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Cruz vs Secretary of DENR

Natural Resources and Environmental Law; Constitutional Law; IPRA; Regalian Doctrine

GR. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000

FACTS:
Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa filed a suit for prohibition and mandamus as citizens and taxpayers, assailing the
constitutionality of certain provisions of Republic Act No. 8371, otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA) and
its implementing rules and regulations (IRR). The petitioners assail certain provisions of the IPRA and its IRR on the ground that these
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.

ISSUE:
Do the provisions of IPRA contravene the Constitution?

HELD:
No, the provisions of IPRA do not contravene the Constitution. Examining the IPRA, there is nothing in the law that grants to the ICCs/IPs
ownership over the natural resources within their ancestral domain. Ownership over the natural resources in the ancestral domains
remains with the State and the rights granted by the IPRA to the ICCs/IPs over the natural resources in their ancestral domains merely
gives them, as owners and occupants of the land on which the resources are found, the right to the small scale utilization of these
resources, and at the same time, a priority in their large scale development and exploitation.

Additionally, ancestral lands and ancestral domains are not part of the lands of the public domain. They are private lands and belong to the
ICCs/IPs by native title, which is a concept of private land title that existed irrespective of any royal grant from the State. However, the right
of ownership and possession by the ICCs/IPs of their ancestral domains is a limited form of ownership and does not include the right to
alienate the same.

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.