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FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 135829. February 22, 2000]

BAYANI BAUTISTA, petitioner, vs. PATRICIA ARANETA, respondent. E-xsm

D E C I S I O N

PUNO, J.:

This is an appeal from the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals[2] ruling that petitioner is not a tenant of a parcel of land located at Carmel Farms, Tungkong Mangga, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. The facts as found by the Court of Appeals are as follows:

"Plaintiff alleged that he is the lawful tenant and actual possessor of THREE (3) HECTARES, more or less, parcel of land, formerly owned by Gregorio Araneta II, and situated at Carmel Farms, Tungkong Mangga, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. Tenancy relationship between the former owner and plaintiff started way back in 1978. From then on, plaintiff cultivated and possessed the subject landholding in an open, peaceful, continuous and uninterrupted manner.

"Sometime in April 1991, plaintiff’s peaceful possession and cultivation was disturbed and, even interrupted, when a group of armed security guards, through force and intimidation, entered the subject landholding and threatened plaintiff with bodily harm. These group of armed security guards, allegedly, were sent by herein defendant Patty Araneta, successor of Gregorio Araneta II. They warned plaintiff to vacate and to stop cultivating the subject landholding.

"In his complaint, plaintiff initially asked the Board to issue a temporary restraining order to enjoin the defendant, through her security guards, from continued employment of threat and harassment against his person. Also, plaintiff asked the Board to issue a preliminary injunction, during the pendency of the case, for the maintenance of status quo.

"Plaintiff prayed, among others, for the Board to declare, as permanent, the preliminary injunction issued and for the recognition of his right as tenant on the subject landholding.

"Adversely, defendant denies all the allegations of the plaintiff made in the complaint and stated the truth in her affirmative and special defenses as follows:

"On (sic) February 1991, a portion of the property belonging to Consuelo A. de Cuesta Auxilium Christianorum Foundation, Incorporated was leased to defendant. The lease was for the purpose of developing a bio-dynamic farm and, ultimately, for the purpose of establishing a training center for bio-dynamic agriculture in the Philippines and humid tropics in Asia.

"Sometime prior to the effectivity of the contract of lease, defendant, together with her co-lessee conducted an ocular inspections (sic) of the property. It was during this time that she first met the plaintiff.

"Plaintiff was informed of the proposed project and was invited to work for the defendant. Inspite (sic) of the efforts to convince plaintiff to join the project, plaintiff declined and instead, agreed to leave the premises.

"Upon such representation, defendant instructed her assistant to commence cultivation of the leased premises. However, the work stopped because the plaintiff cursed, threatened and shouted at defendant’s workers.

"On March 11, 1991, defendant received, through her assistant, a letter from the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO) of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan requesting for a meeting which had been set two (2) months prior to the receipt of said letter. Incidentally, not a single meeting materialized. Instead, meetings with the Barangay Captain of Tungkong Mangga, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan were scheduled including one on July 17, 1991, which was maliciously pre-empted by the filing of the complaint for Peaceful Possession with prayer for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and Writ of Preliminary Injunction.

"Defendant contended that plaintiff has no cause of action against her as the former is not a tenant on the subject landholding. She added that the subject landholding does not fall under the coverage of the comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 (CARL) as it appears to be 18% in slope. Ms-esm

"Thus, defendant prayed, among others, to dismiss the complaint, and as counterclaim, to declare the subject landholding exempt from the application of the provision[s] of CARL, and to eject the plaintiff therein."[3]

On November 25, 1993, the Provincial Adjudicator of Bulacan decided in favor of petitioner and held that he is a bonafide tenant over the land. On appeal, the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board[4] affirmed the decision of the Provincial Adjudicator. It ruled that the following evidence established the tenancy relationship:

"a. Certification dated July 12, 1991, issued by Virginia B. Domuguen, Agrarian Reform Program Technician (ARPT) of San Jose del Monte Bulacan, noted by Conrado L. Cerdena, Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer [MARO] of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, certifying the fact that plaintiff is a tenant xxx on the subject landholding xxx.

"b. Findings of an ocular inspection conducted by Virginia B. Domuguen, ARPT of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, dated May 3, 1991, submitted to Conrado L. Cerdena, MARO of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, stating that plaintiff is the tenant on the subject landholding xxx.

"c. Certified Xerox Copy of Declaration of Real Property dated September 4, 1992, issued by the office of the Municipal Assessor of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, stating therein that the owner of the subject landholding is Gregorio Araneta Foundation, in its capacity as trustee xxx."[5]

It further relied on the following evidence which it held proved that petitioner possessed the land and regularly paid rentals:

"a. Sinumpaang Salaysay ni Bonifacio Bautista [father of petitioner herein], dated May 9, 1991, stating that he, together with [petitioner], has possessed and cultivated the subject landholding since 1978 and that they [were] religiously paying the yearly rentals to Lino Tocio, representative of Gregorio Araneta II.

