CA-G.R. SP No. 44639
[CA-G.R. SP No. 44639 April 17, 1998.]
VICTORIA FRANCISCO and EMMANUEL CAPINPIN, petitioner, vs. MARIO VIVO, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
REYES, R. T., J p:
The crucial question in this petition for review under Rule 43 is whether or not respondent Mario Vivo is a tenant of a 41,846-square meter agricultural land situated at Barangay San Antonio, Biñan, Laguna owned by petitioner Victoria Francisco.
In his amended complaint for "illegal land use conversion and technical ejection of tenant" 1 lodged before the Office of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (PARAB) in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, respondent alleged that he is the tenant of the said land since 1980 as evidenced by certifications and affidavits of various persons. He claimed that he and petitioner-owner Victoria Francisco enjoyed harmonious tenurial relationship until December 16, 1989, when he received a letter from petitioner's lawyer advising him that after the succeeding harvest year, he will be dispossessed of his landholding; that on June 17, 1991, petitioner Manuel Capinpin, petitioner-owner's nephew, together with some policemen, entered the said land and dumped filling materials thereon and started to convert the same into a memorial park; that respondent learned the next day from the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office of Sta. Cruz, Laguna that the conversion of the said land was without DAR approval; that he was displaced without being paid a disturbance compensation equivalent to five (5) times the average of the gross harvest thereon during the last five (5) preceding calendar years and that he and his family suffered loss of income, hurt feeling, mental anguish, social humiliation and besmirched reputation.
Petitioners denied that respondent is the tenant of the disputed land. They asserted that respondent is a mere "Katiwala" per contract entitled "Kasunduan sa Pangangalaga ng Bukid which respondent voluntarily signed. Petitioner-owner relied on respondent with respect to overseeing the land from planting to harvest. It was respondent who rendered to her an accounting of the income and expense thereon. Prior to 1980, respondent was the tenant of another riceland but he surrendered his right as tenant after the owner agreed to give him 1/3 of the selling price. When petitioners converted the land into a memorial park, it was merely an exercise of proprietary right. Contrary to their contract, respondent personally cultivated the land after receipt of the letter from petitioner-owner's lawyer, to make it appear that he was a bona fide tenant thereon. 2
Finding the version of petitioners to be more credible, Provincial Adjudicator Claro M. Almogela dismissed the complaint in his decision dated June 29, 1993, the dispositive part of which reads:
"WHEREOF (sic), finding complaint Mario Vivo to be a mere "katiwala" of the landholding of respondent Victoria C. Francisco and not an agricultural tenant thereof, the instant case is hereby DISMISSED and the complaints, together with the members of his family who may have encroached on the land, are hereby ordered to surrender the possession of the said landholding to the respondent." 3
Respondent appealed to the office of the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform which reversed PARAB in a 4-3 decision, 4 the dispositive portion of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is hereby REVERSED and a new one rendered as follows:
1. Declaring Complainant-Appellant tenant on the landholding in question;
2. Directing Respondent-Appellees and persons acting in their behalves to maintain Complainant-Appellant in the peaceful possession and cultivation of the landholding in question and to refrain from dumping filling materials thereon any such acts as would hinder his peaceful possession and cultivation thereof. 5
Disagreeing with the reversal of PARAB's decision, petitioners resorted to the petition at bench, contending that;
"1. The Honorable DAR Adjudication Board's conclusion that respondent Mario Vivo is the "tenant on the subject landholding" is manifestly contrary to the established facts and evidence of the case as well as the applicable laws and settled jurisprudence defining/recognizing an "agricultural tenancy".
"2. The Honorable DAR Adjudication Board gravely erred in disturbing and disregarding the factual findings and conclusions of the Honorable Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator Claro M. Almogela that respondent Mario Vivo is a mere "Katiwala" of the landholding of Victoria S. Francisco and not an agricultural tenant thereof, and further erred in substituting its own conclusions which are grounded on speculations, surmises and conjectures.
"3. The Decision of the Honorable DARAB, as shown by the Dissenting Opinion of the Honorable Assistant Secretary Sergio B. Serrano (and joined in by Honorable Undersecretary Artemio A. Adasa and Assistant Secretary Clifford C. Burkley) has no sufficient basis to support itself, and constitutes a denial for the petitioner's cardinal rights to administrative due process." 6
The petition is impressed with merit.
At the outset, let is be stressed that time and again, the Supreme Court has ruled that the findings and conclusions of the Secretary of Agrarian Reform as regards the relations between litigants in land cases, being preliminary in nature, are not in any way binding on the courts which must endeavor to arrive at their own independent conclusions. 7
Whether or not there is tenancy relationship between respondent and petitioner-owner, should be determined according to the pieces of evidence presented by respondent before the Provincial Adjudicator and tested against the recognized requisites for creating a tenancy relationship between the parties.
To support his acclaim that he was a tenant, respondent presented various documents, such as Annexes "A", "B", "C", "D", "E", "F" "G", and "H" consisting of "Pagpapatunay" (certifications) and "Pinanumpaang Salaysay" (sworn statements) executed by local officials and private organizations, as well as farmers of adjoining lands. A scrutiny of Annexes "A" to "G", however, reveals that they are mere declarations of affidavit that they saw respondent working in the property of petitioner Victoria Francisco. Annex "H" indicates that complaint is a member of the Biñan Credit and Development Cooperative, Inc. who has availed of rice production loans. Additional annexes, such as annexes "J", "J-1" to "J-6", are short notes of enumerated expenses similar to Annexes "J-7" and "J-8" which are sales invoices for 15 sacks of fertilizers. Annexes "K", "K-1" to "K-10" are, again sales invoices for diesel fuel. Annexes "N", "N-1" to "N-5" are lists of weights of palay delivered by complainant's wife to a rice mill.
