Cancellation Of CLOA In Conformity With 2008 OP Decision

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APRIL 29 2The Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) issued in favor of certain agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in Barangay Maimpis, San Fernando, Pampanga were cancelled by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in compliance with the 2008 Decision of the Office of the President (OP) excluding from CARP coverage the landholding – a Decision which were eventually covered by an Order of Finality.

DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Luis Pangulayan clarified that the Department did not have much of an elbow room when it decided the Petition for Cancellation in 2011. The Department is bound by the Order of Finality made by the OP. In this case, the DAR could not disturb the Decision of the OP which removed the landholding outside the ambit of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.  The DAR had no choice but to follow the 2008 Decision of the Office of the President thus the DAR cancelled the CLOAs.
The 2011 Decision of the DAR cancelling the CLOAs were appealed to the OP by the counsel of the farmers.  The OP eventually affirmed the DAR in December 2011 but the counsel of the farmers failed to file any Motion for Reconsideration or appeal the case to the appellate courts.

“If there is any error of judgment on the part of any tribunal, such as the DAR Office of the Secretary, it can be cured on appeal by a decision of the appellate court or tribunal.  However, it is indispensable that the parties, through their counsels, should be vigilant in filing the appeal.  Had the counsel of the farmers in this case felt that there were errors in the decision ordering the cancellation of the CLOAs, he should have appealed the 2011 decision of the Office of the President.” said Pangulayan.

“There are two OP Decisions involved in this case – the 2008 Decision declaring that the Lot was excluded from CARP coverage and the 2011 Decision that affirmed the Secretary’s decision directing the cancellation of the CLOAs.  Both were not appealed to the Court of Appeals.” explained Pangulayan.

Allegations of the farmers and testimonies during the Congressional hearing appear to show that the farmers and their counsel never received a copy of the 2008 OP Decision. As a result, according to the farmers, the 2008 OP Decision never became final.

“Please understand that until the Office of the President lifts the Certificate of Finality it issued, for all intents and purposes its decision is final.  It is not within the authority of the DAR, a subordinate of the President, to make a declaration whether an act the Office of the President has certified – in this case, the finality of the Decision – is valid or not.  Only the OP or the appellate courts can make such a declaration.” Pangulayan responded.

During the last Congressional hearing on this issue, the farmers stated that they will file a case with the OP to question the finality of the 2008 Decision and its eventual effects (i.e., the cancellation of their CLOAs.