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Cruz vs DENR, G.R. No. 135385, December 6, 2000 Isagani Cruz v. Dept. of Energy and Natural Resources, G.R.

No. 135385, December 6, 2000 FACTS: Cruz, a noted constitutionalist, assailed the validity of the RA 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act on the ground that the law amount to an unlawful deprivation of the States 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. Cruz et al content 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 violate the rights of private landowners.

ISSUE: Whether or not the IPRA law is unconstitutional.

HELD: The SC 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, Cruzs petition was dismissed and the IPRA law was sustained. Hence, ancestral domains may include natural resources somehow against the regalian doctrine.

CARIO vs THE INSULAR GOVERNMENT, G.R. No. L-2746 December 6, 1906 MATEO CARIO vs THE INSULAR GOVERNMENT G.R. No. L-2746 December 6, 1906 FACTS: On June 23, 1903, Mateo Cario went to the Court of Land Registration to petition his inscription as the owner of a 146 hectare land hes been possessing in the then municipality of Baguio. Mateo only presented possessory information and no other documentation. The State opposed the petition averring that the land is part of the US military reservation. The CLR ruled in favor of Mateo. The State appealed. Mateo lost. Mateo averred that a grant should be given to him by reason of immemorial use and occupation as in the previous case Cansino vs Valdez & Tiglao vs Government.

ISSUE: Whether or not Mateo is the rightful owner of the land by virtue of his possession of it for some time.

HELD: No. The statute of limitations did not run against the government. The government is still the absolute owner of the land (regalian doctrine). Further, Mateos possession of the land has not been of such a character as to require the presumption of a grant. No one has lived upon it for many years. It was never used for anything but pasturage of animals, except insignificant portions thereof, and since the insurrection against Spain it has apparently not been used by the petitioner for any purpose. While the State has always recognized the right of the occupant to a deed if he proves a possession for a sufficient length of time, yet it has always insisted that he must make that proof before the proper administrative officers, and obtain from them his deed, and until he did the State remained the absolute owner.

Oh Cho vs Director of Lands G.R. No. 48321, August 31, 1946 Oh Cho vs Director of Lands G.R. No. 48321, August 31, 1946 FACTS: Oh Cho, a Chinese citizen, purchased from the Lagdameos a parcel of land in Tayabas, which they openly, continuously and adversely possessed since 1880. On January 17, 1940, Oh Cho applied for registration of this land. The Solicitor General opposed on the ground that Oh Cho lacked title to said land and also because he was an alien. ISSUEs: Whether or not Oh Cho had title Whether or not Oh Cho is entitled to a decree of registration HELD: Oh Cho failed to show that he has title to the lot, which may be confirmed under the Land Registration Act. All lands that were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain. An exception to the rule would be any land that should have been in the possession of an occupant and of his predecessors in interest since time immemorial, for such possession would justify the presumption that the land had never been part of the public domain or that it had been a private property even before the Spanish conquest. The applicant does not come under the exception, for the earliest possession of the lot by his first predecessor in interest began in 1880. Under the Public Land Act, Oh Cho is not entitled to a decree of registration of the lot, because he is an alien disqualified from acquiring lands of the

public domain. Oh Cho's predecessors in interest would have been entitled toa decree of registration had they applied for the same. The application for the registration of the land was a condition precedent, which was not complied with by the Lagmeos. Hence, the most they had was mere possessory right, not title. This possessory right was what was transferred to Oh Cho, but since the latter is an alien, the possessory right could never ripen to ownership by prescription. As an alien, Oh Cho is disqualified from acquiring title over public land by prescription.

