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Union Bank Case

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Union Bank Case
  G.R. No. 200369 UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES,  Petitioner vs. THE HONORABLE REGIONAL AGRARIAN REFORM OFFICER, THE HONORABLE PROVINCIAL AGRARIAN REFORM OFFICER, THE HONORABLE MUNICIPAL AGRARIAN REFORM OFFICER, MIGUEL L. CARASOCHO, GERARDO G. CARAAN, CATALINO P. CARAAN, PASCUAL N. CABRERA, FRANCISCO L. CABRERA, EMILIANA M. CABRERA, CESAR N. CABRERA, PONCIANO R. GARCIA, PEDRO R. GARCIA, MARCELINO R. GARCIA, AGUSTIN M. MARANAN, EUGENIO J. MARANAN, SILVERIO D. MARANAN, ARMANDO T. MARUDO, NENITA L. MARUDO, GUILLERMO C. NARV ACAN, DAVID M. TERRENAL, DOROTEO C. TERRENAL, SARDO C. TERRENAL, CARMELITA M. DELA CRUZ, REMEGIO R. VILLAMAYOR, ANICETO C. DEJAN, MACARIO N. DEJAN, EULOGIA L. DIVINA, CELIA C. GARCIA, JOSEFA G. LARENA, MIGUEL M. LUMBRES, JUANITO E. NARV ACAN, LUZVIMINDA PEREZ, SEBASTINO C. DELA CRUZ, DANILO P. GARCIA, HERMOGENES L. MARANAN, LEOPOLDO T. MARUDO, MIGUEL, C. NATANAUAN, JOSE C. NATANAUAN, ARCADIO C. RIVERA, MAMERTO B. DEJAN, SEGUNDO C. DEJAN, GREGORIO N. ENRIQUEZ, SIMEON L. ALCANTARA, GAUDENCIO S. ALVEZ, AVELINO G. DE JESUS, GAUDENCIO P. DIMAPILIS, NEMESIO L. DIVINA, RODOLFO L. GARCIA, VALENTIN N. LERON, LEONA N. LLARENA, PONCIANO L. LLARENA, SERGIO N. LLARENA, P ABLITO M. LUMBRES, VICTORIA L. MADAJAS, RODOLFO L. MARANAN, ANDRES S. MARANAN, MELECIA T. MARANAN, APOLONIA VILLAMAYOR, JUANITO O. MERCADO, ARSENIO V. NATIVIDAD, CRISPIN M. NATIVIDAD, DANTE A. NATIVIDAD, ELADIO U. NATIVIDAD, FULGENCIO U. NATIVIDAD, GAUDENCIO M. NATIVIDAD, JUAN T. NATIVIDAD, PEDRO M. NATIVIDAD, JUAN P. CABRERA, BARTOLOME M. MICO, EDUARDOM.ONA,LUCAS G. ONA, JULIUS T. PODONAN, FELICISIMO T. RAMILO, FELIPE C. REDONDO, FELINO M. REDONDO, CLEMENTE R. SANGALANG, DOMINGA R. SUAREZ, ARMANDO V. VISPO, ALBERTO P. SALVADOR, FRANCISCO S. CARANDANG, AVELINO L. LLARENA, CELESTINO M. LLARENA, FRISCO N. LLARENA, GREGORIO N. LLARENA, CASIANO N. CABRERA, FLA VIANO N. CABRERA, SEDORO C. CABRERA, SIXTO M. CABRERA, VALERIANO L. CARINGAL, MARITA C. DEJAN, SOFRONIO V. CARAAN, CONRADO K. MERCADO, LEONIZA N. NARVACAN, JUANITO E. NARV ACAN, FELICIANO N. NARVACAN, FERNANDO C. MATANGUIHAN, LEONIDES A. MATANGUIHAN, NILO L. MATANGUIHAN, JUANITO A. NATIVIDAD, SERGIO M. NATANAUAN, BARTOLOME C. MATANGUIHAN, MARTIN M. NATANAUAN, FERNANDO G. MEDINA, LUCIA R. NATANAUAN, LOPE N. NATANAUAN, JUANA F. NATANAUAN, FRANCISCO G. NATANAUAN, BUENAVENTURA G. NATANAUAN, ANDRES M. NATANAUAN, CORNELIO L. NARVAEZ, LEONIZA T. ANNOYO, BRICCIO N. LUMBRES, CALIXTO R. LUMBRES, RODOLFO U. LLARENA, BENITA L. MADAJAS, MERCEDES L. MADAJAS, REMEDIOS A. MAR UDO, FILOMENA D. MARANAN, ROLANDO N. MEDINA, RICARDO L. MARANAN, ANGEL A. UMANDAP, LUCIDO G. MEDINA, MENARDO G. MEDINA, MARIANO N. REGALADO, MARCIANO C. REDONDO, DAMASA D. REDONDO,  LEONIDA R. RAMILO, SERGIO 0. NATIVIDAD, RAFAEL T. MARANAN, DEMETRIO M. QUIJANO, LITA L. NARVAEZ, PETRONILO V. ARSENIO, CESARIO N. LLARENA, JUAN D. NARVAEZ, ANSELMO N. LLARENA, MACARIO N. DIJAN, FERNANDO M. ROBLES, LEONARDO N. TERRIBLE, LEONORA N. RIVERA, ELENA N. RIVERA, CATALINO P. CARAON, JUAN S. MARASIGAN, CELSO A. MERCADO, and ERNESTO MANGUIAT,  Respondents  x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x G.R. Nos. 203330-31   UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES,  , vs. PETRONILO V. ARSENIO, CATALINO P. CARAAN, FRANCISCO S. CARANDANG, MACARIO N. DEJAN, ANSELMO L. LLARENA, ANSELMO T. LLARENA, CELESTINO M. LLARENA, CESARIO