G.R. No. L-37736
[G.R. No. L-37736. February 23, 1988.]
ANTONIO EVANGELISTA Y LISING, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS, LUZ CASTAÑEDA and HEIRS OF BENEDICTO SANCHEZ, respondent.
1. AGRICULTURAL LAND REFORM LAW; AGRICULTURAL LESSEE DISTINGUISHED FROM CIVIL LESSEE. — A share tenant (under Rep. Act No. 1199) or an agricultural lessee (under Rep. Act No. 3844) is entitled to security of tenure over the landholding he works at. Not even the expiration of any term or period fixed in the leasehold contract, in the case of an agricultural lessee, will cause the lessee's ejectment from the land. On the other hand, a civil lessee, under a contract of civil lease, does not enjoy security of tenure over the land object of the contract. A civil lessee can be ejected from the land after the expiration of the term provided for in the contract.
2. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; FINDINGS OF FACT OF THE COURT OF APPEALS, GENERALLY FINDING AND CONCLUSIVE. — The finding of fact of the Court of Appeals that the petitioner was not a bona fide tenant-farmer on the land in question, which are based on the evidence on record, is final and conclusive. The salient characteristic which would make the relationship between the petitioner and Sanchez one of agricultural leasehold, and which is personal cultivation by the petitioner and the immediate members of his farm household, is absent in the case at bar. As cited in the decision of the respondent court, petitioner's own witness, Nicolas Maclang, admitted that petitioner used to hire many plowers, harrowers and planters as well as farm laborers, who were paid by him, and that he himself (Maclang) helped the appellee work on the land for 3 years. This Court is aware of the practice of many landowners, as a way of evading the provisions of tenancy laws, to have their tenants sign contracts or agreements intended to camouflage the real import of their relationship. But in the case at bar, the grounds cited in the decision of the respondent court indicate that the contracts entered into were bona fide civil lease in nature, and that they were entered into by the petitioner voluntarily.
3. AGRICULTURAL LAND REFORM LAW; TENANCY; PERSONAL CULTIVATION, INDISPENSABLE REQUISITE. — As held in Carag v. Court of Appeals, absent the requisite of personal cultivation, by the alleged tenant, no tenancy relationship can be said to exist between him and the landowner. Hence, the petitioner cannot be said to be an agricultural lessee. He has not personally or by his farm household, cultivated the land in question.
4. CIVIL LAW; CONTRACTS; LEASE; LESSEE WHO ENTERED INTO THREE CONTRACTS OF LEASE CANNOT LATER BE HEARD TO CLAIM THAT HE IS AN AGRICULTURAL LESSEE. — A person who signed for three consecutive times a contract of lease (Kasulatang Option and Kasulatan ng Buwisan), with the intent of establishing a civil lease contract, cannot later be heard to claim that he is a tenant or an agricultural lessee.
D E C I S I O N
PADILLA, J p:
MALAMAN NG LAHAT:
Na akong si ROSARIO M. SANCHEZ, Pilipino may sapat na gulang, kasal kay G. Juan J. Sanchez at nananahanan sa Calumpit, Bulacan, ay.
Na ako ang tunay at tanging may-ari ng isang sukat na lupa gaya ng nasasaad sa "Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-6870" ng "Registry of Deeds for the Province of Bulacan, "at lalong makikilala gaya ng mga sumusunod:
"xxx xxx xxx"
Na sa lupang nabanggit ay lima (5) hektarea ay nasa buwisan sa kasalukuyan kay Antonio Evangelista, Pilipino, may sapat na gulang, binata at nananahanan sa Lugam, Malolos, Bulacan na matatapos sa taong anihan 1956-1957;
Na dahil at alang-alang sa halagang P2,000.00 na ibibigay sa akin ng nasabing Antonio Evangelista (at ang pagtanggap ng nasabing halaga ay patutunayan ng recibo) dito ay binibigyan ko siya ng pangunang pagkakataon (option) sa muling pagpapabuwis ng nasabing pangkat na lupa. Ang panibagong kasunduan sa buwisan ay gagawin namin sa buwan ng Enero, 1957;
Na ang halagang P2,000.00 ay bilang utang sa panibagong buwisan, datapuwa't hanggang hindi umiiral ang panibagong buwisan, ang nasabing halaga ay ituturing na pautang at magkakaroon ng patubo na 12%.
Na akong si Antonio Evangelista, ang naba-banggit sa itaas, ay sangayon sa lahat ng mga mababasa sa itaas.