FRANCISCO M. ALONSO vs. CEBU COUNTRY CLUB, INC. G.R. No. 130876 January 31, 2002 G.R. No. 130876 January 31, 2002 FRANCISCO M. ALONSO, substituted by his heirs, petitioners, vs. CEBU COUNTRY CLUB, INC., respondent. PARDO, J.: FACTS: The case is an appeal via certiorari from a decision of the Court of Appeals affirming in toto that of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 8, Cebu City, declaring that the title to the contested Lot No. 727, Banilad Friar Lands Estate, Cebu City, was validly re-constituted in the name of the Cebu Country Club, Inc. and ordering petitioners to pay attorneys fees of P400,000.00, and litigation expenses of P51,000.00, and costs. Petitioner Francisco M. Alonso, who died pendente lite and substituted by his legal heirs, a lawyer by profession, the only son and sole heir of the late Tomas N. Alonso and Asuncion Medalle, who died on June 16, 1962 and August 18, 1963, respectively. Cebu Country Club, Inc. is a non-stock, nonprofit corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine Laws the purpose of which is to cater to the recreation and leisure of its members. Sometime in 1992, petitioner discovered documents and records Friar Lands Sale Certificate Register/Installment Record Certificate No. 734, Sales Certificate No. 734 and Assignment of Sales Certificate showing that his father acquired Lot No. 727 of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate from the Government of the Philippine Islands in or about the year 1911 in accordance with the Friar Lands Act (Act No. 1120). The documents show that one Leoncio Alburo, the original vendee of Lot No. 727, assigned his sales certificate to petitioners father on December 18, 1911, who completed the required installment payments thereon under Act No. 1120 and was consequently issued Patent No. 14353 on March 24, 1926. On March 27, 1926, the Director of Lands, acting for and in behalf of the government, executed a final deed of sale in favor of petitioners father Tomas N. Alonso. It appears, however, that the deed was not registered with the Register of Deeds because of lack of technical requirements, among them the approval of the deed of sale by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, as required by law. Upon investigation of the status of the land, petitioner found out from the office of the Registrar of Deeds of Cebu City that title to Lot No. 727 of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate had been "administratively reconstituted from the owners duplicate" on July 26, 1948 under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. RT-1310 (T-11351) in the name of United Service Country Club, Inc., predecessor of Cebu Country Club, Inc. On March 8, 1960, upon order of the Court of First Instance, the name of the registered owner in TCT No. RT-1310 (T-11531) was changed to Cebu Country Club, Inc. Moreover, the TCT provides that the reconstituted title was a transfer from TCT No. 1021. In the firm belief that petitioners father is still the rightful owner of Lot No. 727 of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate since there are no records showing that he ever sold or conveyed the disputed property to anyone, on July 7, 1992, petitioner made a formal demand upon Cebu Country Club, Inc. to restore to him the ownership and possession of said lot within fifteen (15) days from receipt thereof. Cebu Country Club, Inc., however, denied petitioners claim and refused to deliver possession to him. Left with no other recourse, on September 25, 1992, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court, Cebu City, a complaint for declaration of nullity and non-existence of deed/title, cancellation of certificates of title and recovery of property against defendant Cebu Country Club, Inc. He alleged that the Cebu Country Club, Inc. fraudulently and illegally managed to secure in its name the administrative reconstitution of TCT No. RT-13 10 (T-11351) despite the absence of any transaction of specific land dealing that would show how Lot No. 727 had come to pass to Cebu Country Club, Inc.; that TCT No. 11351 which is the source title of TCT No. RT-1310 (T-11351) does not pertain to Lot No. 727; that the reconstituted title which was issued on July 26, 1948, did not contain the technical description of the registered land which was inserted only on March 8, 1960, twenty-eight (28) years after the issuance of TCT No. RT-1310 (T-11351), hence, Cebu Country Club, Inc.s title is null and void. Petitioner thus prayed for the cancellation of TCT No. RT-1310 (T-11351) and the issuance of another title in his name as the sole heir of Tomas Alonso, for Cebu Country Club, Inc. to deliver possession of the property to petitioner, and render an accounting of the fruits and income of the land. Petitioner likewise prayed for the sum of P100, 000.00 by way of attorneys fees plus P500.00 per hearing as appearance fee, and P10, 000.00 as reasonable litigation expenses. On November 5, 1992, Cebu Country Club, Inc. filed with the trial court its answer with counterclaim. It alleged that petitioner had no cause of action against Cebu Country Club, Inc. since the same had prescribed and was barred by laches, Cebu Country Club, Inc. having been in possession of the land since 1935 until the present in the concept of an owner, openly, publicly, peacefully, exclusively, adversely, continuously, paying regularly the real estate taxes thereon; that Cebu Country Club, Inc. acquired the lot in good faith and for value; that it caused the administrative reconstitution of Lot No. 727 in 1948 from the owners duplicate, the original of TCT No. 11351 having been lost or destroyed during the war, pursuant to Republic Act No. 26, its implementing Circular, GLRO Circular No. 178 and Circular No. 6 of the General Land Registration Office; that unlike Cebu Country Club, Inc., petitioners father never had any registered title under the Land Registration Act No. 496 nor did he pay the necessary taxes on Lot No. 727 during his lifetime; that petitioners father knew that the United Service Country Club, Inc., predecessor of Cebu Country Club, Inc. was occupying Lot No. 727 as owner; that petitioners father never reconstituted his alleged title to Lot No. 727 but did so over Lot No. 810 of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate, a lot adjacent to the disputed property, in 1946; that petitioner himself lived in Cebu City, a few kilometers away from the land in litigation; that petitioners father or petitioner himself, both of whom are lawyers and the former a congressman as well, for more than sixty (60) years, never made any demand on Cebu Country Club, Inc. for the recovery of the property knowing fully well that said land was owned and utilized by Cebu Country Club, Inc. as its main golf course. By way of counterclaim, Cebu Country Club, Inc. prayed for the award of attorneys fees in the amount of P900,000.00 and litigation expenses of P100,000.00, moral damages of P500,000.00 and exemplary damages of P2,000,000.00. Judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiff: declaring the contested property or Lot 727 as legally belonging to the defendant; directing the plaintiff to pay attorney' fee of P400, 000.00; and litigation expenses of P51, 000.00; and finally, with costs against the plaintiff. After proceedings on appeal, on March 31, 1997, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower courts decision. On April 30, 1997, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration; however, on October 2, 1997, the Court of Appeals denied the motion. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUES: 1. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the validity of TCT No. RT-1310 (T-11351). 2. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in sustaining respondents claim of ownership over Lot No. 727; 3. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the present action is barred by prescription and/or by laches; 4. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in not applying the doctrine of stare decisis; 5. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in sustaining the trial courts award for damages in the form of attorneys fees and litigation expenses. 