You are on page 1of 11

G.R. No.

L-62626 July 18, 1984 the property; and that the owners would have no responsibility or liability for said activities of
Macaya. Macaya was allowed to use only three (3) hectares. These conditions, however, were not
put in writing.
SPOUSES CAYETANO and PATRICIA TIONGSON, SPOUSES EDWARD and PACITA GO, SPOUSES
ROBERTO and MYRNA LAPERAL III, ELISA R. MANOTOK, SPOUSES IGNACIO and PACITA
MANOTOK, SEVERINO MANOTOK, JR., SPOUSES FAUSTO and MILAGROS MANOTOK, ROSA R. On December 5, 1950, the property-owners organized themselves into a corporation engaged
MANOTOK, Minors MIGUEL A. B. SISON and MA. CRISTINA E. SISON, represented by their primarily in the real estate business known as the Manotok Realty, Inc. The owners transferred the
judicial guardian FILOMENA M. SISON, SPOUSES MAMERTO and PERPETUA M. BOCANEGRA, 34-hectare lot to the corporation as part of their capital contribution or subscription to the capital
GEORGE M. BOCANEGRA, represented by his judicial guardian MAMERTO BOCANEGRA, stock of the corporation.
SPOUSES FRANCISCO and FILOMENA SISON, JOSE CLEMENTE MANOTOK, SPOUSES JESUS and
THELMA MANOTOK, Minors PHILIP MANOTOK, MARIA TERESA MANOTOK and RAMON
From 1946 to 1956, Macaya did not pay, as he was not required to pay anything to the owners or
SEVERINO MANOTOK, represented by their judicial guardian SEVERINO MANOTOK, JR.,
corporation whether in cash or in kind for his occupancy or use of the property. However, the
Minors JESUS JUDE MANOTOK, JR. and JOSE MARIA MANOTOK, represented by their judicial
corporation noted that the realty taxes on the property had increased considerably and found it
guardian JESUS MANOTOK, petitioners,
very burdensome to pay the said taxes while on the other hand, Macaya had contributed nothing nor
vs.
even helped in the payment of the taxes. Thus, Macaya upon the request of the owners agreed to
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and TEODORO S. MACAYA, respondents.
help by remitting ten (10) cavans of palay every year as his contribution for the payment of the
realty taxes beginning 1957.
Romeo J. Callejo and Gil Venerando R. Racho for petitioners.
On June 5, 1964, the corporation requested Macaya to increase his contribution from ten (10)
David Advincula Jr. and Jose J. Francisco for respondents. cavans to twenty (20) cavans of palay effective 1963 because the assessed value of the property had
increased considerably. Macaya] agreed.

In 1967, Macaya informed the corporation that he could not afford anymore to deliver any palay
because the palay dried up. He further requested that in the ensuring years, he be allowed to
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
contribute only ten (10) cavans of palay. The corporation said that if that was the case, he might as
well not deliver anymore. Thus, from 1967 up to 1976, Macaya did not deliver any palay.
In this petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of, Appeal declaring the existence
of a landholder-tenant relationship and ordering the private respondent's reinstatement, the
On January 31, 1974, Manotok Realty, Inc. executed a "Unilateral Deed of Conveyance" of the
petitioners contend that the appellate court committed an error of law in:
property in favor of Patricia Tiongson, Pacita Go, Roberto Laperal III, Elisa Manotok, Rosa Manotok,
Perpetua M. Bocanegra, Filomena M. Sison, Severino Manotok, Jr., Jesus Manotok, Ignacio S.
1. Disregarding the findings of fact of the Court of Agrarian Relations which are Manotok, Severino Manotok III and Fausto Manotok.
supported by substantial evidence; and
Sometime in 1974, Macaya was informed by the Manotoks that they needed the property to
2. Substituting the findings of fact of the Court of Agrarian Relations with its construct their houses thereon. Macaya agreed but pleaded that he be allowed to harvest first the
own findings. planted rice before vacating the property.

Briefly, the facts of the case as found by the Court of Agrarian Relations, Seventh Regional District, However, he did not vacate the property as verbally promised and instead expanded the area he was
Branch 1 at Pasig, Metro Manila are as follows: Sometime in 1946, the late Severino Manotok working on.
donated and transferred to his eight (8) children and two (2) grandchildren namely: Purificacion
Manotok, Eliza Manotok, Perpetua manotok, Filomena Manotok, Severino Manotok, Jr., Jesus
In 1976, the Manotoks once more told Macaya to vacate the entire property including those portions
Manotok, Rahula Ignacio Manotok, Severino Manotok III, Fausto Manotok and Rosa Manotok, a
tilled by him. At this point, Macaya had increased his area from three (3) hectares to six (6) hectares
thirty-four-hectare lot located in Payong, Old Balara, Quezon City covered by a certificate of title.
without the knowledge and consent of the owners. As he was being compelled to vacate the
Severino Manotok who was appointed judicial guardian of his minor children 'accepted on their
property, Macaya brought the matter to the Department (now Ministry) of Agrarian Reforms. The
behalf the aforesaid donation. At that time, there were no tenants or other persons occupying the
Manotoks, during the conference before the officials of the Department insisted that Macaya and his
said property.
family vacate the property. They threatened to bulldoze Macaya's landholding including his house,
thus prompting Macaya to file an action for peaceful possession, injunction, and damages with
In that same year, Teodoro Macaya accompanied by Vicente Herrera, the overseer of the property, preliminary injunction before the Court of Agrarian Relations.
went to the house of Manotok in Manila and pleaded that he be allowed to live on the Balara
property so that he could at the same time guard the property and prevent the entry of squatters
The sole issue to be resolved in the present petition is whether or not a tenancy relationship exists
and the theft of the fruits and produce of the fruit trees planted by the owner. Manotok allowed
between the parties. The Court of Agrarian Relations found that Macaya is not and has never been a
Macaya to stay in the property as a guard (bantay) but imposed the conditions that at any time that
share or leasehold tenant of Severino Manotok nor of his successors-in-interest over the property or
the owners of the property needed or wanted to take over the property, Macaya and his family
any portion or portions thereof but has only been hired as a watchman or guard (bantay) over the
should vacate the property immediately; that while he could raise animals and plant on the
same. On Macaya's appeal from the said decision, the respondent appellate court declared the
property, he could do so only for his personal needs; that he alone could plant and raise animals on
existence of an agricultural tenancy relationship and ordered Macaya's reinstatement to his The trial court noted that in a letter dated April 12, 1977, the City Engineer of Quezon City certified
landholding. on the basis of records in his office that the property in question falls within the category of
"Residential I Zone."
Since what is involved ed is agricultural tenancy, we refer to Republic Act No. 1199 as amended by
Republic Act No. 2263. Section 3 thereof defines agricultural tenancy as: The respondent court ignored all the above considerations and noted instead that the appellees
never presented the tax declarations for the previous year, particularly for 1946, the year when
Macaya began cultivating the property. It held that while the petitioners at that time might have
xxx xxx xxx
envisioned a panoramic residential area of the disputed property, then cogonal with some forest,
that vision could not materialize due to the snail pace of urban development to the peripheral areas
... the physical possession by a person of land devoted to agriculture belonging of Quezon City where the disputed property is also located and pending the consequent rise of land
to, or legally possessed by, another for the purpose of production through the values. As a matter of fact, it found that the houses found thereon were constructed only in the 70's.
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,
Whatever "visions" the owners may have had in 1946, the fact remains that the land has always
or to pay a price certain, either in produce or in money, or in both.
been officially classified as "residential" since 1948. The areas surrounding the disputed six hectares
are now dotted with residences and, apparently, only this case has kept the property in question
Thus, the essential requisites of tenancy relationship are: 1) the parties are the landholder and the from being developed together with the rest of the lot to which it belongs. The fact that a caretaker
tenant; 2) the subject is agricultural land; 3) there is consent; 4) the purpose is agricultural plants rice or corn on a residential lot in the middle of a residential subdivision in the heart of a
production; and 5) there is consideration (Agustin, Code of Agrarian Reforms of the Philippines, metropolitan area cannot by any strained interpretation of law convert it into agricultural land and
1981, p. 19). As subject it to the agrarian reform program.

xxx xxx xxx On this score alone, the decision of the respondent court deserves to be reversed.

