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Republic of the Philippines notified Macaraeg to renew his contract for the then incoming agricultural year 1961-62,

SUPREME COURT but the latter "verbally told Mrs. Teodoro that he was no longer interested to work on the
Manila land and he was giving it up as he had left the place already." Teodoro also claims that it
EN BANC was only after Macaraeg had abandoned the farmland that he decided to lease it to
G.R. No. L-20700 February 27, 1969 Niegos.
FIDEL TEODORO, petitioner, On his part, Niegos seasonably answered, disclaming any knowledge that Macaraeg is the
vs. tenant of Teodoro, and averring that he entered the landholding in good faith clothed
FELIX MACARAEG and COURT OF AGRARIAN RELATIONS, Second Regional District, Sala with the proper authority from the other respondent (Teodoro) and with the consent and
II, respondents. confirmity of the petitioner (Macaraeg) who allowed him to work on the same"; and that
Jose A. Buendia and Agustin A. Pelmoka for petitioner. Macaraeg "has no more interests in the cultivation of the landholding as could be gleaned
Jesus A. Garcia for respondent Felix Macaraeg. from his actuations, like the failure to clean the land during the months of March and
CASTRO, J.: April, and his failure to prepare his seed bed in the month of May which is the period for
Before us for review, upon a petition for certiorari, are the decision of the respondent broadcasting seedling in the community".
Court of Agrarian Relations of September 7, 1962 in CAR case 558-Gba. 68 (Nueva Ecija), On February 6, 1962, when the hearing of the present controversy was nearing
ordering the herein petitioner Fidel Teodoro to reinstate the herein private respondent completion in the respondent agrarian court but before the case was submitted for
Felix Macaraeg (the petitioner in the agrarian court) to his "former landhoding ... and to decision, Macaraeg filed a "supplemental petition", claiming damages as a a result of his
keep him as the true and lawful tenant in accordance with law," and the resolution of the dispossession. Said petition was given due course by the court commissioner and the
same court of November 27, 1962 condemning Teodoro to pay or deliver to Macaraeg as requisite hearing was set for March 9, 1962. Both Teodoro and Niegos interposed their
damages "82 cavans of palay or its equivalent value in the amount of P820.00 computed respective answers, identically asserting that the same was filed out of time and that the
at the rate of P10.00 per cavan, plus interest at 10% until fully paid." failure of Macaraeg to claim earlier his alleged damages amounted to a fatal neglect
We turn to the factual milieu. which could no longer be cured at that very late stage of the proceedings. Nonetheless,
On June 7, 1961 Macaraeg filed a petition with the Court of Agrarian Relations (Second hearing on the said petition was disclosed that as "a result of his (Macaraeg's) ejectment,
Regional District, sala II, Guimba, Nueva Ecija) praying, inter alia, that (1) an interlocutory he became destitute" since he had no "income except from those derived from
order be issued to restrain Teodoro and Jose Niegos (the respondents below), from transplanting and reaping wherein he earned the amount of P30.00". It was further
ejecting him from his landholding pending resolution of his petition; and (2) after due proved that "for the aqricultural year 1961-62, Jose Niegos realized a gross harvest of 110
trial, he be maintained as the lawful tenant in the disputed landholding. cavans out of which he paid his rental to Fidel Teodoro in the amount of 42 cavans and 23
Macaraeg alleged that he is a leasehold tenant of Teodoro cultivating a farmholding kilos."
situated in the municipality of Talugtug, Nueva Ecija, of an area of four (4) hectares On September 7, 1962 the decision under review was rendered, with the following
devoted to rice culture, and that he has worked said land "as a tenant for the last seven dispositive portion:
years"; that on March 2, 1961 he received a letter from Teodoro and his wife advising him IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, judgment is hereby rendered in favor
that the aforesaid landholding will be given to another tenant, on the pretext that he of petitioner Felix Macaraeg and against respondents Fidel Teodoro and Jose Niegos in
(Macaraeg) "is contracting be a tenant of another in said landholding"; that forthwith, the tenor and disposition hereinbelow provided, to wit:
Teodoro placed a new tenant, Jose Niegos, in the disputed land; that subsequently, 1. Jose Niegos is hereby ordered to vacate the landholding in question with an
Niegos repeatedly forbade him from working on said riceland; that in order to avoid approximate area of four (4) hectares, situated at Barrio Kalisitan, Talugtug Nueva Ecija, in
trouble, he refrained from forcibly entering the landholding, but with the advent of the favor of herein petitioner and to refrain from molesting or in any manner disturbing his
planting season, it became imperative that the agrarian court order his reinstatement and peaceful possession and cultivation thereof, subject to the condition that said respondent
restrain Teodoro and Niegos from committing further acts of dispossession. shall have harvested and threshed his crop which he planted for the current agricultural
In his answer with counterclaim dated June 19, 1961, Teodoro categorically denied that year;
Macaraeg was his tenant, claiming that "ever since he became the owner of around 39 2. Conformably with the preceding paragraph, Fidel Teodoro is hereby ordered to
hectares of riceland in Kalisitan, Talugtug, N. Ecija, he had always leased all of it under civil reinstate said petitioner to his former landholding aforestated and to keep him as the true
lease and he had never given any portion of it under tenancy." He further alleged that and lawful tenant in accordance with law;
after the expiration of his lease contract with Macaraeg in January, 1961, his wife twice
3. Declaring Exhibit A as a leasehold tenancy contract between the parties for the 2. That the LESSEE shall give a guaranty to answer for the payment of the lease
agricultural year 1960-61 as the term is understood under our tenancy law; as a consideration of this contract;
consequence hereof, Exhibit 4-Teodoro and Exhibit 5-Niegos, i.e. contract of lease 3. That the rental of 38.7 cavans of palay per hectare shall be paid unto the LESSOR not
between Fidel Teodoro and Jose Niegos is hereby declared void and of no legal effect; and later than January, 1961;
4. Dismissing petitioner's claim for damages as embodied in his supplemental petition. 4. That the corresponding rental must be brought to the Poblacion of Muoz, Nueva Ecija,
Teodoro and Niegos filed separate motions for reconsideration which were denied by the to be deposited to any bonded Warehouse at the expense of the LESSEE and in the name
respondent agrarian court in its resolution of November 27, 1962. However, in the same of the LESSOR;
resolution, the court a quo reconsidered, upon motion of Macaraeg, its ruling denying the 5. That the rental must be of the same variety as that produced by the LESSEE;
latter's prayer for damages, thus: 6. That the LESSOR shall pay for the real property taxes corresponding to the property
With respect to petitioner's claim for damages as embodied in his supplemental petition, leased;
wherein evidence was adduced in support thereof, we believe that its admission is in 7. That violation of any of the terms of this contract shall be sufficient ground to
accordance with Section 2, Rule 17 of the Rules of Court of the Philippines, same not terminate the same with damages against the guilty party;
being for the purpose of delaying the proceedings. And, the fact that the Court of 8. That the property leased shall be used or utilized for agricultural enterprise only;
Agrarian Relations shall not be bound strictly by the technical rules of evidence but "shall 9. That in case of default on the part of the LESSEE to pay the lease consideration when
act according to justice and equity and substantial merits of the case", we believe that the the same becomes due and payable and the collection for the same reaches the court, the
evidence to support the claim for damages received during the hearings before the court LESSEE hereby binds himself to pay the cost of the suit including reasonable attorney's
commissioner is meritorious (Secs. 10 and 11 RA 1267, as amended). Hence, petitioner is fees. (Emphasis supplied)
entitled to recover damages claimed by him from his landholder in the amount of 85 I. Teodoro contends that the language and tenor of the aforesaid contract clearly
cavans of palay which is equal to the two years rental of his landholding less his earnings manifest the intention of the parties to enter into an ordinary civil lease contract, not a
during the same period in the amount of P30.00 only or is equivalent to 3 cavans of palay. leasehold tenancy agreement as alleged by Macaraeg and sustained by the agrarian court.
In fine, Fidel Teodoro is liable to pay to petitioner the amount of 82 cavans of palay or its To start with, Teodoro stresses, the parties denominated the said covenant as a "Contract
cash value of P820.00, computed at P10.00 per cavan plus interest at 10% until fully paid. of Lease", which assigned title discloses their mutual intention to execute an ordinary
After Teodoro's motion to reconsider the foregoing resolution was denied, he interposed lease contract, for, otherwise, if they had intended to create a leasehold tenancy relation,
on January 5, 1963 the present petition, imputing to the court the following errors: they could have accordingly captioned their agreement "with the word tenancy or some
1. In holding that Macaraeg became a tenant of Teodoro by virtue of the "Contract of other word of similar import". Moreover, Teodoro points out that "in the contract of lease
Lease" which they executed in April, 1960; in question it is significant to note that the words landlord and tenant were conspicuous
2. Assuming that the foregoing contract was in effect a leasehold tenancy agreement by their complete absence".
making Macaraeg a tenant of Teodoro in not finding the former guilty of abandonment, The foregoing stance assumed by Teodoro is patently untenable, in the face of the
an act which terminated their tenancy relation; and principal features and stipulations of the contract in controversy and the pertinent
3. In condemning Teodoro to pay damages to Macaraeg for the alleged dispossession, provisions of existing law on leasehold tenancy. It bears emphasis that the title, label or
despite the fact that the claim for damages embodied in the abovementioned rubric given to a contract cannot be used to camouflage the real import of an agreement
"Supplemental Petition" below were about to be terminated. as evinced by its main provisions. Moreover, it is basic that a contract is what the law
The pertinent provisions of the disputed "Contract of Lease" between Teodoro and defines it to be, and not what it is called by the contracting parties. 1
Macaraeg read as follows: As correctly expressed by the respondent court, "viewed from the four corners of Exhibit
That the LESSOR is the registered owner of a certain parcel of land situated at Talugtug, A, we have no doubt that the leasehold tenancy contract entered into between petitioner
Nueva Ecija, containing an area of THIRTY NINE (39) HECTARES, more or less; (Macaraeg) and Fidel Teodoro is a pure and simple leasehold tenancy contract as the term
That for and in consideration of the rental of Nine (9) cavans of palay per hectare for one is understood under our tenancy laws." This observation of the agrarian court finds
agricultural year, the LESSOR hereby lets and leases and the LESSEE hereby accepts an anchor in the pertinent provision of the Agricultural Tenancy Act. Thus, section 4 of Rep.
undivided portion 4 Hectares of the abovementioned property under the following Act 1199, as amended by Rep. Act 2263, provides that
terms and conditions: Leasehold tenancy exists when a person who, either personally or with the aid of labor
1. That this contract of lease shall only be for the agricultural year 1960-61; available from members of his immediate farm household, undertaken to cultivate a
piece of agricultural land susceptible of cultivation by a single person together with
members of his immediate farm household, belonging to a legally possessed by another in personally cultivate the land in dispute. Neither did Teodoro allege, much less prove, that
consideration of a fixed amount in money or in produced or in both. Macaraeg availed of outside assistance in the cultivation of the said riceland.
Furthermore, section 42 of the Agricultural Tenancy Act defines a landlord-lessor as Teodoro is the registered owner of the disputed landholding and he delivered the
Any person, natural or judicial, either as owner, lessee, usufructuary or legal possessor of possession thereof to Macaraeg in consideration of a rental certain to be paid in produce.
agricultural land, who lets, leases or rents to another said property for purposes of Evidently, there was a valid leasehold tenancy agreement. Moreover, the provision that
agricultural production and for a price certain of ascertainable either in amount of money the rental be accounted in terms of produce 9 cavans per hectare is an unmistakable
or produced; earmark, considering the other stipulations, that the parties did actually enter into a
while a tenant-lessee is defined as leasehold tenancy relation.
any person who, with the consent of the former (landlord-lessor), tills, cultivates or Teodoro further argues, however, that the aforesaid "Contract of Lease" cannot possibly
operates said land, susceptible of cultivation by one individual, personally or with the aid be construed as establishing a leasehold tenancy relation because the parties themselves
of labor available from among his own immediate farm household. ignored and repudiated the very essence of tenancy security of tenure when they
Gleaned from the foregoing provisions, the following could be synthesized as the principal stipulated that "this agreement shall only be for the agricultural year 1960-61".
elements of a lease-hold tenancy contract or relation: This argument is unacceptable. The mere fact that the parties fixed and limited the
1. The object of the contract or the relationship is an agricultural land which is leased or duration of their lease contract to only one agricultural year, does not remove the
rented for the purpose of agricultural production; relationship which they created from the purview of leasehold tenancy, considering the
2. The size of the landholding must be such that it is susceptible of personal cultivation by general import of their agreement which irreversibly leads to and clearly justifies tenancy
a single person with assistance from the members of his immediate farm household; coverage. It is fundamental that the tenant-lessee's security of tenure subsists
3. The tenant-lessee must actually and personally till, cultivate or operate said land, solely notwithstanding the termination of the contract which initially established the tenancy
or with the aid of labor from his immediate farm household; and relation. In the language of the law, the "expiration of the period of the contract as fixed
4. The landlord-lessor, who is either the lawful owner or the legal possessor of the land, by the parties ... does not of itself extinguish the relationship". 3 This is a "practical
leases the same to the tenant-lessee for a price certain or ascertainable either in a consequence of the distinction between the tenancy contract which is fixed by the
amount of money or produce. parties, and the tenancy relationship which is maintained and governed by law". 4
Reverting to the controverted "Contract of Lease", we are of the consensus that it Furthermore, section 49 of the Agricultural Tenancy Act provides that
indubitably contains the forgoing essential elements of a leasehold tenancy agreement. Notwithstanding any agreement or provision of law as to the period of future surrender of
The landholding in dispute is unmistakably an agricultural land devoted to agricultural the land, in all cases where land devoted to any agricultural purpose is held under any
production. More specifically, the parties stipulated that "the property leased shall be system of tenancy, the tenant shall not be dispossessed of his holdings by the landholder
used or utilized for agricultural enterprise only". (Emphasis supplied). Furthermore, the except for any of the causes hereinafter enumerated and only after the same has been
parties also agreed that the farmland must be used for rice production as could be proved before and the dispossession is authorized bye the court." (Emphasis supplied)
inferred from the stipulation that "the rental of nine (9) cavans of palay per hectare for The abovecited provision does not permit the parties to stipulate at what future time the
one agricultural year ... must be of the same variety (of palay) as that produced by the tenant shall leave or surrender the land. Thus, this Court has held 5 that an agreement
LESSEE". (Emphasis supplied) whereby the tenant was required to return to the landlord his landholding after one crop
The land is definitely susceptible of cultivation by a single person as it is of an area of only year cannot justify the tenant's dispossession after the said period because such
four and A half (4-) hectares. This Court has held 2 that even a bigger area may be agreement is expressly proscribed by law.
cultivated personally by the tenant, singly or with the help of the members of his Still vehemently contending that he never intended to enter into any tenancy relation
immediate farm household. with Macaraeg, Teodoro finally argues that construing the abovementioned "Contract of
From the stipulation that "the rental must be of the same variety as that produced by the Lease" as a leasehold tenancy agreement would amount to a judicial negation of his
LESSEE", it can reasonably be inferred that the intention of the parties was that Macaraeg freedom to contract.
personally work the land, which he did as found by the Agrarian Court, thus: "In the Needless to stress, this Court frowns upon and rejects any attempt to nullify the
instant case, petitioner (Macaraeg) cultivated the landholding belonging to legitimate exercise of the right to contract. We agree with Teodoro that as a landholder
said respondent (Teodoro) for the agricultural year 1960-61 in consideration of a fixed he has full liberty to enter into a civil lease contract covering his property. What we want
annual rental." (Emphasis supplied) Moreover, there is no evidence that Macaraeg did not to indelibly impress, however, is that once a landowner enters into a contract of lease
whereby his land is to be devoted to agricultural production and said landholding is
susceptible of personal cultivation by the lessee, solely or with help of labor coming from Anent the charge of abandonment, it is also pertinent to note that four days after
his immediate farm household, then such contract is of the very essence of a leasehold Macaraeg received a letter from Teodoro and his wife advising him that the landholding in
agreement, and perforce comes under the direct coverage of the tenancy laws. question will be given to another tenant, he lost no time in inquiring from the Tenancy
Otherwise, it would be easy to subvert, under the guise of the liberty to contract, the Mediation Commission at Cabanatuan City about his rights as a leasehold tenant. It would
intendment of the law of protecting the underprivileged and ordinarily credulous farmer appear therefore that Macaraeg's immediate reaction to his landlord's design to
from the unscrupulous schemes and pernicious practices of the landed gentry. dispossess him negates the act of abandonment imputed to him.
II. We now come to the second assignment of error. Teodoro posits that granting the Moreover, Teodoro's pretension that Macaraeg had abandoned the disputed landholding
establishment of a leasehold tenancy relation between him and Macaraeg by virtue of the was squarely rejected by the agrarian court, thus:
aforesaid "Contract of Lease", the agrarian court nevertheless erred in not finding In the instant case, while petitioner had intentions to surrender his landholding to
Macaraeg guilty of abandonment, an act which terminates the tenancy relation and respondent after the harvest for the agricultural (year) 1960-61 which led the latter to
justifies the ejectment of the tenant. In support of his thesis, Teodoro points out that advise the former not to give his landholding to Luciano Claus, yet that surrender did not
Macaraeg committed a positive act of abandonment when he offered to vacate his materialize because said petitioner had apparently changed his mind. For as early as
leasehold in favor of a certain Luciano Claus, and only after "he could not have his own March 6, 1961, petitioner went to the Office of the Tenancy Mediation Commission,
way of placing Luciano Claus as his successor" did he try to "recover the land holding". Cabanatuan City for consultation. As a matter of fact, said Commission wrote a letter to
Assuming the veracity of the foregoing allegation, a tenant's offer or intention to Fidel Teodoro and his wife advising them to enjoin their overseer, Benito Ismael, from
surrender his hold on the condition that the person named by him should be accepted as ejecting petitioner.
his successor, does not of itself constitute abandonment of his farmland. During the intervening period, Fidel Teodoro and his wife entered into another lease
"The word 'abandon', in its ordinary sense, means to forsake entirely; to forsake or contract of tenancy with Jose Niegos. For this reason, Mariano Niegos, son of Jose Niegos,
renounce utterly. The dictionaries trace this word to the root idea of 'putting under a prevented petitioner from plowing his landholding when he found him in the premises on
ban'. The emphasis is on the finality and the publicity with which some thing or body is June 1, 1961. However, notwithstading this incident, Fidel Teodoro opened the door for
thus put in the control of another, and hence the meaning of giving up absolutely, with negotiations. In fact, as late as June 23, 1961, when petitioner went to the house of Fidel
intent never again to resume or claim one's rights or interests." 6 In other words, the act Teodoro in Manila, a conference was set for that purpose at the house of Benito Ismael
of abandonment constitutes actual, absolute and irrevocable desertion of one's right or in Muoz, Nueva Ecija which did not take place because of the absence of petitioner.
property. In the case at bar, Macaraeg merely intended to vacate his leasehold possession Under these circumstances, it appears to our mind that while negotiations for settlement
on the condition that a certain Claus be taken as his successor. Hence, his act did not were still pending, yet petitioner has not, in truth and in fact, surrendered his landholding.
constitute desertion of his leasehold as it was a mere intended surrender of the same. (Emphasis supplied)
And as correctly espoused by the counsel for the respondent court, it is "only through the We are not at liberty to reverse the foregoing finding of fact in the absence of any proof
actual surrender of the land that tenancy relation terminates; no amount of intention to that it is unfounded or was arbitrarily arrived at or that the Court had failed to consider
surrender severs the relationship". Furthermore, the said act of Macaraeg was not an important evidence to the contrary. 7 This Court has consistently ruled that the findings of
absolute renunciation of his leasehold possession, as it was in fact clearly conditional. fact of the Court of Agrarian Relations will not be disturbed on appeal where there is
However, Teodoro also claims, with characteristic certitude that Macaraeg did actually substantial evidence to support them. 8 In the case at bar, the finding of fact by the by the
abandon work on the land in dispute and that even the decision under review contains a respondent court anent the issue of abandonment rests on substantial evidence.
finding to this effect. We find no statement in the agrarian court's decision sustaining III. Toward the end of the proceedings in the respondent court, Macaraeg interposed a
Teodoro's view. On the contrary, we perceive truth in the respondent court's counsel's pleading which he denominated "supplemental petition", wherein he asked for damages
manifestation that as a result of his dispossession. The said "supplemental petition" was given due course by
The only times that the tenant herein did not work the land were (1) during the time it the hearing commissioner and Macaraeg was allowed to present evidence in support
was undergoing its regular dry season fallow, and, ... (2) after he was prohibited from thereof. On the basis of the evidence thus adduced, the respondent court awarded
plowing the land by a certain Niegos, an agent of petitioner. Failure to cultivate during the damages to Macaraeg as decreed in its abovementioned resolution of November 27,
dry season fallow definitely does not amount to abandonment (Cf. De la Cruz vs. 1962.
Asociacion Zangera Casilan et al., 83 Phil. 214). Likewise, failure to cultivate the land by Teodoro maintains that the respondent court erred in admitting the said "supplemental
reason of the forcible prohibition to do so by a third party cannot also amount to pleading" on the basis of section 2, Rule 17 (now section 3 of Rule 10 of the Revised Rules
abandonment, for abandonment presupposes free will. of Court) which exclusively pertains to amendment of pleadings, and has nothing to do
with the interposition of supplemental pleadings which is separately governed by section representing his earnings during the period of his unlawful ejectment. This part of the
5 of Rule 17 (now section 5 of Rule 10). Teodoro avers, moreover, that since Macaraeg award contravenes section 27(1) of the Agricultural Tenancy Act which makes the erring
filed his claim for damages only when the hearing below was about to end, his inaction landlord "liable to the tenant for damages to the extent of the landholder's participation
must be considered as a waiver of such claim or that he should be considered guilty of in the harvest in addition to the tenant's right under Section twenty-two of this Act". And
fatal negligence. section 22(1) provides that the "tenant shall be free to work elsewhere whenever the
In resolving this last assignment of error, attentions must be centered on the liberal policy nature of his farm obligations warrants his temporary absence from his holdings".
which frees the Court of Agrarian Relations from the fetters of formalistic procedure. As Consequently, Macaraeg's measly earning of P30 during the period of his
aptly observed in one case,9 dispossession should not be deducted from the total amount of damages due to him.
