[CA-G.R. SP No. 27815. April 30, 1992.]
AUREA HERNANDEZ, petitioner, vs. ABETO A. SALCEDO, JR., in his capacity as Provincial Adjudicator of the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board, Region 10 and ISABELA CULTURAL CORPORATION, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
KAPUNAN, J p:
This is a petition for certiorari seeking to annul the decision dated March 9, 1992 rendered by the Provincial Adjudicator, Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB), Region X, Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City, in DARAB Case No. 200, the dispositive portion of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, and based on the evidence adduced and submitted, this Adjudicator declares and proclaims the following:
"1. That respondent and her children, agents and assignees, shall vacate the 3.2368 hectares, illegally cultivated by them and belonging to the complainant;
"2. That respondent and her children, agents and assignees shall stop disturbing, obstructing and displacing the complainant in their peaceful possession and continuous operation of their land rightfully and legally belonging to them;
"3. That respondent shall pay corresponding rental on the land illegally cultivated by her children with her knowledge, during the whole period of their illegal occupation of almost 4 years by which complainant was deprived of the use, benefit and enjoyment thereof, in the amount of P9,000.00 per hectare per cropping, computed at 25% of the P36,000.00 per hectare per cropping claimed by the complainant.
As gleaned from the petition and its annexes, the antecedent facts of the case are as follows:
On November 26, 1990 private respondent Isabela Cultural Corporation, represented by Reverend Robert Cunningham, S.J., filed DARAB Case No. 200 against petitioner Aurea Hernandez for "Forcible Entry, Unlawful Detainers, Reinstatement and Damages" (Annex C, Petition) alleging, among others, that petitioner's late husband applied for and was allocated Lot No. 1378 with an area of twelve (12) hectares in Pangantucan, Bukidnon, by the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA) on October 10, 1956; that Jorge Estomaguio was similarly allocated an adjoining lot known as Lot No. 1379, Pls-507-B with an area of eleven (11) hectares; that when a National road that was built traversing the two lots, a portion of 3.2368 hectares allocated to Estomaguio was separated from the main portion and found itself on the other side of the road adjacent to Lot 1378 of petitioner's husband; that for unknown reasons, petitioner's husband subsequently included in his claim the 3.2368 hectares; that Estomaguio then filed a complaint for forcible entry against petitioner's husband in the Municipal Court of Pangantucan which decided in favor of the former, resulting in its subdivision of the subject land into Lot 1378-A (3.2368 hectares) allotted to Estomaguio and Lot 1378-B (11.0114) to petitioner's husband; that sometime in 1967 and 1971, private respondent acquired Estomaguio's lots and had Lot 1378-A cultivated by the students of the High School operated by private respondent; that in 1968, one of the heirs of petitioner's husband wrote to then DAR Secretary Conrado F. Estrella requesting him to exclude Lot No. 1378 from the school site; that petitioner ultimately illegally occupied private respondent's land causing irreparable injury to the high school; and that contrary to petitioner's claim that she had acquired title to the land, the Bureau of Lands and the DAR Central Office have issued certifications that there is no registered claimant to Lot No. 1378, much less has a homestead patent been issued to any person.
On December 17, 1990 petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the complaint (Annex "D", Petition) on the following grounds:
"1. That the complaint states no cause of action and/or is fatally defective for not being verified under oath; Also, because of lack of Certification from the BARC.
"2. That the Honorable Board has no jurisdiction over the nature of the action or suit."
In support of the second ground, petitioner argued that the case does not involve landlord and tenant relationship but a simple action of forcible entry and, consequently, it falls under the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, pursuant to Section 33(a) of B.P. 129.
In an order dated December 27, 1990 (Annex "E", Petition) the Provincial Adjudication, PARAD-Region X, denied petitioner's motion to dismiss on the following ground:
"A perusal of the issues raised by the parties in their respective pleadings and the supporting documents of the complainant, that the issuance and existence of respondents title is not recorded in any of the DAR office and the fact that the area in conflict is within the jurisdiction of the DAR as a resettlement area, the motion to dismiss is hereby denied and the case will set for hearing in the next available calendar for Bukidnon cases.
