator" was deleted in the allegations of the complaint. We note, however, that in the contract, Annex "A" to the complaint, it is clearly provided that the plaintiff would take care of the plants that are planted and those still to be planted on the lands within a period of five years ("mamamahala sa mga halaman nakatanim at itatanim sa lupang naulit sa loob ng limang taon").

This Court believes that the allegations of the complaint (even as amended) and the stipulations of the contract (Annex A) unmistakably show that an agricultural tenancy of the kind called "share tenancy" was established between the parties. It has been declared that "an agricultural tenancy classified as ‘share tenancy’ exists where a person has physical possession of another’s land for the purpose of cultivating it and giving the owner a share in the crop" (Marcelo v. de Leon, L-12902, July 29, 1959). This Court in the same case held:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

". . . He knows the caretaker must water the trees, even fertilize them for better production, uproot weeds and turn the soil, sometimes fumigate to eliminate plants pests, etc. Those chores obviously mean "working or cultivating the land . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

It may thus be stated that the "caretaker" of an agricultural land is also considered the "cultivator" of the land.

As regards plaintiff-appellant’s contention that the tenancy relationship, if any, had been terminated because his claim was only for damages without reinstatement to his status as tenant, suffice it so say that in the instant case the plaintiff-appellant’s claim for damages was based on his having been allegedly dispossessed unlawfully or unjustifiably by the defendant-appellee of the two parcels of land under his care and management sometime on January 1, 1962. It is clear that the action relates to an incident arising from the landlord and tenant relationship which existed shortly before the filing of the complaint on February 13, 1962. Under the circumstances, the Court of Agrarian Relations has the original and exclusive jurisdiction over the case, even if the tenancy relationship no longer existed at the time of the filing of the action. On this point this Court ruled as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Indeed, section 21 of Republic Act No. 1199, provides that ‘all cases involving the dispossession of a tenant by the landlord or by a third party and/or the settlement and disposition of disputes arising from the relationship of landlord and tenant . . . shall be under the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Agrarian Relations.’ This jurisdiction does not require the continuance of the relationship of landlord and tenant — at the time of the dispute. The same may have arisen, and often times arises, precisely from the previous termination of such relationship. If the same existed immediately, or shortly, before the controversy and the subject-matter thereof is whether or not said relationship has been lawfully terminated, or if the dispute otherwise springs or originates from the relationship of landlord and tenant, the litigation is cognizable only by the Court of Agrarian Relations . . . (Basilio v. De Guzman, Et Al., L-12762, April 22, 1959).

On the point that the present case comes under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Agrarian Relations even if the action is only for the recovery of damages based on the unlawful dispossession of the tenant, this Court held:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Section 7, Republic Act No. 1267, as amended, vests in the Court of Agrarian Relations exclusive and original jurisdiction to determine controversies arising from landlord-tenant relationship. From this it may be inferred that it also has jurisdiction to hear and determine actions for recovery of damages arising from the unlawful dismissal or dispossession of a tenant by the landlord, as provided in Act No. 4054 and Republic Act No. 1199 as amended. To hold otherwise could results in multiplicity of suits and expensive litigations abhorred by law . . ." (Militar v. Torcillero, Et Al., L-15065, April 28, 1961).

We hold, therefore, that the lower court did not commit error when it dismissed the complaint in the present case.

Wherefore, the order of dismissal appealed from is affirmed, with costs against plaintiff-appellant.

Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J.BL., Barrera, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal and Bengzon, J.P., JJ., concur.

Sanchez, J., took no part.




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