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G.R. No.

L-44570 May 30, 1986


MANUEL GUERRERO and MARIA GUERRERO, petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, and APOLINARIO BENITEZ, respondents.
A.D. Guerrero for petitioners.
Bureau of Legal Assistance for private respondents.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J .:
Whether or not a tenancy relationship exists between the parties Manuel Guerrero, et al and
Apolinario Benitez, et al. as to determine their respective rights and obligations to one another is the
issue in this petition to review the decision of the then Court of Appeals, now the Intermediate
Appellate Court, which affirmed in toto the decision of the Court of Agrarian Relations in CAR Case
No. 6793-NE (SA-Q) '73, the dispositive portion of which reads:
In view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:
(1) ordering defendants-spouses Manuel and Maria Guerrero to reinstate plaintiff
Apolinario Benitez to the 10-hectare portion of the 16-hectare coconut holding in
question, located at Bo. San Joaquin, Maria Aurora Sub-province Quezon and to
maintain said plaintiff in the peaceful possession and cultivation thereof, with all the
rights accorded and obligations imposed upon him by law;
(2) ordering defendants Paulino and Rogelio both surnamed Latigay to vacate the
said ten-hectare portion and deliver possession thereof to plaintiff Apolinario Benitez;
(3) ordering defendants-spouses Manuel and Maria Guerrero to pay damages to
plaintiffs in the amount of P14,911.20 beginning from July, 1973 and to pay the same
amount every year thereafter until plaintiff is effectively reinstated to the ten-hectare
portion;
(4) denying plaintiff-tenants' prayer for reconstruction of the copra cottage: and
(5) ordering defendants-spouses Manuel and Maria Guerrero to pay plaintiff the
amount of P200.00 by way of litigation expenses.
All other claims of the parties are denied. With costs against defendants-spouses.
The petitioners adopt the respondent court's findings of fact excepting, however, to its conclusion
that tenancy relations exist between the petitioners and the respondents, thus:
In 1969, plaintiff Apolinario Benitez was taken by defendants- spouses Manuel and
Maria Guerrero to take care of their 60 heads of cows which were grazing within their
21-hectare coconut plantation situated at Bo. San Joaquin, Maria Aurora,
Subprovince of Aurora, Quezon. Plaintiff was allowed for that purpose to put up a hut
within the plantation where he and his family stayed. In addition to attending to the
cows, he was made to clean the already fruitbearing coconut trees, burn dried leaves
and grass and to do such other similar chores. During harvest time which usually
comes every three months, he was also made to pick coconuts and gather the fallen
ones from a 16-hectare portion of the 21-hectare plantation. He had to husk and split
the nuts and then process its meat into copra in defendants' copra kiln. For his work
related to the coconuts, he shared 1/3 of the proceeds from the copra he processed
and sold in the market. For attending to the cows he was paid P500 a year.
Sometime in the early part of 1973, plaintiff was refrained from gathering nuts from
the 10-hectare portion of the 16-hectare part of the plantation from where he used to
gather nuts. He felt aggrieved by the acts of defendants and he brought the matter to
the attention of the Office of Special Unit in the Office of the President in
Malacanang, Manila. This led to an execution of an agreement, now marked as Exh.
D, whereby defendants agreed, among others, to let plaintiff work on the 16-hectare
portion of the plantation as tenant thereon and that their relationship will be guided by
the provisions of republic Act No. 1199. The Agricultural Tenancy Act of the
Philippines.
Then in July, 1973, he was again refrained from gathering nuts from the 10-hectare
portion of the plantation with threats of bodily harm if he persists to gather fruits
therefrom. Defendant spouses, the Guerreros, then assigned defendants Rogelio
and Paulino Latigay to do the gathering of the nuts and the processing thereof into
copra. Defendants Guerreros also caused to be demolished a part of the cottage
where plaintiff and his family lived, thus, making plaintiffs feel that they (defendants)
meant business. Hence, this case for reinstatement with damages.
The lower court formulated four (4) issues by which it was guided in the resolution of
the questions raised by the pleadings and evidence and we pertinently quote as
follows:
(1) whether or not plaintiff is the tenant on the coconut landholding in question
consisting of sixteen (16) hectares;
(2) In The affirmative, whether or not he was unlawfully dispossessed of ten (10)
hectare thereof;
(3) Whether or not the parties are entitled to actual and moral damages, attorney's
fees and litigation expenses.
This petition for review poses the following questions of law:
I
Whether or not with the passage of Presidential Decree 1038 only last October 21,
1976, Republic Act 6389 otherwise known as the Code of Agrarian Reforms has
repealed in their entirety the Agricultural Tenancy Act (Republic Act 1199) and the
Agricultural Reform Code (Republic Act 3844) abrogating or nullifying therefore all
agricultural share tenancy agreements over all kinds of lands, as the one involved in
the case at bar-over coconut plantation-and hence, the complaint below as well as
the challenged decision by the courts below, based as they are on such share
tenancy agreements, have lost their validity cessante ratio legis, cessat ipsa lex.
II
Assuming arguendo that said laws have not thus been repealed, is respondent
Benitez hereunder the undisputed fact of the case as found by the courts below a
share tenant within the purview of the said laws, i.e., Republic Acts 1199 and 3844,
or a mere farmhand or farm worker as such relationship were extensively discussed
in Delos Reyes vs. Espinelli, 30 SCRA 574. (Copied verbatim from Petition, p. 31-
rollo)
Petitioner insists in this petition that Benitez was a mere farmhand or laborer who was dismissed as
an employee from the landholding in question and not ousted therefrom as tenant. Whether a person
is a tenant or not is basically a question of fact and the findings of the respondent court and the trial
court are, generally, entitled to respect and non-disturbance.
The law defines "agricultural tenancy" as the physical possession by a person of land devoted to
agriculture, belonging to or legally possessed by another for the purpose of production through the
labor of the former and of the members of his immediate farm household in consideration of which
the former agrees to share the harvest with the latter or to pay a price certain or ascertainable, either
in produce or in money, or in both (Section 3, Republic Act 1199, The Agricultural tenancy Act, as
amended.)
With petitioner reference to this case, "share tenancy" exists whenever two persons agree on a joint
undertaking for agricultural production wherein one party furnishes the land and the other his labor,
with either or both contributing any one or several of the items of production, the tenant cultivating
the land with the aid of labor available from members of his immediate farm household, and the
produce thereof to be divided between the landholder and the tenant in proportion to their respective
contributions (Sec. 4, RA 1199; Sec. 166(25) RA 3844, Agricultural Land Reform Code).
In contrast, a farmhand or agricultural laborer is "any agricultural salary or piece worker but is not
limited to a farmworker of a particular farm employer unless this Code expressly provides otherwise,
and any individual whose work has ceased as a consequence of, or in connection with, a current
agrarian dispute or an unfair labor practice and who has not obtained a substantially equivalent and
regular employment" (Sec. 166(15) RA 3844, Agricultural Land Reform Code).
The petitioners contend that the two courts below applied erroneous definitions of "tenancy" found in
repealed laws. They assert that the Agricultural Tenancy Act and the Agricultural Land Reform Code
have been superseded by the Code of Agrarian Reforms, Rep. Act 6389, which the trial court and
the Court of Appeals failed to cite and apply.
There is no question that the latest law on land and tenancy reforms seeks to abolish agricultural
share tenancy as the basic relationship governing farmers and landowners in the country.
On August 8, 1963, Republic Act 3844 abolished and outlawed share tenancy and put in its stead
the agricultural leasehold system. On September 10, 1971, Republic Act 6389 amending Republic
Act 3844 declared share tenancy relationships as contrary to public policy. On the basis of this
national policy, the petitioner asserts that no cause of action exists in the case at bar and the lower
court's committed grave error in upholding the respondent's status as share tenant in the petitioners'
landholding.
The petitioners' arguments are regressive and, if followed, would turn back the advances in agrarian
reform law. The repeal of the Agricultural Tenancy Act and the Agricultural Land Reform Code mark
