DOJ OPINION NO. 111, s. 1994
July 28, 1994
Secretary Ernesto D. Garilao
Department Of Agrarian Reform
Elliptical Rd., Diliman
S i r :
This has reference to your request for clarification on the finality of the decision of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and whether the PARC can grant through its sub-committees reliefs and other remedies on requests for reconsideration of its decision.
The query, it appears, is being raised in connection with application for Stock Distribution Option (SDO) which were disapproved or confirmed as withdrawn by the PARC. You state that a number of SDO applications were disapproved for failure to meet the criteria set under Section 5 of DAR Administrative Order No. 10, s. 1988; that some SDO applications were confirmed as withdrawn after the corporate-applicants voluntarily withdrew their applications to avail on the Voluntarily Offer to Sell (VOS) scheme, Commercial Farms Deferment scheme and other modes of compliance under CARL (R.A. No. 6657); that one corporation whose application was disapproved for failing to meet the minimum criteria under the aforesaid DAR Administrative Order, filed a petition for reconsideration which includes improvements/revisions on the terms and conditions as proposed in its original application to satisfy the criteria; and that another corporation is re-opening its application in view of the sentiments of its farmers to become beneficiaries under the SDO scheme.
It is noted that DAR Administrative Order No. 10 does not provide for a period after which the decision/action taken by the PARC on applications for SDO becomes final; neither is the decision/order subject to appeal to higher authorities.
In a previous opinion we ruled that:
". . . administrative agencies and official exercising quasi-judicial functions have the inherent power, comparable to that possessed by courts, on their own motion or upon requests, to reconsider their decision or to correct errors therein, caused by fraud, surprise, mistake or inadvertence (See Miles v. McKinney , 117 ALR 207; Louisville & M.R. do, vs. Sloss-Sheffield Steel & I. Co. 269 U.S. 217). This power, according to the Supreme Court of New Jersey, 'arises by necessary implication to serve the statutory policy. . . . Barring statutory regulation, the power may be invoked by the administrative agencies to serve the ends of essential justice and the policy of the law. . . . Denial of [this] authority to correct error and injustice and to review judgments for good and sufficient cause would run counter to the public interest' (Handlen v. Town of Bellesville, 16 ALR 2d 1118)." (Sec. of Justice Op. No. 26, s. 1957).
The foregoing ruling was reiterated in this Department's Op. No. 31, s. 1986, thus:
"Broadly expressed, administrative determinations are subject to reconsideration and change so long as no rights have vested in the meantime by reason thereof, and so long as they have not passed beyond the control of the administrative authorities, as where the determinations are not final, but interlocutory, or where the powers and jurisdiction of the administrative authorities are continuing in character (Op. of Secretary of Justice No. 23, s. 1952, No. 91, s. 1958). In particular, administrative authorities have the power to modify their determinations on the ground of fraud or mistake, inadvertence or newly discovered evidence, of to meet changed conditions, whether by reason of express statutory provisions granting the power of revision or by reason of principles applied by the courts (Sec. of Justice Op. No. 31, s. 1986, citing Op. No. 26, s. 1957; Op. No. 143, s. 1960).
In view whereof, it is believed that the PARC may reconsider its decision and may grant reliefs and other remedies whenever applicable under exiting laws.
Please be guided accordingly.
Very truly yours,
RAMON J. LIWAG