Social justice would be a meaningless term if in a situation like the present, an element of Interpreting the abovecited section 27(1) in relation to section 22(1), this Court, speaking
rigidity would be affixed to procedure precepts and made to cover the matter. Flexibility through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes held that
should not be ruled out. Precisely, what is sought to be accomplished, by such a The earnings of the tenants during the period of unlawful ejectment are not now
fundamental principle expressly so declared by the Constitution (Art. II, sec. 5) is the deductible from the award of damages. In the case of Potenciano vs. Estefani L-7690,
effectiveness of the community's effort to assist the economically underprivileged. For promulgated on 27 July 1955, this Court, on grounds of equity, ruled to deduct such
under existing conditions, without such succor and support, they might not, unaided, be income but said case was decided under the prior law, Act 4054. The above-quoted
able to secure justice for themselves.... Section 27(1) of Republic Act No. 1199, as amended, which is the one applicable to the
Moreover, there is equally the obligation on the part of the State to afford protection to present case, not only provides for a quantum of damages to the tenant, based on the
labor. The responsibility is incumbent then, not only on the legislative and executive landlord's share in the harvest, but adds thereto his right under section 22, which states:
branches but also on the judiciary, to translate this pledge into a living reality. The present (1) the tenant shall be free to work elsewhere whenever the nature of his farm
case is an appropriate occasion for the discharge of such a trust. To preclude relief under obligations warrants his temporary absence from his holdings.
the circumstances herein disclosed would be to fail to submit to the dictates of a plain This right, although already granted under section 20 of Act 4054, was not then a right
constitutional duty. That we should not allow to happen. additional to the recovery of damages consequent to unlawful dismissal, but under
Since the abovementioned "supplemental pleading" was filed without intent to delay the Republic Act 1199, as amended, it is to be added to the damages recoverable.11
proceedings, the agrarian court exercised sound discretion in giving it due course in order ACCORDINGLY, the decision and resolution under review are hereby affirmed, with the
that "the real matter in dispute and all matters in the action in dispute between the sole modification that the earnings of the herein respondent during the period of his
parties may, as far as possible, be completely determined in a single proceeding". dispossession shall not be deducted from the award of damages. Cost against the
Moreover Teodoro has no reason to complain, for he was accorded every opportunity to petitioner.
controvert Macaraeg's claim for damages, but apparently he did not, as in fact he does Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Fernando, Capistrano,
not here traverse the substantiality of the award.lawphi1.nt Teehankee and Barredo, JJ., concur.
Significantly, the Court of Agrarian Relations is not restricted to the specific relief claimed
or demanding made by the parties to the dispute, but may include in the order or decision
any matter or determination which may be deemed necessary and expedient for the
purpose of settling the dispute or of preventing further disputes, provided said matter for
determination has been established by competent evidence during the hearing". 10 In
words, the respondent court could have determined Macaraeg's claim for damages even
without his "supplemental petition", provided there was proof to substantiate such claim
(and such requisite evidence was not wanting). Hence if the agrarian court could, have
awarded damages in favor of Macaraeg even in the absence of a specific prayer; then
there is no conceivable reason to bar the respondent court from granting the same with
the interposition of the aforesaid "supplemental petition" which explicitly and
unmistakeably prays for damages resulting from Macaraeg's dispossession.
We hasten to modify however, the award of damages in so far as it deducts from the total
amount recoverable by Macaraeg the sum of P30 or its equivalent of 3 cavans of palay,
Republic of the Philippines The record would show that the respondent, Atty. Roque Su, Jr., is a resident of 976-A
SUPREME COURT Gerardo Avenue Extension, Lahug, Cebu City and at the same time an employee in the
Manila government up to the present, while the land wherein the complainant herein was
FIRST DIVISION employed by the respondent as overseer of the land since 1957 up to and until his
G.R. No. 85611 April 6, 1990 termination from the service sometime in September 1981 without just cause or causes
VICTORIANO ZAMORAS, petitioner, duly authorized by law and after due process. That to prove that complainant was the
vs. overseer of the land owned by the respondent are the sworn declaration of the three
ROQUE SU, JR., ANITA SU HORTELLANO and NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS witnesses, namely: Vicente Amor, Narcisa Arocha, and Wilfredo Bernaldes who are
COMMISSION, respondents. presently working as tenants of the respondent. That the three witnesses testified that
Paulo V. Briones for petitioner. they knew the complainant personally who has been working as overseer of the land
Pacifico C. Cimafranca for private respondents. because it was through him, the complainant, that they were allowed to work and/or
occupy the land as tenants ever since up to the present. In fact, they further declared that
they do not know personally the owner of the land and besides, they have not seen
GRIO-AQUINO, J.: personally the said owner as their dealing were directly done thru the complainant. That
The issue in this petition is whether, upon the established facts, the petitioner was an they always received their share of the produce from the complainant for every two
employee or tenant of the private respondents. months up to 1981.
The petitioner, Victoriano Zamoras, was hired by the respondent, Roque Su, Jr., in 1957 xxx xxx xxx
as overseer of his coconut land in Asenario, Dapitan City. Zamoras was charged with the It is very clear in the evidence of record that complainant was an employee of the
task of having the land titled in Su's name, and of assigning portions to be worked by respondent. This fact is even admitted by the respondent in his answer by way of
tenants, supervising the cleaning, planting, care and cultivation of the land, the harvesting controverting the claim of the complainant. (pp. 44-45, Rollo.)
of coconuts and selling of the copra. As compensation, Su paid Zamoras a salary of P2,400 On July 30, 1986, the Labor Arbiter rendered a decision holding that Zamoras, as overseer
per month plus one-third (1/3) of the proceeds of the sales of copra which normally of the respondent's plantation, was a regular employee whose services were necessary
occurred every two months. Another one-third of the proceeds went to the tenants and and desirable to the usual trade or business of his employer. The Labor Arbiter held that
the other third to Su. This system of sharing was regularly observed up to September, the dismissal of Zamoras was without just cause, hence, illegal. The private respondents
1981. As the coconut plantation yielded an average harvest of 21,000 nuts worth P18,900, were ordered to reinstate him to his former position as overseer of the plantation and to
based on the current market price of P3 per kilo, Zamoras' share amounted to P6,300 pay him backwages equivalent to P31,975.83 in the event that he opted not to be
every two months. reinstated or that his reinstatement was not feasible.
In May, 1981, Su informed Zamoras in writing that he obtained a loan from the other The private respondents appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission, alleging
respondent, Anita Su Hortellano, and that he authorized her to harvest the coconuts from that the Labor Arbiter erred:
his property "while the loan was outstanding" (p. 8, Rollo). Su sent Zamoras a letter dated 1. in disregarding respondents' evidence (a financial report showing the yearly copra sales
May 29, 1981 informing him that he was being laid-off temporarily until Su could obtain a from 1973 to 1977), proving that complainant's one-third share of the copra sales
loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines with which to pay Anita. However, amounted to P5,985.16 only and not P6,300 per harvest;
Zamoras was not allowed anymore to work as overseer of the plantation. Without his 2. in not holding that the complainant can no longer be reinstated for he is already dead;
knowledge and consent, Hortellano harvested the coconuts without giving him his one- and
third share of the copra sales. 3. in not finding that no employer-employee relationship existed between the parties.
On August 8, 1983, Zamoras filed in the Regional Arbitration Branch of the Ministry of On September 16, 1988, the NLRC rendered a decision reversing the Labor Arbiter. It held
Labor and Employment in Zamboanga City a complaint against Roque Su, Jr. and Anita Su that "the right to control test used in determining the existence of an employer-employee
Hortellano for illegal termination and breach of contract with damages of not less than relationship is unavailing in the instant case and that what exists between the parties is a
P75,600 as his uncollected share of the copra sales from September 15, 1981 to August landlord-tenant relationship" (p. 32, Rollo), because such functions as introducing
1983. permanent improvements on the land, assigning portions to tenants, supervising the
The officer-in-charge of the NLRC Sub-Regional Office in Dipolog City who investigated the cleaning, planting, care and cultivation of the plants, and deciding where and to whom to
case submitted the following findings which were adopted by the Labor Arbiter
sell the copra are attributes of a landlord-tenant relationship, hence, jurisdiction over the 4. Su paid Zamoras a salary of P2,400 per month plus one-third of the copra sales every
case rests with the Court of Agrarian Relations. two months as compensation for managing the plantation.
Zamoras filed this petition, assailing the NLRC's decision. Since Zamoras was an employee, not a tenant of Su, it is the NLRC, not the Court of
There is merit in the petition. Agrarian Relations, that has jurisdiction to try and decide Zamora's complaint for illegal
The NLRC's conclusion that a landlord-tenant relationship existed between Su and dismissal (Art. 217, Labor Code; Manila Mandarin Employees Union vs. NLRC, 154 SCRA
Zamoras is not supported by the evidence which shows that Zamoras was hired by Su not 368; Jacqueline Industries Dunhill Bags Industries, et al. vs. NLRC, et al., 69 SCRA 242).
as a tenant but as overseer of his coconut plantation. As overseer, Zamoras hired the WHEREFORE, the assailed decision is reversed and a new one is entered, declaring
tenants and assigned their respective portions which they cultivated under Zamoras' Zamoras to be an employee of respondent Roque Su, Jr. and that his dismissal was illegal
supervision. The tenants dealt directly with Zamoras and received their one-third share of and without lawful cause. He is entitled to reinstatement with backwages, but because he
the copra produce from him. The evidence also shows that Zamoras, aside from doing is dead and may no longer be reinstated, the private respondents are ordered to pay to
administrative work for Su, regularly managed the sale of copra processed by the tenants. his heirs the backwages due him, as well as his share of the copra sales from the
There is no evidence that Zamoras cultivated any portion of Su's land personally or with plantation for a period of three (3) years from his illegal dismissal in September, 1981,
the aid of his immediate farm household. In fact the respondents never raised the issue of plus separation pay in lieu of reinstatement. Costs against the private respondents.
tenancy in their answer. SO ORDERED.
Under Section 5 (a) of R.A. No. 1199, a tenant is "a person who by himself, or with the aid Narvasa, Cruz, Gancayco and Medialdea, JJ., conc
available from within his immediate 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 or for a price certain or ascertainable in produce or in money
or both, under the leasehold tenancy system" (Matienzo vs. Servidad, 107 SCRA 276).
Agricultural tenancy is defined 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, whether in produce or in money, or both" (Sec. 3, R.A. No.
1199; 50 O.G. 4655-56; Miguel Carag vs. CA, et al., 151 SCRA 44).
The essential requisites of a tenancy relationship are: (1) the parties are the landholder
and the tenant; (2) the subject is the agricultural holding; (3) there is consent between the
parties; (4) the purpose is agricultural production; (5) there is personal cultivation by the
tenant; and (6) there is a sharing of harvests between landlord and tenant (Antonio Castro
vs. CA and De la Cruz, G.R. L-34613, January 26, 1989; Tiongson vs. CA, 130 SCRA 482;
Guerrero vs. CA, 142 SCRA 138).
The element of personal cultivation of the land, or with the aid of his farm household,
essential in establishing a landlord-tenant or a lessor-lessee relationship, is absent in the
relationship between Su and Zamoras (Co vs. IAC, 162 SCRA 390; Graza vs. CA, 163 SCRA
39), for Zamoras did not cultivate any part of Su's plantation either by himself or with the
help of his household.
On the other hand, the following circumstances are indicative of an employer-employee
relationship between them:
1. Zamoras was selected and hired by Su as overseer of the coconut plantation.
2. His duties were specified by Su.
3. Su controlled and supervised the performance of his duties. He determined to whom
Zamoras should sell the copra produced from the plantation.
Republic of the Philippines said land, but he still corrected the last part of par. 4 of said "Kasunduan" by making it
SUPREME COURT read "sa kanilang matiwasay na kaugnayan" before signing the same.
Manila On September 28, 1988, the trial court rendered judgment declaring that no tenancy
THIRD DIVISION relationship exists between the petitioner and the private respondent. The dispositive
portion of the decision reads as follows:
G.R. No. 98028 January 27, 1992 WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered:
GREGORIO CASTILLO, petitioner, a) dismissing the above-entitled case, with costs against the plaintiff;
vs. b) lifting the preliminary injunction issued on September 18, 1985 and declaring the same
COURT OF APPEALS and ALBERTO IGNACIO, respondents. legally inefficacious henceforth; and
Sumulong Law Offices for petitioner. c) directing the plaintiff no pay unto the defendant the amount of P10,000.00 as and for
Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance for private respondent. attorney's fees.
From the above decision, the private respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals which
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: reversed and set aside the decision of the trial court. The respondent appellate court
This is a petition for review of the Court of Appeals decision which reversed and set aside declared that there exists a tenancy relationship between Alberto Ignacio and Gregorio
the decision of the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 8302-M and declared respondent Castillo and permanently enjoined the latter from disturbing the respondent's peaceful
Alberto Ignacio as agricultural tenant of the petitioner. possession as tenant of said land.
On July 18, 1985, a complaint for injunction was filed by private respondent Alberto Hence, the instant petition was filed, with the petitioner assigning the following errors as
Ignacio against petitioner Gregorio Castillo with the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, the issues raised to us:
Bulacan. I
It is alleged in the complaint that the respondent is the agricultural tenant of the The Court of Appeals (Fourth Division) committed clear and patent error in reversing the
petitioner in the latter's parcel of land consisting of 9,920 square meters with fruit- decision of the Regional Trial Court which is fully supported not only by substantial
bearing trees situated in Cut-cut, Pulilan, Bulacan; that sometime in April 1985, the evidence but by overwhelming evidence.
petitioner requested the respondent to allow him to construct a resthouse in said land, II
and as a token of goodwill, the respondent agreed, which agreement is embodied in a The Court of Appeals committed clear and reversible error and grave abuse of discretion
"Kasunduan" (Exhibit "C") between them; that in violation of said agreement, the in declaring that "the relationship between plaintiff-appellant and defendant-appellee
petitioner started to cut fruit-bearing trees on the land in question and filled with adobe over the mango land in question as one of agricultural tenancy" despite the patent judicial
stones the area devoted by the private respondent to the planting of vegetables. admission of respondent Ignacio that he is merely a "magsisiga" of the mango land under
The complaint asked for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the litigation.
petitioner from further cutting fruit-bearing trees and from committing further acts of III
dispossession against the private respondent. The injunction was granted. The Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in permanently enjoining
The petitioner, on the other hand, contends that the private respondent is not his petitioner "from disturbing plaintiff-appellant's peaceful possession as tenant of said
agricultural tenant; that respondent Alberto Ignacio is merely a "magsisiga" (smudger) of land," although private respondent is not in physical possession of the land, respondent
the landholding in question; that he did not ask permission from the private respondent Ignacio being merely and admittedly a "magsisiga" of the mango land in question.
to construct a rest house on subject land, since as owner thereof, he had the right to do IV
so; that he was merely exercising his right of ownership when he cut certain trees in the The Court of Appeals committed clear and patent error in not ordering the termination of
subject premises; that when the barangay captain failed to settle the conflict and the any and all relationships between petitioner and private respondent, the latter having
matter was referred to the MAR-BALA (Ministry of Agrarian Reform-Bureau of Agrarian failed to perform the work of "magsisiga" on the subject parcel of land and instead he
Legal Assistance) Office in Malolos, Bulacan, Atty. Benjamin Yambao of the MAR (Ministry obstructs the driveway by scattering rubbish, dry leaves, dirt and other rubbish,
of Agrarian Reform) prepared the "Kasunduan" attached to the respondent's complaint, preventing the petitioner from proceeding to the premises of the land by putting up a
but when he (petitioner) said that he had some misgivings about some words therein, barb wire fence which are acts of harrassment, disturbing the peaceful possession of
Atty. Yambao assured him that he need not worry because the respondent could not be a petitioner and which acts are inimical to the continuation of any kind of relationship
"kasamang magsasaka" of his mango land because there is nothing to cultivate or till in between Gregorio Castillo and Alberto Ignacio.
The issue to be resolved in the present petition is whether or not a tenancy relationship stated therein are not clearly against the law and jurisprudence. On the other hand, the
exists between the parties. private respondent contends that the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are final and
The Agricultural Tenancy Act defines "agricultural tenancy" as conclusive on the parties and on the Supreme Court.
. . . the physical possession by a person of a land devoted to agriculture belonging to or After painstakingly going over the records of the petition, we find no strong and cogent
legally possessed by, another for the purpose of production through the labor of the reason which justifies the appellate court's deviation from the findings and conclusions of
former and of the members of his immediate farm household, in consideration of which the trial court. As pointed out in Hernandez v. Intermediate Appellate Court (189 SCRA
the former agrees to share the harvest with the latter, or to pay a price certain, either in 758 [1990]), in agrarian cases, all that is required is mere substantial evidence. Hence, the
produce or in money, or in both. (Sec. 3, R.A. No. 1199; 50 O.G. 4655-56). agrarian court's findings of fact which went beyond the minimum evidentiary support
As held in the case of Qua v. Court of Appeals (198 SCRA 236 [1991]), the essential demanded by law, that is supported by substantial evidence, are final and conclusive and
requisites of tenancy relationship are: (1) the parties are the landowner and the tenant; cannot be reversed by the appellate tribunal.
(2) the subject is agricultural land; (3) the purpose is agricultural production; (4) there is Moreover, and as significantly held in Qua v. Court of Appeals (supra), the fact that the
consideration which consist of sharing the harvest; (5) there is consent to the tenant to source of livelihood of the private respondents is not derived from the lots they are
work on the land and (6) there is personal cultivation by him. allegedly tenanting is indicative of non-agricultural tenancy relationship.
From the foregoing definition, the petitioner insists that for a person to claim tenancy Under the facts obtaining in the case, respondent Ignacio is a businessman by occupation
relationship, he must be an occupant or must be in physical possession of the agricultural and this is his principal source of income. He manufacturers hollow blocks. He also has a
land. He alleges that, Alberto Ignacio, being a mere smudger (magsisiga) of the mango piggery and poultry farm as well as a hardware store on the land adjoining the subject
land, no tenancy relationship can exist between them absent the element of physical land. To add to that, the respondent farms the riceland of one Dr. Luis Santos. It is thus
possession. evident that the working hours of the respondent as a businessman and his other
In Gagola v. Court of Agrarian Relations (18 SCRA 992 [1966]), the Court held that a activities do not permit him to undertake the work and obligations of a real tenant. This is
tenant has possession of the land only through personal cultivation. Thus, in the instant further supported by the undisputed fact that the respondent cannot even personally
case, the key factor in ascertaining the existence of a landowner-tenant relationship is perform the work of a smudger because on October 22, 1986, the respondent hired some
whether or not there is personal cultivation of the land by the private respondent. 20 people who are not members of his family to cut and burn the grass in the premises of
The trial court noted that: the subject land.
Let alone or notwithstanding the use of the phrase "kasamang magsasaka" in the Anent the element of consent, the petitioner contends that the best evidence and
Kasunduan (Exhibit C) relied upon by the plaintiff, there is no dispute that the actual role imperishable proof of the relationship of the parties is that shown in the complaint filed
ever played by the plaintiff vis-a-vis the land in litigation was that of a mere "magsisiga" by private respondent with the barangay captain Tomas Mercado that he is a mere
(smudger). Stated differently, plaintiff has never performed on the property in question "magsisiga" of the mango trees on the subject parcel of land. On the other hand, the
any of the acts of cultivation contemplated by the law as essential to the creation of an respondent appellate court said that the best proof of the existence of tenancy
agricultural tenancy relationship. In fine, it is the sense of the Court that absent the relationship is the "Kasunduan" (Exhibit "C") and that under Section 7, Rule 130 of the
important factor of cultivation, no tenancy relationship has ever existed between the Revised Rules of Court, 'when the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no
plaintiff and the defendant over the property involved in the instant case. At most and at evidence shall be admissible other than the original document itself,' subject only to
best, the contractual relationship between them was purely civil nature consisting solely certain exceptions. Inasmuch as substantial evidence does not only require the presence
of the seasonal engagement of plaintiff's services as "magsisiga" or "taga-suob." of a mere scintilla of evidence (Berenguer, Jr. v. CA, 164 SCRA 433 [1988] citing Ang Tibay
On this matter, the appellate court disagreed and noted instead that personal cultivation v. Court of Industrial Relations, 69 Phil. 635 [1940]), we rule that there is no concrete
by respondent Ignacio of petitioner land is clearly spelled out or admitted in the evidence on record sufficient to establish that the element of consent is present. But even
"Kasunduan" (Exhibit "C") in view of the aforementioned provision therein that nobody assuming arguendo that the element of consent is present, we declared in De los Reyes
except petitioner and the members of his family could enter said land without said v. Espineli (30 SCRA 574 [1969]) that absent the element of personal cultivation, one
petitioner's written permission. cannot be a tenant even if he is so designated in the written agreement of the parties.
We agree with the trial court that the element of personal cultivation is absent. The main With respect to the requisite of sharing the harvests, the respondent appellate court
thrust of the petitioner's argument is that the respondent Court of Appeals is mandated considered the receipt (Exhibit "E") signed by the petitioner's son Walderado Castillo as its
by law to affirm the decision of the Regional Trial Court, acting as an Agrarian Court, if the evidence. On this point, the petitioner has correctly argued that the receipt is
findings of fact in said decision are supported by substantial evidence and the conclusions inadmissible on the ground that he did not participate in its execution.
The maxim "res inter alios acta altere nocere non debet," found in Section 28, Rule 130,
Rules of Court applies, for as stated in Gevero v. Intermediate Appellant Court (189 SCRA
201 [1990]) the right of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act, declaration, or omission of
another.
Also in pari materia is Caballes v. Department of Agrarian Reform (168 SCRA 247 [1988]),
that the fact of sharing alone is not sufficient to establish a tenancy relationship. Well-
settled is the rule that all the requisites must concur in order to create a tenancy
relationship between the parties and the absence of one or more requisites do not make
the alleged tenant a de facto tenant as contradistinguished from 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. (Qua v. Court of Appeals, supra citing Tiongson v. Court of
Appeals, 130 SCRA 482 [1984]).
However, with respect to the award of attorney's fees by the trial court, the award of
P10,000.00 is unwarranted since the action appears to have been filed in good faith.
There should be no penalty on the right to litigate. (Ilocos Norte Electric Company v. Court
of Appeals, 179 SCRA 5 [1989] citing Espiritu v. Court of Appeals, 137 SCRA 50 [1985]).
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the respondent Court of Appeals is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the decision of the Regional Trial Court is
REINSTATED with the MODIFICATION that the award of attorney's fees is DELETED.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines Aggrieved, the plaintiff (Natividad) appealed to the Court of Appeals, contending that the
SUPREME COURT "dugo" arrangement between her and her brother Benigno was not in the nature of a
Manila usufruct (as held by the court a quo), but actually a contract of commodatum. This being
EN BANC the case, Benigno, the bailee in the commodatum, could neither lend nor lease the
properties loaned, to a third person, as such relationship (of bailor-bailee) is one of
G.R. No. 85041 August 5, 1993 personal character. This time, her contentions were sustained, with the respondent
GRACIANO BERNAS, petitioner, appellate court, reversing the trial court's decision, ruling that having only derived his
vs. rights from the usufructuary/bailee, Bernas had no better right to the property than the
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and NATIVIDAD BITO-ON DEITA, respondents. latter who admittedly was entrusted with the property only for a limited period. Further,
Rodriguez Dadivas for petitioner. according to the appellate court, there being no privity of contract between Natividad and
Orlanda Bigcas-Lumawag for private respondent. Bernas, the former cannot be expected to be bound by or to honor the relationship or tie
between Benigno and the latter (Bernas).
PADILLA, J.: Hence, this petition by Bernas.
