DOJ OPINION NO. 052, s. 1997
July 7, 1997
Secretary Salvador H. Escudero III
Department of Agriculture
Elliptical Road, Diliman
S i r :
This refers to your request for opinion relating to the interpretation and application of the provisions of Section 73-A of Republic Act No. 6657 (The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988), as amended, which reads, to wit:
"SECTION 73.-A. Exception. — The provisions of Section 73, paragraph (E), to the contrary notwithstanding, the sale and/or transfer of agricultural land in cases where such sale, transfer or conveyance is made necessary as a result of a bank's foreclosure of the mortgaged land is hereby permitted."
The request, it appears, was precipitated by the letter of Mr. Adolfo V. Antonio, Jr., Manager of the Rural Bank of Tanjay, Inc., Tanjay, Negros Oriental, seeking legal opinion on the queries stated therein relating to the interpretation and implementation of the above-quoted legal provision which is a 1995 Addendum of R.A. No. 7881 to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.
Believing that a legal opinion on the issue raised by Mr. Antonio will have a "far reaching effect", and in order "to avoid the possibility of conflicting opinions", you deemed it appropriate to seek our opinion "for the guidance of all government agencies concerned in the implementation of the Comprehensive Land Reform Program".
This Department regrets to say that it is unable to render the opinion requested. To begin with, the party interested in the resolution of the issues raised in a private firm, the Rural Bank of Tanjay, Inc. As a matter of policy, the Secretary of Justice does not express his opinion on questions raised by private individuals or entities, even if the query is coursed through, or indorsed by, a government official or functionary who may himself be entitled to seek opinion from this Department (Sec. of Justice Opns. No. 114, s. 1994; No. 86, s. 1985; and No. 107, s. 1974).
Likewise, it is noted that the issues raised relate to the sale of the foreclosed properties (acquired assets) of the bank. The resolution of said questions will inevitably affect the substantial rights not only of the bank but also of the buyers of the foreclosed properties and which opinion, if adverse to either of them, may likely be contested in the courts. By settled policy and precedents, the Secretary of Justice does not render opinion on matters which affect the substantive rights of private parties and which may subsequently become the subject of judicial controversy (id., Nos. 6 and 17, s. 1997; No 67, s. 1994).
Finally, the matter involves the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law which is the function of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). In fact, it appears that the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO) of Negros Oriental has already ruled/acted on the issues raised herein. The Secretary of Justice has consistently desisted from passing upon issues which have been previously acted upon by the officials having primary jurisdiction over the matter and whose actuations and decisions are not subject to his revisory authority (id., Nos. 19 and 60, s. 1996). If clarification or review of the aforesaid action is desired, the request should be addressed to the DAR Secretary who is the proper official to act thereon.
Very truly yours,
(SGD.) TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR.