You are on page 1of 35

hectares, which appears to be located within the ancestral domain of the

Talaandig tribe.

On March 3, 2004, respondents filed a Petition for Accion Reivindicatoria, with


Prayer for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order or Preliminary
Prohibitory Injunction with Damages4 (original complaint for accion
reivindicatoria) against petitioners before the Regional Trial Court of Manolo
EN BANC
Fortich, Bukidnon (RTC). Docketed as Civil Case No. 04-03-01, the petition was
raffled off to Branch 11.
G.R. No. 181284, October 20, 2015
On March 20, 2004, petitioners Macapayag and Brazil filed their Answer,
LOLOY UNDURAN, BARANGAY CAPTAIN ROMEO PACANA, NESTOR alleging that respondents have no cause of action against them.
MACAPAYAG, RUPERTO DOGIA, JIMMY TALINO, ERMELITO ANGEL, PETOY
BESTO, VICTORINO ANGEL, RUEL BOLING, JERMY ANGEL, BERTING SULOD, On March 23, 2004, the rest of the petitioners filed their Motion to Dismiss,
RIO BESTO, BENDIJO SIMBALAN, AND MARK BRAZIL, Petitioners, v. RAMON alleging that the RTC had no jurisdiction over the case. Petitioners alleged that
ABERASTURI, CRISTINA C. LOPEZ, CESAR LOPEZ JR., DIONISIO A. LOPEZ, with the advent of Republic Act No. (RA) 8371, otherwise known as the
MERCEDES L. GASTON, AGNES H. LOPEZ, EUSEBIO S. LOPEZ, JOSE MARIA S. Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA), they, together with the rest of the tribe
LOPEZ, ANTON B. ABERASTURI, MA. RAISSA A. VELEZ, ZOILO ANTONIO A. members, assisted the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in
VELEZ, CRISTINA ABERASTURI, EDUARDO LOPEZ JR., ROSARIO S. LOPEZ, the processing, validation, and delineation of their Ancestral Domain claim in
JUAN S. LOPEZ, CESAR ANTHONY R. LOPEZ, VENANCIO L. GASTON, May 2003. On July 25, 2003, Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) No. R-
ROSEMARIE S. LOPEZ, JAY A. ASUNCION, NICOLO ABERASTURI, LISA A. 10-TAL-0703-0010 was issued by virtue of NCIP En Banc Resolution No. 08-
ASUNCION, INEZ A. VERAY, HERNAN A. ASUNCION, ASUNCION LOPEZ, 02003 to the Talaandig tribe over its ancestral domain in Talakag, Bukidnon,
THOMAS A. VELEZ, LUIS ENRIQUE VELEZ, ANTONIO H. LOPEZ, CHARLES H. containing an area of 11,105.5657 hectares. On October 30, 2003, President
LOPEZ, ANA L. ZAYCO, PILAR L. QUIROS, CRISTINA L. PICAZO, RENATO Gloria Macapagal Arroyo awarded the said CADT to the Talaandig tribe. As
SANTOS, GERALDINE AGUIRRE, MARIA CARMENCITA T. LOPEZ, and as awardees of a CADT, petitioners argued that NCIP has exclusive and original
represented by attorney-in-fact RAMON ABERASTURI, Respondents. jurisdiction over the case, as the subject matter concerns a dispute and
controversy over an ancestral land/domain of Indigenous Cultural Communities
DECISION (ICCs)/Indigenous Peoples (IPs).

PERALTA, J.: On July 1, 2004, the NCIP through Atty. Melanie Pimentel, filed a Motion to Refer
the Case to the Regional Hearing Office-National Commission on Indigenous
Peoples (RHO-NCIP), alleging that the RTC had no jurisdiction over the subject
This is a petition for review on certiorari1 assailing the Decision2 dated August
matter.
17, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 00204-MIN, and the
Resolution3 dated July 4, 2007, which denied petitioners' motion for
On July 5, 2004, respondents filed a Motion to Amend and Supplement
reconsideration.
Complaint from Accion Reivindicatoria to one for "Injunction, Damages, and
Other Relief," with the attached Amended and Supplemental
Petitioners, except for Mark Brazil and Nestor Macapayag, are members of the
Complaint5 (amended complaint for injunction). On July 30, 2004, petitioners
Miarayon, Lapok, Lirongan, Talaandig Tribal Association (MILALITTRA), or
filed an Opposition thereto.
Talaandig tribe, who claimed to have been living since birth on the land located
at Barangay Miarayon, Talakag, Bukidnon, Mindanao, which they inherited from
On August 1, 2004, petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended and
their forefathers.
Supplemental Complaint, alleging that the RTC had no jurisdiction over the
subject matter of the case and to issue a writ of injunction therein.
On the other hand, respondents, represented by attorney-in-fact Ramon
Aberasturi, claimed to be the lawful owners and possessor of an unregistered
On August 10, 2004, the RTC issued an Order granting the Motion to Amend and
parcel of agricultural land (Lot No. 7367 Cad 630-D), with an area of 105.7361
Supplement Complaint, and declared petitioners' Motion to Refer the Case to
the RHO-NCIP and Motion to Dismiss moot and academic as a consequence of 14, 2005 Order, which in turn denied the referral of the case to the NCIP, the
the grant of the said motion to amend and supplement complaint. dispositive portion of which states:

On August 17, 2004, petitioners filed a Manifestation praying for an ocular WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby partly GRANTED.
inspection of the disputed land to determine the last, actual, peaceable, The assailed Order dated February 14, 2005 is hereby AFFIRMED with
uncontested status of the area. MODIFICATION that the order of default against petitioners, except Macapayag
and Brazil, is hereby LIFTED.
On August 25, 2004, petitioners filed another Motion to Refer the Case to the
RHO-NCIP and Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint. SO ORDERED.8ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

On September 14, 2004, respondents filed their Opposition and Motion for The CA ruled that the RTC correctly granted the amendment of the complaint
Judgment by Default. and properly refused to refer the case to the RHO-NCIP. Based on the allegations
of both original complaint [accion reivindicatoria] and amended complaint
On February 14, 2005, the RTC issued an Order6 resolving all pending incidents [injunction], the CA found that the subject matter of both complaints is well
before it, the dispositive portion of which reads: within the jurisdiction of the RTC. The CA noted that the only substantial
amendment made was with regard to the nature of the action which originally
WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendant's [herein petitioners'] motion to was one of accion reivindicatoria and then changed to one for damages. And
refer the case to the RHO-NCIP and its manifestation for an ocular inspection except for some amendments as to petitioners' alleged violent acts and the
are hereby denied for being bereft of merit. Further, defendants [petitioners], prayer for declaration of their title to the subject property, the rest of the
except Macapayag and Brazil, are hereby declared in default for their failure to amended complaint was basically the same as the original one, including the
file their Answer to the Amended Complaint. Accordingly, let this case, as reliefs prayed for by respondents. Anent the writ of preliminary injunction, the
against defendants Macapayag and Brazil, be called for pre-trial and ex- CA held that the RTC's assailed February 14, 2005 Order is self-explanatory as
parte presentation of evidence as against the rest of defendants [petitioners] to why the issuance of the same was proper considering the circumstances of
on May 2, 2005 at 9:00 o'clock in the morning. Furthermore, the injunctive the case.
writ prayed for by the plaintiffs is hereby GRANTED for being meritorious.
Accordingly, defendants [petitioners], their agents and privies, or any other or On July 4, 2007, the CA denied petitioners' motion for reconsideration of its
all persons acting for and in their behalves, are hereby ordered to observe, August 17, 2006 Decision.
maintain and preserve the status quo subject of the action and/or the relation
between the parties in order to protect the rights of the plaintiffs while the case Hence, this appeal on certiorari raising the following issues:
is pending in court and to cease and desist from performing any acts that in one
way or another contravene the tenor of this order, while awaiting final I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE JURISDICTION OF THE
determination of the instant suit or until further orders of this court. COURT A QUO OVER A COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTION INVOLVING AN
Furthermore, to answer for whatever damage that defendants [petitioners] may ANCESTRAL DOMAIN OF THE TALAANDIGS.
sustain by reason of this injunction order if the court should finally decide that
plaintiffs [respondents] are not entitled to the relief it prayed for, plaintiffs II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE RESOLUTION OF THE
[respondents] are hereby directed to put up a bond in the amount of ONE COURT A QUO ALLOWING THE AMENDMENT OF THE COMPLAINT, THE SOLE
HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P100,000.00) executed in favor of the party PURPOSE OF WHICH IS TO CONFER JURISDICTION ON THE LOWER COURT.
enjoined.
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RESOLVING THAT EVIDENCE MUST BE
SO ORDERED.7 PRESENTED BEFORE THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT WHEN IN THE ORIGINAL
ACTION FOR SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION FOR CERTIORARI BEFORE IT, THE
On April 12, 2005, petitioners filed before the Court of Appeals a Petition COURT A QUO HAS ADMITTED THAT A CADT WAS ISSUED IN FAVOR OF
for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and PETITIONERS.9
Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order.
On the first issue, petitioners contend that the RTC has no jurisdiction over Civil
On August 17, 2006, the CA rendered a Decision affirming the RTC's February Case No. 04-03-0 for Injunction, Damages and other Relief, because the
105.7361-hectare land claimed by respondents is undisputedly within the jurisdiction over the subject matter which is a purely personal action and
ancestral domain of the Talaandig tribe over which a CADT has already been incapable of pecuniary estimation. Respondents assert that the real issue is
issued. Petitioners insist that, even granting that the case is purely a personal whether or not petitioners are guilty of wrongful acts of violence, terrorism,
action, the NCIP has exclusive and original jurisdiction over it as it concerns a destruction, intimidation, harassment, etc., to justify a permanent injunction
claim and dispute involving rights of ICCs/IPs over their ancestral domain. and hold the latter liable for damages. Respondents also point out that
petitioners cannot invoke protection under the IPRA 8731, because the conflict
On the second issue, petitioners argue that the amendment of the complaint does not involve an ancestral domain and they (respondents) are not IPs so the
from accion reivindicatoriato injunction with damages was clearly meant to oust condition precedent before bringing a dispute before the NCIP cannot be
the NCIP of its jurisdiction over the case and confer it on the RTC by concealing satisfied, i.e., exhaustion of remedies under customary laws by the parties.
the real issue in the case, which is the parties' conflicting claims over the
105.7361-hectare land in Miarayon, Talakag Bukidnon. According to petitioners, The petition has no merit.
the cause of action in the complaint for accion reivindicatoria is the claim of
ownership and recovery of possession of the said land which is undisputedly On the procedural issue raised by respondents, the Court disagrees with their
found within the Talaandig tribe's ancestral domain covered by CADT No. R10- contention that petitioners do not have legal capacity or standing and locus
TAL-0703-0010; hence, a claim within the exclusive and original jurisdiction of standi to file the petition, for failure to show that they are members of IPs/ICCs,
the NCIP. Petitioners contend that respondents amended the complaint to one or that they are authorized to represent the Talaandig tribe.
for injunction to downplay the real issue which is the dispute over a land that is
within the Talaandig tribe's ancestral domain, and mainly capitalized on the acts Locus standi is defined as a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given
complained of, such as harassment, threats, acts of terrorism, among others, question. In private suits, standing is governed by the "real parties in interest"
supposedly committed against respondents. rule found in Section 2,10 Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. Such concept of real party-
in-interest is adapted in Section 2,11 Rule VI of the 2014 Revised Rules of
On the third issue, petitioners fault the CA in ruling that whether the complaint Procedure before the NCIP. That petitioners are the real parties in interest can
is one for Injunction or Accion Reivindicatoria, the RTC has jurisdiction because be gleaned from the Entry of Appearance with Motion to Refer the Case to the
nowhere in respondents' original and amended complaints is it stated that Regional Hearing Office of the NCIP12 filed by the NCIP Special Transition
petitioners were members of the ICCs or IPs and that the disputed property was Team-Quick Response Unit (STRAT-QRU). The STRAT-QRU counsels alleged
part of their ancestral domain. Petitioners take exception to the rule that therein that the respondents' complaint for recovery of ownership (accion
jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the allegations of the reinvidicatoria) sought to recover an unregistered real property situated in
complaint, as strict adherence thereto would open the floodgates to the Miarayon, Bukidnon, from petitioners, all of whom are, with the exception of
unscrupulous practice of litigants divesting the NCIP of jurisdiction by crafting Nestor Macapayag and Mark Brazil, member-beneficiaries of CADT No. R10-
their complaints in such a way as would confer jurisdiction on their court of TAL-0703-0010 issued by the NCIP in the name of the Talaandig Indigenous
choice. Petitioners contend that the literal averments of the complaint are not Peoples, located at Talakag, Province of Bukidnon. In support of their allegation,
determinative of the jurisdiction over the subject matter where the actual issues petitioners presented a certification13 that the disputed land is within the area
are evidenced by subsequent pleadings; in certain cases, the real nature and covered by the same CADT, and the NCIP List of Beneficiaries of Talaandig
character of the pleadings and issues are not merely found in the complaint, but Ancestral Domain of Miarayon, Lirongan, Lapok, San Miguel, Talakag,
also in the subsequent pleadings submitted by both parties. Petitioners stress Bukidnon.14 In contrast, respondents failed to submit any evidence to dispute
that although the complaint banners the subject matter as one for injunction, petitioners' claim that they are members of the Talaandig Tribe. Hence,
the pleadings of respondents show that the subject matter is the conflicting respondents' contention that petitioners have no legal standing to file the
ownership claims over the land. In fact, petitioners point out that the records of petition, is without merit.
the case show that various pieces of evidence have been presented to prove that
the dispute involves conflicting claims over a land covered by a CADT. In resolving the pivotal issue of which between the RTC and the NCIP has
jurisdiction over the respondents' amended complaint, foremost in the Court's
For their part, respondents contend that petitioners do not have legal capacity mind is the principle in "that jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is
or standing and locus standi to file this petition, since they failed to make prima conferred by law and determined by the allegations in the complaint which
facie showing that they are members of IPs/ICCs, or that they were authorized comprise a concise statement of the ultimate facts constituting the plaintiffs
to represent the Talaandig tribe. Respondents insist that based on the cause of action. The nature of an action, as well as which court or body has
allegations in their amended complaint for injunction and damages, the RTC has jurisdiction over it, is determined based on the allegations contained in the
complaint of the plaintiff, irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled
to recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein. The averments in the In line with Section 69 of the IPRA on the NCIP's quasi-judicial power to
complaint and the character of the relief sought are the ones to be consulted. promulgate rules and regulations governing the hearing and disposition of cases
Once vested by the allegations in the complaint, jurisdiction also remains vested filed before it, the NCIP issued Administrative Circular No. 1-03 dated April 9,
irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or 2003, known as the Rules on Pleadings, Practice and Procedure (NCIP Rules),
some of the claims asserted therein."15 which reiterates its jurisdiction over claims and disputes involving rights of
ICCs/IPs and enumerates the actions that may be brought before it. Section 5,
Under Section 19 of B.P. 129, as amended (Judiciary Reorganization Act of Rule III, of the NCIP Rules provides for the jurisdiction of the NCIP-RHO:
1980), the RTC shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions in
which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation, and in all Sec. 5. Jurisdiction of the NCIP. - The NCIP through its Regional Hearing Offices
civil actions which involve title to, possession of, real property or any interest shall exercise jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of
therein where the assessed value of the property or interest therein exceeds ICCs/IPs and all cases pertaining to the implementation, enforcement, and
Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where interpretation of the IPRA 8371, including but not limited to the following:
such assessed value exceeds Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00).
(1) Original and Exclusive Jurisdiction of the Regional Hearing Officer
On the other hand, the NCIP's jurisdiction is defined under Section 66 of the (RHO):chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
IPRA as follows: a. Cases involving disputes, controversies over ancestral lands/domains of
ICCs/IPs;
Sec. 66. Jurisdiction of the NCIP. - The NCIP, through its regional offices, shall b. Cases involving violations of the requirement of free and prior and informed
have jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs; consent of ICC/IPs;cralawlawlibrary
Provided, however, That no such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP unless the c. Actions for enforcement of decisions of ICCs/IPs involving violations of
parties have exhausted all remedies provided under their customary laws. For customary laws or desecration of ceremonial sites, sacred places, or
this purpose, a certification shall be issued by the Council of Elders/Leaders rituals;cralawlawlibrary
who participated in the attempt to settle the dispute that the same has not been d. Actions for redemption/reconveyance under Section 8(b) ofR.A. 8371; and
resolved, which certification shall be a condition precedent to the filing of a e. Such other cases analogous to the foregoing.
petition with the NCIP.16 (2) Original jurisdiction of the Regional Hearing
Officer:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
On the matter of NCIP's jurisdiction and of procedures for enforcement of rights, a. Cases affecting property rights, claims of ownership, hereditary
NCIP Administrative Order No. 1, 1998, the Implementing Rules and succession, and settlement of land disputes, between and among ICCs/IPs
Regulations (NCIP-IRR) of the IPRA, Rule IX, Section 1 states: that have not been settled under customary laws; and
b. Actions for damages arising out of any violation of Republic Act No.
Section 1. Primacy of Customary Law. - All conflicts related to the ancestral 8371;ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
domain and lands, involving ICCs/IPs, such as but not limited to the conflicting (3) Exclusive and Original Jurisdiction of the
claims and boundary disputes, shall be resolved by the concerned parties Commission:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
through the application of customary laws in the area where the disputed a. Petition for cancellation of Certificate of Ancestral Domain
ancestral domain or land is located. Titles/Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles (CADTs/CALTs) alleged to have
been fraudulently acquired by, and issued to, any person or community as
All conflicts related to the ancestral domain or lands where one of the provided for under Section 54 of R.A. 8371. Provided that such action is
parties is non-ICC/IP or where the dispute could not be resolved through filed within one (1) year from the date of registration.
customary law shall be heard and adjudicated in accordance with the
Rules on Pleadings, Practice and Procedure before the NCIP to be adopted Anent the condition precedent to the filing of a petition with the NCIP under
hereafter. Section 66 of the IPRA, Sections 13 and 14, Rule IV of the NCIP Rules pertinently
provide:
All decisions of the NCIP may be brought on Appeal by Petition for Review to
the Court of Appeals within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the Order or Section 13. Certification to File Action. - Upon the request of the proper party,
Decision.17 members of the indigenous dispute settlement group or council of elders shall
likewise issue a certification to file action before the NCIP. In giving due regard Respondents prayed before the RTC for the following reliefs, among others: (1)
to customary laws, the certification may be in any form so long as it states in to cause the preliminary injunction to be made permanent for the respondents
substance the failure of settlement notwithstanding the efforts made under to enjoy possession of their property, free from threats of physical harm,
customary law or traditional practices. harassment and undue obstruction caused by petitioners; (2) to order
petitioners to respect and not to harass, intimidate and cause trouble to the
Section 14. Exceptions. - The certification shall not be required in the following prior possession of respondents as the owners by virtue of right of title; (3) to
cases: order petitioners to pay moral and exemplary damages, attorney's fees,
appearance fees and costs of suit; and (4) to declare respondents' title as having
a. Where one of the parties is a public or private corporation, partnership, become a vested right, and as such entitled to all right and incident of an
association or juridical person or a public officer or employee and the absolute owner.
dispute is in connection with the performance of his official
functions;cralawlawlibrary In their amended complaint for injunction and damages, on the other hand,
respondents further alleged that sometime in November 2003, petitioners
b. Where one of the parties is non-IP/ICC or does not belong to the same harassed, intimidated, threatened, and fired high-powered rifles upon
IP/IC Community, except when he voluntarily submits to the jurisdiction respondents' farm workers to drive them away from the land, without legal or
of the Council of Elders/Leaders; justifiable reason. They added that, despite having hired private security guards
to secure and protect their property, these violent incidents were followed by
c. Where the relief sought for in the complaint or petition seeks to prevent any more acts of violence, lawlessness, harassment, terrorism to drive away
grave, imminent and irreparable damage or injury that may result if not acted respondents from the land which they claim to lawfully own and possess.
upon immediately; and
Respondents prayed before the RTC for the following reliefs: (1) to order
d. Where the Council of Elders/Leaders refuse to issue the necessary petitioners and their representatives, to stop and refrain from committing acts
certification without justifiable reasons.18 of violence, destruction, assault and other forms of lawlessness and terrorism
against respondents, and to maintain the peaceful possession and enjoyment of
Having spelled out the jurisdictions conferred by law to the RTC and the NCIP the 105-hectare land by respondents as an attribute of ownership; (2) to
over the subject matters of their respective cases, the Court now examines the declare petitioners to have committed acts of violence, harassment,
allegations in the original and amended complaints to find out which tribunal intimidation, destruction, assault and other forms of lawlessness against
may properly exercise jurisdiction over this case. respondents, and to permanently order petitioners to stop and refrain from
committing similar acts; and (3) to hold petitioners jointly and severally liable
In their original complaint for accion reivindicatoria, respondents traced the to pay respondents actual damages, moral damages, exemplary damages,
provenance of their title over said land to one Mamerto Decano, a Chieftain of attorney's fees, litigation expenses and treble costs.
Talaandig tribe, by virtue of a Deed of Sale executed on July 27, 1957. They
averred that, together with their predecessor-in-interest, they have religiously After a perusal of the allegations and prayers in both original and amended
paid the real estate taxes thereon since 1957 and that they have been in complaints, the Court notes that respondents neither alleged therein that the
physical, actual, open, prior, notorious, continuous, public and adverse parties are members of ICCs/IPs nor that the case involves a dispute or
possession of said land in the concept of owners for more than 50 years, even controversy over ancestral lands/domains of ICC/IPs. Rather, the allegations in
prior to June 12, 1945. They alleged that said land was declared alienable and respondents' original complaint make up for an accion reivindicatoria, a civil
disposable since August 3, 1927 per certification of the Department of action which involves an interest in a real property with an assessed value of
Environment and Natural Resources. They claimed that by means of fraud, P683,760.00, while the allegations in their amended complaint make out a case
stealth and surreptitious means, petitioners entered the said land, without for injunction, a civil action which is incapable of pecuniary estimation. The
permission and against the consent of the landowners, caused damages therein Court therefore finds that the CA correctly ruled that the subject matter of the
and harassed respondents by indiscriminately firing upon their farm workers. amended complaint based on allegations therein was within the jurisdiction of
They added that petitioners continue such harassment by means of armed men the RTC.
frequenting the campsite and firing M-16 rifles at them during nighttime,
causing great fear and threat. Meanwhile, contrary to petitioners' contention, the mere fact that this case
involves members of ICCs/IPs and their ancestral land is not enough to for it to Therefore, pursuant to Section 66 of the IPRA, the NCIP shall have jurisdiction
fall under the jurisdiction of the NCIP under Section 66 of the IPRA, to wit: over claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs only when they arise
between or among parties belonging to the same ICC/IP. When such claims and
Sec. 66. Jurisdiction of the NCIP. ~ The NCIP, through its regional offices, shall disputes arise between or among parties who do not belong to the same
have jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs; ICC/IP, i.e., parties belonging to different ICC/IPs or where one of the parties is a
Provided, however, That no such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP unless the non-ICC/IP, the case shall fall under the jurisdiction of the proper Courts of
parties have exhausted all remedies provided under their customary laws. For Justice, instead of the NCIP. In this case, while most of the petitioners belong to
this purpose, a certification shall be issued by the Council of Elders/Leaders Talaandig Tribe, respondents do not belong to the same ICC/IP. Thus, even if the
who participated in the attempt to settle the dispute that the same has not been real issue involves a dispute over land which appear to be located within the
resolved, which certification shall be a condition precedent to the filing of a ancestral domain of the Talaandig Tribe, it is not the NCIP but the RTC which
petition with the NCIP. shall have the power to hear, try and decide this case.

