February 21, 2002
DAR OPINION NO. 07-02
FOR : PARO VIRGILIO L. ALCOMENDRAS
DAR Provincial Agrarian Reform Office
2nd Floor WDC Building
P. Burgos and Osmeña Blvd., Cebu City
SUBJECT : Request for Opinion
This refers to your request for opinion on the coverability under CARP of landholdings located in the Island of Bantayan and Island of Camotes, all in the province of Cebu, which were declared as Wilderness Area under Presidential Proclamation No. 2151 dated 29 December 1981 and Mangrove Swamp Forest Reserve under Presidential Proclamation No. 2152 dated 20 December 1981, respectively. aCITEH
You stated that with the issuance of the aforementioned presidential proclamations, program undertakings and coverage were suspended and interrupted in said islands. Hence, your queries:
1. Whether or not program, activities under CARP could be undertaken with these proclamations in effect; and
2. Whether or not the coverage under P.D. No. 27 of landholdings later declared as protected areas by said presidential proclamations (issued after the effectivity of P.D. No. 27) is valid.
On the first issue, Executive Order No. 506 dated 18 February 1992 which amended Executive Order No. 407 and Executive Order No. 448 states, quote:
"Section 1. Section I.A. of Executive Order No. 407, series of 1990, as amended by Executive Order No. 448, series of 1991, is hereby further amended to read as follows:
Section I.A. Except national parks and other protected areas, all lands or portions of the public domain reserved by virtue of proclamation or law for specific purposes or uses by departments, bureaus, offices and agencies of the Government, which are suitable for agriculture and no longer actually, directly and exclusively used or necessary for the purpose for which they have been reserved as determined by the Department of Agrarian Reform in coordination with the government agency or instrumentality concerned in whose favor the reservation was established shall be segregated from the reservations and transferred to the Department of Agrarian Reform for distribution to qualified beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program."
Sec. 2. A new section is hereby added to Executive Order No. 407, as amended, to read as follows:
"SECTION I.B. All existing and proposed National Parks, Game Refuge and Bird Sanctuaries, Wildlife Reserves, Wilderness Areas and Other Protected Areas, including old growth or virgin forests, and all forests above 1,000 meters elevation or above 50 percent slope, are hereby excluded from the present segregation, acquisition and distribution procedures being conducted by the Department of Agrarian Reform until such time as these areas shall have been identified, studied and determined to be either retained and reclassified the National Integrated Protected Areas System of DENR or to be segregated for agricultural purposes." (emphasis supplied)
Sec. 3. All proclamations establishing such reservations and falling within the coverage of this Executive Order are hereby revoked, amended or modified accordingly."
Given the above-quoted provisions of law, the CARP coverage of subject landholdings may not be effected until they are segregated for agricultural purposes by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in coordination with DAR.
On the second issue, lands already covered under P.D. No. 27 may not subsequently be declared as "protected areas" through a later Presidential Proclamation since, meanwhile, vested rights could have already set in. It should be stressed that both proclamations in issue provide for an exclusionary clause, that is, the provisions thereof are "subject to existing recognized and valid private rights."
We hope to have clarified the matters and please be guided accordingly.
(SGD.) VIRGILIO R. DE LOS REYES
Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and
Legal Affairs Office
The Regional Director
Coaco Building, M.J. Cuenco Avenue
Mabolo, Cebu City