All these requisites are necessary in order to create tenancy relationship Another requisite is that the parties must be landholder and tenant. Rep. Act No. 11 99 as amended
between the parties and the absence of one or more requisites do not make the defines a landholder
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 de jure tenant,
Sec. 5(b) A landholder shall mean a person, natural or juridical, who, either as
he is not entitled to security of tenure nor is he covered by the Land Reform
owner, lessee, usufructuary, or legal possessor, lets or grants to another the
Program of the Government under existing tenancy laws. ...
use or cultivation of his land for a consideration either in shares under the
share tenancy system, or a price certain under the leasehold tenancy system.
The key factor in ascertaining whether or not there is a landowner-tenant relationship in this case is
the nature of the disputed property.
On the other hand, a tenant is defined as

Is the thirty-four (34) hectare lot, of which the six (6) hectares occupied by the private respondent
Sec. 5(a) A tenant shall mean a person who, himself and with the aid available
form a part, against agricultural land? If not, the rules on agrarian reform do not apply.
from within his immediate farm household, cultivates the land belonging to, or
possessed by, another with the latter's consent for purposes of production,
From the year 1948 up to the present, the tax declarations of real property and the annual receipts sharing the produce with the landholder under the share tenancy system or
for real estate taxes paid have always classified the land as "residential". The property is in Balara, paying to the landholder a price certain in produce or in money or both, under
Quezon City, Metro Manila, not far from the correctly held by the trial court: the leasehold tenancy system.

University of the Philippines and near some fast growing residential subdivisions. The Manotok Under these definitions, may Macaya be considered as a tenant and Manotok as a landholder?
family is engaged in the business of developing subdivisions in Metro Manila, not in farming. Significant, as the trial court noted, is that the parties have not agreed as to their contributions of the
several items of productions such as expenses for transplanting, fertilizers, weeding and application
of insecticides, etc. In the absence of an agreement as to the respective contributions of the parties
The trial court observed that a panoramic view of the property shows that the entire 34 hectares is
or other terms and conditions of their tenancy agreement, the lower court concluded that no
rolling forestal land without any flat portions except the small area which could be planted to palay.
tenancy relationship was entered into between them as tenant and landholder.
The photographs of the disputed area show that flush to the plantings of the private respondent are
adobe walls separating expensive looking houses and residential lots from the palay and newly
plowed soil. Alongside the plowed or narrowed soil are concrete culverts for the drainage of On this matter, the respondent Appellate Court disagreed. It held that:
residential subdivisions. The much bigger portions of the property are not suitable for palay or even
vegetable crops.
... Whether the appellant was instituted as tenant therein or as bantay, as the
appellees preferred to call him, the inevitable fact is that appellant cleared,
cultivated and developed the once unproductive and Idle property for
agricultural production. Appellant and Don Severino have agreed and followed
a system of sharing the produce of the land whereby, the former takes care of From 1957 to 1964, Macaya was requested to contribute ten (10) cavans a year for the payment of
all expenses for cultivation and production, and the latter is only entitled to 10 the realty taxes. The receipts of these contributions are evidenced by the following exhibits quoted
cavans of rice per harvest. This is the essense of leasehold tenancy. below:

It should be noted, however, that from 1967 to the present, Macaya did not deliver any cavans of (a) Exhibit "4" adopted and marked as Exhibit "K" for plaintiff (Macaya):
palay to the petitioners as the latter felt that if Macaya could no longer deliver the twenty (20)
cavans of palay, he might as well not deliver any. The decision of the petitioners not to ask for
Ukol sa taon 1961
anymore contributions from Macaya reveals that there was no tenancy relationship ever agreed
upon by the parties. Neither can such relationship be implied from the facts as there was no agreed
system of sharing the produce of the property. Moreover, from 1946 to 1956 at which time, Macaya Tinanggap naniin kay G. Teodoro Macaya ang sampung
was also planting rice, there was no payment whatsoever. At the most and during the limited period (10) cavan na palay bilang tulong niya sa pagbabayad ng
when it was in force, the arrangement was a civil lease where the lessee for a fixed price leases the amillaramiento sa lupa ng corporation na nasa Payong,
property while the lessor has no responsibility whatsoever for the problems of production and Q.C. na kaniyang binabantayan.
enters into no agreement as to the sharing of the costs of fertilizers, irrigation, seedlings, and other
items. The private respondent, however, has long stopped in paying the annual rents and violated
(b) Exhibit "9" adopted and marked as Exhibit "L" for plaintiff (Macaya):
the agreement when he expanded the area he was allowed to use. Moreover, the duration of the
temporary arrangement had expired by its very terms.
Tinanggap namin kay Ginoong Teodoro Macaya ang
TATLONG (3) kabang palay bilang kapupunan sa
Going over the third requisite which is consent, the trial court observed that the property in
DALAWAMPUNG (20) kabang palay na kanyang tulong sa
question previous to 1946 had never been tenanted. During that year, Vicente Herrera was the
pagbabayad ng amillaramiento para sa taong 1963 ng
overseer. Under these circumstances, coupled by the fact that the land is forested and rolling, the
lupang ari ng Manotok Realty, Inc. na nasa Payong,
lower court could not see its way clear to sustain Macaya's contention that Manotok had given his
Quezon City, na kanyang binabantayan samantalang hindi
consent to enter into a verbal tenancy contract with him. The lower court further considered the
pa ginagawang SUBDIVISION PANGTIRAHAN.
fact that the amount of ten (10) cavans of palay given by Macaya to the owners from 1957 to 1964
which was later increased to twenty (20) cavans of palay from 1964 to 1966 was grossly
disproportionate to the amount of taxes paid by the owners. The lot was taxed as residential land in c) Exhibit "10" adopted and marked as Exhibit "N" for plaintiff (Macaya):
a metropolitan area. There was clearly no intention on the part of the owners to devote the property
for agricultural production but only for residential purposes. Thus, together with the third requisite,
Tinanggap namin kay Ginoong Teodoro Macaya ang
the fourth requisite which is the purpose was also not present.
DALAWAMPUNG (20) kabang palay na kanyang tulong sa
pagbabayad ng amillaramiento para sa taong 1964 ng
The last requisite is consideration. This is the produce to be divided between the landholder and lupang ari ng Manotok Realty Inc., na nasa Payong,
tenant in proportion to their respective contributions. We agree with the trial court that this was Quezon City, na kanyang binabantayan samantalang hindi
also absent. pa ginagawang SUBDIVISION PANG TAHANAN.