the movement not only towards the leasehold system but towards eventual ownership of land by its
tillers. The phasing out of share tenancy was never intended to mean a reversion of tenants into
mere farmhands or hired laborers with no tenurial rights whatsoever.
It is important to note that the Agricultural Tenancy Act (RA 1199) and the Agricultural Land Reform
Code (RA 3844) have not been entirely repealed by the Code of Agrarian Reform (RA 6389) even if
the same have been substantially modified by the latter.
However, even assuming such an abrogation of the law, the rule that the repeal of a statute defeats
all actions pending under the repealed statute is a mere general principle. Among the established
exceptions are when vested rights are affected and obligations of contract are impaired. (Aisporna
vs. Court of Appeals, 108 SCRA 481).
The records establish the private respondents' status as agricultural tenants under the legal
definitions.
Respondent Benitez has physically possessed the landholding continuously from 1969 until he was
ejected from it. Such possession of longstanding is an essential distinction between a mere
agricultural laborer and a real tenant within the meaning of the tenancy law (Moreno, Philippine Law
Dictionary, 1972 Edition), a tenant being one who, has the temporary use and occupation of land or
tenements belonging to another (Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Vol. II, p. 3254) for the purpose of
production (Sec. 3, Republic Act 1199; delos Reyes vs. Espinelli, 30 SCRA 574). Respondent
Benitez lives on the landholding. He built his house as an annex to the petitioner's copra kiln. A hired
laborer would not build his own house at his expense at the risk of losing the same upon his
dismissal or termination any time. Such conduct is more consistent with that of an agricultural tenant
who enjoys security of tenure under the law.
Cultivation is another important factor in determining the existence of tenancy relationships. It is
admitted that it had been one Conrado Caruruan, with others, who had originally cleared the land in
question and planted the coconut trees, with the respondent coming to work in the landholding only
after the same were already fruit bearing. The mere fact that it was not respondent Benitez who had
actually seeded the land does not mean that he is not a tenant of the land. The definition of
cultivation is not limited merely to the tilling, plowing or harrowing of the land. It includes the
promotion of growth and the care of the plants, or husbanding the ground to forward the products of
the earth by general industry. The raising of coconuts is a unique agricultural enterprise. Unlike rice,
the planting of coconut seedlings does not need harrowing and plowing. Holes are merely dug on
the ground of sufficient depth and distance, the seedlings placed in the holes and the surface thereof
covered by soil. Some coconut trees are planted only every thirty to a hundred years. The major
work in raising coconuts begins when the coconut trees are already fruitbearing. Then it is cultivated
by smudging or smoking the plantation, taking care of the coconut trees, applying fertilizer, weeding
and watering, thereby increasing the produce. The fact that respondent Benitez, together with his
family, handles all phases of farmwork from clearing the landholding to the processing of copra,
although at times with the aid of hired laborers, thereby cultivating the land, shows that he is a
tenant, not a mere farm laborer. (delos Reyes vs. Espinelli, supra Marcelo vs. de Leon, 105 Phil.
1175).
Further indicating the existence of a tenancy relationship between petitioners and respondent is their
agreement to share the produce or harvest on a "tercio basis" that is, a 1/3 to 2/3 sharing in favor of
the petitioner-landowners. Though not a positive indication of the existence of tenancy
relations perse the sharing of harvest taken together with other factors characteristic of tenancy
shown to be present in the case at bar, strengthens the claim of respondent that indeed, he is a
tenant. The case of delos Reyes vs. Espinelli (supra) clearly explains the matter thus:
The agricultural laborer works for the employer, and for his labor he receives a salary
or wage, regardless of whether the employer makes a profit. On the other hand, the
share tenant par ticipates in the agricultural produce. His share is necessarily
dependent on the amount of harvest.
Hence, the lower court's computation of damages in favor of respondent based on the number of
normal harvests. In most cases, we have considered the system of sharing produce as convincing
evidence of tenancy relations.
The petitioners entered into an agreement on May 2, 1973 which in clear and categorical terms
establishes respondent as a tenant, to wit:
AGREEMENT
This agreement entered into by and between Manuel Guerrero hereinafter referred to
as the landowner and Apolinario Benitez hereinafter referred to as tenant.
xxx xxx xxx
The petitioners, however, contend that the word "tenant" in the aforequoted agreement was used to
mean a hired laborer farm employee as understood agreed upon by the parties. The fact that their
relationship would be guided by the provisions of Republic Act 1199 or the Agricultural Tenancy Act
of the Philippines militates against such an assertion. It would be an absurdity for Republic Act 1199
to govern an employer-employee relationship. If as the petitioners insist a meaning other than its
general acceptation had been given the word "tenant", the instrument should have so stated '. Aided
by a lawyer, the petitioners, nor the respondent could not be said to have misconstrued the same. In
clear and categorical terms, the private respondent appears to be nothing else but a tenant:
Finally, comes the admission by the petitioners' counsel of the respondent's status as tenant:
ATTY. ESTEBAN:
Q You said you are living at San Joaquin, who cause the sowing of
the lumber you made as annex in the house?
ATTY. NALUNDASAN
Please remember that under the law, tenant is given the right to live
in the holding in question. We admit him as tenant.
x x x x x x x x x
(Apolinario Benitez on Redirect, TSN, June 25, 1974, pp. 4950).
The respondent's status as agricultural tenant should be without question.
Once a tenancy relationship is established, the tenant has the right to continue working until such
relationship is extinguished according to law.
The Agricultural Tenancy Act of 1954 (Republic Act 1199), the Agricultural Land Reform Code of
1963 (Republic Act 3844), the Code of Agrarian Reforms (Republic Act 6389) and Presidential
Decree 1038 (Strengthening the Security of Tenure of Tenant Tillers in Non-Rice/Corn Producing
Agricultural Lands) all provide for the security of tenure of agricultural tenants. Ejectment may be
effected only for causes provided by law, to wit:
l) Violation or failure of the tenant to comply with any of the terms and conditions of
the tenancy contract or any of the provisions of the Agricultural Tenancy Act;
2) The tenant's failure to pay the agreed rental or to deliver the landholder's share
unless the tenant's failure is caused by a fortuitous event or force majeure;
3) Use by the tenant of the land for purposes other than that specified by the
agreement of the parties;
4) Failure of the tenant to follow proven farm practices:
5) Serious injury to the land caused by the negligence of the tenant;
6) Conviction by a competent court of a tenant or any member of his immediate
family or farm household of a crime against the landholder or a member of his
immediate family. (Section 50, Rep. Act 1199).
None of the above causes exists in the case at bar. The respondent has been unlawfully deprived of
his right to security of tenure and the Court of Agrarian Reforms did not err in ordering the
reinstatement of respondent as tenant and granting him damages therefor.
Before we close this case, it is pertinent to reiterate that the respondent's right as share tenant do
not end with the abolition of share tenancy. As the law seeks to "uplift the farmers from poverty,
ignorance and stagnation to make them dignified, self-reliant, strong and responsible citizens ...
active participants in nation-building", agricultural share tenants are given the right to leasehold
tenancy as a first step towards the ultimate status of owner-cultivator, a goal sought to be achieved
by the government program of land reform.
It is true that leasehold tenancy for coconut lands and sugar lands has not yet been implemented.
The policy makers of government are still studying the feasibility of its application and the
consequences of its implementation. Legislation still has to be enacted. Nonetheless, wherever it
may be implemented, the eventual goal of having strong and independent farmers working on lands
which they own remains. The petitioners' arguments which would use the enactment of the Agrarian
Reform Code as the basis for setting back or eliminating the tenurial rights of the tenant have no
merit.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The decision of the appellate court is
AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.