1. Reconstitution was based on the owners duplicate of the title, hence, there was no need for the covering deed of sale or other modes of conveyance. Cebu Country Club, Inc. was admittedly in possession of the land since long before the Second World War, or since 1931. In fact, the original title (TCT No. 11351) was issued to the United Service Country Club, Inc. on November 19, 1931 as a transfer from Transfer Certificate of Title No. 1021. More importantly, Cebu Country Club, Inc. paid the realty taxes on the land even before the war, and tax declarations covering the property showed the number of the TCT of the land. Cebu Country Club, Inc. produced receipts showing real estate tax payments since 1949. On the other hand, petitioner failed to produce a single receipt of real estate tax payment ever made by his father since the sales patent was issued to his father on March 24, 1926. Worse, admittedly petitioner could not show any torrens title ever issued to Tomas N. Alonso, because, as said, the deed of sale executed on March 27, 1926 by the Director of Lands was not approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources and could not be registered. "Under the law, it is the act of registration of the deed of conveyance that serves as the operative act to convey the land registered under the Torrens system. The act of registration creates constructive notice to the whole world of the fact of such conveyance." On this point, petitioner alleges that Cebu Country Club, Inc. obtained its title by fraud in connivance with personnel of the Register of Deeds in 1941 or in 1948, when the title was administratively reconstituted. Imputations of fraud must be proved by clear and convincing evidence. Petitioner failed to adduce evidence of fraud. In an action for re-conveyance based on fraud, he who charges fraud must prove such fraud in obtaining a title. "In this jurisdiction, fraud is never presumed." The strongest suspicion cannot sway judgment or overcome the presumption of regularity. "The sea of suspicion has no shore, and the court that embarks upon it is without rudder or compass." Worse, the imputation of fraud was so tardily brought, some forty-four (44) years or sixty-one (61) years after its supposed occurrence, that is, from the administrative reconstitution of title on July 26, 1948, or from the issuance of the original title on November 19, 1931, that verification is rendered extremely difficult, if not impossible, especially due to the supervening event of the second world war during which practically all public records were lost or destroyed, or no longer available. Petitioners next question the lack of technical description inscribed in the reconstituted title in Cebu Country Club, Inc.s name. This is not a bar to reconstitution of the title nor will it affect the validity of the reconstituted title. A registered owner is given two (2) years to file a plan of such land with the Chief of the General Land Registration Office. The two-year period is directory, not jurisdictional. In other words, the failure to submit the technical description within two (2) years would not invalidate the title. At most, the failure to file such technical description within the two-year period would bar a transfer of the title to a third party in a voluntary transaction. 2. Admittedly, neither petitioners nor their predecessor had any title to the land in question. The most that petitioners could claim was that the Director of Lands issued a sales patent in the name of Tomas N. Alonso. The sales patent, however, and even the corresponding deed of sale were not registered with the Register of Deeds and no title was ever issued in the name of the latter. This is because there were basic requirements not complied with, the most important of which was that the deed of sale executed by the Director of Lands was not approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Hence, the deed of sale was void. "Approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce is indispensable for the validity of the sale." Moreover, Cebu Country Club, Inc. was in possession of the land since 1931, and had been paying the real estate taxes thereon based on tax declarations in its name with the title number indicated thereon. Tax receipts and declarations of ownership for taxation purposes are strong evidence of ownership. This Court has ruled that although tax declarations or realty tax payments are not conclusive evidence of ownership, nevertheless, they are good indicia of possession in the concept of owner for no one in his right mind will be paying taxes for a property that is not in his actual or constructive possession. Notwithstanding this fatal defect, the Court of Appeals ruled that "there was substantial compliance with the requirement of Act No. 1120 to validly convey title to said lot to Tomas N. Alonso." On this point, the Court of Appeals erred. Under Act No. 1120, which governs the administration and disposition of friar lands, the purchase by an actual and bona fide settler or occupant of any portion of friar land shall be "agreed upon between the purchaser and the Director of Lands, subject to the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources (mutatis mutandis)." In his Memorandum filed on May 25, 2001, the Solicitor General submitted to this Court certified copies of Sale Certificate No. 734, in favor of Leoncio Alburo, and Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 734, in favor of Tomas N. Alonso. Conspicuously, both instruments do not bear the signature of the Director of Lands and the Secretary of the Interior. They also do not bear the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Only recently, in Jesus P. Liao v. Court of Appeals, the Court has ruled categorically that approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce of the sale of friar lands is indispensable for its validity, hence, the absence of such approval made the sale null and void ab-initio. Necessarily, there can be no valid titles issued on the basis of such sale or assignment. Consequently, petitioner Franciscos father did not have any registerable title to the land in question. Having none, he could not transmit anything to his sole heir, petitioner Francisco Alonso or the latters heirs. Consequently, we rule that neither Tomas N. Alonso nor his son Francisco M. Alonso or the latters heirs are the lawful owners of Lot No. 727 in dispute. Neither has the respondent Cebu Country Club, Inc. been able to establish a clear title over the contested estate. The reconstitution of a title is simply the re-issuance of a lost duplicate certificate of title in its original form and condition. It does not determine or resolve the ownership of the land covered by the lost or destroyed title. A reconstituted title, like the original certificate of title, by itself does not vest ownership of the land or estate covered thereby. 3. An action for re-conveyance is a legal remedy granted to a landowner whose property has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in anothers name, but then the action must be filed within ten years from the issuance of the title since such issuance operates as a constructive notice." In addition, the action is barred by laches because of the long delay before the filing of the case. Petitioner Franciscos action in the court below was basically one of re-conveyance. It was filed on September 25, 1992, sixty-one (61) years after the title was issued on November 19, 1931, and forty-four (44) years after its reconstitution on July 26, 1948. 4. Petitioners assert that as the Court of Appeals annulled Cebu Country Club, Inc.s title in the Cabrera-Ingles case, so too must the title in this case be declared void. In the first place, there is no identity of parties; secondly, neither the titles to nor the parcels of land involved are the same. Consequently, the doctrine of res-judicata does not apply. Momentarily casting aside the doctrine of res-judicata, there is an important moiety in the Cabrera-Ingles case. There, the Director of Lands, after the administrative reconstitution of the title, issued a directive to the Register of Deeds to register the lot in question in favor of Graciano Ingles. This superseded the administrative reconstitution, rendering allegations of fraud irrelevant. Here, the Director of

