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ARCHBISHOP VS SECRETARY

G.R. No. 139285 December 21, 2007


ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF CACERES (Leonardo Zamora
Legaspi), Petitioner
SECRETARY OF AGRARIAN REFORM (Virgilio de los Reyes ) and
DAR REGIONAL DIRECTOR (Region V) (Celestina Tam), Respondents
VELASCO, JR., J.:
The Case
In this Petition for Review on Certiorari, petitioner Roman Catholic
Archbishop of Caceres questions the Decision of the Court of Appeals which
upheld the Orders of the Department of Agrarian Reform .
The Facts
Archbishop is the registered owner of several properties in
Camarines Sur, with a total area of 268.5668 hectares.
249.0236 hectares planted with rice and corn,
19.5432 hectares planted with coconut trees.

In 1985, Archbishop filed with the Municipal Agrarian Reform in


Naga City, Camarines Sur several petitions for exemption of certain
properties located in various towns of Camarines Sur from the
coverage of Operation Land Transfer (OLT). Two of these petitions
were denied
Archbishop appealed from the order of the Regional Director, and
sought exemption from OLT coverage of all lands planted with
rice and corn which were registered in the name of the Roman
Catholic Archdiocese of Caceres. In his appeal, Archbishop cited the
following grounds:
a)
That said properties are all covered by conditional donations
subject to the prohibitions of the donors to SELL,
EXCHANGE, LEASE, TRANSFER, ENCUMBER OR
MORTGAGE the properties;
b)
That they are used for charitable and religious
purposes;
c)
That the parishes located in depressed areas badly
need them for the furtherance of their mission work,
propagation of the faith, maintenance and support of

their chapels, churches and educational religious


institutions like the Holy Rosary Major and Minor
Seminaries for the promotion of the priesthood
vocation;
d)
For the preservation of good relationship between
church and state thru non-infringement of the right to
exercise religious profession and worship;
e)
For the maintenance of the Cathedral and
Peafrancia Shrine
f)
That the petitioner (church) is amenable to continue
the leasehold system with the present cultivators or
tenants.
This appeal was denied by then DAR Secretary Ernesto D.
Garilao in an Order dated December 8, 1997. A subsequent
motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order dated
June 10, 1998.
The matter was then raised to the CA via Petition for Review on
Certiorari.
Archbishop argued that even if the lands in question are registered in
his name, he holds the lands in trust for the benefit of his followers
as cestui que trust (beneficiary of an estate held in trust.)
He then prayed that the assailed orders of the DAR be reversed, or
in the alternative, that the alleged beneficiaries of the trust be each
allowed to exercise rights of retention over the landholdings.
The petition was dismissed by the CA in its February 4, 1999
Decision.
Archbishop filed a motion for reconsideration, but was denied

The Issues
Archbishop raises issues he had raised previously, which, he
contends, the CA failed to properly address.
He claims that the CA erred in holding that he is only entitled to
assert one right of retention as the subject properties are registered
in his name.
He further claims that an express trust had been created wherein he
only held naked title to the subject properties on behalf of the
beneficiaries.

He then raises the question of the applicability that properties held by


the Church are held by it as a mere administrator for the benefit of
the members of that particular religion.
Archbishop claims to be merely an administrator of the subject
properties; that these subject properties should have been exempt
from the OLT.

The Courts Ruling


The petition has no merit.
Archbishops arguments fail in the face of the law
Archbishop was found to be the registered owner of the lands in
question, and does not contest that fact. For the purposes of the
law, this makes him the landowner, without the necessity of going
beyond the registered titles.
He cannot demand a deeper examination of the registered titles and
demand further that the intent of the original owners be ascertained
and followed. To adopt his reasoning would create means of
sidestepping the law, wherein the mere act of donation places lands
beyond the reach of agrarian reform.
The law is simple and clear as to the retention limits per landowner.
PD 27 states, In all cases, the landowner may retain an area of
not more than seven (7) hectares if such landowner is
cultivating such area or will now cultivate it;
RA 6657 states: SEC. 6. Retention Limits.Except as otherwise
provided in this Act, no person may own or retain, directly, any
public or private agricultural land, the size of which shall vary
according to factors governing a viable family-sized farm, such as
commodity produced, terrain, infrastructure, and soil fertility as
determined by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC)
created hereunder, but in no case shall the retention by the
landowner exceed five (5) hectares.
Nothing in either law supports Archbishops claim to more
than one right of retention on behalf of each cestui que trust.

The provisions of PD 27 and RA 6657 are plain and require


no further interpretationthere is only one right of
retention per landowner, and no multiple rights of
retention can be held by a single party.
Under Archbishops reasoning, there is not even a definite
landowner to claim separate rights of retention, and no
specific number of rights of retention to be claimed by the
landowners. There is simply no basis in the law or
jurisprudence for his argument that it is the beneficial
ownership that should be used to determine which party
would have the right of retention.
Archbishop does not have the power to sell, exchange,
lease, transfer, encumber or mortgage the transferred
properties.
Sale arises out of contractual obligation. Thus, it must meet
the first essential requisite of every contract that is the
presence of consent. The absence of consent renders the
sale either void or voidable.
The application of the law cannot and should not be
defeated by the conditions laid down by the donors of the
land. If such were allowed, it would be a simple matter for
other landowners to place their lands without limit under the
protection of religious organizations or create trusts by the
mere act of donation, rendering agrarian reform but a pipe
dream.
Archbishops contention that he is merely an administrator of the
donated properties will not serve to remove these lands from the
coverage of agrarian reform.
Section 4 of RA 6657 states, The Comprehensive Agrarian
Reform Law of 1988 shall cover, regardless of tenurial
arrangement and commodity produced, ALL public and private
agricultural lands including other lands of the public domain
suitable for agriculture.
SEC. 10. Exemptions and Exclusions.
Lands used for parks, wildlife, forest reserves,
reforestation, fish sanctuaries and breeding grounds,
watersheds and mangroves
Private lands used for prawn farms and fishponds.
Provided, That said prawn farms and fishponds have
not been distributed and Certificate of Land