YOLANDA CABALLES, petitioner, vs. DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN
REFORM, HON. HEHERSON T. ALVAREZ and BIENVENIDO
ABAJON, respondents.

D E C I S I O N

SARMIENTO, J p:
Before us is a petition for certiorari seeking the annulment of an Order
issued by the public respondent Ministry of Agrarian Reform (MAR), now the
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), through its then Minister, the Hon.
Heherson Alvarez, finding the existence of a tenancy relationship between the
herein petitioner and the private respondent and certifying the criminal case for
malicious mischief filed by the petitioner against the private respondent as not
proper for trial. LLphil
The facts as gathered by the MAR are as follows:
The landholding subject of the controversy, which consists of only sixty (60)
square meters (20 meters x 3 meters) was acquired by the spouses Arturo and
Yolanda Caballes, the latter being the petitioner herein, by virtue of a Deed of
Absolute Sale dated July 24, 1978 executed by Andrea Alicaba Millenes. This
landholding is part of Lot No. 3109-C, which has a total area of about 500 square
meters, situated at Lawa-an, Talisay, Cebu. The remainder of Lot No. 3109-C
was subsequently sold to the said spouses by Macario Alicaba and the other
members of the Millenes family, thus consolidating ownership over the entire
(500-square meter) property in favor of the petitioner.
In 1975, before the sale in favor of the Caballes spouses, private respondent
Bienvenido Abajon constructed his house on a portion of the said landholding,
paying a monthly rental of P2.00 to the owner, Andrea Millenes. The landowner
likewise allowed Abajon to plant on a portion of the land, agreeing that the
produce thereof would be shared by both on a fifty-fifty basis. From 1975-1977,
Abajon planted corn and bananas on the landholding. In 1978, he stopped
planting corn but continued to plant bananas and camote. During those four
years, he paid the P2.00 rental for the lot occupied by his house, and delivered
50% of the produce to Andrea Millenes.
Sometime in March 1979, after the property was sold, the new owners,
Arturo and Yolanda Caballes, told Abajon that the poultry they intended to build
would be close to his house and pursuaded him to transfer his dwelling to the
opposite or southern portion of the landholding. Abajon offered to pay the new
owners rental on the land occupied by his house, but his offer was not accepted.
Later, the new owners asked Abajon to vacate the premises, saying that they
needed the property. But Abajon refused to leave. The parties had a
confrontation before the Barangay Captain of Lawa-an in Talisay, Cebu but failed
to reach an agreement. All the efforts exerted by the landowners to oust Abajon
from the landholding were in vain as the latter simply refused to budge. LLphil
On April 1, 1982, the landowner, Yolanda Caballes, executed an Affidavit
stating that immediately after she reprimanded Abajon for harvesting bananas
and jackfruit from the property without her knowledge, the latter, with malicious
and ill intent, cut down the banana plants on the property worth about P50.00. A
criminal case for malicious mischief was filed against Abajon and which was
docketed as Criminal Case No. 4003. Obviously, all the planting on the property,
including that of the banana plants, had been done by Abajon. On September 30,
1982, upon motion of the defense in open court pursuant to PD 1038, the trial
court ordered the referral of the case to the Regional Office No. VII of the then
MAR for a preliminary determination of the relationship between the parties. As a
result, the Regional Director of MAR Regional VII, issued a certification
1
dated
January 24, 1983, stating that said Criminal Case No. 4003 was not proper for
hearing on the bases of the following findings:
That herein accused is a bona-fide tenant of the land owned by the
complaining witness, which is devoted to bananas;
That this case is filed patently to harass and/or eject the tenant from his
farmholding, which act is prohibited b law; and
That this arose out of or is connected with agrarian relations.
From the said certification, the petitioner appealed to the then MAR, now the
respondent DAR. Acting on said appeal, the respondent DAR, through its then
Minister Conrado Estrella, reversed the previous certification in its Order
2
of
February 3, 1986, declaring Criminal Case No. 4003 as proper for trial as "the
land involved is a residential lot consisting of only 60 square meters whereon the
house of the accused is constructed and within the industrial zone of the town as
evinced from the Certification issued by the Zoning Administrator of Talisay,
Cebu."
Upon motion for reconsideration filed by Abajon, the respondent DAR,
through its new Minister, herein respondent Heherson Alvarez, issued an
Order
3
dated November 15, 1986, setting aside the previous Order dated
February 3, 1986, and certifying said criminal case as not proper for trial, finding
the existence of a tenancy relationship between the parties, and that the case
was designed to harass the accused into vacating his tillage.
In the summary investigation conducted by the DAR, the former landowner,
Andrea Millenes, testified that Bienvenido Abajon dutifully gave her 50% share of
the produce of the land under his cultivation. The grandson of Andrea Millenes,
Roger Millenes, corroborated the testimony of the former, stating that he received
said share from Abajon. Roger Millenes further testified that the present owners
received in his presence a bunch of bananas from the accused representing 1/2
or 50% of the two bunches of bananas gathered after Caballes had acquired the
property.
4

From these factual findings, the DAR concluded that Abajon was a tenant of
Andrea Millenes, the former owner, who had testified that she shared the
produce of the land with Abajon as tiller thereof.
5
Thus, invoking Sec. 10 of RA
3844, as amended, which provides that "[T]he agricultural leasehold relation
under this Code shall not be extinguished by mere expiration of the term or
period in a leasehold contract nor by the sale, alienation or transfer of the legal
possession of the landholding"; and that "(I)n case the agricultural lessor sells,
alienates or transfers the legal possession of the landholding, the purchaser or
transferee thereof shall be subrogated to the rights and substituted to the
obligations of the agricultural lessor," the MAR ruled that "the new owners are
legally bound to respect the tenancy, notwithstanding their claim that the portion
tilled by Abajon was small, consisting merely of three (3) meters wide and twenty
(20) meters long, or a total of sixty (60) square meters."
6

Hence, its petition for certiorari alleging that:
I. Respondents DAR and Hon. Heherson T. Alvarez committed "grave
abuse of power and discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction" in holding
that private respondent Abajon is an agricultural tenant even if he is
cultivating only a 60-square meter (3 x 20 meters) portion of a commercial
lot of the petitioner.
II. Public respondents gravely erred in holding that Criminal Case No.
4003 is not proper for trial and hearing by the court.
7

We hold that the private respondent cannot avail of the benefits afforded by
RA 3844, as amended. To invest him with the status of a tenant is preposterous.
Section 2 of said law provides:
It is the policy of the State:
(1) To establish cooperative-cultivatorship among those who live and work
on the land as tillers, owner-cultivatorship and the economic family-size farm
as the basis of Philippine agriculture and, as a consequence, divert landlord
capital in agriculture to industrial development;
xxx xxx xxx
RA 3844, as amended, defines an economic family-size farm as "an area of
farm land that permits efficient use of labor and capital resources of the farm
family and will produce an income sufficient to provide a modest standard of
living to meet a farm family's needs for food, clothing, shelter, and education with
possible allowance for payment of yearly installments on the land, and
reasonable reserves to absorb yearly fluctuations in income."
8

The private respondent only occupied a miniscule portion (60 square
meters) of the 500-square meter lot. Sixty square meters of land planted to
bananas, camote, and corn cannot by any stretch of the imagination be
considered as an economic family-size farm. Surely, planting camote, bananas,
and corn on a sixty-square meter piece of land can not produce an income
sufficient to provide a modest standard of living to meet the farm family's basic
needs. The private respondent himself admitted that he did not depend on the
products of the land because it was too small, and that he took on carpentry jobs
on the side.
9
Thus, the order sought to be reviewed is patently contrary to the
declared policy of the law stated above.
The DAR found that the private respondent shared the produce of the land
with the former owner, Andrea Millenes. This led, or misled, the public
respondents to conclude that a tenancy relationship existed between the
petitioner and the private respondent because, the public respondents continue,
by operation of Sec. 10 of R. A. 3844, as amended, the petitioner new owner is
subrogated to the rights and substituted to the obligations of the supposed
agricultural lessor (the former owner).
We disagree.
The essential requisites of a tenancy relationship are:
1. The parties are the landowner and the tenant;
2. The subject is agricultural land;
3. There is consent;
4. The purpose is agricultural production;
5. There is personal cultivation; and
6. There is sharing of harvests.
All these requisites must concur in order to create a tenancy relationship
between the parties. The absence of one does not make an occupant of a parcel
of land, or a cultivator thereof, or a planter thereon, a de jure tenant. This is so
because unless a person has established his status as a de jure tenant, he is not
entitled to security of tenure nor is he covered by the Land Reform Program of
the Government under existing tenancy laws.
10

Therefore, the fact of sharing alone is not sufficient to establish a tenancy
relationship. Certainly, it is not unusual for a landowner to accept some of the
produce of his land from someone who plants certain crops thereon. This is a
typical and laudable provinciano trait of sharing or patikim, a native way of
expressing gratitude for favor received. This, however, does not automatically
make the tiller-sharer a tenant thereof specially when the area tilled is only 60, or
even 500, square meters and located in an urban area and in the heart of an
industrial or commercial zone at that. Tenancy status arises only if an occupant
of a parcel of land has been given its possession for the primary purpose of
agricultural production. The circumstances of this case indicate that the private
respondent's status is more of a caretaker who was allowed by the owner out of
benevolence or compassion to live in the premises and to have a garden of some
sort at its southwestern side rather than a tenant of the said portion.
Agricultural production as the primary purpose being absent in the
arrangement, it is clear that the private respondent was never a tenant of the
former owner, Andrea Millenes. Consequently, Sec. 10 of RA of 3844, as
amended, does not apply. Simply stated, the private respondent is not a tenant of
the herein petitioner.
Anent the second assignment of error, the petitioner argues that since
Abajon, is not an agricultural tenant, the criminal case for malicious mischief filed
against him should be declared as proper for trial so that proceedings in the
lower court can resume.
Notwithstanding our ruling that the private respondent is not a tenant of the
petitioner, we hold that the remand of the case to the lower court for the
resumption of the criminal proceedings is not in the interest of justice. Remand to
the Municipal Court of Talisay, Cebu, would not serve the ends of justice at all,
nor is it necessary, because this High Tribunal is in a position to resolve with
finality the dispute before it. This Court, in the public interest, and towards the
expeditious administration of justice, has decided to act on the merits and
dispose of the case with finality.
11

