CASE DIGEST: Heirs of Salas vs. Cabungcal

G.R. No. 191545: November 22, 2010

HEIRS OF AUGUSTO SALAS, JR., represented by TERESITA D. SALAS, Petitioners v. MARCIANO CABUNGCAL ET AL.,Respondents

FACTS:

Augusto Salas, Jr. is the registered owner of a parcel of agricultural land consisting of 148 hectares located in Barangays Pusil,Inosluban, Marawoy and Balintawak, Lipa City, Batangas. In May 1987, Salas entered into an Owner-Contractor Agreement withLaperal Realty Corporation for the development, subdivision and sale of the property.The HLURB allowed Salas and Laperal Realty to develop the property and subdivide it into a farmlot subdivision consisting of 80 saleable lots.The property was further subdivided into smaller lots for which new TCTs were issued in the name of Salas.

Despite this, the HLURB included portions of the lots under its Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Petitioners protested with DAR and applied for exemption. One of the petitions is the instant case.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not petitioners have a right to the land, thus necessitating a TRO.

HELD:

Petition Granted.

Civil Law: Prima facie right to property

Petitioners have shown aprima facieright to the exemption that they claim. Former DAR Secretary Pagdanganan granted petitioners application for exemption upon finding that the subject lots had already been converted to non-agricultural even prior to theeffectivity of Republic Act No. 6657,due to the propertys reclassification into farmlot subdivision through the Land Use and Zoning Ordinance of Lipa City.

The consummation of acts leading to the disposition of the litigated property can make it difficult to implement this Courts decision upon resolution of the case and can only prolong this protracted battle even more. On the other hand, respondents would not be unduly deprived of their livelihood as they can continue tilling the land pending the final disposition of this case.

Petition GRANTED. The status quo is maintained.

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