You are on page 1of 4

RA 8371 The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act About 15% of the Philippines population belong to distinct indigenous communities

s and to honor their identity, IPRA Act was passed to recognize the ancestral land rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples and create the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) who shall be the primary government agency responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies and programs to recognize, protect and promote the rights of the ICCs/IPs. The State aims to institute and establish the necessary mechanisms to enforce and guarantee the realization of these rights; taking into consideration the customs, traditions, values, beliefs, interests and institutions, and to adopt and implement measure to protect the rights of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains.

The Regalian Doctrine Under Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, all lands of public domain belong to the State and other natural resources are owned by the State.
Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least 60 per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as maybe provided by law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of waterpower, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant.

The State shall protect the nations marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.

The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fish workers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons.

The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources.

The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this provision, within thirty days from its execution. x x x.

IPRA and the Regalian Doctrine Sec. 2, Article XII of the Constitution provides that only the agricultural lands may be alienable. All other natural resources and its exploration, development and utilization shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. IPRAs cornerstone provisions from the Constitution are covered in Se ction 2, Article II which promotes the rights of ICCs/IPs; Section 5, Article XII which aims to protect their rights; Section 6, Article XIII which establishes a special agency for them; and Section 17, Article XIV which recognizes and protects the right of ICCs/IPs to their cultures, traditions and institutions.

Ancestral Domains and Lands Ancestral domains refer to all areas generally belonging to ICCs/IPs held under a claim of ownership, occupied or possessed by ICCs/IPs or through their ancestors since time immemorial that includes ancestral land, forests, agricultural and other lands as well as bodies of water, mineral and other natural resources. Ancestral lands are those

lands occupied and utilized by ICCs/IPs through the same manner as ancestral domains. In the case of Cruz vs Secretary of Natural Resources, Justice Puno stressed that ancestral lands and ancestral domains are not parts of the public domain. Section 3 of Article XII of the Constitution classifies lands into four categories: a) agricultural, b) forest or timber, c) mineral lands and d) national parks while Section 5 of the same article mentions ancestral lands and ancestral domains which foes not classify them under any of the four categories. IPRA categorically declares ancestral lands and domains held by native title as never to have been public land. Regalian doctrine vests in the State ownership of the lands of the public domain which does not cover ancestral lands and ancestral domains as positively provided for by the Constitution. These provisions of RA 8371 contravene the provision of the Constitution regarding the exploration, development and utilization (EDU) of the natural resources which shall be under full control and supervision of the State. By providing for an allencompassing definition of ancestral domains and ancestral lands which might even include private lands found within said areas, sections of the law violate the rights of private landowners and ancestral domains may include public domain. Native title as established in the case of Cario vs Insular Government is the concept of a private land title that has existed irrespective of any royal grant from the State in difference from ownership from acquisitive prescription from the State. Ownership by native title presupposes that the land in question has always been private and has been held by its possessor and his predecessors-in-interest since time immemorial and is deemed never to have been part of the public domain. Land titles and the concept of individual land ownership under the Civil law is alien to ICCs/IPs and IPRA grants a distinct kind of ownership for them over ancestral lands and ancestral domains.

Natural Resources Justice Puno in his separate opinion states that priority rights in the exploration, development and utilization of the natural resources in the ancestral domains remainwith the State and it merely grants the right to management and conservation. This implies that there is a superior entity which is the State who has the power to grant preferential rights over the resources to whoever it chooses. RA 8371, Sec. 57 provides that the ICCs/IPS have the priority rights in the harvesting, extraction, development or exploitation of any natural resources within their ancestral domains. In the case of La Bugal-Blaan Tribal Association, Inc. vs Ramos, it has been held that except for agricultural lands, natural resources cannot be alienated and its exploration, development and utilization shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. Regalian doctrine reserves to the State all the natural wealth that may be found even if the land where the discovery is made be private.

IPRA and the Constitution as a Conclusion The ancestral domains and ancestral lands intended by the law addresses a major problem of ICCs/IPs which is loss of land and such is a vital concern in terms of their survival. The issue raised insofar as the grant of ancestral land and domains to ICCs/IPs as a communal property does not violate the presumption of constitutionality as the said lands are not part of public domain and is considered to have never been part of the public domain as provided by Section 5, Article XII in relation to Section 3 of the same article. The intent of this law is to grant communal ownership to ICCs/IPs to their lands by virtue of native title which are presumed to have been held under a claim of ownership and indisputably presumed to have been held the same way before the Spanish conquest.