[O.P. Case No. 95-L-6328. January 5, 2001.]
ROGELIO OLLIZA, PAZ OLLIZA and EPIFANIA ESPIGAR, appellants, vs. COLEGIO DEL SAGRADO CORAZON DE JESUS, ILOILO CITY, REPRESENTED BY SR. SUPERIOR-PRESIDENT VIRGINIA P. NACIONAL, D.C., petitioner-appellee.
D E C I S I O N
This refers to the appeal of Rogelio Olliza, Paz Olliza and Epifania Espigar from the order dated August 29, 1995, of the Secretary of Agrarian Reform, denying their motion for the reconsideration of an earlier order dated October 17, 1994, the decretal portion of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, order is hereby issued denying the instant appeal for utter lack of merit. Accordingly, the Order dated October 8, 1992 of the Regional Director is hereby affirmed and additionally declaring Rogelio Olliza, Paz Olliza and Epifania Espigar as not bona-fide tenants and could not qualify as farmer-beneficiaries, hence the land occupied by these three tenants are hereby declared vacant to be reallocated to the most qualified farmers.
The antecedent facts, as summarized in the order dated October 17, 1994 of the Secretary of Agrarian Reform, are as follows:
"The records of the case show that the landholding in question is Lot No. 8452-A covered by TCT No. T-32339 situated in the Barrio of Tagbac, Municipality of Oton, Province of Iloilo with an area of Two Hundred Three Thousand Four Hundred Thirteen (203,413) square meters, more or less, and registered in the name of Colegio Del Sagrado Corazon De Jesus (CSCJ for brevity). A portion of Two Thousand and Twelve (2,012) square meters of the said landholding was acquired by the National Irrigation Administration, for irrigation canal, thereby reducing the total area to Two Hundred One Thousand Four Hundred One (201,401) square meters, as evidenced by the Certification dated July 8, 1985 issued by Ireneo C. Ticao, Supervising Engineer of National Irrigation Administration.
Originally the tenanted portion is 12.85 hectares with nine (9) declared tenants by the landowners, namely:
1. DIOSDADO RAMOS; 6. ALEJANDRO ESPALTO;
2. FEDERICO CORTES; 7. MIGUEL VALENCIA;
3. ISIDRO MEDIAVILLA; 8. MANUEL CAFREROS; &
4. PEDRO SAMPIANO; 9. JOSE MONDIA
5. MACARIO ESPIGAR;
Jose Mondia is a recognized tenant of CSCJ in another landholding held in trust and administered for CSCJ Luisa Organization. However, the 5th Indorsement dated August 30, 1992 signed by Atty. Angeles Casipe-Rusiana, Chief, Legal Division of the Region, the tenanted portion, as stated therein, is now 15.5676 hectares, more or less and cultivated by then (10) tenants-lessees namely:
1. ALBALADEJO FRANCISCO 6. MEDIAVILLA, ISIDRO
2. COFREROS, MANUEL 7. ALISA, ROGELIO
3. CORTES, FEDERICO 8. MONDIA, JOSE
4. ESPALTO, ROMANA 9. SERINCULA, AURELIO
5. ESPIGAR, MACARIO 10 VALENCIA, MIGUEL
who have neither been issued Certificates of Land Transfer (CLTs) or Emancipation Patents (EPs). The rest of the subject landholding has been under owner-cultivatorship by CSCJ with an area of 3.4582 hectares.
This landholding was already the subject of a request for retention/exemption from Operation Land Transfer coverage which was endorsed to the Office of then Regional Director Eutiquio Biadora in the year 1975. However, there was no substantial action undertaken by the Regional Office which resulted to subsequent developments wherein some of the tenants were amenable to slice off a portion of their cultivation to accommodate the proposed project of CSCJ intended for educational, religious and charitable purposes which would primarily cater to and redound to the benefit of the community. . . ..
Acting on the follow up request — letter of CSCJ, investigations were conducted . . .."