A careful review of Section 66 shows that the NCIP shall have jurisdiction over There are, however, exceptional cases where the NCIP shall still have
claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs only when they arise between jurisdiction over such claims and disputes even if the parties involved do not
or among parties belonging to the same ICC/IP. This can be gathered from the belong to the same ICC/IP, viz.:
qualifying provision that "no such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP unless
the parties have exhausted all remedies provided under their customary laws. 1. Cases under Sections 52 and 62 of the IPRA which contemplate a situation
For this purpose, a certification shall be issued by the Council of Elders/Leaders where a dispute over an ancestral domain involving parties who do not belong
who participated in the attempt to settle the dispute that the same has not been to the same, but to different ICCs/IPs, to wit:
resolved, which certification shall be a condition precedent to the filing of a
petition with the NCIP." SECTION 52. Delineation Process. — The identification and delineation of
ancestral domains shall be done in accordance with the following procedures:
The qualifying provision requires two conditions before such disputes may be
brought before the NCIP, namely: (1) exhaustion of remedies under customary xxxx
laws of the parties, and (2) compliance with condition precedent through the
said certification by the Council of Elders/Leaders. This is in recognition of the h) Endorsement to NCIP. — Within fifteen (15) days from publication, and of
rights of ICCs/IPs to use their own commonly accepted justice systems, conflict the inspection process, the Ancestral Domains Office shall prepare a report to
resolution institutions, peace building processes or mechanisms and other the NCIP endorsing a favorable action upon a claim that is deemed to have
customary laws and practices within their respective communities, as may be sufficient proof. However, if the proof is deemed insufficient, the Ancestral
compatible with the national legal system and with internationally recognized Domains Office shall require the submission of additional evidence: Provided,
human rights.19 That the Ancestral Domains Office shall reject any claim that is deemed patently
false or fraudulent after inspection and verification: Provided, further, That in
Section 3 (f) of the IPRA defines customary laws as a body of written and/or case of rejection, the Ancestral Domains Office shall give the applicant due
unwritten rules, usages, customs and practices traditionally and continually notice, copy furnished all concerned, containing the grounds for denial. The
recognized, accepted and observed by respective ICCs/IPs. From this restrictive denial shall be appealable to the NCIP: Provided, furthermore, That in cases
definition, it can be gleaned that it is only when both parties to a case belong to where there are conflicting claims among ICCs/IPs on the boundaries of
the same ICC/IP that the abovesaid two conditions can be complied with. If the ancestral domain claims, the Ancestral Domains Office shall cause the
parties to a case belong to different ICCs/IPs which are recognized to have their contending parties to meet and assist them in coming up with a
own separate and distinct customary laws and Council of Elders/Leaders, they preliminary resolution of the conflict, without prejudice to its full
will fail to meet the abovesaid two conditions. The same holds true if one of adjudication according to the section below.
such parties was a non-ICC/IP member who is neither bound by customary laws
as contemplated by the IPRA nor governed by such council. Indeed, it would be xxxx
violative of the principles of fair play and due process for those parties who do
not belong to the same ICC/IP to be subjected to its customary laws and Council SECTION 62. Resolution of Conflicts. — In cases of conflicting interest, where
of Elders/Leaders. there are adverse claims within the ancestral domains as delineated in the
survey plan, and which can not be resolved, the NCIP shall hear and decide,
after notice to the proper parties, the disputes arising from the Sereno, C.J., Leonardo-De Castro, Bersamin, Villarama, Jr., Perez, Mendoza, Reyes,
delineation of such ancestral domains: Provided, That if the dispute is Perlas-Bernabe, and Jardeleza, JJ., concur.
between and/or among ICCs/IPs regarding the traditional boundaries of Carpio, and Del Castillo, JJ., on official leave.
their respective ancestral domains, customary process shall be Velasco, Jr., J., pls. see concurring opinion.
followed. The NCIP shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations to Brion, J., see separate concurring opinion.
carry out its adjudicatory functions: Provided, further, That any decision, order, Leonen, J., see separate concurring opinion.
award or ruling of the NCIP on any ancestral domain dispute or on any matter
pertaining to the application, implementation, enforcement and interpretation Endnotes:
of this Act may be brought for Petition for Review to the Court of Appeals within
fifteen (15) days from receipt of a copy thereof.20
1Rollo, pp. 21-50.
2. Cases under Section 54 of the IPRA over fraudulent claims by parties who are
not members of the same ICC/IP, to wit: 2Penned by Associate Justice Rodrigo F. Lim Jr., with Associate Justices Teresita
Dy-Liacco Flores and Sixto Marella Jr., concurring; rollo, pp. 56-68.
SECTION 54. Fraudulent Claims. — The Ancestral Domains Office may, upon
written request from the ICCs/IPs, review existing claims which have been 3Rollo, pp. 11-13.
fraudulently acquired by any person or community. Any claim found to be
fraudulently acquired by, and issued to, any person or community may be 4 CA rollo, pp. 29-42.
cancelled by the NCIP after due notice and hearing of all parties
concerned.21 5Id. at 74-80.
Considering the general rule that the jurisdiction of the NCIP under Section 66 6 Id. at 25-28.
of the IPRA covers only disputes and claims between and among members of
the same ICCs/IPs involving their rights under the IPRA, as well as the basic 7 Id. at 28.
administrative law principle that an administrative rule or regulation must
conform, not contradict the provisions of the enabling law,22 the Court declares 8 Id. at 348.
Rule IX, Section 1 of the IPRA-IRR,23 Rule III, Section 524 and Rule IV, Sections
13 and 14 of the NCIP Rules25 as null and void insofar as they expand the 9 Id. at 433.
jurisdiction of the NCIP under Section 66 of the IPRA to include such disputes
where the parties do not belong to the same ICC/IP. As the Court held 10SEC. 2. Parties-in-Interest. - A real party-in-interest is the party who stands to
in Paduran v. DARAB,26 "[J]urisdiction over a subject matter is conferred by the be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the
Constitution or the law and rules of procedure yield to substantive law. avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law or these Rules, every
Otherwise stated, jurisdiction must exist as a matter of law.27 Only a statute can action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest.
confer jurisdiction on courts and administrative agencies; rules of procedure
cannot.28 In the abovesaid exceptional cases where one of the parties is a non- 11Administrative Circular No. 1, Series of 2014, Rule VI, Section 2. Real Party-in-
ICC/IP or does not belong to the same ICC/IP, however, Rule IV, Section 14 of lnterest. - Every case must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real
the NCIP Rules validly dispenses with the requirement of certification issued by party in interest who shall sue as "plaintiff or "petitioner". The person being
the Council of Elders/Leaders who participated in the failed attempt to settle sued shall be referred to as "defendant" or "respondent."
the dispute according to the customary laws of the concerned ICC/IP.
In actions involving general interest, the real party-in-interest shall be the
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the Court of Appeals Decision dated ICCs/IPs or person/s authorized, through a community resolution, by majority
August 17, 2006, and its Resolution dated July 4, 2007, in CA-G.R. SP No. 00204- of the ICCs/IPs in the community to represent them.
MIN, are AFFIRMED.
A "real party-in-interest," as provided in Section 2, Rule 3, of the Revised Rules
SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary of Court, and adapted herein, is the party who stands to be benefited or injured
by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.
a. Cases involving disputes, controversies over ancestral lands/domains of
12 CA rollo, pp. 65-71. ICCs/IPs;cralawlawlibrary

