DOJ OPINION NO. 036, s. 2006
May 29, 2006
Secretary Nasser C. Pangandaman
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)
Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City
This has reference to your request for opinion on the application of this Department's Opinion No. 44, series of 1990, relative to the Petition for Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) Exemption filed by the Heirs of Glicerio B. Abayon involving a land situated in Sitio Camingawan, Brgy. Ward 1, San Antonio, Northern Samar, which was placed under the CARP through the compulsory acquisition scheme on March 11, 1993.
You disclose that among the documents submitted by the petitioner in support of their petition are two (2) Certifications: one issued by the Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator (MPDC) and another one issued by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) Regional Director Anacetas A. Dalangin. Incidentally, you failed to attach copies thereof to your letter-request.
Specifically, you raised the following queries:
(1) Whether the Barangay Ordinance as ratified by the Sangguniang Bayan, as mentioned in the submitted MPDC Certification is sufficient compliance with DOJ Opinion No. 44, series of 1990, for the grant of the CARP Exemption Clearance of the Abayon Landholdings; and
(2) Whether there is still a need for an HLURB Resolution or Sangguniang Panlalawigan ratification of the said Barangay Ordinance as ratified by the Sangguniang Bayan, in view of DAR Administrative Order (AO) No. 06 (1994) based on DOJ Opinion No. 44, series of 1990.
Although, in line with settled precedents, the Secretary of Justice does not render opinion on questions which as in this case, are not only justiciable in nature or can be the subject of litigation before the courts, 1 but also involve factual issues, 2 we deem it appropriate to answer your queries inasmuch as they involve a ruling rendered by this Department in the exercise of its mandate.
In the subject Opinion No. 44, this Department ruled that "with respect to conversions of agricultural lands covered by R.A. No. 6657 to non-agricultural uses, the authority of DAR to approve such conversions may be exercised from the date of the law's effectivity on June 15, 1988." Thus, prior to June 15, 1988, "with respect to land use planning and conversions, the authority is not exclusive to any particular agency but is a coordinated effort of all concerned agencies," particularly the Department of Local Government and Community Development and the Human Settlements Commission in coordination with DAR.
In fact, this interpretation was confirmed by the Supreme Court in the case of Natalia Realty, Inc. vs. Department of Agrarian Reform, 3 which held:
"Indeed, lands not devoted to agricultural activity are outside the coverage of CARL. These include lands previously converted to non-agricultural uses prior to the effectivity of CARL by government agencies other than respondent DAR."
Consequently, that Department issued Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 06, series of 1994, outlining the Guidelines for the Issuance of Exemption Clearances for lands previously converted to non-agricultural uses prior to the effectivity of R.A. No. 6657 by government agencies other than DAR. Among the documents required in applying for Exemption Clearance are Certifications from (a) the Deputized Zoning Administrator that the land has been reclassified to residential, industrial or commercial use prior to June 15, 1988; and (b) the HLURB that the pertinent zoning ordinance has been approved by the Board prior to June 15, 1988.
Clearly and in conformity with our Opinion and the Supreme Court decision in the aforementioned case, DAR recognized the power of other agencies authorizing conversion of agricultural lands to other uses before the effectivity of the law. Thus, we find no objection to the submission of these requirements.
Vested with jurisdiction over all matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform, including the authority to approve/disapprove conversions of agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses, 4 DAR has the competence to adopt reasonable procedures necessary to carry out this mandate.
The primary responsibility to determine whether the documents submitted by the Heirs of Glicerio B. Abayon are in order lies with the appropriate Regional, Provincial and Municipal officers of DAR. This is clear from a perusal of A.O. No. 06. As stated earlier, these are factual issues over which this Department cannot rule upon.
Please be guided accordingly.
Very truly yours,
(SGD.) RAUL M. GONZALEZ
1. Secretary of Justice Op. No. 91, s. 1957; Ops. No. 19 and 92, s. 1971; Op. No. 108, s. 1978; and Op. No. 46, s. 1981.
2. Ibid. No. 222, s. 1956; No. 128, s. 1977 and 192, s. 1982.
3. 278 SCRA 225, G.R. No. 103302, (August 12, 1993).
4. Section 65, R.A. No. 6657.