Fortich vs Corona Case Digest
Fortich vs. Corona (G.R. No. 131457) Facts: - This case involves a 144-hectare land located at San Vicente, Sumilao, Bukidnon, owned by the Norberto Quisumbing, Sr. Management and Development Corporation (NQSRMDC), one of the petitioners. - In 1984, the land was leased as a pineapple plantation to the Philippine Packing Corporation, now Del Monte Philippines, Inc. (DMPI) for a period of ten (10) years. The lease expired in April, 1994. - During the existence of the lease, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) placed the entire 144-hectare property under compulsory acquisition and assessed the land value at P2.38 million. - NQSRMDC sought and was granted by the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB), through its Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD) a writ of prohibition with preliminary injunction which ordered the DAR Region X Director, the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) of Bukidnon, the Municipal Agrarian Reform Office (MARO) of Sumilao, Bukidnon, the Land Bank of the Philippines (Land Bank), and their authorized representatives "to desist from pursuing any activity or activities" concerning the subject land "until further orders." - Despite the DARAB order of March 31, 1992, the DAR Regional Director issued a memorandum directing the Land Bank to open a trust account for P2.38 million in the name of NQSRMDC and to conduct summary proceedings to determine the just compensation of the subject property. NQSRMDC objected to these moves and filed an Omnibus Motion to enforce the DARAB order of March 31, 1992 and to nullify the summary proceedings undertaken by the DAR Regional Director and Land Bank on the valuation of the subject property. - DARAB acted favorably on the Omnibus Motion. Land Bank complied with the DARAB. - In the meantime, the Provincial Development Council (PDC) of Bukidnon, headed by Governor Carlos O. Fortich, passed Resolution No. 6, 8 dated January 7, 1993, designating certain areas along Bukidnon-Sayre Highway as part of the Bukidnon Agro-Industrial Zones where the subject property is situated. - Pursuant to Section 20 of R.A. No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code, the Sangguniang Bayan of Sumilao, Bukidnon, on March 4, 1993, enacted Ordinance No. 24 converting or re-classifying 144 hectares of land in Bgy. San Vicente, said Municipality, from agricultural to industrial/institutional with a view of providing an opportunity to attract investors who can inject new economic vitality, provide more jobs and raise the income of its people. - Under said section, 4th to 5th class municipalities may authorize the classification of five percent (5%) of their agricultural land area and provide for the manner of their utilization or disposition. - On 11 December 1993, the instant application for conversion was filed by Mr. Gaudencio Beduya in behalf of NQSRMDC/BAIDA (Bukidnon Agro-Industrial Development Association). This was favorably recommended by a lot government officials. The people of the affected barangay even rallied behind their respective officials in endorsing the project. - Notwithstanding the foregoing favorable recommendation, however, on November 14, 1994, the DAR, thru Secretary Garilao, invoking its powers to approve conversion of lands under Section 65 of R.A. No. 6657, issued an Order denying the instant application for the conversion of the subject land from agricultural to agro-industrial and, instead, placed the same under the compulsory coverage of CARP and directed the distribution thereof to all qualified beneficiaries. - Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid Order was filed by applicant but the same was denied. Thus, the DAR Secretary ordered the DAR Regional Director "to proceed with the compulsory acquisition and distribution of the property." - Governor Carlos O. Fortich of Bukidnon appealed" the order of denial to the Office of the President and prayed for the conversion/reclassification of the subject land as the same would be more beneficial to the people of Bukidnon. - NQSRMDC filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari, prohibition with preliminary injunction. - Meanwhile, on July 25, 1995, the Honorable Paul G. Dominguez, then Presidential Assistant for Mindanao, after conducting an evaluation of the proposed project, sent a memorandum to the President favorably endorsing the project with a recommendation that the DAR Secretary reconsider his decision in denying the application of the province for the conversion of the land. - On October 23, 1995, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution ordering the parties to observe status quo pending resolution of the petition.