The criminal case for malicious mischief filed by the petitioner against the
private respondent for allegedly cutting down banana trees worth a measly
P50.00 will take up much of the time and attention of the municipal court to the
prejudice of other more pressing cases pending therein. Furthermore, the private
respondent will have to incur unnecessary expenses to finance his legal battle
against the petitioner if proceedings in the court below were to resume. Court
litigants have decried the long and unnecessary delay in the resolution of their
cases and the consequent costs of such litigations. The poor, particularly, are
victims of this unjust judicial dawdle. Impoverished that they are they must deal
with unjust legal procrastination which they can only interpret as harassment or
intimidation brought about by their poverty, deprivation, and despair. It must be
the mission of the Court to remove the misperceptions aggrieved people have of
the nature of the dispensation of justice. If justice can be meted out now, why
wait for it to drop gently from heaven? Thus, considering that this case involves a
mere bagatelle, the Court finds it proper and compelling to decide it here and
now, instead of further deferring its final termination.
As found by the DAR, the case for malicious mischief stemmed from the
petitioner's affidavit stating that after she reprimanded private respondent Abajon
for harvesting bananas and jackfruit from the property without her knowledge, the
latter, with ill intent, cut the banana trees on the property worth about P50.00.
This was corroborated by a certain Anita Duaban, a friend of the petitioner,
who likewise executed an affidavit to the effect that she saw the private
respondent indiscriminately cutting the banana trees.
12

The Revised Penal Code, as amended, provides that "any person who shall
deliberately cause to the property of another any damage not falling within the
terms of the next preceding chapter shall be guilty of malicious mischief."
13

The elements of the crime of malicious mischief are:
1. The offender deliberately caused damage to the property of
another;
2. The damage caused did not constitute arson or crimes involving
destructions.
3. The damage was caused maliciously by the offender.
After a review of the facts and circumstances of this case, we rule that the
aforesaid criminal case against the private respondent be dismissed.
The private respondent can not be held criminally liable for malicious
mischief in cutting the banana trees because, as an authorized occupant or
possessor of the land, and as planter of the banana trees, he owns said crops
including the fruits thereof. The private respondent's possession of the land is not
illegal or in bad faith because he was allowed by the previous owners to enter
and occupy the premises. In other words, the private respondent worked the land
in dispute with the consent of the previous and present owners. Consequently,
whatever the private respondent planted and cultivated on that piece of property
belonged to him and not to the landowner. Thus, an essential element of the
crime of malicious mischief, which is "damage deliberately caused to the property
of another," is absent because the private respondent merely cut down his own
plantings. prcd
WHEREFORE, the Order of public respondents dated November 15, 1986 is
SET ASIDE and Criminal Case No. 4003, is hereby DISMISSED. Let a copy of
this decision be sent to the Municipal Trial Court of Talisay, Cebu for appropriate
action. This Decision is IMMEDIATELY EXECUTORY.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

RAFAEL GELOS, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
and ERNESTO ALZONA,respondents.

Balagtas P. Ilagan for petitioner.
Emil Capulong, Jr. for private respondent.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; SPECIAL CIVIL ACTIONS; CERTIORARI;
FACTUAL ISSUES NOT PROPER. The basic question the petitioner
now raises before the Court is essentially factual and therefore not proper in
a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Only questions of
law may be raised in this kind of proceeding.
2. ID.; EVIDENCE; FACTUAL FINDINGS OF THE COURT OF
APPEALS SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, CONCLUSIVE
ON APPEAL. The settled rule is that the factual findings of the Court of
Appeals are conclusive on even this Court as long as they are supported by
substantial evidence. The petitioner has not shown such findings may be
validly reversed by this Court.
3. LABOR AND SOCIAL LEGISLATION; TENANCY; A LEGAL
RELATIONSHIP BROUGHT ABOUT BY THE INTENT OF THE PARTIES.
As this Court has stressed in a number of cases, "tenancy is not a purely
factual relationship dependent on what the alleged tenant does upon the
land. It is also a legal relationship. The intent of the parties, the
understanding when the farmer is installed, and as in this case, their written
agreements, provided these are complied with and are not contrary to law,
are even more important."
4. ID.; ID.; PAYMENT OF IRRIGATION FEES, NOT EVIDENCE OF
TENANCY. The petitioner's payment of irrigation fees from 1980 to 1985
to the National Irrigation Administration on the said landholding is explained
by the fact that during the pendency of the CAR case, the Agrarian Reform
Office fixed a provisional leasehold rental after a preliminary finding that
Gelos was the tenant of the private respondent. As such, it was he who had
to pay the irrigation fees.
5. ID.; ID.; DETERMINATION BY THE SECRETARY OF EXISTENCE
OF TENANCY RELATIONSHIP, NOT CONCLUSIVE. Section 12,
subpar. (r) of PD 946 provides that the Secretary's determination of the
tenancy relationship is only preliminary and cannot be conclusive on the
lower court.
6. ID.; ID.; TENANT, DEFINED. A tenant is defined under Section
5(a) of Republic Act No. 1199 as a person who himself and with the aid
available from within his immediate farm household cultivates the
land belonging to or possessed by another, with the latter's consent, for
purposes of production, sharing the produce with the landholder under the
share tenancy system, or paying to the landholder a price-certain or
ascertainable in produce or in money or both, under the leasehold tenancy
system.
7. ID.; ID.; REQUISITES. For this relationship to exist, it is
necessary that: 1) the parties are the landowner and the tenant; 2) the
subject is agricultural land; 3) there is consent; 4) the purpose is agricultural
production; 5) there is personal cultivation; and 6) there is sharing of harvest
or payment of rental. In the absence of any of these requisites, an occupant
of a parcel of land, or a cultivator thereof, or planter thereon, cannot qualify
as a de jure tenant.
8. ID.; LABOR LAWS; EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP;
REQUISITES. On the other hand, the indications of an employer-
employee relationship are: 1) the selection and engagement of the
employee; 2) the payment of wages; 3) the power of dismissal; and 4) the
power to control the employee's conduct although the latter is the most
important element.
9. ID.; TENANCY; DISTINGUISHED FARM EMPLOYER-FARM
WORKER RELATIONSHIP. According to a well-known authority on the
subject, tenancy relationship is distinguished from farm employer-farm
worker relationship in that: "In farm employer-farm worker relationship, the
lease is one of labor with the agricultural laborer as the lessor of his
services and the farm employer as the lessee thereof. In tenancy
relationship, it is the landowner who is the lessor, and the tenant the lessee
of agricultural land. The agricultural worker works for the farm employer and
for his labor he receives a salary or wage regardless of whether the
employer makes a profit. On the other hand, the tenant derives his income
from the agricultural produce or harvest."
10. CIVIL LAW; PRESCRIPTION OF ACTIONS; ACTION BASED ON A
WRITTEN CONTRACT PRESCRIBES IN TEN (10) YEARS; CASE AT
BAR. The other issue raised by the petitioner, which is decidedly legal, is
easily resolved. There being no tenancy relationship, the contention that the
private respondent's complaint has prescribed under Section 38 of R.A.
3844 must also fail. That section is not applicable. It must be noted that at
the very outset, Alzona rejected the petitioner's claim of agricultural tenancy
and immediately instituted his action for unlawful detainer in accordance
with Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court. As it happened, the said case
was held not proper for trial by the Ministry of Agrarian Reform. He then
resorted to other remedies just so he could recover possession of his land
and, finally, in 1979, he yielded to the jurisdiction of the defunct Court of
Agrarian Relations by filing there an action for declaration of non-tenancy.
The action, which was commenced in 1979, was within the ten-year
prescriptive period provided under Article 1144 of the Civil Code for actions
based on a written contract.

