DOJ OPINION NO. 035, s. 1973
February 27, 1973
The Secretary of Agrarian Reform
S i r :
Your letter of the 19th instant requests my opinion "as to who should pay realty taxes on tenanted rice and/or corn lands beginning this year. It is stated therein that, in view of Presidential Decree No. 27 declaring that tenant-farmers "shall be deemed owners" of the lands they till, there is now a serious problem arising from the refusal of landowners to pay real estate taxes due on their tenanted rice and/or corn lands.
We also understand that your Department is now implementing, throughout the country, the said decree only with respect to rice and/or corn lands with areas of 100 hectares or more. As to other lands containing less than 100 hectares, the implementation has been held in abeyance. Your Department Memorandum Circular No. 2-A, dated February 15, 1973, states that pending the promulgation of the rules and regulations — which was postponed by direction of the President — "the leasehold system should be provisionally maintained" and the "tenant-farmer shall continue to pay to the landowner lease rentals for the time being, which, subject to the Rules and Regulations aforementioned may later be credited as amortization payments." The issuance of those rules and regulations has been deferred due to studies being made in pilot projects. As correctly pointed out in your letter, "landowners and tenant-farmers are put in status quo which means that the leasehold relations between them shall be maintained pending the promulgations of the rules and regulations." (Emphasis mine.)
Such being the case, I believe that with respect to tenanted rice and/or corn lands 100 hectares or more in area, it is beyond question that the tenant-farmers are already deemed owners of the lands they till and, as such owners, they ought to pay the real property taxes assessable on the said lands regardless of whether or not land transfer certificates have been issued. However, as regards lands containing less than 100 hectares, it is believed that, all things considered, it would be more logical and reasonable to conclude that depending implementation of the decree as to those lands, the ownership of the lands remain with or is still retained by the present landowners. The real estate taxes should, accordingly, be paid by the said landowners. This may be implied from the preservation of the status quo pursuant to which the leasehold system shall be maintained and the tenant-farmers shall continue to pay "lease rentals" and not "amortization payments," except, of course, in certain cases where land transfer certificates have already been issued by the government to the tenant-farmers.
It bears emphasis that the foregoing should be understood by all concerned as a provisional arrangement which is subject to such final disposition or adjustments as may be provided in the rules and regulations upon promulgation thereof.
Please be guided accordingly.
Very truly yours,
(SGD.) VICENTE ABAD SANTOS
Secretary of Justice