- In resolving the appeal, the Office of the President, through then Executive Secretary Ruben D. Torres, issued a Decision in OP Case No. 96-C-6424, dated March 29, 1996, reversing the DAR Secretary's decision. It stated that: deciding in favor of NQSRMDC, the DARAB correctly pointed out that under Section 8 of R.A. No. 6657, the subject property could not validly be the subject of compulsory acquisition until after the expiration of the lease contract with Del Monte Philippines, a Multi-National Company, or until April 1994. xxx the language of Section 20 of R.A. No. 7160, supra, is clear and affords no room for any other interpretation. By unequivocal legal mandate, it grants local government units autonomy in their local affairs including the power to convert portions of their agricultural lands and provide for the manner of their utilization and disposition to enable them to attain their fullest development as selfreliant communities. - On September 11, 1996, in compliance with the OP decision of March 29, 1996, NQSRMDC and the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) executed a Memorandum of Agreement whereby the former donated four (4) hectares from the subject land to DECS for the establishment of the NQSR High School. - When NQSRMDC was about to transfer the title over the 4-hectare donated to DECS, it discovered that the title over the subject property was no longer in its name. It soon found out that during the pendency of both the Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition, with Preliminary Injunction it filed against DAR in the Court of Appeals and the appeal to the President filed by Governor Carlos O. Fortich, the DAR, without giving just compensation, caused the cancellation of NQSRMDC's title on August 11, 1995 and had it transferred in the name of the Republic of the Philippines. On September 25, 1995, DAR caused the issuance of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) No. 00240227 and had it registered in the name of 137 farmer-beneficiaries. - On April 10, 1997, NQSRMDC filed a complaint 21 with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malaybalay, Bukidnon for annulment and cancellation of title, damages and injunction against DAR and 141 others. RTC then issued a Temporary Restraining Order and a Writ of Preliminary Injunction restraining the DAR and 141 others from entering, occupying and/or wresting from NQSRMDC the possession of the subject land. - On August 12, 1997, the said writ of preliminary injunction issued by the RTC was challenged by some alleged farmers before the Court of Appeals through a petition for certiorari and prohibition praying for the lifting of the injunction and for the issuance of a writ of prohibition from further trying the RTC case. - On October 9, 1997, some alleged farmer-beneficiaries began their hunger strike in front of the DAR Compound in Quezon City to protest the OP Decision of March 29, 1996. - On November 7, 1997, the Office of the President resolved the strikers' protest by issuing the so-called "Win/Win" Resolution penned by then Deputy Executive Secretary Renato C. Corona which modified the decision of the Office of the President, through Executive Secretary Ruben Torres, dated March 29, 1996:
NQSRMDC's application for conversion is APPROVED only with respect to the approximately forty-four (44) hectare portion of the land adjacent to the highway.
remaining approximately one hundred (100) hectares traversed by an irrigation canal and found to be suitable for agriculture shall be distributed to qualified farmer-beneficiaries in accordance with RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law with a right of way to said portion from the highway provided in the portion fronting the highway.
- A copy of the "Win-Win" Resolution was received by Governor Carlos O. Fortich of Bukidnon, Mayor Rey B. Baula of Sumilao, Bukidnon, and NQSRMDC on November 24, 1997 and, on December 4, 1997, they filed the present petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction with urgent prayer for a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction against then Deputy Executive Secretary Renato C. Corona and DAR Secretary Ernesto D. Garilao. - Respondents, through the Solicitor General, opposed the petition and prayed that it be dismissed outright. [long discussion on rules of procedure] Issues: 1.
Whether or not the power of the local government units to reclassify lands is subject to the approval of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
Whether the final and executory Decision dated March 29, 1996 can still be substantially modified by the "WinWin" Resolution was ruled upon by the SC in the negative.
Held: 1st issue: (as was stated in the OP Decision) Local Government Units need not obtain the approval of the DAR to convert or reclassify lands from agricultural to non-agricultural use. It should be stressed that when the March 29, 1996 OP Decision was declared final and executory, vested rights were acquired by the herein petitioners, namely, the province of Bukidnon, the municipality of Sumilao, Bukidnon, and the NQSR Management and Development Corporations, and all others who should be benefited by the said decision. The issue here is not a question of technicality but that of substance and merit. Whether the Sangguniang Bayan of Sumilao has the legal authority to reclassify the land into industrial/institutional use, the March 29, 1996 OP Decision has thoroughly and properly disposed the issue. Converting the land in question from agricultural to agro-industrial would open great opportunities for employment and bring about real development in the area towards a sustained economic growth of the municipality. Procedural lapses in the manner of identifying/reclassifying the subject property for agro-industrial purposes cannot be allowed to defeat the very purpose of the law granting autonomy to local government units in the management of their local affairs. Stated more simply, the language of Section 20 of R.A. No. 7160 is clear and affords no room for any other interpretation. By unequivocal legal mandate, it grants local governments units autonomy in their local affairs including the power to convert portions of their agricultural lands and provide for the manner of their utilization and disposition to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities. 2nd issue: When the Office of the President issued the Order dated June 23, 1997 declaring the Decision of March 29, 1996 final and executory, as no one has seasonably filed a motion for reconsideration thereto, the said Office had lost its jurisdiction to re-open the case, more so modify its Decision. Having lost its jurisdiction, the Office of the President has no more authority to entertain the second motion for reconsideration filed by respondent DAR Secretary, which second motion became the basis of the assailed "Win-Win" Resolution. The assailed "Win-Win" Resolution which substantially modified the Decision of March 29, 1996 after it has attained finality, is utterly void.
