Case Digest: Land Bank v. Heirs of Lopez

G.R. No. 171038 : June 20, 2012




Monserrat L. Marchan, together and in behalf of her co-respondents, voluntarily offered to sell the parcel of land to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6657, otherwise known as the "Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988."

The respondents rejected the LBPs offer and elevated the matter to the DAR Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD) of Sorsogon City who conducted a summary administrative proceeding for the determination of just compensation.

Provincial Adjudicator Manuel M. Capellan fixed the just compensation for the respondents 21.6101-hectare property at P928,330.17, which was P630,228.96 more than the amount offered by the LBP. The huge difference from the LBPs estimate arose from the PARADs use of the average selling price of P16.00 per kg. of copra instead of the average selling price of P5.86 per kg. of copra used by the LBP. The average selling price data is required in computing for the capitalized net income (CNI), which is a necessary factor in the equation for determining the amount of just compensation.

The LBP moved to reconsider the PARADs ruling, but its motion was denied. LBP filed before Branch 52 of the Regional Trial Court, acting as a Special Agrarian Court (RTC-SAC), of Sorsogon City a petition for the judicial determination of just compensation.

RTC-SAC affirmed the PARADs decision. From the evidence presented, it considered the PARADs valuation to be fair, just and realistic, based not only on the propertys yield of copra, but also on its condition, its proximity to roads and the market place, the comparable sales in the area or the current value of like properties, the improvements thereto, its actual use, the social and economic benefits that the property contributed to the community, the landowners sworn valuation thereof, and the tax declarations and assessments made by government assessors on the property.

Thereafter, the RTC-SAC denied the LBPs motion for reconsideration. The LBP appealed to the CA. CA affirmed the RTC-SACs ruling. The LBP moved to reconsider the CAs decision, but its motion was denied.

ISSUE: Whether or not PCA-supplied average selling price data of P5.86 per kg. of copra should have been used in computing the just compensation for the respondents property, as their data and computation were in accordance with the formula and guidelines provided under DAR A.O. No. 5, series of 1998?

HELD: Court of Appeals decision is sustained.

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: agrarian reform law; just compensation

In determining just compensation, the cost of acquisition of the land, the current value of like properties, its nature, actual use and income, the sworn valuation by the owner, the tax declarations, and the assessment made by government assessors shall be considered. The social and economic benefits contributed by the farmers and the farmworkers and by the Government to the property as well as the non-payment of taxes or loans secured from any government financing institution on the said land shall be considered as additional factors to determine its valuation.

REMEDIAL LAW: question of fact

We find the present issue to be a question of fact that is not reviewable by this Court under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Section 1 thereof provides that "[t]he petition x x x shall raise only questions of law, which must be distinctly set forth." To differentiate, a question of fact exists when the doubt centers on the truth or falsityof the alleged facts while a question of law exists if the doubt centers on what the law is on a certain set of facts;there is a question of fact if the issue requires a review of the evidence presented or requires the re-evaluation of the credibility of witnesses, and there is a question of law if the issue raised is capable of being resolved without the need of reviewing the probative value of the evidence. The issue of the correctness of the average selling price data used in this case is clearly a question of fact that can only be determined by a review of the evidence presented by the parties.