Petitioner Graciano Bernas is before this Court assailing the decision * of the respondent The issue for resolution by the Court is concisely stated by the respondent appellate court
appellate court dated 19 August 1988 in CA G.R. SP No. 14359 (CAR), which reversed the as follows: whether the agricultural leasehold established by Benigno Bito-on in favor of
decision ** of the Regional Trial Court of Roxas City, Branch 18, in Civil Case No. V-5146 Graciano Bernas is binding upon the owner of the land, Natividad Bito-on, who disclaims
entitled "Natividad Bito-on Deita, et al. vs, Graciano Bernas." As disclosed by the records any knowledge of, or participation in the same.
and the evidence of both parties, the facts involved in the controversy are as follows: In ruling for the private respondent (Natividad), the respondent appellate court held that:
Natividad Bito-on Deita is the owner of Lots Nos. 794, 801, 840 and 848 of the Cadastral Indeed, no evidence has been adduced to clarify the nature of the "dugo" transaction
Survey of Panay, Capiz, with a total area of 5,831 square meters. Out of liberality, between plaintiff and her brother Benigno Bito-on. What seems apparent is that Benigno
Natividad entrusted the lots by way of "dugo" to her brother, Benigno Bito-on, so that he Bito-on was gratuitously allowed to utilize the land to help him in financing the schooling
could use the fruits thereof to defray the cost of financing his children's schooling in of his children. Whether the transaction is one of usufruct, which right may be leased or
Manila. Prior to April 1978, these agricultural lots had been leased by one Anselmo alienated, or one of commodatum, which is purely personal in character, the beneficiary
Billones but following the latter's death and consequent termination of the lease, has the obligation to return the property upon the expiration of the period stipulated, or
petitioner Graciano Bernas took over and worked on the land. Benigno and Bernas accomplishment of the purpose for, which it was constituted (Art. 612, Art. 1946, Civil
worked out a production-sharing arrangement whereby the first provided for all the Code). Accordingly, it is believed that one who derives his right from the
expenses and the second worked the land, and after harvest, the two (2) deducted said usufructuary/bailee, cannot refuse to return the property upon the expiration of the
expenses and divided the balance of the harvest between the two of them. The owner, contract. In this case, Benigno Bito-on returned the property lent to him on May 13, 1985
Natividad, played no part in this arrangement as she was not privy to the same. to the owners, the plaintiff herein. We do not see how the defendant can have a better
In 1985, the lots were returned by Benigno to his sister Natividad, as all his children had right to the property than Benigno Bito-on, who admittedly possessed the land for a
by then finished their schooling. When Natividad, and her husband sought to take over limited period. There is no privity of contract between the owner of the land and the
possession of the lots, Bernas refused to relinquish, claiming that he was an agricultural cultivator. 1
leasehold lessee instituted on the land, by Benigno and, as such, he is entitled to security At this point, it is appropriate to point out that, contrary to the appreciation of the
of tenure under the law. respondent appellate court, the general law on property and contracts, embodied in the
Faced with this opposition from Bernas, Natividad filed an action with the Regional Trial Civil Code of the Philippines, finds no principal application on the present
Court for Recovery of Possession, Ownership and Injunction with Damages. After trial, the conflict. Generalibus specialia derogant. The environmental facts of the case at bar
court a quo held in favor of the defendant (Bernas) and dismissed the complaint, ruling indicate that this is not a mere case of recovery of ownership or possession of property.
that from the record and the evidence presented, notably the testimony of the plaintiff's Had this been so, then the Court would have peremptorily dismissed the present petition.
own brother Benigno, Bernas was indeed a leasehold tenant under the provisions of The fact, however, that cultivated agricultural land is involved suffices for the Court to
Republic Act No. 1199 and an agricultural leasehold lessee under Republic Act No. 3844, pause and review the legislation directly relevant and applicable at the time this
having been so instituted by the usufructuary of the land (Benigno). As such, according to controversy arose.
the trial court, his tenurial rights cannot be disturbed save for causes provided by law.
In this regard, it would appear that Republic Act No. 1199, invoked by the trial court, had thereof shall be subrogated to the rights and substituted to the obligations of the
already been rendered inoperative by the passage of Republic Act No. 3844, as amended, agricultural lessor.
otherwise known as the Agricultural Land Reform Code (Code, for brevity). The former, xxx xxx xxx
also known as the Agricultural Tenancy Act of the Philippines and approved in August Sec. 36. Possession of Landholding; Exceptions. Notwithstanding any agreement as to
1954 had sought to establish a system of agricultural tenancy relations between the the period or future surrender of the land, an agricultural lessee shall continue in the
tenant and the landholder, defining two (2) systems of agricultural tenancy: the share and enjoyment and possession of his landholding except when his dispossession has been
the leasehold tenancy. At this point, however, further discussion of the foregoing would authorized by the Court in a judgment that is final and executory if after due hearing it is
appear futile, for the Code, enacted in August, 1963, had expressly declared agricultural shown that:
share tenancy to be contrary to public policy and abolished the same. As for leasehold (1) The agricultural lessor-owner or a member of his immediate family will personally
tenancy relations entered into prior to the effectivity of the Code, the rights and cultivate the landholding or will convert the landholding, if suitably located, into
obligations arising therefrom were deemed to continue to exist until modified by the residential, factory, hospital or school site or other useful non-agricultural
parties thereto in accordance with the provisions of the Code. 2 Thus, for all intents and purposes: Provided, That the agricultural lessee shall, be entitled to disturbance
purposes, Republic Act No. 3844 is the governing statute in the petition at bar. The compensation equivalent to five years rental on his landholding in addition to his rights
pertinent provisions therefore state as follows: under Sections twenty-five and thirty-four, except when the land owned and leased by
Sec. 5. Establishment of Agricultural Leasehold the agricultural lessor is not more than five hectares, in which case instead of disturbance
Relations. The agricultural leasehold relation shall be established by operation of law in compensation the lessee may be entitled to an advanced notice of at least one
accordance with Section four of this Code and, in other, cases, either orally or in writing, agricultural year before ejectment proceedings are filed against him: Provided, further,
expressly or impliedly. That should the landholder not cultivate the land himself for three years or fail to
Sec. 6. Parties to Agricultural Leasehold Relation. The agricultural leasehold relation substantially carry out such conversion within one year after the dispossession of the
shall be limited to the person who furnishes the landholding, either as owner, civil law tenant, it shall be presumed that he acted in bad faith and the tenant shall have the right
lessee, usufructuary, or legal possessor, and the person who personally cultivates the to demand possession of the land and recover damages for any loss incurred by him
same. (emphasis supplied). because of said dispossession; 3
Sec. 7. Tenure of Agricultural Leasehold Relation. The Agricultural Leasehold Relation (2) the agricultural lessee failed to substantially comply with any of the terms and
once established shall confer upon the agricultural lessee the right to continue working on conditions of the contract or any of the provisions of this Code unless his failure is caused
the landholding until such leasehold relationship is extinguished. The agricultural lessee by fortuitous event or force majeure:
shall be entitled to security of tenure on his landholding and cannot be ejected therefrom (3) the agricultural lessee planted crops or used the landholding for a purpose other than
unless authorized by the Court for causes herein provided. (emphasis supplied) what had been previously agreed upon;
Sec. 8. Extinguishment of Agricultural Leasehold (4) the agricultural lessee failed to adopt proven farm practices as determined under
Relation. The agricultural leasehold relation established under this Code shall be paragraph 3 of Section twenty-nine;
extinguished by: (5) the land or other substantial permanent improvement thereon is substantially
(1) Abandonment of the landholding without the knowledge of the agricultural lessor; damaged or destroyed or has unreasonably deteriorated through the fault or negligence
(2) Voluntary surrender of the landholding by the agricultural lessee, written notice of of the agricultural lessee;
which shall be served three months in advance; or (6) the agricultural lessee does not pay the lease rental when it falls due: Provided, That if
(3) Absence of the persons under Section nine to succeed to the lessee in the event of the nonpayment of the rental shall be due to crop failure to the extent of seventy-five per
death of permanent incapacity of the lessee. centum as a result of a fortuitous event, the non-payment shall not be a rental due that
xxx xxx xxx particular crop year, is not thereby extinguished; or
Sec. 10. Agricultural Leasehold Relation Not Extinguished by Expiration of Period, etc. (7) the lessee employed a sub-lessee on his landholding in violation of the terms of
The agricultural leasehold relation under this Code shall not be extinguished by mere paragraph 2 of Section twenty seven.
expiration of the term or period in a leasehold contract nor by the sale, alienation or Sec. 37. Burden of Proof. The burden of proof to show the existence of a lawful cause
transfer of the legal possession of the landholding. In case the agricultural lessor sells, for the ejectment of an agricultural lessee shall rest upon the agricultural lessor.
alienates or transfers the legal possession of the landholding, the purchaser or transferee There is no dispute, as it is admitted by the parties in this case, that Benigno Bito-on was
granted possession of the property in question by reason of the liberality of his sister,
Natividad (the private respondent). In short, he (Benigno) was the LEGAL POSSESSOR of plausibly contended now that the first issue (i.e. whether Bernas is an agricultural
the property and, as such, he had the authority and capacity to enter into an agricultural leasehold lessee) embraces the issue of whether Natividad has validly terminated the
leasehold relation with Bernas. Consequently, there is no need to dwell on the agricultural leasehold because of a decision to cultivate the land herself, since under sec.
contentions of the private respondent that, her brother Benigno was not a usufructuary 36(1) of the Code (before its amendment by Section 7 of Rep. Act No. 6389), the
of the property but actually a bailee in commodatum. Whatever was the true nature of landowner's right to take over possession of his land for personal
his designation, he (Benigno) was the LEGAL POSSESSOR of the property and the law cultivation ASSUMES that it is under a valid and subsisting agricultural leasehold and he
expressly grants him, as legal possessor, authority and capacity to institute an agricultural must obtain an order from the court to dispossess the agricultural leasehold lessee who
leasehold lessee on the property he legally possessed. otherwise is entitled to continued use and possession of the landholding. In other words,
In turn, having been instituted by Benigno as an agricultural leasehold lessee, Bernas is if Natividad had really intended to raise as an issue that she had validly terminated
vested by law with the rights accruing thereto, including the right to continue working the Bernas' agricultural leasehold, she or her counsel could have expressly included among
landholding until such lease is legally extinguished, and the right to be protected in his the issues for determination the question of whether or not she had complied with the
tenure i. e., not to be ejected from the land, save for the causes provided by law, and as requirements of the law for dispossessing the agricultural leasehold lessee because she,
appropriately determined by the courts. In this connection, there is no clear indication in as landowner, had decided to personally cultivate the landholding. But she did not.
the record that the circumstances or conditions envisioned in Section 36 of Republic Act. The trial court in its decision dated 20 October 1987 (latter appealed to the Court of
No. 3844, as amended, for termination of the agricultural lease relation, have Appeals) held (consistent with the formulated issues in the case) that
supervened, and therefore Bernas' right to the possession of the property remains xxx xxx xxx
indisputable. This conclusion is buttressed by Sec. 37 of the Code which provides that: As to issues, parties presented only two (2) issues and which are:
Sec. 37. Burden of Proof. The burden of proof to show the existence of a lawful cause 1. Whether or not defendant is an agricultural leasehold lessee of the parcels of land
for the ejectment of an agricultural lessee shall rest upon the agricultural lessor. described in the complaint;
As to any suggestion that the agricultural lease of Bernas may have terminated because 2. Whether the parties are entitled to damages claimed by them in their respective
the landowner (Natividad) has decided to cultivate the land herself, we submit that this pleadings.
Court is not in a position to settle this issue in this case, not only because of insufficient (Pre-Trial Order dated September 9, 1985, p. 41 records)
evidence to determine whether or not, the grounds provided by law for termination of and finally disposed as follows:
the agricultural leasehold relation are present but, more importantly, because the issue of From the above discussions, this Court opines that defendant was a share tenant on the
termination of the agricultural leasehold relationship by reason of the landowner's parcels of land subject of the complaint, and an agricultural leasehold lessee under the
alleged decision to till the land herself, was not squarely raised nor adequately litigated in provisions of the Agricultural Land Reform Code as amended by Presidential Decrees on
the trial court. 4 It will be noted that while Natividad in her complaint with the court a the matter.
quo alleged, among others, that "on 20 May 1985, the plaintiffs spouses were already in No damages as damages were proved or established by evidence by the defendant.
the process of taking over the land by employing a tractor operator to commence plowing WHEREFORE, and in view of the above considerations, a decision is rendered dismissing
the land," this allegation was denied by Bernas in his answer. But the main thrust of plaintiffs complaint, and declaring defendant as the agricultural leasehold lessee on Lot
Natividad's complaint was that she had no privity with Bernas and that the latter should Nos. 794, 801, 840 and 848 of the Cadastral Survey of Panay, Capiz, with an area of 5,831
vacate the land because Benigno (from whom Bernas had received his right to possess) square meters, situated at Calitan, Panay, Capiz, with security of tenure as an Agricultural
had himself ceased to have any rights to the land. Faced with these allegations, the Leasehold Lessee thereof; and plaintiffs to pay the costs of the suit.
court a quo in its pre-trial order dated 9 September 1985 formulated the issues in this In the Court of Appeals, the litigated issue was
case, without objection from the parties, as follows: xxx xxx xxx
ISSUES The legal issue that presents itself is whether the agricultural leasehold established by
1. Is defendant an agricultural leasehold lessee of the parcels of land described in the Benigno Bito-on was binding upon the owner of the land, plaintiff Natividad Bito-on, who
Complaint? disclaims knowledge of any arrangement with defendant Bernas. The lower court held
2. Whether the parties are entitled to damages claims by them in their respective that the "dugo" arrangement was in the nature of usufruct, and that the act of the
pleadings. usufructuary as legal possessor was sufficient to establish tenancy relations.
In short, the parties went to trial on the merits on the basis of the foregoing issues. xxx xxx xxx 5
Private respondent did not object to the above issues as formulated; neither can it be
The long settled rule in this jurisdiction is that a party is not allowed to change his theory There was, as admitted by all, no privity or tie between Natividad and Bernas. Therefore,
of the case or his cause of action on appeal. 6 We have previously held that "courts of even if Bernas had improperly used the lots as ricelands, it was Benigno who could have
justice have no jurisdiction or power to decide question not in issue" 7 and that a objected thereto since it was his (the legal possessor's) landholding that was being
judgment going outside the issues and purporting to adjudicate something upon which "improperly" used. But he (Benigno) did not. It is not for Natividad (as landowner) to now
the parties were not heard is not merely irregular, but extrajudicial and invalid. 8 The rule complain that Bernas used the land "for a purpose other than what had been previously
is based on the fundamental tenets of fair play and, in the present case, the Court is agreed upon." Bernas had no agreement with her as to the purpose for which the land
properly compelled not to go beyond the issue litigated in the court a quo and in the was to be used. That they were converted into ricelands (also for agricultural production)
Court of Appeals of whether or not the petitioner, Graciano Bernas, is an agricultural can only mean that the same (conversion) was approved by Benigno (the undisputed
leasehold lessee by virtue of his installation as such by Benigno Bito-on, the legal possessor agricultural lessor-legal possessor). It is thus clear that sec. 36, par 3 of the Code cannot
of the landholding at the time Bernas was so installed and, consequently entitled to be used to eject Bernas.
security of tenure on the land. Should grounds for the dispossession of Bernas, as an The Court, must, in our view, keep in mind the policy of the State embodied in the
agricultural leasehold lessee, subsequently arise, then and only then can the private fundamental law and in several special statutes, of promoting economic and social
respondent (land owner) initiate a separate action to dispossess the lessee, and in that stability in the countryside by vesting the actual tillers and cultivators of the soil, with
separate action, she must allege and prove compliance with Sec. 36(1) of the Code which rights to the continued use and enjoyment of their landholdings until they are validly
consist of, among others, a one year advance notice to the agricultural leasehold lessee dispossessed in accordance with law. At this stage in the country's land reform program,
(the land involved being less than 5 hectares) and readiness to pay him the damages the agricultural lessee's right to security of tenure must be "firmed-up" and not negated
required also by the Code. by inferences from facts not clearly established in the record nor litigated in the courts
The issue of whether or not Bernas planted crops or used the land in a manner contrary to below. Hand in hand with diffusion of ownership over agricultural lands, it is sound public
what was agreed upon between Natividad and Benigno, and thereby constituting a policy to encourage and endorse a diffusion of agricultural land use in favor of the actual
ground for terminating the leasehold relationship under Sec. 36, par. 3 of Rep. Act No. tillers and cultivators of the soil. It is one effective way in the development of a strong and
3844 likewise cannot be passed upon by this Court since the issue was never raised before independent middle-class in society.
the courts below. Furthermore, there is no showing that Natividad and Benigno agreed In confirmation we believe of the foregoing views, Section 36 of Rep. Act No. 3844 (the
that only certain types of crops could be planted on the land. What is clear is, that the Code) was expressly amended by Section 7 of Rep. Act No. 6389 which replaced
"dugo" arrangement was made so that Benigno could use the produce of the land to paragraph 1, Section 36 of the Code providing for personal cultivation by the landowner
provide for the schooling of his children. The alleged conversion by Bernas of the land to as a ground for ejectment or dispossession of the agricultural leasehold lessee with the
riceland was made necessary for the land to produce more and thus meet the needs of following provision:
Benigno. It was consistent with the purpose of making the land more productive that Sec. 7. Section 36 (1) of the same Code is hereby amended to read as follows:
Benigno installed an agricultural lessee. It may be recalled that when Natividad called on (1) The landholding is declared by the department head upon recommendation of the
Benigno to testify as a witness, he stated that the produce of the land was given to him by National Planning Commission to be suited for residential, commercial, industrial or some
Bernas to defray the expenses of his children (p. 3, trial court decision). The inevitable other urban purposes: Provided, That the agricultural lessee shall be entitled to
conclusion is therefore not that there was use of the land different from the purpose for disturbance compensation equivalent to five times the average of the gross harvest of his
which it was allegedly intended by Natividad and Benigno but rather that the installation landholding during the last five preceding calendar years;
of the agricultural lessee was made necessary so that the land could produce more to While it is true that in the case of Ancheta vs. Court of Appeals, 200 SCRA 407, the Court,
better serve the needs of the beneficiary (Benigno). stated that:
Additionally, it can be stated that the agricultural leasehold relationship in this case was It is well settled that RA 6389, which removed personal cultivation as a ground for
created between Benigno as agricultural lessor-legal possessor, on the one hand, and ejectment of tenant/lessee, cannot be given retroactive effect in the absence of statutory
Bernas as agricultural leasehold lessee, on the other. The agricultural leasehold provision for retroactivity or a clear implication of the law to that effect.
relationship was not between Natividad and Bernas. As Sec. 6 of the Code states: however, Rep. Act No. 6389 was approved on 10 September 1971. 9 The complaint in this
Sec. 6. Parties to Agricultural Leasehold Relations. The agricultural leasehold relations case was filed on 21 June 1985 or long after the approval of Rep. Act No. 6389. By reason
shall be limited to the person who furnishes the landholding, either as owner, civil law of the provision therein eliminating personal cultivation by the landowner as a ground for
lessee, usufructuary, or legal possessor, and the person who personally cultivates the ejectment or dispossession of the agricultural leasehold lessee, any issue of whether or
same. (emphasis supplied) not the Court of Appeals decision should nonetheless be affirmed because the landowner
had shown her intention or decided to personally cultivate the land (assuming without It is true that the subleasing of said land to respondents herein (tenants) without the
admitting that the issue was properly raised before the trial court), had in fact become written consent of the petitioner (owner), constituted a violation of the original contract
moot and academic (even before it was hypothetically raised). The issued had been of lease. The breach of contract was committed, however, by Donato (the lessee), . . . .
resolved by legislation unmistakably against the landowner. Of course, in the same Ponce case, the Court observed that Ponce renewed his lease
It may of course he argued that "she (Natividad) did not authorize her brother (Benigno) contract for another year with Donato, knowing at the time of such renewal that the land
to install a tenant thereon." (TSN, 13 February 1986, p. 6). had been sub-leased to the tenants, thereby injecting the principle of estoppel
Even if there was a lack of authorization (from Natividad) for Benigno to install a tenant, it against Ponce vis-a-vis the tenants. But, as we view it, the ratio decidendi in the Court's
still follows, in our view, that Benigno as legal possessor of the landholding, could install decision is to the effect that the sub-lessees (tenants) were entitled to security of tenure
an agricultural lessee on the landholding. For, as defined in Section 166 (3) of the Code, an on the land they were cultivating, notwithstanding the undisputed fact that they became
agricultural lessor is a natural or juridical person who, either as owner, civil law lessee, sub-lessees (tenants) of the land as a result of a violation by the lessee (Donato) of an
usufructuary or legal possessor lets or grants to another the cultivation and use of his land express provision in the lease contract prohibiting him from sub-leasing the land.
for a price certain. Nothing in said section, it will be noted, requires that the civil law What more in the case of Bernas whose right to security of tenure as an agricultural
lessee, usufructuary or legal possessor should have the prior authorization of the leasehold lessee is conferred and protected categorically, positively and clearly by the
landowner in order to let or grant to another the cultivation or use of the landholding. provisions of the Code (Republic Act. 3844)?
Another question comes up; did Natividad expressly prohibit Benigno from installing a It is of course possible to construe Sec. 6 of the Code which provides:
tenant on the land? Nothing in the evidence shows that Benigno was expressly prohibited SEC 6. Parties to Agricultural Leasehold Relations. The agricultural leasehold relation
by Natividad from installing a tenant on the landholding. And even if there was an express shall be limited to the person who furnishes the landholding, either as owner, civil law
prohibition on the part of Natividad (landowner) for Benigno not to install an agricultural lessee, usufructuary, or legal possessor, and the person who personally cultivates the
leasehold lessee, it is to be noted that any such arrangement (prohibition) was solely same. (emphasis supplied).
between Natividad and Benigno. There is no evidence to show that Bernas was aware or in the following manner:
informed of any such arrangement between Natividad and Benigno. Neither was such . . . it assumes that there is already an existing agricultural leasehold relation, i.e. a tenant
arrangement (prohibition), if any, recorded in the registry of deeds to serve as notice to or agricultural lessee already works the land. As may be gleaned from the epigraph of Sec.
third persons (as Bernas) and to the whole world for that matter. Consequently, if there 6, it merely states who are "Parties to Agricultural Leasehold Relations," which means that
was indeed such a prohibition (which is not borne out by the records) imposed by there is already a leasehold tenant on the land. But this is precisely what We are still
Natividad on Benigno, a violation thereof may give rise to a cause of action for Natividad asked to determine in these proceedings. (dissenting opinion, p. 11.)
against Benigno but Bernas is no less an agricultural leasehold lessee, for the law (Section It would appear from the above interpretation of Sec. 6 of the Code that in the absence of
166 (2) of the Code) defines an agricultural lessee as a person who by himself and with a judicial determination or declaration of an agricultural leasehold relation, such relation
the help available from within his immediate farm household cultivates the land does not or cannot even exist. We view this posture as incorrect for an agricultural
belonging to or possessed by another (in this case Benigno) with the latter's consent for leasehold relationship exists by operation of law when there is a concurrence of an
purposes of production for a price certain in money or in produce or both. agricultural lessor and an agricultural lessee. As clearly stated in Section 5 of the code.
Ponce vs. Guevarra, L-19629 and L-19672-92, 31 March 1954 (10 SCRA 649) provides Sec. 5. Establishment of Agricultural Leasehold Relations. The agricultural leasehold
dramatic support to the security of tenure of Bernas in the case at bar. In the Ponce case, relation shall be established by operation of law in accordance with Section four of this
the owner (Ponce) had leased his agricultural land to Donato (the lessee) for a stipulated Code and, in other cases, either orally or in writing, expressly or impliedly.
period with a provision in the lease contract prohibiting Donato from sub-leasing the land In other words, in the case at bar, from the moment Benigno, as legal possessor (and,
without the written consent of the owner (Ponce). Notwithstanding these "express therefore, an agricultural lessor) granted this cultivation and use of the landholding to
prohibition", Donato sub-leased the land without the consent of Ponce (the owner). When Bernas in exchange or consideration for a sharing in the harvest, an agricultural leasehold
the lease contract expired, Donato returned the land to Ponce but the sub-lessees relationship emerged between them "by operation of law".