Lands did not issue a directive to register the land in favor of Tomas N. Alonso. And worse, the sales patent and corresponding deed of sale executed in 1926 are now stale. 5. An award of attorneys fees and expenses of litigation is proper under the circumstances provided for in Article 2208 of the Civil Code, one of which is when the court deems it just and equitable that attorneys fees and expenses of litigation should be recovered and when the civil action or proceeding is clearly unfounded and where defendant acted in gross and evident bad faith. WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition for review. However, we SET ASIDE the decision of the Court of Appeals and that of the Regional Trial Court, Cebu City, Branch 08. IN LIEU THEREOF, we DISMISS the complaint and counterclaim of the parties in Civil Case No. CEB 12926 of the trial court. We declare that Lot No. 727 D-2 of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate covered by Original Certificate of Title Nos. 251, 232, and 253 legally belongs to the Government of the Philippines.

ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES GR No. 174689 October 22, 2007 ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES GR No. 174689 October 22, 2007 CORONA, J.: When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God; He created them male and female. (Genesis 5:1-2) Amihan gazed upon the bamboo reed planted by Bathala and she heard voices coming from inside the bamboo. Oh North Wind! North Wind! Please let us out!, the voices said. She pecked the reed once, then twice. All of a sudden, the bamboo cracked and slit open. Out came two human beings; one was a male and the other was a female. Amihan named the man Malakas (Strong) and the woman Maganda (Beautiful). (The Legend of Malakas and Maganda) When is a man a man and when is a woman a woman? In particular, does the law recognize the changes made by a physician using scalpel, drugs and counseling with regard to a persons sex? May a person successfully petition for a change of name and sex appearing in the birth certificate to reflect the result of a sex reassignment surgery? FACTS: On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio filed a petition for the change of his first name and sex in his birth certificate in the RTC of Manila, Branch 8, alleging that he is a male transsexual, that is, anatomically male but feels, thinks and acts as a female and that he had always identified himself with girls since childhood. Feeling trapped in a mans body, he consulted several doctors in the United States. He underwent psychological examination, hormone treatment and breast augmentation. His attempts to transform himself to a woman culminated on January 27, 2001 when he underwent sex reassignment surgery in Bangkok, Thailand. From then on, petitioner lived as a female and was in fact engaged to be married. He then sought to have his name in his birth certificate changed from Rommel Jacinto to Mely, and his sex from male to female. On June 4, 2003, the trial court rendered a decision in favor of petitioner, stating that granting the petition would be more in consonance with the principles of justice and equity; that with his sexual re-assignment, petitioner, who has always felt, thought and acted like a woman, now possesses the physique of a female. Petitioners misfortune to be trapped in a mans body is not his own doing and should not be in any way taken against him. Likewise, the court believes that no harm, injury or prejudice will be caused to anybody or the community in granting the petition. On the contrary, granting the petition would bring the much-awaited happiness on the part of the petitioner and her fianc and the realization of their dreams. On August 18, 2003, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic), thru the OSG, filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals. It alleged that there is no law allowing the change of entries in the birth certificate by reason of sex alteration. On February 23, 2006, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision in favor of the Republic, and set aside the decision of the trial court. Hence, this petition. ISSUE: Whether or not the change of petitioners name and sex in his birth certificate is allowed under Articles 407 to 413 of the Civil Code, Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court and RA 9048. HELD: A PERSONS FIRST NAME CANNOT BE CHANGED ON THE GROUND OF SEX REASSIGNMENT The State has an interest in the names borne by individuals and entities for purposes of identification. A change of name is a privilege, not a right. Petitions for change of name are controlled by statutes. In this connection, Article 376 of the Civil Code provides: No person can change his name or surname without judicial authority. This Civil Code provision was amended by RA 9048 (Clerical Error Law). In particular, Section 1 of RA 9048 provides: SECTION 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or Typographical Error and Change of First Name or Nickname. No entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected without a judicial order, except for clerical or typographical errors and change of first name or nickname which can be corrected or changed by the concerned city or municipal civil registrar or consul general in accordance with the provisions of this Act and its implementing rules and regulations. RA 9048 now governs the change of first name. It vests the power and authority to entertain petitions for change of first name to the city or municipal civil registrar or consul general concerned. Under the law, therefore, jurisdiction over applications for change of first name is now primarily lodged with the aforementioned administrative officers. The intent and effect of the law is to exclude the change of first name from the coverage of Rules 103 (Change of Name) and 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court, until and unless an administrative petition for change of name is first filed and subsequently denied. It likewise lays down the corresponding venue, form and procedure. In sum, the remedy and the proceedings regulating change of first name are primarily administrative in nature, not judicial. RA 9048 likewise provides the grounds for which change of first name may be allowed:

SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First Name or Nickname. The petition for change of first name or nickname may be allowed in any of the following cases: (1) The petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce; (2) The new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the petitioner and he has been publicly known by that first name or nickname in the community; or (3) The change will avoid confusion. Petitioners basis in praying for the change of his first name was his sex reassignment. He intended to make his first name compatible with the sex he thought he transformed himself into through surgery. However, a change of name does not alter ones legal capacity or civil status. RA 9048 does not sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex reassignment. Rather than avoiding confusion, changing petitioners first name for his declared purpose may only create grave complications in the civil registry and the public interest. Before a person can legally change his given name, he must present proper or reasonable cause or any compelling reason justifying such change. In addition, he must show that he will be prejudiced by the use of his true and official name. In this case, he failed to show, or even allege, any prejudice that he might suffer as a result of using his true and official name. In sum, the petition in the trial court in so far as it prayed for the change of petitioners first name was not within that courts primary jurisdiction as the petition should have been filed with the local civil registrar concerned, assuming it could be legally done. It was an improper remedy because the proper remedy was administrative, that is, that provided under RA 9048. It was also filed in the wrong venue as the proper venue was in the Office of the Civil Registrar of Manila where his birth certificate is kept. More importantly, it had no merit since the use of his true and official name does not prejudice him at all. For all these reasons, the Court of Appeals correctly dismissed petitioners petition in so far as the change of his first name was concerned. NO LAW ALLOWS THE CHANGE OF ENTRY IN THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE AS TO SEX ON THE GROUND OF SEX REASSIGNMENT The determination of a persons sex appearing in his birth certificate is a legal issue and the court must look to the statutes. In this connection, Article 412 of the Civil Code provides: No entry in the civil register shall be changed or corrected without a judicial order. Together with Article 376 of the Civil Code, this provision was amended by RA 9048 in so far as clerical or typographical errors are involved. The correction or change of such matters can now be made through administrative proceedings and without the need for a judicial order. In effect, RA 9048 removed from the ambit of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court the correction of such errors. Rule 108 now applies only to substantial changes and corrections in entries in the civil register. Section 2(c) of RA 9048 defines what a clerical or typographical error is: Clerical or typographical error refers to a mistake committed in the performance of clerical work in writing, copying, transcribing or typing an entry in the civil register that is harmless and innocuous, such as misspelled name or misspelled place of birth or the like, which is visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding, and can be corrected or changed only by reference to other existing record or records: Provided, however, That no correction must involve the change of nationality, age, status or sex of the petitioner. Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving the change of sex is not a mere clerical or typographical error. It is a substantial change for which the applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and correctable under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court are those provided in Articles 407 and 408 of the Civil Code: ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil register. ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil register: (1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal separations; (5) annulments of marriage; (6) judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (7) legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9) acknowledgments of natural children; (10) naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) recovery of citizenship; (13) civil interdiction; (14) judicial determination of filiation; (15) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (16) changes of name. The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 of the Civil Code include even those that occur after birth. However, no reasonable interpretation of the provision can justify the conclusion that it covers the correction on the ground of sex reassignment. To correct simply means to make or set aright; to remove the faults or error from while to change means to replace something with something else of the same kind or with something that serves as a substitute. The birth certificate of petitioner contained no error. All entries therein, including those corresponding to his first name and sex, were all correct. No correction is necessary. Article 407 of the Civil Code authorizes the entry in the civil registry of certain acts (such as legitimations, acknowledgments of illegitimate children and naturalization), events (such as births, marriages, naturalization and deaths) and judicial decrees (such as legal separations, annulments of marriage, declarations of nullity of marriages, adoptions, naturalization, loss or recovery of citizenship, civil interdiction, judicial determination of filiation and changes of name). These acts, events and judicial decrees produce legal consequences that touch upon the legal capacity, status and nationality of a person. Their effects are expressly sanctioned by the laws. In contrast, sex reassignment is not among those acts or events mentioned in Article 407. Neither is it recognized nor even mentioned by any law, expressly or impliedly. Status refers to the circumstances affecting the legal situation (that is, the sum total of capacities and incapacities) of a person in view of his age, nationality and his family membership. The status of a person in law includes all his personal qualities and relations, more or less permanent in nature, not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or not. The comprehensive term status include such matters as the beginning and end of legal personality, capacity to have rights in general, family relations, and its various aspects, such as birth, legitimation, adoption, emancipation, marriage, divorce, and sometimes even succession.

