Mangubat v. Miranda (G.R. No. 217706. August 5, 2015)

CASE DIGEST: G.R. No. 217706. Heirs of Rodulfo Mangubat, Fernando Dalucanog and Atty. Abundio UR. Gaitera, petitioners, v. Heirs of Jose and Carmen Y. Miranda, rep. by Joselito Y. Miranda, respondents. August 5, 2015.

The Cash Collection and Disbursement Division is directed to RETURN to the petitioners the excess amount of P470.00 paid for filing fees under O.R. No. 0112942-SC-EP dated May 4, 2015.

Before the Court is an appeal by certiorari assailing the Decision dated 22 January 2014[1] and the Resolution dated 5 March 2015[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA G.R. SP No. 04132-MIN, which reversed the Decision dated 2 September 2009[3] of the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB)-Central and reinstated the Decision dated 30 September 2003[4] of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD) in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

The present petition stems from a complaint for ejectment and/or recovery of possession, collection of unpaid rentals, dissolution and/or termination of leasehold relationship filed by respondent Heirs of Jose and Carmen Miranda against petitioners Rodulfo Mangubat, Fernando Dalucanog and Atty. Abundio UR. Gaitera. Respondents averred in said complaint that they are the registered owners of three (3) parcels of land in Bukidnon which they leased to petitioners who, in turn, subleased certain portions of such land. Coupled with such subleasing, petitioners allegedly failed to pay rentals, thereby necessitating the case for ejectment.

The PARAD ruled in favor of respondents. It ordered petitioners, as well as all other persons who have actual possession upon authority of petitioners, to vacate and surrender the lots and to pay all unpaid rentals.

Upon appeal, the DARAB-Central set aside the decision of the PARAD, and merely ordered petitioners to pay respondents all unpaid rentals.

Upon further appeal, the CA ruled that, while the ground of subleasing was not proven, yet, petitioners could still be ejected on the ground of non-payment of lease rentals. The CA then reversed and set aside the decision of the DARAB-Central and reinstated that of the PARAD.

Hence, the present petition raising the following issues:

Contrary to the findings of public respondent Court of Appeals, herein petitioners-lessees did not willfully and deliberately fail to pay leasehold rentals considering the following reasons: (1) The herein respondents (who are absentee landowners) did not regularly collect leasehold rentals from the petitioners-lessees during every harvest or twice a year, more specifically during the last 3-year period (2000-2002) before the filing of the second ejectment complaint on March 14, 2003. (2) For continuing failure of respondents-landowners to file petition for retention, the petitioners-lessees had serious doubts as to the legality of their leasehold contracts.[8]The Supreme Court DENIED the petition.

Contrary to petitioners' contention, their non-payment of rentals was willfull and deliberate. The Court noted that this is not the first time that petitioners were sued for ejectment for non-payment of rentals as, in fact, DARAB Cases No. 569, 570, and 571[9] are all ejectment cases against them based on non-payment of rentals. As such, when these cases were decided and petitioners were ordered to pay rentals every harvest to respondents,[10] petitioners should have faithfully complied with such order. That they did not do so necessitated the filing of the present complaint for ejectment.

As found by the PARAD and verified by the CA, while there were receipts showing payments of rentals, the records show that said receipts were payments for the first harvest after the first ejectment case was filed in 1999 and that it does not refer to payments thereafter.

[1] Rollo, pp. 60-78; Penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez with Associate Justices Edgardo A. Camello and Henri Jean Paul B. Inting concurring.
[2] Id. at 77-83; Penned by Associate Justice Edgardo A. Camello with Associate Justices Oscar V. Badelles and Henri Jean Paul B. Inting concurring.
[3] Id. at 43-56.
[4] Id. at 32-42.
[5] Id. at 42.
[6] Id. at 54-55.
[7] Id. at 77.
[8] Id. at 18.
[9] Id. at 25-31.
[10] Id. at 31; The dispositive portion of the Decision dated 10 December 1999 reads:

WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the instant complaint is dismissed for lack of merit.

On the other hand, private respondents are ordered to account for and pay their lease rentals computed from the first harvest after this case was filed on February 24, 1999 and every harvest thereafter. For this purpose, the MARO of DAR Maramag, Bukidnon is hereby directed to cause to be prepared a leasehold contract for the parties.