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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. NO. 148892 May 6, 2010

LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
LUZ L. RODRIGUEZ, Respondent.

D E C I S I O N

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
assailing 1] the December 23, 1998 Resolution1 of the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R.
CV No. 60471, dismissing the appeal of petitioner Land Bank; and 2] its July 3,
2001 Resolution denying petitioner�s motion for the reconsideration thereof.

THE FACTS

Respondent Luz L. Rodriguez (Rodriguez) is the registered owner of three (3)


parcels of agricultural land in Basud, Camarines Norte, which she voluntarily
offered for sale to the government under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
under Republic Act (RA) 6657 (CARP). These parcels of land are covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 15208 with an area of 111.3895 hectares, TCT No.
15225 with an area of 20.0345 hectares and TCT No. T-15213 with an area of 47.2877
hectares (the property). The portion of the property planted to coconuts has a
total area of 177.4240 hectares, while the portion planted to rice has an area of
1.2877 hectares.2

Under the CARP, the government, in the exercise of its power of eminent domain,
takes over private agricultural property for distribution to qualified
beneficiaries after paying just compensation to the landowner. In the present case,
the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), as implementor of the land reform program,
already expropriated the property but the Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank)
as financier has not yet paid their full value to Rodriguez.3

Not satisfied with the amount offered as compensation, Luz Rodriguez filed a
petition to determine just compensation with the Regional Trial Court of Daet,
Camarines Norte, sitting as Special Agrarian Court (RTC-SAC). After trial, the RTC-
SAC rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

"IN VIEW OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

1. Ordering respondent Landbank to pay the petitioner Luz Rodriguez for the 160.851
hectares of coconut land in the sum of ?17,443,245.41 in cash and in bonds the
proportion provided by law;

2. Ordering respondent Landbank to pay the petitioner for the 1.2877 hectares of
riceland in the sum of ?77,200.00 in cash and in bonds in the proportion provided
for by law;

3. Ordering respondent Landbank to pay the petitioner Luz Rodriguez the sum of ?
254,132.00 as the compounded interest in cash.

IT IS SO ORDERED.
Landbank moved for reconsideration of the RTC-SAC decision but its motion was
denied.

On August 18, 1998, Landbank filed a Notice of Appeal.4 In its August 20, 1998
Order,5 the RTC-SAC gave due course to the notice of appeal. Eventually, the
original records were forwarded to the Court of Appeals (CA).

Not in conformity with the August 20, 1998 Order, Rodriguez asked the RTC-SAC for
its reconsideration basing its motion on Section 60 of RA 6657. Under said section,
an "appeal may be taken from the decision of the Special Agrarian Courts by filing
a petition for review with the Court of Appeals within fifteen (15) days from
receipt of notice of the decision; otherwise, the decision shall become final."

The RTC-SAC found Rodriguez�s motion meritorious and declared that its
determination in its September 18, 1998 order of the amount of just compensation
had become final and executory. It also ordered the return of the records that were
already forwarded to the CA.6

Based on this order, Rodriguez filed a motion7 with the CA for the return of the
records. Landbank filed an opposition and argued that the CA had jurisdiction over
its appeal and could decide if its appeal was proper. In time, the CA dismissed
Landbank�s appeal through its assailed resolution with the following dispositive
portion:

ACCORDINGLY, for failure of appellant to avail of the proper remedy, the instant
appeal is hereby DISMISSED.

Appellee�s "Motion to Remand Records to the Court of Origin, Regional Trial Court,
Branch 40, Daet, Camarines Norte" is GRANTED. Let the entire record be returned to
the trial court for resolution of incidents pending therein.

THE ISSUE

In this petition, Landbank submits that the sole issue is whether the proper mode
of appeal from a decision of the RTC-SAC under the Rules of Court is by ordinary
appeal under Rule 418 or by petition for review under Rule 42.9 Landbank posits
that the proper mode of appeal is by ordinary appeal pursuant to Section 61 of RA
6657.10

In her Comment,11 Rodriguez contends that a petition for review, not an ordinary
appeal, is the proper procedure as held in Land Bank of the Philippines v. De
Leon.12

THE COURT�S RULING

Landbank admitted in its Memorandum13 that the issue had already been settled in
Land Bank of the Philippines v. De Leon. In ruling that a petition for review and
not an ordinary appeal is the proper mode of appeal from the decision of the RTC-
SAC in cases involving the determination of just compensation, the Court said:

The reason why it is permissible to adopt a petition for review when appealing
cases decided by the Special Agrarian Courts in eminent domain cases is the need
for absolute dispatch in the determination of just compensation. Just compensation
means not only paying the correct amount but also paying for the land within a
reasonable time from its acquisition. Without prompt payment, compensation cannot
be considered "just" for the property owner is made to suffer the consequences of
being immediately deprived of his land while being made to wait for a decade or
more before actually receiving the amount necessary to cope with his loss. Such
objective is more in keeping with the nature of a petition for review.

Unlike an ordinary appeal, a petition for review dispenses with the filing of a
notice of appeal or completion of records as requisites before any pleading is
submitted. A petition for review hastens the award of fair recompense to deprived
landowners for the government-acquired property, an end not foreseeable in an
ordinary appeal. xxx

On March 20, 2003, the Court issued an En Banc Resolution14 to address the status
of pending cases which had been appealed through a notice of appeal:

WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration dated October 16, 2002 and the supplement
to the motion for reconsideration dated November 11, 2002 are partially granted.
While we clarify that the Decision of this Court dated September 10, 2002 stands,
our ruling therein that a petition for review is the correct mode of appeal from
decisions of Special Agrarian Courts shall apply only to cases appealed after the
finality of this Resolution. [emphasis supplied]

As earlier stated, Landbank filed its notice of appeal on August 18, 1998. Pursuant
to the ruling that De Leon can be applied prospectively from March 20, 2003, the
appeal of Landbank, filed prior to that date, could be positively acted upon.
Accordingly, the subject CA resolutions should be set aside and Landbank should be
allowed to elevate the matter to it via Rule 42 of the Rules of Court furnishing a
copy to the heirs of Luz Rodriguez at their address of record.

