Motu proprio referral to DAR proper if issue of actual tenancy raised in accion interdictal

To support his recommendations, the Court Administrator cited the case of Puertollano vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, (156 SCRA 188-193-194, December 3, 1987) where this Court ruled that (i)t is mandatory for the trial court to refer the case to the Secretary of Agrarian Reform or his authorized representative for a preliminary determination of the relationship between the contending parties if it is a case of ejectment or attempt to harass or remove a tenant in agricultural land primarily devoted to rice and corn. Even without a motion, the trial court may motu propio order such referral. In the case of Ocier vs. Court of Appeals, (216 SCRA 510, 519, December 11, 1992) this Court reiterated the ruling made in Puertollano in this wise: Private respondent, in her original complaint before the lower court, alleged that petitioner violated the Land Reform Code and could be ejected under P.D. 816. Petitioner answered that he was a tenant of private respondent. There was, at that point in time, no need for referral to the Department of Agrarian Reform as the landowner-tenant relationship was admitted. However, when private respondents amended complaint where she alleged violation of a civil law lease agreement was admitted, the issue of actual tenancy raised by petitioner in both his Answer and Amended Answer had to be referred to the Department of Agrarian Reform for determination as this was now a genuine issue. [A.M. No. MTJ-91-567. December 6, 1996]