As earlier stated, the main thrust of petitioners' argument is that the law makes it mandatory upon d) Exhibit "11" adopted and marked as Exhibit "M" for plaintiff (Macaya):
the respondent Court of Appeals to affirm the decision of the Court of Agrarian Relations if the
findings of fact in said decision are supported by substantial evidence, and the conclusions stated
Tinanggap namin kay Ginoong Teodoro Macaya ang
therein are not clearly against the law and jurisprudence. On the other hand, private respondent
DALAWAMPUNG (20) kabang ng palay na kanyang tulong
contends that the findings of the Court of Agrarian Relations are based not on substantial evidence
sa pagbabayad ng amillaramiento para sa taong 1965 ng
alone but also on a misconstrued or misinterpreted evidence, which as a result thereof, make the
lupang ari ng Manotok Realty, Inc., na nasa Payong,
conclusions of the Court of Agrarian Relations clearly contrary to law and jurisprudence.
Quezon City, na kanyang binabantayan samantalang hindi
pa ginagawang SUBDIVISION PANG TAHANAN.
After painstakingly going over the records of the case, we find no valid and cogent reason which
justifies the appellate court's deviation from the findings and conclusions of the lower court. It is
From the above-quoted exhibits, it clearly appears that the payment of the cavans of palay was
quite clear from the 44-page decision of the trial court, that the latter has taken extra care and effort
Macaya's contribution for the payment of the real estate taxes; that the nature of the work of Macaya
in weighing the evidence of both parties of the case. We find the conclusions of the respondent
is that of a watchman or guard (bantay); and, that the services of Macaya as such watchman or
appellate court to be speculative and conjectural.
guard (bantay) shall continue until the property shall be converted into a subdivision for residential
purposes.
It bears re-emphasizing that from 1946 to 1956, there was no agreement as to any system of sharing
the produce of the land. The petitioners did not get anything from the harvest and private
The respondent appellate court disregarded the receipts as self-serving. While it is true that the
respondent Macaya was using and cultivating the land free from any charge or expense. The
receipts were prepared by petitioner Perpetua M. Bocanegra, Macaya nevertheless signed them
situation was rather strange had there been a tenancy agreement between Don Severino and
voluntarily. Besides, the receipts were written in the vernacular and do not require knowledge of
Macaya.
the law to fully grasp their implications.
Furthermore, the conclusion of the respondent appellate court to the effect that the receipts having (b) the CAs resolution[3] of June 13, 2002 in the same case, denying SEARBEMCOs motion
been prepared by one of the petitioners who happens to be a lawyer must have been so worded so for reconsideration.
as to conceal the real import of the transaction is highly speculative. There was nothing to conceal in
the first place since the primary objective of the petitioners in allowing Macaya to live on the THE FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS
property was for security purposes. The presence of Macaya would serve to protect the property
from squatters. In return, the request of Macaya to raise food on the property and cultivate a three- On January 29, 1998, SEARBEMCO, as seller, and respondent DOLE Philippines, Inc. (Stanfilco
hectare portion while it was not being developed for housing purposes was granted. Division) (DOLE), as buyer, entered into a Banana Production and Purchase
Agreement[4] (BPPA). The BPPA provided that SEARBEMCO shall sell exclusively to DOLE, and the
latter shall buy from the former, all Cavendish bananas of required specifications to be planted on
We can understand the sympathy and compassion which courts of justice must feel for people in the
the land owned by SEARBEMCO. The BPPA states:
same plight as Mr. Macaya and his family. However, the petitioners have been overly generous and
understanding of Macaya's problems. For ten years from 1946 to 1956, he lived on the property,
The SELLER agrees to sell exclusively to the BUYER, and the BUYER agrees to
raising animals and planting crops for personal use, with only his services as "bantay" compensating
buy all Cavendish Banana of the Specifications and Quality described in
for the use of another's property. From 1967 to the present, he did not contribute to the real estate
EXHIBIT A hereof produced on the SELLERS plantation covering an area of
taxes even as he dealt with the land as if it were his own. He abused the generosity of the petitioners
351.6367 hectares, more or less, and which is planted and authorized under
when he expanded the permitted area for cultivation from three hectares to six or eight hectares.
letter of instruction no. 790 as amended on November 6, 1999 under the terms
Mr. Macaya has refused to vacate extremely valuable residential land contrary to the clear
and conditions herein stipulated. The SELLER shall not increase or decrease
agreement when he was allowed to enter it. The facts of the case show that even Mr. Macaya did not
the area(s) stated above without the prior written approval of the BUYER.
consider himself as a true and lawful tenant and did not hold himself out as one until he was asked
However, the SELLER may reduce said area(s) provided that if the SELLER
to vacate the property.
replaces the reduction by planting bananas on an equivalent area(s) elsewhere,
it is agreed that such replacement area(s) shall be deemed covered by the
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the respondent Court of Appeals is hereby Agreement. If the SELLER plants an area(s) in excess of said 351.6367 hectares,
REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the decision of the Court of Agrarian Relations is AFFIRMED. the parties may enter into a separate agreement regarding the production of
said additional acreage. SELLER will produce banana to the maximum capacity
of the plantation, as much as practicable, consistent with good agricultural
SO ORDERED.
practices designed to produce banana of quality having the standards
hereinafter set forth for the duration of this Banana Production and Purchase
STANFILCO EMPLOYEES AGRARIAN REFORM G.R. No. 154048 Agreement.
BENEFICIARIES MULTI-PURPOSE COOPERATIVE,
Petitioner, Present:
SEARBEMCO bound and obliged itself, inter alia, to do the following:
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
- versus - LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, V. SPECIFIC OBLIGATIONS OF THE SELLER
BRION,
DEL CASTILLO, and xxx
ABAD, JJ.
DOLE PHILIPPINES, INC. (STANFILCO DIVISION), p.) Sell exclusively to the BUYER all bananas produced from the subject
ORIBANEX SERVICES, INC. and SPOUSES ELLY AND plantation, except those rejected by the BUYER for failure to meet the
MYRNA ABUJOS, Promulgated: specifications and conditions contained in Exhibit A hereof. In the case of any
Respondents. such rejected bananas, the SELLER shall have the right to sell such
November 27, 2009 rejected bananas to third parties, for domestic non-export
x ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x consumption. The SELLER shall only sell bananas produced from the
plantation and not from any other source. [Emphasis supplied.]
Any dispute arising from or in connection with the BPPA between the parties shall be finally settled
DECISION through arbitration. To quote the BPPA:

IX. ARBITRATION OF DISPUTE


BRION, J.:
All disputes arising in connection with this Agreement shall be finally settled
under the Rules of Conciliation and Arbitration of the International Chamber of
Before this Court is the petition for review on certiorari[1] filed by petitioner Stanfilco Employees Commerce by three (3) Arbitrators appointed in accordance with said Rules.
Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SEARBEMCO). It assails: The Arbitration shall be held in a venue to be agreed by the parties. Judgment
upon the award rendered may be entered in any Philippine Court having
(a) the decision[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 66148 dated November jurisdiction or application may be made to such court for judicial acceptance of
27, 2001; and the award and as order of enforcement, as the case may be.
of Agrarian Reform (DAR), since the dispute between the parties is an agrarian
On December 11, 2000, DOLE filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court [5] (RTC) against dispute within the exclusive competence of the DARAB to resolve;
SEARBEMCO, the spouses Elly and Myrna Abujos (spouses Abujos), and Oribanex Services, Inc. 2) the filing of the complaint is premature, as the dispute between DOLE and
(Oribanex) for specific performance and damages, with a prayer for the issuance of a writ of SEARBEMCO has not been referred to and resolved by arbitration, contrary to
preliminary injunction and of a temporary restraining order. DOLE alleged that SEARBEMCO sold Article IX of the BPPA and Article V, Sec. 30(g)[9] of AO No. 9-98 of the DAR;
and delivered to Oribanex, through the spouses Abujos, the bananas rejected by DOLE, in violation 3) it did not violate Section 5(p), Article V of the BPPA, since the rejected bananas
of paragraph 5(p), Article V of the BPPA which limited the sale of rejected bananas for domestic were sold to the spouses Abujos who were third-party buyers and not
non-export consumption. DOLE further alleged that Oribanex is likewise an exporter of bananas and exporters of bananas; and
is its direct competitor. 4) the complaint is fatally defective as the Board of Directors of DOLE did not
approve any resolution authorizing Atty. Reynaldo Echavez to execute the
DOLE narrated in its complaint how SEARBEMCO sold and delivered the rejected bananas to requisite Verification and Certification Against Forum Shopping and, therefore,
Oribanex through the spouses Abujos: the same is fatally defective.