All the aforesaid documents which were rejected by the Provincial Adjudicator but considered by the Secretary of Agrarian Reform as important pieces of documents, are irrelevant or inconclusive to prove tenancy relationship.
The essential requisites of 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 harvest. 8
Tenancy relationship can only be created with the consent of the true and lawful landowner through lawful means and not by imposition or usurpation. It cannot be created not can it depend upon what the alleged tenant does on the land. Consent of the landowner is necessary. 9
In this case at bar, respondent failed to establish tenancy relationship with petitioners-owner. The essential requisite of consent, personal cultivation and payment of shares are wanting. It is settled that all the requisites to establish the tenancy relationship are necessary. The absence of one or more requisites do not make the alleged tenant a de facto tenant as contra-distinguished from a de jure tenant. This is so because unless a person has established his status as a de jure tenant, he is not entitled to security of tenure nor is he covered by the Land Reform Program of the government under existing tenancy laws. 10
It is not disputed that respondent entered into a written agreement entitled "Kasunduan sa Pangangalaga ng Bukid" 11 dated June 2, 1980 with petitioner-owner Victoria Francisco. A scrutiny of the agreement shows that petitioner-owner acquired the services of respondent as a "katiwala" of the disputed land under the following conditions:
(1) Na and MAY-ARI ay magbibigay sa KATIWALA ng sampung (10%) porciento ng buong inani (gross) sa bawat anihan bilang remuneration o bayad sa kanyang pag-aasikaso at pangangalaga sa nasabing bukid;
(3) Na walang pakialam ang mga anak ng KATIWALA sa nasabing bukid ngunit kung nais nilang gumawa ng anomang gawain sa nasabing bukid bilang upahaan manggagawa, sila ay gagawa at babayaran ng MAY-ARI sa kaukulang upahan sa kanilang ginawa;
(4) Na sapagkat walang kasama ang MAY-ARI sa nasabing bukid, ang lahat ng gawain dito ay kanyang iuupa sa mga mangagawa ng bukid na ang pipili at kukuha ay ang KATIWALA at ang magbabayad ay ang MAY-ARI;
(5) Na ang mga gawain na iuupa ng MAY-ARI ay ang pagtatanim ng palay sa bukid, pag-aararo, gamas, kulit, dampal, linis ng bambang, paglalagay ng abono at lahat ng kinakailangan hanggang sa maani ang tanim na palay;
(6) Na ang KATIWALA and siyang kukuha ng lahat ng gagawa sa nasabing bukid simula sa pagtatanim hanggang sa maihanda ang palay upang anihin at siya ang mangangalaga at mag-aasikaso sa lahat ng bagay na kailangan sa bukid at kanyang ipagbibigay alam sa MAY-ARI ang lahat ng bagay na kailangan sa bukid at anumang nangyayari sa nasabing bukid;
(7) Na ang KATIWALA ang mag-aalalaga sa kailangang patubig ng bukid at ang MAY-ARI sa motor at bayad ng tubig."
The explicit terms of the agreement failed to provide for the institution of tenancy relationship between respondent and petitioner-owner. Respondent's evidence cannot overcome the clear import of the agreement that respondent was instituted by petitioner-owner as a mere "katiwala" of the disputed land.
Under the contract, respondent and his children are prohibited to personally cultivate the disputed land. Respondent shall employ workers to perform all the phases of farm work. If his children desires to work, they shall be paid by petitioner-owner on a piece work basis.
The ten percent (10%) of the gross harvest given to respondent every harvest time is merely a compensation work basis.
The ten percent (10%) of the gross harvest given to respondent every harvest time is merely a compensation for services he renders to petitioner-owner for overseeing the farmwork, not as remuneration for personally cultivating the land.
The contract, written in Tagalog and undeniably understood by respondent, was voluntarily signed by him. There was no showing that he was coerced or misled into signing it. It is presumed to be valid contract. And obligations arising from contract have the force of law between the contracting parties and should be complied with in good faith. 12
In fine, respondent is not an agricultural tenant of petitioner-owner.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Office of the Secretary of Department of Agrarian Reform is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. A new on is entered dismissing the complaint of respondent for lack of merit.
Abad Santos, Jr. and Aquino, JJ., concur.
1. Docketed as DARAB Case No. IV-LA-0121-91, Rollo, pp. 46-50.
2. Rollo, pp. 53-56.
3. Rollo, pp. 59-67; 66-67.
4. Penned by Asst. Secretary Lorenzo R. Reyes, concurred by Secretary Ernesto Garilao, Undersecretary P. Soliman, Asst. Secretary Augusto P. Quijano, Asst. Secretary Sergio B. Serrano, Undersecretary Artemio A. Adasa, Jr., and Asst. Secretary Clifford C. Berkley dissented.
5. Rollo, pp. 22-29, p. 29.
6. P. 9 of Petition
7. Qua vs. Court of Appeals, 198 SCRA 236 (1991)
8. Qua vs. CA, supra; Prudential Bank vs. Gapultos, 181 SCRA 159 (1990); Oarde et al., vs. CA, et al., GR No. 10477475, Oct. 8, 1997.
9. Hilario vs. IAC, 148 SCRA 573 (1987).
10. Qua vs. CA, supra.
11. Rollo, p. 36.
12. Art. 1159, New Civil Code.