A persons sex is an essential factor in marriage and family relations. It is a part of a persons legal capacity and civil status. In this connection, Article 413 of the Civil Code provides: All other matters pertaining to the registration of civil status shall be governed by special laws. But there is no such special law in the Philippines governing sex reassignment and its effects. This is fatal to petitioners cause. Moreover, Section 5 of Act 3753 (the Civil Register Law) provides: SEC. 5. Registration and certification of births. The declaration of the physician or midwife in attendance at the birth or, in default thereof, the declaration of either parent of the newborn child, shall be sufficient for the registration of a birth in the civil register. Such declaration shall be exempt from documentary stamp tax and shall be sent to the local civil registrar not later than thirty days after the birth, by the physician or midwife in attendance at the birth or by either parent of the newborn child. In such declaration, the person above mentioned shall certify to the following facts: (a) date and hour of birth; (b) sex and nationality of infant; (c) names, citizenship and religion of parents or, in case the father is not known, of the mother alone; (d) civil status of parents; (e) place where the infant was born; and (f) such other data as may be required in the regulations to be issued. Under the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a historical record of the facts as they existed at the time of birth. Thus, the sex of a person is determined at birth, visually done by the birth attendant (the physician or midwife) by examining the genitals of the infant. Considering that there is no law legally recognizing sex reassignment, the determination of a persons sex made at the time of his or her birth, if not attended by error, is immutable. When words are not defined in a statute they are to be given their common and ordinary meaning in the absence of a contrary legislative intent. The words sex, male and female as used in the Civil Register Law and laws concerning the civil registry (and even all other laws) should therefore be understood in their common and ordinary usage, there being no legislative intent to the contrary. In this connection, sex is defined as the sum of peculiarities of structure and function that distinguish a male from a female or the distinction between male and female. Female is the sex that produces ova or bears young and male is the sex that has organs to produce spermatozoa for fertilizing ova. Thus, the words male and female in everyday understanding do not include persons who have undergone sex reassignment. Furthermore, words that are employed in a statute which had at the time a well-known meaning are presumed to have been used in that sense unless the context compels to the contrary. Since the statutory language of the Civil Register Law was enacted in the early 1900s and remains unchanged, it cannot be argued that the term sex as used then is something alterable through surgery or something that allows a post-operative male-to-female transsexual to be included in the category female. For these reasons, while petitioner may have succeeded in altering his body and appearance through the intervention of modern surgery, no law authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil registry for that reason. Thus, there is no legal basis for his petition for the correction or change of the entries in his birth certificate. NEITHER MAY ENTRIES IN THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE AS TO FIRST NAME OR SEX BE CHANGED ON THE GROUND OF EQUITY The trial court opined that its grant of the petition was in consonance with the principles of justice and equity. It believed that allowing the petition would cause no harm, injury or prejudice to anyone. This is wrong. The changes sought by petitioner will have serious and wide-ranging legal and public policy consequences. First, even the trial court itself found that the petition was but petitioners first step towards his eventual marriage to his male fianc. However, marriage, one of the most sacred social institutions, is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman. One of its essential requisites is the legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female. To grant the changes sought by petitioner will substantially reconfigure and greatly alter the laws on marriage and family relations. It will allow the union of a man with another man who has undergone sex reassignment (a male-to-female post-operative transsexual). Second, there are various laws which apply particularly to women such as the provisions of the Labor Code on employment of women, certain felonies under the Revised Penal Code and the presumption of survivorship in case of calamities under Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, among others. These laws underscore the public policy in relation to women which could be substantially affected if petitioners petition were to be granted. It is true that Article 9 of the Civil Code mandates that [n]o judge or court shall decline to render judgment by reason of the silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the law. However, it is not a license for courts to engage in judicial legislation. The duty of the courts is to apply or interpret the law, not to make or amend it. In our system of government, it is for the legislature, should it choose to do so, to determine what guidelines should govern the recognition of the effects of sex reassignment. The need for legislative guidelines becomes particularly important in this case where the claims asserted are statute-based. To reiterate, the statutes define who may file petitions for change of first name and for correction or change of entries in the civil registry, where they may be filed, what grounds may be invoked, what proof must be presented and what procedures shall be observed. If the legislature intends to confer on a person who has undergone sex reassignment the privilege to change his name and sex to conform with his reassigned sex, it has to enact legislation laying down the guidelines in turn governing the conferment of that privilege. It might be theoretically possible for this Court to write a protocol on when a person may be recognized as having successfully changed his sex. However, this Court has no authority to fashion a law on that matter, or on anything else. The Court cannot enact a law where no law exists. It can only apply or interpret the written word of its co-equal branch of government, Congress. Petitioner pleads that [t]he unfortunates are also entitled to a life of happiness, contentment and [the] realization of their dreams. No argument about that. The Court recognizes that there are people whose preferences and orientation do not fit neatly into the commonly recognized parameters of social convention and that, at least for them, life is indeed an ordeal. However, the remedies petitioner seeks involve questions of public policy to be addressed solely by the legislature, not by the courts.