(tenants) refused to vacate, claiming security of' tenure under the tenancy laws then The fact that the transfer from Natividad to Benigno was gratuitous, we believe, is of no
enforced. One of the contentions of Ponce (the owner) in seeking to dispossess the sub- consequence as far as the nature and status of Benigno's possession of the landholding is
lessees (tenants) was that these tenants entered into possession of the land under a concerned. He became the legal possessor thereof from the viewpoint of the Code. And as
violation of the lease contract by Donato (the lessee). legal possessor, he had the right and authority, also under the Code, to install or institute
Over-ruling the above contention, this Court held:
an agricultural leasehold lessee on his landholding, which was exactly what he did, i.e. b. the findings in the report are not supported by law or jurisprudence but are merely the
install Bernas as an agricultural leasehold lessee. opinion and conclusions of the investigator whose knowledge of the Code and the case
The argument that Benigno's (and consequently, Bernas') possession was meant to last Law appears to be sadly inadequate.
for a limited period only, may appeal to logic, but it finds no support in the Code which c. whether or not an agricultural leasehold relation exists in any case is basically a
has its own underlying public policy to promote. For Section 7 of the Code provides: question of law and cannot be left to the determination or opinion of a MAR-investigator
Sec. 7. Tenure of Agricultural Leasehold Relation. The Agricultural Leasehold Relation on the basis of one-sided evidence.
once established shall confer upon the agricultural lessee the right to continue working on This Court has ruled in Qua v. Court of Appeals, 198 SCRA 236 that
the landholding until such leasehold relationship is extinguished. The agricultural lessee . . . as regards relations between litigants in land cases, the findings and conclusions of the
shall be entitled to security of tenure on his landholding and cannot be ejected therefrom Secretary of Agrarian Reform, being preliminary in nature, are not in any way binding on
unless authorized herein-provided. (emphasis supplied) the trial courts which must endeavor to arrive at their own independent conclusions.
while Section 10 of the Code provides: The ruling finds support in the case of Graza v. CA (163 SCRA 39) citing Section 12 of PD
Sec. 10. Agricultural Leasehold Relation Not Extinguished by Expiration of Period, etc. No. 946 expressly stating that "the preliminary determination of the relationship between
The agricultural leasehold relation under this Code shall not be extinguished by mere the contending parties by the Secretary of Agrarian Reform or his authorized
expiration of the term or period in a leasehold contract nor by the sale, alienation or representative, is not binding upon the court, judge or hearing officer to whom the case is
transfer of the legal possession of the landholding. In case the agricultural lessor. sells, certified as a proper case for trial. Said court, judge or hearing officer, after hearing, may
alienates or transfers the legal possession of the landholding, the purchaser or transferee confirm, reverse or modify said preliminary determination as the evidence and substantial
thereof shall be subrogated to the rights and substituted to the obligations of the merits of the case may warrant." The court a quo in the case at bar tried the case on the
agricultural lessor. (emphasis supplied). merits, receiving the evidence of both parties and arrived at a conclusion different from
and Section 36 of the Code provides: that of the MAR investigator. It is to be noted that even the Court of Appeals (which
Possession of Landholding; Exceptions. Notwithstanding any agreement as to the decided for Natividad) found no use for the MAR investigator's report and
period or future surrender of the land, an agricultural lessee shall continue in the recommendation, for obvious reasons. It is clear that the question of the existence of an
enjoyment and possession of his landholding agricultural leasehold relationship is a question of law which is properly within the
. . . . (emphasis supplied) province of the courts.
Clearly the return of legal possession from Benigno to Natividad cannot prejudice the The certification of the President of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Panay
rights of Bernas as an agricultural leasehold lessee. The grounds for ejectment of an chapter "issued upon the request of Mrs. Deita" (meaning Natividad) that Bernas is not in
agricultural leasehold lessee are provided for by law. The enumeration is exclusive and no the masterlist of tenants, should likewise be disregarded. Since when, it may be noted,
other grounds can justify termination of the lease. The policy and letter of the law are was the legal question of agricultural leasehold relationship made to depend on a
clear on this point. The relatively small area of the agricultural landholding involved (a certification of such an association's president?
little over half a hectare) would appear, in our view, to be of no consequence in this case. The argument, that Bernas is not a lawful tenant of Natividad based on the doctrine in the
Here, the issue is not how much area may be retained in ownership by the land case of Lastimoza v. Blanco (1 SCRA 231) is also not correct. The cited case does not
owner Natividad but the issue is whether Bernas is a duly constituted agricultural support the desired conclusion. In the Lastimoza case, a certain Nestor Panada had an
leasehold lessee of the agricultural landholding (regardless of its area) and entitled to oral contract of tenancy with a certain Gallego who was then in possession of the parcel
security of tenure therein. And, as abundantly shown, the Code is definitely and clearly on of land. The latter however was ejected after the Court of First Instance ruled in a land
his side of this issue. registration proceeding that it was Lastimoza who was the true owner of the land. The
It should be pointed out that the report and recommendation of the investigating officer Court in effect ruled that Gallego was an unlawful possessor and thus Panada cannot be a
of the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (MAR) finding that Bernas is not an agricultural lawful tenant. The factual background of the Lastimoza case and the present Bernas case
leasehold should deserve little consideration. It should be stressed, in this connection, are totally different; the first case cannot be applied to the second. When Bernas was
that said report and recommendation is congenitally defective because instituted by Benigno as an agricultural lessee, Benigno was a legal possessor of the
a. it was based solely on the evidence presented by Natividad, Bernas did not participate landholding in question. No one can dispute this.
in said investigation. The dissenting opinion states that ". . . it is not correct to say that every legal possessor,
be he a usufructuary, or a bailee, is authorized as a matter of right to employ a tenant. His
possession can be limited by agreement of the parties or by operation of law." (p. 13)
Even assuming arguendo that this is a correct legal statement, there is absolutely no cause. MAR certified that petitioner was not a tenant of private respondent, hence, the
showing that the possession of Benigno was limited by his agreement with Natividad (as case was proper for trial.
to prohibit him from instituting a tenant) or by operation of law; and because there is a The finding of MAR was confirmed by the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association
total failure to disprove and even dispute that Benigno was a legal possessor at the time (ARBA) when its President certified after an investigation that petitioner did not appear in
Bernas was installed by him as an agricultural lessee, then Bernas validly became an the Master List of tenant beneficiaries of the barangay. Even his older brother, the
agricultural leasehold lessee of the land and is protected by the law from ejectment barangay captain, after conducting his own investigation, refused to certify that petitioner
except for causes specified therein. was a tenant of the holdings of private respondent.
Finally, in relation to the dissenting opinion, it may be wise to repeat the statement of the Is private respondent indeed bereft of any remedy in law to recover possession of her
Court in Jose D. Lina, Jr. vs. Isidro Cario (G.R. No. 100127, 23 April 1993) thus landholdings she who did not employ petitioner nor authorize anyone to employ him
The Court believes that petitioner's argument cogent though it may be as a social and as tenant on her land; she who is not even paid any rent by petitioner for the use of her
economic comment is most appropriately addressed, not to a court which must take landholdings; she whose landholdings have been converted by petitioner from orchards
the law as it is actually written, but rather to the legislative authority which can, if it to ricelands and on which he constructed a house of strong materials, both without first
wishes, change the language and content of the law. (emphasis supplied) securing authority from her? Under the circumstances, we can only hope that posterity
In the case at bar, the language, policy and intent of the law are clear; this Court cannot will not condemn us for the fate of private respondent and the many others who may be
interpose its own views as to alter them. That would be judicial legislation. similarly situated.
WHEREFORE the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the respondent appellate court, is My conscience prompts me to dissent from the majority opinion and to vote for the
REVERSED and SET ASIDE and that of the Regional Trial Court. REINSTATED. Costs against affirmance of the decision of the Court of Appeals, not necessarily on the basis of its
the private respondent. rationale, but mainly because I do not subscribe to the view that a usufructuary or legal
SO ORDERED. possessor under Sec. 6, R.A. 3844, as amended, is automatically authorized to employ a
Cruz, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Romero, Nocon and Quiason, JJ., concur. tenant without the consent of the landowner. For, the right to hire a tenant is basically a
Puno and Vitug, JJ. took no part. personal right of a landowner, except as may be provided by law. But, certainly nowhere
in Sec. 6 of R.A. 3844 does it say that a legal possessor of a landholding is automatically
authorized to install a tenant thereon.
Natividad Bito-on Deita owns Lots 794, 801, 840 and 848 of the Cadastral Survey of Panay,
Separate Opinions Capiz. Lots 794 and 801, with areas of 943 square meters (Exh. "C") and 855 square
meters (Exh. "B"'), respectively, are coconut Lands; Lot 840, with an area of 1,000 square
BELLOSILLO, J., dissenting: meters (Exh. "D"), is planted to bananas, while Lot 848, with an area of 1,146 square
This may be a faint echo in the wilderness but it is the quaint voice of a woman yearning meters (Exh. "A"), is riceland. Lot 840 was the owner's homelot on which stood before the
for justice from this court of last resort. The majority opinion would leave her alone where family home. Although the trial court found that the total area of the four (4) lots, which
she is, to wallow in her own misery, and despite her long and winding travails all for are not contiguous, was 5,831 square meters, a closer examination of their tax
the love of a brother in need there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no relief declarations (Exhs. "A" to "D") reveals that their total productive area is only 3,844 square
in sight for her plight. Her only fault was to lend her four (4) small parcels of land to her meters, which can be smaller than a residential lot in a plush village in Metro Manila.
brother so that the latter could use the fruits thereof for the education of his children in After Natividad recovered these lots from a former tenant in April 1978, she entrusted
Manila. Now, she cannot get them back because her brother allowed his brother-in-law, them to her brother, Benigno Bito-on, so that the latter may be able to support the
who now claims security of tenure as tenant, to work the lands. education of his children in Manila. 2 She did not authorize her brother to install a tenant
Worse, the brother-in-law continues to cultivate the landholdings, even converting the thereon. 3 After successfully retrieving a landholding from a tenant at that time, no
orchards into ricelands as though they were his own and constructing a house of a strong landowner in his right mind would give his land in tenancy again to avoid the operation of
materials thereon, without paying any rent! P.D. 27, then at its peak and dreaded by landowners as an unjust deprivation of property
Before seeking judicial relief, private respondent went to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform rights.
(MAR) as required by law,1 and obtained a favorable finding that there was no tenancy Thereafter, without the knowledge, much less consent, of Natividad, Benigno entered
relationship between her and her brother's brother-in-law. But the courts below into some arrangement with his brother-in-law, Graciano Bernas, to work the lands. But
disregarded this important piece of evidence which speaks eloquently of the merit of her Natividad was unaware of this arrangement as she was staying in Manila where her
husband was then employed. It was not until the latter's retirement and the return of the the circumstance, the "DUGO" trustee for the benefit of his school children in Manila is
family to Panay, Capiz, that she learned that Graciano was already working the lands, Benigno Bito-on
converting Lots 794, 801 and 840 into ricelands, and constructing on Lot 840 a house of . . . . Petitioner feeling morally bound . . . made the institution of "DUGO" relationship
concrete hollow blocks. among them in order to contributes a solution thereof. But ultimately after the 2nd
It bears emphasizing that, the transfer of possession between Natividad and Benigno was cropping of 1985 and after the school children of Benigno Bito-on had graduated in
not coupled with any consideration; rather, it was pure magnanimity on the part of college, he returned the property to petitioner as evidenced by Exh. "E".
Natividad on account of her "dugo" or blood relation with Benigno, which Atty. Herminio Now comes to the surprise of petitioner, the respondent spring(s) out and assert(s) his
R. Pelobello, Trial Attorney II and MAR Investigating Officer, explains alleged right to tillage so as to prevent landowner to repossess the land subject of
A "DUGO" system is a personal grant of privilege and a privilege personally granted "DUGO" upon return which is co-terminous with the period thereof.
cannot be delegated or extended to someone else but (is) personal (in) nature. Once the On such core, no law or jurisprudence recognizes the right of respondent. Be that as it
"DUGO" grantee or trustee returns the subject matter of "DUGO", the relationship is may, as now happens, with Benigno Bito-on nor his wife Natividad (Monica) Bernas was
terminated . . . . In this instance, Exh. "E" is an expressive documentary evidence of return legally authorized to institute somebody to be tenant-tiller under the circumstance of
of "DUGO" property by constructive mode of returning of possession, use and enjoyment "DUGO" . . . so as to be entitled to invoke any right or privilege under our Agrarian Laws.
of property; same therefore deserves credence to the exclusion of any interested person xxx xxx xxx
in tillage therein. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, it is now the honest opinion of the
On 13 May 1985, his children having finished schooling in Manila, Benigno returned undersigned to recommend as it is hereby recommended that the petitioner, Natividad
possession of the property to Natividad, in faithful compliance with their agreement. Bito-on Deita, be entitled to the possession, use and enjoyment of the lots subject of
However, Graciano refused to vacate the premises claiming at first that he was installed 'DUGO' and further, that the respondent constructively and actually delivers to her the
thereon by Benigno, although after Benigno denied this allegation, petitioner changed his same lots indicated in this resolution, upon receipt of copy hereof.
theory by presenting Monica Bernales Bito-on, wife of Benigno, to testify that she was the The foregoing resolution of the MAR Investigating Officer may not be well crafted, but it is
civil law lessee who installed Graciano on the lands. This, despite the crux of the evidence expressive of his finding that Graciano Bernas was not a tenant-tiller and, consequently, it
spread on record that it was Benigno Bito-on who was given the physical possession of recommend that "the petitioner, Natividad Bito-on Deita, be entitled to the possession,
the lands by his sister Natividad, and not Monica who is only her sister-in-law. use and enjoyment of the lots subject of 'DUGO', and further, that the respondent
Incidentally, Monica is the sister of the wife of Graciano Bernas. (Graciano Bernas) constructively and actually delivers to her the same lots indicated in
On 17 May 1985, fazed by the refusal of Graciano to vacate, Natividad filed a letter- this resolution . . . ." concluding that "no law or jurisprudence recognizes the right of
petition 4 with the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (MAR) seeking clarification of the actual respondent."
status of Graciano vis-a-vis her landholdings. Accordingly, Graciano was summoned at While Natividad went through the normal legal procedure to obtain relief, Graciano
least three (3) times but the latter refused to attend the scheduled hearings. refused to attend the formal investigation and hearing conducted by the MAR, much less
Consequently, Atty. Herminio R. Pelobello, who was assigned to the case, conducted his heed its recommendation. If Graciano was a law-abiding citizen and believed that the law
investigation and thereafter issued a resolution 5sustaining the complaint of Natividad was on his side, he should have submitted to the fact-finding investigation by an
Bito-on Dieta and concluding, among others that administrative agency pursuant to law.
. . . out of petitioner's benevolence, generosity and pity of his elder brother's financial On 24 May 1985, a mediation conference between Natividad and Graciano was held at
hardship, she had the aforesaid lots entrusted to her brother in the nature of DUGO so the residence of Brgy. Captain Felipe Bernas, older brother of Graciano, but it also proved
that (the) latter then possessed the land and enjoy(ed) the . . . fruits thereon for the fruitless as Graciano continued to refuse to vacate subject landholdings. To top it all, Brgy.
above purpose beginning the year 1978 up to the 2nd crop of 1985; that upon the Captain Bernas sided with Graciano and refused to issue a certification as required under
surrender or giving back in her favor of the land subject of 'DUGO' there now appears the P.D. 1508. If Graciano was indeed a tenant of the landholdings, his older brother could
respondent claiming to be the tenant-tiller on the land who would not relinquish the land have easily issued the required certification.
in her favor alleging and contending to have been instituted by Monica Bernales who is Consequently, the certification had to be issued by Sulpicio Bering, ARBA President, Panay
her sister-in-law. Chapter, 6 dated 27 May 1985, at Barangay Calitan, Panay, Capiz, which confirmed the
xxx xxx xxx factual findings of the MAR Investigating Officer
It is observed in this letter-petition (that) Filipino family adhered solidarity, sympathy and This is to certify that undersigned in his capacity as President of Agrarian Reform
pity by extending financial help of (to) a close relative by consanguinity. Apparently under Beneficiaries Association (ARBA), Panay Chapter, had attended last May 24, 1985 the
mediation confrontation among Mrs. Natividad Bito-on-Dieta and Mr. Graciano Bernas Sec. 6 Parties to Agricultural Leasehold Relations. The agricultural leasehold relations
accompanied by his wife Adela Bernales that took place right at the residence of Brgy. shall be limited to the person who furnishes the landholding, either as owner, civil law
Captain Felipe Bernas. That the outcome of the conference was fruitless as the Barangay lessee, usufructuary, or legal possessor, and the person who personally cultivates the
Captain was siding with his younger brother Graciano Bernas, and he (Brgy. Captain) same.
vehemently refused to issue any certification as required under P.D. 1508. (emphasis ours).
Hence undersigned as President of ARBA Panay Chapter hereby manifest and certify that Those who hold that Graciano is a leasehold tenant anchor their proposition on the above
Graciano Bernas is not among those whose names are entered in our masterlist of tenants provision of Sec. 6 as they find Benigno a "legal possessor" of the lands and so could
so as to suffice as a bona fide member of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association in legally install a tenant thereon.
Panay, Capiz. It is further stated that Mr. Graciano Bernas is not a leasehold tenant of I strongly disagree. When Sec. 6 provides that the agricultural leasehold relations shall be
landowner Mrs. natividad Bito-on Dieta in Barangay Calitan, Panay, Capiz (emphasis limited to the person who furnishes the landholding, either as owner, civil law lessee,
supplied). usufructuary, or legal possessor, and the person who personally cultivates the same, it
This certification is being issued to Mrs. Dieta in lieu of the refusal on the part(s) of Brgy. assumes that there is an existing agricultural leasehold relation, i. e., a tenant or
Captain to issue such under the provision of P.D. 1508. agricultural lessee already works the land. As may be gleaned from the epigraph of
On 21 June 1985, after all her efforts to recover through administrative means failed, Section 6, it merely states who are "Parties to Agricultural Leasehold Relations," which
Natividad finally instituted an action in the Regional Trial Court of Capiz. But, in deciding means that there is already a leasehold tenant on the land. But this is precisely what we
the case, the trial court completely disregarded the result of the administrative are still asked to determine in these proceedings.
investigation conducted by Atty. Herminio R. Pelobello of the MAR (Exh. "6") and the To better understand Sec. 6, R.A. 3844, let us refer to its precursor, Sec. 8, R.A. 1199, as
Certification of the President of ARBA (Exh. "E") and ruled in favor of Graciano, holding amended, which provides:
that the transaction between Natividad and Benigno was in the nature of a usufruct so Sec. 8. Limitation of Relation. The relation of landholder and tenant shall be limited to
that the latter was legally capacitated to install Graciano as an agricultural lessee whose the person who furnishes land, either as owner, lessee, usufructuary, or legal possessor,
tenurial right could not be disturbed except for causes enumerated under Sec. 36 of R.A. and to the person who actually works the land himself with the aid of labor available from
3844, as amended, 7 and that Natividad failed to establish any of the causes for his within his immediate farm household.
termination. Again, Sec. 8 of R.A. 1199 assumes the existence of a tenancy relation. But, as its epigraph
Natividad elevated her cause to the Court of Appeals contending that the transaction states, it is a "Limitation of Relation," and the purpose is merely to limit the tenancy "to
between her and her brother Benigno was not in the nature of usufruct but rather one the person who furnishes land, either as owner, lessee, usufructuary, or legal possessor,
of commodatum. As such, Benigno, as bailee in commodatum, could neither lend nor and to the person who actually works the land himself with the aid of labor available from
lease the property loaned to him to a third person since the relationship between the within his immediate farm household." Otherwise stated, once the tenancy relation is
bailor and bailee is personal in character. She also established with her evidence that established, the parties to that relation are limited to the persons therein stated. But,
Graciano converted without her authority three (3) of her parcels of land, particularly obviously, inherent in their right to install a tenant is their authority to do so; otherwise,
those planted to coconut and banana, to ricelands, which is a ground to terminate a without such authority, they cannot install a tenant on the landholding. But, definitely,
tenant, assuming that Graciano was. neither Sec. 6 of R.A. 3844 nor Sec. 8 of R.A. 1199 automatically authorizes the persons
The contention of Natividad was sustained by the Court of Appeals, which ordered the named therein to employ a tenant on the landholding.
ejectment of Graciano. The Court of Appeals ruled that having merely derived his right According to Santos and Macalino, considered authorities on the land reform, the reasons
over the property from the bailee, Graciano could have no better right than bailee Sec. 6, R.A. 3844, and 8, R.A. 1199, in limiting the relationship to the lessee and the lessor
Benigno who possessed the landholdings only for a special purpose and for a limited is "to discourage absenteeism on the part of the lessor and the custom, of co-tenancy"
period of time. The spring cannot rise higher than its source under which "the tenant (lessee) employs another to do the farm work for him, although
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari filed by Graciano seeking reversal of the it is he with whom the landholder (lessor) deals directly. Thus, under this custom, the one
decision 8 of the Court of Appeals on the issue of whether he is an agricultural lessee of who actually works the land gets the short end of the bargain, for the nominal or
the landholdings entitled to security of tenure. 'capitalist' lessee hugs for himself a major portion of the harvest." 9 This custom has bred
The resolution of this issue hinges on the proper interpretation of Sec. 6 of R.A. 3844, as exploitation, discontent and confusion . . . . The 'kasugpong,' 'kasapi,' or 'katulong' also
amended, otherwise known as "The Agricultural Land Reform Code," which provides: works at the pleasure of the nominal tenant." 10 When the new law, therefore, limited
tenancy relation to the landholder and the person who actually works the land himself
with the aid of labor available from within his immediate farm household, it eliminated who is entitled to security of tenure. Incidentally, Benigno and Graciano being brothers-
the nominal tenant or middle man from the picture. 11 in-law, their wives being sisters, and living in a small barangay, Graciano cannot profess
Another noted authority on land reform, Dean Jeremias U. ignorance of the very nature of the possession of Benigno as well as the restrictions to his
Montemayor, 12 explains the reason for Sec. 8, R.A. 1199, the precursor of Sec. 6, R.A. possession.
