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G.R. No.

169008
LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner vs. RAYMUNDA
MARTINEZ, Respondent
DECISION
NACHURA, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court assailing the September 28, 2004 Resolution [1] of the Court of
Appeals
(CA)
in
CA-G.R.
SP
No.
83276
and
the July
15,
[2]
2005 resolution denying the motion for reconsideration thereof.
Undisputed are the following antecedent facts:
After compulsory acquisition by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR),
on November 16, 1993, of respondent Martinezs 62.5369-hectare land
in Barangay Agpudlos, San Andres, Romblon, pursuant to Republic Act No.
6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 (CARL), petitioner
Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) offered P1,955,485.60 as just
compensation.[3] Convinced that the proffered amount was unjust and
confiscatory, respondent rejected it. Thus, the Department of Agrarian
Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB), through its Provincial Agrarian Reform
Adjudicator (PARAD) conducted summary administrative proceedings for the
preliminary determination of just compensation in accordance with Section
16 (d) of the CARL.
On September 4, 2002, PARAD Virgilio M. Sorita, finding some marked
inconsistencies in the figures and factors made as bases by LBP in its
computation, rendered judgment as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby
rendered:
Ordering the Land Bank of the Philippines to pay
landowner-protestant RAYMUNDA MARTINEZ for her property
covered and embraced by TCT No. T-712 with an area of 62.5369
hectares, more or less, which the Department of Agrarian Reform
intends to acquire, the total amount of TWELVE MILLION ONE
HUNDRED SEVENTY NINE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED NINETY
TWO and 50/100 Pesos (Php12,179,492.50), in the manner

provided for by law.


SO ORDERED.[4]
A petition for the fixing of just compensation [5] docketed as Agrarian
Case No. 696 was then filed by LBPs counsel before the Special Agrarian
Court (SAC), the Regional Trial Court of Odiongan, Romblon, Branch 82. After
filing her answer to the said petition, [6] respondent, contending that the
orders, rulings and decisions of the DARAB become final after the lapse of 15
days from their receipt, moved for the dismissal of the petition for being filed
out of time.[7] Petitioner opposed the motion.[8]
Meanwhile, respondent, still asserting the finality of PARAD Soritas
decision, filed before the Office of the PARAD a motion for the issuance of a
writ of execution, which was eventually granted on November 11, 2003.
[9]
Ascertaining that the petition before the SAC was filed by LBP 26 days
after it received a copy of PARAD Soritas decision, the Office of the PARAD
denied LBPs motion for reconsideration and ordered the issuance of a writ of
execution on February 23, 2004.[10] Aggrieved by these developments, LBP,
on March 12, 2004, moved to quash the said February 23, 2004 PARAD
resolution.[11]
On April 6, 2004, even as the motion to quash was yet unresolved, LBP
instituted a petition for certiorari[12] before the CA, which was docketed as
CA-G.R. SP No. 83276, assailing both the November 11, 2003 and the
February 23, 2004 PARAD resolutions. LBP primarily contended that the
Office of the PARAD gravely abused its discretion when it issued the writ of
execution despite the pendency with the SAC of a petition for the fixing of
just compensation.
The CA, finding LBP guilty of forum-shopping for not disclosing the
pendency of the Motion to Quash dated March 12, 2004, dismissed the
petition on September 28, 2004,[13] thus:
ACCORDINGLY,
DISMISSED outright.

the

present

petition

for

certiorari

is

Consequently, in view of the dismissal of the aboveentitled case, we are no longer in a position to act on the private
respondents motion for execution pending appeal.