EN BANC [G.R. No. 135385. December 6, 2000] ISAGANI CRUZ and CESAR EUROPA, petitioners, vs. SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT and CHAIRMAN and COMMISSIONERS OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, Respondents. HON. JUAN M .FLAVIER, HON. PONCIANO BENNAGEN, BAYANI ASCARRAGA, EDTAMI MANSAYANGAN, BASILIO WANDAG, EVELYN DUNUAN, YAOM TUGAS, ALFREMO CARPIANO, LIBERATO A. GABIN, MATERNIDAD M. COLAS, NARCISA M. DALUPINES, BAI KIRAMCONNIE SATURNO, BAE MLOMO-BEATRIZ T. ABASALA, DATU BALITUNGTUNG-ANTONIO D. LUMANDONG, DATU MANTUMUKAW TEOFISTO SABASALES, DATU EDUAARDO BANDA, DATU JOEL UNAD, DATU RAMON BAYAAN, TIMUAY JOSE ANOY, TIMUAY MACARIO D. SALACAO, TIMUAY EDWIN B. ENDING, DATU SAHAMPONG MALANAW VI, DATU BEN PENDAO CABIGON, BAI NANAPNAY-LIZA SAWAY, BAY INAY DAYA-MELINDA S. REYMUNDO, BAI TINANGHAGA HELINITA T. PANGAN, DATU MAKAPUKAW ADOLINO L. SAWAY, DATU MAUDAYAW-CRISPEN SAWAY, VICKY MAKAY, LOURDES D. AMOS, GILBERT P. HOGGANG, TERESA GASPAR, MANUEL S. ONALAN, MIA GRACE L. GIRON, ROSEMARIE G. PE, BENITO CARINO, JOSEPH JUDE CARANTES, LYNETTE CARANTES-VIVAL, LANGLEY SEGUNDO, SATUR S. BUGNAY, CARLING DOMULOT, ANDRES MENDIOGRIN, LEOPOLDO ABUGAN, VIRGILIO CAYETANO, CONCHITA G. DESCAGA, LEVY ESTEVES, ODETTE G. ESTEVEZ, RODOLFO C. AGUILAR, MAURO VALONES, PEPE H. ATONG, OFELIA T. DAVI, PERFECTO B. GUINOSAO, WALTER N. TIMOL, MANUEL T. SELEN, OSCAR DALUNHAY, RICO O. SULATAN, RAFFY MALINDA, ALFREDO ABILLANOS, JESSIE ANDILAB, MIRLANDO H. MANGKULINTAS, SAMIE SATURNO, ROMEO A. LINDAHAY, ROEL S. MANSANG-CAGAN, PAQUITO S. LIESES, FILIPE G. SAWAY, HERMINIA S. SAWAY, JULIUS S. SAWAY, LEONARDA SAWAY, JIMMY UGYUB, SALVADOR TIONGSON, VENANCIO APANG, MADION MALID, SUKIM MALID, NENENG MALID, MANGKATADONG AUGUSTO DIANO, JOSEPHINE M. ALBESO, MORENO MALID, MARIO MANGCAL, FELAY DIAMILING, SALOME P. SARZA, FELIPE P. BAGON, SAMMY SALNUNGAN, ANTONIO D. EMBA, NORMA MAPANSAGONOS, ROMEO SALIGA, SR., JERSON P. GERADA, RENATO T. BAGON, JR., SARING MASALONG, SOLEDAD M. GERARDA, ELIZABETH L. MENDI, MORANTE S. TIWAN, DANILO M. MALUDAO, MINORS MARICEL MALID, represented by her father CORNELIO MALID, MARCELINO M. LADRA, represented by her father MONICO D. LADRA, JENNYLYN MALID, represented by her father TONY MALID, ARIEL M. EVANGELISTA, represented by her mother LINAY BALBUENA, EDWARD M. EMUY, SR., SUSAN BOLANIO, OND, PULA BATO BLAAN TRIBAL FARMERS ASSOCIATION, INTER-PEOPLES EXCHANGE, INC. and GREEN FORUM-WESTERN VISAYAS,intervenors. COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, intervenor. IKALAHAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE and HARIBON FOUNDATION FOR THE CONSERVATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES, INC., intervenor. RESOLUTION PER CURIAM: chanrobles virtual law library Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa brought this suit for prohibition and mandamus as citizens and taxpayers, assailing the constitutionality of certain provisions of Republic Act No. 8371 (R.A. 8371), otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (Implementing Rules). chanrobles virtual law library In its resolution of September 29, 1998, the Court required respondents to comment.[1 In compliance, respondents Chairperson and Commissioners of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the government agency created under the IPRA to implement its provisions, filed on October 13, 1998 their Comment to the Petition, in which they defend the constitutionality of the IPRA and pray that the petition be dismissed for lack of merit. chanrobles virtual law library On October 19, 1998, respondents Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) filed through the Solicitor General a consolidated Comment. The Solicitor General is of the view that the IPRA is partly unconstitutional on the ground that it grants ownership over natural resources to indigenous peoples and prays that the petition be granted in part. chanrobles virtual law library On November 10, 1998, a group of intervenors, composed of Sen. Juan Flavier, one of the authors of the IPRA, Mr. Ponciano Bennagen, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, and the leaders and members of 112 groups of indigenous peoples (Flavier, et. al), filed their Motion for Leave to Intervene. They join the NCIP in defending the constitutionality of IPRA and praying for the dismissal of the petition. chanrobles virtual law library On March 22, 1999, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) likewise filed a Motion to Intervene and/or to Appear as Amicus Curiae. The CHR asserts that IPRA is an expression of the principle of parens patriae and that the State has the responsibility to protect and guarantee the rights of those who are at a serious disadvantage like indigenous peoples. For this reason it prays that the petition be dismissed. chanrobles virtual law library On March 23, 1999, another group, composed of the Ikalahan Indigenous People and the Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc. (Haribon, et al.), filed a motion to Intervene with attached Comment-in-Intervention. They agree with the NCIP and Flavier, et al. that IPRA is consistent with the Constitution and pray that the petition for prohibition and mandamus be dismissed. chanrobles virtual law library