3844: It may be relevant to consider, for a better appreciation of the facts, the actual condition
Since the law establishes a special relationship in tenancy with important consequences, it of the landholdings. As already adverted to, Lots 794 and 801 are coconut lands with an
properly pinpoints the persons to whom said relationship shall apply. The spirit of the law area of 943 square meters (Exh. "C") and 855 square meters (Exh. "B"), respectively, or a
is to prevent both landholder absenteeism and tenant absenteeism. Thus, it would seem total area of 1,798 square meters. With this meager area for the two (2) coconut lands,
that the discretionary powers and important duties of the landholder, like the choice of there is indeed no reason to have them tenanted. The coconut lands need not be
crop or seed, cannot be left to the will or capacity of an agent or overseer, just as the cultivated when the coconut trees are already fruit-bearing. Benigno only had to ensure
cultivation of the land cannot be entrusted by the tenant to some other people. Tenancy that the fruits thereof were not stolen.
relationship has been held to be of a personal character (see Secs. 37 and 44, R.A. 1199, as Lot 840 has an area of 1,000 square meters (Exh. "D") and is planted to bananas. Like the
amended; emphasis supplied). coconut lands, no tenant is needed to cultivate it and Benigno only has to keep watch
To argue that simply because Benigno is considered a usufructuary or legal possessor, or a over it against stray animals and protect his harvests. If we take away from this area of
bailee in commodatum for that matter, he is automatically authorized to employ a tenant 1,000 square meters the homelot reserved for the owner, the remaining portion for
on the landholding is to beg the question. For, it is not correct to say that every legal production cannot be more than 800 square meters. It can be less, depending on the size
possessor, be he a usufructuary or a bailee, is authorized as a matter of right to employ a of the homelot.
tenant. His possession can be limited by agreement of the parties or by operation of law. Before Graciano converted Lots 714, 801 and 840 into ricelands, the only riceland then
In the case before Us, it is obvious that the tenure of the legal possessor was understood was Lot 848, with an area of 1,146 square meters (Exh. "A"). This is too small for an
to be only during the limited period when the children of Benigno were still schooling in economic family-size farm to sustain Benigno and his family even if he works it himself.
Manila. Considering the size of the landholdings, which have a total productive area of only 3,844
As already stated, Sec. 6 simply enumerates who are the parties to an existing contract of square meters per their tax declarations, there may not be enough produce to pay for the
agricultural tenancy, which presupposes that a tenancy already exists. It does not state educational expenses of his children if Benigno to hire another person to cultivate the
that those who furnish the landholding, i.e., either as owner, civil law lessee, land and share the produce thereof. As a matter of fact, to minimize expenses, the
usufructuary, or legal possessor, are authomatically authorized to employ a tenant on the children of Benigno and Monica stayed with Natividad while schooling in Manila.
landholding. The reason is obvious. The legal possession, may be restrictive. Even the Since lots 714, 801 and 840 are planted to coconut and banana trees, they are classified
owner himself may not be free to install a tenant, as when his ownership or possession is as lands planted to permanent crops. Consequently, in order for a person to be
encumbered or is subject to a lien or condition that he should not employ a tenant considered a tenant of these lands, he must have planted the crops himself before they
thereon. This contemplates a situation where the property may be intended for some became fruit-bearing. But, in the case before us, the coconut and banana trees were
other specific purpose allowable by law, such as, its conversion into a subdivision. already fruit-bearing at the time Graciano commenced to work on the lands, hence, he
In the case at bar, the transfer of possession was purely gratuitous. It was not made for cannot be considered a tenant of these lands.
any consideration except for the "dugo" or blood relationship between Natividad and Consequently, the transfer of possession of the landholding from Natividad to Benigno
Benigno. Consequently, the generation of rights arising therefrom should be strictly should be strictly viewed as one for the cultivation alone of Benigno, himself a farm
construed in favor of Natividad. In fact, for lack of consideration, she may take back the worker, who was not authorized by Natividad to employ a tenant. Benigno's possession
land at any time unless she allows a reasonable time for Benigno to harvest the produce was limited only to the enjoyment of the fruits thereof, subject to the will of landowner
of what he may have planted thereon as a possessor in good faith. There is not even any Natividad. Benigno was not empowered to install a tenant. 14
valid obligation on her part to keep Benigno in possession, except as herein adverted to, Benigno therefore possessed the land as a mere possessor-cultivator. As such, he was
much less should she be deprived of such possession just because another person was required to personally till or cultivate the land and use the produce thereof to defray the
employed by her brother to work the land. cost of education of his children. Natividad, who entrusted her landholdings to Benigno,
Under the doctrine laid down in Lastimoza v. Blanco, 13 Graciano cannot be a lawful was still the agricultural owner-cultivator, who is "any person who, providing capital and
tenant of Natividad for the reason that Benigno, after failing to return the landholding to management, personally cultivates his own land with the aid of his immediate family and
Natividad, already became a deforciant, and a deforciant cannot install a lawful tenant household." 15 It must then be held that the cultivation of Benigno was also the cultivation
of Natividad. Indeed, the fact that the lands were free of tenants when Natividad In an attempt to bolster his theory that he was tenant of the landholding, Graciano
entrusted them to Benigno was indicative of her intention to maintain that condition of presented no less than the wife of Benigno, Monica Bernales-Bito-on, who testified that
the landholdings and have them tended personally by Benigno himself. she was the civil law lessee who installed Graciano as tenant. Interestingly, Monica is the
Accordingly, neither Benigno nor Graciano can be a lessee-tenant who enjoys security of sister of Adela Bernales, wife of Graciano. But why should Monica be the civil law lessee
tenure. Benigno could only be an encargado of his sister Natividad, merely enjoying the and not her husband Benigno who is the brother of landowner Natividad? It is highly
produce thereof for the intended beneficiaries, his children studying in Manila. improbable that instead of Natividad constituting her brother Benigno as the possessor of
Our attention may be invited to settled jurisprudence that the existence of an agricultural the lands, it was Monica who was entrusted with them. That is contrary to common
leasehold relationship is not terminated by changes of ownership in case of sale, or practice an experience. Even The trial court itself found the version of Graciano incredible
transfer of legal possession as in lease. 16 But, again, this assumes that a tenancy has when it held that Benigno was the legal possessor in the concept of usufructuary. Yet, it
already been established. In the instant case, no such relationship was ever created ignored this discrepancy which could have destroyed the credibility of Graciano
between Natividad and Graciano, the former having simply given her land to Benigno when in fact it could have totally negated or disregarded Graciano's assertion of tenancy
without any authority to install a tenant thereon, 17 and only for a limited duration as it derived from Monica as civil law lessee. The conclusion is not farfetched that Benigno and
was coterminous with the schooling of Benigno's children in Manila. Monica were just entrusted with the four (4) lots, three (3) of which were orchards until
In a number of cases, this Court has sustained the preservation of an agricultural their unauthorized conversion to ricelands by Graciano, so that the former could avail of
leasehold relationship between landholder and tenant despite the change of ownership the produce thereof for the purpose already stated.
or transfer of legal possession from one person to another. But in all these cases, the facts Moreover, the claim of Graciano that he was the duly appointed tenant is belied by a
legally justified the preservation of such relationship. For example, in Endaya v. Court of certification issued by the President of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association
Appeals, 18 Salen v. Dinglasan, 19 Catorce v. Court of Appeals, 20 and Co. v Court of (ARBA), Panay Chapter, stating that, as of 27 May 1985, Graciano Bernas was neither
Appeals, 21 the tenants were found to have been instituted by the previous landowners or enrolled in the Master List of tenant beneficiaries nor registered as a leasehold tenant of
owners in fee simple. Consequently, the change of ownership of the land did not Natividad in Barangay Calitan. 28 If he was truly a tenant, he should been vigilant enough
terminate the tenancy relationship already existing. In Novesteras v. Court of Appeals, 22 it to protect his rights and thus have his name registered. After all, at that time, his older
was the present landowner himself who instituted the agricultural leasehold relation. brother was the barangay captain of Calitan where the property is situated.
In Ponce v. Guevarra, 23 although the civil law lessee was barred from installing a tenant When Natividad invoked Sec. 2, P.D. 316, by referring her ejectment case to the Ministry
under the terms of the original contract of lease, the landowner nonetheless extended of Agrarian Reform for preliminary determination, MAR accordingly certified that it was
the lifetime of the lease. Finally, in Joya v. Pareja, 24 the lessor-landowner negotiated for proper for trial, an indication that there was no tenancy relationship between the parties.
the better terms with the tenant of the civil law lessee upon expiration of the lease. Such factual finding, unless found to be baseless, binds the court because the law gives
As may be gleaned from all these seven (7) cases, the landowner himself had a hand in exclusive authority to MAR to determine preliminary the issue of tenancy relationship
either installing the tenant, or confirming the tenancy relation by extending it, or between the contending parties before the court may assume jurisdiction over an
negotiating directly with the tenant for the better terms upon expiration of the civil lease. agrarian dispute or controversy. 29
For, indeed, the right to install a tenant is a personal right that belongs to the Indeed, the Investigating Officer of MAR correctly found that no tenancy relation existed
landowner, 25 except perhaps in civil lease when the lessee is authorized to sublease the between Natividad and Graciano. 30 Such factual finding by an administrative agency as
leased premises unless expressly prohibited by agreement of the parties. 26 the MAR is entitled to the greatest respect and is binding and conclusive upon this court,
Thus, the agricultural leasehold relations were preserved in these cases because the "legal except when it is patently arbitrary or capricious, or is not supported by substantial
possessors: therein were clearly clothed with legal authority or capacity to install tenants. evidence. 31 Regrettably, these vital informations established in the trial court were simply
But even assuming that they were not so authorized as in the Ponce case where the civil ignored, to the great prejudice of respondent Natividad who, under the majority opinion,
law lessee was expressly barred from installing a tenant under their contract of lease, the will find herself helplessly without a remedy and all because she upheld the true Filipino
subsequent actions of the landowners in extending the lifetime of the lease, or in tradition of family solidarity by providing succor to a blood brother who needed
negotiating for better terms with the tenants, placed the landowners in estoppel from assistance for the educational advancement of his children.
contesting the agricultural leasehold relations. Consequently, the tenants in those cases It may be worth to emphasize that neither the decision of the Court of Appeals nor the
may be categorized as tenants de jure enjoying tenurial security guaranteed by the discussions in this case mention the unauthorized conversion by Graciano of Lots 794, 801
Agricultural tenancy Law, 27 now by the Agricultural Land Reform Code, as amended. This and 840 into ricelands, thereby impairing the original nature and value of the lands. If for
is not the case before us. this reason alone, assuming that he was lawfully installed as tenant, Graciano's tenancy
should be terminated under Sec. 36, par. (3), for planting crops or using the landholdings Manila. Now, she cannot get them back because her brother allowed his brother-in-law,
for a purpose other than for which they were dedicated. who now claims security of tenure as tenant, to work the lands.
While this may not have been expressly raised as an issue, it is nevertheless related or Worse, the brother-in-law continues to cultivate the landholdings, even converting the
incidental to the issues presented by the parties for which evidence was adduced in the orchards into ricelands as though they were his own and constructing a house of a strong
trial court by private respondent without objection from petitioner. We should not materials thereon, without paying any rent!
disregard the evidence if only to arrive at a fair and just conclusion. Before seeking judicial relief, private respondent went to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform
Some may have apprehensions that should Sec. 6 of R.A. 3844 be construed as not to vest (MAR) as required by law,1 and obtained a favorable finding that there was no tenancy
the legal possessor with automatic authority to install tenants, it would in effect open the relationship between her and her brother's brother-in-law. But the courts below
floodgates to their ejectment on the mere pretext that the legal possessor was not so disregarded this important piece of evidence which speaks eloquently of the merit of her
authorized by the landowner. This is a more imagined than real. The landowner has the cause. MAR certified that petitioner was not a tenant of private respondent, hence, the
burden of proving that the legal possessor was not authorized to install tenants and, more case was proper for trial.
often than not, the legal possessor is so empowered. In civil law, lease, for the instance, The finding of MAR was confirmed by the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association
where there is consideration, the general rule is that the lessee can sublease the leased (ARBA) when its President certified after an investigation that petitioner did not appear in
holding unless there is an express prohibition against subletting in the contract the Master List of tenant beneficiaries of the barangay. Even his older brother, the
itself. 32 Thus, in order for the lessee to be barred from subletting, the contract of lease barangay captain, after conducting his own investigation, refused to certify that petitioner
must expressly stipulate to that effect." In this case, the transaction between brother and was a tenant of the holdings of private respondent.
sister was not for any material consideration nor was it intended to defeat any purpose of Is private respondent indeed bereft of any remedy in law to recover possession of her
law. There is not even any insinuation that Benigno was only being used by Natividad to landholdings she who did not employ petitioner nor authorize anyone to employ him
oust Graciano from the lands. as tenant on her land; she who is not even paid any rent by petitioner for the use of her
In any event, should the majority still hold that Sec. 6 of R.A. 3844 authorizes the persons landholdings; she whose landholdings have been converted by petitioner from orchards
therein enumerated to institute a tenant automatically, although I strongly disagree, it to ricelands and on which he constructed a house of strong materials, both without first
should at most be made to apply only to transfers of legal possession where there is securing authority from her? Under the circumstances, we can only hope that posterity
material consideration, and not where such transfers are absolutely gratuitous or purely will not condemn us for the fate of private respondent and the many others who may be
out of benevolence because of personal or blood relationship. Unfortunately for similarly situated.
Natividad, her benevolence does not seem to evoke reciprocal benevolence from this My conscience prompts me to dissent from the majority opinion and to vote for the
Court. affirmance of the decision of the Court of Appeals, not necessarily on the basis of its
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, I have to dissent from the majority opinion rationale, but mainly because I do not subscribe to the view that a usufructuary or legal
and reiterate my vote to AFFIRM the judgment under review. possessor under Sec. 6, R.A. 3844, as amended, is automatically authorized to employ a
Meanwhile, I can only hope that, in the end, the real meaning of justice in this case is tenant without the consent of the landowner. For, the right to hire a tenant is basically a
attained. personal right of a landowner, except as may be provided by law. But, certainly nowhere
Feliciano, Davide, Jr. and Melo, JJ., concur. in Sec. 6 of R.A. 3844 does it say that a legal possessor of a landholding is automatically
authorized to install a tenant thereon.
Natividad Bito-on Deita owns Lots 794, 801, 840 and 848 of the Cadastral Survey of Panay,
# Separate Opinions Capiz. Lots 794 and 801, with areas of 943 square meters (Exh. "C") and 855 square
BELLOSILLO, J., dissenting: meters (Exh. "B"'), respectively, are coconut Lands; Lot 840, with an area of 1,000 square
This may be a faint echo in the wilderness but it is the quaint voice of a woman yearning meters (Exh. "D"), is planted to bananas, while Lot 848, with an area of 1,146 square
for justice from this court of last resort. The majority opinion would leave her alone where meters (Exh. "A"), is riceland. Lot 840 was the owner's homelot on which stood before the
she is, to wallow in her own misery, and despite her long and winding travails all for family home. Although the trial court found that the total area of the four (4) lots, which
the love of a brother in need there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no relief are not contiguous, was 5,831 square meters, a closer examination of their tax
in sight for her plight. Her only fault was to lend her four (4) small parcels of land to her declarations (Exhs. "A" to "D") reveals that their total productive area is only 3,844 square
brother so that the latter could use the fruits thereof for the education of his children in meters, which can be smaller than a residential lot in a plush village in Metro Manila.
After Natividad recovered these lots from a former tenant in April 1978, she entrusted . . . out of petitioner's benevolence, generosity and pity of his elder brother's financial
them to her brother, Benigno Bito-on, so that the latter may be able to support the hardship, she had the aforesaid lots entrusted to her brother in the nature of DUGO so
education of his children in Manila. 2 She did not authorize her brother to install a tenant that (the) latter then possessed the land and enjoy(ed) the . . . fruits thereon for the
thereon. 3 After successfully retrieving a landholding from a tenant at that time, no above purpose beginning the year 1978 up to the 2nd crop of 1985; that upon the
landowner in his right mind would give his land in tenancy again to avoid the operation of surrender or giving back in her favor of the land subject of 'DUGO' there now appears the
P.D. 27, then at its peak and dreaded by landowners as an unjust deprivation of property respondent claiming to be the tenant-tiller on the land who would not relinquish the land
rights. in her favor alleging and contending to have been instituted by Monica Bernales who is
Thereafter, without the knowledge, much less consent, of Natividad, Benigno entered her sister-in-law.
into some arrangement with his brother-in-law, Graciano Bernas, to work the lands. But xxx xxx xxx
Natividad was unaware of this arrangement as she was staying in Manila where her It is observed in this letter-petition (that) Filipino family adhered solidarity, sympathy and
husband was then employed. It was not until the latter's retirement and the return of the pity by extending financial help of (to) a close relative by consanguinity. Apparently under
family to Panay, Capiz, that she learned that Graciano was already working the lands, the circumstance, the "DUGO" trustee for the benefit of his school children in Manila is
converting Lots 794, 801 and 840 into ricelands, and constructing on Lot 840 a house of Benigno Bito-on
concrete hollow blocks. . . . . Petitioner feeling morally bound . . . made the institution of "DUGO" relationship
It bears emphasizing that, the transfer of possession between Natividad and Benigno was among them in order to contributes a solution thereof. But ultimately after the 2nd
not coupled with any consideration; rather, it was pure magnanimity on the part of cropping of 1985 and after the school children of Benigno Bito-on had graduated in
Natividad on account of her "dugo" or blood relation with Benigno, which Atty. Herminio college, he returned the property to petitioner as evidenced by Exh. "E".
R. Pelobello, Trial Attorney II and MAR Investigating Officer, explains Now comes to the surprise of petitioner, the respondent spring(s) out and assert(s) his
A "DUGO" system is a personal grant of privilege and a privilege personally granted alleged right to tillage so as to prevent landowner to repossess the land subject of
cannot be delegated or extended to someone else but (is) personal (in) nature. Once the "DUGO" upon return which is co-terminous with the period thereof.
"DUGO" grantee or trustee returns the subject matter of "DUGO", the relationship is On such core, no law or jurisprudence recognizes the right of respondent. Be that as it
terminated . . . . In this instance, Exh. "E" is an expressive documentary evidence of return may, as now happens, with Benigno Bito-on nor his wife Natividad (Monica) Bernas was
of "DUGO" property by constructive mode of returning of possession, use and enjoyment legally authorized to institute somebody to be tenant-tiller under the circumstance of
of property; same therefore deserves credence to the exclusion of any interested person "DUGO" . . . so as to be entitled to invoke any right or privilege under our Agrarian Laws.
in tillage therein. xxx xxx xxx
On 13 May 1985, his children having finished schooling in Manila, Benigno returned IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, it is now the honest opinion of the
possession of the property to Natividad, in faithful compliance with their agreement. undersigned to recommend as it is hereby recommended that the petitioner, Natividad
However, Graciano refused to vacate the premises claiming at first that he was installed Bito-on Deita, be entitled to the possession, use and enjoyment of the lots subject of
thereon by Benigno, although after Benigno denied this allegation, petitioner changed his 'DUGO' and further, that the respondent constructively and actually delivers to her the
theory by presenting Monica Bernales Bito-on, wife of Benigno, to testify that she was the same lots indicated in this resolution, upon receipt of copy hereof.
civil law lessee who installed Graciano on the lands. This, despite the crux of the evidence The foregoing resolution of the MAR Investigating Officer may not be well crafted, but it is
spread on record that it was Benigno Bito-on who was given the physical possession of expressive of his finding that Graciano Bernas was not a tenant-tiller and, consequently, it
the lands by his sister Natividad, and not Monica who is only her sister-in-law. recommend that "the petitioner, Natividad Bito-on Deita, be entitled to the possession,
Incidentally, Monica is the sister of the wife of Graciano Bernas. use and enjoyment of the lots subject of 'DUGO', and further, that the respondent
On 17 May 1985, fazed by the refusal of Graciano to vacate, Natividad filed a letter- (Graciano Bernas) constructively and actually delivers to her the same lots indicated in
petition 4 with the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (MAR) seeking clarification of the actual this resolution . . . ." concluding that "no law or jurisprudence recognizes the right of
status of Graciano vis-a-vis her landholdings. Accordingly, Graciano was summoned at respondent."
least three (3) times but the latter refused to attend the scheduled hearings. While Natividad went through the normal legal procedure to obtain relief, Graciano
Consequently, Atty. Herminio R. Pelobello, who was assigned to the case, conducted his refused to attend the formal investigation and hearing conducted by the MAR, much less
investigation and thereafter issued a resolution 5sustaining the complaint of Natividad heed its recommendation. If Graciano was a law-abiding citizen and believed that the law
Bito-on Dieta and concluding, among others that was on his side, he should have submitted to the fact-finding investigation by an
administrative agency pursuant to law.
On 24 May 1985, a mediation conference between Natividad and Graciano was held at The contention of Natividad was sustained by the Court of Appeals, which ordered the
the residence of Brgy. Captain Felipe Bernas, older brother of Graciano, but it also proved ejectment of Graciano. The Court of Appeals ruled that having merely derived his right
fruitless as Graciano continued to refuse to vacate subject landholdings. To top it all, Brgy. over the property from the bailee, Graciano could have no better right than bailee
Captain Bernas sided with Graciano and refused to issue a certification as required under Benigno who possessed the landholdings only for a special purpose and for a limited
P.D. 1508. If Graciano was indeed a tenant of the landholdings, his older brother could period of time. The spring cannot rise higher than its source
have easily issued the required certification. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari filed by Graciano seeking reversal of the
Consequently, the certification had to be issued by Sulpicio Bering, ARBA President, Panay decision 8 of the Court of Appeals on the issue of whether he is an agricultural lessee of
Chapter, 6 dated 27 May 1985, at Barangay Calitan, Panay, Capiz, which confirmed the the landholdings entitled to security of tenure.
factual findings of the MAR Investigating Officer The resolution of this issue hinges on the proper interpretation of Sec. 6 of R.A. 3844, as
This is to certify that undersigned in his capacity as President of Agrarian Reform amended, otherwise known as "The Agricultural Land Reform Code," which provides:
Beneficiaries Association (ARBA), Panay Chapter, had attended last May 24, 1985 the Sec. 6 Parties to Agricultural Leasehold Relations. The agricultural leasehold relations
mediation confrontation among Mrs. Natividad Bito-on-Dieta and Mr. Graciano Bernas shall be limited to the person who furnishes the landholding, either as owner, civil law
accompanied by his wife Adela Bernales that took place right at the residence of Brgy. lessee, usufructuary, or legal possessor, and the person who personally cultivates the
Captain Felipe Bernas. That the outcome of the conference was fruitless as the Barangay same.
Captain was siding with his younger brother Graciano Bernas, and he (Brgy. Captain) (emphasis ours).
vehemently refused to issue any certification as required under P.D. 1508. Those who hold that Graciano is a leasehold tenant anchor their proposition on the above
Hence undersigned as President of ARBA Panay Chapter hereby manifest and certify that provision of Sec. 6 as they find Benigno a "legal possessor" of the lands and so could
Graciano Bernas is not among those whose names are entered in our masterlist of tenants legally install a tenant thereon.
so as to suffice as a bona fide member of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association in I strongly disagree. When Sec. 6 provides that the agricultural leasehold relations shall be
Panay, Capiz. It is further stated that Mr. Graciano Bernas is not a leasehold tenant of limited to the person who furnishes the landholding, either as owner, civil law lessee,
landowner Mrs. natividad Bito-on Dieta in Barangay Calitan, Panay, Capiz (emphasis usufructuary, or legal possessor, and the person who personally cultivates the same, it
supplied). assumes that there is an existing agricultural leasehold relation, i. e., a tenant or
This certification is being issued to Mrs. Dieta in lieu of the refusal on the part(s) of Brgy. agricultural lessee already works the land. As may be gleaned from the epigraph of
Captain to issue such under the provision of P.D. 1508. Section 6, it merely states who are "Parties to Agricultural Leasehold Relations," which
On 21 June 1985, after all her efforts to recover through administrative means failed, means that there is already a leasehold tenant on the land. But this is precisely what we
Natividad finally instituted an action in the Regional Trial Court of Capiz. But, in deciding are still asked to determine in these proceedings.
the case, the trial court completely disregarded the result of the administrative To better understand Sec. 6, R.A. 3844, let us refer to its precursor, Sec. 8, R.A. 1199, as
investigation conducted by Atty. Herminio R. Pelobello of the MAR (Exh. "6") and the amended, which provides:
Certification of the President of ARBA (Exh. "E") and ruled in favor of Graciano, holding Sec. 8. Limitation of Relation. The relation of landholder and tenant shall be limited to
that the transaction between Natividad and Benigno was in the nature of a usufruct so the person who furnishes land, either as owner, lessee, usufructuary, or legal possessor,
that the latter was legally capacitated to install Graciano as an agricultural lessee whose and to the person who actually works the land himself with the aid of labor available from
tenurial right could not be disturbed except for causes enumerated under Sec. 36 of R.A. within his immediate farm household.