Sa katunayan ay lumagda kami sa ibaba nito dito sa Calumpit, Bulacan, ngayong ika 14 ng Hunyo, 1956."
KASULATAN NG BUWISAN
MALAMAN NANG LAHAT:
Na akong si ROSARIO MENDOZA, Pilipina, may sapat na gulang, asawa ni Juan Sanchez, at nananahanan sa Calumpit, Bulacan, na sa kasulatang ito ay tatawagin ding Nagpapabuwis, ay tunay at tanging may-ari ng isang lagay na lupa nasa nayong Lugam, Malolos, Bulacan, at nakatala alinsunod sa Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-6870 ng Register of Deeds for Bulacan, at ang mga hanggahan at takal ay gaya nang mga sumusunod:
"xxx xxx xxx"
Na dahil at alang-alang sa halagang ISANG DAAN (100) kabang palay kauri ng inani sa nasabing lupa bawat taon, bilang upa o buwis na ibibigay sa akin ni Antonio Evangelista, Pilipino, may sapat na gulang, binata at naninirahan sa nayon nang Lugam, Malolos, Bulacan, na sa kasulatang ito ay tatawagin ding Namumuwisan, ay aking inililipat, isinasalin at pinabubuwisan sa nasabing namumuwisan ang isang bahagi nang lupang sa itaas ay binabanggit na may sukat na limang (5) hektarea, humigit, kumulang, at ang hanggahan ay itong mga sumusunod:
"xxx xxx xxx"
Ang mga kasunduan at pasubali ng buwisan ito ay ang mga sumusunod:
1. TANING NANG BUWISAN: Tatlong (3) taon na sisimulan sa taong anihang ito, 1960-1961, at matatapos sa taong anihan 1962-1963, buwan ng Pebrero, ngunit ang Namumuwisan ay may pangunang karapatan (option) batay sa kanyang lagak, upang magpatuloy ng pamumuwisan, kung ang lupa ay pabubuwisan pa;
2. PAGBABAYAD NG BUWIS: Ang 100 kabang palay na buwis ay ibibigay nang Namumuwisan sa nagpapabuwis pagkatapos nang paggiik, ngunit ang pagbabayad ay hindi lalampas ang Pebrero nang bawat taon nang pamumuwisan:
3. LAGAK: Ang lagak nang Namumuwisan ay P2,500.00 na walang patubo, na ito'y nananagutan kung hindi makatupad ang Namumuwisan sa kaniyang mga tungkulin sa ilalim nang kasunduang ito, at ang hindi pagkakasaoli nang lagak na ito, ay hindi magiging dahilan nang hindi pagkatapos nang buwisan;
4. MEJORA: Tungkulin nang Namumuwisan na sikapin at alagaang mabuti ang lupang binubuwisan at isaoli sa Nagpapabuwis pagkatapos nang buwisan, at iiwanang lahat ang mejorang ilagay niya at dito'y wala siyang karapatang humingi o sumingil nang ano man;
5. PATUBIG AT BUWIS SA PAMAHALAAN: Ang patubig ay babayaran nang Namumuwisan ang dalawa sa tatlong bahagi (2/3) at ang ikatlo (1/3) ay ang Nagpapabuwis;
6. PAGSASAKA: Ang pamumuwisang ito ay hindi dapat na ipakahulugan nang sino mang magsaka sa lupa sa panahon nang pamumuwisan ay naging kasama nang Nagpapabuwis, kaya, pagkatapos nang buwisan, ang posecion ay isasaoli nang Namumuwisan sa Nagpapabuwis at siya o sino man ay walang ano mang paghahabol sa pagsasaka;
7. PAGPAPATALA: Kung sakali't ipatatala sa Register of Deeds ang kasulatang ito, ang gugol ay sa Namumuwisan at ang kasulatan na ring ito ang magiging sapat na pabala sa Register of Deeds, pagkatapos nang buwisang ito, upang pawalang bisa ang pagkakatala sa titulo nang lupa (cancel on incumbrance on the title) [sic].
Na akong si Antonio Evangelista, ang Namumuwisan sa itaas na nababanggit, ay sangayon sa lahat nang mababasa sa itaas at katunayan linagdaan namin ito sa Calumpit, Bulacan, ngayong 13th ng Pebrero, 1960, sa harap nang dalawang saksi sa kasulatan."