On the finding that the subject landholding is not exempted from Operation Land Transfer, Regional Director Antonio Maraya, DAR Region VI, issued an order dated October 8, 1992, the dispositive portion of which is quoted hereunder:
"IN THE LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, Order is hereby issued:
1. Denying the petition to exempt the subject landholding from Operation Land Transfer for lack of merit;
2. Granting petitioner the right to retain seven (7) hectares of its tenanted riceland;
3. Allowing petitioner to exercise its right to choose identify and segregate his retained area of 7 hectares, more or less, which area must be contiguous and least prejudicial on the entire landholding and to the majority of the beneficiaries;
4. Directing Municipal Agrarian Reform Office to accordingly assist and cause the preparation and execution of agricultural lease contracts between Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus (CSCJ) and tenant-lessees affected in the 7-hectare, more or less-retained area;
5. Directing the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office to process and cause generation and issuance of Emancipation Patents to beneficiaries covered by Operation Land Transfer on 8,5676 hectares, more or less area."
Acting on CSCJ's appeal, the Secretary of Agrarian Reform rendered his order dated 17 October 1994, affirming the Order of the Regional Director insofar as it denied the petition to exempt the subject landholding from operation land transfer, but modified same insofar as it recognized the status of herein appellants as bona-fide tenants.
Explaining his modificatory ruling, the DAR Secretary wrote:
"Applying the preceding rules, this Office concurs with the allegation of the petitioner as supported by the documents on record. First and foremost, the names of Rogelio Olliza and Paz Olliza are not in the list of the recognized tenants of the petitioner as evidenced by the declaration of Ownership of Agricultural Lands dated Nov. 27, 1972 executed by Sr. Nelia Pacia, D.C. The original tenants therein were Isidro Mediavilla and Pedro Sampiano who mortgaged their respective tenancy rights to the Olliza's without the knowledge and consent of the petitioner, a clear violation of P.D. No. 27. The recognition by the Regional Director in his Order dated October 08, 1992 that Rogelio Olliza and his sister Paz Olliza are bonafide tenants has no basis. Likewise Epifania Espigar, the wife of Macario Espigar (now deceased) is also guilty of violating P.D. No. 27 when she mortgaged her rights to their cultivation as evidenced by her letter dated November 25, 1992. lsidro Mediavilla has no authority to substitute another in his stead in the records of this Department without the knowledge and consent of the landowner."
Hence, this appeal, on the submission that appellee impliedly recognized appellants as tenant-lessees of the subject landholding; and that Epifania Espigar, wife of deceased tenant Macario Espigar, did not mortgage her right over the land she was tilling.
We find no merit in the appeal.
The essential requisites of a tenancy relationship are: 1) the parties are the landowner and the tenant; 2) the subject is agricultural land; 3) there is consent; 4) the purpose is agricultural production; 5) there is personal cultivation; and 6) there is sharing of harvests. Without the concurrence of these requisites, the occupant cannot be considered a de jure tenant. And unless one has established his status as a de jure tenant, he is not entitled to tenurial security nor is he covered by the land reform program of the government under existing tenancy laws (Prudential Bank vs. Gapultos, 181 SCRA 160, Jan 19, 1990; Qua vs. CA, 198 SCRA 236, June 11, 1991, citing Tiongson vs. CA, 130 SCRA 482).
