The Luz decision set a precedent in CARP implementation. Landowners, like Espinosa-Martinez, have since rushed to have their land holdings excluded from coverage by claiming they are used for livestock production instead of agriculture.
The petition for exemption sat at the DAR Adjudication Board for almost seven years until July 26, 2001. DAR Region V director Dominador
Andres denied the landowner’s appeal for exclusion on the grounds that Espinosa-Martinez failed to prove that the said property is devoted to livestock raising prior to June 15, 1988, the affectivity of Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.
On Oct. 1, 2001, Andres issued an order of finality and directed the DAR provincial office of Masbate to proceed with the acquisition and distribution of Hacienda Espinosa to its 137 farmer-beneficiaries. However, further appeals by the land owner to the DAR national office blocked the land distribution for four more years.
On Dec. 7, 2004, DAR Secretary Rene C. Villa ordered a reinvestigation on Hacienda Espinosa. The results of the reinvestigation were made the basis of an order by DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman dated May 18, 2006, granting the exemption from CARP of 138 hectares of the estate.
The order cited the reinvestigation team’s report, dated Jan. 20, 2005, that a certification from San Jacinto Mayor Ares Espinosa was submitted purportedly claiming that the landowner “has been engaging in cattle-raising since 1986 up to present.”
The order also cited the reinvestigation team’s report that 225.4681 hectares of the hacienda are “actually, directly, and exclusively used for cattle farming based on tax declarations.” The tax declarations were issued by the same local government unit (LGU).
Engineer Falcon Villanueva, range management officer of the Masbate City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), said in an interview that land owners applying for CARP exemption through a claim that the land is being used for livestock production are required to secure from the LGU a certification to that effect.
The mayor of San Jacinto at that time was a nephew of the land owner and a third generation heir of the Espinosas. Ticao Island is the hometown of the influential clan.
The DAR reinvestigation team also reported to have found 138 heads of cattle in the hacienda, hence it recommended the exclusion of 138 hectares of the property from CARP coverage based on the one-cattle-is-to-one-hectare rule of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
On May 18, 2006, DAR’s Pangandaman granted the exclusion of 138 hectares of the estate and allowed 187.2916 hectares to remain under CARP coverage.
San Jacinto MARO Carlos Ibay, in an interview, said that the findings by the DAR reinvestigation team were “unbelievable.”
“The cows that the inspection team saw all came from Milagros [town.] They were brought here only to prove that the property is a pasture land. That’s a fact. All the people of San Jacinto know that,” Ibay said in Tagalog.