9.) That, however, on April 12, 2000 at about 5:00 oclock in the afternoon, DOLE opposed SEARBEMCOs motion to dismiss alleging, among others, that:
[DOLE] through its authorized security personnel discovered that defendant 1) the dispute between the parties is not an agrarian dispute within the exclusive
SEARBEMCO, in violation of Section 5(p) Article V of the Banana Production jurisdiction of the DARAB under Republic Act No. 6657[10] (RA No. 6657); and
and Purchase Agreement, packed the bananas rejected by [DOLE] in boxes 2) the Arbitration Clause of the BPPA is not applicable as, aside from SEARBEMCO,
marked CONSUL in Packing Plant 32 in DAPCO Panabo and sold and delivered DOLE impleaded other parties (i.e., the spouses Abujos and Oribanex who are not
them to defendant Abujos; parties to the BPPA) as defendants.[11]

10.) That about 373 CONSUL marked boxes were packed and knowingly sold Subsequently, DOLE filed on February 2, 2001 an amended complaint,[12] the amendment consisting
by defendant SEARBEMCO to ORIBANEX SERVICES, INC. through defendants of the Verification and Certification against forum shopping for DOLE executed by Danilo C. Quinto,
Abujos who carried and loaded the same on board a blue Isuzu Canter bearing DOLEs Zone Manager.
plate no. LDM 976 and delivered to defendant ORIBANEX for export at the
TEFASCO Wharf covered by Abujos Delivery Receipt, a copy of which is hereto THE RTC RULING
attached as Annex B;
The RTC denied SEARBEMCOs motion to dismiss in an Order dated May 16, 2001.[13] The trial court
11.) That the following day, April 13, 2000, again the same security found that stated that the case does not involve an agrarian conflict and is a judicial matter that it can resolve.
defendant SEARBEMCO continued to pack the bananas rejected by plaintiff in
boxes marked as CONSUL and, in violation of paragraph 5(p) Article V of the SEARBEMCO moved for the reconsideration of the RTC Order.[14] The RTC denied the motion for lack
Banana Production and Purchase Agreement, sold and delivered them to of merit in its Order of July 12, 2001.[15]
defendant ORIBANEX SERVICES, INC., for export, through defendants Abujos;
THE CA RULING
12.) That about 648 CONSUL marked boxes were packed and knowingly sold
by defendant SEARBEMCO to ORIBANEX SERVICES, INC., through defendants On July 26, 2001, SEARBEMCO filed a special civil action for certiorari[16] with the CA alleging
Abujos who carried and loaded the same on board a red Isuzu Forwarder, grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC for denying its motion to dismiss and the
bearing plate no. LCV 918, and delivered to defendant ORIBANEX for export at subsequent motion for reconsideration.
the TEFASCO Wharf covered by Abujos Delivery Receipt, a copy of which is SEARBEMCO argued that the BPPA the parties executed is an agri-business venture agreement
hereto attached and marked as Annex C; contemplated by DARs AO No. 9-98. Thus, any dispute arising from the interpretation and
implementation of the BPPA is an agrarian dispute within the exclusive jurisdiction of the DARAB.
13.) That the sale of a total of 712 boxes of rejected bananas covering April 12
and 13, 2000, or any other dates prior thereto or made thereafter by defendant In a decision dated November 27, 2001,[17] the CA found that the RTC did not gravely abuse its
SEARBEMCO to defendant ORIBANEX SERVICES, INC. through defendant discretion in denying SEARBEMCOs motion to dismiss and motion for reconsideration.
Abujos is in utter violation of the Agreement between plaintiff [DOLE] and
defendant SEARBEMCO that SEARBEMCO may sell bananas rejected by The CA ruled that the [DAR] has no jurisdiction, under said [AO No. 9-98], over actions
plaintiff to parties for domestic non-export consumption only. between [SEARBEMCO] and [DOLE] for enforcement of the said Agreement when one commits a
breach thereof and for redress by way of specific performance and damages inclusive of injunctive
SEARBEMCO responded with a motion to dismiss on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction over the relief.[18] It held that the case is not an agrarian dispute within the purview of Section 3(d) of RA No.
subject matter of the claim, lack of cause of action, failure to submit to arbitration which is a 6657,[19] but is an action to compel SEARBEMCO to comply with its obligations under the BPPA; it
condition precedent to the filing of a complaint, and the complaints defective verification and called for the application of the provisions of the Civil Code, not RA No. 6657.
certification of non-forum shopping.[6] SEARBEMCO argued that:
The CA likewise disregarded SEARBEMCOs emphatic argument that DOLEs complaint was
1) the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) has exclusive prematurely filed because of its failure to first resort to arbitration. The arbitration clause under the
jurisdiction over the action filed by DOLE, pursuant to Sections 1 and 3(e) of BPPA, said the CA, applies only when the parties involved are parties to the agreement; in its
Administrative Order complaint, DOLE included the spouses Abujos and Oribanex as defendants. According to the CA, if
No. 09, Series of 1998[7] (AO No. 9-98) and Section 5(a) and (c) of [DOLE] referred its dispute with [SEARBEMCO] to a Panel of Arbitrators, any judgment rendered by
Administrative Order No. 02, Series of 1999[8] (AO No. 2-99) of the Department the latter, whether for or against [DOLE] will not be binding on the [spouses Abujos] and [Oribanex],
as case law has it that only the parties to a suit, as well as their successors-in-interest, are bound by where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason or passion or personal
the judgment of the Court or quasi-judicial bodies.[20] hostility.[24]

On SEARBEMCOs argument that the Verification and Certification Against Forum Shopping under As the CA found, the RTCs action was not attended by any grave abuse of discretion and the
DOLEs amended complaint is defective for failure to state that this was based on personal RTC correctly ruled in denying SEARBEMCOs motion to dismiss. We fully agree with the CA.
knowledge, the CA ruled that the omission of the word personal did not render the Verification and
Certification defective. Section 3(d) of RA No. 6657 is clear in defining an agrarian dispute: any controversy
relating to tenurial arrangements, whether leasehold, tenancy, stewardship or otherwise, over lands
SEARBEMCO moved for reconsideration of the decision, but the CA denied the motion for lack of devoted to agriculture, including dispute concerning farm-workers associations or representations
merit in its resolution of June 13, 2002.[21] of persons in negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing or seeking to arrange terms or conditions of
such tenurial arrangements. It includes any controversy relating to compensation of lands acquired
ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS under this Act and other terms and conditions of transfer of ownership from landowners to
farmworkers, tenants and other agrarian reform beneficiaries, whether the disputants stand in the
In the present petition, SEARBEMCO submits that the CA erred in ruling that: proximate relation of farm operator and beneficiary, landowner and tenant, or lessor and lessee. [25]
1.) the RTC has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint of DOLE, considering
that the case involves an agrarian dispute within the exclusive jurisdiction of the RA No. 6657 is procedurally implemented through the 2003 DARAB Rules of Procedure where
DARAB; Section 1, Rule II[26] enumerates the instances where the DARAB shall have primary and exclusive
jurisdiction. A notable feature of RA No. 6657 and its implementing rules is the focus on agricultural
2.) the complaint of DOLE states a cause of action, despite the fact that SEARBEMCO has lands and the relationship over this land that serves as the basis in the determination of whether a
not violated any provision of the BPPA; and matter falls under DARAB jurisdiction.

