Mago vs. Barbin GR 173923, Oct. 12, 2009 603 SCRA 232

Facts: Respondent filed with the PARAD of Camarines Norte an action for Cancellation of Emancipation Patents, Disqualification of Tenant-Beneficiary, Repossession and Damages. Respondent alleged that she is the owner in fee simple of an irrigated riceland , and that Petitioners were tenants of the subject landholding. Respondent further alleged that petitioners violated the terms of their leasehold contracts when they failed to pay lease rentals for more than two years, which is a ground for their dispossession of the landholding. On the other hand, petitioners alleged that the subject landholding was placed under the Operation Land Transfer program of the government pursuant to PD 27. Respondent’s title, OCT No. P-4672, was then cancelled and the subject landholding was transferred to Petitioners who were issued Emancipation Patents by the DAR. The Transfer Certificates of Title issued to petitioners  emanating from the Emancipation Patents were registered with the Registry of Deeds on 9 February 1989. Petitioners averred that prior to the issuance of the Emancipation Patents, they already delivered their lease rentals to respondent. They further alleged that after the issuance of the Emancipation Patents, the subject landholding ceased to be covered by any leasehold contract.  PARAD denied the petition for lack of merit. The PARAD found that in her petition for retention and exemption from the coverage of the Operation Land Transfer, and cancellation of Certificates of Land Transfer, filed before the DAR, respondent admitted that aside from  riceland, she also owns other agricultural lands of “cocolands.” The PARAD further held that pursuant to DAR Memorandum Circular payment of lease rentals to landowners covered by the Operation Land Transfer shall terminate on the date the value of the land is established. Thus, the PARAD held that the proper recourse of respondent is to file a claim for just compensation. On appeal, the DARAB reversed and set aside the PARAD Decision ORDERING the Register of Deeds to cancel the Emancipation Patent of the Petitioners and  DIRECTING the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer of Vinzons, Camarines Norte, to reallocate the subject lands to qualified beneficiaries. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, which the DARAB denied for lack of merit. Petitioners then appealed to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the DARAB Decision and thereafter denied petitioners’ motion for reconsideration. Hence, this petition

Issue: Whether the Emancipation Patents and Transfer Certificates of Title issued to the Petitioner which were already registered with the Register of Deeds have already become indefeasible and can no longer be cancelled even if they failed to fully pay the landowner.

Held: No, the Court has already ruled that the mere issuance of an emancipation patent does not put the ownership of the agrarian reform beneficiary beyond attack and scrutiny. Emancipation patents issued to agrarian reform beneficiaries may be corrected and cancelled for violations of agrarian laws, rules and regulations. In fact, A DAR Administrative Order enumerates the grounds for cancellation of registered Emancipation Patents or Certificates of Landownership Award which state that” Default in the obligation to pay an aggregate of three (3) consecutive amortizations in case of voluntary land transfer/direct payment scheme, except in cases of fortuitous events and force majeure” Indeed, the court scrutinized the evidentiary records but found no valid reason to depart from the challenged decision and it does not also allow unjust treatment of landowners by depriving the latter of the just compensation due.

 

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