13 Records, p. 262. b. Cases involving violations of the requirement of free and prior and informed
consent of ICC/IPs;cralawlawlibrary
14 CA rollo, pp. 179-204.
c. Actions for enforcement of decisions of ICCs/IPs involving violations of
15Padlan v. Dinglasan, G.R. No. 180321, March 20, 2013, 694 SCRA 91, 98. customary laws or desecration of ceremonial sites, sacred places, or
rituals;cralawlawlibrary
16 Emphasis added.
d. Actions for redemption/reconveyance under Section 8(b) of R.A. 8371; and
17Id.

e. Such other cases analogous to the foregoing.


18 Id.
(2) Original jurisdiction of the Regional Hearing Officer:
19 IPRA, Sec. 15.
a. Cases affecting property rights, claims of ownership, hereditary succession,
20 Emphasis added. and settlement of land disputes, between and among ICCs/IPs that have not
been settled under customary laws; and
21Id.

b. Actions for damages arising out of any violation of Republic Act No.
22FortBonifacio Dev't Corp. v. Commissioner on Internal Revenue, et al., 617 Phil 8371;cralawlawlibrary
358, 369 (2009).
(3) Exclusive and Original Jurisdiction of the Commission:
23Section 1. Primacy of Customary Law. - All conflicts related to the ancestral
domain and lands, involving ICCs/IPs, such as but not limited to the conflicting a. Petition for cancellation of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles/Certificate
claims and boundary disputes, shall be resolved by the concerned parties of Ancestral Land Titles (CADTs/CALTs) alleged to have been fraudulently
through the application of customary laws in the area where the disputed acquired by, and issued to, any person or community as provided for under
ancestral domain or land is located. Section 54 of R.A. 8371. Provided that such action is filed within one (1) year
from the date of registration.
All conflicts related to the ancestral domain or lands where one of the parties is
non-ICC/IP or where the dispute could not be resolved through customary law 25Section 13. Certification to File Action. — Upon the request of the proper
shall be heard and adjudicated in accordance with the Rules on Pleadings, party, members of the indigenous dispute settlement group or council of elders
Practice and Procedure before the NCIP to be adopted hereafter. shall likewise issue a certification to file action before the NCIP. In giving due
regard to customary laws, the certification may be in any form so long as it
All decisions of the NCIP may be brought on Appeal by Petition for Review to states in substance the failure of settlement notwithstanding the efforts made
the Court of Appeals within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the Order or under customary law or traditional practices.
Decision.
Section 14. Exceptions. The certification shall not be required in the following
24Sec. 5. Jurisdiction of the NCIP. - The NCIP through its Regional Hearing Offices cases:
shall exercise jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of
ICCs/IPs and all cases pertaining to the implementation, enforcement, and a. Where one of the parties is a public or private corporation, partnership,
interpretation of R.A. 8371, including but not limited to the following: association or juridical person or a public officer or employee and the dispute is
in connection with the performance of his official functions;cralawlawlibrary
(1) Original and Exclusive Jurisdiction of the Regional Hearing Officer (RHO):
b. Where one of the parties is non-IP/ICC or does not belong to the same IP/IC SECTION 66. Jurisdiction of the NCIP. — The NCIP, through its regional
Community, except when he voluntarily submits to the jurisdiction of the offices, shall have jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights
Council of Elders/Leaders;cralawlawlibrary of ICCs/IPs: Provided, however, That no such dispute shall be brought to the
NCIP unless the parties have exhausted all remedies provided under their
c. Where the relief sought for in the complaint or petition seeks to prevent any customary laws. For this purpose, a certification shall be issued by the Council
grave, imminent and irreparable damage or injury that may result if not acted of Elders/Leaders who participated in the attempt to settle the dispute that the
upon immediately; and same has not been resolved, which certification shall be a condition precedent
to the filing of a petition with the NCIP. (Emphasis supplied)
d. Where the Coucil of Elders/Leaders refuse to issue the necessary certification
without justifiable reasons. A careful scrutiny of Section 66 of the IPRA would reveal that it is composed of
three parts: (1) the NCIP has jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving
26 444 Phil. 213(2006). rights of ICCs/IPs; (2) the requirement of exhaustion of all remedies provided
under the customary laws of the ICCs/IPs; and (3) a certification from the
27Paduran v. DARAB, supra, at 223. Council of Elders/Leaders as a condition precedent to the filing of a petition
with NCIP.
28Republic of the Philippines v. CA, 331 Phil. 1070, 1076 (1996).
The first part lays down the basis of jurisdiction of the NCIP. It can be gleaned
from this part that the law is silent if the parties should belong to the same IP/IC
Community. What the law only provides is that the NCIP has jurisdiction over all
claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs.

CONCURRING OPINION The second part contains the proviso that should be followed before the NCIP
acquires jurisdiction over the case. Said proviso states: "Provided, however, That
no such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP unless the parties have exhausted
VELASCO, JR., J.: all remedies provided under their customary laws."

The third part, on the other hand, refers to the certification from the Council of
Elders/Leaders as a condition precedent to the filing of a petition with NCIP.
I concur with the ponencia that the Regional Trial Court (RTC) has jurisdiction
This is in relation to the second part requiring the exhaustion of all remedies.
over the case. Both original and amended complaints, accion reivindicatoria and
injunction, respectively, are incapable of pecuniary estimation; thus falling
The second and third parts of the provision should not be interpreted as
within the jurisdiction of the RTC. As correctly pointed out by the ponencia,
limiting the jurisdiction of the NCIP to claims and disputes involving rights of
"jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law and
ICCs/IPs only when they arise between or among parties belonging to the same
determined by the allegations in the complaint which comprise a concise
ICC/IP. The proviso only provides for a condition precedent. It is merely
statement of the ultimate facts constituting the plaintiffs cause of action."1 It
procedural and does not divest the NCIP of jurisdiction over parties not
cannot be acquired through a waiver or enlarged by the omission of the parties
belonging to the same IP/IC Community. As provided in Section 14, Rule IV of
or conferred by the acquiescence of the court.2
the Rules on Pleadings, Practice and Procedure4 of the NCIP (NCIP Rules), a
party which does not belong to the same IP/IC Community is exempted from the
However, I would like to submit some points for consideration which run
requirement of certification, to wit:
counter to the opinion of my esteemed colleague. It is my position that the
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has jurisdiction over all
claims and disputes involving rights of Indigenous Cultural Section 14. Exceptions. The certification shall not be required in the following
Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) regardless of whether or not they cases:
belong to the same IP/IC Community. This is pursuant to Section 66 of Republic
Act (R.A.) No. 8371,3 otherwise known as "The Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of a. Where one of the parties is a public or private corporation,
1997" (IPRA) as follows: partnership, association or juridical person or a public officer
or employee and the dispute is in connection with the the ICCs/IPs.6 It is quasi-legislative because of its rule-making power.7 Because
performance of his official functions;cralawlawlibrary of its expertise in the field of ICCs/IPs, it is better equipped than the trial courts
in resolving the claims and disputes involving rights where the parties are both
b. Where one of the parties is non-IP/ICC or does not belong ICCs/IPs.
to the same IP/IC Community, except when he voluntarily
submits to the jurisdiction of the Council of Anent the issue as to what customary laws apply in cases where the parties
Elders/Leaders; involved in the claims and disputes do not belong to the same IP/IC Community,
the NCIP may apply the customary law common to both ICCs/IPs or that which
c. Where the relief sought for in the complaint or petition seeks can be applied by analogy.
to prevent any grave, imminent and irreparable damage or
injury that may result if not acted upon immediately; and Furthermore, it must be pointed out that there is no need to declare the
following provisions as null and void:
d. Where the Council of Elders/Leaders refuses to issue the
necessary certification without justifiable reasons. (Emphasis i. The first and third paragraphs of Rule IX, Section 1 of the Implementing Rules
supplied) and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 8371 which provide:

Section 1. Primacy of Customary Law. All conflicts related to ancestral


Thus, it is my position that the NCIP has jurisdiction over the domains and lands, involving ICCs/IPs, such as but not limited to conflicting
following:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary claims and boundary disputes, shall be resolved by the concerned parties
a. claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs arising between or among through the application of customary laws in the area where the disputed
parties belonging to the same ICC/IP; and ancestral domain or land is located.

b. claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs arising between or among x x x xChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
ICCs/IPs even if one of the parties does not belong to the same IP/IC
Community. All decisions of the NCIP may be brought on Appeal by Petition for Review to
the Court of Appeals within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the Order or
All cases and disputes where both parties are ICCs/IPs fall under the exclusive Decision.
jurisdiction of the NCIP. Consequently, all cases and disputes where one of the
parties is a non-ICC/IP are covered by the jurisdiction of the regular courts ii. Rule III, Section 5 of the NCIP Rules which provides:
regardless of the subject matter even if it involves ancestral domains or lands of
ICCs/IPs. Moreover, the regular courts have jurisdiction over cases and disputes Section. 5. Jurisdiction of the NCIP. The NCIP through its Regional Hearing
as long as there are parties who are non-ICCs/IPs. Offices shall exercise jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of
ICCs/IPs and all cases pertaining to the implementation, enforcement, and
To limit the jurisdiction of the NCIP to claims and disputes involving rights of interpretation of R.A. 8371, including but not limited to the
ICCs/IPs arising between or among parties belonging to the same ICC/IP would following:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
be contrary to the purpose for which the NCIP was created. It must be pointed
out that the NCIP is an administrative body entrusted with the regulation of (1) Original and Exclusive Jurisdiction of the Regional Hearing Office (RHO):
activities coming under its special knowledge and training. It is charged with the
implementation of the law, considering its competence, expertise, experience a. Cases involving disputes and controversies over ancestral
and informed judgment. As such, the NCIP is vested with quasi-judicial and lands/domains of ICCs/IPs;cralawlawlibrary
quasi-legislative powers. It is the primary government agency "responsible for
the formulation and implementation of policies, plans and programs to promote b. Cases involving violations of the requirement of free and prior
and protect the rights and well-being of the ICCs/IPs and the recognition of and informed consent of ICCs/IPs;cralawlawlibrary
their ancestral domains as well as their rights thereto."5 It is quasi-judicial
because it has jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving the rights of
c. Actions for enforcement of decisions of ICCs/IPs involving
violations of customary laws or desecration of ceremonial b. Where one of the parties is non-IP/ICC or does not belong to the same IP/IC
sites, sacred places, or rituals;cralawlawlibrary Community, except when he voluntarily submits to the jurisdiction of the
Council of Elders/Leaders;cralawlawlibrary
d. Actions for redemption/reconveyance under Section 8(b) of
R.A. 8371; and c. Where the relief sought for in the complaint or petition seeks to prevent any
grave, imminent and irreparable damage or injury that may result if not acted
e. Such other cases analogous to the foregoing. upon immediately; and

(2) Original Jurisdiction of the Regional Hearing Officer: d. Where the Council of Elders/Leaders refuse to issue the necessary
certification without justifiable reasons.10
a. Cases affecting property rights, claims of ownership, hereditary
The abovementioned rules can be interpreted in harmony with the provisions of
succession, and settlement of land disputes, between and
the IPRA law. Said rules do not expand the jurisdiction of the NCIP but merely
among ICCs/IPs that have not been settled under customary
enumerate the claims and disputes falling within its jurisdiction. Section 14(b)
laws; and
does not automatically dispense with the certification required by law as the
parties may opt to voluntarily submit to the jurisdiction of the Council of
b. Actions for damages arising out of any violation of Republic Act
Elders/Leaders. This is akin to a barangay conciliation proceeding under the
No. 8371.
Local Government Code wherein the conciliation process is a condition
precedent that affects the sufficiency of the cause of action, not the jurisdiction
(3) Exclusive and Original Jurisdiction of the Commission: of the court.11

a. Petition for cancellation of Certificate of Ancestral Domain However, the second paragraph of Rule IX, Section 1 of the IRR of R.A. No. 8371
Titles/Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles (CADTs/CALTs) is not anchored on legal mooring. Said paragraph reads:
alleged to have been fraudulently acquired by, and issued to,
any person or community as provided for under Section 54 of Section 1. Primacy of Customary Law. All conflicts related to the ancestral
R.A. 8371. Provided that such action is filed within one (1) year domains or lands where one of the parties is a non-ICC/IP or where the dispute
from the date of registration.8 could not be resolved through customary law shall be heard and adjudicated in
accordance with the Rules on Pleadings, Practice and Procedures Before the
NCIP to be adopted hereafter. (Emphasis supplied)
iii. Rule IV, Sections 13 and 14 of the NCIP Rules which provide:
As earlier discussed, Section 66 of R.A. No. 8371 is explicit that the NCIP's
Section 13. Certification to File Action. Upon the request of the proper party, jurisdiction is confined only to claims and disputes where the parties are both
members of the indigenous dispute settlement group or council of elders shall ICCs/IPs. Such being the case, the second paragraph of Rule IX, Section 1 of the
likewise issue a certification to file action before the NCIP. In giving due regard IRR of R.A. No. 8371 should be declared null and void because it is contrary to
to customary laws, the certification may be in any form so long as it states in the provision of Section 66 of the IPRA. It is well-settled that an administrative
substance the failure of settlement notwithstanding the efforts made under rule or regulation must conform, not contradict, the provisions of the enabling
customary law or traditional practices.9 law.12 A rule or regulation cannot modify, expand, or subtract from the law it is
intended to implement.13 Any rule that is not consistent with the statute itself is
Section 14. Exceptions. The certification shall not be required in the following null and void.14 Since the rule in question is at war with Section 66 of R.A. No.
cases: 8371, then it must be excised.

a. Where one of the parties is a public or private corporation, partnership, Anent the resolution of the substantive issue in the case at bar, I agree with the
association or juridical person or a public officer or employee and the dispute is ponencia that the RTC has jurisdiction over the instant dispute.
in connection with the performance of his official functions;cralawlawlibrary
ACCORDINGLY, I concur to DENY the Petition for Review.
Endnotes:
I concur with the ponencia's conclusion that the RTC has jurisdiction over the
case. I write this Separate Opinion to express my own approach to the case, and
1Ponencia, p. 8. to elaborate on relevant points that may need emphasis.

2Gomez-Castillo v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 187231, 22 June 2010, 621 SCRA 499, 507. I base my concurrence on the following grounds:

3AN ACT TO RECOGNIZE, PROTECT AND PROMOTE THE RIGHTS OF (1) The CA correctly ruled that the RTC's February 14, 2005 order is not tainted
INDIGENOUS CULTURAL COMMUNITIES/INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, CREATING A with grave abuse;cralawlawlibrary
NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, ESTABLISHING
IMPLEMENTING MECHANISMS, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR, AND FOR (2) Jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by law and the allegations
OTHER PURPOSES (1997). of the complaint.

4 Administrative Circular No. 1-03 dated April 9, 2003. (3) The National Council for Indigenous Peoples' (NCIP) jurisdiction over
disputes is limited to cases where both parties are members of the same ICC/IP.
5 Supra note 3, Section 38.
I also concur with the ponencia that the NCIP has jurisdiction over adverse
6 Id. Section 66. claims, boundary disputes, and cancellation of fraudulently issued Certificate of
Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs), regardless of the parties involved. But I clarify
7 Id. Section 44(c). and emphasize my view that while the NCIP possesses quasi-judicial powers, its
jurisdiction is only primary, and not exclusive.
8 Supra note 4.
The RTC's February 14, 2005 order is
9 Id. NOT tainted with grave abuse of discretion.

10 Id. The present petition is an appeal from the CA's dismissal of the petitioner's
petition for certiorari . Hence, this Court must determine whether the CA
1'Heirs of Fernando Vinzons v. Court of Appeals, 315 SCRA 541, 548 (1999). correctly ruled that the RTC did not gravely abuse its discretion in issuing the
February 14, 2005 order.
12Fort
Bonifacio Development Corporation v. Commissioner of Internal
Revenue, G.R. No. 175707, November 19, 2014. The petitioners alleged before the CA that the February 14, 2005 order is
tainted with grave abuse because it: (i) denied the petitioners' motion to refer
13 Id. the case to the NCIP; (ii) declared the petitioners in default; and (iii) issued the
writ of preliminary injunction.1
14 Id.
Jurisprudence2 has traditionally defined grave abuse of discretion as follows:

Grave abuse of discretion is defined as capricious or whimsical exercise of


judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be
patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual
SEPARATE OPINION refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of
law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by
reason of passion and hostility.ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
BRION, J:
Based on this definition, I share the view that the RTC did not abuse its
discretion, much less commit any grave abuse of discretion.
The NCIP's jurisdiction over disputes is limited
At the time the respondents amended the complaint, the petitioners had yet to where both parties are members of the same ICC/IP.
file their answers to the original complaint, hence, the amendment was still a
matter of right. The rule on amendments as a matter of right applies to a co- I join the ponencia in ruling that the NCIP does not have jurisdiction
defendant who has yet to file his responsive pleading, even if his co-defendants over disputes where one of the parties is a non-ICC/IP, or where the opposing
have already done so.3 Thus, while Macapayag and Brazil have filed their parties are members of different ICC/IP.
answers, the respondents still have the right to amend the complaint with
respect to the rest of the petitioners. My concurrence is based on the following: (i) Section 66 contains a proviso
that limits the NCIP's jurisdiction; (ii) the RTC, not the NCIP, has
Likewise, the RTC did not abuse its discretion in declaring the petitioners in jurisdiction to adjudicate violations of ICC/IP rights; (iii) Congress had no
default and in issuing the writ of preliminary injunction. intention to apply customary laws to non-ICCs/IPs.