3844, as amended, 7 and that Natividad failed to establish any of the causes for his Again, Sec. 8 of R.A. 1199 assumes the existence of a tenancy relation. But, as its epigraph
termination. states, it is a "Limitation of Relation," and the purpose is merely to limit the tenancy "to
Natividad elevated her cause to the Court of Appeals contending that the transaction the person who furnishes land, either as owner, lessee, usufructuary, or legal possessor,
between her and her brother Benigno was not in the nature of usufruct but rather one and to the person who actually works the land himself with the aid of labor available from
of commodatum. As such, Benigno, as bailee in commodatum, could neither lend nor within his immediate farm household." Otherwise stated, once the tenancy relation is
lease the property loaned to him to a third person since the relationship between the established, the parties to that relation are limited to the persons therein stated. But,
bailor and bailee is personal in character. She also established with her evidence that obviously, inherent in their right to install a tenant is their authority to do so; otherwise,
Graciano converted without her authority three (3) of her parcels of land, particularly without such authority, they cannot install a tenant on the landholding. But, definitely,
those planted to coconut and banana, to ricelands, which is a ground to terminate a neither Sec. 6 of R.A. 3844 nor Sec. 8 of R.A. 1199 automatically authorizes the persons
tenant, assuming that Graciano was. named therein to employ a tenant on the landholding.
According to Santos and Macalino, considered authorities on the land reform, the reasons Benigno. Consequently, the generation of rights arising therefrom should be strictly
Sec. 6, R.A. 3844, and 8, R.A. 1199, in limiting the relationship to the lessee and the lessor construed in favor of Natividad. In fact, for lack of consideration, she may take back the
is "to discourage absenteeism on the part of the lessor and the custom, of co-tenancy" land at any time unless she allows a reasonable time for Benigno to harvest the produce
under which "the tenant (lessee) employs another to do the farm work for him, although of what he may have planted thereon as a possessor in good faith. There is not even any
it is he with whom the landholder (lessor) deals directly. Thus, under this custom, the one valid obligation on her part to keep Benigno in possession, except as herein adverted to,
who actually works the land gets the short end of the bargain, for the nominal or much less should she be deprived of such possession just because another person was
'capitalist' lessee hugs for himself a major portion of the harvest." 9 This custom has bred employed by her brother to work the land.
exploitation, discontent and confusion . . . . The 'kasugpong,' 'kasapi,' or 'katulong' also Under the doctrine laid down in Lastimoza v. Blanco, 13 Graciano cannot be a lawful
works at the pleasure of the nominal tenant." 10 When the new law, therefore, limited tenant of Natividad for the reason that Benigno, after failing to return the landholding to
tenancy relation to the landholder and the person who actually works the land himself Natividad, already became a deforciant, and a deforciant cannot install a lawful tenant
with the aid of labor available from within his immediate farm household, it eliminated who is entitled to security of tenure. Incidentally, Benigno and Graciano being brothers-
the nominal tenant or middle man from the picture. 11 in-law, their wives being sisters, and living in a small barangay, Graciano cannot profess
Another noted authority on land reform, Dean Jeremias U. ignorance of the very nature of the possession of Benigno as well as the restrictions to his
Montemayor, 12 explains the reason for Sec. 8, R.A. 1199, the precursor of Sec. 6, R.A. possession.
3844: It may be relevant to consider, for a better appreciation of the facts, the actual condition
Since the law establishes a special relationship in tenancy with important consequences, it of the landholdings. As already adverted to, Lots 794 and 801 are coconut lands with an
properly pinpoints the persons to whom said relationship shall apply. The spirit of the law area of 943 square meters (Exh. "C") and 855 square meters (Exh. "B"), respectively, or a
is to prevent both landholder absenteeism and tenant absenteeism. Thus, it would seem total area of 1,798 square meters. With this meager area for the two (2) coconut lands,
that the discretionary powers and important duties of the landholder, like the choice of there is indeed no reason to have them tenanted. The coconut lands need not be
crop or seed, cannot be left to the will or capacity of an agent or overseer, just as the cultivated when the coconut trees are already fruit-bearing. Benigno only had to ensure
cultivation of the land cannot be entrusted by the tenant to some other people. Tenancy that the fruits thereof were not stolen.
relationship has been held to be of a personal character (see Secs. 37 and 44, R.A. 1199, as Lot 840 has an area of 1,000 square meters (Exh. "D") and is planted to bananas. Like the
amended; emphasis supplied). coconut lands, no tenant is needed to cultivate it and Benigno only has to keep watch
To argue that simply because Benigno is considered a usufructuary or legal possessor, or a over it against stray animals and protect his harvests. If we take away from this area of
bailee in commodatum for that matter, he is automatically authorized to employ a tenant 1,000 square meters the homelot reserved for the owner, the remaining portion for
on the landholding is to beg the question. For, it is not correct to say that every legal production cannot be more than 800 square meters. It can be less, depending on the size
possessor, be he a usufructuary or a bailee, is authorized as a matter of right to employ a of the homelot.
tenant. His possession can be limited by agreement of the parties or by operation of law. Before Graciano converted Lots 714, 801 and 840 into ricelands, the only riceland then
In the case before Us, it is obvious that the tenure of the legal possessor was understood was Lot 848, with an area of 1,146 square meters (Exh. "A"). This is too small for an
to be only during the limited period when the children of Benigno were still schooling in economic family-size farm to sustain Benigno and his family even if he works it himself.
Manila. Considering the size of the landholdings, which have a total productive area of only 3,844
As already stated, Sec. 6 simply enumerates who are the parties to an existing contract of square meters per their tax declarations, there may not be enough produce to pay for the
agricultural tenancy, which presupposes that a tenancy already exists. It does not state educational expenses of his children if Benigno to hire another person to cultivate the
that those who furnish the landholding, i.e., either as owner, civil law lessee, land and share the produce thereof. As a matter of fact, to minimize expenses, the
usufructuary, or legal possessor, are authomatically authorized to employ a tenant on the children of Benigno and Monica stayed with Natividad while schooling in Manila.
landholding. The reason is obvious. The legal possession, may be restrictive. Even the Since lots 714, 801 and 840 are planted to coconut and banana trees, they are classified
owner himself may not be free to install a tenant, as when his ownership or possession is as lands planted to permanent crops. Consequently, in order for a person to be
encumbered or is subject to a lien or condition that he should not employ a tenant considered a tenant of these lands, he must have planted the crops himself before they
thereon. This contemplates a situation where the property may be intended for some became fruit-bearing. But, in the case before us, the coconut and banana trees were
other specific purpose allowable by law, such as, its conversion into a subdivision. already fruit-bearing at the time Graciano commenced to work on the lands, hence, he
In the case at bar, the transfer of possession was purely gratuitous. It was not made for cannot be considered a tenant of these lands.
any consideration except for the "dugo" or blood relationship between Natividad and
Consequently, the transfer of possession of the landholding from Natividad to Benigno landowner, 25 except perhaps in civil lease when the lessee is authorized to sublease the
should be strictly viewed as one for the cultivation alone of Benigno, himself a farm leased premises unless expressly prohibited by agreement of the parties. 26
worker, who was not authorized by Natividad to employ a tenant. Benigno's possession Thus, the agricultural leasehold relations were preserved in these cases because the "legal
was limited only to the enjoyment of the fruits thereof, subject to the will of landowner possessors: therein were clearly clothed with legal authority or capacity to install tenants.
Natividad. Benigno was not empowered to install a tenant. 14 But even assuming that they were not so authorized as in the Ponce case where the civil
Benigno therefore possessed the land as a mere possessor-cultivator. As such, he was law lessee was expressly barred from installing a tenant under their contract of lease, the
required to personally till or cultivate the land and use the produce thereof to defray the subsequent actions of the landowners in extending the lifetime of the lease, or in
cost of education of his children. Natividad, who entrusted her landholdings to Benigno, negotiating for better terms with the tenants, placed the landowners in estoppel from
was still the agricultural owner-cultivator, who is "any person who, providing capital and contesting the agricultural leasehold relations. Consequently, the tenants in those cases
management, personally cultivates his own land with the aid of his immediate family and may be categorized as tenants de jure enjoying tenurial security guaranteed by the
household." 15 It must then be held that the cultivation of Benigno was also the cultivation Agricultural tenancy Law, 27 now by the Agricultural Land Reform Code, as amended. This
of Natividad. Indeed, the fact that the lands were free of tenants when Natividad is not the case before us.
entrusted them to Benigno was indicative of her intention to maintain that condition of In an attempt to bolster his theory that he was tenant of the landholding, Graciano
the landholdings and have them tended personally by Benigno himself. presented no less than the wife of Benigno, Monica Bernales-Bito-on, who testified that
Accordingly, neither Benigno nor Graciano can be a lessee-tenant who enjoys security of she was the civil law lessee who installed Graciano as tenant. Interestingly, Monica is the
tenure. Benigno could only be an encargado of his sister Natividad, merely enjoying the sister of Adela Bernales, wife of Graciano. But why should Monica be the civil law lessee
produce thereof for the intended beneficiaries, his children studying in Manila. and not her husband Benigno who is the brother of landowner Natividad? It is highly
Our attention may be invited to settled jurisprudence that the existence of an agricultural improbable that instead of Natividad constituting her brother Benigno as the possessor of
leasehold relationship is not terminated by changes of ownership in case of sale, or the lands, it was Monica who was entrusted with them. That is contrary to common
transfer of legal possession as in lease. 16 But, again, this assumes that a tenancy has practice an experience. Even The trial court itself found the version of Graciano incredible
already been established. In the instant case, no such relationship was ever created when it held that Benigno was the legal possessor in the concept of usufructuary. Yet, it
between Natividad and Graciano, the former having simply given her land to Benigno ignored this discrepancy which could have destroyed the credibility of Graciano
without any authority to install a tenant thereon, 17 and only for a limited duration as it when in fact it could have totally negated or disregarded Graciano's assertion of tenancy
was coterminous with the schooling of Benigno's children in Manila. derived from Monica as civil law lessee. The conclusion is not farfetched that Benigno and
In a number of cases, this Court has sustained the preservation of an agricultural Monica were just entrusted with the four (4) lots, three (3) of which were orchards until
leasehold relationship between landholder and tenant despite the change of ownership their unauthorized conversion to ricelands by Graciano, so that the former could avail of
or transfer of legal possession from one person to another. But in all these cases, the facts the produce thereof for the purpose already stated.
legally justified the preservation of such relationship. For example, in Endaya v. Court of Moreover, the claim of Graciano that he was the duly appointed tenant is belied by a
Appeals, 18 Salen v. Dinglasan, 19 Catorce v. Court of Appeals, 20 and Co. v Court of certification issued by the President of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association
Appeals, 21 the tenants were found to have been instituted by the previous landowners or (ARBA), Panay Chapter, stating that, as of 27 May 1985, Graciano Bernas was neither
owners in fee simple. Consequently, the change of ownership of the land did not enrolled in the Master List of tenant beneficiaries nor registered as a leasehold tenant of
terminate the tenancy relationship already existing. In Novesteras v. Court of Appeals, 22 it Natividad in Barangay Calitan. 28 If he was truly a tenant, he should been vigilant enough
was the present landowner himself who instituted the agricultural leasehold relation. to protect his rights and thus have his name registered. After all, at that time, his older
In Ponce v. Guevarra, 23 although the civil law lessee was barred from installing a tenant brother was the barangay captain of Calitan where the property is situated.
under the terms of the original contract of lease, the landowner nonetheless extended When Natividad invoked Sec. 2, P.D. 316, by referring her ejectment case to the Ministry
the lifetime of the lease. Finally, in Joya v. Pareja, 24 the lessor-landowner negotiated for of Agrarian Reform for preliminary determination, MAR accordingly certified that it was
the better terms with the tenant of the civil law lessee upon expiration of the lease. proper for trial, an indication that there was no tenancy relationship between the parties.
As may be gleaned from all these seven (7) cases, the landowner himself had a hand in Such factual finding, unless found to be baseless, binds the court because the law gives
either installing the tenant, or confirming the tenancy relation by extending it, or exclusive authority to MAR to determine preliminary the issue of tenancy relationship
negotiating directly with the tenant for the better terms upon expiration of the civil lease. between the contending parties before the court may assume jurisdiction over an
For, indeed, the right to install a tenant is a personal right that belongs to the agrarian dispute or controversy. 29
Indeed, the Investigating Officer of MAR correctly found that no tenancy relation existed Meanwhile, I can only hope that, in the end, the real meaning of justice in this case is
between Natividad and Graciano. 30 Such factual finding by an administrative agency as attained.
the MAR is entitled to the greatest respect and is binding and conclusive upon this court, Feliciano, Davide, Jr. and Melo, JJ., concur.
except when it is patently arbitrary or capricious, or is not supported by substantial
evidence. 31 Regrettably, these vital informations established in the trial court were simply
ignored, to the great prejudice of respondent Natividad who, under the majority opinion,
will find herself helplessly without a remedy and all because she upheld the true Filipino
tradition of family solidarity by providing succor to a blood brother who needed
assistance for the educational advancement of his children.
It may be worth to emphasize that neither the decision of the Court of Appeals nor the
discussions in this case mention the unauthorized conversion by Graciano of Lots 794, 801
and 840 into ricelands, thereby impairing the original nature and value of the lands. If for
this reason alone, assuming that he was lawfully installed as tenant, Graciano's tenancy
should be terminated under Sec. 36, par. (3), for planting crops or using the landholdings
for a purpose other than for which they were dedicated.
While this may not have been expressly raised as an issue, it is nevertheless related or
incidental to the issues presented by the parties for which evidence was adduced in the
trial court by private respondent without objection from petitioner. We should not
disregard the evidence if only to arrive at a fair and just conclusion.
Some may have apprehensions that should Sec. 6 of R.A. 3844 be construed as not to vest
the legal possessor with automatic authority to install tenants, it would in effect open the
floodgates to their ejectment on the mere pretext that the legal possessor was not so
authorized by the landowner. This is a more imagined than real. The landowner has the
burden of proving that the legal possessor was not authorized to install tenants and, more
often than not, the legal possessor is so empowered. In civil law, lease, for the instance,
where there is consideration, the general rule is that the lessee can sublease the leased
holding unless there is an express prohibition against subletting in the contract
itself. 32 Thus, in order for the lessee to be barred from subletting, the contract of lease
must expressly stipulate to that effect." In this case, the transaction between brother and
sister was not for any material consideration nor was it intended to defeat any purpose of
law. There is not even any insinuation that Benigno was only being used by Natividad to
oust Graciano from the lands.
In any event, should the majority still hold that Sec. 6 of R.A. 3844 authorizes the persons
therein enumerated to institute a tenant automatically, although I strongly disagree, it
should at most be made to apply only to transfers of legal possession where there is
material consideration, and not where such transfers are absolutely gratuitous or purely
out of benevolence because of personal or blood relationship. Unfortunately for
Natividad, her benevolence does not seem to evoke reciprocal benevolence from this
Court.
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, I have to dissent from the majority opinion
and reiterate my vote to AFFIRM the judgment under review.
Republic of the Philippines the property for classification purposes as "bakuran" located in the Poblacion and had no
SUPREME COURT knowledge that there were other things planted in it except bananas and pomelos.
Manila On November 27, 1981, the Court of Agrarian Relations (CAR) in determining whether or
SECOND DIVISION not respondent Baltazar is the tenant of the petitioners ruled that the land in question is
G.R. No. 70736 March 16, 1987 not an agricultural landholding but plain "bakuran," hence, Baltazar is not a tenant on the
BONIFACIO L. HILARIO and EDUARDA M. BUENCAMINO HILARIO, petitioners, land.
vs. On January 30, 1982, the Court of Appeals, however, remanded the case to the lower
HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT AND SALVADOR court for further proceedings on the ground that the findings of the Court of Agrarian
BALTAZAR, respondents. Relations (CAR) were not supported by substantial evidence.
Bonifacio L. Hilario for petitioners. In compliance with the order of the Court of Appeals, the CAR admitted additional
Alberto Mala, Jr. for private respondent. evidence.
On December 19, 1983, the CAR admitted the petitioners' third party complaint filed with
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: leave against the Philippine National Bank (PNB) which states that in the event that
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Court of Appeals' decision declaring judgment would be rendered against them under the original complaint, the PNB must
Salvador Baltazar a leasehold tenant entitled to security of tenure on a parcel of land contribute, indemnify, and reimburse the spouses the full amount of the judgment.
consisting of 1,740 square meters. On the basis of the parties' and their witnesses' affidavits containing detailed narrations
On January 13, 1981, Salvador Baltazar filed a verified complaint with the Court of of facts and documentary exhibits which served as their direct testimonies pursuant to PD
Agrarian Relations, Branch VI at Baliuag, Bulacan alleging that since January, 1955 he had 946, the CAR found that there was no tenancy relationship existing between Baltazar and
been in continuous possession as a share tenant of a parcel of land with an area of about the former owner, Corazon Pengzon. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
2 hectares situated in San Miguel, Bulacan, which was previously owned by one Socorro WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring plaintiff not to be a tenant on the
Vda. de Balagtas; that on or about December 27, 1980, and thereafter, the spouses Hilario landholding described in the complaint and ordering his ejectment therefrom.
began to threaten him to desist from entering and cultivating a portion of the aforesaid The third-party complaint is hereby dismissed for lack of merit. (pp. 25- 26, Rollo)
land with an area of 4,000 square meters and otherwise committed acts in violation of his Again, respondent Salvador Baltazar appealed to the then Intermediate Appellate Court
security of tenure; that the Hilarios were contemplating the putting up of a fence around (IAC).
the said portion of 4,000 square meters and that unless restrained by the court, they The IAC, however, reversed the decision of the CAR and held that:
would continue to do so to his great irreparable injury. ... [T]he decision appealed from is hereby SET ASIDE, and another one entered declaring
Baltazar claims that he became a tenant of Socorro P. Vda. de Balagtas on the latter's plaintiff-appellant ii leasehold tenant entitled to security of tenure on the land in question
two-hectare landholding located at San Juan, San Miguel, Bulacan by virtue of a consisting of 1,740 square meters. Costs against defendants-appellees. (p. 31, Rollo)
"Kasunduan" executed between them on January 8, 1979, He states that he erected his Consequently, the spouses Hilarios filed this petition for review making the following
house and planted "halaman," the produce of which was divided at 70-30 and 50-50 (sic) assignments of errors:
in his favor. After the death of Socorro P. Vda. de Balagtas, he allegedly gave the share I. THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN DISTURBING THE FINDINGS OF FACTS
pertaining to the landowner to her daughter Corazon Pengzon. It was only in December, AND DECISION OF THE COURT OF AGRARIAN RELATIONS (CAR) WHICH IS SUPPORTED BY
1980 that he came to know that a portion of the 2 hectares or 4,000 square meters is SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE.
already owned by the Hilarios. II. THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN SUBSTITUTION (SIC) THE FINDINGS OF
On the other hand, the petitioners aver that they acquired the landholding of 4,000 FACTS OF CAR, OF ITS OWN FINDINGS.
square meters from the Philippine National Bank (PNB) after it had been foreclosed by III. THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN NOT AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF
virtue of a deed of sale executed between Bonifacio Hilario and the PNB. The former CAR, FINDING THE LOTS IN QUESTION WITH AN AREA OF 1,740 SQUARE METERS AS
owner Corazon Pengzon testified that she owned only two lots-Lot 427-B with an area of RESIDENTIAL LOT AND PRIVATE RESPONDENT NOT TO BE A TENANT.
841 square meters and Lot 427-C with an area of 899 square meters with a total area of We agree with the respondent court when it stated that it can affirm on appeal the
1,740 square meters. The other 2 lots were owned by Ruben Ocampo and Juan Mendoza. findings of the CAR only if there is substantial evidence to support them. However, after a
She further testified that in 1964 at the time of the partition of the property, she declared careful consideration of the records of the case, we find no valid reason to deviate from
the findings of the CAR. The evidence presented by the petitioners is more than sufficient
to justify the conclusion that private respondent Salvador Baltazar is not a tenant of the (continuing)
landholding in question. . . .told him to continue?
Salvador Baltazar claims: that he is working on the land in question pursuant to a A What I mean to say is that he can stay there although I don't understand the contract
"kasunduan" executed between him and Socorro Balagtas. The contract covers a two- with my mother, Your Honor.
hectare parcel of land. The disputed landholding is only 4,000 square meters more or less, Q Was he paying rentals for his stay in that lot?
although Baltazar claims that this area is a portion of the two hectares in the contract. He A No, Your Honor (T.S.N., pp. 15-19, hearing of August 5, 1981).
testified that sometime in 1965, he relinquished 1.5 hectares of the two hectares subject Corazon Pengson further explained that she did not receive any share from the produce
of the "kasunduan" to Nemesio Ocampo, Juan Mendoza, Miguel Ocampo and Miguel of the land from 1964 up to the filing of the case and she would not have accepted any
Viola and what remained under his cultivation was 1/2 hectare owned by Corazon share from the produce of the land because she knew pretty well that she was no longer
Pengson. He stated that when Socorro Balagtas died, no new contract was executed. the owner of the lot since 1974 when it was foreclosed by the bank and later on
However, he insists that the old contract was continued between Corazon Pengson and purchased by the spouses Hilarios.
himself. (Rollo, p. 23). We note the CAR's finding:
This claim is controverted by the testimony of Corazon Pengson herself which we quote as Tenancy relationship is indivisible. The two-hectare land subject of plaintiff's alleged
follows: contract with Socorro Balagtas having been parcelled into seven (7) and possession
Q After the death of your mother in 1965, what step, if any, have you taken, regarding thereof relinquished/surrendered in 1965 results in the termination of plaintiff's tenancy
this subject landholding or after the death of your mother how did you relationship with the previous owner/landholder. Such being the case, he cannot now
Q ... administer this landholding in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, etc? claim that the landholding in question consisting of 4,000 square meters, more or less, is
A What I did is to fix the title of ownership, sir. being cultivated by him under the old contract. The owner thereof Corazon Pengson has
COURT: no tenancy relationship with him (plaintiff). (p. 25, Rollo)
Q What else? From the foregoing, it is clear that Corazn Pengson did not give her consent to Baltazar
A None other, Your Honor. to work on her land consisting of only 1,740 square meters. We agree with the CAR when
Q After the death of your mother in 1962, have you seen Mr. Salvador Baltazar in this it said:
landholding in question? The law accords the landholder the right to initially choose his tenant to work on his land.
