DOJ DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR NO. 40-10
DOJ DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR NO. 40-10
SUBJECT : Guidelines on the Investigation and
In the interest of expeditious administration of justice in agrarian reform cases and to effectively implement Section 19 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9700, the following guidelines on the handling of agrarian reform cases, to be known as the GUIDELINES ON THE INVESTIGATION AND REFERRAL OF CASES TO THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM PURSUANT TO SECTION 19 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9700, is hereby adopted.
SECTION 1. Prefatory Statement. — It is one of the policies of the Department of Justice, as shown by its creation of the National Task Force on Agrarian Cases in 2007, among other measures, to ensure the speedy resolution of agrarian cases by the agency with the jurisdiction over the same and to address the persistent problem of disputes that are agrarian in nature but are being filed with the National Prosecution Service. Indeed, if genuine agrarian justice is to be achieved, this problem characterized by conflict of jurisdiction, legal harassment of farmers, tenants and farmworkers (i.e., through the filing of nuisance suits in regular courts) must be addressed.
On 1 July 2009, R.A. No. 9700 became effective. One of the more critical sections (Section 19) of the said Act pertains to the referral of cases filed before the prosecutors and the courts. Clearly intended to address the problem of conflict of jurisdiction and legal harassment of farmers, tenants, and farmworkers, Section 19, provides:
"SEC. 19. Section 50 of Republic Act No. 6657, as amended, is hereby further amended by adding Section 50-A to read as follows:
"SEC. 50-A. Exclusive Jurisdiction on Agrarian Dispute. — No court or prosecutor's office shall take cognizance of cases pertaining to the implementation of the CARP except those provided under Section 57 of Republic Act No. 6657, as amended. If there is an allegation from any of the parties that the case is agrarian in nature and one of the parties is a farmer, farmworker, or tenant, the case shall be automatically referred by the judge or the prosecutor to the DAR which shall determine and certify within fifteen (15) days from referral whether an agrarian dispute exists:
Provided, That from the determination of the DAR, an aggrieved party shall have judicial recourse. In cases referred by the municipal trial court and the prosecutor's office, the appeal shall be with the proper regional trial court, and in cases referred by the regional trial court, the appeal shall be to the Court of Appeals.
"In cases where regular courts or quasi-judicial bodies have competent jurisdiction, agrarian reform beneficiaries or identified beneficiaries and/or their associations shall have legal standing and interest to intervene concerning their individual or collective rights and/or interests under the CARP.
"The fact of non-registration of such associations with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or Cooperative Development Authority, or any concerned government agency shall not be used against them to deny the existence of their legal standing and interest in a case filed before such courts and quasi-judicial bodies."
It is in the light of the above policy of this Department and the adoption of the referral system under Section 19 of R.A. No. 9700 that this Circular is issued.
SECTION 2. Definition of Terms. — As used in this Rule, the following terms are defined as shown:
a. Agrarian Dispute — refers to any controversy relating to tenurial arrangements, whether leasehold, tenancy, stewardship or otherwise, over lands devoted to agriculture, including disputes concerning farmworkers' associations or representation of persons in negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing or seeking to arrange terms or conditions of such tenurial arrangements. It includes any controversy relating to compensation of lands acquired under this Act and other terms and conditions of transfer of ownership from landowners to farmworkers, tenants and other agrarian reform beneficiaries, whether the disputants stand in the proximate relation of farm operator and beneficiary, landowner and tenant, or lessor and lessee (R.A. No. 6657, Section 3-d).
As used in this Guidelines, the term also includes disputes over the interpretation of agrarian reform laws, rules and regulations, including those pertaining to the rights and obligations of agrarian reform beneficiaries and landowners/former landowners.
b. Agricultural Enterprise — means the cultivation of the soil, planting of crops, growing of fruit trees, raising of livestock, poultry or fish, including the harvesting of such farm products, and other farm activities and practices performed by a farmer in conjunction with such farming operations done by person whether natural or juridical.
c. Agricultural Leasehold Contract — A formal tenurial arrangement reduced into writing between a lessor-landholder and lessee-farmer where the former consents to the latter's cultivation in consideration for fixed rental either in money or produce or both.
d. Agricultural Leasehold Relation — It is limited to the person who furnishes the landholding, either as owner, civil law lessee, usufructuary, or legal possessor, and the person who personally cultivates the same (R.A. No. 3844, Sec. 166 ).
e. Agricultural Lessee — 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 lessee as understood in the Civil Code of the Philippines (R.A. No. 3844, Sec. 166 ).
f. Agricultural Lessor — A person, natural or juridical, who either as owner, civil law lessee, usufructuary or legal possessor, lets or grants to another the cultivation and use of his land for a certain price (R.A. No. 3844, Sec. 16b ).
g. Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries or Farmer-Beneficiaries — Actual agrarian reform or farmer-beneficiaries of the agrarian reform program are those which have been awarded either Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) under the CARP (R.A. 6657) or Emancipation Patents (EPs) under Operation Land Transfer (P.D. 27), or have been confirmed as tenants or leaseholders by the DAR or the DARAB. Potential agrarian reform or farmer-beneficiaries of the agrarian reform program are those who are eligible to be awarded CLOAs or EPs, and recognized as such by the DAR, but are still awaiting their actual award; also those who are eligible to be tenants or leaseholders.
h. Farmworker — is a natural person who renders services for value as an employee or laborer in an agricultural enterprise or farm, regardless of whether his compensation is paid on a daily, weekly, monthly or "pakyaw" basis. The term includes an individual whose work has ceased as a consequence of, or in connection with, a pending agrarian dispute and who has not obtained a substantially equivalent and regular farm employment (R.A. 6657, Section 3-g).
As used in this Rule, the term also includes the following:
1) Regular Farmworker — a natural person who is employed on a permanent basis by an agricultural enterprise or farm (R.A. 6657, Section 3-h).
2) Seasonal Farmworker — a natural person who is employed on a recurrent, periodic or intermittent basis by an agricultural enterprise or farm, whether as a permanent or non-permanent laborer, such as "dumaan", "sacada", and the like (R.A. 6657, Section 3-i).
3) Other Farmworker — a farmworker who does not fall under any of the foregoing categories (R.A. 6657, Section 3-j).
SECTION 3. Scope. — This Guidelines shall cover offenses committed under the following:
1) Title 9, Chapter 2 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as applicable;
2) Title 10 of the RPC, as applicable; and
3) Such other provisions of the RPC and other laws, as applicable.
SECTION 4. Procedure. —
A. Preliminary Investigation.
(1) Grounds of Referral. — When a complaint for a felony or a criminal offense is filed before the Office of the City or Provincial Prosecutor, the investigating prosecutor shall refer the case to the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) who has jurisdiction over the place of the incident when:
(a) there is an allegation by any of the parties (e.g., allegation in the complaint, affidavit or counter-affidavit, etc.) that the case is agrarian in nature or an agrarian dispute and one of the parties is a tenant, lessee, farmer-beneficiary, farmer, or farmworker; or
(b) the case pertains to the implementation of the CARP except those provided under Section 57 2 of Republic Act No. 6657, as amended.
(2) Process of Referral.
(a) The investigating prosecutor shall, within three (3) days from receipt of the complaint or pleading that alleges either of the above grounds of referral, recommend to the chief of office the referral of the case, stating therein the basis for his/her recommendation;
(b) Within two (2) days from receipt of the recommendation, the chief of office shall endorse the same to the PARO together with the records of the case, copy furnished the parties concerned.
(c) While the case is on referral with the PARO, the investigating prosecutor shall defer further proceedings and shall await the certification from the PARO as to whether the case is "PROPER FOR TRIAL" OR "NOT PROPER FOR TRIAL". 3 aHCSTD
(d) If the Certification states that the case is not proper for trial, the investigating prosecutor shall dismiss the case within five (5) days from receipt of the certification.
(e) If the Certification states that the case is proper for trial, the investigating prosecutor shall proceed with the preliminary investigation and resolve the case, accordingly.
(f) After the lapse of fifteen (15) days required by law for the PARO to issue a Certification and none was issued, the investigating prosecutor may dispose of the case pending before him in accordance with his appreciation of law and evidence attendant to the case.
When the case is subject of inquest and there is an allegation by any of the parties that the case is agrarian in nature or an agrarian dispute and one of them is a farmer, farmworker or tenant, or involves the implementation of the CARP, the inquest prosecutor shall immediately refer the case to the PARO and release the respondent for further preliminary investigation. The above allegations must be written, made under oath, and the party making such allegations signs the Minutes of the Inquest.
SECTION 5. Transitory Provision. — For cases that are already pending and are under preliminary investigation (at the time of the effectivity of this Circular), upon motion by any of the parties or motu propio, if previous pleadings filed contain allegations which may be the grounds for referral, the investigating prosecutor shall proceed in accordance with Section 4.A.2 hereof.
SECTION 6. The provisions of the Rules of Court shall apply in a suppletory manner.
SECTION 7. This Circular shall take effect immediately.
(SGD.) ALBERTO C. AGRA
1. An Act Strengthening the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), Extending the Acquisition and Distribution of All Agricultural Lands, Instituting Necessary Reforms, Amending for the Purpose Certain Provisions of Republic Act No. 6657, Otherwise Known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, As Amended, and Appropriating Funds Therefor.
2. Section 57. Special Jurisdiction. — The Special Agrarian Courts shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over all petitions for the determination of just compensation to landowners, and the prosecution of all criminal offenses under this Act. The Rules of Court shall apply to all proceedings before the Special Agrarian Courts, unless modified by this Act.
The Special Agrarian Courts shall decide all appropriate cases under their special jurisdiction within thirty (30) days from submission of the case for decision.
3. DAR Administrative Order No. 04, Series of 2009.