M. LLARENA, FRISCO N. LLARENA, GREGORIO N. LLARENA, CALIXTO R. LUMBRES, AGUSTIN N. MARANAN, EUGENIO T. MARANAN, JUAN L. MARASIGAN, ARMANDO T. MAR UDO, MEDARDO G. MEDINA, CELSO A. MERCADO, FELICIANO N. NARV ACAN, GUILLERMO C. NARVACAN, JUAN E. NARVACAN, JUANITO D. NARVAEZ, LITA L. NARVAEZ, DEMETRIO M. QUIJANO, LEONIDA R. RAMILO, ELENA M. RIVERA, FERNANDO M. ROBLES, DAVID M. TERRENAL, and LEONARDO N. TERRIBLE,  Respondents. D E C I S I O N   JARDELEZA,  J.:  There are two primary questions raised in these consolidated petitions. The first is whether the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board has jurisdiction over petitions for cancellation of Certificates of Land Ownership Award involving parties who do not have a tenancy relationship. The second is whether the factual findings of the Secretary of Agrarian Reform can be questioned in a petition for review on certiorari.  Petitioner Union Bank of the Philippines (Union Bank) is the duly registered owner of land located at Barangay Bunggo, Calamba, Laguna covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. T-137846 and T-156610 of the Registry of Deeds of Laguna with areas of 1,083,250 and 260,132 square meters, respectively. 1  Union Bank offered these parcels of land to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) through the Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) arrangement under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the government. After the DAR and Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) inspected the properties, DAR offered the amounts of ₱ 2,230,699.30 and ₱ 716,672.35 as just compensation.  Union Bank did not agree with the valuation; thus, the DAR Regional Director requested LBP to open trust accounts in the name of Union Bank . 2  In the meantime, the DAR started issuing Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) in the names of private respondents as agrarian reform beneficiaries for the land covered by TCT No. T-156610. On September 9, 1993, the DAR Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO) transmitted 7 4 CLO As to the Register of Deeds of Calamba, Laguna for registration. 3  On September 14, 1993, the DAR Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) transmitted another 115 CLOAs to the same register of deeds. 4  The land covered by TCT No. 137846 was transferred to the Republic of the Philippines on September 13, 1993. 5  On June 29, 1995, Union Bank filed a Motion to Withdraw Voluntary Offer To Sell On Property from CARP Coverage in the land valuation proceedings for the land covered by TCT No. T-156610 pending before the Regional Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (RARAD) for Region IV. 6  The RARAD would later provisionally dismiss the proceedings after Union Bank filed a letter request with the DAR to withdraw the VOS and to exempt the properties from CARP. 7  A On August 1, 1996, Union Bank submitted a letter to the DAR requesting that its VOS be withdrawn and that the properties be exempted from CARP coverage. 8  The matter was docketed as A-9999-04-VOS-103-04. 9  Union Bank alleged that the properties had a slope exceeding 18% and were undeveloped, thus, exempt from CARP pursuant to Section 10 of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law 10  (CARL). 11  In its Order dated July 21, 2008, then DAR Secretary Nasser C. Pangandaman denied Union Bank's request for CARP exemption and withdrawal of its VOS for lack of merit. 