The RTC declared the petitioners in default only after they failed to file their I. Section 66 contains a proviso that
answers within the period allowed. On the other hand, the writ of preliminary limits the NCIP's jurisdiction.
injunction sought to maintain the status quo to prevent both parties from
committing further acts of violence; there is no caprice in maintaining the peace. The NCIP's jurisdiction is outlined in IPRA's Section 66:

Nevertheless, default orders are issued on the presumption that the defendant SECTION 66. Jurisdiction of the NCIP. — The NCIP, through its regional offices,
no longer opposes the allegations and reliefs demanded in the complaint.4 In shall have jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs:
this case, the petitioners vehemently opposed the RTC's cognizance of the Provided, however, That no such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP unless
complaint, and refused to file their answers because they believed that the parties have exhausted all remedies provided under their customary
jurisdiction belongs to the NCIP. laws. For this purpose, a certification shall be issued by the Council of
Elders/Leaders who participated in the attempt to settle the dispute that the
In the interest of justice, I support the CA in lifting the order of default to allow the same has not been resolved, which certification shall be a condition precedent
parties to try the case on the merits. to the filing of a petition with the NCIP. (emphasis supplied)

Jurisdiction is determined Section 66 is composed of three parts: the first states the NCIP's jurisdiction;
by the allegations of the complaint the second requires the prior exhaustion of remedies under customary law; and
the third states that a certification from the council of elders/leaders is a
Jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by law and by the material condition precedent to the filing of a petition with the NCIP.
allegations of the complaint.5 Under these standards, the petitioner's argument,
i.e., that the NCIP has jurisdiction because the case involves the rights of The first part lays down the NCIP's jurisdiction, i.e., over all claims and
ICCs/IPs, is without merit. disputes involving the rights of ICCs/IPs. The NCIP's jurisdiction is not
dependent on who the parties are, but on whether the dispute involves the
As the ponencia pointed out, both the original and the amended complaints do rights of ICCs/IPs.
not allege that the respondents were ICCs/IPs, or that the dispute involves an
ancestral dominion.6 Hence, on the face of the respondents' complaint, the RTC However, the second part contains the proviso "Provided, However, That no
has jurisdiction over the injunction case.7 such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP unless the parties have exhausted all
remedies provided under their customary laws." The third part begins with the
Neither am I impressed with the petitioners' argument that, where the actual phrase "for this purpose"; the "purpose" referred to being the exhaustion of
issue is evidenced by the subsequent pleadings, jurisdiction does not depend on remedies under their customary laws.
the complaint's literal averments. This Court has consistently ruled that
jurisdiction never depends on the defenses set up in the answer, in a motion to Jurisprudence tells us that the office of a proviso is to limit the application of the
dismiss or in a motion for reconsideration.8 law.9

Taking these considerations into account, while the NCIP's jurisdiction is


initially couched in general terms to include any and all disputes involving the ICCs/IPs concerned....without prejudice to the right of the ICC/IP concerned to
rights of ICCs/IPs, the second and third parts limit the NCIP's jurisdiction to avail of the protection of "existing laws... [i]n which case" the penalty shall be
disputes where both parties have remedies to exhaust under customary laws. imprisonment and/or fine, and damages, "upon the discretion of the court"22

Consequently, the NCIP does not have jurisdiction over disputes involving non- "Existing laws" refer to national laws as opposed to customary laws; while "the
ICCs/IPs because non-ICCs/IPs have no customary laws to exhaust. court" refers to the regular courts as opposed to administrative bodies like the
NCIP.
The limitation likewise applies to disputes where the opposing parties are
members of different ICCs/IPs. Under Section 72, ICCs/IPs can avail of the protection under national laws and
file an action before the regular courts, in which case, the penalty shall be
Each ICC/IP has its own set of customary laws and council of elders/leaders. To imprisonment and/or fine, and damages. From this perspective,
require members of a particular ICC/IP to appear before the council of
elders/leaders of another ICC/IP would be to require the former to observe the Section 72 is a special penal law that applies to ALL persons, including non-
customary laws of the latter. This is repugnant to the right of each ICC/IP to use ICCs/IPs.
its own commonly accepted justice systems, conflict resolution institutions, and
peace building processes or mechanisms.10 The phrase "without prejudice," however, fneans without limiting the course of
action that one can take.23 Thus, a recourse under customary laws does not take
II. The RTC not the NCIP, has away the right of ICCs/IPs to secure punishment under existing national laws. An
jurisdiction over violations of ICC/IP rights express caveat under the customary law option is that the penalty must not be
committed by Non-ICC/IP. cruel, degrading, or inhuman, nor shall it consist of the death penalty or
excessive fines.24
As I had earlier discussed, the first part of Section 66 shows that jurisdiction is
not dependent on who the parties are to the dispute, but on whether the dispute Since the regular courts, not the NCIP, have jurisdiction over national laws, then
involves the rights of ICCs/IPs. the NCIP's jurisdiction is limited to punishment under customary
laws.25cralawred
Guided by the rule that provisos should not be construed to limit the main
provisions of the statute;11this Court must not read Section 66 in isolation but The NCIP's power to impose penalties under customary laws presents two
must read it together with the related provision. In this case, the Court must important issues: first,whether it is legally possible to punish non-ICCs/IPs with
identify the rights of ICCs/IPs, and determine whether the NCIP is the proper penalties under customary laws; and second, whether a member of a particular
venue for the enforcement of these rights. ICC/IP could be punished in accordance with the customary laws of another
ICC/IP.
The IPRA grants ICCs/IPs rights: (i) over ancestral domains/lands; 12 (ii) to self-
governance and employment;13 (iii) to social justice and human rights;14 and Laws that provide for fines, forfeitures, or penalties for their violation or
(iv) to cultural integrity.15 These rights are spread throughout several chapters, otherwise impose a burden on the people, such as tax and revenue measures,
mainly under Chapters III to VI. must be published.26

It must be noted, however, that most of these rights are state policies, and only Most customary laws are not written, much less published. Hence, it is highly
the following are clearly demandable and enforceable: the rights over ancestral unlikely that the NCIP or even the regular courts have the power to penalize
domains and lands;16 the right against unlawful intrusion;17 the right to equal non-ICCs/IPs with these penalties under customary laws. A contrary ruling
protection and to nondiscrimination;18 the right against unlawful acts would be constitutionally infirm for lack of due process.
pertaining to employment;19 the rights to religious, cultural sites and
ceremonies, including archaeological artifacts;20 and the right to withhold Similarly, an ICC/IP cannot be punished under the customary law of another.
access to biological and genetic resources.21 Otherwise, the former would be forced to observe a non-binding customary law.

