CASE DIGEST: Heirs of Luna vs. Afable (G.R. No. 188299)

G.R. No. 188299 : January 23, 2013 | HEIRS OF LUIS A. LUNA and REMEGIO A. LUNA, and LUZ LUNA-SANTOS, as represented by their Attorneys-in-Fact, AUREA B. LUBIS, Petitioners, v. RUBEN S. AFABLE, TOMAS M. AFABLE, FLORANTE A. EVANGELISTA, LEOVY S. EVANGELISTA, JAIME M. ILAGAN, ET. AL., Respondents. PEREZ, J.:

The heirs of Luis A. Luna and Remegio A. Luna, and Luz Luna-Santos (“Heirs”) are co-owners of a parcel of land located in Brgy. Guinobatan, Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro which was subjected to compulsory acquisition under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Respondents Ruben Afable, Tomas Afable, Florante Evangelista, Leovy Evangelista, Jaime Ilagan, et al. (Afable, et al.) were identified by the DAR as qualified farmer-beneficiaries. Hence, Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) were issued to them. The heirs sought the cancellation of the said CLOAs before the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB) Calapan City. Their petition was anchored mainly on the reclassification of the land in question into a light intensity industrial zone pursuant to Municipal Ordinance No. 21, series of 1981, enacted by the Sangguniang Bayan of Calapan, thereby excluding the same from the coverage of the agrarian law. DARAB Calapan City ordered the cancellation of the CLOAs.Aggrieved, Afable et al. appealed to the DARAB Central Office and the latter ruled in their favour. The heirs appealed the decision to the Office of the President which ruled that the parcel of land is excluded from the coverage of CARP.

Then, Afable et al. appealed the Office of the President’s decision to the Court of Appeals. The CA granted the appeal. Hence, the heirs appealed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUE: Whether or not Municipal Ordinance No. 21 validly classified the parcel of land from agricultural to non-agricultural, and therefore, exempt from CARP?

HELD: The land is outside the coverage of the agrarian reform program.

Local governments have the power to reclassify agricultural into non-agricultural lands. Sec. 345 of RA No. 2264 (The Local Autonomy Act of 1959) specifically empowers municipal and/or city councils to adopt zoning and subdivision ordinances or regulations in consultation with the National Planning Commission. By virtue of a zoning ordinance, the local legislature may arrange, prescribe, define, and apportion the land within its political jurisdiction into specific uses based not only on the present, but also on the future projection of needs.

The regulation by local legislatures of land use in their respective territorial jurisdiction through zoning and reclassification is an exercise of police power. The power to establish zones for industrial, commercial and residential uses is derived from the police power itself and is exercised for the protection and benefit of the residents of a locality.

Petition granted. The Decision of the Office of the President is REINSTATED.