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Fortich vs.

Corona (AJG)
G.R. No. 131457 | August 19, 1999 | Ynares-Santiago, J.

Petitioners: Carlos Fortich (Governor of Bukidnon), Rey Baula (Mayor of Sumilao, Bukidnon), NQSR
Management and Development Corporation
Respondents: Deputy Executive Secretary Renato Corona, Agrarian Reform Secretary Ernesto Garilao

Summary: The subject of the controversy is an agricultural land in Sumilao, Bukidnon, measuring 144 hectares.
The municipality of Sumilao wanted to convert this into an agro-industrial land. In its Order dated March 29, 1996,
Office of the President acceded to this conversion, and converted the whole 144 hectares to agro-industrial land in
order to attract investors. This order became final and executory. Feeling aggrieve, farmers commenced a hunger-
strike in protest of this ruling. The OP wanted to appease the farmers, hence, they issued a new resolution. They said
that only 44 hectares will be converted into agro-industrial land and that the remaining 100 hectares will be
distributed to the farmers. The respondents filed a motion for reconsideration, but there was no result because the
justices voted 2-2 in resolving such MR. Now, the respondents wanted to refer the case to the Supreme Court en
banc. The Supreme Court said that the resolution of the MR cannot be referred to the Court en banc. It based its
reasoning on Article 8, Sec. 4 (3) of the Constitution. From that certain paragraph, the Court differentiated CASES
from MATTERS. CASES are to be DECIDED, while MATTERS are to be RESOLVED. An example of a
MATTER is a motion for reconsideration, such as the one in this case. Only CASES which do not obtain the
required number of votes are required to be elevated en banc. On the other hand, as regards MATTERS, the failure
of the division to resolve the motion because of a tie in the voting does not leave the case undecided. If there is a tie
in resolving a matter, the earlier decision of the Court is upheld.

(We will learn the difference between Decision and Resolution in this case. This case is a Resolution, just in
case sir asks :D )

Background facts: On October 1997, alleged farmer-beneficiaries commenced a hunger strike in front of
the Department of Agrarian Reform compound in Quezon City. They protested the decision of the Office of
the President (OP) dated March 29, 1996 which approved the conversion of a 144-hectare land from
agricultural to agro-industrial/institutional area. Note that this decision already became final and executory.
o The land is located at San Vicente, Sumilao, Bukidnon, owned by NQSRMDC (Norberto
Quisumbing Sr. Management and Development Corp). It was leased as a pineapple plantation to
Del Monte.
o The Sangguniang Bayan of Sumilao, Bukidnon became interested in the property, and enacted an
ordinance converting the said land to industrial/institutional with a view to attract investors in
order to achieve economic vitality.
o Apparently, land conversion issues need to go through the Department of Agrarian Reform. The
DAR rejected the land conversion and instead opted to put the same under CARP and ordered the
distribution of the property to the farmers.
o The case reached the OP. The OP rendered a decision reversing the DAR and converting the land
to agro-indusrial area, which became the subject of the strike of the farmers.
o The hunger strike was dramatic and well-publicized which commanded nationwide attention that
even church leaders and some presidential candidates tried to intervene for their cause.
These events led the OP, through then Deputy Exec. Sec. Corona, to issue the so-called Win-Win
Resolution, substantially modifying its earlier Decision (see decision dated March 29, 1996) after it had
already become final and executory.
o It modified the approval of the land conversion to agro-industrial area only to the extent of forty-
four (44) hectares, and ordered the remaining one hundred (100) hectares to be distributed to
qualified farmer-beneficiaries.
The Supreme Court, in their decision dated April 24, 1998, ruled for Fortich and company and declared that
the Win-Win Resolution is VOID and of no legal effect considering that the March 29, 1996 resolution
of the OP already became final and executory.
ALERT This is where the issue relevant to our topic arose: Aggrieved, respondents Corona and Garilao
filed [separate] motions for reconsideration for the said ruling (separate MRs pero rinesolve ng Court
through one resolution).
o The Court, in their Resolution dated Nov. 17, 1998, voted TWO-TWO on the separate MRs filed
by Corona and Garilao assailing the April 24, 1998 Decision.
Hence, this motion. The respondents pray that this case be referred to the Court en banc. They contend that
inasmuch as their earlier motions for reconsideration (of the Decision dated April 24, 1998) were resolved
by a vote of two-two, the required number to carry a decision, i.e., three, was not met. Consequently, the
case should be referred to and be decided by this Court en banc, relying on the following constitutional
o Art. 8, Sec. 4 (3) - Cases or matters heard by a division shall be decided or resolved with the
concurrence of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues
in the case and voted thereon, and in no case without the concurrence of at least three of such
Members. When the required number is not obtained, the case shall be decided en banc:
Provided, that no doctrine or principle of law laid down by the Court in a decision rendered en
banc or in division may be modified or reversed except by the Court sitting en banc.
Issue/Held: Whether or not the aforementioned resolution of the Court (the resolution addressing the MR, wherein
the justices voted 2-2) should be referred to the Court en banc NO.

