Civil Law

Isagani Cruz vs Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources

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G.R. No. 135385 – 347 SCRA 128 (400 Phil. 904) – Civil Law – Land Titles and Deeds – IPRA Law vis-à-vis Regalian Doctrine

Former Justice Isagani Cruz, a noted constitutionalist, assailed the validity of the Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA Law) on the ground that the law amount to an unlawful deprivation of the State’s ownership over lands of the public domain as well as minerals and other natural resources therein, in violation of the regalian doctrine embodied in Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution. The IPRA law basically enumerates the rights of the indigenous peoples over ancestral domains which may include natural resources.

In addition, Cruz et al contend that, by providing for an all-encompassing definition of “ancestral domains” and “ancestral lands” which might even include private lands found within said areas, Sections 3(a) and 3(b) of said law also violate the rights of private landowners.

ISSUE: Whether or not the IPRA law is unconstitutional.

HELD: The Supreme Court deliberated upon the matter. After deliberation they voted and reached a 7-7 vote. They deliberated again and the same result transpired. Since there was no majority vote, Cruz’s petition was dismissed and the constitutionality of the IPRA law was sustained. Hence, ancestral domains may include public domain – somehow against the regalian doctrine.

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