D E C I S I O N

CRUZ, J p:
The Court is asked to determine the real status of the petitioner, who claims
to be a tenant of the private respondent and entitled to the benefits of tenancy
laws. The private respondent objects, contending that the petitioner is only a
hired laborer whose right to occupy the subject land ended with the termination of
their contract of employment.
The subject land is a 25,000 square meter farmland situated in Cabuyao,
Laguna, and belonging originally to private respondent Ernesto Alzona and his
parents in equal shares. On July 5, 1970, they entered into a written contract with
petitioner Rafael Gelos employing him as their laborer on the land at the
stipulated daily wage of P5.00.
1
On September 4, 1973, after Alzona had bought
his parents' share and acquired full ownership of the land, he wrote Gelos to
inform him of the termination of his services and to demand that he vacate the
property. Gelos refused and continued working on the land.
On October 1, 1973, Gelos went to the Court of Agrarian Relations and
asked for the fixing of the agricultural lease rental on the property. He later
withdrew the case and went to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, which granted his
petition. For his part, Alzona filed a complaint for illegal detainer against Gelos in
the Municipal Court of Cabuyao, but this action was declared "not proper for trial"
by the Ministry of Agrarian Reform because of the existence of a tenancy
relationship between the parties. Alzona was rebuffed for the same reason when
he sought the assistance of the Ministry of Labor and later when he filed a
complaint with the Court of Agrarian Relations for a declaration of non-tenancy
and damages against Gelos. On appeal to the Office of the President, however,
the complaint was declared proper for trial and so de-archived and reinstated.
After hearing, the Regional Trial Court of San Pablo City (which had taken
over the Court of Agrarian Relations under BP 129) rendered a decision dated
April 21, 1987, dismissing the complaint.
2
It found Gelos to be a tenant of the
subject property and entitled to remain thereon as such. The plaintiff was also
held liable in attorney's fees and costs.
The decision was subsequently reversed by the Court of Appeals. In its
judgment promulgated on November 25, 1988,
3
it held that Gelos was not a
tenant of the land in question and ordered him to surrender it to Alzona. He was
also held liable for the payment of P10,000.00 as attorney's fees and the costs of
the suit.
The basic question the petitioner now raises before the Court is essentially
factual and therefore not proper in a petition for review under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court. Only questions of law may be raised in this kind of proceeding.
The settled rule is that the factual findings of the Court of Appeals are conclusive
on even this Court as long as they are supported by substantial evidence. The
petitioner has not shown that his case comes under any of those rare exceptions
when such findings may be validly reversed by this Court.
It is true that in Talavera v. Court of Appeals,
4
we held that a factual
conclusion made by the trial court that a person is a tenant farmer, if it is
supported by the minimum evidence demanded by law, is final and conclusive
and cannot be reversed by the appellate tribunals except for compelling reasons.
In the case at bar, however, we find with the respondent court that there was
such a compelling reason. A careful examination of the record reveals that,
indeed, the trial court misappreciated the facts when it ruled that the petitioner
was a tenant of the private respondent.
The circumstance that the findings of the respondent court do not concur
with those of the trial court does not, of course, call for automatic reversal of the
appellate court. Precisely, the function of the appellate court is to review and, if
warranted, reverse the findings of the trial court. Disagreement between the two
courts merely calls on us to make a specially careful study of their respective
decisions to determine which of them should be preferred as more conformable
to the facts at hand.
The Court has made this careful study and will sustain the decision of the
respondent court.
The contract of employment dated July 5, 1970, written in Tagalog and
entitled "Kasunduan ng Upahang Araw," reads pertinently as follows:
1. Ang Unang Panig ay siyang may-ari at nagtatangkilik ng isang
lagay na lupa, sinasaka, na tumatayo sa Nayon ng Baclaran, Cabuyao,
Laguna, na siyang gagawa at sasaka sa lupa, samantalang ang
Ikalawang Panig ay magiging upahan at katulong sa paggawa ng lupa.
2. Ang Unang Panig ay gustong ipagpatuloy ang pagbubungkal at
paggawa ng bukid na binabanggit sa itaas at ang Ikalawang Panig ay
may ibig na magpaupa sa paggawa sa halagang P5.00 sa bawat araw,
walong oras na trabaho gaya ng mga sumusunod: Patubigan ng linang;
pagpapahalabas ng mga pilapil; pagpapaaldabis sa unang araw ng pag-
aararo; pagpapalinis ng damo sa ibabaw ng pilapil; pagpapakamot
(unang pagpapasuyod), pagpapahalang at pagpapabalasaw (ikalawa't
ikatlong pagpapasuyod); isang tao sa pagsasabog ng abono una sa
pagpapantay ng linang; bago magtanim; isang tao sa pagaalaga ng
dapog; upa sa isang tao ng magbobomba ng gamot laban sa pagkapit ng
mga kulisap (mayroon at wala); sa nag-we-weeder; upa sa mga tao na
maggagamas at magpapatubig ng palay; magsasapaw ng mga pilapil at
iba pa.
3. Ang Unang Panig at ang Ikalawang Panig ay nagkasundo na ang
huli ay gagawa sa bukid ayon sa nabanggit sa itaas bilang katulong at
upahan lamang. Ang Unang Panig bukod sa sila ang gagawa at
magsasaka ay maaaring umupa ng iba pang tao manggagawa sa
upahang umiiral sang-ayon sa batas katulad ng pag-aararo,
pagpapahulip, pagpapagamas, pagbobomba, pagweweeder,
pagsasabog ng abono, pagbobomba ng gamot, pagpapatubig at iba
pang mga gawain. Maaaring alisin ang Ikalawang Panig sa
pagpapatrabaho sa ano mang oras ng Unang Panig.
4. Ipinatatanto ng Ikalawang Panig na siya ay hindi kasama sa bukid
kundi upahan lamang na binabayaran sa bawa't araw ng kanyang
paggawa sa bukid na nabanggit.
It is noted that the agreement provides that "ang Ikalawang Panig (meaning
Gelos) ay may ibig na magpaupa sa paggawa sa halagang P5.00 sa bawa't
araw, walong oras na trabaho" (The Second Party desires to lease his services
at the rate of P5.00 per day, eight hours of work) and that 'Ipinatatanto ng
Ikalawang Panig na siya ay hindi kasama sa bukid kundi upahan lamang na
binabayaran sa bawa't araw ng kanyang paggawa sa bukid na nabanggit." (The
Second Party makes it known that he is not a farm tenant but only a hired laborer
who is paid for every day of work on the said farm.)
These stipulations clearly indicate that the parties did not enter into a
tendency agreement but only a contract of employment. The agreement is a
lease of services, not of the land in dispute. This intention is quite consistent with
the undisputed fact that three days before that agreement was concluded, the
former tenant of the land, Laocadio Punongbayan, had executed an instrument in
which he voluntarily surrendered his tenancy rights to the private respondent.
5
It
also clearly demonstrates that, contrary to the petitioner's contention, Alzona
intended to cultivate the land himself instead of placing it again under tenancy.
The petitioner would now disavow the agreement, but his protestations are
less than convincing. His wife's testimony that he is illiterate is belied by his own
testimony to the contrary in another proceeding.
6
Her claim that they were tricked
into signing the agreement does not stand up against the testimony of Atty.
Santos Pampolina, who declared under his oath as a witness (and as an attorney
and officer of the court) that he explained the meaning of the document to Gelos,
who even read it himself before signing it.
7
Atty. Pampolina said the agreement
was not notarized because his commission as notary public was good only for
Manila and did not cover Laguna, where the document was executed.
8
At any
rate, the lack of notarization did not adversely affect the veracity and
effectiveness of the agreement, which, significantly, Gelos and his wife do not
deny having signed.
Gelos points to the specific tasks mentioned in the agreement and suggests
that they are the work of a tenant and not of a mere hired laborer. Not so. The
work specified is not peculiar to tenancy. What a tenant may do may also be
done by a hired laborer working under the direction of the landowner, as in the
case at bar. It is not the nature of the work involved but the intention of the
parties that determines the relationship between them.
As this Court has stressed in a number of cases,
9
"tenancy is not a purely
factual relationship dependent on what the alleged tenant does upon the land. It
is also a legal relationship. The intent of the parties, the understanding when the
farmer is installed, and as in this case, their written agreements, provided these
are complied with and are not contrary to law, are even more important."
Gelos presented receipts
10
for fertilizer and pesticides he allegedly bought
and applied to the land of the private respondent, but the latter insists that it was
his brother who bought them, being an agriculturist and in charge of the technical
aspect of the farm. Moreover, the receipts do not indicate to which particular
landholding the fertilizers would be applied and, as pointed out by the private
respondent, could refer to the other parcels of land which Gelos was tenanting.
The petitioner's payment of irrigation fees from 1980 to 1985 to the National
Irrigation Administration on the said landholding is explained by the fact that
during the pendency of the CAR case, the Agrarian Reform Office fixed a
provisional leasehold rental after a preliminary finding that Gelos was the tenant
of the private respondent. As such, it was he who had to pay the irrigation fees.
Incidentally, Section 12, subpar. (r) of PD 946 provides that the Secretary's
determination of the tenancy relationship is only preliminary and cannot be
conclusive on the lower court.
It is noteworthy that, except for the self-serving testimony of the petitioner's
wife, the records of this case are bereft of evidence regarding the sharing of
harvest between Gelos and Alzona. No less importantly, as the Court of Appeals
observed, the petitioner has not shown that he paid rentals on the subject
property from 1970 to 1973, before their dispute arose.
A tenant is defined under Section 5(a) of Republic Act No. 1199 as a person
who himself and with the aid available from within his immediate farm household
cultivates the land belonging to or possessed by another, with the latter's
consent, for purposes of production, sharing the produce with the landholder
under the share tenancy system, or paying to the landholder a price-certain or
ascertainable in produce or in money or both, under the leasehold tenancy
system. (Emphasis supplied)
For this relationship to exist, it is necessary that: 1) the parties are the
landowner and the tenant; 2) the subject is agricultural land; 3) there is consent;
4) the purpose is agricultural production; 5) there is personal cultivation; and 6)
there is sharing of harvest or payment of rental. In the absence of any of these
requisites, an occupant of a parcel of land, or a cultivator thereof, or planter
thereon, cannot qualify as a de jure tenant.
11