"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:
1. Declaring the plaintiff to be the agricultural lessee on the land in question with an area of 5 hectares more or less, situated at Lugam, Malolos, Bulacan;
2. Ordering the defendant Felipe Domingo to vacate said landholding and surrender the possession thereof to the plaintiff;
3. Ordering defendants Luz S. Castañeda and Benedicto Sanchez to reinstate the plaintiff to said landholding and to return to the plaintiff the sum of P3,500.00;
4. Dismissing the other claims and counterclaims of the parties.
No pronouncement as to costs." 9
"1. That when the appellee, Antonio Evangelista first took possession of the property in 1954, it was by virtue of a lease contract which he admitted was given to him by the late Rosario Mendoza, but that he lost the same (pp. 15-17. tsn, Dec. 15, 1956), which was for a term of 3 years and this is confirmed by Exh. C or 3, titled "KASULATANG OPTION" under a proviso which states —
"Na sa lupang nabanggit ay lima (5) hectarea ay nasa buwisan sa kasalukuyan kay Antonio Evangelista, Pilipino, may sapat na gulang, binata, at nananahan sa Lugam, Malolos, Bulacan, na matatapos sa taong anihan 1956-1957;
"2. That the two most important conditions of the lease agreement which was renewed by both the appellee Antonio Evangelista as the lessee, and the late Rosario Mendoza, as shown by Exhibit A or 1, titled "KASULATANG BUWISAN," are as follows:
"3. LAGAK: Ang lagak ng Namumuwisan ay P2,500.00 na walang patubo, na ito'y nanagutan kung hindi makatupad ang Namumuwisan sa kanyang mga tungkulin ng kasunduang ito, ay hindi magiging dahilan ng hindi pagkatapos nang buwisan;
xxx xxx xxx
"6. PAGSASAKA: Ang Namumuwisang ito ay hindi dapat na ipakahulugan nang sino mang magsaka sa lupa sa panahon nang pamumuwisan ay naging kasama nang Nagpapabuwis, kaya pagkatapos nang buwisan ang posecion ay isasaoli nang Namumuwisan sa Nagpapabuwis at siya o sino man ay walang ano mang paghahabol sa pagsasaka;
xxx xxx xxx
"3. That herein appellee Antonio Evangelista voluntarily agreed to these two conditions imposed by the late Rosario Mendoza, as shown by the following portion of the said written agreement —
"Na akong si Antonio Evengelista, ang Namumuwisan sa itaas na nabanggit, ay sangayon sa lahat nang mababasa sa itaas at katunayan linagdaan namin ito sa Calumpit, Bulacan, ngayong ika-13 ng Pebrero, 1960, sa harap ng dalawang saksi sa kasulatan."
"4. That this lease agreement was again renewed as shown by Exhibits B or 2, incorporating the same above-stated conditions, and that all these questioned lease agreements were all duly acknowledged before a Notary Public; and were worded in Tagalog the dialect prevailing in Bulacan province, and is therefore clearly understood by the appellee Antonio Evangelista;
"5. That even prior to 1954 when appellee first took possession of the landholding in question, the same has been previously leased to one Macario Domingo, wayback in 1945, as disclosed by Exh. 6-B, which is an annotation at the back of the title of the questioned property, and such lease agreement was finally cancelled only in 1954, Exh. 6-C, all of which are found in Exhibit 6-A, at the lapse of which the appellee herein took over from said Macario Domingo, and all these are confirmed by the latter who declared that he was the lessee of the same land from 1946-1954; that it expired in March, 1954; and the appellee took over from him in April, 1954; that he also pays a rental of 90 cavans like the appellee, irrespective of the harvest of the land; that the other lessee before him were — Jose Albania, Urbano Lopez and Pablo Caluag (tsn. pp. 17-26, Dec. 9, 1969);
"6. That the appellee's original status. therefore in 1954 was that of a lessee, is also confirmed by his own Exhibit D, captioned "Patalastas", the pertinent parts of which read —
CONDISION SA PARTIHAN NG ANI:
Buwisan ng 90 cavans isang taon.
xxx xxx xxx
"(1) Pagbabago ng pagsasamahan na ang dati na Buisan ay mahalinhan ng samahang Buisan na batay sa batas . . ."
