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[CA-G.R. SP No. 27450.  March 19, 1992.]







This petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus seeks the annulment of the resolution dated September 17, 1991 of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 27) of Gingoog City in Civil Case No. 90-214, reconsidering its previous resolution which dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the complaint filed by private respondent against petitioner and another party and now affirming that after all the court had jurisdiction.   DTEcSa

The background of this case is as follows:

Civil Case No. 90-214 is an action for "quieting of title, declaration of nullity of emancipation patent, and damages," which private respondent Monserat Baol-Calvez filed against Miguel Gumapo and petitioner Gregorio M. Comendador, as a District Officer of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

The land in question, comprising an area of more than one (1) hectare, is situated in Cubuyoan, Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental and is covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-4186 in the name of private respondent. Emancipation Patent No. A-039289, covering an area of 6,990 square meters of this land, was issued to Miguel Gumapo by the DAR.   HcISTE

It appears that prior to the grant of the emancipation patent to Miguel Gumapo, the landholding was cultivated by the spouses Segundino Muit and Nieves Fernandez as tenant-tillers or farmer-beneficiaries by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 27, which was promulgated on October 21, 1972. Upon their demise in 1977 and 1983 respectively, the children of Segundino Muit and Nieves Fernandez succeeded as tenant-tillers of the land and cultivated it until May 1986, when private respondent Monserat Baol-Calvez and the heirs of Segundino Muit and Nieves Fernandez petitioned the court for the termination of the tenancy relationship and the voluntary surrender of the landholding to private respondent as the landowner. The petition was granted by the Regional Trial Court (Branch 27) at Gingoog City and the tenancy relationship was declared terminated in an order dated May 26, 1986.

Thereafter, on January 15, 1987, the DAR by authority of Ministry Memorandum Circular No. 7, series of 1979 (Rules and Regulations Governing Transactions Involving Transfers of Ownership, Rights, Possession and/or Cultivation of Lands covered by P.D. 27) issued and order, instituting Miguel Gumapo as new tenant of the farmlot in place of the former farmer-beneficiary. On July 29, 1988 an emancipation patent was issued by virtue of which the old TCT in private respondent's name was cancelled and a new one, TCT No. EP-529, was issued in the name of Miguel Gumapo by the Register of Deeds of Gingoog City on February 13, 1989.   SIcCTD

Private respondent disputed the validity of the emancipation patent and new certificate of title in an action brought in the court below, claiming that (1) the land is commercial/residential in nature and therefore is not within the purview of the Agrarian Reform Law; (2) defendant Miguel Gumapo is not a bonafide tenant entitled to the issuance of an emancipation patent; (3) the emancipation patent was obtained through fraud; and (4) private respondent had been declared by the RTC (Branch 27) in Civil Case No. 86-025 the exclusive owner of the property.

On the other hand, in their answer, Miguel Gumapo and petitioner Gregorio Comendador contended that (1) the land in dispute is a riceland; (2) Miguel Gumapo had been instituted tenant in accordance with Memorandum Circular No. 7 and P.D. 27; and (3) the emancipation patent had been issued to implement the Agrarian Reform Law. As a special and affirmative defense, they argued that the RTC did not have jurisdiction over the case. They, therefore, moved for its dismissal.

The trial court at first granted the motion and dismissed the case, holding that the validity of the patent and the existence of a tenancy relationship were agrarian matters within the competence of the DAR to determine under sec. 50 of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (Rep. Act No. 6657). However, upon motion of private respondent, the court, on September 17, 1991, reconsidered its resolution and finally assumed jurisdiction over the case.   EAaHTI

Hence, this petition which we find to be well taken.

Sec. 50 of the CARL confers "primary jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters" and "exclusive original jurisdiction over all matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform" on the DAR. Private respondent contends, however, that based on the allegations of her complaint the case is for quieting of title to property under art. 476 of the Civil Code, and that the fact that the cloud on her title is caused by the issuance of an emancipation patent to Miguel Gumapo and the latter has been instituted tenant is only incidental.

This contention has no merit. The thrust of respondent-appellant's complaint is that the emancipation patent covering 6,990 sq. m. of her land is a nullity and, therefore, her title should be upheld. The validity of the emancipation patent is thus the basic question before the trial court. That indeed is the reason why petitioner, who is the District Officer of the Department of Agrarian Reform, was impleaded as a defendant in the court below.

Since this is an agrarian matter, jurisdiction over it must be deemed vested in the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB). The Revised Rules of Procedure, promulgated pursuant to secs. 49 and 50 of the CARL, and sec. 34, in relation to sec. 13, of Executive Order 129-A gives the DARAB.

primary jurisdiction, both original and appellate, to determine and adjudicate all agrarian disputes, cases, controversies, and matters or incidents involving. . .

(c)     . . . the annulment or cancellation of orders or decisions of DAR officials other than the Secretary. . .

(f)      . . . the issuance of Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT), Certificate of Landownership Award (CLOA) and Emancipation Patent (EP)

It is now settled that upon enactment of Executive Order No. 229, which took effect on August 29, 1987, Regional Trial Courts have been divested of jurisdiction to try agrarian cases, which are now exclusively cognizable by the Department of Agrarian Reform. (Quismundo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 95664, Sept. 13, 1991; Vda. de Narboneta v. Villaflores, CA-G.R. CV No. 28699, Jan. 14, 1992; Dandoy v. Mirasol, CA-G.R. SP No. 25317, March 17, 1992)   aAHDIc

Under secs. 56 and 57 of the CARL, Regional Trial Courts, acting as special agrarian courts, have original and exclusive jurisdiction only over two matters: (1) petitions for the determination of just compensation to landowners and (2) prosecutions of offenses under the CARL. This limited competence is emphasized by sec. 68 which prohibits lower courts from issuing any injunction, restraining order, prohibition or mandamus against the DAR and the other government agencies implementing the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The resolution of September 12, 1991 is SET ASIDE and Civil Case No. 90-214 is hereby DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction of respondent court to decide. Costs against private respondent.


Herrera and Sempio Diy, JJ., concur.


Department of Agrarian Reform
Elliptical Road, Diliman
Quezon City, Philippines
Tel. No.: (632) 928-7031 to 39

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