DAR efforts to acquire land beyond 1998 valid

on . Posted in DAR In The News
businessworld OLThe Supreme Court (SC) has ruled valid land acquisition efforts by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) beyond the original 10-year period of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program that was first set to end in 1998.
In a recently released seven-page decision dated June 29, the SC First Division granted DAR’s petition to overturn a 2009 ruling by a Davao City court nullifying the notice of coverage (NOC) and the notice of acquisition (NOA) issued in 2003 and 2004 against Woodland Agro-Development, Inc.

The high court said that in 1998, Republic Act (RA) No. 8532 actually extended CARP beyond its original 10-year land acquisition period to end in 2008 instead.

This reverses the Davao City court ruling that agreed with Woodland’s interpretation that the law only provided funding for the program’s other aspects without extending the acquisition of land.

Woodland’s view that DAR’s authority to issue NOCs and NOAs was limited to 10 years by the original Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL or RA No. 6657) runs afoul of Article XIII, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution seeking just distribution of agricultural land, read the decision.

The ruling also rejected Woodland’s argument that the 1998 law was limited to funding because the wording of Section 63 concerns the need “to implement this Act until the year 2008.”

“The fact that Section 63 falls under the chapter on ‘Financing’ only emphasizes its general applicability. Hence, the phrase ‘until the year 2008’ used in RA 8532 unmistakably extends the DAR’s authority to issue NOCs for purposes of acquiring and distributing private agricultural lands,” read the decision.

It also noted that RA 9700, which in 2009 further extended the program until June 2014, specifically mandated the extension of acquisition and distribution of all agricultural lands.

“Had there been no prior extension from 1998 to 2008, how else could the CARP have been extended by RA 9700 until 30 June 2014? There could have been an extension only if the program sought to be extended had not expired,” the decision read.

The decision was penned by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, to the concurrence of Associate Justices Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro, Lucas P. Bersamin, Jose Portugal Perez and Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe. -- Vince Alvic Alexis F. Nonato

Source: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=dar-efforts-to-acquire-land-beyond-1998-valid&id=113136