On the other hand, the indications of an employer-employee relationship are: 1)
the selection and engagement of the employee; 2) the payment of wages; 3) the
power of dismissal; and 4) the power to control the employee's conduct -
although the latter is the most important element.
12

According to a well-known authority on the subject,
13
tenancy relationship is
distinguished from farm employer-farm worker relationship in that: "In farm
employer-farm worker relationship, the lease is one of labor with the agricultural
laborer as the lessor of his services and the farm employer as the lessee thereof.
In tenancy relationship, it is the landowner who is the lessor, and the tenant the
lessee of agricultural land. The agricultural worker works for the farm employer
and for his labor he receives a salary or wage regardless of whether the
employer makes a profit. On the other hand, the tenant derives his income from
the agricultural produce or harvest."
The private respondent, instead of receiving payment of rentals or sharing in
the produce of the land, paid the petitioner lump sums for specific kinds of work
on the subject lot or gave him vales, or advance payment of his wages as laborer
thereon. The petitioner's wife claims that Alzona made her husband sign the
invoices all at one time because he allegedly needed them to reduce his income
taxes. Even assuming this to be true, we do not think that made the said
payments fictitious, especially so since the petitioner never denied having
received them.
The other issue raised by the petitioner, which is decidedly legal, is easily
resolved. There being no tenancy relationship, the contention that the private
respondent's complaint has prescribed under Section 38 of R.A. 3844 must also
fail. That section is not applicable. It must be noted that at the very outset, Alzona
rejected the petitioner's claim of agricultural tenancy and immediately instituted
his action for unlawful detainer in accordance with Section 1, Rule 70 of the
Rules of Court. As it happened, the said case was held not proper for trial by the
Ministry of Agrarian Reform. He then resorted to other remedies just so he could
recover possession of his land and, finally, in 1979, he yielded to the jurisdiction
of the defunct Court of Agrarian Relations by filing there an action for declaration
of non-tenancy. The action, which was commenced in 1979. was within the ten-
year prescriptive period provided under Article 1144 of the Civil Code for actions
based on a written contract.
**

The Court quotes with approval the following acute observations made by
Justice Alicia Sempio-Diy:
It might not be amiss to state at this juncture that in deciding this case in favor
of defendant, the lower court might have been greatly influenced by the fact
that defendant is a mere farmer who is almost illiterate while plaintiff is an
educated landlord, such that it had felt that it was its duty to be vigilant for the
protection of defendant's interests. But the duty of the court to protect the
weak and the underprivileged should not be carried out to such an extent as
to deny justice to the landowner whenever truth and justice happen to be on
his side. Besides, defendant's economic position vis a vis the plaintiff does not
necessarily make him the underprivileged party in this case, for as testified by
plaintiff which defendant never denied, the small land in question was the only
landholding of plaintiff when he and his father bought the same, at which time
he was just a lowly employee who did not even have a house of his own and
his father, a mere farmer, while defendant was the agricultural tenant of
another piece of land and also owns his own house, a sari sari store, and
acaritela. Plaintiff also surmised that it was only after defendant had been
taken into its wings by the Federation of Free Farmers that he started claiming
to be plaintiff's agricultural tenant, presumably upon the Federation's
instigation and advice. And we cannot discount this possibility indeed,
considering that during the early stages of the proceedings in this case,
defendant even counter-proposed to plaintiff that he would surrender the land
in question to the latter if plaintiff would convey to him another piece of land
adjacent to the land in question, almost one ha. in area, that plaintiff had also
acquired after buying the land in question, showing that defendant was not as
ignorant as he would want the Court to believe and had the advice of people
knowledgeable on agrarian matters.
This Court has stressed more than once that social justice or any justice
for that matter is for the deserving, whether he be a millionaire in his mansion
or a pauper in his hovel. It is true that, in case of reasonable doubt, we are called
upon to tilt the balance in favor of the poor, to whom the Constitution fittingly
extends its sympathy and compassion. But never is it justified to prefer the poor
simply because they are poor, or to reject the rich simply because they are rich,
for justice must always be served, for poor and rich alike, according to the
mandate of the law.
WHEREFORE, the challenged decision of the Court of Appeals is
AFFIRMED and the petition is DENIED, with costs against the petitioner. It is so
ordered.
Narvasa, C .J ., Grio-Aquino, Medialdea and Bellosillo, JJ ., concur.



TRINIDAD GABRIEL, plaintiff-appellee, vs. EUSEBIO PANGILINAN, defendant-
appellant.

Gabriel v. Pangilinan
Gabriel filed a complaint against Pangilinan claiming she is the owner of a 169,507 sqm fishpond in barrio
Sta. Ursula, Pampanga. An oral contract of lease with a yearly rental was entered between them.
Defendant was notified that the contract would be terminated, but upon request was extended for another
year.
Defendant moved for the dismissal of the complaint claiming that the trial court had no jurisdiction. It
should properly pertain to the Court of Agrarian Relations, there being an agricultural leasehold tenancy
relationship between the parties. Upon opposition by plaintiff, the motion was denied. The defendant filed
his answer that the land was originally verbally leased to him by the plaintiff's father, Potenciano for as
long as the defendant wanted, subject to the condition that he would convert the major portion into a
fishpond and that which was already a fishpond be improved at his expense, which would be reimbursed
by Potenciano Gabriel or his heirs at the termination of the lease. Plaintiff also assured him that he could
continue leasing as long as he wanted since she was not in a position to attend to it personally.
Parties were ordered to adduce evidence for the purpose of determining which Court shall take
cognizance of the case.
It appears that the defendant ceased to work on planting fingerlings, repairing dikes and such, personally
with the aid of helpers since he became ill and incapacitated. His daughter, Pilar Pangilinan, took over
who said that she helps her father in administering the leased property, conveying his instructions to the
workers. Excepting Pilar who is residing near the fishpond, defendants other children are all
professionals; a lawyer, an engineer, and a priest all residing in Manila. None of these has been seen
working on the fishpond.
Defendant: relationship between the parties is an agricultural leasehold tenancy governed by Republic
Act No. 1199, as amended, pursuant to section 35 of Republic Act No. 3844, and the present case is
within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Agrarian Relations.
Plaintiff: defendant ceased to work the fishpond personally or with the aid of the members of his
immediate farm household (Section 4, Republic Act No. 1199) the tenancy relationship between the
parties has been extinguished (Section 9, id.) and become of civil lease and therefore the trial court
properly assumed jurisdiction over the case.
Trial Court: The lease contract is a civil lease governed by the New Civil Code. No tenancy relationship
exists between the plaintiff and the defendant as defined by Republic Act No. 1199. Court is vested with
jurisdiction to try and decide this case.
Reconsideration by the defendant was denied. He appealed to this Court.
ISSUES:
1. Lower court erred in considering the relationship of appellee and appellant as that of a civil lease and
not a leasehold tenancy under Rep. Act No. 1199 as amended.
2. The lower court erred in not holding that the Court of First Instance is without jurisdiction, the cue being
that of an agrarian relation in nature pursuant to Rep Act. No. 1199.
HELD:
Important differences between a leasehold tenancy and a civil law lease. The leasehold tenancy is limited
to agricultural land; that of civil law lease may be either rural or urban property. As to attention and
cultivation, the law requires the leasehold tenant to personally attend to, and cultivate the agricultural
land, whereas the civil law lessee need not personally cultivate or work the thing leased. As to purpose,
the landholding in leasehold tenancy is devoted to agriculture, whereas in civil law lease, the purpose
may be for any other lawful pursuits. As to the law that governs, the civil law lease is governed by the
Civil Code, whereas leasehold tenancy is governed by special laws.
The requisites for leasehold tenancy under the Agricultural Tenancy Act to exist:
1. land worked by the tenant is an agricultural land;
2. land is susceptible of cultivation by a single person together with members of his immediate farm
household;
3. must be cultivated by the tenant either personally or with the aid of labor available from members of his
immediate farm household;
4. land belongs to another; and
5. use of the land by the tenant is for a consideration of a fixed amount in money or in produce or in both

