Ros vs. DAR, GR 132477, Aug. 31, 2005 468 SCRA 471

Fact: Petitioners are the owners/developers of several parcels of land located in Arpili, Balamban, Cebu. By virtue of Municipal Ordinance No. 101 passed by the Municipal Council, these lands were reclassified as industrial lands. On 03 April 1995, the Provincial Board of Cebu approved Balamban’s land use plan and adopted en toto Balamban’s Municipal Ordinance No. 101 with the passage of Resolution No. 836-95 and Provincial Ordinance No. 95-8, respectively. As part of their preparation for the development of the subject lands as an industrial park, petitioners secured all the necessary permits and appropriate government certifications. Despite these permits and certifications, petitioner received a letter from Director of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Regional Office for Region 7, informing him that the DAR was disallowing the conversion of the subject lands for industrial use and directed him to cease and desist from further developments on the land to avoid the incurrence of civil and criminal liabilities. Petitioners were thus constrained to file with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Toledo City  for Injunction with Application for Temporary Restraining Order and a Writ of Preliminary Injunction the RTC, ruling that it is the DAR which has jurisdiction, dismissed the Complaint for lack of jurisdiction. At the Court of Appeals, the public respondents were ordered to file their Comments on the petition. Two sets of comments from the public respondents, one from the Department of Agrarian Reform Provincial Office and another from the Office of the Solicitor General, were submitted, to which petitioners filed their Consolidated Reply. the Court of Appeals rendered a decision  affirming the Order of Dismissal issued by the RTC. A motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioners was denied in a resolution dated 30 January 1998. Adrian Avilado Antazo

 

Issue: Whether the reclassification of the subject lands to industrial use by LGU pursuant to its authority has the effect of taking such lands out of the coverage of the CARL and beyond the jurisdiction of the DAR?Adrian Avilado Antazo

 

Held: No, after the passages of Republic Act No. 6657 (CARP), agricultural lands, though reclassified, have to go through the process of conversion. jurisdiction over which is vested in the DAR. However, agricultural lands already reclassified before the effectivity of Rep. Act No. 6657 are exempted from conversion. The agricultural lands must go through the required process of conversion despite of having undergone reclassification. In the current case, there is no final order of conversion. The subject landholding was merely reclassified. Conversion is different from reclassification. Conversion is the act of changing the current use of a piece of agricultural land into some other use as approved by the Department of Agrarian Reform. Reclassification, on the other hand, is the act of specifying how agricultural lands shall be utilized for non-agricultural uses such as residential, industrial, and commercial, as embodied in the land use plan, subject to the requirements and procedure for land use conversion. Accordingly, a mere reclassification of agricultural land does not automatically allow a landowner to change its use and thus cause the ejectment of the tenants. He has to undergo the process of conversion before he is permitted to use the agricultural land for other purposes. Adrian Avilado Antazo

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