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Cutaran vs.

DENR

FACTS: Cutaran et. al, assails the validity of DENR Special Order 31, Special Order 25, and Department
Administrative Order 2 for being issued without prior legislative authority. Special Order (SO) 31 (1990):
Creation of a Special Task force on acceptance, identification, delineation and recognition of ancestral
land claims nationwide. Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2: Implementing Rules and Guidelines
of Special Order no. 25. The same year SO 31 was issued, relatives of petitioners filed separate
applications for Certificate of Ancestral Land Claim (CALC) for the land they occupy inside the Camp John
Hay Reservation. These petitions were denied. Also pursuant to the SOs the heirs of A peg Cervantes
filed application for CALC for some portions of the lands in Camp- John Hay Reservation, overlapping
some of the land occupied by the petitioners. The petitioners contend that if not for the respondents
timely resistance to the Orders, the petitioners would be totally evicted from their land. Petitioners filed
in the CA petition to enjoin respondents from implementing Orders on the ground that they are void for
lack of legal basis. Court of Appeals ruled that SO31 has no force and effect for preempting legislative
prerogative for it was issued prior to the effectivity of RA7586 (National Integrated Protected Systems),
but it sustained SO25 and DAO2 on the ground that they were issued pursuant to powers delegated to
DENR under RA7586. Petitioners now contend that CA erred in upholding the validity of SO25 and DAO2
and seek to enjoin the DENR from processing the application of CALC of heirs of Carantes.

ISSUE: Whether or Not Special Order no. 25 and Department Administrative Order no. 2 are valid.

RULING: The Court ruled that it is not a justiciable controversy. The petition was prematurely filed.
There is yet no justiciable controversy for the court to resolve. The adverse legal interests involved are
the competing claims of the petitioners and heirs of Carantes to possess a common piece of land. since
the CALC application of the heirs of Carantes has not yet been granted or issued, and which the DENR
may or may not grant, there is yet no actual or imminent violation of petitioners asserted right to
possess the disputed land. Justiciable Controversy has been defined as : a definite and concrete dispute
touching on the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interests which may be resolved by a court
of law through the application of a law. Subject to certain well-defined exceptions, the courts will not
touch an issue involving the validity of a law unless there has been a governmental act accomplished or
performed that has a direct adverse effect on the legal right of the person contesting its validity. This
Court cannot rule on the basis of petitioners speculation that the DENR will approve the application of
the heirs of Carantes. There must be an actual governmental act which directly causes or will imminently
cause injury to the alleged legal right of the petitioner to possess the land before the jurisdiction of this
Court may be invoked. There is no showing that the petitioners were being evicted from the land by the
heirs of Carantes under orders from the DENR.