Further, this Court, mindful that under Sec. 5, Rule 7, of the


1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, willful and deliberate forumshopping constitutes direct contempt of court and cause for
administrative sanctions, which may both be resolved and
imposed in the same case where the forum shopping is found,
WARNS the counsel of record of the petitioner that a repetition of
a similar act of submitting a false certification shall be dealt with
most severely.
SO ORDERED.[14]
Not persuaded by LBPs motion for reconsideration, the appellate court
denied the same on July 15, 2005.[15] Thus, LBP, through its legal department,
elevated the case to this Court on September 9, 2005 via a petition for
review on certiorari[16] under Rule 45, contending, among others, that it did
not commit deliberate forum shopping for what it filed with the Office of the
PARAD was a motion to quash, which is not an initiatory pleading, and that
the decision of the PARAD cannot be executed due to the pending petition for
fixing of just compensation with the SAC.
On September 14, 2005, we issued a temporary restraining order
(TRO) restraining the appellate court and the DAR adjudicators from
implementing
the November
11,
2003 and
the February
23,
[17]
2004 resolutions.
For her part, respondent contends that petitioner committed forumshopping when it filed a certiorari petition without first awaiting the
resolution by the Office of the PARAD of the motion to quash; [18] and that
petitioner has lost its standing to sue considering that it is being represented
by its lawyers and not the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel
(OGCC).[19]
On the basis of these antecedents, the Court shall now
resolve seriatim the following issues: (1) whether or not petitioner may file
the instant appeal solely through its legal department; (2) whether or not
petitioner has committed forum shopping; and (3) whether or not the PARAD,
in this case, gravely abused its discretion when it issued a writ of execution
despite the pendency of LBPs petition for fixing of just compensation with the
SAC.
After

meticulously

reviewing

the

records

and

considering

the

arguments of the parties, the Court finds the appeal devoid of merit.
In Land Bank of the Philippines v. Teresita Panlilio-Luciano,[20] the Court
explained in one of its resolutions that nothing in the LBP charter expressly
authorizes the LBP Legal Department to appear in behalf of LBP in any court
or quasi-judicial proceeding and that the Administrative Code of 1987
mandates the OGCC, not the LBP Legal Department, to act as the principal
law office of the LBP, thus:
There is nothing in the LBP charter that expressly
authorizes the said Legal Department to appear in behalf of LBP
in any court or quasi-judicial proceeding. Attys. Beramo and
Berbao insist that the creation of the LBP Legal Department
necessarily entails conferment of the power to represent [LBP] in
any and all cases and consequently confers the power to
exercise such incidental powers or perform such acts as are
necessary to make the conferred power effective. At first blush,
this is not an unreasonable position; yet, we are precluded from
adopting the same, owing to the explicit proviso in Section 10,
Book IV, Title III, Chapter 3 of the Administrative Code of 1987,
which reads:
Section
10. Office
of
the
Government
Corporate Counsel. The Office of the Government
Corporate Counsel (OGCC) shall act as the principal
law office of all government-owned or controlled
corporations, their subsidiaries, other corporate
offsprings
and
government
acquired
asset
corporations and shall exercise control and
supervision over all legal departments or
divisions maintained separately and such powers
and functions as are now or may hereafter be
provided by law. In the exercise of such control and
supervision, the Government Corporate Counsel shall
promulgate rules and regulations to effectively
implement the objectives of the Office.
The OGCC is authorized to receive the
attorney's fees adjudged in favor of their client
government-owned or controlled corporations, their
subsidiaries/other
corporate
offsprings
and
government acquired asset corporations. These

attorney's fees shall accrue to a Special fund of the


OGCC, and shall be deposited in an authorized
government depository as trust liability and shall be
made available for expenditure without the need for
a Cash Disbursement Ceiling, for purposes of
upgrading facilities and equipment, granting of
employee's incentive pay and other benefits, and
defraying such other incentive expenses not
provided for in the General Appropriations Act as
may be determined by the Government Corporate
Counsel. (Emphasis supplied.)
The above provision mandates the OGCC, and not the LBP
Legal Department, as the principal law office of the LBP.
Moreover, it establishes the proper hierarchical order in that the
LBP Legal Department remains under the control and supervision
of the OGCC.Indeed, if we were to accede to the position of
Attys. Beramo and Berbao that the mere constitution of an LBP
Legal Department ipso factoconfers upon it the capacity to
litigate cases in behalf of LBP in any legal proceeding, then the
role of the OGCC as the principal law office of all GOCCs would
be rendered nugatory in all GOCCs with Legal Departments.
At the same time, the existence of the OGCC does not
render the LBP Legal Department a superfluity. We do not doubt
that the LBP Legal Department carries out vital legal services to
LBP. However, the performance of such functions cannot deprive
the OGCCs role as overseer of the LBP Legal Department and its
mandate of exercising control and supervision over all GOCC
legal departments. For the purpose of filing petitions and making
submissions before this Court, such control and supervision
imply express participation by the OGCC as principal legal
counsel of LBP. Our succeeding disposition of the OGCCs
pending Manifestation would delve in detail the extent of the
OGCCs required participation. But suffice for now, Attys. Beramo
and Berbao are in error when they assert that the OGCCs
participation in the present petition is not required at all.
It should also be noted that the aforementioned Section 10,
Book IV, Title III, Chapter 3 of the Administrative Code of 1987
authorizes the OGCC to receive the attorney's fees adjudged in

