DAR OPINION NO. 62-99
October 28, 1999
DAR OPINION NO. 62-99
ATTY . DANILO S. VELASQUEZ
Chief Legal Services Division
Provincial Agrarian Reform Office
6543, Naval, Biliran
Dear Atty. Velasquez:
This has reference to your two letters both dated 2 February 1999, requesting for clarification on the following: 1) whether or not pauper litigants are exempt from bond requirement in injunction cases filed before the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB) and from the fragment of kilometrage for the DARAB Sheriff; and 2) official legal definition of an agricultural labor contractor.
With respect to the first query, the New DARAB Rules of Procedure dated 30 May 1994, specifically Section 2, Rule V thereof expressly provides, quote:
"Section 2. Pauper Litigant. — A party who is an agricultural lessee, share tenant, actual tiller, amortizing owner-cultivator, farmworker, a member of any farmer's organization, association or a farmer's cooperative, as alleged and applied for in a sworn complaint or motion, shall be entitled to the rights and privileges of a pauper litigant under these Rules without further proof thereof. He shall continue to enjoy such status as a pauper litigant in all the levels of adjudication until the case is terminated." (emphasis supplied)
It is very clear under said law that a pauper litigant farmer/tenant is exempt from payment of any legal fee as an incident of a pending case before the DARAB. Accordingly, a pauper litigant under the abovementioned rule is exempt from bond requirement in injunction cases arising from a tenancy relationship issue to be decided by the DARAB. Although, under Section 1, Rule X (Preliminary Injunction) of the New DARAB Rules which states among others that "should the Board or the Adjudicator believe that it is necessary to post a bond, it shall fix the amount of the bond to be executed by the party applying for the injunction . . .", we believe that such requirement should not as a matter of general policy apply anymore considering that the Board or Adjudicator has the discretion whether or not to require the posting of a bond in injunction cases filed by a pauper litigant farmer/tenant. It is more in keeping with the spirit and intent of the law for the Board or Adjudicator in such instance to no longer require the litigant farmer/tenant to post a bond.
Corollarily, a pauper litigant is also exempt from the fragment of kilometrage for the DARAB Sheriff as this is still within the import and contemplation of the statement emphasized in the aforequoted provision of law that a pauper litigant "shall continue to enjoy such status as a pauper litigant in all the levels of adjudication until the case is terminated".
As regards your second query, we are not in accord with the definition as believed by some quarters in your province that an agricultural labor contractor "is one who does not actually cultivate the land and hires laborers (outside his household) to perform the greater bulk of actual cultivation".
We submit that an agricultural labor contractor is one who personally cultivates the land but hires helpers to do only the transplanting and harvesting. Transplanting and harvesting are not among those required by law to be personally performed by the tenant-farmer. In such a case the law expressly allows the employment of helpers (Co vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 162 SCRA 392).
We hope to have enlightened you on the matters.
Very truly yours,
(SGD.) DANILO T. LARA
Undersecretary for Legal Affairs, and Policy and Planning