A careful reading of the above constitutional provision, however, reveals the intention of the framers to
draw a distinction between CASES and MATTERS.
o CASES are decided.
o MATTERS, which include motions, are resolved.
Otherwise put, the word decided must refer to cases; while the word resolved must refer to
matters, applying the rule of reddendo singula singulis.
o This is true not only in the interpretation of the above-quoted Article VIII, Section 4(3), but also
of the other provisions of the Constitution where these words appear.
With the aforesaid rule of construction in mind, it is clear that only cases are referred to the Court en banc
for decision whenever the required number of votes is not obtained.
Conversely, the rule does not apply where, as in this case, the required three votes is not obtained in the
resolution of a motion for reconsideration. Hence, the second sentence of the aforequoted provision speaks
only of case and not matter.
The reason is simple. The above-quoted Article VIII, Section 4(3) pertains to the disposition of cases by a
division. If there is a tie in the voting, there is no decision. The only way to dispose of the case then is to
refer it to the Court en banc.
o On the other hand, if a case has already been decided by the division and the losing party files a
motion for reconsideration, the failure of the division to resolve the motion because of a tie in the
voting does not leave the case undecided. There is still the decision which must stand in view of
the failure of the members of the division to muster the necessary vote for its reconsideration.
Quite plainly, if the voting results in a tie, the motion for reconsideration is lost. The assailed decision
is not reconsidered and must therefore be deemed affirmed. Such was the ruling of this Court in the
Resolution of November 17, 1998.
Respondents further argue that the issues submitted in their separate motions for reconsideration are of first
impression. They are arguing that the local government unit concerned still needs to obtain the approval of
DAR when converting land. However, this was rebutted in the resolution dated November 17, wherein it
was expressed that:
o Regrettably, the issues presented before us by the movants are matters of no extraordinary
import to merit the attention of the Court en banc. In the case of Province of Camarines Sur, et al.
vs. Court of Appeals wherein we held that local government units need not obtain the approval of
the DAR to convert or reclassify lands from agricultural to non-agricultural use.
o The Court voted uninamously in that case, hence, the argument of the petitioners that their MRs
are motions involving first impression is flawed.
Moreover, a second motion for reconsideration is generally prohibited, unless there is a showing of
extraordinary persuasive reasons and a leave of court is filed. In this case, there was none.
Remember that the Court, in its Decision, upheld the March 29, 1996 ruling of the OP because it was
already final and executory thus the Win-Win resolution cannot be implemented anymore? Well, because
of this, there was a litany of protestations on the part of respondents and intervenors including entreaties
for a liberal interpretation of the rules. The sentiment was that notwithstanding its importance and far-
reaching effects, the case was disposed of on a mere technicality.
o The Court however said that it was not a mere technicality because the finality of the March 29,
1996 OP Decision accordingly vested appurtenant rights to the land in dispute on petitioners as
well as on the people of Bukidnon and other parts of the country who stand to be benefited by the
development of the property.
Lastly, the Court determines whether or not the farmer-intervenors have standing to intervene in this case.
The Court said there was none, because the source of their standing to file is the Win-Win Resolution
(note that in that resolution, pinamigay nga yung lupa sa mga farmers, ngayon, meron silang Certificate of
Land Ownership Award (CLOA). Dahil dun, nag intervene sila).
o Why was there no standing on the part of the farmer-intervenors who derived their rights from the
Win-Win resolution? The issuance of the CLOA to them does not grant them the requisite
standing in view of the nullity of the Win-Win Resolution. No legal rights can emanate from a
resolution that is null and void.