"b. Sinumpaang Salaysay ni Orencio T. Cabalan, dated May 9, 1991, neighbor of herein [petitioner], testifying to the fact that [petitioner is] paying the yearly rentals on the subject landholding to Lino Tocio, representative of Gregorio Araneta II xxx.

"c. Katitikan ng Pulong na Ginanap sa Rest House ni Miss Patty Araneta sa Carmel Farms, Purok No, 8, Brgy. Tungkong Mangga, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan noong ika-3 ng Hulyo 1991, where Lino Tocio admitted to have received the payment of the yearly rentals from the [petitioner] and delivered it to Gregorio Araneta II xxx.

"d. Certification dated September 30, 1992, issued by the Municipal Mayor of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, certifying that [petitioner] possessed and cultivated the subject landholding since 1978, and that [petitioner] is a tenant of herein [respondent]."[6]

On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the DARAB. It held that "tenancy is not purely a factual relationship dependent on what the alleged tenant does upon the land. It is also a legal relationship that can only be created with the consent of the true and lawful landholder."[7] It then evaluated the evidence presented, thus: Ky-le

"A close scrutiny of the above pieces of evidence discloses that, if at all, they only prove that subject landholding is under the possession and cultivation of respondent. There is absolutely no showing therein that respondent has been constituted as a tenant by the landowner, Consuelo A. de Cuesta Auxilium Christianorum Foundation Inc., or its trustee, the Gregorio Araneta Incorporated Foundation, much less by the petitioner who claims to be a mere lessee of subject landholding. The statement made by Virginia Domuguen, Agrarian Reform Program Technician, in her ocular inspection report dated May 3, 1991, and certification dated July 21, 1991, to the effect that respondent is a tenant on the subject landholding is a mere conclusion based on his possession and cultivation thereof, which are not sufficient to create a tenancy relationship.

"Likewise, there is no substantial evidence to show that Gregorio Araneta II is the owner of the subject landholding, or the agent or trustee of the landowner. Hence it is difficult to believe that Lino Tocio, who allegedly received the rentals in behalf of Gregorio Araneta II, had been constituted by the latter as his agent. If, indeed, Tocio received the rentals as agent of Gregorio Araneta II and thereafter turned them over to the latter, there should be more convincing proofs of such agency and payments other than the self-serving and biased testimonies of respondent and his witnesses, such as documents evidencing receipt of the rentals by Tocio and Gregorio Araneta II.

"In fine, the Court finds that while the subject landholding is under the possession and cultivation of respondent, the evidence on record fails to substantiate the existence of a tenancy relationship between him and the owner or its trustee or agent. In fact, the findings of the DARAB that respondent is the tenant of petitioner runs counter to the former’s claim — which this Court finds to be unfounded — that his landlord is Gregorio Araneta II."[8]

Petitioner assails the decision of the Court of Appeals on the following grounds:

I

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT TENANCY RELATIONSHIP IS NOT ESTABLISHED ABSENT WRITTEN PROOFS THEREOF.

II

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DISREGARDING SETTLED JURISPRUDENCE THAT AGRICULTURAL LEASEHOLD ARRANGEMENT SHOULD BE RESPECTED BY THE SUBSEQUENT LESSEE.

III

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DISREGARDING SETTLED JURISPRUDENCE THAT FACTUAL FINDINGS OF ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES WHEN SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE SHOULD BE FINAL AND CONCLUSIVE.

Petitioner contends that in 1978, he entered in an oral tenancy agreement with Gregorio Araneta II whom he has known and believed as the owner of the land. He regularly delivered to Gregorio forty (40) cavans from the harvest through Lino Tocio. Petitioner, likewise, relies on the certifications that he is a tenant in the landholding.

The appeal lacks merit. Ky-calr

The requisites of a tenancy relationship are: (1) the parties are the landowner and the tenant; (2) the subject is agricultural land; (3) there is consent by the landowner; (4) the purpose is agricultural production; (5) there is personal cultivation; and (6) there is sharing of the harvest.[9] All these requisites are necessary to create tenancy relationship and the absence of one or more requisites do not make the alleged tenant a de factode jure tenant. This is so because unless a person has established his status as a de jure tenant, he is not entitled to security of tenure nor is he covered by the Land Reform Program of the Government under existing tenancy laws.[10] tenant as distinguished from a

We agree with the Court of Appeals that petitioner is not a tenant of the disputed land. Petitioner admitted that he does not even know the landowner. He testified that:

"Q:     Is it not true when you filled up the form as a beneficiary, there is a space provided for, for the landowner and you entered the name Gregorio Araneta, is that correct?