Fortich vs. Corona (AJG) G.R. No. 131457 | August 19, 1999 | Ynares-Santiago, J. Petitioners: Carlos Fortich (Governor of Bukidnon), Rey Baula (Mayor of Sumilao, Bukidnon), NQSR Management and Development Corporation Respondents: Deputy Executive Secretary Renato Corona, Agrarian Reform Secretary Ernesto Garilao Summary: The subject of the controversy is an agricultural land in Sumilao, Bukidnon, measuring 144 hectares. The municipality of Sumilao wanted to convert this into an agro-industrial land. In its Order dated March 29, 1996, Office of the President acceded to this conversion, and converted the whole 144 hectares to agro-industrial land in order to attract investors. This order became final and executory. Feeling aggrieve, farmers commenced a hunger-strike in protest of this ruling. The OP wanted to appease the farmers, hence, they issued a new resolution. They said that only 44 hectares will be converted into agro-industrial land and that the remaining 100 hectares will be distributed to the farmers. The respondents filed a motion for reconsideration, but there was “no result” because the justices voted 2-2 in resolving such MR. Now, the respondents wanted to refer the case to the Supreme Court en banc. The Supreme Court said that the resolution of the MR cannot be referred to the Court en banc. It based its reasoning on Article 8, Sec. 4 (3) of the Constitution. From that certain paragraph, the Court differentiated CASES from MATTERS. CASES are to be DECIDED, while MATTERS are to be RESOLVED. An example of a MATTER is a motion for reconsideration, such as the one in this case. Only CASES which do not obtain the required number of votes are required to be elevated en banc. On the other hand, as regards MATTERS, the failure of the division to resolve the motion because of a tie in the voting does not leave the case undecided. If there is a tie in resolving a matter, the earlier decision of the Court is upheld. RESOLUTION (We will learn the difference between “Decision” and “Resolution” in this case. This case is a “Resolution”, just in case sir asks :D ) Facts: Background facts: On October 1997, alleged farmer-beneficiaries commenced a hunger strike in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform compound in Quezon City. They protested the decision of the Office of the President (OP) dated March 29, 1996 which approved the conversion of a 144-hectare land from agricultural to agro-industrial/institutional area. Note that this decision already became final and executory. o The land is located at San Vicente, Sumilao, Bukidnon, owned by NQSRMDC (Norberto Quisumbing Sr. Management and Development Corp). It was leased as a pineapple plantation to Del Monte. o The Sangguniang Bayan of Sumilao, Bukidnon became interested in the property, and enacted an ordinance converting the said land to industrial/institutional with a view to attract investors in order to achieve economic vitality. o Apparently, land conversion issues need to go through the Department of Agrarian Reform. The DAR rejected the land conversion and instead opted to put the same under CARP and ordered the distribution of the property to the farmers. o The case reached the OP. The OP rendered a decision reversing the DAR and converting the land to agro-indusrial area, which became the subject of the strike of the farmers. o The hunger strike was dramatic and well-publicized which commanded nationwide attention that even church leaders and some presidential candidates tried to intervene for their “cause”. These events led the OP, through then Deputy Exec. Sec. Corona, to issue the so-called “Win-Win” Resolution, substantially modifying its earlier Decision (see decision dated March 29, 1996) after it had already become final and executory. o It modified the approval of the land conversion to agro-industrial area only to the extent of forty-four (44) hectares, and ordered the remaining one hundred (100) hectares to be distributed to qualified farmer-beneficiaries. The Supreme Court, in their decision dated April 24, 1998, ruled for Fortich and company and declared that the “Win-Win” Resolution is VOID and of no legal effect considering that the March 29, 1996 resolution of the OP already became final and executory. ALERT – This is where the issue relevant to our topic arose: Aggrieved, respondents Corona and Garilao filed [separate] motions for reconsideration for the said ruling (separate MRs pero rinesolve ng Court through one resolution). o The Court, in their Resolution dated Nov. 17, 1998, voted TWO-TWO on the separate MRs filed by Corona and Garilao assailing the April 24, 1998 Decision. Hence, this motion. The respondents pray that this case be referred to the Court en banc. They contend that inasmuch as their earlier motions for reconsideration (of the Decision dated April 24, 1998) were resolved by a vote of two-two, the required number to carry a decision, i.e., three, was not met. Consequently, the case should be referred to and be decided by this Court en banc, relying on the following constitutional provision: o Art. 8, Sec. 4 (3) - Cases or matters heard by a division shall be decided or resolved with the concurrence of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon, and in no case without the concurrence of at least three of such Members. When the required number is not obtained, the case shall be decided en banc: Provided, that no doctrine or principle of law laid down by the Court in a decision rendered en banc or in division may be modified or reversed except by the Court sitting en banc.