3.) the filing of the complaint is not premature, despite DOLEs failure to submit its claim In Heirs of the Late Hernan Rey Santos v. Court of Appeals,[27] we held that:
to arbitration a condition precedent to any juridical recourse. For DARAB to have jurisdiction over a case, there must exist a tenancy
relationship between the parties. x x x. In Vda. De Tangub v. Court of
THE COURTS RULING Appeals (191 SCRA 885), we held that the jurisdiction of the Department of
Agrarian Reform is limited to the following: a.) adjudication of all matters
We do not find the petition meritorious. involving implementation of agrarian reform; b.) resolution of agrarian
conflicts and land tenure related problems; and c.) approval and disapproval of
DOLEs complaint falls within thejurisdiction of the conversion, restructuring or readjustment of agricultural lands into
the regular courts, not the DARAB. residential, commercial, industrial, and other non-agricultural uses. [Emphasis
supplied].

SEARBEMCO mainly relies on Section 50[22] of RA No. 6657 and the characterization of the
controversy as an agrarian dispute or as an agrarian reform matter in contending that the present The case of Pasong Bayabas Farmers Association, Inc. v. Court of Appeals[28] lists down the
controversy falls within the competence of the DARAB and not of the regular courts. The BPPA, indispensable elements for a tenancy relationship to exist: (1) the parties are the landowner and the
SEARBEMCO claims, is a joint venture and a production, processing and marketing agreement, as tenant or agricultural lessee; (2) the subject matter of the relationship is an agricultural land;
defined under Section 5 (c) (i) and (ii) of DAR AO No. 2-99;[23] hence, any dispute arising from the (3) there is consent between the parties to the relationship; (4) the purpose of the relationship is to
BPPA is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the DARAB. SEARBEMCO also asserts that the parties bring about agricultural production; (5) there is personal cultivation on the part of the tenant or
relationship in the present case is not only that of buyer and seller, but also that of supplier of land agricultural lessee; and (6) the harvest is shared between the landowner and the tenant or the
covered by the CARP and of manpower on the part of SEARBEMCO, and supplier of agricultural agricultural lessee.
inputs, financing and technological expertise on the part of DOLE. Therefore, SEARBEMCO concludes
that the BPPA is not an ordinary contract, but one that involves an agrarian element and, as such, is The parties in the present case have no tenurial, leasehold, or any other agrarian
imbued with public interest. relationship that could bring their controversy within the ambit of agrarian reform laws and within
the jurisdiction of the DARAB. In fact, SEARBEMCO has no allegation whatsoever in its motion to
We clarify at the outset that what we are reviewing in this petition is the legal question of dismiss regarding any tenancy relationship between it and DOLE that gave the present dispute the
whether the CA correctly ruled that the RTC committed no grave abuse discretion in denying character of an agrarian dispute.
SEARBEMCOs motion to dismiss. In ruling for legal correctness, we have to view the CA decision in
the same context that the petition for certiorari it ruled upon was presented to the appellate court; We have always held that tenancy relations cannot be presumed. The elements of tenancy
we have to examine the CA decision from the prism of whether it correctly determined the presence must first be proved by substantial evidence which can be shown through records, documents, and
or absence of grave abuse of discretion in the RTC ruling before it, not on the basis of whether the written agreements between the parties. A principal factor, too, to consider in determining whether
RTC ruling on the merits of the case was correct. In other words, we have to be keenly aware that a tenancy relationship exists is the intent of the parties.[29]
the CA undertook a Rule 65 review, not a review on appeal, of the challenged RTC ruling. A court
acts with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when its action was SEARBEMCO has not shown that the above-mentioned indispensable elements of tenancy
performed in a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of discretion. The relations are present between it and DOLE. It also cannot be gleaned from the intention of the
abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a parties that they intended to form a tenancy relationship between them. In the absence of any such
virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of the law, as intent and resulting relationship, the DARAB cannot have jurisdiction. Instead, the present petition
is properly cognizable by the regular courts, as the CA and the RTC correctly ruled.
We find SEARBEMCOs reliance on DAR AO No. 9-98 and AO No. 2-99 as bases for DARABs
Notably, the requirement of the existence of tenurial relationship has been relaxed in the alleged expanded jurisdiction over all disputes arising from the interpretation of agribusiness
cases of Islanders CARP-Farmers Beneficiaries Muti-Purpose Cooperative, Inc. v. Lapanday ventures to be misplaced. DARABs jurisdiction under Section 50 of RA No. 6657 should be read in
Agricultural and Devt. Corporation[30] and Cubero v. Laguna West Multi-Purpose Cooperative, conjunction with the coverage of agrarian reform laws; administrative issuances like DAR AO Nos.
Inc.[31] The Court, speaking through former Chief Justice Panganiban, declared in Islanders that: 9-98 and 2-99 cannot validly extend the scope of the jurisdiction set by law. In so ruling, however,
we do not pass upon the validity of these administrative issuances. We do recognize the possibility
[The definition of agrarian dispute in RA No. 6657 is] broad enough to include that disputes may exist between parties to joint economic enterprises that directly pertain to the
disputes arising from any tenurial arrangement beyond the traditional management, cultivation, and use of CARP-covered agricultural land. Based on our above discussion,
landowner-tenant or lessor-lessee relationship. xxx [A]grarian reform extends these disputes will fall within DARABs jurisdiction.
beyond the mere acquisition and redistribution of land, the law acknowledges
other modes of tenurial arrangements to effect the implementation of CARP.[32] Even assuming that the present case can be classified as an agrarian dispute involving the
interpretation or implementation of agribusiness venture agreements, DARAB still cannot validly
While Islanders and Cubero may seem to serve as precedents to the present case, a close acquire jurisdiction, at least insofar as DOLEs cause of action against the third parties the spouses
analysis of these cases, however, leads us to conclude that significant differences exist in the factual Abujos and Oribanex is concerned. To prevent multiple actions, we hold that the present case is best
circumstances between those cases and the present case, thus rendering the rulings in these cited resolved by the trial court.
cases inapplicable.
DOLEs complaint validly states a
Islanders questioned (through a petition for declaration of nullity filed before the RTC of cause of action
Tagum City) the lack of authority of the farmer-beneficiaries alleged representative to enter into a
Joint Production Agreement with Lapanday. The farmers-beneficiaries assailed the validity of the SEARBEMCO asserts that the pleading containing DOLEs claim against it states no cause of action. It
agreement by additionally claiming that its terms contravened RA No. 6657. contends that it did not violate any of the provisions of the BPPA, since the bananas rejected by
DOLE were sold to the spouses Abujos who are third-party buyers and are not exporters of bananas
Cubero likewise involved a petition to declare the nullity of a Joint Venture Agreement transactions that the BPPA allows. Since the sole basis of DOLEs complaint was SEARBEMCOs
between the farmer-beneficiaries and Laguna West Multi-Purpose Cooporative, Inc. The successors alleged violation of the BPPA, which SEARBEMCO insists did not take place, the complaint therefore
of the farmer-beneficiaries assailed the agreement before the RTC of Tanauan, Batangas for having did not state a cause of action.
been executed within the 10-year prohibitory period under Section 27 of RA No. 6657.
Due consideration of the basic rules on lack of cause of action as a ground for a motion to dismiss
In both cases, the Court ruled that the RTC lacked jurisdiction to hear the complaint and weighs against SEARBEMCOs argument.
declared the DARAB as the competent body to resolve the dispute. The Court declared that when the
question involves the rights and obligations of persons engaged in the management, cultivation, and In the case of Jimenez, Jr. v. Jordana,[34] this Court had the opportunity to discuss the sufficiency of
use of an agricultural land covered by CARP, the case falls squarely within the jurisdictional ambit of the allegations of the complaint to uphold a valid cause of action, as follows:
the DAR.
In a motion to dismiss, a defendant hypothetically admits the truth of the
Carefully analyzed, the principal issue raised in Islanders and Cubero referred to material allegations of the plaintiffs complaint. This hypothetical admission
the management, cultivation, and use of the CARP-covered agricultural land; the issue of the extends to the relevant and material facts pleaded in, and the inferences fairly
nullity of the joint economic enterprise agreements in Islanders and Cubero would directly affect the deductible from, the complaint. Hence, to determine whether the sufficiency of
agricultural land covered by CARP. Those cases significantly did not pertain to post- the facts alleged in the complaint constitutes a cause of action, the test is as
harvest transactions involving the produce from CARP-covered agricultural lands, as the case before follows: admitting the truth of the facts alleged, can the court render a valid
us does now. judgment in accordance with the prayer?

