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[ GR No. L-11968, Dec 29, 1959 ]



106 Phil. 790

[ G. R. No. L-11968, December 29, 1959 ]




Review of a decision  of the Court of Agrarian Relations.

On August 4,  1956, Doroteo Onofre and eight other tenants of Ramon Cabral, petitioned the said court tp compel the  landholder to agree to an  alteration  of their crop-sharing arrangement from 45-55 to 30-70.   They rested the demand on section 14 of Republic Act No. 1199  which, for convenience, is herewith copied (as it stood then) [1].
SEC. 14. Change of System. The tenant shall have the right to change the  tenancy contract from  one of  share  tenancy to the leasehold tenancy and vice versa and from one crop-sharing arrangement to another of the share tenancy.  If the share tenancy  contract is in writing and is duly registered,  the right may be exercised at the  expiration of the period of the contract.  In the absence of any written contract, the right may be  exercised at the end of the agricultural  year.   In both cases the change to the leasehold  system shall be effective one  agricultural year after the tenant has served notice of his intention to  change upon the  landholder."
Opposing the petition, the landholder moved to dismiss alleging,  (a)  that under the last part  of the  section,  the tenants may  only go to court one agricultural year after they had served "notice of  their intention to change upon the landholders"; and (5) that the tenants had not given such notice.

The tenants  in reply asserted  they had  given notice; but later they argued that  such notice was unnecessary, because they  were not asking for  change to the leasehold system, to which change the last part of section 14 applied. They explained to the court that  they were merely requesting a change from one crop-sharing arrangement (45-55) to another (70-30).  On this last issue, the matter was submitted to the court,  and the latter  ruled for respondent landowner,  calling attention to the words "in  both cases" which, in its  opinion meant, first case, change from share tenancy to leasehold tenancy and second case, change from one  crop sharing  arrangement  to another  of the share tenancy.  This petition, said the court, falls  under the second  case, and service of one-year  notice is  a condition precedent to any cause of action.  Wherefore, it dismissed the petition.

The tenants appealed to this  Court for  revision.   We think they are right.   There was no need of one-year notice.  Theirs  was not a change to the leasehold  system.

The words "in both cases" in the last sentence of section 14  refer to the  two preceding  sentences; first, share contract in writing and registered; second, share contract not registered or verbal or  implied.  "Both cases" refer to share tenancy.   The last  part of the section must be interpreted  to  apply  to instances  where the tenants want a change from share tenancy to  leasehold.  This is not the situation before us, because there is no desire to adopt the leasehold  system.  Notice as required by the last part of the section is not  a  condition  precedent.

In  this  connection,  it  may  be stated that  this  section of the statute has recently been amended by Republic Act 2263, and  it  now reads as follows:
"SEC.  14.  Change of System. The tenant shall have the right to change the tenancy contract from one of share tenancy to lease-hold tenancy and vice versa and from one crop  sharing arrangement to  another of the share tenancy.  If the share tenancy contract is in writing and is duly registered, the right to change from one crop sharing arrangement to another or from one tenancy system to another may be exercised  at least one  month before the beginning of  the  next agricultural year  after the  expiration of the  period of the contract.  In the absence of any  registered written contract, the right may be exercise at least one  month before  the agricultural year when the change  shall  be  effected."
Observe that this statute requires no previous  one-year notice to the landlord  or landholder.   And it  directs application of its provisions to cases (like this) pending in court at the time of its approval.[2]

Wherefore, finding prejudicial error in the lower court's decision, we hereby revoke it and order the return of the expediente for further proceedings  not inconsistent  with this opinion.

Paras, C. J., Padilla,  Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion.,  Reyes,  J. B.  L.,  Endencia, Barrera,  and Gutierrez David, JJ., concur.

[1] Amended later by Republic Act 2263.

Sec. 22, Republic Act 2263.