DOJ OPINION NO. 181, s. 1990
October 19, 1990
Secretary Benjamin T. Leong
Department of Agrarian Reform
Diliman, Quezon City
S i r :
This has reference to your request for opinion on the applicability of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program ("CARP") upon the estate of the late Alfonso J. Doronila.
It appears that in 1974, Presidential Proclamation No. 1283 segregated a certain portion of land from the Watershed Reservation in Antipolo, Rizal and reserved said area for townsite purposes; that in 1977, Presidential Proclamation No. 1673 increased the size of the aforesaid townsite reservation (designated as Lungsod Silangan Townsite) and revised its technical description so as to include other lands in the municipalities of Antipolo, San Mateo and Montalban; that to implement the development plan of the Lungsod Silangan Townsite, Letter of Instructions No. 625, inter alia, directed the Solicitor General to institute condemnation proceedings for the acquisition of private lands found therein; that consequently, the said official filed in 1978 with the Court of First Instance of Rizal an expropriation case against the landholdings of Alfonso Doronila; that nine years later, the Solicitor General and the Strategic Investment Development Corporation (formerly, the Human Settlements Development Corporation), by separate motions, requested the dismissal of the expropriation proceedings against the Doronila Estate citing, as grounds thereof, the abolition of the Ministry of Human Settlements and the exclusion of the Strategic Investment Development Corporation from the government's housing and shelter program; and that in an order dated September 18, 1987, the court dismissed the said expropriation case.
You state that the Doronila landholding were brought under CARP coverage, but that the administrator of the Doronila Estate is seeking exemption of said properties from CARP coverage on the bases of the abovementioned Presidential Proclamations and Letter of Instructions. You now pose the following queries for your guidance in evaluation the said request for exemption, to wit:
"(a) What is the legal effect of the dismissal of the expropriation proceedings on the townsite reservation created under the aforesaid proclamations and letter of instruction?"
"(b) With the passage of RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, are these proclamation deemed superseded?"
With respect to the first query, it is believed that the dismissal of the expropriation case against the Doronila properties did not adversely affect the continuing enforceability of Proclamations Nos. 1283 and 1637 and LOI No. 625. Hence, the status of subject properties as being embraced within a townsite reservation is still valid and subsisting. It is noted that the ground for the dismissal of the condemnation proceedings did not involve the legality of the abovementioned executive issuance. Thus, pursuant to Section 3, Article XVIII of the Constitution, which provides that all proclamations, letters of instructions and other executive issuances, among others, existing at the time of the Charter's effectivity which are "not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed or resolved", the said executive issuances remain operative until now. LOI No. 625 expressly states that the Lungsod Silangan Townsite was designed "to absorb the population overspill in the Greater Manila Area", an objective which is consistent with the constitutional mandate for the State to undertake "a continuing program of urban land reform and housing which will make available at affordable cost decent housing and basic services to underprivileged and homeless citizens" (Sec. 9, Article XIII, Constitution). Moreover, we are not aware of any issuance by the incumbent President revoking or repealing the Proclamations and the LOI under consideration. prcd
As regards the second query, neither Proclamation No. 1283 nor Proclamation No. 1673 has been expressly repealed by R.A. No. 6657 (see Sec. 76 thereof). Thus, any allegation that the Proclamations have been superseded by R.A. No. 6657 must perforce be premised upon an inconsistency between them. But we do not see any repugnancy between the aforesaid Proclamations and R.A. No. 6657; indeed, the statute implicitly recognizes the legal effect of the Proclamations. Thus, Section 3(c) of R.A. 6657 defines an "agricultural land" as such lands as not having been previously classified as "mineral, forest, residential, commercial or industrial land". Moreover, Administrative Order No. 61, series 1990 of that Department (Revised Rules and Regulations Governing Conversion of Private Agricultural Lands to Non-Agricultural Uses) provides that said rules do not cover lands previously classified in town plans and pertinent zoning ordinances as having been approved by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board and its predecessor authorities prior to June 15, 1988 for residential, commercial or industrial uses. Since the lands covered by the two Proclamations in question have been reserved for townsite purposes to be developed as human settlements by the proper land and housing agency, the same are not deemed "agricultural lands" within the meaning and intent of Section 3(c) of R.A. No. 6657 and are beyond the purview of A.O. No. 61.
Wherefore, your queries are answered accordingly.
Very truly yours,
FRANKLIN M. DRILON