A Yes, Your Honor. For this reason, tenancy relationship can only be created with the consent of the true and
Q What was he doing? lawful landholder through lawful means and not by imposition or usurpation. So the mere
WITNESS: cultivation of the land by usurper cannot confer upon him any legal right to work the land
A We are neighbors, Your Honor, sometimes he visits and goes to our place and we used as tenant and enjoy the protection of security of tenure of the law (Spouses Tiongson v.
to meet there, Your Honor. Court of Appeals, 130 SCRA 482) (Ibid)
Q What was the purpose of his visit and your meeting in this landholding? And in the case of Tuazon v. Court of Appeals (118 SCRA 484), this Court had the occasion
A Sometimes when he visits our place he tens us that there are some bananas to be to explain:
harvested and sometimes there are other fruits, your Honor. xxx xxx xxx
Q You mean to say he stays in this subject landholding consisting of 7,000 square meters? ... Tenancy is not a purely factual relationship dependent on what the alleged tenant does
A After the survey it turned out- upon the land. It is also a legal relationship. The intent of the parties, the understanding
A . . . that he is occupying another lot which I learned that property does not belong to us, when the farmer is installed, and, as in this case, their written agreements, provided these
Your Honor. are complied with and are not contrary to law, are even more important."
Q what was your arrangement regarding his stay in that landholding which you don't The respondent court ruled that the fact that the land in question is located in the
own? poblacion does not necessarily make it residential.
A He said that he had a contract with my late mother which I don't know; in order not to The conclusion is purely speculative and conjectural, We note that the evidence
cause any trouble because I will be bothered in my business, I told him to continue, Your presented by the petitioners sufficiently establishes that the land in question is residential
Honor. and not agricultural.
Q What do you mean when you-
COURT:
As we stated in Tiongson v. Court of Appeals (supra) "the key factor in ascertaining WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the respondent Court of Appeals is
whether or not there is a landowner-tenant relationship in this case is the nature of the hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the decision of the Court of Agrarian Relations is
disputed property." AFFIRMED.
The records show that the disputed property, only 1,740 square meters in area, is actually SO ORDERED.
located in the poblacion of San Miguel, Bulacan not far from the municipal building and
the church. It is divided into two lots-Lot 427-B with an area of 841 square meters and Lot
427-C with an area of 899 square meters. Two other lots which the respondent claims to
cultivate as "tenant" were originally owned by Ruben Ocampo and Juan Mendoza, not
Corazon Pengson, through whom the respondent traces his alleged tenancy rights.
Respondent Baltazar is a full-time government employee working in the Bureau of Plant
Industry.
The disputed lots were acquired at a foreclosure sale from the Philippine National Bank.
They were purchased as residential lots and the deed of sale describes them as
"residential." The inspection and appraisal report of the PNB classified the land as
residential. The declaration of real property on the basis of which taxes are paid and
approved by the Acting Provincial Assessor of Bulacan classifies the land as residential.
The tax declarations show that the 841 square meter lot is assessed for tax purposes at
P25,236.00 while the 899 square meter lot is assessed at P26,920.00. The owner states
that the land has only bananas and pomelos on it. But even if the claim of the private
respondent that some corn was planted on the lots is true, this does not convert
residential land into agricultural land.
The presumption assumed by the appellate court, that a parcel of land which is located in
a poblacion is not necessary devoted to residential purposes, is wrong. It should be the
other way around. A lot inside the poblacion should be presumed residential or
commercial or non-agricultural unless there is clearly preponderant evidence to show that
it is agricultural.
The respondent court also failed to note that the alleged tenant pays no rental or share to
the landowners. Baltazar made a vague allegation that he shared 70-30 and 50-50 of the
produce in his favor. The former owner flatly denied that she ever received anything from
him,
The requirements set by law for the existence of a tenancy relationship, to wit: (1) The
parties are the landholder and tenant; (2) The subject is agricultural land; (3) The purpose
is agricultural production; and (4) There is consideration; have not been met by the
private respondent.
We held in Tiongson v. Court of Appeals, cited above that:
All these requisites are necessary in order to create tenancy relationship between the
parties and the absence of one or more requisites do not make the alleged tenant a de
facto tenant as contra-distinguished from a de jure tenant. This is so because unless a
person has established his status as a dejure 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 ... (emphasis supplied).
Republic of the Philippines Due to petitioners persistent demand for private respondent to vacate the land, private
SUPREME COURT respondent filed in April 1985 a complaint 10 with the Regional Trial Court of Tanauan,
Manila Batangas praying that he be declared the agricultural tenant of petitioners.
THIRD DIVISION After trial, the trial court decided in favor of petitioners by holding that private
respondent is not an agricultural lessee of the land now owned by petitioners. The
G.R. No. 88113 October 23, 1992 dispositive portion of the RTC decision reads:
SPOUSES TITUS L. ENDAYA and GLENDA TRINIDAD; SPOUSES RICO L. ENDAYA and WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered dismissing plaintiff's complaint to be declared
NANETTE AQUINO; and SPOUSES JOSEPHINE L. ENDAYA and LEANDRO a tenant of the landholding consisting of 20,200 square meters, located at San Pioquinto,
BANTUG, petitioners, Malvar, Batangas, and owned by the defendants; ordering Pedro Fideli to vacate the
vs. landholding deliver possession thereof to the defendants; and ordering the amount of
COURT OF APPEALS and PEDRO FIDELI, respondents. P8,000.00 deposited under Account No. 2940029826 Civil Case No. T-430 to be withdrawn
and delivered to the defendants, No. pronouncement as to costs.
ROMERO, J.: On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the RTC decision and declared private
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari is the decision of the Court of Appeals in respondent to be the agricultural lessee of the subject landholding. Hence, this petition
CA-.G.R. No. 15724 dated April 26, 1989 1 reversing the judgment of the Regional Trial wherein private respondent's status as an agricultural lessee and his security of tenure as
Court of Tanauan, Batangas (Branch 6) in Civil Case No. T-4302 and holding that private such are being disputed by petitioners.
respondent is an agricultural lessee in the land of petitioner whose security of tenure Petitioners impugn the Court of Appeals' declaration that private respondent is an
must be respected by the latter. agricultural lessee of the subject landholding contending that when the original
The antecedent facts are as follows: landowners, the Spouses San Diego, entered into a lease contract with Regino Cassanova,
The Spouses Natividad Trinidad and Cesar San Diego owned a piece of agricultural land the agricultural leasehold relationship between the Spouses San Diego and private
consisting of 20,200 square meters situated at San Pioquinto, Malvar, Batangas, devoted respondent, the existence of which petitioners do not dispute, was thereby terminated.
to rice and corn. As far back as 1934, private respondent Fideli has been cultivating this Petitioners argue that a landowner cannot have a civil law lease contract with one person
land as a tenant of the Spouses respondent Fideli has been cultivating this land as a and at the same time have an agricultural leasehold agreement with another over the
tenant of the Spouses San Diego under a fifty-fifty (50-50) sharing agreement. This fact, same land. It is further argued that because private respondent consented to the lease
petitioners do not dispute. contract between the Spouses San Diego and Cassanova, signing as he did the lease
On May 2, 1974, a lease contract was executed between the Spouses San Diego and one agreement and the renewal contract as witness thereof, private respondent has waived
Regino Cassanova for a period of four years from May 1974 up to May 1978. 3 The lease his rights as an agricultural lessee.
contract obliged Cassanova to pay P400.00 per hectare per annum and gave him the These contentions are without merit.
authority to oversee the planting of crops on the land. 4 Private respondent signed this R.A. No. 3844 (1963), as amended By R.A. No. 6839 (1971), which is the relevant law
lease contract as one of two witnesses. 5 governing the events at hand, abolished share tenancy throughout the Philippines from
The lease contract was subsequently renewed to last until May 1980 but the rental was 1971 and established the agricultural leasehold system by operation of law. 11 Section 7 of
raised to P600.00. Again, private respondent signed the contract as witness. 6 the said law gave agricultural lessees security of tenure by providing the following: "The
During the entire duration of the lease contract between the Spouses San Diego and agricultural leasehold relation once established shall confer upon the agricultural lessee
Cassanova, private respondent continuously cultivated the land, sharing equally with the right to continue working on the landholding until such leasehold relation is
Cassanova the net produce of the harvests. extinguished. The agricultural lessee shall be entitled to security of tenure on his
On January 6, 1980, the Spouses San Diego sold the land to petitioners for the sum of landholding and cannot be ejected therefrom unless authorized by the Court for causes
P26,000.00. The sale was registered with the Register of Deeds of Batangas and a Transfer herein provided." 12The fact that the landowner entered into a civil lease contract over
Certificate of Title was duly issued on January 7, 1981. 7 Private respondent continued to the subject landholding and gave the lessee the authority to oversee the farming of the
farm the land although petitioners claim that private respondent was told immediately land, as was done in this case, is not among the causes provided by law for the
after the sale to vacate the land. 8 In any case, it is undisputed that private respondent extinguishment of the agricultural leasehold relation. 13 On the contrary, Section 10 of the
deposited with the Luzon Development Bank an amount of about P8,000.00 as partial law provides:
payment of the landowner's share in the harvest for the years 1980 until 1985. 9
Sec. 10. Agricultural Leasehold Relation Not Extinguished by Expiration of Period, etc. Again, in Coconut Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc. (COCOMA) v. Court of
The agricultural leasehold relation under this code shall not be extinguished by mere Appeals, 18 it was held that the agricultural leasehold is preserved, notwithstanding the
expiration of the term or period in a leasehold contract nor by the sale, alienation or transfer of the legal possession of the subject landholding, with the transferee, COCOMA
transfer of the legal possession of the landholding. In case the agricultural lessor sells, in that case, being accountable to the agricultural lessees for their rights. The Court,
alienates or transfers the legal possession of the landholding, the purchaser or transferee through Justice Padilla, summarized the rule as follows:
thereof shall be subrogated to the rights and substituted to the obligations of the There is also no question that, in this case, there was a transfer of the legal possession of
agricultural lessor. the land from one landholder to another (Fule to petitioner COCOMA). In connection
Hence, transactions involving the agricultural land over which an agricultural leasehold therewith, Republic Act 3844, Sec. 10 states:
subsists resulting in change of ownership, e.g., sale, or transfer of legal possession, such Sec. 10. Agricultural Leasehold Relation Not Extinguished by Expiration of Period, etc.
as lease, will not terminate the right of the agricultural lessee who is given protection by The agricultural leasehold relation under this Code shall not be extinguished by mere
the law by making such rights enforceable against the transferee or the landowner's expiration of the term or period in a leasehold contract nor by the sale, alienation or
successor in interest. 14 transfer of the legal possession of the landholding. In case the agricultural lessor sells,
Illustrative of the legal principles outlined above is Catorce v. Court of Appeals 15 where alienates or transfers the legal possession of the landholding, purchaser or transferee
the person holding a mortgage over the farm land subject of an agricultural leasehold thereof shall be subrogated to the rights and substituted to the obligations of the
took possession thereof pursuant to the mortgage and ousted the agricultural lessee. agricultural lessor.
Upon complaint for reinstatement filed by the agricultural lessee, the then Court of Further, in several cases, this Court sustained the preservation of the landholder-tenant
Agrarian Relations ordered the mortgagee to deliver possession over the land to the relationship, in cases of transfer of legal possession:
agricultural lessee but his decision was reversed by the Court of Appeals. In reversing the . . . in case of transfer or in case of lease, as in the instant case, the tenancy relationship
Court of Appeals' judgment and reinstating the Agrarian Court's decision, the Court, between the landowner and his tenant should be preserved in order to insure the well-
through Justice Melencio-Herrera, noted, among other considerations, that "tenants are being of the tenant or protect him from being unjustly dispossessed by the transferee or
guaranteed security of tenure, meaning, the continued enjoyment and possession of their purchaser of the land; in other words, the purpose of the law in question is to maintain
landholding except when their dispossession had been authorized by virtue of a final and the tenants in the peaceful possession and cultivation of the land or afford them
executory judgment, which is not so in the case at bar." 16 Implicit in the decision is the protection against unjustified dismissal from their holdings. (Primero v. CAR, 101 Phil.
recognition that the transfer of possession to the mortgage did not terminate the 675);
agricultural leasehold nor prejudice the security of tenure of the agricultural lessee. It is our considered judgment, since the return by the lessee of the leased property to the
Closer, to although not identical with the factual setting of the case at bar is Novesteras lessor upon the expiration of the contract involves also a transfer of legal possession, and
v. Court of Appeals. 17Petitioner in said case was a share tenant of the respondent over taking into account the manifest intent of the lawmaking body in amending the law, i.e.,
two parcels of land. Respondent entered into a contract of civil lease with Rosenda to provide the tenant with security of tenure in all cases of transfer of legal possession,
Porculas for a term of three years. Porculas did not farm the land himself but left it to that the instant case falls within and is governed by the provisions of Section 9 of Republic
petitioner to till the land. After the expiration of the lease between respondent and Act 1199, as amended by Republic Act 2263. (Joya v. Pareja, 106 Phil, 645).
Porculas, petitioner entered into an agreement denominated as a contract of civil lease . . . that the tenant may proceed against the transferee of the land to enforce obligation
with respondent. On expiration of this lease contract, respondent denied petitioner incurred by the former landholder such obligation . . . falls upon the assignee or
possession over the land. Resolving the rights and obligations of the parties, the Court, transferee of the land pursuant to Sec. 9 abovementioned. Since respondent are in turn
through Justice Paras, held that the petitioner therein became an agricultural tenant of free to proceed against the former landholder for reimbursement, it is not iniquitous to
respondent by virtue of R.A. No. 3844 (1963), as amended by R.A. No 6839 (1971). The hold them responsible to the tenant for said obligations. Moreover, it is the purpose of
lease contract between the respondent and Porculas did not terminate the agricultural Republic Act 1199, particularly Sec. 9 thereof, to insure that the right of the tenant to
leasehold relationship between petitioner and respondent. If at all, the said lease receive his lawful share of the produce to receive this lawful share of the produce of the
agreement, coupled by the fact that Porculas allowed petitioner to continue cultivating in land is unhampered by the transfer of said land from one landholder to another.
his capacity as tenant of the subject landholding, served to strengthen petitioner's (Almarinez v. Potenciano, 120 Phil.
security of tenure as an agricultural tenant of the farmland in question. Accordingly, the 1154.). 19
subsequent contract between petitioner and respondent denominated as a contract of In the instant case, private respondent has been cultivating the subject farm landholding
civil lease was held by the Court to be in fact an agricultural leasehold agreement. with a fifty-fifty (50-50) sharing arrangement with the Spouses San Diego, petitioners'
predecessors-in-interest. The passage of R.A. 6839 in 1971, amending R.A. 3844 (1963), private respondent is the agricultural lessee over the land owned by petitioners. As such,
secured to private respondent all the rights pertaining to an agricultural lessee. The private respondent's security of tenure must be respected by petitioners.
execution of a lease agreement between the Spouses San Diego and Regino Cassanova in The Court, however, notes from the records of the case that private respondent has
1974 did not terminate private respondent's status as an agricultural lessee. The fact that unilaterally decided to pay only 25% of the net harvests to petitioners. 24 Since the
private respondent knew of, and consented to, the said lease contract by signing as agreement of private respondent with the Spouses San Diego, the original owners, was
witness to the agreement may not be construed as a waiver of his rights as an agricultural for a fifty-fifty (50-50) sharing of the net produce of the land, the same sharing agreement
lessee. On the contrary, it was his right to know about the lease contract since, as a result should be maintained between petitioners and private respondents, without prejudice to
of the agreement, he had to deal with a new person instead of with the owners directly as a renegotiation of the terms of the leasehold agreement.
he used to. No provision may be found in the lease contract and the renewal contract WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is DISMISSED and the decision of the
even intimating that private respondent has waived his rights as an agricultural lessee. Court of Appeals AFFIRMED. Private respondent is hereby ordered to pay the back rentals
Militating against petitioners' theory that the agricultural leasehold was terminated or from 1980 until 1992 plus interest at the legal rate. An accounting of the production of
waived upon the execution of the lease agreement between the San Diegos and the subject landholding is to be made by private respondent to the Regional Trial Court of
Cassanova is the fact the latter desisted from personally cultivating the land but left it to Tanauan, Batangas which shall determine the amount due to petitioners based on the
private respondent to undertake the farming, the produce of the land being shared rate ordered above.
between Cassanova and private respondent, while the former paid P400.00 and later SO ORDERED.
P600.00 per hectare per annum to the San Diegos, as agreed upon in the lease contract.
Petitioners, however, insist that private respondent can no longer be considered the
agricultural lessee of their farm land because after they purchased the land from the
Spouses San Diego in 1980, private respondent did not secure their permission to
cultivate the land as agricultural lessee.
It is true that the Court has ruled that agricultural tenancy is not created where the
consent the true and lawful owners is absent. 20 But this doctrine contemplates a
situation where an untenanted farm land is cultivated without the landowner's
knowledge or against her will or although permission to work on the farm was given,
there was no intention to constitute the worker as the agricultural lessee of the farm
land. 21 The rule finds no application in the case at bar where the petitioners are
successors-in-interest to a tenanted land over which an agricultural leasehold has long
been established. The consent given by the original owners to constitute private
respondent as the agricultural lessee of the subject landholding binds private respondents
whom as successors-in-interest of the Spouses San Diego, step into the latter's shows,
acquiring not only their rights but also their obligations. 22
Contradicting their position that no agricultural leasehold exists over the land they
acquired from the Spouses San Diego, petitioners also pray for the termination of the
tenancy of private respondent allegedly due to: (a) non-payment of the agricultural lease
rental; and (b) animosity between the landowners and the agricultural lessee. The Court,
however, observes that nowhere in the petitioners' Answer to private respondent's
Complaint or in the other pleadings filed before the trial court did petitioners allege
grounds for the termination of the agricultural leasehold. Well-settled is the rule that
issues not raised in the trial court cannot be raised for the first time on appeal. 23
In fine, the Court, after a painstaking examination of the entire records of the case and
taking into account the applicable law, as well as the relevant jurisprudence, rules that
Republic of the Philippines failed to reach an agreement. All the efforts exerted by the landowners to oust Abajon
SUPREME COURT from the landholding were in vain as the latter simply refused to budge.
Manila On April 1, 1982, the landowner, Yolanda Caballes, executed an Affidavit stating that
SECOND DIVISION immediately after she reprimanded Abajon for harvesting bananas and jackfruit from the
G.R. No. 78214 December 5, 1988 property without her knowledge, the latter, with malicious and ill intent, cut down the
YOLANDA CABALLES, petitioner, banana plants on the property worth about P50.00. A criminal case for malicious mischief
vs. was filed against Abajon and which was docketed as Criminal Case No. 4003. Obviously, all
DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM, HON. HEHERSON T. ALVAREZ and BIENVENIDO the planting on the property, including that of the banana plants, had been done by
ABAJON, respondents. 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
SARMIENTO, J.: the then MAR for a preliminary determination of the relationship between the parties. As
Before us is a petition for certiorari seeking the annulment of an Order issued by the a result, the Regional Director of MAR Regional VII, issued a certification 1 dated January
public respondent Ministry of Agrarian Reform , now the Department of Agrarian Reform 24, 1 983, stating that said Criminal Case No. 4003 was not proper for hearing on the
(DAR), through its then Minister, the Hon. Heherson Alvarez, finding the existence of a bases of the following findings:
tenancy relationship between the herein petitioner and the private respondent and That herein accused is a bona-fide tenant of the land owned by the complaining witness,
certifying the criminal case for malicious mischief filed by the petitioner against the which is devoted to bananas;
private respondent as not proper for trial. That thin case is filed patently to harass and/or eject the tenant from his farmholding,
The facts as gathered by the MAR are as follows: which act is prohibited by law; and
The landholding subject of the controversy, which consists of only sixty (60) square That this arose out of or is connected with agrarian relations.
meters (20 meters x 3 meters) was acquired by the spouses Arturo and Yolanda Caballes, From the said certification, the petitioner appealed to the then MAR, now the respondent
the latter being the petitioner herein, by virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale dated July 24, DAR. Acting on said appeal, the respondent DAR, through its then Minister Conrado
1978 executed by Andrea Alicaba Millenes This landholding is part of Lot No. 3109-C, Estrella, reversed the previous certification in its Order 2 of February 3, 1986, declaring
which has a total area of about 500 square meters, situated at Lawaan Talisay, Cebu. The Criminal Case No. 4003 as proper for trial as "the land involved is a residential lot
remainder of Lot No. 3109-C was subseconsequently sold to the said spouses by Macario consisting of only 60 square meters whereon the house of the accused is constructed and
Alicaba and the other members of the Millenes family, thus consolidating ownership over within the industrial zone of the town as evinced from the Certification issued by the
the entire (500-square meter) property in favor of the petitioner. Zoning Administrator of Talisay, Cebu."
In 1975, before the sale in favor of the Caballes spouses, private respondent Bienvenido Upon motion for reconsideration filed by Abajon, the respondent DAR, through its new
Abajon constructed his house on a portion of the said landholding, paying a monthly Minister, herein respondent Heherson Alvarez, issued an Orders dated November 15,
rental of P2.00 to the owner, Andrea Millenes. The landowner likewise allowed Abajon to 1986, setting aside the previous Order 3 dated February 3, 1986, and certifying said
plant on a portion of the land, agreeing that the produce thereof would be shared by both criminal case as not proper for trial, finding the existence of a tenancy relationship
on a fitfy-fifty basis. From 1975-1977, Abajon planted corn and bananas on the between the parties, and that the case was designed to harass the accused into vacating
landholding. In 1978, he stopped planting corn but continued to plant bananas and his tillage.
camote. During those four years, he paid the P2.00 rental for the lot occupied by his In the summary investigation conducted by the DAR, the former landowner, Andrea
house, and delivered 50% of the produce to Andrea Millenes. Millenes, testified that Bienvenido Abajon dutifully gave her 50% share of the produce of
Sometime in March 1979, after the property was sold, the new owners, Arturo and the land under his cultivation. The grandson of Andrea Millenes, Roger Millenes,
Yolanda Caballes, told Abajon that the poultry they intended to build would be close to corroborated the testimony of the former, stating that he received said share from
his house and pursuaded him to transfer his dwelling to the opposite or southern portion Abajon. Roger Millenes further testified that the present owners received in his presence
of the landholding. Abajon offered to pay the new owners rental on the land occupied by a bunch of bananas from the accused representing or 50% of the two bunches of
his house, but his offer was not accepted. Later, the new owners asked Abajon to vacate bananas gathered after Caballes had acquired the property. 4
the premises, saying that they needed the property. But Abajon refused to leave. The From these factual findings, the DAR concluded that Abajon was a tenant of Andrea
parties had a confrontation before the Barangay Captain of Lawaan in Talisay, Cebu but Millenes, the former owner, who had testified that she shared the produce of the land
with Abajon as truer 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 that a tenancy relationship existed between the petitioner and the private respondent
extinguished by mere expiration of the term or period in a leasehold contract nor by the because, the public respondents continue, by operation of Sec. 10 of R.A. 3844, as
sale, alienation or transfer of the legal possession of the landholding"; and that "(I)n case amended, the petitioner new owner is subrogated to the rights and substituted to the
the agricultural lessor sells, alienates or transfers the legal possession of the landholding, obligations of the supposed agricultural lessor (the former owner).
the purchaser or transferee thereof shall be subrogated to the rights and substituted to We disagree.
the obligations of the agricultural lessor," the MAR ruled that 'the new owners are legally The essential requisites of a tenancy relationship are:
bound to respect the tenancy, notwithstanding their claim that the portion tilled by 1. The parties are the landowner and the tenant;
Abajon was small, consisting merely of three (3) meters wide and twenty (20) meters 2. The subject is agricultural land;
long, or a total of sixty (60) square meters." 6 3. There is consent;
Hence, this petition for certiorari alleging that: 4. The purpose is agricultural production;
I. Respondents DAR and Hon. Heherson T. Alvarez committed "grave abuse of power and 5. There is personal cultivation; and
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction" in holding that private respondent Abajon is 6. There is sharing of harvests.
an agricultural tenant even if he is cultivating only a 60-square meter (3 x 20 meters) All these requisites must concur in order to create a tenancy relationship between the
portion of a commercial lot of the petitioner. parties. The absence of one does not make an occupant of a parcel of land, or a cultivator
II. Public respondents gravely erred in holding that Criminal Case No. 4003 is not proper thereof, or a planter thereon, a de jure tenant. This is so because unless a person has
for trial and hearing by the court. 7 established his status as a de jure tenant, he is not entitled to security of tenure nor is he
We hold that the private respondent cannot avail of the benefits afforded by RA 3844, as covered by the Land Reform Program of the Government under existing tenancy laws. 10
amended. To invest him with the status of a tenant is preposterous. Therefore, the fact of sharing alone is not sufficient to establish a tenancy relationship.