Militating against the appellants' claim of tenancy is the joint affidavit of Rhodora Ramos Trivilegio, et al., who were identified as the "legitimate recognized tenants of the landholdings owned by Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus" stating, among other things, that —
"That we know for a fact that said Rogelio Ollisa and Paz Ollisa are not the bona fide tenants of [CSCJ] on Lot No. 8452-A, PSD-35538, located at Brgy. Tagbac, Oton, Iloilo, because we all know positively that the legitimate tenants instituted by Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus on the lots claimed by ROGELIO OLLISA and PAZ OLLISA were Isidro Mediavilla and Pedro Sampiano, respectively;
"That Isidro Mediavilla continuously cultivated his farmholding until some months before his death on February 25, 1993, . . .;
"That from the time of death of Isidro Mediavilla up to the present no rental was received by [CSCJ] from the farmholdings formerly occupied by Isidro Mediavilla and Pedro Sampiano and now claimed by Rogelio Ollisa and Paz Ollisa." (Record, p. 317-318)
As correctly held by the DAR, appellants Rogelio Olliza and Paz Olliza obtained their disputed tenancy rights through a questionable mortgage from Isidro Mediavilla and Pedro Sampiano, without the knowledge and consent of the petitioner-appellee, in violation of P.D. No. 27. The inherent flaw in appellants Ollizas' position cannot be legitimized by submitting some documents purportedly acknowledging receipt of some sacks of rice for CSCJ. On this score, we give weight to the statement of the persons who issued such receipts, namely Roque Monda, Nancy Fajutrao, and Jesus Encio, who explained in their affidavits that they have "no knowledge as to what relationship existed between said Rogelio Ollisa and Paz Ollisa, on one hand, and the Colegio de Sagrado Corazon de Jesus on the other" (Records, pp. 319-323). Moreover, it is noted that there is no indication on the face of such receipts that the appellants obtained the consent of the landowner. Neither can it be surmised that the landowner (appellee), on the basis of such receipts, standing alone, gave its consent to the appellants to be the tenants of the subject land. For, tenancy relationship can only be created with the consent of the true and lawful landholder through lawful means and not by imposition or usurpation (Hilario vs. IAC, 148 SCRA 573). Tenancy is not a purely factual relationship dependent on what the alleged tenant does upon the land. It is also a legal relationship. The intent of the parties, the understanding when the farmer is installed, and their written agreements, which are complied with and are not contrary to law, are even more important (Tuazon vs. CA, 118 SCRA 484 (1982); Gonzales vs. Alvarez, 182 SCRA 15-16, Feb 7, 1990). Also in pari material is Caballes vs. DAR (168 SCRA 248) holding that the fact of sharing alone is not sufficient to establish a tenancy relationship. Certainly, it is not unusual for a landowner to accept some of the produce of his land from someone who plants certain crops thereon. This is a typical and laudable provinciano trait of sharing or patikim, a native way of expressing gratitude for a favor received. This, however, does not automatically make the tiller-sharer a tenant thereof. Tenancy status arises only if an occupant of a parcel of land has been given its possession for the primary purpose of agricultural production.
Considering, therefore, that appellants Rogelio and Paz Olliza never acquired, vis-à-vis the landholding in question, the status of bona fide tenant-farmers, they cannot avail of the benefits of the land reform program (Gonzales vs. Alvarez, 182 SCRA 16).
The same goes for Epifania Espigar, even assuming that her late husband, Macario, was a tenant of the land. For, by her own acts, she squandered whatever right she had as a supposed tenant. A careful review of the record shows a document dated November 25, 1992, where she mortgaged ("prenda") her rights to the land she was tilling, in violation of P.D. 27. Nor is this all. In their joint affidavit, the legitimate tenants of the subject landholding exposed the activities of Epifania Espigar, by declaring that they are "aware that said Epifania Espigar habitually subleases to third persons the area she is tilling, so much so, that she has accumulated a large amount of rentals in arrears to Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus". Furthermore, they stated that "Espigar has not paid her loans to the Mother Seton Social Services Center operated by Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus" (Record, p. 317).
As a final consideration, it may be stated that, as a rule, lands acquired pursuant to PD 27 or other agrarian reform laws cannot be disposed of freely by the beneficiary thereof. The idea is to hold such lands under trust for succeeding generations of farmers. This restriction against indiscriminate transfer is designed to avoid the repetition of cases under the past land tenure programs where the lands distributed to the tenants reverted back to the former owners or were sold to land speculators. (De Leon, Agrarian Land Reform, p. 116). The conveyance effected by Epifania Espigar, is precisely what PD 27 seeks to prevent (Torres vs. Ventura, 187 SCRA 97, July 21, 1990).
WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby DISMISSED.
By authority of the President:
(SGD.) RAMON B. CARDENAS
Acting Executive Secretary
Atty. Espiridion L. Arieta
Mr. Rogelio Olliza, et al.
Department of Agrarian Reform