This case originated from a petition filed by Luz Rodriguez to determine just
compensation. Our Constitution speaks of just compensation in Section 4, Article
XIII, providing that the distribution of agricultural lands undertaken by the State
under its agrarian reform program shall be subject to the payment of just
compensation. The word "just" is used to describe "compensation" to ensure that the
amount paid for the property taken is real, substantial, full, and ample.15 For
compensation to be "just," it must also be made without delay.

This petition was filed in 2001 but remained unresolved basically due to the
failure of Luz Rodriguez to submit the required memorandum.16 As the records show,
the deaths of Rodriguez on February 24, 199917 and of her counsel, Atty. Fernando
A. Santiago (Atty. Santiago), on August 22, 200518 were the reasons for the delay.

On April 14, a few months before he died of cancer, Atty. Santiago manifested that
Atty. Hector Reuben D. Feliciano (Atty. Feliciano) was his co-counsel in this
case.19 After Luz Rodriguez failed to file her memorandum, the Court required Atty.
Feliciano to secure and submit the written conformity of Rodriguez�s heirs,
Domiciano and Celestino Rodriguez.20 Atty. Feliciano attempted to comply with the
order, but the heirs reportedly failed to respond to his letters. This prompted him
to pray in his April 13, 2009 compliance21 that he be discharged from further
representing Rodriguez. The Court deferred action on his prayer and ordered that a
copy of the resolution requiring the parties to file a memorandum be sent to
Rodriguez�s heirs.22 To date, the heirs have not responded to the communications.

As the case pertains only to a procedural matter, the Court resolves the impasse by
considering the resolution requiring the heirs of Luz Rodriguez to file their
memorandum as served and by deciding the merits of the case in this disposition.
Technicalities that impede the cause of justice must be avoided.23 To allow the
case, which have been pending in this Court for almost ten years now, to remain in
limbo would be unfair to both parties especially to the heirs of Luz Rodriguez, as
the DAR had already taken possession of the property. At any rate, the heirs were
already notified at their address of record.

As the petitioner Land Bank has been allowed to file a petition for review, as
earlier stated, it should furnish the heirs of Luz Rodriguez and Atty. Feliciano24
copies thereof before it could be given due course.

WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The assailed resolutions of the Court
of Appeals are SET ASIDE. Petitioner Landbank is given fifteen (15) days from
receipt of this disposition to file its petition for review, furnishing the heirs
of Luz Rodriguez and Atty. Hector Reuben D. Feliciano copies thereof at their
respective addresses of record.

SO ORDERED.

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES*


Associate Justice ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

A T T E S T A T I O N

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Court�s Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairperson�s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had
been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court�s Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Footnotes

* Designated as additional member of the Third Division in lieu of Justice


Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. per raffle dated February 15, 2010.

1 Rollo, pp. 41-42. Penned by Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago (now a retired


member of this Court), and concurred in by Justice B. A. Adefuin-Dela Cruz and
Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, (now a member of this Court).

2 Rollo, p. 47.

3 Rollo, p. 49.
4 Rollo, pp. 63-64.

5 Rollo, p. 65.

6 Rollo, p. 69.

7 Rollo, Annex "F," pp. 69-71.

8 Rule 41, Section 2. Modes of appeal. � (a) Ordinary appeal. � The appeal to the
Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of
its original jurisdiction shall be taken by filing a notice of appeal with the
court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and serving a copy
thereof upon the adverse party. No record on appeal shall be required except in
special proceedings and other cases of multiple or separate appeals where the law
or these Rules so require. In such cases, the record on appeal shall be filed and
served in like manner. xxx

9 Rule 42, Section 1. How appeal taken; time for filing. � A party desiring to
appeal from a decision of the Regional Trial Court rendered in the exercise of its
appellate jurisdiction may file a verified petition for review with the Court of
Appeals, paying at the same time to the clerk of said court the corresponding
docket and other lawful fees, depositing the amount of P500.00 for costs, and
furnishing the Regional Trial Court and the adverse party with a copy of the
petition. xxx

10 Section 61. Procedure on Review. � Review by the Court of Appeals or the Supreme
Court, as the case may be, shall be governed by the Rules of Court. The Court of
Appeals, however, may require the parties to file simultaneous memoranda within a
period of fifteen (15) days from notice, after which the case is deemed submitted
for decision.

11 Rollo, pp. 172-177.

12 G.R. No. 143275, September 10, 2002, 388 SCRA 537.

13 Rollo, pp. 212-235.

14 G.R. No. 143275, March 20, 2003, 399 SCRA 376.

15 Apo Fruits v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 164195, February 6, 2007, 553 SCRA 237.

16 The court gave due course to the petition and required the parties to file their
respective memoranda on January 17, 2005.

17 Rollo, p. 266.

18 Rollo, p, 248.

19 Rollo, pp. 237-238.

20 Rollo, p. 173.

21 Rollo, p. 310.

22 Rollo, p. 313.

23 Rovira v. Deleste, G.R. No. 160825, March 26, 2010.


24 For his own record and information.