DOJ OPINION NO. 074, s. 1996
August 1, 1996
Mr. Augusto M. Aquino
Agrarian Legal Office
Land Bank of the Philippines
319 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Ave. Ext.
S i r :
This refers to your request for confirmation of the opinion rendered by the Commission on the Settlement of land Problems (COSLAP), dated May 21, 1996, that the "surrender of the owner's duplicate certificate of title covering an agricultural land acquired by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (R.A. 6657) may be dispensed with that payment of the just compensation may be made by the Land Bank even in the absence thereof".
We gather from your letter and its annexes that the aforesaid COSLAP opinion was rendered in answer to a query submitted by Atty. Juanito B. Almosa, Jr., Hearing Officer of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); that the said query has been raised on account of the non-payment by the Land Bank of the Philippines of the compensation proceeds of the land covered by TCT No. 177 for the failure of the Don Luis A. Pujalte Memorial Foundation, Inc., its registered owner, under the CARP, to surrender the said TCT in accordance with the provision of Section 16(c) of R.A. No. 6657; that the said piece of land has been acquired under CARP for distribution to the farmer-beneficiaries; that the Don Luis A. Pujalte Memorial Foundation, Inc. is in the process of liquidation before the Securities and Exchange Commission; and that there is apparently no pending case in the COSLAP involving the land in question.
We regret we have to decline rendition of opinion on your query. Under Section 50 of R.A. No. 6657, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) shall have "exclusive original jurisdiction over all matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform". The resolution of your query would inevitably impinge upon the action already taken by the DAR on the compensation claim forwarded to the Land Bank. In line with existing policy and practice, the Secretary of Justice does not render opinion or give legal advice on matters which fall within the primary jurisdiction of another office or agency, in this case, the DAR, whose rulings and actuations are not subject to its revisory authority (Secretary of Justice Opns. No. 67 and 69, s. 1979; No. 97, s. 1982 No. 20, s. 1988; and Nos. 91 and 156, s. 1993).
Moreover, we note the subject-matter of your request involves the substantive rights of a private party, the Don Luis A. Pujalte Memorial Foundation, Inc. in the instant case. Since the opinion of the Secretary of Justice is merely advisory in nature, his opinion would have no binding effect upon said private party, who, if adversely affected by such opinion may take issue therewith and contest it before the courts (id., Opns. No. 156, s. 1990; No. 148, s. 1993; No 3, s. 1994; and Nos. 6 and 101, s. 1995).
It is suggested that the matter be threshed out between the Land Bank and DAR taking into account the purposes and objectives of the CARP, primordial of which is the expeditious distribution of agricultural land to all qualified beneficiaries.
Very truly yours,
TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR.
Atty. Rufino V. Mijares
OIC Associate Commissioner
3rd Flr. PPA-PAO Bldg.
NIA Rd., Diliman, Quezon City