The motions for intervention of the aforesaid groups and organizations were granted. chanrobles virtual law library Oral arguments were heard on April 13, 1999. Thereafter, the parties and intervenors filed their respective memoranda in which they reiterate the arguments adduced in their earlier pleadings and during the hearing. chanrobles virtual law library Petitioners assail the constitutionality of the following provisions of the IPRA and its Implementing Rules on the ground that they amount to an unlawful deprivation of the States 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: chanrobles virtual law library (1) Section 3(a) which defines the extent and coverage of ancestral domains, and Section 3(b) which, in turn, defines ancestral lands; chanrobles virtual law library (2) Section 5, in relation to section 3(a), which provides that ancestral domains including inalienable public lands, bodies of water, mineral and other resources found within ancestral domains are private but community property of the indigenous peoples; chanrobles virtual law library (3) Section 6 in relation to section 3(a) and 3(b) which defines the composition of ancestral domains and ancestral lands; chanrobles virtual law library (4) Section 7 which recognizes and enumerates the rights of the indigenous peoples over the ancestral domains; chanrobles virtual law library (5) Section 8 which recognizes and enumerates the rights of the indigenous peoples over the ancestral lands; chanrobles virtual law library (6) Section 57 which provides for priority rights of the indigenous peoples in the harvesting, extraction, development or exploration of minerals and other natural resources within the areas claimed to be their ancestral domains, and the right to enter into agreements with nonindigenous peoples for the development and utilization of natural resources therein for a period not exceeding 25 years, renewable for not more than 25 years; and chanrobles virtual law library (7) Section 58 which gives the indigenous peoples the responsibility to maintain, develop, protect and conserve the ancestral domains and portions thereof which are found to be necessary for critical watersheds, mangroves, wildlife sanctuaries, wilderness, protected areas, forest cover or reforestation.[2 chanrobles virtual law library Petitioners also content 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) violate the rights of private landowners.[3 chanrobles virtual law library In addition, petitioners question the provisions of the IPRA defining the powers and jurisdiction of the NCIP and making customary law applicable to the settlement of disputes involving ancestral domains and ancestral lands on the ground that these provisions violate the due process clause of the Constitution.[4 chanrobles virtual law library These provisions are: chanrobles virtual law library (1) sections 51 to 53 and 59 which detail the process of delineation and recognition of ancestral domains and which vest on the NCIP the sole authority to delineate ancestral domains and ancestral lands; chanrobles virtual law library (2) Section 52[i] which provides that upon certification by the NCIP that a particular area is an ancestral domain and upon notification to the following officials, namely, the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Secretary of Interior and Local Governments, Secretary of Justice and Commissioner of the National Development Corporation, the jurisdiction of said officials over said area terminates; chanrobles virtual law library (3) Section 63 which provides the customary law, traditions and practices of indigenous peoples shall be applied first with respect to property rights, claims of ownership, hereditary succession and settlement of land disputes, and that any doubt or ambiguity in the interpretation thereof shall be resolved in favor of the indigenous peoples; chanrobles virtual law library (4) Section 65 which states that customary laws and practices shall be used to resolve disputes involving indigenous peoples; and chanrobles virtual law library (5) Section 66 which vests on the NCIP the jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of the indigenous peoples. [5 chanrobles virtual law library Finally, petitioners assail the validity of Rule VII, Part II, Section 1 of the NCIP Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998, which provides that the administrative relationship of the NCIP to the Office of the President is characterized as a lateral but autonomous