favor of their client GOCCs, such fees accruing to a special fund


of the OGCC. Evidently, the non-participation of the OGCC in
litigations pursued by GOCCs would deprive the former of its due
funding as authorized by law. Hence, this is another reason why
we cannot sustain Attys. Beramo and Berbao's position that the
OGCC need not participate in litigations pursued by LBP.
It may strike as disruptive to the flow of a GOCCs daily
grind to require the participation of the OGCC as its principal law
office, or the exercise of control and supervision by the OGCC
over the acts of the GOCCs legal departments. For reasons such
as proximity and comfort, the GOCC may find it convenient to
rely instead on its in-house legal departments, or more
irregularly, on private practitioners.Yet the statutory role of the
OGCC as principal law office of GOCCs is one of long-standing,
and we have to recognize such function as part of public policy.
Since the jurisdiction of the OGCC includes all GOCCs, its
perspective is less myopic than that maintained by a particular
legal department of a GOCC. It is not inconceivable that left to its
own devices, the legal department of a given GOCC may adopt a
legal position inconsistent with or detrimental to other GOCCs.
Since GOCCs fall within the same governmental framework, it
would be detrimental to have GOCCs foisted into adversarial
positions by their respective legal departments. Hence, there is
indubitable wisdom in having one overseer over all these legal
departments which would ensure that the legal positions
adopted by the GOCCs would not conflict with each other or the
government.
Attys. Beramo and Berbao claim that the LBP Legal
Department had handled some cases which had been decided by
the Court and that the OGCC has never been involved in the
litigation and handling of LBPs appellate cases involving
specialized fields such as banking and agrarian reform. These
points should not be dismissed lightly, but then again, years of
wrong practice do not make a statutory right. The Administrative
Code of 1987, adopting a decades-old legal precept, expressly
provides that it is the OGCC that acts as the principal law office
of GOCCs and exercises control and supervision over the legal
departments of GOCCs. If the LBP Legal Department has long

operated as an independent fiefdom absent any control,


supervision, or even concern from the OGCC, then this practice
must end now. As to the pending litigations of LBP which are
[handled] exclusively by the LBP Legal Department, it shall be
the individual courts with jurisdiction over those cases that shall
decide how to proceed next. We shall not, by reason of
this Resolution, interfere with the dispensation of those cases.
Certainly, Section 10, Book IV, Title III, Chapter 3 of the
Administrative Code of 1987 can be invoked by adverse parties
or by the courts in citing as deficient the exclusive
representation of LBP by its Legal Department. Then again, if
neither the adverse parties nor the courts of jurisdiction choose
to contest this point, there would be no impediment to the
litigation to maintain.
Of course, if the principle that the OGCC is the principal
law office of GOCCs proves persistently inconvenient in practice,
it would be up to Congress to amend the Administrative Code, or
for the OGCC itself to promulgate rules and regulations that
would alleviate the problems in practice without abdicating its
legal mandate. The succeeding discussion on the OGCC's
pending Manifestationinvolves a review of the OGCC's current
practices, including the present rules and regulations.[21]
In the present controversy, we find nothing in the record which shows
that the OGCC has entered its appearance as the principal legal counsel of
petitioner LBP or that it has expressly given its conformity to the LBP Legal
Departments filing of the instant petition. On this ground alone, the appeal
must be denied. Petitioner should have been more circumspect, considering
that the instant petition was filed on September 9, 2005, or several months
after we issued the said resolution in LBP v. Panlilio-Luciano. Further,
respondent precisely raised in her pleadings this issue of lack of authority to
sue of petitioners Law Department. Prudence, therefore, should have
impelled LBP to request its principal counsel, the OGCC, to participate in the
case. Up to this date, however, petitioner remains insensitive to the import of
its charter and the Administrative Code as elucidated in our ruling. Certainly,
we cannot simply close our eyes to LBPs intransigence to and disrespect for
the rule of law.
Even if we allow the LBPs filing of the instant petition without any