Moreover, the resolution of the issue raised in Islanders and Cubero required the To sustain a motion to dismiss, the movant needs to show that the
interpretation and application of the provisions of RA No. 6657, considering that the farmer- plaintiffs claim for relief does not exist at all. On the contrary, the complaint is
beneficiaries claimed that the agreements contravened specific provisions of that law. In the present sufficient if it contains sufficient notice of the cause of action even though the
case, DOLEs complaint for specific performance and damages before the RTC did not question the allegations may be vague or indefinite, in which event, the proper recourse
validity of the BPPA that would require the application of the provisions of RA No. 6657; neither did would be, not a motion to dismiss, but a motion for a bill of particulars.[35]
SEARBEMCOs motion to dismiss nor its other pleadings assail the validity of the BPPA on the ground
that its provisions violate RA No. 6657. The resolution of the present case would therefore involve,
more than anything else, the application of civil law provisions on breaches of contract, rather than In applying this authoritative test, we must hypothetically assume the
agrarian reform principles. Indeed, in support of their arguments, the parties have capitalized and truth of DOLEs allegations, and determine whether the RTC can render a valid judgment in
focused on their relationship as buyer and seller. DOLE, the buyer, filed a complaint against accordance with its prayer.
SEARBEMCO, the seller, to enforce the BPPA between them and to compel the latter to comply with
its obligations. The CA is thus legally correct in its declaration that the action before the RTC does We find the allegations in DOLEs complaint to be sufficient basis for the judgment prayed
not involve an agrarian dispute, nor does it call for the application of Agrarian Reform laws. x x for. Hypothetically admitting the allegations in DOLEs complaint that SEARBEMCO sold the rejected
x. The action of [DOLE] involves and calls for the application of the New Civil Code, in tandem bananas to Oribanex, a competitor of DOLE and also an exporter of bananas, through the spouses
with the terms and conditions of the [BPPA] of [SEARBEMCO] and [DOLE]. [33] Abujos, a valid judgment may be rendered by the RTC holding SEARBEMCO liable for breach of
contract. That the sale had been to the spouses Abujos who are not exporters is essentially a denial
of DOLEs allegations and is not therefore a material consideration in weighing the merits of the
alleged lack of cause of action. What SEARBEMCO stated is a counter-statement of fact and abeyance pending arbitration between petitioners and respondent Laperal
conclusion, and is a defense that it will have to prove at the trial. At this point, the material Realty, would in effect result in multiplicity of suits, duplicitous procedure and
consideration is merely what the complaint expressly alleged. Hypothetically assuming DOLEs unnecessary delay. On the other hand, it would be in the interest of justice if
allegations of ultimate sale to Oribanex, through the spouses Abujos, to be true, we hold following the trial court hears the complaint against all herein respondents and
the test of sufficiency in Jordana that DOLEs prayer for specific performance and damages may be adjudicates petitioners rights as against theirs in a single and complete
validly granted; hence, a cause of action exists. proceeding.[41]

The filing of the complaint is not premature The case of Del Monte is more direct in stating that the doctrine held in the Toyota case has already
since arbitration proceedings are not been abandoned:
necessary in the present case
The Agreement between petitioner DMC-USA and private
respondent MMI is a contract. The provision to submit to arbitration any
SEARBEMCO argues that DOLE failed to comply with a condition precedent before the filing of its dispute arising therefrom and the relationship of the parties is part of
complaint with the RTC, i.e., DOLE did not attempt to settle their controversy through arbitration that contract and is itself a contract. As a rule, contracts are respected as
proceedings. SEARBEMCO relies on Article V, Section 30(g) of DAR AO No. 9-98[36] the law between the contracting parties and produce effect as between
and Section 10 of DAR AO No. 2-99[37] which provide that as a rule, voluntary methods such as them, their assigns and heirs. Clearly, only parties to the
mediation or conciliation, shall be preferred in resolving disputes involving joint economic Agreement, i.e., petitioners DMC-USA and its Managing Director for
enterprises. SEARBEMCO also cites Section IX of the BPPA which provides that all disputes arising Export Sales Paul E. Derby, and private respondents MMI and its
out of or in connection with their agreement shall be finally settled through arbitration. Managing Director Lily Sy are bound by the Agreement and its
arbitration clause as they are the only signatories
Following our conclusion that agrarian laws find no application in the present case, we find as the thereto. Petitioners Daniel Collins and Luis Hidalgo, and private
CA did that SEARBEMCOs arguments anchored on these laws are completely baseless. Furthermore, respondent SFI, not parties to the Agreement and cannot even be
the cited DAR AO No. 2-99, on its face, only mentions a preference, not a strict requirement of considered assigns or heirs of the parties, are not bound by the
referral to arbitration. The BPPA-based argument deserves more and closer consideration. Agreement and the arbitration clause therein. Consequently, referral to
arbitration in the State of California pursuant to the arbitration clause
We agree with the CA ruling that the BPPA arbitration clause does not apply to the and the suspension of the proceedings in Civil Case No. 2637-MN pending
present case since third parties are involved. Any judgment or ruling to be rendered by the panel of the return of the arbitral award could be called for but only as to
arbitrators will be useless if third parties are included in the case, since the arbitral ruling will not petitioners DMC-USA and Paul E. Derby, Jr., and private respondents MMI
bind them; they are not parties to the arbitration agreement. In the present case, DOLE included as and Lily Sy, and not as to other parties in this case, in accordance with the
parties the spouses Abujos and Oribanex since they are necessary parties, i.e., they were directly recent case of Heirs of Augusto L. Salas, Jr. v. Laperal Realty Corporation,
involved in the BPPA violation DOLE alleged, and their participation are indispensable for a which superseded that of [sic] Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. v. Court of
complete resolution of the dispute. To require the spouses Abujos and Oribanex to submit Appeals.
themselves to arbitration and to abide by whatever judgment or ruling the panel of arbitrators shall
make is legally untenable; no law and no agreement made with their participation can compel them xxxx
to submit to arbitration.
The object of arbitration is to allow the expeditious determination of a
In support of its position, SEARBEMCO cites the case of Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. v. Court of dispute. Clearly, the issue before us could not be speedily and efficiently
Appeals[38] which holds that, the contention that the arbitration clause has become dysfunctional resolved in its entirety if we allow simultaneous arbitration proceedings
because of the presence of third parties is untenable. Contracts are respected as the law between the and trial, or suspension of trial pending arbitration. Accordingly, the
contracting parties. As such, the parties are thereby expected to abide with good faith in their interest of justice would only be served if the trial court hears and
contractual commitments. SEARBEMCO argues that the presence of third parties in the complaint adjudicates the case in a single and complete proceeding.[42]
does not affect the validity of the provisions on arbitration.