xxx xxx xxx
all of which reveal that the herein appellee started working for the first time in 1954 as a lessee, and not as tenant, furthermore his very own witness, Nicolas Maclang, admitted that herein appellee used to hire many plowers, harrowers and planters and also farm laborers, who are paid by him (tsn, pp. 60-62, Sept. 26, 1969); that he himself helped the appellee worked on the land for 3 years (tsn., p. 53, id)
"7. That the herein appellee Antonio Evangelista is a Rice Dealer, with a total net worth of about P17,112.10, as shown clearly by a "Profit and Loss Statement," (Exh. 4) duly attested by a Certified Public Accountant, executed in appellee's favor by a law and accounting firm of Santos A. Avenir & Associates, on January 22, 1963;
"8. That he is the owner of two (2) duly licensed guns — namely — One (1) .22 Cal. Rifle; and one (1) .22 Cal. Revolver, as shown by Exhs. 4-Land 4-D (sic);
"9. That there is no express provisions of any existing law, particularly under Republic Act 1199, as amended, or under Republic Act 3844, as amended, otherwise known as the Land Reform Code, which prohibits the parties from entering into a contract of civil lease of an agricultural land, under the New Civil Code, for a limited period of time, as in fact this latter law, Republic Act 3844, as amended, impliedly recognizes the existence of a civil law lessee, as this is distinguished from an agricultural lessee, as may be found under Sec. 166, (2) which reads —
"(2) "Agricultural lessee" means a person who, by himself and with the aid available from within his immediate farm household, cultivates the land, belonging to, or possessed by another, with the latter's consent for purposes of production, for a price certain in money or in produce or both. It is distinguished from civil law lessee as understood in the Civil Code of the Philippines."
implying in effect that if the lessee does not personally cultivate the landholding, the agreement becomes a civil law lease under the Civil Code.
"10. That as may be observed from the terms and conditions of the questioned lease agreements, particularly under the common conditions found in par. (6) thereof, the appellee-lessee, is in fact authorized to hire plowers, harrowers and other farm laborers or workers, but that this does not authorize them to later on claim that they are the tenants of the lessor therein, the late Rosario Mendoza Sanchez, over the said landholding."
"Consonant to the foregoing, it is the considered opinion of this Court that the herein appellee Antonio Evangelista, had not worked personally or could (not) have worked on the land holding in question by himself, and with the aid of the members of his immediate farm household, consequently he could not therefore be considered either as a share tenant, or a lease-hold tenant, contemplated by Republic Act 1199, as amended, or as an agricultural lessee, as defined by Republic Act 3844, as amended, also known as the Land Reform Code, who is entitled to a security of tenure, as provided therein, under and pursuant to the questioned lease agreements, for these covenants clearly fall under the provisions of the New Civil Code whereby one of the parties, binds himself to give to another the enjoyment or use of his property for a price certain, and for a definite period specified therein. (Art. 1643, New Civil Code)." 10
"Nicolas Maclang declared that he saw plaintiff (Evangelista) work on the land in question from 1962 to 1965; . . .; that he (Maclang) helped the plaintiff work the land in question by plowing and harrowing the same for 3 years under the suyuan system; that the Plaintiff used his 2 carabaos and own farm implements in the cultivation of the land in question and that the plaintiff had other companions in plowing and harrowing the landholding under the suyuan system (tsn, hearing of September 26, 1969, pp. 47-60). Defendant Domingo declared that during the time he was working the land of his mother which is adjacent to the land in question, he saw Nicolas Maclang, Pedro Caparas and Felipe Bernardino plowing and harrowing the landholding in question and cleaning the dikes thereon (tsn., hearing of January 8, 1970 pp. 22-23)." 13 [emphasis supplied]
** Penned by Justice Emilio A. Gancayco, with the concurrence of Justices Ruperto G. Martin and Lourdes P. San Diego.
*** Penned by Judge Jose M. Santos.
1. Decision of the Court of Appeals, pp. 1-2.
2. Ibid. p. 2.
3. Exhibits C and C-1.
4. Exhibits A, A-1 and A-2 and B and B-1.
5. Decision of the Court of Agrarian Relations, p. 15.
6. Exhibits A, A-1 and A-2.
7. Exhibits "B" and "B1."
8. Exhibits 7 and 7-A.
9. Decision of the Court of Agrarian Relations, pp. 35-36.
10. Decision of the Court of Appeals, pp. 4-8.
11. Article 1643, Civil Code.
12. Terunez v. IAC, No. L-61129, January 31, 1985, 134 SCRA 414.
13. Decision of the Court of Agrarian Relations, p. 23.
14. G.R. No. L-48140, June 18, 1987.