A:       I did not place the name of the landowner, Sir.

Q:      Why did you not place the name of the landowner?

A:       Because I am not so sure of the name of the landowner that's why I did not place the name of the owner and nobody's introduced me (sic) who the owner was."[11]

Hence he could not have obtained the consent of the landowner to till the land nor did the landowner constitute him as a tenant. His reliance on the certification issued in his favor is misplaced because they do not prove that the landowner made him his tenant. As the Court of Appeals aptly observed, they only show that petitioner is in possession of the land. The certifications do not disclose how and why he became a tenant. Thus, the certification dated July 12, 1991, issued by Virginia B. Domuguen that petitioner is a tenant and pays rental of forty (40) cavans per year, and, her finding in the ocular inspection conducted on May 3, 1991, are culled only from her interview of petitioner and the Barangay Captain of Tungkong Mangga, Romeo G. Baluyot. In no way do they prove the oral tenancy agreement between petitioner and the landowner. The certification of Reynaldo Villano, Municipal Mayor of San Jose del Monte Bulacan, that petitioner is a tenant of respondent since 1978 is also unfounded. Respondent could not have entered into a tenancy agreement with petitioner because she only leased the land in 1991. The sworn statement of petitioner's father, Bonifacio Bautista, merely states that they possessed and cultivated the subject land and that they paid the yearly rental to Lino Tocio. It is silent about the tenancy agreement between the landowner and petitioner. The sworn statement of Orencio T. Cabalan, neighbor of petitioner, is almost similar to that of Bonifacio. The three (3) page record of the meeting held at the rest house of defendant merely proved that Lino Tocio collected the rental but it also showed that Tocio knew that Gregorio was not the owner of the land.

Petitioner also contends that he should be considered as an agricultural tenant since he has been in peaceful possession and occupation of the land for thirteen years. In addition, the landowner allegedly did not question his possession and cultivation of the land. In support of his contention, he cites Co vs. Intermediate Appellate Court[12] wherein we held: "As long as the legal possessor of the land constitutes a person as a tenant-farmer by virtue of an express or an implied lease, such an act is binding on the owner of the property even if he himself may not have given his consent to such an arrangement." Calr-ky

Petitioner can not lean upon the Co case. It bears repeating that petitioner did not establish that Gregorio became, or was ever, the landowner. Since he hinges his right on his alleged agreement with Gregorio, it follows that his position is untenable since it was never shown that Gregorio has a right on the landholding. It also means that the forty cavans which were supposed to be the share of the landowner in the harvest were not received by the true landowner.

In sum, respondent and the landowner are not bound by the alleged agricultural leasehold agreement between petitioner and Gregorio. In the 1961 case of Lastimoza vs. Blanco[13] we ruled that "tenancy relationship can only be created with the consent of the true and lawful landholder who is either the 'owner, lessee, usufructuary or legal possessor of the land' (sec. 5 [b], Rep. Act No 1199), and not thru the acts of the supposed landholder who has no right to the land subject of the tenancy. xxx. To rule otherwise would be to pave the way for fraudulent collusions among the unscrupulous to the prejudice of the true and lawful landholder.[14]

Lastly, we can not sustain petitioner’s argument that he is a tenant by virtue of the factual finding of the DARAB. As discussed above, DARAB mainly relied on the certifications issued in favor of petition in holding that he is a tenant in the disputed landholding. In Oarde vs. Court of Appeal,[15] we held that certifications issued by administrative agencies or officers that a certain person is a tenant are merely provisional and not conclusive on courts. This Court is not necessarily bound by these findings especially if they are mere conclusions that are not supported by substantial evidence.

In view whereof, the petition for review is denied and the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. SP No. 45466 is affirmed. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Kapunan, Pardo, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur. Me-sm



[1] C.A. G.R. SP No. 45466.

[2] Second Division, per Justice Artemio Tuquero, concurred in by Justices Emeterio Cui and Eubolo Verzola.

[3] Rollo, pp. 38-41.

[4] DARAB Case No. 2141.

[5] Rollo, pp. 55-56.

[6] Ibid., p. 57.

[7] C.A. Decision, p. 4; Citations by C.A. omitted.

[8] Ibid., pp. 5-6.

[9] Caballes vs. Department of Agrarian Reform, 168 SCRA 247 (1988).

[10] Tionson vs. Court of Appeals, 130 SCRA 485 (1984).

[11] TSN, 26 November 1991, p. 5.

[12] 162 SCRA 390 (1988).

[13] 1 SCRA 231 (1961).

[14] Ibid., at p. 234.

[15] 280 SCRA 235 (1997).