DOJ OPINION NO. 013, s. 2009
March 2, 2009
Hon. Secretary Nasser C. Pangandaman
Department of Agrarian Reform
Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City
This has reference to your request for this Department's legal opinion relative to the issue of the reckoning date as to when an obligation to pay the landowner's landholding compulsorily covered under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is already deemed an existing obligation.
You state that in a meeting between the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), it was agreed that the reckoning date would be the issuance of the Notice of Land Valuation and Acquisition (NLVA) by the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) regardless of whether the offer is accepted or rejected owing to the compulsory nature of the acquisition as mandated by law, specifically Section 16 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6657.
You also state that while the DAR and LBP are in agreement as to the reckoning date, you deem it more advisable nonetheless to seek for this Department's definitive legal opinion. Hence, this query.
Section 16 of R.A. No. 6657 provides for the procedure for the acquisition of private lands, to wit:
"SEC. 16. Procedure for Acquisition of Private Lands. — For purposes of acquisition of private lands, the following procedures shall be followed:
(a) After having identified the land, the landowners and the beneficiaries, the DAR shall send its notice to acquire the land to the owners thereof, by personal delivery or registered mail, and post the same in a conspicuous place in the municipal building and barangay hall of the place where the property is located. Said notice shall contain the offer of the DAR to pay a corresponding value in accordance with the valuation set forth in Sections 17 and 18, and other pertinent provisions hereof.
(b) Within thirty (30) days from the date of receipt of written notice by personal delivery or registered mail, the landowner, his administrator or representative shall inform the DAR of his acceptance or rejection of the offer.
(c) If the landowner accepts the offer of the DAR, the LBP shall pay the landowner the purchase price of the land within thirty (30) days after he executes and delivers a deed of transfer in favor of the Government and surrenders the Certificate of Title and other muniments of title.
(d) In case of rejection or failure to reply, the DAR shall conduct summary administrative proceedings to determine the compensation for the land by requiring the landowner, the LBP and other interested parties to submit evidence as to the just compensation for the land, within fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the notice. After the expiration of the above period, the matter is deemed submitted for decision. The DAR shall decide the case within thirty (30) days after it is submitted for decision. cECaHA
(e) Upon receipt by the landowner of the corresponding payment or, in case of rejection or no response from the landowner, upon the deposit with an accessible bank designated by the DAR of the compensation in cash or in LBP bonds in accordance with this Act, the DAR shall take immediate possession of the land and shall request the proper Register of Deeds to issue a Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) in the name of the Republic of the Philippines. The DAR shall thereafter proceed with the redistribution of the land to the qualified beneficiaries.
(f) Any party who disagrees with the decision may bring the matter to the court of proper jurisdiction for final determination or just compensation."
Section 16, above-quoted, prescribes the procedure for acquisition of private lands for the CARP. The procedure starts with the sending of notices of acquisition by DAR to the landowner which shall contain the offer of DAR to pay a corresponding value as purchase price for the land (par. a). If the landowner accepts the offer of DAR, the LBP shall pay the landowner the purchase price of the land (par. c). In case of rejection or failure to reply, DAR shall conduct summary administrative proceedings to determine the compensation for the land, at which proceedings the landowner, the LBP and all interested parties shall be required to submit evidence as to the just compensation for the land. The DAR shall render a decision within thirty (30) days from date of submission of the case for decision (par. d). Any party who disagrees with the DAR decision may bring the matter to the court of proper jurisdiction for final determination of just compensation (par. f). The DAR decision shall be final after the lapse of fifteen (15) days from receipt of a copy thereof (Sec. 51).
This view is strengthened by the fact that while the DAR is mandated by law to conduct summary administrative proceeding in case of rejection or non-response from the owner, and court action is allowed in both cases, the issue is limited to the determination of just compensation and nothing else.
Parenthetically, and as you have correctly stated, "An obligation is defined as a juridical necessity to give, to do or not to do (Article 1156, Civil Code). Obligations derived from law while not presumed are demandable if expressly determined in the Civil Code or in special laws, like the CARP law — R.A. 6657 (Article 1158, Civil Code)."
Clearly, since your query relates to a landowner's landholding which is compulsorily covered under the CARP, it will not matter on whether the offer is accepted or rejected by the landowner. From the time that the DAR sends a notice of land acquisition and valuation to the land owner, there is already deemed an existing obligation for the DAR to pay the landowner.
Please be guided accordingly.
Very truly yours,
(SGD.) RAUL M. GONZALEZ