Unfortunately, the ruling in the Toyota case has been superseded by the more recent cases of Heirs Following these precedents, the CA was therefore correct in its conclusion that the parties
of Augusto L. Salas, Jr. v. Laperal Realty Corporation[39] and Del Monte Corporation-USA v. Court of agreement to refer their dispute to arbitration applies only where the parties to the BPPA
Appeals.[40] are solely the disputing parties.

Heirs of Salas involved the same issue now before us: whether or not the complaint of petitioners- Additionally, the inclusion of third parties in the complaint supports our declaration that
heirs in that case should be dismissed for their failure to submit the matter to arbitration before the present case does not fall under DARABs jurisdiction. DARABs quasi-judicial powers under
filing their complaint. The petitioners-heirs included as respondents third persons who were not Section 50 of RA No. 6657 may be invoked only when there is prior certification from
parties to the original agreement between the petitioners-heirs and respondent Laperal Realty. In the Barangay Agrarian Reform Committee (or BARC) that the dispute has been submitted to it for
ruling that prior resort to arbitration is not necessary, this Court held: mediation and conciliation, without any success of settlement.[43] Since the present dispute need not
be referred to arbitration (including mediation or conciliation) because of the inclusion of third
Respondent Laperal Realty, as a contracting party to the Agreement, parties, neither SEARBEMCO nor DOLE will be able to present the requisite BARC certification that
has the right to compel petitioners to first arbitrate before seeking judicial is necessary to invoke DARABs jurisdiction; hence, there will be no compliance with Section 53 of
relief. However, to split the proceedings into arbitration for respondent RA No. 6657.
Laperal Realty and trial for the respondent lot buyers, or to hold trial in
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby DENY the petition for certiorari for lack of merit.
The Regional Trial Court, Branch 34, Panabo City, is hereby directed to proceed with the case in The plaintiffs alleged that Efren Bernardo was the agricultural lessee of the subject
accordance with this Decision. Costs against petitioner SEARBEMCO. property. Respondent Benigno unlawfully entered the subject property in 1982 or 1983 through
strategy and stealth, and without their knowledge or consent. He withheld possession of the subject
SO ORDERED. property up to 1987, and appropriated for himself its produce, despite repeated demands from the
plaintiffs for the return of the property. In 1987, they discovered that respondent Benigno had
transferred possession of the subject property to respondent Narciso, who refused to return the
JOSE MENDOZA,* G.R. No. 165676 possession of the subject property to the plaintiffs and appropriated the lands produce for
Petitioner, himself. The subject property was fully irrigated and was capable of harvest for 2 cropping
Present: seasons. Since the subject property could produce 100 cavans of palay per hectare for each cropping
CORONA, C.J.,* season, or a total of 500 cavans per cropping season for the five-hectare land, the plaintiffs alleged
CARPIO MORALES, Chairperson, that the respondents were able to harvest a total of 13,000 cavans of palay from the time they
BRION, unlawfully withheld possession of the subject property in 1982 until the plaintiffs filed the
- versus - VILLARAMA, JR., and complaint. Thus, they prayed that the respondents be ordered to jointly and severally pay 13,000
SERENO, JJ. cavans of palay, or its monetary equivalent, as actual damages, to return possession of the subject
property, and to pay P15,000.00 as attorneys fees.[11]

Promulgated: On January 9, 1996, the respondents filed their answer denying the allegations in the
NARCISO GERMINO and BENIGNO GERMINO, November 22, 2010 complaint, claiming, among others, that the plaintiffs had no right over the subject property as they
Respondents. agreed to sell it to respondent Benigno for P87,000.00. As a matter of fact, respondent Benigno had
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x already made a P50,000.00 partial payment, but the plaintiffs refused to receive the balance and
execute the deed of conveyance, despite repeated demands. The respondents also asserted that
DECISION jurisdiction over the complaint lies with the Regional Trial Court since ownership and possession
are the issues.[12]
BRION, J.:
THE PARAD RULING
Before us is the petition for review on certiorari[1] filed by petitioner Jose Mendoza to
challenge the decision[2] and the resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 48642.[4] In a March 19, 1996 decision, PARAD Romeo Bello found that the respondents were mere
usurpers of the subject property, noting that they failed to prove that respondent Benigno was the
plaintiffs bona fide agricultural lessee. The PARAD ordered the respondents to vacate the subject
FACTUAL BACKGROUND property, and pay the plaintiffs 500 cavans of palay as actual damages. [13]

The facts of the case, gathered from the records, are briefly summarized below. Not satisfied, the respondents filed a notice of appeal with the DARAB, arguing that the
case should have been dismissed because the MTCs referral to the DARAB was void with the
On June 27, 1988, the petitioner and Aurora C. Mendoza[5] (plaintiffs) filed a complaint enactment of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6657,[14] which repealed the rule on referral under Presidential
with the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija against respondent Narciso Germino Decree (P.D.) No. 316.[15]
for forcible entry.[6]
THE DARAB RULING
The plaintiffs claimed that they were the registered owners of a five-hectare parcel of
land in Soledad, Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija (subject property) under Transfer Certificate of Title No. The DARAB decided the appeal on July 22, 1998. It held that it acquired jurisdiction
34267. Sometime in 1988, respondent Narciso unlawfully entered the subject property by means of because of the amended complaint that sufficiently alleged an agrarian dispute, not the MTCs
strategy and stealth, and without their knowledge or consent.Despite the plaintiffs repeated referral of the case. Thus, it affirmed the PARAD decision.[16]
demands, respondent Narciso refused to vacate the subject property.[7]
The respondents elevated the case to the CA via a petition for review under Rule 43 of the
On August 9, 1988, respondent Narciso filed his answer, claiming, among others, that his Rules of Court.[17]
brother, respondent Benigno Germino, was the plaintiffs agricultural lessee and he merely helped
the latter in the cultivation as a member of the immediate farm household. [8] THE CA RULING