Ownership Award (CLOA) issued under the Agrarian


Reform Program.
The lands in Archbishops name are agricultural lands that fall within
the scope of the law, and do not fall under the exemptions.
Archbishop is entitled to just compensation, which he may then use
for the benefit of his followers. His situation is no different from other
landowners affected by agrarian reformthey are somewhat
deprived of their land, but it is all for a greater good.

Petition is DENIED, and the February 4, 1999 Decision is


AFFIRMED (petition is DISMISSED).

FACTS:

REPUBLIC vs.VILLASOR
G.R. No. L-30671 November 28, 1973

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner


Respondents:
HON. GUILLERMO P. VILLASOR, as Judge of the Court of First Instance
of Cebu, Branch I
THE PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF RIZAL
THE SHERIFF OFQUEZON CITY
THE SHERIFF OF THE CITY OF MANILA
THE CLERK OF COURT, Court of First Instance of Cebu
P. J. KIENER CO., LTD.,
GAVINO UNCHUAN
INTERNATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION
FERNANDO, J.:

The Republic of the Philippines challenges the validity of an order


issued by respondent Judge Guillermo P. Villasor, then of the
Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch I, declaring a decision final
and executory and of an alias writ of execution directed against the
funds of the Armed Forces of the Philippines subsequently issued in
pursuance thereof, the alleged ground being excess of jurisdiction, or
at the very least, grave abuse of discretion.
The Republic of the Philippines is entitled to the writs prayed for.
Order is contrary and the alias writ of execution is nullified.

On July 3, 1961, a decision was rendered in Special Proceedings in


favor of respondents P. J. Kiener Co., Ltd., Gavino Unchuan, and
International Construction Corporation, confirming the arbitration
award in the amount of P1,712,396.40
On June 24, 1969, respondent Honorable Guillermo P. Villasor,
issued an Order declaring the decision of July 3, 1961 final and
executory, directing the Sheriffs of Rizal Province, Quezon City
[as well as] Manila to execute the said decision.
Pursuant to the said Order dated June 24, 1969, the corresponding
Alias Writ of Execution [was issued] dated June 26, 1969
On the strength of the afore-mentioned Alias Writ of Execution dated
June 26, 1969, the Provincial Sheriff of Rizal (respondent) served
notices of garnishment dated June 28, 1969 with several Banks,
specially on the monies due the Armed Forces of the Philippines in
the form of deposits sufficient to cover the amount mentioned in the
said Writ of Execution;
the Philippine Veterans Bank received the same notice of
garnishment on June 30, 1969
The funds of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on deposit with the
Banks, particularly, with the Philippine Veterans Bank and the
Philippine National Bank [or] their branches are public funds duly
appropriated and allocated for the payment of pensions of retirees,
pay and allowances of military and civilian personnel and for
maintenance and operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
Respondent Judge, Honorable Guillermo P. Villasor, acted in excess
of jurisdiction [or] with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction in granting the issuance of an alias writ of execution
against the properties of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, hence,
the Alias Writ of Execution and notices of garnishment are null and
void.
In the answer filed by respondents, through counsel Andres T.
Velarde and Marcelo B. Fernan, the facts set forth were admitted
with the only qualification being that the total award was in the
amount of P2,372,331.40.

The Republic of the Philippines, as mentioned at the outset, did right


in filing this certiorari and prohibition proceeding. What was done by
respondent Judge is not in conformity with the dictates of the
Constitution. .

The State may not be sued without its consent. Public funds
cannot be the object of a garnishment proceeding even if the
consent to be sued has been previously granted.

A rule which has never been seriously questioned, is that money in


the hands of public officers, although it may be due government
employees, is not liable to the creditors of these employees in the
process of garnishment. One reason is, that the State, by virtue of its
sovereignty, may not be sued in its own courts except by express
authorization by the Legislature, and to subject its officers to
garnishment would be to permit indirectly what is prohibited directly.
Another reason is that moneys sought to be garnished, as long as
they remain in the hands of the disbursing officer of the Government,
belong to the latter, although the defendant in garnishment may be
entitled to a specific portion thereof. And still another reason which
covers both of the foregoing is that every consideration of public
policy forbids it.

In the light of the above, it is made abundantly clear why the RP


could rightfully allege a legitimate grievance.

WHEREFORE, the writs of certiorari and prohibition are GRANTED,


nullifying and setting aside both the order of June 24, 1969 declaring
executory the decision of July 3, 1961as well as the alias writ of execution
issued thereunder. The
preliminary injunction issued by this Court on July 12, 1969 is hereby made
permanent.