Alangilan v. OP (G.R. No. 180471; March 26, 2010)


CASE DIGEST: ALANGILAN REALTY & DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, represented by ALBERTO ROMULO, as Executive Secretary, and ARTHUR P. AUTEA, as Deputy Secretary; and DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM, Respondents.

FACTS: Petitioner is the owner/developer of a 17.4892-hectare land in Barangays Alangilan and Patay in Batangas City. Petitioner filed an Application and/or Petition for Exclusion/Exemption from Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) Coverage of the Alangilan landholding with the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office (MARO) of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). It averred that, in 1982, the Sangguniang Bayan of Batangas City classified the subject landholding as reserved for residential under a zoning ordinance (1982 Ordinance), which was approved by the Human Settlement Regulatory Commission. It further alleged that, on May 17, 1994, the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Batangas City approved the City Zoning Map and Batangas Comprehensive Zoning and Land Use Ordinance (1994 Ordinance), reclassifying the landholding as residential-1. Petitioner thus claimed exemption of its landholding from the coverage of the CARP.

Then DAR Secretary Ernesto Garilao issued an Order denying petitioners application for exemption. The DAR Secretary noted that, as of February 15, 1993, the Alangilan landholding remained agricultural, reserved for residential. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but the same was denied. On appeal, the OP affirmed the decision of the DAR secretary. Petitioner went up to the CA via a petition for review on certiorari, assailing the OP decision but the CA dismissed the petition. Upon denial of its motion for reconsideration, the present petition is filed.

ISSUE:

Is the subject property subject to the coverage of the CARL?
HELD: Unfortunately, petitioner failed to convince us that the Alangilan landholding ceased to be agricultural at the time of the effectivity of the CARL.

It is beyond cavil that the Alangilan landholding was classified as agricultural, reserved for residential in 1982, and was reclassified as residential-1 in 1994. However, contrary to petitioners assertion, the term reserved for residential does not change the nature of the land from agricultural to non-agricultural. As aptly explained by the DAR Secretary, the term reserved for residential simply reflects the intended land use. It does not denote that the property has already been reclassified as residential, because the phrase reserved for residential is not a land classification category.

Indubitably, at the time of the effectivity of the CARL in 1988, the subject landholding was still agricultural. This was bolstered by the fact that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan had to pass an Ordinance in 1994, reclassifying the landholding as residential-1. If, indeed, the landholding had already been earmarked for residential use in 1982, as petitioner claims, then there would have been no necessity for the passage of the 1994 Ordinance.

In order to be exempt from CARP coverage, the subject property must have been classified as industrial/residential before June 15, 1988. In this case, the DAR's examination of the zoning ordinances and certifications pertaining to the subject property, as well as its field investigation, disclosed that the same remains to be agricultural. The Zoning Certifications to the effect that the land is within the city's potential growth area for urban expansion are inconsequential as they do not reflect the present classification of the land but merely its intended land use.

Not having been converted into, or classified as, residential before June 15, 1988, the Alangilan landholding is, therefore, covered by the CARP. The subsequent reclassification of the landholding as residential-1 in 1994 cannot place the property outside the ambit of the CARP, because there is no showing that the DAR Secretary approved the reclassification.

PETITION DENIED

Popular Posts