Padua vs. CA GR 153456, Mar. 2, 2007 517 SCRA 232

Facts: Private respondents Pepito Dela Cruz, et al. were tenants of Lots which was donated said to the municipality on the condition that these be used as school sites. The project did not materialize and, Dela Cruz, et al. asked that the properties be returned to them. However, they found out that Mayor Cruz had distributed the Lots who were each issued a Certificate of Land Transfer). Upon Petition for Cancellation of CLT filed by Dela Cruz, et al., DAR Secretary issued an Order cancelling the CLT issued to Labagnoy and Cruz. The latter filed a Petition for Relief from Judgment for lack of due process but the same was denied which was subsequently appealed to the Office of the President (OP) which was dismissed. However, during the pendency of the appeal before the OP, Cruz executed an Affidavit of Waiver over his interest in Lot No. 90 on the basis of which DAR Regional Office III issued an Order cancelling the CLT of Cruz and declaring Lot No. 90 open for disposition. Then DAR Secretary Santiago issued an Order awarding Lot No. 90 to herein petitioner Padua who had been occupying said property and paying the amortization thereon to the LBP. Aggrieved, Dela Cruz, et al., filed with the DAR Secretary a Letter-Petition for Cancellation (Letter-Petition) of the DAR Regional Office III Orders. DAR Secretary Garilao granted the Letter-Petition in an Garilao Order cancelling the Order of Award issued in favor of Roberto Padua and directing the Regional Director to cause the restoration of possession of said lot in favor of the Dela Cruz, et al. All payments made by Roberto Padua on account of said lot as rentals for the use thereof are forfeited in favor of the government. Accordingly, DAR Regional Director Acosta  issued a Memorandum directing herein public respondent PARO Inocencio to implement the Garilao Order. In turn, PARO Inocencio instructed Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer Lino Mabborang (MARO Mabborang) to issue the necessary documents to award Lot No. 90 to Dela Cruz, et al. Upon being informed by MARO Mabborang of the implementation of the Garilao Order, Padua filed with the CA a Petition for Annulment of a Final and Executory Order of the Secretary of Agrarian Reform with Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction. The CA issued the herein assailed Decision, dismissing the Petition for Annulment for being the wrong mode of questioning the Garilao Order.  The CA also affirmed the Garilao Order, holding that then DAR Secretary Garilao had authority to resolve the Letter-Petition as it involved an agrarian dispute. The CA also rejected the contention of Padua that he was not accorded due process in view of evidence on record that he was notified of the proceedings on the Letter-Petition but he chose not to participate therein. Padua filed a Motion for Reconsideration was subsequently denied by CA. Hence, the present Petition.

Issue:  Whether the DAR has no jurisdiction in Hearing the land dispute on the said case?

Held: No, The statutory mechanism for the acquisition of land through agrarian reform requires full payment of amortization before a farmer-beneficiary may be issued a CLOA or EP, which, in turn, can become the basis for issuance in his name of an original or a transfer certificate of title. As Padua himself admitted that he is still paying amortization on Lot to LBP, his status in relation to said property remains that of a mere potential farmer-beneficiary whose eligibilities DAR may either confirm or reject. In fact, under DAR Administrative Order, DAR has authority to issue, recall, or cancel a CLT, CBC, EP, or CLOA issued to potential farmer-beneficiaries but not yet registered with the Register of Deeds.

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