authority from the OGCC, we must still deny the same for we find no
reversible error in the CAs ruling that LBP forum shopped. In Repol v.
Commission on Elections,[22] we found forum shopping in the filing of a
petition for certiorari during the pendency of an omnibus motion to
reconsider, set aside and quash a writ of execution with the trial court.
Likewise, in Go v. Judge Abrogar,[23] we deemed as a violation of the rules
against forum shopping the institution of a separate action for annulment of
auction sale with injunction, simultaneous with a third-party adverse claim
and
motion
to
quash
writ
of
execution,
and
a
petition
for certiorari, mandamus and
prohibition.
Further,
in La
Campana
[24]
Development Corporation v. See, we explained that the simultaneous filing
of a motion to quash writ of execution and an action for the annulment of a
judgment run afoul of the prohibition on forum shopping, thus:
In essence, forum shopping is the practice of litigants
resorting to two different fora for the purpose of obtaining the
same relief, to increase their chances of obtaining a favorable
judgment. In determining whether forum shopping exists, it is
important to consider the vexation caused to the courts and the
parties-litigants by a person who asks appellate courts and/or
administrative entities to rule on the same related causes and/or
to grant the same or substantially the same relief, in the process
creating the possibility of conflicting decisions by the different
courts or fora on the same issues. We have ruled that forum
shopping is present when, in two or more cases pending, there is
identity of (1) parties (2) rights or causes of action and reliefs
prayed for and (3) the identity of the two preceding particulars is
such that any judgment rendered in the other action, will,
regardless of which party is successful, amount to res judicata in
the action under consideration.
The parties in the two cases are indisputably identical. The
allegations of facts giving rise to respondents rights, such as
extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction, are also essentially the
same, as are the reliefs prayed for. Finally, in the light of these
close similarities, res judicata may arise. Acting on the
documents filed with them, the RTC and the MeTC may well come
up with completely opposite rulings on the question of whether
or not the latter courts decision should be implemented. This is
the very evil that the proscription on forum shopping seeks to

avert. If they wanted to avoid this kind of problem, respondents


should not have filed what were essentially the same documents
with two different courts.[25]
Similarly, in this case, petitioner moved to quash the PARAD resolutions
and at the same time petitioned for their annulment via certiorari under Rule
65. In both proceedings, the parties are identical and the reliefs prayed for
are the same. In the two actions, petitioner also has a singular stance: the
PARAD resolutions should not be executed in view of the pendency of the
petition for fixing of just compensation with the SAC. Thus a situation is
created where the two fora could come up with conflicting decisions.This is
precisely the evil sought to be avoided by the rule against forum-shopping.
Finally and most importantly, we find petitioner not entitled to the
grant of a writ of certiorari by the appellate court because the Office of the
PARAD did not gravely abuse its discretion when it undertook to execute
the September 4, 2002 decision. Rule XIII, Section 11 of the DARAB Rules of
Procedure,[26] which was then applicable, provides that:
Section 11. Land Valuation and Preliminary Determination
and Payment of Just Compensation. - The decision of the
Adjudicator on land valuation and preliminary determination and
payment of just compensation shall not be appealable to the
Board but shall be brought directly to the Regional Trial Courts
designated as Special Agrarian Courts within fifteen (15) days
from receipt of the notice thereof. Any party shall be entitled to
only one motion for reconsideration.
In Philippine Veterans Bank v. Court of Appeals [27] and in Department of
Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board v. Lubrica,[28] we explained the
consequence of the said rule to the effect that the adjudicators decision on
land valuation attains finality after the lapse of the 15-day period.
Considering therefore that, in this case, LBPs petition with the SAC for the
fixing of just compensation was filed 26 days after its receipt of the PARADs
decision, or eleven days beyond the reglementary period, the latter had
already attained finality. The PARAD could very well issue the writ of
execution.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is DENIED. The decision of

the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 83276 isAFFIRMED.


SO ORDERED.