Issue/Held: Whether or not the aforementioned resolution of the Court (the resolution addressing the MR, wherein the justices voted 2-2) should be referred to the Court en banc – NO. Ratio:
A careful reading of the above constitutional provision, however, reveals the intention of the framers to draw a distinction between CASES and MATTERS. o CASES are “decided”. o MATTERS, which include motions, are “resolved”. Otherwise put, the word “decided” must refer to “cases”; while the word “resolved” must refer to “matters”, applying the rule of reddendo singula singulis. o This is true not only in the interpretation of the above-quoted Article VIII, Section 4(3), but also of the other provisions of the Constitution where these words appear. With the aforesaid rule of construction in mind, it is clear that only cases are referred to the Court en banc for decision whenever the required number of votes is not obtained. Conversely, the rule does not apply where, as in this case, the required three votes is not obtained in the resolution of a motion for reconsideration. Hence, the second sentence of the aforequoted provision speaks only of “case” and not “matter”. The reason is simple. The above-quoted Article VIII, Section 4(3) pertains to the disposition of cases by a division. If there is a tie in the voting, there is no decision. The only way to dispose of the case then is to refer it to the Court en banc. o On the other hand, if a case has already been decided by the division and the losing party files a motion for reconsideration, the failure of the division to resolve the motion because of a tie in the voting does not leave the case undecided. There is still the decision which must stand in view of the failure of the members of the division to muster the necessary vote for its reconsideration. Quite plainly, if the voting results in a tie, the motion for reconsideration is lost. The assailed decision is not reconsidered and must therefore be deemed affirmed. Such was the ruling of this Court in the Resolution of November 17, 1998. Respondents further argue that the issues submitted in their separate motions for reconsideration are of first impression. They are arguing that the local government unit concerned still needs to obtain the approval of DAR when converting land. However, this was rebutted in the resolution dated November 17, wherein it was expressed that: o “Regrettably, the issues presented before us by the movants are matters of no extraordinary import to merit the attention of the Court en banc. In the case of Province of Camarines Sur, et al. vs. Court of Appeals wherein we held that local government units need not obtain the approval of the DAR to convert or reclassify lands from agricultural to non-agricultural use.” o The Court voted uninamously in that case, hence, the argument of the petitioners that their MRs are motions involving first impression is flawed. Moreover, a second motion for reconsideration is generally prohibited, unless there is a showing of extraordinary persuasive reasons and a leave of court is filed. In this case, there was none. Remember that the Court, in its Decision, upheld the March 29, 1996 ruling of the OP because it was already final and executory thus the Win-Win resolution cannot be implemented anymore? Well, because of this, there was a litany of protestations on the part of respondents and intervenors including entreaties for a liberal interpretation of the rules. The sentiment was that notwithstanding its importance and far-reaching effects, the case was “disposed of on a mere technicality”. o The Court however said that it was not a “mere technicality” because the finality of the March 29, 1996 OP Decision accordingly vested appurtenant rights to the land in dispute on petitioners as well as on the people of Bukidnon and other parts of the country who stand to be benefited by the development of the property. Lastly, the Court determines whether or not the farmer-intervenors have standing to intervene in this case. The Court said there was none, because the source of their “standing to file” is the “Win-Win Resolution” (note that in that resolution, pinamigay nga yung lupa sa mga farmers, ngayon, meron silang Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA). Dahil dun, nag intervene sila). o Why was there no standing on the part of the farmer-intervenors who derived their rights from the Win-Win resolution? The issuance of the CLOA to them does not grant them the requisite standing in view of the nullity of the “Win-Win” Resolution. No legal rights can emanate from a resolution that is null and void.