DOJ OPINION NO. 023, s. 2010
May 19, 2010
Mr. Danny Carranza
Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court
Rm. 100-C Philippine Social Science Center
University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City
This refers to your request for opinion on the legality of establishing a police/military detachment inside a private landholding relative to the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
A similar query was raised by the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer of Quezon.
Your query, it appears, stemmed from the alleged inability of the nine (9) leaseholders reinstated within the Matias property in San Francisco, Quezon, last February 11, 2010, to maintain their peaceful possession and cultivation of the subject properties due to the claimed continuing harassment committed by certain armed men of the landowner.
You state that this clear manifestation of simple if not grave harassment will continue to be experienced by your poor farmers in the absence of an effective security support from men in uniform; that during a dialogue with DAR officials, it was suggested that the establishment of a police/military detachment within the premises of subject private property may be the solution to the continuing threat to the security of the farmers; and that the police/military, however, have fears of being charged criminally, civilly and administratively by resisting landowners, if in case a military detachment is established within the property.
We take it that your request is raised in connection with the implementation of Joint DAR-DILG-DND Circular No. 05 dated June 10, 2002, which deals with the "Law Enforcement of Agrarian Reform Laws and Programs."
With regret, this Department cannot issue the requested opinion.
Please be informed that the Secretary of Justice, pursuant to settled policy and precedent, renders opinion or gives legal advice only upon request of national government functionaries such as heads of departments, chiefs of bureaus and offices of equivalent rank and then only on specific questions of law. Accordingly, he has, in practice, consistently declined to render opinion or give legal advice to other government officials and to individual entities. 1
Moreover, the resolution of the issue raised would inevitably require us to pass upon the subject Joint DAR-DILG-DND Circular No. 05. Pursuant to settled practice and precedents, the Secretary of Justice does not render opinion or express any comments on questions involving the interpretation and/or application of administrative rules and regulations of other departments/offices over which he exercises neither supervisory nor revisory authority, unless requested by the issuing agencies/departments by reason of their familiarity with the intent and purposes of the issuances and extent of the application thereof. 2
Furthermore, the resolution of the issue raise would necessarily affect the substantive rights of private parties, i.e., the landowners, upon whom the opinion of the Secretary of Justice, which is merely advisory, has no binding effect, and who may, in all likelihood, contest such opinion in court if it turns to be adverse to their interests. In as much as the matter may be the subject of a judicial controversy in the future, it is neither advisable nor proper for this Department to comment thereon. 3
Nonetheless, for your information and guidance only, the following observations and comments are provided:
Joint DAR-DILG-DND Circular No. 05 pertinently reads:
2. The DILG-PNP shall:
xxx xxx xxx
2.4 Upon written request by the DAR, provide security forces to DAR personnel whenever performance of their official function subjects them to peril.
2.5 Upon written request by the DAR, assist DAR personnel in the exercise of administrative power to gain entry into landholdings for the purpose of conduction * field investigation relative to CARP implementation.
xxx xxx xxx
3. The DND-AFP shall:
xxx xxx xxx
3.4 Upon written request by the DAR, provide additional security assistance to DAR personnel whenever performance of their official function subjects them to peril.
3.5 Upon written request by the DAR, assist DAR personnel when AFP assistance is needed, in the exercise of administrative power to gain entry into landholdings for the purpose of conducting ocular inspection, field investigation, surveying and other related activities to CARP implementation.
Basic is the rule in statutory construction that when the law is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning without attempted interpretation. 4 In Commissioner of Internal Revenue vs. Central Luzon Drug Corporation, 5 the Supreme Court reiterated,
"It is a fundamental rule in statutory construction that the legislative intent must be determined from the language of the statute itself especially when the words and phrases therein are clear and unequivocal. The statute in such a case must be taken to mean exactly what is says. 6 Its literal meaning should be followed; 7 to depart from the meaning expressed by the words is to alter the statute." 8
It is clear from the foregoing provisions that what is contemplated in the subject Circular is the right of entry only into the landholdings by the operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), whenever necessary, and in no manner it includes the establishment of a police/military detachment within the afore-mentioned properties.
Please be guided accordingly. CST
Very truly yours,
(SGD.) ALBERTO C. AGRA
1. Secretary of Justice Opinion No. 3, current series, citing previous opinions.
2. Id., No. 88, s. 1998; No. 74, s. 1989.
3. Ibid., Nos. 53, 36, 12, 8 and 3, s. 1999.
4. Ramos vs. CA, 108 SCRA 728, 733.
5. G.R. No. 148512, June 26, 2006.
6. Banawa vs. Mirano, G.R. No. 24750, May 16, 1980, 97 SCRA 517.
7. Tan Lin vs. Republic, 112 Phil. 308 (1961).
8. Tañada vs. Yulo, 61 Phil. 515 (1935).