The Effect of Injunctions and Temporary Restraining Orders Issued by the Regular Courts on Acquisition and Distribution of Lands Under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and the Creation

February 14th, 2016 | by Balaod Mindanaw

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When the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (R.A. 6657) was enacted, congress provided three very important provisions that ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. These provisions are Section 50, Section 55, and Section 68.

In brief, Section 50 invests DAR with primary jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform. On the other hand, Section 55 prohibits the courts to issue any restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) or any of its duly authorized or designated agencies in any case, dispute or controversy arising from, necessary to, or in connection with the application, enforcement, or interpretation of RA 6657 and other pertinent laws on agrarian reform. Meanwhile, Section 68 provides for the immunity of government agencies from undue interference like the issuance of injunction, restraining order, prohibition or mandamus against the DAR, the DENR, and the DOJ in the implementation of agrarian reform.

However, despite these clear provisions of the law on CARP, availment of injunction and temporary restraining orders (TROs) before the regular courts has been unduly utilized as a strategy to obstruct, impede, delay or otherwise render ineffective the implementation of the CARP to the detriment of the concerned beneficiaries.

In response to this situation, the Supreme Court issued administrative circulars to remind the judges to take note of the pertinent laws in order to avoid conflict of jurisdiction and to avoid the improvident and irregular issuance of TROs and Injunction Orders in any “dispute or controversy arising from or in connection with the application, implementation, enforcement, or interpretation of the laws on agrarian reform”. Further, the Supreme Court occasionally affirmed the jurisdiction of DAR over agrarian cases as in the case of Vda. Vs. de Tangub vs. Court of Appeals and the more recent case of DAR vs. Cuenca.

Upon the other hand, the Dar during the term of Jose Mari B. Ponce as OIC-Secretary, issued Memorandum Circular No. 06 and Memorandum Circular No. 09. These circulars affirm the jurisdiction of DAR over agrarian cases and thereby enjoin DAR officials and employees to continue with the acquisition and distribution despite the threat of, or actual issuance of temporary restraining orders or injunctions issued by regular courts.

Through this primer, BALAOD-Mindanaw seeks to convey to the readers especially its partner communities and paralegals as well as the law practitioners and judges that by established law and jurisprudence, DAR has exclusive and primary jurisdiction over agrarian matters.