I have a piece of tenanted land in Mindanao. My tenant was convicted for qualified theft and is now serving sentence. I would like to know if there is a way to eject him from the land. Does his wife and children have the right to continue tilling the land despite the conviction of my tenant?
A tenant enjoys security of tenure. It is provided under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 1199, as amended, otherwise known as the “Agricultural Tenancy Act of the Philippines”, that a tenant shall not be dispossessed of his holdings except for any of the causes enumerated under the law and only after the same has been proved before, and the dispossession is authorized by the court (Sections 27 and 49, R.A. No. 1199, as amended). One of the sufficient causes mentioned under the law for dispossessing a tenant is conviction by a competent court of a tenant or any member of his immediate family or farm household of a crime against the landholder or a member of his immediate family (Section 50, R.A. No. 1199, as amended).
Thus, the conviction of your tenant for the crime of qualified theft, if the same was committed against you or any member of your immediate family, may be sufficient to dispossess him of his landholding. In the same manner the tenant’s immediate family member, such as his wife and children, cannot continue the tenancy relationship between you and their relative because dispossession based on a sufficient cause does not allow tenancy relationship to continue to family members. Unlike if the tenant died or be incapacitate, the tenancy relationship between such tenant and the landowner will not extinguished but may continue to the tenant’s immediate farm household who is related to the tenant within the second degree by consanguinity and who shall cultivate the land himself personally unless the landowner shall cultivate the land himself personally or through the employment of mechanical farm implements. Should the deceased or incapacitated tenant have two or more members of his immediate farm household qualified to succeed him, the landholder shall have the right to choose from among them who should succeed (Section 3, R.A. No. 2263, amending R.A. No. 1199).
In order to avoid conflicts or litigation between you and your tenant and the latter’s family member, we suggest that you proceed to the nearest office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to consult this issue. It is best that a DAR officer hears the complete story in order that you will be guided with your future decisions on the matter.
Please be reminded that the above legal opinion is solely based on our appreciation of the problem that you have stated. The opinion may vary when other facts are included or elaborated.
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