relationship for purposes of policy and program coordination. They contend that said Rule infringes upon the Presidents power of control over executive departments under Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution.[6 chanrobles virtual law library Petitioners pray for the following: chanrobles virtual law library (1) A declaration that Sections 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 52[I], 57, 58, 59, 63, 65 and 66 and other related provisions of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional and invalid; chanrobles virtual law library (2) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Chairperson and Commissioners of the NCIP to cease and desist from implementing the assailed provisions of R.A. 8371 and its Implementing Rules; chanrobles virtual law library (3) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cease and desist from implementing Department of Environment and Natural Resources Circular No. 2, series of 1998; chanrobles virtual law library (4) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Secretary of Budget and Management to cease and desist from disbursing public funds for the implementation of the assailed provisions of R.A. 8371; and chanrobles virtual law library (5) The issuance of a writ of mandamus commanding the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources to comply with his duty of carrying out the States constitutional mandate to control and supervise the exploration, development, utilization and conservation of Philippine natural resources.[7 chanrobles virtual law library After due deliberation on the petition, the members of the Court voted as follows: chanrobles virtual law library Seven (7) voted to dismiss the petition. Justice Kapunan filed an opinion, which the Chief Justice and Justices Bellosillo, Quisumbing, and Santiago join, sustaining the validity of the challenged provisions of R.A. 8371. Justice Puno also filed a separate opinion sustaining all challenged provisions of the law with the exception of Section 1, Part II, Rule III of NCIP Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998, the Rules and Regulations Implementing the IPRA, and Section 57 of the IPRA which he contends should be interpreted as dealing with the large-scale exploitation of natural resources and should be read in conjunction with Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. On the other hand, Justice Mendoza voted to dismiss the petition solely on the ground that it does not raise a justiciable controversy and petitioners do not have standing to question the constitutionality of R.A. 8371. chanrobles virtual law library Seven (7) other members of the Court voted to grant the petition. Justice Panganiban filed a separate opinion expressing the view that Sections 3 (a)(b), 5, 6, 7 (a)(b), 8, and related provisions of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. He reserves judgment on the constitutionality of Sections 58, 59, 65, and 66 of the law, which he believes must await the filing of specific cases by those whose rights may have been violated by the IPRA. Justice Vitug also filed a separate opinion expressing the view that Sections 3(a), 7, and 57 of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. Justices Melo, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and De Leon join in the separate opinions of Justices Panganiban and Vitug. chanrobles virtual law library As the votes were equally divided (7 to 7) and the necessary majority was not obtained, the case was redeliberated upon. However, after redeliberation, the voting remained the same. Accordingly, pursuant to Rule 56, Section 7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the petition is DISMISSED. chanrobles virtual law library Attached hereto and made integral parts thereof are the separate opinions of Justices Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, and Panganiban. chanrobles virtual law library SO ORDERED. chanrobles virtual law library Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Quisumbing, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, Ynares-Santiago, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur. chanrobles virtual law library Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza and Panganiban JJ., see separate opinion

domain vs regalian doctrine


By Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J. Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 04:06:00 10/06/2008 Filed Under: Mindanao peace process, Laws, Government (Concluded)

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Flavier continued his sponsorship speech on the Ipra Law thus: "The IPs are the offsprings and heirs of the peoples who have first inhabited and cared for the land long before any central government was established. Their ancestors had territories over which they ruled themselves and related with other tribes. These territories-the land-include people, their dwelling, the mountains, the water, the air, plants, forest and the animals. This is their environment in its totality. Their existence as indigenous peoples is manifested in their own lives through political, economic, socio-cultural and spiritual practices. The IPs' culture is the living and irrefutable proof to this. Their survival depends on securing or acquiring land rights; asserting their rights to it; and depending on it. Otherwise, IPs shall cease to exist as distinct peoples." To make the long story short, Flavier's Senate Bill No. 1728 was carried by 21 senators with neither a vote against nor an abstention. Its House counterpart, House Bill No. 9225, authored by Rep. Gregorio Andolana of North Cotabato, was approved with no objection. These now form the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997. At the heart of Ipra are the concepts of ancestral domain and ancestral land. These too are central to the rejected GRP-MILF draft Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Ipra defines ancestral domain as referring to "all areas generally belonging to ICCs/IPs comprising lands, inland waters, coastal areas, and natural resources therein, held under a claim of ownership, occupied or possessed by ICCs/IPs by themselves or through their ancestors, communally or individually since time immemorial, continuously to the present except when interrupted by war, force majeure or displacement by force, deceit, stealth or as a consequence of government projects or any other voluntary dealings entered into by government and private individuals/corporations, and which are necessary to ensure their economic, social and cultural welfare. It shall include ancestral lands, forests, pasture, residential, agricultural, and other lands individually owned whether alienable and disposable or otherwise, hunting grounds, burial grounds, worship areas, bodies of water, mineral and other natural resources, and lands which may no longer be exclusively occupied by ICCs/IPs but from which they traditionally had access to for their subsistence and traditional activities, particularly the home ranges of ICCs/IPs who are still nomadic and/or shifting cultivators." Ancestral land "refers to land occupied, possessed and utilized by individuals, families and clans who are members of the ICCs/IPs since time immemorial, by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest, under claims of individual or traditional group ownership, continuously, to the present except when interrupted by war, force majeure or displacement by force, deceit, stealth, or as a consequence of government projects and other voluntary dealings entered into by government and private individuals/corporations, including, but not limited to, residential lots, rice terraces or paddies, private forests, swidden farms and tree lots." Ancestral land, therefore, is narrower than ancestral domain which refers to more than just land. But the important element of these concepts is that both ancestral domain and ancestral land are considered private and do not come under the "public domain." And as the MOA-AD pointed out, both the GRP and the MILF were in agreement on this on the basis of the Supreme Court decision in Cruz v. DENR in 2000. When the Ipra Law was challenged before the Supreme Court in Cruz v. DENR, the central objection to its constitutionality was that it unlawfully deprived the State of ownership over lands of the public domain as well as of minerals and other natural resources therein, in violation of the regalian doctrine still embodied in Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution. Those who opposed the law argued that the Cario decision could not be superior to the will of the sovereign people expressed in the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. Moreover, as to the Constitution's reference to the applicability of customary law, it was argued that what was meant was that Congress should look closely into the customary laws and, with specificity and by proper recitals, hew them to, and make them part of, the stream of laws and publish them in order to satisfy the "due process clause." The main contention of those who defended the Ipra Law, however, was that, even accepting jura regalia, Spain could claim dominium only over unoccupied and unclaimed portions of the islands. The defenders therefore, arguing from the due process clause, recognized the existence of native title prior to arrival of the colonists. Ipra defined native title as referring to "pre-conquest rights to lands and domains which, as far back as memory reaches, have been held under a claim of private ownership by ICCs/IPs, have never been public lands and are thus indisputably presumed to have been held that way since before the Spanish Conquest." Moreover, Ipra still kept for the State control over natural resources even in ancestral domain. As mentioned earlier, the Supreme Court voted 7 to 7 on unconstitutionality, thus failing to muster a majority to declare the law unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the composition of the Supreme Court has changed, and change in composition can result in alteration of doctrine. In my column of Sept. 8 I discussed the Ipra procedure for its implementation. It will not be easy, especially with the intrusion of the governance aspect introduced by the MOA-AD.