Section 72 of the IPRA provides that any person who violates the rights of Therefore, while the NCIP has jurisdiction over violations of ICC/IP rights, its
ICCs/IPs shall be punished "in accordance with the customary laws of the jurisdiction is limited to those committed by and against members of the same
ICC/IP.
would be easier to resolve. But paano po
'yung if there would be a conflict between an
This view does not detract from the IPRA's policy to "protect the rights of
IP and non-IP.
ICCs/IPs." ICCs/IPs, whose rights are violated by non-ICCs/IPs or by members
of a different ICC/IP, can still file criminal charges before the regular courts. In
Mr. Raiz: Non-IP.
this situation, the NCIP's role is not to adjudicate but to provide ICCs/IPs with
"legal assistance in litigation involving community interest."27 Mr. Mercado: Because the assumption nga— oo, 'yong
sa civil law relations, may mga conflicts po
III. Congress had no intention to apply na possible na mangyayari. So, actually, sabi
customary laws to non-ICCs/IPs. ko nga, maybe we can do away with it. That's
one issue. xxx
Some might conceivably argue that Congress passed the IPRA and created the
NCIP precisely to bind non-ICCs/IPs to customary laws. Mr. Austria: 'Yong point ni Mike is very meritorious, 'yon
dapat, Dahil unang una, the IPs should
I do not agree with this view. themselves show to the other sectors kung
ano ba 'yon rule nila sa society.xxx
The records of the Senate and the bicameral committee hearings show that the
legislators focused mainly on: (i) the grant of Ancestral Domains/Lands to Ms. Damaso: Let's go back to that discussion on the
ICCs/IPs; (ii) the NCIP's organizational transition from its predecessor-agencies; creation of a separate office on planning and
and (iii) budgetary concerns. Section 66 's controversial proviso was not even policy, and research.
discussed on the Senate floor or during the bicameral committee hearings. I think it's more germane to mention those
points that Mike has enunciated earlier—
In the course of the bill's28 early development, the Senate technical working that this be a primary function of that office
group29 realized that it would be difficult for the NCIP to adjudicate rights of xxx continuing documentation of
non-ICCs/IPs under national laws, on one hand, and the rights of ICCs/IPs under customary laws customary law and other
customary laws, on the other. They were likewise concerned with the possible usage 'no for complete mediation or
conflict between the customary laws of contending ICCs/IPs. resolution, which would be derived from
the culture base of the IPs.
As a solution, the Senate technical working group proposed the creation of the
Office on Policy, Planning and Research (OPPR) and a Consultative Body that ....
will compile all customary laws, and assist the NCIP in its exercise of quasi-
judicial powers: The presiding officer: You were mentioning iyong other groups.
What about the commission? Should they be
mandated to do the research and to, you
Mr. Mike Mercado Sir, it's over and above the customs and
know, to compile such laws. Kasi yung
(representative of Sen. Juan tradition. What I'm trying to pointout is, it's
nakikita ko doon sa idea niMike is, like for
Flavier): the whole plan for the sector. Two issues po
example, kung may conflict iyong IPs and
ang sinasabi ko.Number one is regarding the
Non-IPs, paano mo sasabihin, although
need to put it down because we talked about
sasabihin natin na yung customary law nga
conflict of rights here...
yung mag-go-govern, pero paano natin i-po-
The Presiding Officer: ... With the Non-IPs. prove—-although kailangan natin i-
recognize na mayroon ganuong
Mr. Mercado: With the non-IPs possibly which would problem. Sabihin natin it's an oral practice,
happen. It would be easy if the conflict could it's an oral customary law pero mas
be between IPs of the same group. So it maganda siguro kung iyon nga kung i-
compile mo tapos eto ganito yon. So mayroon and they have specific law for that. If we will
tayong pang... not compile it, mahihirapan tayong ma-
attain 'yong level na 'yon na sana mas
Mr. Mercado: For example po on practical ground, I think maganda kung 'yong all practices, for
ang power is lodged with the Commission example on marriage sa iba't ibang tribes
which is collective in nature iyong mga ma-recognize rin ng law. Pero if we will not
adjudicatory power. Assuming not all of document the practices, hindi natin maa-
them would belong to one tribe, they would attain 'yong level na 'yon. Kaya mas maganda
belong to a different sector or group. I know kung mayroon tayong documentation that
that it is being practiced and it's not written when legislators if and when they decide to
down, so I have to make decision also as a make it a law, mayroon silang existing na
part of that Commission—as a gagamitin. xxx
commissioner based on something, so I have
to also acquaint myself on the practices of .... ....
other groups because that is part of the
power of the commission to adjudicate. For Ms. Chavez Couldn't NCIP hire or form a consultative
practical purposes only, how would I know body from which each tribe will be
the practices of the particular groupings, represented by a co-tribal consultant
which I am supposed to adjudicate, aside from the documentation of
assuming that we only have 113 tribes or customary laws?Pwede ba 'yon
groupings and we have five commissioners. ganoon? Kasi kahit may documentation...
Those other five or those other (emphasis supplied)
commissioners who are not aware of that
particular practice, to that they will depend The presiding officer: Baka pwede isama sa IRR, implementing
their judgment on. So, there is also a need rules and regulations 'yong mga tribal tribal
for this five commissioners to be familiar consultancy.
with the practice of other groups because
they will make decisions also. Ms. Chavez: Sa IRR.

Ms. Damaso: Yeah, Mike, I think your point is to The Presiding officer: Pwede naman siguro 'yon gawin. Anyway,
compile, meaning document. specifics na 'yon. General lang 'yong
functions na ilagay natin.
Mr. Mercado: Document only, hindi ho isabatas.
xxxx
Ms. Damaso: But not to codify. It's a different ball game
to codify.
While the IPRA did create the OPPR, and directed the NCIP to form a consultative
Mr. Mercado: Actually ginamit ko yung term, nag-usap body, their functions had nothing to do with the NCIP's exercise of quasi-judicial
kami ni Didith, sabi ko, "it's compile powers.
only". Because, it's beyond the power of
this commission to make codifications. But The OPPR's objective is to document customary laws for monitoring, evaluation,
'yung point kanina ni Datu Sulang is actually and policy purposes to assist Congress in formulating appropriate legislations
going a step further. Kunwari like Muslims, benefiting ICCs/IPs.30 On the other hand, the consultative body's role is to advise
bakit nare-recognize na 'yong three the NCIP on matters "relating to the problems, aspirations, and interests of the
marriages Because there is four marriages ICCs/IPs."31
The variance between the deliberations and the law suggests that Congress mandatory.36 Without publication, non-ICCs/IPs would be deprived of due
passed the IPRA without considering the inevitable conflict of rights under process of law.37
national and customary laws. In my opinion, this casts doubt on whether
Congress did give the NCIP the mandate to settle disputes between non- The NCIP has Primary Jurisdiction over Claims
ICCs/IPs and ICCs/IPs. regardless of whether the parties are non-ICCs/IPs,
or members of a different ICCs/IPs.
It is true that the IPRA echoed our Constitution32 in "[recognizing] the
applicability of customary laws governing property rights or relations in I note that Section 66 applies only to "disputes" and not to "claims":
determining the ownership and extent of ancestral domain.33 However, I do not
subscribe to the idea that customary laws should bind non-ICCs/IPs simply SECTION 66. Jurisdiction of the NCIP. — The NCIP, through its regional offices,
because Congress ordered the NCIP to compile them. shall have jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs:
Provided, however, That no such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP unless
In Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources,34 former Associate the parties have exhausted all remedies provided under their customary laws,
Justice Jose C. Vitug opined35 that customary laws should not apply to non- xxx xxx (emphasis and omissions supplied)
ICCs/IPs simply because Congress parroted the Constitution:
The word "claim" in section 66 relates to rights of ICC/IP over ancestral
The second paragraph of Section 5 of Article XII of the Constitution allows domains/lands.38
Congress to provide "for the applicability of customary laws governing property
rights or relations in determining the ownership and extent of ancestral Four sections in the IPRA are dedicated to the NCIP's jurisdiction over
domains." I do not see this statement as saying that Congress may enact a "claims": first, Section 52 (h), which refers to the power of the NCIP Ancestral
law that would simply express that "customary laws shall govern" and end it Domains Office (NCIP-ADO) to deny applications for CADTs; second, Section 53,
there. Had it been so, the Constitution could have itself easily provided which refers to the NCIP-ADO's power to reject applications for Certificate of
without having to still commission Congress to do it. Mr. Chief Justice Davide Ancestral Land Titles(CALTs); third, Sec. 54, on fraudulent claims; lastly, Sec.
has explained this authority of Congress, during the deliberations of the 1986 62, which refers to the resolution of adverse claims.
Constitutional Convention, thus: (emphasis supplied)
"Mr. Davide. x x x Insofar as the application of the customary laws governing Sections 52 (h) and 53 require the NCIP-ADO to publish and post applications
property rights' or relations in determining the ownership and extent of the for CADTs/CALTs to notify all persons, including non-ICCs/IPs. Section 62
ancestral domain is concerned, it is respectfully submitted that the particular allows all interested persons, including non-ICCs/IPs, to file adverse claims over
matter must be submitted to Congress. I understand that the idea of Comm. disputes arising from delineation of ancestral domains.39
Bennagen is for the possibility of the codification of these customary laws. So
before these are codified, we cannot now mandate that the same must Under Section 54, the NCIP may, upon the written request of ICCs/IPs, review
immediately be applicable. We leave it to Congress to determine the extent of existing claims and after notice and hearing, cancel CADTs and CALTs that were
the ancestral domain and the ownership thereof in relation to whatever may fraudulently acquired by any person or community.40
have been codified earlier. So, in short, let us not put the cart ahead of the
horse."15 In these cases, the NCIP has jurisdiction even if one of the parties is a non-
The constitutional aim, it seems to me, is to get Congress to look closely ICC/IP, or where the opposing parties are members of different ICCs/IPs.
into the customary laws and, with specificity and by proper recitals, to
hew them to, and make them part of, the stream of laws. The "due process The NCIP's jurisdiction is
clause," as I so understand it in Tañada vs. Tuvera would require an apt primary and not exclusive.
publication of a legislative enactment before it is permitted to take force and
effect. So, also, customary laws, when specifically enacted to become part of Finally, I wish to point out that while the NCIP possesses quasi-judicial powers,
statutory law, must first undergo that publication to render them its jurisdiction is not exclusive.
correspondingly binding and effective as such, (emphasis in the original)
The word "jurisdiction" in the first part of Section 66 is unqualified. Section 66
I share Justice Vitug's view. Laws must be published before they take effect. The (then Section 71) of Senate Bill 1728 was originally worded exclusive and
publication of all laws "of a public nature" or "of general applicability" is
original jurisdiction.41 During the Bicameral Committee Conference,42 the lower
Sen. Flavier: In other words, it's not only the
house objected to giving the NCIP exclusive and original jurisdiction:
Commission that can originate
it, pwedeng mag-originate sa courts.
Sen. Juan Flavier: There is exclusive original. And so what do
(Chairman of the you suggest? Rep. Zapata Or else, we just remove "exclusive original"
Senate Panel) so that they will say, the National will have
jurisdiction over claims. So we remove both
..... .... "exclusive and original".

