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DOJ OPINION NO. 064, s. 2004
June 18, 2004


Hon. Elisea Gozun
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Visayas Avenue, Diliman
Quezon City

M a d a m :

This has reference to the letter of Hon. Renato De Rueda, OIC, Office of the Secretary, requesting this Department for a legal opinion relating to the private nature of legal easement/20-meter riverbank protection on agricultural land and their acquirability and compensability under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL).   CETIDH

Specifically, opinion is requested on "whether the legal easements within the alienable and disposable public agricultural lands which were acquired by private individuals and entities (before January 17, 1973 when private corporation, partnership or association are still allowed to acquire titles to private lands) under the provision of the Public Land Act and other related laws through sales patent or homestead should be paid to the patentees by the government in the event such lands are transferred to a beneficiary under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL)".

At the outset, it is noted that the issue before us has been previously resolved by this Department in its Opinion No. 82, s. 1995. For emphasis, we quote the pertinent portions of said Opinion:

"We regret that we have to decline rendition of the desired opinion or comment.

It is noted that the resolution of your query would unavoidably pass upon the powers and functions of the DAR which is vested, with "primary jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters and shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over all matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform" (Section 50 of R.A. No. 6657). Pursuant to established policy, this Department refrains from expressing its views on matters which fall within the primary jurisdiction of another office or agency, in this case, the DAR, and over the rulings and actuations of which this Department possesses no revisory authority (Sec. of Justice Opn. Nos. 80 and 140, s. 1988; and No. 91, s. 1999).

Besides, the subject matter involves the substantive rights of private parties like the landowners affected by the CARP. Since the opinion of the Secretary of Justice is merely advisory in nature, such opinion would not be binding upon said private parties, who, if adversely affected by such opinion, may take issue therewith and contest it before the courts. As a matter of policy, the Secretary of Justice has consistently refrained from rendering opinions on question which are justiciable in nature or is subject to judicial controversy (Id., Opn. No. 148, s. 1993; and No. 3, s. 1994)." (Emphasis supplied)

In the light of the foregoing, and taking into consideration the facts and issues presented, we see no reason to disturb our earlier ruling on the matter.

Again, this Department reiterates its suggestion that the matter be settled or referred to the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform, consistent with the DAR's mandate under existing laws.  iatdc2004

Please be guided accordingly.

Very truly yours,


Acting Secretary


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

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