There is no doubt that the land is agricultural land. It is a fishpond and the Agricultural Tenancy Act, which
refers to "agricultural land", specifically mentions fishponds and prescribes the consideration for the use
thereof. The mere fact that a person works an agricultural land does not necessarily make him a
leasehold tenant within the purview of Sec 4 of Republic Act No. 1199. He may still be a civil law lessee
unless the other requisites as above enumerated are complied with.
The court doesnt want to decide on the second requisite since it wasnt raised. For the third requisite, the
tenancy agreement was severed in 1956 when he ceased to work the fishpond personally because he
became ill and incapacitated. Not even did the members of appellant's immediate farm household work
the land. Only the members of the family of the tenant and such other persons, whether related to the
tenant or not, who are dependent upon him for support and who usually help him to operate the farm
enterprise are included in the term "immediate farm household".
Republic Act No. 1199 is explicit in requiring the tenant and his immediate family to work the land. A
person, in order to be considered a tenant, must himself and with the aid available from his immediate
farm household cultivate the land. Persons, therefore, who do not actually work the land cannot be
considered tenants; and he who hires others whom he pays for doing the cultivation of the land, ceases
to hold, and is considered as having abandoned the land as tenant within the meaning of sections 5 and 8
of Republic Act. No. 1199, and ceases to enjoy the status, rights, and privileges of one.
We are, therefore, constrained to agree with the court a quo that the relationship between the appellee
Trinidad Gabriel and appellant Eusebio Pangilinan was not a leasehold tenancy under Republic Act No.
1199. Hence, this case was not within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Agrarian
Relations.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga in its Civil Case
No. 1823, appealed from, is affirmed, with costs against the appellants.

Mariano Manahan, Jr. for plaintiff-appellee.
Virgilio M. Pablo for defendant-appellant.
Armando M. Laki for movant.

D E C I S I O N

ZALDIVAR, J p:
This appeal from the decision, dated December 26, 1963, of the Court of
First Instance of Pampanga in its Civil Case No. 1823, was certified to this Court
by the Court of Appeals for the reason that the jurisdiction of an inferior court is
involved.
During the pendency of this case before this Court, under date of April 29,
1972, Atty. Virgilio M. Pablo, counsel for the appellant Eusebio Pangilinan, gave
notice to this Court that said appellant died on April 3, 1964, and was survived by
his children, who are his legal heirs, namely: Salvador Pangilinan, Santos
Pangilinan, Mariano Pangilinan, Carlos Pangilinan and Pilar Pangilinan de
Avante. For the purposes of this case the appellant Eusebio Pangilinan,
therefore, is substituted by his heirs herein named.
Under date of November 20, 1973, Atty. Amando M. Laki filed a motion with
this Court advising that appellee Trinidad Gabriel died on June 14, 1967, and
was survived by her heirs and successors-in-interest, namely: Corazon O.
Gabriel, married to Lamberto Ignacio; Ernesto O. Gabriel; Ester O. Gabriel,
married to Emmanuel Padua; Generoso O. Gabriel, Marciano O. Gabriel and
Pablo O. Gabriel, and prayed that appellee Trinidad Gabriel be substituted by her
heirs herein named. By order of this Court of December 4, 1973 the prayer for
substitution was granted.
In its resolution dated April 19, 1967 certifying the case to this Court, the
Court of Appeals made the following findings, which We adopt:
"On June 18, 1960 Trinidad Gabriel filed a complaint in the Court of First
Instance of Pampanga against Eusebio Pangilinan alleging that she is
the owner of a fishpond situated in barrio Sta. Ursula, Betis, Pampanga
and measuring about 169,507 square meters; that sometime during the
last war she entered into an oral contract of lease thereof with the
defendant on a year to year basis, i.e., from January 1 to December 31,
at a rental of P1,200, plus the amount of real estate taxes, payable in
advance in the month of January; that desiring to develop and cultivate
the fishpond by herself, she notified the defendant in a letter dated June
26, 1957 that she was terminating the contract as of December 31, 1957;
that upon request of the defendant, she extended the lease for another
year that on November 19, 1958 she again wrote the defendant that he
should surrender possession of the fishpond on January 1, 1959, which
demand he however ignored. Plaintiff accordingly prayed that the
defendant be ordered to restore the possession of the fishpond to her
and to pay her P1,200, plus the amount of real estate taxes, a year from
1959, attorney's fees and costs.
"The defendant moved for the dismissal of the complaint on the ground
that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the case which properly
pertains to the Court of Agrarian Relations, there being an agricultural
leasehold tenancy relationship between the parties. Upon opposition by
the plaintiff, the motion was denied. The defendant thereafter filed his
answer with counterclaim alleging, inter alia, that the land in question
was originally leased to him, also verbally, by the plaintiff's father,
Potenciano Gabriel, in 1923 for as long as the defendant wanted subject
to the condition that he would convert the major portion into a fishpond
and the part which was already a fishpond be improved at his expense
which would be reimbursed by Potenciano Gabriel or his heirs at the
termination of the lease for whatever cause: that when the plaintiff
became the owner of the property through inheritance, she told the
defendant that she would honor her father's contract with the defendant,
and likewise assured him that he could continue leasing the property,
whose original rental of P400.00 a year had been progressively
increased to P1,200.00, for as long as he wanted since she was not in a
position to attend to it personally. As a special defense, the defendant
reiterated the alleged lack of jurisdiction of the trial court to take
cognizance of the case.
"On February 12, 1962 the trial court issued an order herein below
quoted in full:
'The plaintiff seeks to eject the defendant from the
fishpond described in the complaint which is under lease to the
said defendant, who, however, refuses to vacate. Instead, he
has impugned the jurisdiction of this Court contending that the
action should have been filed with the Court of Agrarian
Relations, which has original and exclusive jurisdiction, as their
relationship is one of leasehold tenancy.
'After the motion to dismiss was denied on the basis of the
allegations of the complaint, the parties were ordered to adduce
evidence for the purpose of determining which Court shall take
cognizance of the case.
'It appears that the fishpond is presently in the possession
of the defendant, who originally leased it from the father of the
plaintiff. Upon the death of the said father, the fishpond was
inherited by the plaintiff. It is now covered by T.C.T. No. 1634
and is registered in her name. It contains an area of 169,507.00
square meters. The rental is on a yearly basis.
'It also appears that the defendant has ceased to work
personally with the aid of helpers the aforecited fishpond since
1956 he became ill and incapacitated. His daughter, Pilar
Pangilinan, took over. She testified that she helps her father in
administering the leased property, conveying his instructions to
the workers, Urbano Maninang, Isidro Bernal and Marciano
Maninang. The names of Ire, Juan and Aguedo Viada have
been mentioned as the laborers who were paid for the repair of
the dikes. Bernardo Cayanan, a nephew of the defendant, acts
as the watcher. He has lived separately since he got married.
Excepting Pilar Pangilinan, who is residing near the fishpond,
the other children of the defendant are all professionals; a
lawyer, an engineer, and a priest all residing in Manila. None
of these persons has been seen working on the fishpond.
'The above are the material and pertinent facts upon
which we enter this order.
'After a study of the facts and in the light of the provisions
of the Tenancy Law, Republic Act No. 1199, particularly
Sections 4 and 9, as amended, it seems clear that his case does
not fall within the purview of said Act. The lease contract is
manifestly a civil lease governed by the New Civil Code.
Considering the area of the fishpond, 16 hectares, more or less,
the fact that neither the defendant, who is physically
incapacitated, or his daughter is personally cultivating the
fishpond or through the employment of mechanical farm
implements, and the further fact that the persons named above
are not members of the immediate farm household of the
defendant, the conclusion is that no tenancy relationship exists
between the plaintiff and the defendant as defined by Republic
Act No. 1199, as amended.
'We are, therefore, of the opinion and so hold that this
Court is vested with jurisdiction to try and decide this case. After
this order has become final, the plaintiff may request for the
settling of the initial trial.'
The defendant does not contest the findings of facts therein made
by the trial court.
"After the parties adduced their respective evidence on the merits,
decision was rendered wherein the trial court, pursuant to Article 1197 of
the Civil Code, fixed the period of the lease up to June 30, 1964, the
defendant on said date to surrender possession of the fishpond to the
plaintiff and to pay the rentals due the latter. The plaintiff, on her part,
was required upon surrender of possession to her, to pay the defendant
the sum of P1,000.00 as reimbursement of the expenses he incurred in
improving the fishpond, and upon failure by either party to pay the
amount due the other, the same would bear interest at the legal rate until
full payment is made.
"A reconsideration by the defendant having been denied, he appealed to
this Court and assigned the following errors:
1. The lower court erred in considering the relationship
of appellee and appellant as that of a civil lease, in accordance
with the Civil Code of the Philippines and not a leasehold
tenancy under Rep. Act No. 1199 as amended.
2. The lower court erred in not holding that the Court of
First Instance is without jurisdiction, the case being that of an
agrarian relation in nature pursuant to Rep. Act. No. 1199 as
amended.
3. The lower court erred in appreciating the evidence of
the appellant particularly the basis for the expenditure for the
development of the fishpond in question.
4. The lower court erred in rendering judgment in favor
of the appellant in the measely amount of one thousand pesos
for reimbursement and for seven hundred pesos for the cost of
the floodgate.
"Anent the question of jurisdiction, it is an admitted fact that plaintiff
leased the fishpond to the defendant in 1943 without a fixed term, the
annual rental payable at the end of the year (Exhibit C, Deposition of
plaintiff, Dec. 13, 1962, pp. 2 and 3). It is likewise undisputed that the
work in the fishpond consisted in letting out the water so algae (lumut)
would grow or if algae would not grow, getting some from the river and
putting them in the fishpond, changing the dirty water with fresh water,
repairing leaks in the dikes, and planting of fingerlings and attending to
them; that these were done by defendant, with some help; that he
personally attended to the fishpond until 1956 when he became ill; that
thereafter his nephew Bernardo Cayanan, who was living with him,
helped in the work to be done in the fishpond and his daughter Pilar
Pangilinan helped in the management, conveying his instructions to the
workers (t.s.n., pp. 4-8, Magat).
"Upon the foregoing facts, the defendant insists that the relationship
between the parties is an agricultural leasehold tenancy governed by
Republic Act No. 1199, as amended, pursuant to section 35 of Republic
Act No. 3844, and the present case is therefore within the original and
exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of Agrarian Relations. Plaintiff, on the
other hand, maintains in effect that since defendant has ceased to work
the fishpond personally or with the aid of the members of his immediate
farm household (Section 4, Republic Act No. 1199) the tenancy
relationship between the parties has been extinguished (Section 9, id.)
and become of civil lease and therefore the trial court properly assumed
jurisdiction over the case.
"It does appear that the controversy on the issue of jurisdiction calls for
the interpretation of cultivating or working the land by the tenant
personally or with the aid of the members of his immediate farm
household."
1