On January 28, 1991, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration (Annex "F", Petition) insisting that the case does not involve an agrarian dispute and maintaining that "the mere fact that the land is in the DAR resettlement area does not follow that all disputes arising from the land shall be settled by the DAR (DARAB)."
In an order dated February 13, 1991 (Annex "H", Petition), the Provincial Adjudicator, PARAD-Region X, denied the motion for reconsideration.
On February 26, 1991 petitioner filed her answer to the complaint (Annex "I", Petition).
After the parties had submitted their opposing position papers, the Provincial Adjudicator, DARAB-Region X, rendered the decision sought to be annulled.
In the instant petition for certiorari, petitioner reiterates her previous ground that the Provincial Adjudicator PARAD-Region X has no jurisdiction over the complaint because the case does not involve a landlord and tenant relationship between the parties but a simple one of forcible entry which is cognizable by the Municipal Trial Court.
The petition is devoid of merit.
While the complaint in DARAB Case No. 200 is captioned "Forcible Entry, Unlawful Detainer, Reinstatement and Damages" the allegations therein show that private respondent is, in fact, questioning the ownership of petitioner over the land in question. Petitioner claims that the land was acquired by her late husband through a homestead application. In effect, the allegations, in the complaint seek the cancellation or amendment of petitioner's alleged title over a land which is admittedly within the settlement and resettlement areas under the administration or disposition of the Department of Agrarian Reform. This brings the case under the jurisdiction of the DARAB.
Jurisdiction of DARAB covers not only agrarian disputes, but also matters or incidents involving the implementation of all agrarian laws and their implementing rules and regulations. Thus, Section 1, Rule II of Republic Act 6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, provides:
"SECTION 1. Primary, Original and Appellate Jurisdiction. — The Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board shall have primary jurisdiction, both original and appellate, to determine and adjudicate all agrarian disputes, cases, controversies, and matters or incidents involving the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program under Republic Act No. 6657, Executive Order Nos. 229, 228 and 129-A, Republic Act No. 3844 as amended by Republic Act No. 6389, Presidential Decree No. 27 and other agrarian laws and their implementing rules and regulations."
Jurisdiction of DARAB over the complaint in DARAB Case No. 200 finds support in Section 12, P.D. 946, the pertinent portions of which provide:
"Section 12. Jurisdiction over subject matter. — The Courts of Agrarian Relations shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over:
"xxx xxx xxx
"(g) Cases involving the annulment of decisions, lease contracts and deed of sales, and the cancellation or amendment of titles pertaining to agricultural lands under the administration and disposition of the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Land Bank, as well as emancipation patents issued under P.D. No. 266, homestead patents, free patents and miscellaneous sales patents to settlers in settlement and resettlement areas under the administration or disposition of the Department of Agrarian Reform. (Emphasis supplied)"
Section 12 of P.D. 946 has not been repealed by R.A. 6657, except its last two paragraphs (Sec. 76 on Repealing Clause, R.A. 6657).
Moreover, the instant petition is premature. Petitioner has failed to exhaust administrative remedies before coming to this Court on certiorari. Rule III on Appeals of R.A. 6657 provides that appeal from an order or decision of the Regional or Provincial Adjudicator may be bought only to the Board of Adjudicators. This Court can only exercise its power of review over the decision, order, award or ruling of the Board of Adjudicators, pursuant to Section 1 of Rule XIV of R.A. 6657 which states:
"SECTION 1. Certiorari to the Court of Appeals. — Any decision, order, award or ruling by the Board or its Adjudicators on any agrarian dispute or on any matter pertaining to the application, implementation, enforcement, or interpretation of agrarian reform laws or rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, may be brought within fifteen (15) days from receipt or a copy thereof, to the Court of Appeals by certiorari, except as provided in the next succeeding section. Notwithstanding an appeal to the Court of Appeals the decision of the Board or Adjudicator appealed from, shall be immediately executory."
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is DENIED due course and DISMISSED.
Herrera and Rasul, JJ., concur.