G.R. No. L-30821 December 14, 1988
VIDAL BERNARDO and JESUS SILVERIO, Petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS (4th Division) and TROPICAL HOMES, INC., Respondents.
Advincula Law Office for petitioners.chanrobles virtual law library
Serrano, Diokno and Serrano for private respondent.
This is a petition for review by certiorari which has been pending for seventeen years now. As per its resolution dated 1 September 1986 (p.144, Rollo), this Court ordered the parties to manifest "whether or not they are still interested in prosecuting this case, or supervening events have transpired which render the case moot and academic or otherwise substantially affect the same." Counsel for petitioners has expressed that he has never seen nor has communicated with his clients "for ten (10) years or more" and is therefore without knowledge of their interest in pursuing this case (Manifestation with Explanation, p. 152, Rollo). On the other hand, both respondent Tropical Homes, Inc. (TROPICAL, for short) and its counsel could not be found at their addresses of record. Nevertheless, under the circumstances We cannot as yet consider this case as moot and academic. We therefore will resolve the same.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
The facts, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows:
Ruling in favor of TROPICAL, respondent Court of Appeals (CA for brevity) construed the restraining order issued by the Agrarian Court dated 31 January 1969 as "practically a writ of preliminary injunction" (p. 76, Rollo) and therefore irregularly issued as no prior hearing was conducted and that no bond was posted as required under Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 58 of the New Rules of Court. The CA also applied Section 14 of the Code of Agrarian Reform (R.A. 3844) as invoked by TROPICAL and interpreted Section 36(l) of the same Code, the basis of petitioners' claim of right, thus,
prompting the petitioners to file this petition for review.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Culling from the respective briefs of the parties, this Court is now tasked to determine the validity of the restraining order in question and the proper application of Sections 14 and 36(l) of R.A. 3844.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
It is to be noted that the first matter in issue is procedural in nature. And in the disposition of this issue, the basic legal truth in Remedial Law that laws of procedure may be retroactively applied provided no substantial rights are impaired is of principal importance. The pertinent legal provision under consideration is section 5 of Rule 58 of the New Rules of Court. It is worthy to note that in 1982, several years after the questioned temporary injunction was issued by the Court of Agrarian Relations (CAR, for short) Judge Pastor Reyes, the defunct Batasang Pambansa enacted B.P. Blg. 224 which substantially amended said Section 5 of Rule 58 to read as follows:
Applying now the above law to the case at bar, it is clear that the Court, in this case the CAR, can issue a restraining order which is to last for only twenty (20) days and which is clearly distinct from the writ of injunction applied for. This restraining order may be issued by the judge despite the absence of a prior hearing as long as it could be shown by affidavits or in the verified complaint that great or irreparable injury would be suffered by the applicant. There being no substantial rights affected, We rule that the temporary injunction of 31 January 1969 is not equivalent to the writ of preliminary injunction prayed for by petitioners in their verified complaint, thus, no bond nor prior hearing is necessary since its purpose is merely to maintain the status quo (B.F. Inc. vs. CA, G.R. No. L-30690, November 19, 1982).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
It is clear from the law that the issuance of the restraining order is left to the sound discretion of the judge whenever he deems that grave or irreparable injury on the part of the applicant commands it. We do hot doubt the CAR Judge's discretion. He was correct in his observation (Motion for Reconsideration, p. 80, Rollo) that "security of tenure is a legal concession to agricultural lessees which they value as life itself and deprivation of their landholdings is tantamount to deprivation of their and their families (sic) only means of livelihood." Such dispossession, therefore, in the context of this case, is indeed a grave injury which social justice seeks to vindicate. Unfortunately, however, considering that this case had been pending for a long time now, We leave it to the proper Court presently having jurisdiction over this case, subject to the parties' intention to pursue or not this litigation, to determine the possibility of enforcing the lower court's restraining order in the light of the physical changes which might have ensued.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Coming now to the matter involving sections 14 and 36 (1) of R.A. 3844, We disagree with the respondent Court's ruling that:
As correctly pointed out by Judge Reyes of the CAR,
This being the case, TROPICAL is bound to respect the possession of the petitioners as leasehold tenants over the land in question pursuant to the latters' right to security of tenure as enshrined in Sections 9, 10 and 36 of R.A-3844. To hold otherwise would render nugatory one of the primary reasons for the enactment of said law.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Respondent TROPICAL, in an attempt to justify its dispossessory acts against petitioners, invoke the provisions of Section 14 * of R.A. 3844 (p. 28, Rollo). However, this Court does not find the pertinence of such provision in the case at bar. The repealed section 14 stated:
Clearly, this defunct section establishes the right of the tenant-lessee to pre-empt the sale of his landholding or redeem the same if its sale had already been consummated. However, a reading of the petitioner's complaint filed with the CAR (pp. 20-24, Rollo) does not reveal any desire on their part to exercise this right; what they express, however, is their eagerness to work on their landholdings as tenants-lessees. They invoke, therefore, their right to security of tenure. And pursuant to section 36 of R.A. 3844, the agricultural lessee cannot be dispossessed of his landholding except by a Court order that is final and executory. Hence, in conjunction with section 10 of R.A. 3844, the mandatory requirement of Section 36 may never be overlooked by respondents. Nor may they invoke the provisions of the repealed section 14, even if it were still applicable today.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, this petition is granted and the appealed decision of the Fourth Division of the respondent Court of Appeals dated 15 July 1969 is hereby reversed, without pronouncement as to costs. It is further instructed that the records of CAR Case No. 442-Rizal '69, filed with the then Court of Agrarian Relations, Sixth Regional District, Branch III, be remanded to the proper court now having jurisdiction for trial on the merits, conditioned on the interest of the parties to pursue this case.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Melencio-Herrera (Chairman), Padilla, Sarmiento and Regalado, JJ., concur.
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