12  According to the DAR Secretary, Union Bank failed to prove by substantial evidence that the prope1iies were both undeveloped and had a slope gradation of more than 18% because the slope map and land capability map submitted by Union Bank were not certified by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). 13  After the DAR Secretary denied its motion for reconsideration, 14  Union Bank filed a petition for review under Rule 43 with the Court of Appeals (CA). The case, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 114159, was consolidated with CA-G.R. SP No. 114354. 15  In its Decision dated October 21, 2011, the CA Fifteenth Division denied the petitions. 16  The CA agreed with the DAR Secretary's ruling that absent the DENR certification, the appraisal maps were not substantial enough to warrant the conclusion that the properties are not suited for agricultural production. The CA also cited the case report prepared by the MARO which noted the  presence of multiple crops, ranging from vegetables, rice/corn to permanent industrial crops in the area. 17  Finally, the CA faulted Union Bank for failing to present additional evidence during the two-year period during which its motion for reconsideration with DAR was pending. 18  The CA subsequently denied Union Bank's motion for reconsideration. 19  B On December 20, 1996, Union Bank filed a Petition 20  for cancellation of CLO As against the Regional Agrarian Reform Officer (RARO), PARO, MARO, and 28 agrarian reform beneficiaries of the land covered by TCT No. T-156610 with the Office of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (P ARAD) of Laguna. The petition, docketed as P ARAD Case Nos. R-403-0075-96 to R-403-0102-96, was dismissed without prejudice on October 9, 1997 for being premature in view of Union Bank's pending request for withdrawal of its VOS and exemption from CARP with DAR. 21  The PARAD denied Union Bank's motion for reconsideration on December 17, 1997; 22  Union Bank claimed to have received the order of denial only on July 10, 2002. 23  Union Bank appealed to the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB). The appeal was docketed as DARAB Case Nos. 12313 to 12313-A27. 24  On September 14, 2009, the DARAB denied the appeal for lack of merit. 25  According to the DARAB, there has to be a finding first by the DAR Secretary that the land is really exempted from the coverage of CARP; absent this, the petition for cancellation of the CLO As is indeed prematurely filed. 26  The DARAB subsequently. denied Union Bank's motion for reconsideration. 27  Union Bank then filed a petition for review under Rule 43 with the CA docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 114354. The case was consolidated with the aforementioned CA-G.R. SP No. 114159. The CA Fifteenth Division denied the petition in view of its finding that the properties were not exempt from CARP. 28  After the CA denied its motion for reconsideration, 29  Union Bank filed a consolidated petition for review on certiorari assailing the CA' s decision and resolution in the consolidated cases of CA-G.R. SP No. 114159 and CA-G.R. SP No. 114354. The consolidated petition is docketed as G.R. Nos. 203330-31. 30  C On January 23, 2004, Union Bank filed a separate petition for cancellation of the CLOAs, this against 141 agrarian reform beneficiaries, before the PARAD of Laguna. The case was docketed as Case Nos. R-0403-0016-0023-03 to R-0403-0037-0303-03. 31  The PARAD dismissed the petition for being premature because
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