Section 2 of said law provides: Certainly, it is not unusual for a landowner to accept some of the produce of his land from
It is the policy of the State: someone who plants certain crops thereon. This is a typical and laudable provinciano trait
(1) To establish cooperative-cultivatorship among those who live and work on the land as of sharing or patikim, a native way of expressing gratitude for favor received. This,
tillers, owner-cultivatorship and the economic family-size farm as the basis of Philippine however, does not automatically make the tiller-sharer a tenant thereof specially when
agriculture and, as a consequence, divert landlord capital in agriculture to industrial the area tilled is only 60, or even 500, square meters and located in an urban area and in.
development; the heart of an industrial or commercial zone at that. Tenancy status arises only if an
xxx xxx xxx occupant of a parcel of land has been given its possession for the primary purpose of
RA 3844, as amended, defines an economic family-size farm as "an area of farm land that agricultural production. The circumstances of this case indicate that the private
permits efficient use of labor and capital resources of the farm family and will produce an respondent's status is more of a caretaker who was allowed by the owner out of
income sufficient to provide a modest standard of living to meet a farm family's needs for benevolence or compassion to live in the premises and to have a garden of some sort at
food, clothing, shelter, and education with possible allowance for payment of yearly its southwestern side rather than a tenant of the said portion.
installments on the land, and reasonable reserves to absorb yearly fluctuations in Agricultural production as the primary purpose being absent in the arrangement, it is
income." 8 clear that the private respondent was never a tenant of the former owner, Andrea
The private respondent only occupied a miniscule portion (60 square meters) of the 500- Millenes. Consequently, Sec. 10 of RA of 3844, as amended, does not apply. Simply stated,
square meter lot. Sixty square meters of land planted to bananas, camote, and corn the private respondent is not a tenant of the herein petitioner.
cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered as an economic family-size farm. Anent the second assignment of error, the petitioner argues that since Abajon, is not an
Surely, planting camote, bananas, and corn on a sixty-square meter piece of land can not agricultural tenant, the criminal case for malicious mischief filed against him should be
produce an income sufficient to provide a modest standard of living to meet the farm declared as proper for trial so that proceedings in the lower court can resume.
family's basic needs. The private respondent himself admitted that he did not depend on Notwithstanding our ruling that the private respondent is not a tenant of the petitioner,
the products of the land because it was too small, and that he took on carpentry jobs on we hold that the remand of the case to the lower court for the resumption of the criminal
the side. 9 Thus, the order sought to be reviewed is patently contrary to the declared proceedings is not in the interest of justice. Remand to the Municipal Court of Talisay,
policy of the law stated above. Cebu, would not serve the ends of justice at all, nor is it necessary, because this High
The DAR found that the private respondent shared the produce of the land with the Tribunal is in a position to resolve with finality the dispute before it. This Court, in the
former owner, Andrea Millenes. This led or misled, the public respondents to conclude
public interest, and towards the expeditious administration of justice, has decided to act of the crime of malicious mischief, which is "damage deliberately caused to the property
on the merits and dispose of the case with finality. 11 of another," is absent because the private respondent merely cut down his own plantings.
The criminal case for malicious mischief filed by the petitioner against the private WHEREFORE, the Order of public respondents dated November 15, 1986 is SET ASIDE and
respondent for allegedly cutting down banana trees worth a measly P50.00 will take up Criminal Case No. 4003, is hereby DISMISSED. Let a copy of this decision be sent to the
much of the time and attention of the municipal court to the prejudice of other more Municipal Trial Court of Talisay, Cebu for appropriate action. This Decision is
pressing cases pending therein. Furthermore, the private respondent will have to incur IMMEDIATELY EXECUTORY.
unnecessary expenses to finance his legal battle against the petitioner if proceedings in No costs.
the court below were to resume. Court litigants have decried the long and unnecessary SO ORDERED.
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 destruction;
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 snowed
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
Republic of the Philippines WHEREFORE, finding no merit in the instant appeal, the same is hereby DISMISSED with
SUPREME COURT costs taxed against the appellant.
Manila From the aforesaid decision, petitioner Esperidion Tanpingco interposed the present
THIRD DIVISION petition under the following assignment of errors.
I
G.R. No. 76225 March 31, 1992 Was it proper for the trial court to grant the Motion to Dismis filed by the defendant
ESPIRIDION TANPINGCO, petitioner, inspite of explicit mandate against such action as contained in Section 17 of P.D. No. 946?
vs. II
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, and BENEDICTO HORCA, SR., respondents. Was respondent Court correct in sustaining the validity of the conversion of the subject
tenanted riceland into a school site?
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: III
May a tenanted parcel of land be donated by the landowner so that it can be the site of a Was it correct in ruling that a tenant is not entitled to payment of disturbance
public high school without securing the consent of the tenant-lessee? Who bears the compensation in case his tenanted landholding is donated and converted into a school
responsibility of paying disturbance compensation? These are the issues raised in this site?
case. Anent the first assignment of error, the petitioner anchors his contention mainly on
On May 10, 1985, a complaint for payment of disturbance compensation with damages Section 17 of Presidential Decree No. 946 which provides:
was filed by petitioner Espiridion Tanpingco against respondent Benedicto Horca, Sr. with Sec. 17. Pleading, Hearing, Limitation on Postponements. The defendant shall file
the Regional Trial Court of Palo, Leyte. answer to the complaint (not a motion to dismiss), within a non-extendible period of ten
It is alleged in the complaint that the petitioner is the tenant-lessee in the respondent's (10) days from service of
parcel of agricultural riceland situated at Brgy. Buenavista, Jaro, Leyte under a leasehold summons . . .
contract entered into sometime in April, 1976; that in a letter dated April 9, 1985, the In Sucaldito and De Guzman v. Hon. Montejo (193 SCRA 556 [1991]), the Court declared
respondent through his representative informed him to desist from working on the that where the law speaks in clear and categorical language, there is no room for
subject land, having already donated the same on February 3, 1985; that the respondent interpretation. However, technicalities may be disregarded in order to resolve the case on
openly ordered the petitioner to vacate the landholding and is determined to oust him its merits. (Ruiz v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 93454, September 13, 1991 citing Tesoro v.
from the premises in violation of the law; that the petitioner is willing to accept payment Mathay, 185 SCRA 124 [1990]).
of disturbance compensation in an amount computed in accordance with law and in the On this point, the respondent appellate court noted that:
alternative to remain as tenant-lessee of the subject riceland. The rationale of the rule requiring a defendant in an agrarian case to file an answer and
On July 5, 1985, the case was called for pre-trial following which the trial court gave the not a motion to dismiss is to expedite the proceedings. The filing of the motion to dismiss
respondent until July 9, 1985 to file his answer. The respondent filed instead a Motion to and the granting thereof by the lower court based upon indubitable grounds precisely
Dismiss alleging principally that the complaint states no cause of action because the expedited the proceedings and conforms with the spirit and intention of P.D. 946 which
respondent is not the real party-in-interest having already donated the subject land to the requires courts trying agrarian cases to employ every reasonable means to ascertain the
Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports, Region VIII, as a school site of the Buenavista facts of every case in accordance with justice and equity without regard to technicalities
Barangay High School; and that the donation not having in anyway benefited the of law and procedure and empowering the Court to adopt any appropriate measure or
respondent, no disturbance compensation is due the petitioner since under Section 36 (1) procedure in any situation or matter not provided for or covered by the Decree (Section
of the Agrarian Reform Code as amended, disturbance compensation holds true only in 16, 3rd and 4th sentences, P.D. 946).
cases wherein the lessor-owner derives financial benefits from the conversion of the We, therefore, take exception to the literal application of Section 17 of P.D. No. 946 for as
agricultural land into non-agricultural purposes. stated in Salonga v. Warner Barnes and Co., Ltd. (88 Phil. 125 [1951], an action is brought
The trial court granted the respondent's Motion to Dismiss and denied the petitioner's for a practical purpose, nay to obtain actual and positive relief. If the party sued upon is
Motion for Reconsideration. not the proper party, any decision that may be rendered against him would be futile, for it
On June 20, 1986, the Intermediate Appellate Court rendered the decision now assailed, cannot be enforced or executed. The effort that may be employed will be wasted.
the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: Section 2, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court requires that every action must be prosecuted in
the name of the real party-in-interest. A corollary proposition to this rule is that an action
must be brought against the real party-in-interest, or against a party which may be bound in Section 8, 28 and 36 of the Code of Agrarian Reforms of the Philippines. The donation
by the judgment to be rendered therein (Salonga v. Warner Barnes and Co., of the land did not terminate the tenancy relationship. However, the donation itself is
Ltd. supra citing Salmon and Pacific Commercial Co., v. Tan Cuenco, 36 Phil. 556 [1917]). valid.
The real party-in-interest is one who stands to be benefited or be injured by the Considering that the tenant in the case at bar is willing to accept payment of disturbance
judgment, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit (Rebollido v. Court of Appeals, 170 compensation in exchange for his right to cultivate the landholding in question, the real
SCRA 800 [1989] citing Samahan ng mga Nangungupahan sa Azcarraga Textile Market, issue is who should pay the compensation. We rule that the Ministry of Education, Culture
Inc., et al. v. Court of Appeals, 165 SCRA 598 [1988]). If the suit is not brought against the and Sports as the new owner cannot oust the petitioner from the subject riceland and
real party-in-interest, a motion to dismiss may be filed on the ground that the complaint build a public high school thereon until after there is payment of the disturbance
states no cause of action (Section 1(g), Rule 16, Rules of Court). compensation in accordance with Section 36 (1) of R.A. No. 3844, as amended.
Hence, the resolution of the dispute hinges upon the determination of whether or not the In view of the foregoing, we are of the opinion and so hold that the trial court correctly
private respondent is the real party-in-interest against whom the suit should be brought. dismissed the complaint for payment of disturbance compensation because the private
The private respondent bolsters his claim that he is not the real party-in-interest on respondent is not the real party-in-interest. And having arrived at this conclusion, we do
Section 10 of Republic Act No. 3844 (Code of Agrarian Reforms of the Philippines) which not deem it necessary to pass upon the other errors assigned by the petitioner for as
provides that: stated in Filamer Christian Institute v. Court of Appeals (190 SCRA 485 [1990]), a person
. . . In the case the agricultural lessor sells, alienates or transfers the legal possession of who was not impleaded in the complaint could not be bound by the decision rendered
the landholding, the purchaser or transferee thereof shall be subrogated to the rights and therein, for no man shall be affected by a proceeding to which he is a stranger. The
substituted to the obligation of the agricultural lessor. remedy then of the petitioner is to claim his disturbance compensation from the new
In effect, the private respondent is of the view that the Ministry of Education, Culture and owner or whatever agency, local or national, is in a position to pay for it.
Sports, as donee, became the new lessor of the agricultural lessee by operation of law WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The decision dated 20 June 1986 of the
and is therefore the real party-in-interest against whom the claim for disturbance Intermediate Appellate Court is AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.
compensation should be directed. SO ORDERED.
We agree with the contentions of the private respondent. The petitioner should have
impleaded the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports as the party-defendant for as
stated in Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila v. Court of Appeals (198 SCRA 300 [1991]),
a donation, as a mode of acquiring ownership, results in an effective transfer of title over
the property from the donor to the donee and once a donation is accepted, the donee
becomes the absolute owner of the property donated.
Under Article 428 of the New Civil Code, the owner has the right to dispose of a thing
without other limitations than those established by law. As an incident of ownership
therefore, there is nothing to prevent a landowner from donating his naked title to the
land. However, the new owner must respect the rights of the tenant. Section 7 of R.A. No.
3844, as amended (Code of Agrarian Reforms of the Philippines) gives the agricultural
lessee the right to work on the landholding once the leasehold relationship is established.
It also entitles him to security of tenure on his landholding. He can only be ejected by the
court for cause. Time and again, this Court has guaranteed the continuity and security of
tenure of a tenant even in cases of a mere transfer of legal possession. As elucidated in
the case of Bernardo v. Court of Appeals (168 SCRA 439 [1988]), security of tenure is a
legal concession to agricultural lessees which they value as life itself and deprivation of
their landholdings is tantamount to deprivation of their only means of livelihood. Also,
under Section 10 of the same Act, the law explicitly provides that the leasehold relation is
not extinguished by the alienation or transfer of the legal possession of the landholding.
The only instances when the agricultural leasehold relationship is extinguished are found
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS ENDENCIA, J.:

SECOND DIVISION
Petitioner Ponciano Primero is the owner of a riceland situated in the barrio of San Juan,
[G.R. No. L-10594. May 29, 1957.] municipality of Gen. Trias, province of Cavite, containing an area of 27,837 square meters,
with Torrens title registered in the Registry of Deeds for the province of Cavite, while
PONCIANO PRIMERO, Petitioner, v. COURT OF AGRARIAN RELATIONS and SINFOROSO respondent Sinforoso Quion is his tenant in said land. Desiring to lease said riceland to
QUION, Respondents. one Porfirio Potente for the purpose of raising thereon ZACATE (a species of grass for
horses feed), on March 3, 1956, petitioner served a written notice thereof to respondent
Tereso Ma. Montoya for Petitioner. and requested him to vacate the premises, but the latter refused to do so. On March 7,
1956, the petitioner executed the contract of lease in favor of Porfirio Potente, but the
Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla, Assistant Solicitor General Antonio A. Torres, Nora G. respondent still continued in the land thereby hindering its delivery to the lessee, hence
Notratis and Cayetano Santrico for respondent Court of Agrarian Relations. the petitioner filed with the Court of Agrarian Relations the petition under consideration
to secure an order directing the respondent to vacate the premises in question so that it
Jesus M. Dator for respondent Sinforoso (Proso) Quion. may be delivered to the lessee. After summons, the respondent filed his answer to the
petition and on March 20, 1956, moved for the dismissal of the petition on the ground (1)
that it states no cause of action, the facts stated therein not being constitutive of any of
SYLLABUS the causes for the dispossession of a tenant enumerated in section 50 of Republic Act No.
1199; (2) that under section 49 of the same Act, no tenant could be dispossessed of his
holding except for any of the causes enumerated in section 50 of said Act, and (3) that
1. TENANCY; LEASE OF PROPERTY HELD IN TENANCY, EFFECT OF; DISPOSSESSION OF under section 9 of the same Act, the lease of the land in question did not of itself
TENANT OF LANDHOLDINGS, ONLY FOR CAUSES PROVIDED BY LAW. The dispossession extinguish the relationship between the respondent as tenant and the petitioner as
of a tenant in an agricultural land can only be allowed for any of the causes enumerated landowner. After due hearing, the motion was granted, Executive Judge Guillermo S.
in Section 50 of the Tenancy Law. Lease of a holding to another person who will convert it Santos ruling as follows:
to a zacatal is not one of those causes; consequently, the lease of the land in question ". . . that the petition states no cause of action - because petitioner seeks the
does not extinguish the relationship of landlord and tenant between the parties, and the dispossession of respondent-tenant on a ground which is not one of the causes
lessee should assume the obligations of the former landholder in relation to his tenant. recognized by law. As a rule, dispossession of a tenant in an agricultural land can only be
allowed for any of the causes enumerated in Sec. 50 of Rep. Act No. 1199. Lease of a
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; TENANCY LAW IS REMEDIAL LEGISLATION; PROVISIONS DO NOT IMPAIR holding to another person who will convert it to a zacatal is not one of those grounds.
RIGHT OF ALIENATION. Republic Act 1199 is a remedial legislation promulgated Neither is the conversion of the holding into a zacatal. The reason advanced by petitioner
pursuant to the social justice precepts of the Constitution and in the exercise of the police is without merit."
power of the State to promote the common weal. Its provisions do not impair the right of Thereupon, petitioner appealed from the order of dismissal, and in this instance claims (1)
the landowner to dispose or alienate his property or prohibit him to make such transfer or that he has the right to dispossess his tenant in case he leases his land for purposes of
alienation; they only provide that in case of transfer or in case of lease, as in the present converting it into a ZACATAL; (2) that the lessee Potente, as new landholder, has the right
case, the tenancy relationship between the landowner and his tenant should be to employ a man of his choice in the ZACATAL; and (3) that ZACATE (horses feed) is not
preserved in order to secure the well-being of the tenant or protect him against an agricultural product within the purview of Republic Act No. 1199.
unjustified dismissal from their landholdings.
Carefully considered, the question involved in this case is simply whether, under the facts
stated in the petition, the petitioner has right to secure from the Court of Agrarian
DECISION Relations authority to eject the respondent tenant from the riceland held in tenancy by
him only because said land was leased to one Porfirio Potente who will convert the same
into a ZACATAL, and said respondent refused to vacate it thereby hampering its delivery (f) When the tenant through negligence permits serious injury to the land which will
to the lessee. impair its productive capacity.

The controlling law on the case are sections 9, 49 and 50 of Republic Act No. 1199, which (g) Conviction by a competent court of a tenant or any member of his immediate
read as follows: family or farm household of a crime against the landholder or a member of his immediate
family."
"SEC. 9. Severance of Relationship. The tenancy relationship is extinguished by the
voluntary surrender of the land by, or the death or incapacity of, the tenant, but his heirs Under the foregoing clear provisions of law, we find that the agrarian court committed no
or the members of his immediate farm household may continue to work the land until the reversible error when it dismissed the petition, firstly, because under the aforequoted
close of the agricultural year. The expiration of the period of the contract as fixed by the section 9 of Rep. Act 1199, the contract of lease entered into by the petitioner and
parties, and the sale or alienation of the land do not of themselves extinguish the Porfirio Potente did not of itself extinguish the relationship of landlord and tenant
relationship. In the latter case, the purchaser or transferee shall assume the rights and between the petitioner and the respondent, and the lessee Potente should assume the
obligations of the former-landholder in relation to the tenant. In case of death of the obligations of the former landholder, the herein petitioner, in relation to his tenant, the
landholder, his heir or heirs shall likewise assume his rights and obligations. herein respondent; secondly, because under section 49, a tenant cannot be dispossessed
of his holding except for any of the causes enumerated in said section 50, and certainly
"SEC. 49. Ejectment of Tenant. Notwithstanding any agreement or provision of law as the lease of the land in question to Potente is not one of those causes for the
to the period, in all cases where land devoted to any agricultural purpose is held under dispossession of a tenant enumerated in section 50 of the Tenancy Law quoted above.
any system of tenancy, the tenant shall not be dispossessed of his holdings except for any Consequently, we hold that under the provisions of law governing the case, the petition
of the causes hereinafter enumerated and only after the same has been proved before, under consideration is completely untenable, for once a tenancy relationship is
and the dispossession is authorized by, the court. established, the tenant is entitled to security of tenure with right to continue working on
and cultivating the land until he is dispossessed of his holdings for just cause provided by
"SEC. 50. Causes for the Dispossession of a Tenant. Any of the following shall be a law or the tenancy relationship is legally terminated.
sufficient cause for the dispossession of a tenant from his holdings: virtual 1aw library
Petitioner contends, however, that sections 9 and 50 of Republic Act 1199 are
(a) The bona fide intention of the landholder to cultivate the land himself personally unconstitutional and void for they are against paragraph 1, section 1 of Article III Bill of
or through the employment of farm machinery and implements: . . . Rights of our Constitution. It is argued that the petitioner has a perfect right to dispossess
his tenant because he wants to lease his land to a third person for the purpose of
(b) When the tenant violates or fails to comply with any of the terms and conditions converting it into a ZACATAL and that "the lessee has a perfect right to employ laborers of
of the contract or any of the provisions of this Act: Provided, however, That this his own choice and to deny a lessee that right will be tantamount to a deprivation of the
subsection shall not apply when the tenant has substantially complied with the contract right of the owner to lease his land for a better income, for no lessee will enter into a
or with the provisions of this Act. contract of lease of a riceland to convert the same into a ZACATAL if he will be denied the
freedom to employ a tenant of his own choice." We find no merit in this contention. The
(c) The tenants failure to pay the agreed rental or to deliver the landholders share: provisions of law assailed as unconstitutional do not impair the right of the landowner to
Provided, however, That this shall not apply when the tenants failure is caused by a dispose or alienate his property nor prohibit him to make such transfer or alienation; they
fortuitous event or force majeure. only provide that in case of transfer or in case of lease, as in the instant case, the tenancy
relationship between the landowner and his tenant should be preserved in order to insure
(d) When the tenant uses the land for a purpose other than that specified by the well-being of the tenant or protect him from being unjustly dispossessed by the
agreement of the parties. transferee or purchaser of the land; in other words, the purpose of the law in question is
to maintain the tenants in the peaceful possession and cultivation of the land or afford
(e) When a share-tenant fails to follow those proven farm practices which will them protection against unjustified dismissal from their holdings. Republic Act 1199 is
contribute towards the proper care of the land and increased agricultural production. unquestionably a remedial legislation promulgated pursuant to the social justice precepts
of the Constitution and in the exercise of the police power of the State to promote the
common weal. It is a statute relating to public subjects within the domain of the general
legislative powers of the State and involving the public rights and public welfare of the
entire community affected by it. Republic Act 1199, like the previous tenancy laws
enacted by our lawmaking body, was passed by Congress in compliance with the
constitutional mandates that "the promotion of social justice to insure the well-being and
economic security of all the people should be the concern of the State" (Art. II, sec. 5) and
that "the State shall regulate the relations between landlord and tenant . . . in agriculture
. . ." (Art. XIV, sec. 6).

As to the last question raised by the petitioner, to wit, whether the ZACATE is an
agricultural product as contemplated by Act 1199, we find unnecessary to discuss it in
view of the foregoing conclusion we arrived at, for the true question involved in the case
is whether the lease of petitioners land to Porfirio Potente constitutes just cause for
dispossessing the respondent of his holding on the land as tenant thereof.
Wherefore, finding no error in the order appealed from, the same is hereby affirmed with
costs against the Petitioner-Appellant.
Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A. Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes,
J.B.L. and Felix, JJ., concur.