After several postponements, the plaintiffs filed a motion to remand the case to the The CA decided the appeal on October 6, 2003.[18] It found that the MTC erred in
Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB), in view of the tenancy issue raised by transferring the case to the DARAB since the material allegations of the complaint and the relief
respondent Narciso. sought show a case for forcible entry, not an agrarian dispute. It noted that the subsequent filing of
the amended complaint did not confer jurisdiction upon the DARAB.Thus, the CA set aside the
Without conducting a hearing, and despite respondent Narcisos objection, the MTC issued DARAB decision and remanded the case to the MTC for further proceedings.
an order on October 27, 1995, remanding the case to the DARAB, Cabanatuan City for further
proceedings.[9] When the CA denied[19] the subsequent motion for reconsideration,[20] the petitioner filed
On December 14, 1995, the plaintiffs[10] filed an amended complaint with the Provincial the present petition.[21]
Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD), impleading respondent Benigno as additional defendant.
THE PETITION 5. Inspite of x x x demands, defendant Germino, refused and up to
the filing of this complaint, still refused to vacate the same;
The petitioner insists that the jurisdiction lies with the DARAB since the nature of the
action and the allegations of the complaint show an agrarian dispute. 6. The continuos (sic) and unabated occupancy of the land by the
defendant would work and cause prejudice and irreparable damage and injury
THE CASE FOR THE RESPONDENTS to the plaintiffs unless a writ of preliminary injunction is issued;

The respondents submit that R.A. No. 6657 abrogated the rule on referral previously 7. This prejudice, damage or injury consist of disturbance of
provided in P.D. No. 316. Moreover, neither the Rules of Court nor the Revised Rules on Summary property rights tantamount to deprivation of ownership or any of its attributes
Procedure (RRSP) provides that forcible entry cases can be referred to the DARAB. without due process of law, a diminution of plaintiffs property rights or
dominion over the parcel of land subject of this dispute, since they are
THE ISSUE deprived of freely entering or possessing the same;

The core issue is whether the MTC or the DARAB has jurisdiction over the case. 8. The plaintiffs are entitled to the relief demanded or prayed for,
and the whole or part of such relief/s consist of immediately or permanently
OUR RULING RESTRAINING, ENJOINING or STOPPING the defendant or any person/s acting
in his behalf, from entering, occupying, or in any manner committing,
We deny the petition. performing or suffering to be committed or performed for him, any act
indicative of, or tending to show any color of possession in or about
Jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint the tenement, premises or subject of this suit, such as described in par. 3 of this
complaint;
It is a basic rule that jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the allegations
in the complaint.[22] It is determined exclusively by the Constitution and the law. It cannot be 9. Plaintiffs are ready and willing to post a bond answerable to any
conferred by the voluntary act or agreement of the parties, or acquired through or waived, enlarged damage/s should the issuance of the writ x x x;
or diminished by their act or omission, nor conferred by the acquiescence of the court. Well to
emphasize, it is neither for the court nor the parties to violate or disregard the rule, this matter 10. As a consequence of defendants malevolent refusal to vacate the
being legislative in character.[23] premises of the land in dispute, plaintiffs incurred litigation expenses of
P1,500.00, availing for the purpose the assistance of a counsel at an agreed
Under Batas Pambansa Blg. 129,[24] as amended by R.A. No. 7691,[25] the MTC shall have honorarium of P5,000.00 and P250.00 per appearance/ not to mention the
exclusive original jurisdiction over cases of forcible entry and unlawful detainer. The moral damages incurred due to sleepless nights and mental anxiety, including
RRSP[26] governs the remedial aspects of these suits.[27] exemplary damages, the award and amount of which are left to the sound
discretion of this Honorable Court.
Under Section 50[28] of R.A. No. 6657, as well as Section 34[29] of Executive Order No. 129-
A,[30] the DARAB has primary and exclusive jurisdiction, both original and appellate, to determine PRAYER
and adjudicate all agrarian disputes involving the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian
Reform Program, and other agrarian laws and their implementing rules and regulations. WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that
pending the resolution of the issue in this case, a restraining order be issued
An agrarian dispute refers to any controversy relating to, among others, tenancy over RESTRAINING, ENJOINING, or STOPPING the defendant or any person/s acting
lands devoted to agriculture.[31] For a case to involve an agrarian dispute, the following essential in his behalf, from ENTERING OR OCCUPYING the parcel of land, or any portion
requisites of an agricultural tenancy relationship must be present: (1) the parties are the landowner thereof, described in paragraph 3 of this complaint, nor in any manner
and the tenant; (2) the subject is agricultural land; (3) there is consent; (4) the purpose is committing, performing or suffering to be committed or, performed for him, by
agricultural production; (5) there is personal cultivation; and (6) there is sharing of harvest or himself or thru another, any act indicative of, or tending to show any color of
payment of rental.[32] possession in or about the premises subject of this suit;

In the present case, the petitioner, as one of the plaintiffs in the MTC, made the following THEREAFTER, making said writ of preliminary injunction
allegations and prayer in the complaint: PERMANENT; and on plaintiffs damages, judgment be rendered ordering the
defendant to pay to the plaintiffs the sum alleged in paragraph 10 above.
3. Plaintiffs are the registered owners of a parcel of land covered by
and described in Transfer Certificate of Title Numbered 34267, with an area of GENERAL RELIEFS ARE LIKEWISE PRAYED FOR.[33]
five (5) hectares, more or less situated at Bo. Soledad, Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija.
x x x; Based on these allegations and reliefs prayed, it is clear that the action in the MTC was for
forcible entry.
4. That so defendant thru stealth, strategy and without the
knowledge, or consent of administrator x x x much more of the herein
plaintiffs, unlawfully entered and occupied said parcel of land;

Allegation of tenancy does not divest the MTC of jurisdiction


Although respondent Narciso averred tenancy as an affirmative and/or special defense in
his answer, this did not automatically divest the MTC of jurisdiction over the complaint. It continued
to have the authority to hear the case precisely to determine whether it had jurisdiction to dispose
of the ejectment suit on its merits.[34] After all, jurisdiction is not affected by the pleas or the theories
set up by the defendant in an answer or a motion to dismiss. Otherwise, jurisdiction would become
dependent almost entirely upon the whims of the defendant.[35]

Under the RRSP, the MTC is duty-bound to conduct a preliminary conference[36] and, if
necessary, to receive evidence to determine if such tenancy relationship had, in fact, been shown to
be the real issue.[37] The MTC may even opt to conduct a hearing on the special and affirmative
defense of the defendant, although under the RRSP, such a hearing is not a matter of right.[38] If it is
shown during the hearing or conference that, indeed, tenancy is the issue, the MTC should dismiss
the case for lack of jurisdiction.[39]

In the present case, instead of conducting a preliminary conference, the MTC immediately
referred the case to the DARAB. This was contrary to the rules. Besides, Section 2[40] of P.D. No. 316,
which required the referral of a land dispute case to the Department of Agrarian Reform for the
preliminary determination of the existence of an agricultural tenancy relationship, has indeed been
repealed by Section 76[41] of R.A. No. 6657 in 1988.

Amended complaint did confer jurisdiction on the DARAB

Neither did the amendment of the complaint confer jurisdiction on the DARAB. The
plaintiffs alleged in the amended complaint that the subject property was previously tilled by Efren
Bernardo, and the respondents took possession by strategy and stealth, without their knowledge
and consent. In the absence of any allegation of a tenancy relationship between the parties, the
action was for recovery of possession of real property that was within the jurisdiction of the regular
courts.[42]

The CA, therefore, committed no reversible error in setting aside the DARAB decision.
While we lament the lapse of time this forcible entry case has been pending resolution, we are not in
a position to resolve the dispute between the parties since the evidence required in courts is
different from that of administrative agencies.[43]

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The October 6, 2003 Decision and October 12,
2004 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 48642 are AFFIRMED. No pronouncement
as to costs.

SO ORDERED.