Residents of Fr. Crisostomo Estate in Cabanatuan City are reportedly raving over the recent decision by the Provincial Adjudicator of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Adjudication Board (DARAB) fixing high rental rates for the lots they occupy.
The DARAB decision fixes the new rental rates at P10 per square meter (sqm) from the original P0.07/sqm or a 14.850% hike for residential lots, and at P25/sqm from the old P1/sqm (2,500% increase) for commercial lots. Retroactive to June 2006.
Under the new rental regime, families occupying 300-sqm home lots rill thus need to pay ₱3,000 monthly or ₱36,000 per year, and commercial lots of the same size to pay ₱7,500 monthly or ₱90,000 annually. Needless to stress, the new rates have caused the residents undue apprehension since many of them have neglected to pay rentals even as the neglect resulted largely from the failure of DAR to communicate with them for decades.
Earlier the Provincial DARAB issued the residents Notices of Preliminary Conference relative to the Petition by the DAR Task Force on Crisostomo Estate, seeking to raise the monthly rental rates for the lots even before the Petitioner could furnish the basis of hiked rental rates sought, which it subsequently rectified.
In response to the earlier Summons, the Estate’s lot occupants in Barangay Mabini Extension in Cabanatuan, led by Teofilo dR. Juatco, banded together and organized their Samahan ng Nagkakaisang mga Residente at Kapit-bahayan ng Crisostomo Estate, Mabini Extension, Cabanatuan City, to pursue and promote peaceful collaboration with DAR and other sectors.
The Samahan members also vested their officers with a Special Power of Attorney to represent them in their dealings with DAR, and hired a private lawyer to guide them in the cases. They also filed a Motion for Dismissal of the case citing at least two arguments, among others, to support their demands.
In their Motion to Dismiss, the Samahan pointed out that the DARAB Provincial Adjudication (PARAD) lacks jurisdiction over the case citing Section 8(h) of the 2021 DARAB Rules of Procedure, which provides that the authority of the PARAD is limited only to matters involving agrarian disputes as reiterated in the case of Bumagat vs. Arribay [G.R. No. 194818, June 9, 20141], to wit:
“In order for a tenancy agreement to take hold over a dispute,
it is essential to establish all its indispensable elements, to
wit: 1) that the parties are the landowner and the tenant or
agricultural lessee; 2) that the subject matter of the
relationship is an agricultural land; 3) that there is consent
between the parties to the relationship; 4) that the purpose of
the relationship is to bring about agricultural production;
5) that there is a personal cultivation on the part of the
tenant or agricultural lessee; and 6) that the harvest is
shared between the landowner and the tenant or agricultural
The Samahan cited DAR’s failure to state a Justifiable Cause of Action since the June 15, 2006 Memorandum between then DAR Secretary Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and OIC-RD Teofilo Innocencio “was a mere correspondence and could not amount to a public policy in the absence of any legislative fiat.”
The Provincial DARAB never invited the Samahan officers to its supposed hearings despite recognizing their SPA, and completely ignored their Motion to Dismiss and simply issued out its decision.
The Crisostomo Estate occupants now strongly demand for DAR to include under Urban Land Reform the lots they occupy and adopt a Rent-to-Own scheme for them under which the rentals they pay will be credited as land payments, the titles for which must eventually be awarded to them once full payment is completed.