Those are the findings and conclusions of facts made by the Court of
Appeals which, as a general rule, bind this Court.
2

1. Let Us now discuss the issues raised in this appeal. First, was the
relationship between the appellee and appellant a leasehold tenancy or a
civil law lease?
There are important differences between a leasehold tenancy and a civil law
lease. The subject matter of leasehold tenancy is limited to agricultural land; that
of civil law lease may be either rural or urban property. As to attention and
cultivation, the law requires the leasehold tenant to personally attend to, and
cultivate the agricultural land, whereas the civil law lessee need not personally
cultivate or work the thing leased. As to purpose, the landholding in leasehold
tenancy is devoted to agriculture, whereas in civil law lease, the purpose may be
for any other lawful pursuits. As to the law that governs, the civil law lease is
governed by the Civil Code, whereas leasehold tenancy is governed by special
laws.
3

In order that leasehold tenancy under the Agricultural Tenancy Act may
exist, the following requisites must concur:
1. That the land worked by the tenant is an agricultural land;
2. That the land is susceptible of cultivation by a single person together
with members of his immediate farm household;
3. That the land must be cultivated by the tenant either personally or
with the aid of labor available from members of his immediate farm
household;
4. That the land belongs to another; and
5. That the use of the land by the tenant is for a consideration of a
fixed amount in money or in produce or in both.
4

Were the foregoing requisites present in the instant case?
There is no doubt that the land in question is agricultural land. It is a
fishpond and the Agricultural Tenancy Act, which refers to "agricultural land",
specifically mentions fishponds and prescribes the consideration for the use
thereof. Thus Section 46 (c) of said Act provides that "the consideration for the
use of sugar lands, fishponds, saltbeds and of lands devoted to the raising of
livestock shall be governed by stipulation between the parties". This Court has
already ruled that "land in which fish is produced is classified as agricultural
land."
5
The mere fact, however, that a person works an agricultural land does not
necessarily make him a leasehold tenant within the purview of section 4 of
Republic Act No. 1199. He may still be a civil law lessee unless the other
requisites as above enumerated are complied with.
Regarding the second requisite, it is to be noted that the land in question has
an area of 169,507 square meters, or roughly 17 hectares of fishpond. The
question of whether such a big parcel of land is susceptible of being worked by
the appellant's family or not has not been raised, and We see no need of tarrying
on this point. So, We pass to the third requisite, to wit, whether the tenant himself
personally or with the aid of his immediate family worked the land.
Assuming that appellant had previously entered in 1923 into an agreement
of leasehold tenancy with Potenciano Gabriel, appellee's father, such tenancy
agreement was severed in 1956 when he ceased to work the fishpond personally
because he became ill and incapacitated. Not even did the members of
appellant's immediate farm household work the land in question. Only the
members of the family of the tenant and such other persons, whether related to
the tenant or not, who are dependent upon him for support and who usually help
him to operate the farm enterprise are included in the term "immediate farm
household"
6
The record shows who helped work the land in question, and We
quote:
"It also appears that the defendant has ceased to work personally with
the aid of helpers the aforecited fishpond since 1956 when he became ill
and incapacitated. His daughter, Pilar Pangilinan took over. She testified
that she helps her father in administering the leased property, conveying
his instructions to the workers, Urbano Maninang, Isidro Bernal and
Marciano Maninang. The names of Ire, Juan and Aguedo Viada have
been mentioned as the laborers who were paid for the repair of the dikes.
Bernardo Cayanan, a nephew of the defendant, acts as the watcher. He
has lived separately since he got married. Excepting Pilar Pangilinan,
who is residing near the fishpond, the other children of the defendant are
all professionals: a lawyer, an engineer, and a priest all residing in
Manila. None of these persons has been seen working on the fishpond."
7

The law is explicit in requiring the tenant and his immediate family to work
the land. This Section 5 (a) of Republic Act No. 1199, as amended, defines a
"tenant" as a person who, himself and with the aid available from within his
immediate farm household, cultivates the land belonging to, or possessed by
another, with the latter's consent for purposes of production sharing the produce
with the landholder under the share tenancy system, or paying to the landholder
a price certain in produce or in money or both, under the leasehold tenancy
system. Section 8 of the same Act limits the relation of landholder and tenant to
the person who furnishes the land and to the person who actually works the land
himself with the aid of labor available from within his immediate farm household.
Finally, Section 4 of the same Act requires for the existence of leasehold tenancy
that the tenant and his immediate farm household work the land. It provides that
leasehold tenancy exists when a person, who either personally or with the aid of
labor available from members of his immediate farm household, undertakes to
cultivate a piece of agricultural land susceptible of cultivation by a single person
together with members of his immediate farm household, belonging to, or legally
possessed by, another in consideration of a fixed amount in money or in produce
or in both.
A person, in order to be considered a tenant, must himself and with the aid
available from his immediate farm household cultivate the land. Persons,
therefore, who do not actually work the land cannot be considered tenants;
8
and
he who hires others whom he pays for doing the cultivation of the land, ceases to
hold, and is considered as having abandoned the land as tenant within the
meaning of sections 5 and 8 of Republic Act No. 1199, and ceases to enjoy the
status, rights, and privileges of one.
We are, therefore, construed to agree with the court a quo that the
relationship between the appellee Trinidad Gabriel and appellant Eusebio
Pangilinan was not a leasehold tenancy under Republic Act No. 1199. Hence,
this case was not within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of
Agrarian Relations.
9

2. Regarding the second assignment of error. We accordingly rule that
the Court of First Instance correctly assumed jurisdiction over the case at
bar, this being a case of civil law lease.
3. We deem it unnecessary to discuss the third and fourth assigned
errors as these are issues involving findings of facts which have been
settled by the lower court, and unless there is grave abuse of discretion,
which we do not find in the record of the case, We shall not venture to
discuss the merits of the factual findings of the court a quo.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision of the Court of First Instance
of Pampanga in its Civil Case No. 1823, appealed from, is affirmed, with costs
against the appellants.
This decision should apply to the heirs and successors-in-interest of the
original parties, as named in this decision. In consonance with the decision of the
lower court, the heirs and successors-in-interest of appellant Eusebio Pangilinan
should deliver the possession of the fishpond in question to the heirs and
successors-in-interest of appellee Trinidad Gabriel; and said heirs and
successors-in-interest of appellant Eusebio Pangilinan should pay the heirs and
successors-in-interest of appellee Trinidad Gabriel the accrued rentals from
January 1, 1960, at the rate of P1,200.00 a year, until the actual delivery of the
possession of the fishpond as herein ordered, with interest at the legal rate until
full payment is made.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Fernando, Antonio, Fernandez and Aquino, JJ., concur.
Barredo, J., did not take part.