Rep. Zapata Chairman, may I butt in? Sen. Flavier: So what version are you batting for, Mr.
(Chairman of the Chairman?
Panel for the House
of Representatives): Rep. Zapata: Just to remove the word "exclusive
original." The Commission will still have
Sen. Flavier: Yes, please. jurisdiction only that, if the parties will
opt to go to courts of justice, then this
Rep. Zapata: This was considered. The original, we were have (sic) the proper jurisdiction, then
willing in the house. But the "exclusive", we they may do so because we have courts
objected to the word "exclusive" because it nationwide. Here there may be not enough
would only be the commission that would courts of the commission.
exclude the court and the Commission may
not be able to undertake all the review Sen. Flavier: So we are going to adopt the senate version
nationwide. And so we remove the word minus the words "exclusive original"?
"exclusive", so that they will have
original jurisdiction but with the removal Rep. Zapata: Yes, Mr. Chairman, that's my proposal.
of the word "exclusive" that would mean
that they may bring the case to the Sen. Flavier: No, problem. Okay Approved.
ordinary courts of justice.
xxxx
Sen. Flavier: Without passing through the commission?
The Bicameral Committee's removal of the words "exclusive and original"
Rep. Zapata: Yes. Anyway, if they go to the regular courts, meant that the NCIP shares concurrent jurisdiction with the regular courts.
they will have to litigate in court, because if Thus, I agree with the revised ponencia that it would be ultra vires for NCIP to
its (sic) exclusive, that would be good. promulgate rules and regulations stating that it has exclusive jurisdiction.
Sen. Flavier: But what he is saying is that...
The NCIP's jurisdiction, however, while not exclusive, is primary.
Rep. Zapata: But they may not have the facility.
Under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, courts must refrain from
determining a controversy involving a question which is within the jurisdiction
Rep.______ Senado na lang.
of an administrative tribunal, where the question demands the exercise of
Rep. Zapata: Oo, iyong original na lang. sound administrative discretion requiring the special knowledge, experience
and services of the administrative tribunal to determine technical and intricate
matters of fact.43

On the other hand, when Congress confers exclusive jurisdiction to a judicial or


quasi-judicial entity over certain matters by law, its action evinces its intent to
exclude other bodies from exercising the same.44 9Borromeo v. Mariano, 41 Phil. 326 (1921), citing 25 R. C. L., pp. 984, et seq.; and
specifically, the leading cases of McKnight v. Hodge [1909], 55 Wash., 289, 104
Having primary jurisdiction is not equivalent to having exclusive Pac, 504, 40 L. R. A. [N.S.], 1207; McCormick v. West Duluth [1891], 47 Minn.,
jurisdiction. Thus, to avoid confusion, and to prevent future litigants from 272, 50 N.W., 128; Idaho Power & Light Co. v. Blomquist[1916], 26 Idaho, 222;
claiming that the NCIP has exclusive jurisdiction, the Court should remind the 141 Pac, 1083, Ann. Cas. [1916 E], p. 282, where these principles concerning
NCIP and other administrative bodies to refrain from claiming that they have provisos are applied.)
exclusive jurisdiction when no such jurisdiction is conferred by law.
10 Section 15 of the IPRA.
Accordingly, the NCIP's Implementing Rules and Regulations, which state that
the NCIP has exclusive jurisdiction45 should be modified to read "primary 11 Supra note 9.
jurisdiction."
12Chapter III grants the ICCs/IPs the right to own and possess their ancestral
Conclusion domains/lands including the right to: claim ownership; develop; not to be
relocated; be resettled, and to return in case of displacement; regulate the entry
In sum, the law's intent is neither to grant the NCIP sole jurisdiction over of migrants; access integrated systems for the management of inland waters and
disputes involving ICCs/IPs, nor to disregard the rights of non-ICCs/IPs under air space; claim parts of reservations; resolve land conflicts in accord with
national laws. However, the NCIP maintains primary jurisdiction over: (i) customary laws of the area; transfer lands to/among the members of the same
adverse claims and border disputes arising from delineation of ancestral ICCs/IPs; redeem property sold to a non-member of an ICC/IP, whenever
domains/lands; (ii) cancellation of fraudulently issued CADTs; and (iii) disputes necessary.
and violations of ICCs/IPs rights between members of the same ICC/IP.
13Chapter IV grants ICCs/IPs the right to: use their own justice system, conflict
For these reasons, I vote to grant the petition. The RTC should forthwith resolution institutions and peace building processes; determine their priorities
continue with the injunction case. for development; form tribal barangays.

Endnotes:
14Chapter V grants the ICCs/IPs the right to: equal protection of laws;
protection during armed conflicts; equal employment opportunities and
benefits; associate and to collectively bargain; basic services. In addition, IPRA
1Rollo, pp. 62-63. declares that ICC/IP women shall enjoy equal rights and opportunities with
men.
2Marcelo G. Ganaden, et al. v. The Hon. Court of Appeals, et al., 665 Phil. 267
(2011). See Siasoco v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 132753, February 15, 1999, 103
15Chapter VI grants the ICCs/IPs the right to: preserve and protect their culture,
SCAD 430, 303 SCRA 186. traditions and institutions; access to education; practice and revitalize their
traditions and customs; restitution of intellectual property taken without their
4 See Delbros v. IAC, G.R. No. L-72566, April 12, 1988, 159 SCRA 533. free consent; maintain and protect their religious and cultural sites; use and
control ceremonial objects; repatriate human remains; full ownership, control
5Mendoza v. Germino, 650 Phil. 81 (2010), citing Morta, Sr, v. Occidental, G.R. No. and protection of their cultural and intellectual rights; prevent access to
123417, June 10, 1999, 308 SCRA 167. biological, genetic resources and indigenous knowledge without their free and
prior consent; receive from the national government funds earmarked for their
6 Page 12 of the Ponencia. archaeological and historical sites.

7 Section 19 (1), Batas Pambansa Blg. 129.


16 Section 7 of the IPRA.

8Nuñezv. SLTEAS Phoenix Solutions, Inc, G.R. No. 1 80542, April 12, 2010, 618
17 Section 8 of the IPRA.
SCRA 142. 18 Section 21 of the IPRA.
Group.
19 Section 24 of the IPRA.
30 Sec. 46 (b) of the IPRA.
20 Section 33 of the IPRA.
31 Section 50 of the IPRA.
21 Section 35 of the IPRA.
32 The CONSTITUTION, Section 5, Art. XII.
22 SECTION 72. Punishable Acts and Applicable Penalties. — Any person who
commits violation of any of the provisions of this Act, such as, but not limited to, 33 Section 2 (b) of the IPRA.
unauthorized and/or unlawful intrusion upon any ancestral lands or domains as
stated in Sec. 10, Chapter III, or shall commit any of the prohibited acts 34G.R. No. 135385, 400 Phil. 904 (2000); In this case, the divided Court upheld
mentioned in Sections 21 and 24, Chapter V, Section 33, Chapter VI hereof, shall the IPRA's Constitutionality.
be punished in accordance with the customary laws of the ICCs/IPs concerned:
Provided, That no such penalty shall be cruel, degrading or inhuman 35 Id., Separate Opinion.
punishment: Provided, further, That neither shall the death penalty or excessive
fines be imposed. This provision shall be without prejudice to the right of any 36 Supra note 26.
ICCs/IPs to avail of the protection of existing laws. In which case, any person
who violates any provision of this Act shall, upon conviction, be punished by 37 CONSTITUTION, Art. Ill, Sec. 1.
imprisonment of not less than nine (9) months but not more than twelve (12)
years or a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000) nor 38The IPRA classified claims as either communal or individual. The word
more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000) or both such fine and "claim" or "claims" appeared fifteen times in the IPRA in different sections and
imprisonment upon the discretion of the court. In addition, he shall be obliged sub-sections, all of which are connected with ancestral domains and
to pay to the ICCs/IPs concerned whatever damage may have been suffered by lands: First, under Sections 3 (a) in defining ancestral domain; second, Section
the latter as a consequence of the unlawful act. 3 (b) in defining Ancestral Lands; third, Sec. 3 (e) in defining Communal
Claims; fourth, in Sec. 3 (h) in classifying ICCs/IPs; fifth, in Sec. 3 (j) on defining
23 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionarv/without prejudice. individual claims; sixth, in Sec. 3 (1) in defining native titles; seventh, Sec. 4 on
the concept of ancestral lands; eighth, in Sec. 7 (a) on the right of ownership of
24 Section 72 of the IPRA. ancestral domains; ninth, in Sec. 7 (g) on the right to claim parts of
reservations; tenth, in Sec. 52 (d) on proof of Ancestral Domain
25 Under Section 46 (g), the NClP-Legal Affairs Office (NCIP-LAO) shall conduct Claims; eleventh, in Sec. 52 (h) discussing when NCIP can favorably endorse an
preliminary investigations on violations of 1CC/IP rights and on the basis of its action upon a claim on Ancestral Land; twelfth, in Sec. 53 in the Identification,
findings, initiate the filing of appropriate legal or administrative action to the Delineation and Certification of Ancestral Lands; in sec. 54 on fraudulent
NCIP. The Legal or Administrative Action that Section 46 (g) refers to is the claims; thirteenth, in Sec. 62 on resolving adverse claims in delineated
action to enforce punishment under customary laws. ancestral lands; fourteenth, in Sec. 63 on the applicability of laws with respect
to claims of ownership of property disputes, and fifteenth, under section 66.
26 See Tahada v. Tuvera, G.R. No. L-63915 April 24, 1985, 146 SCRA 446.
39SECTION 62. Resolution of Conflicts. — In cases of conflicting interests, where
27 Section 46 (g) of the IPRA. there are adverse claims within the ancestral domains as delineated in the
survey plan, and which cannot be resolved, the NCIP shall hear and decide, after
28The IPRA is the product of Senate Bill 1728 and House Bill 9125. The bill notice to the proper parties, the disputes arising from the delineation of such
originated from the Senate, and was the consolidation of four separate bills: S.B. ancestral domains: Provided, That if the dispute is between and/or among
Nos. 343, 618, 1476, and 1486. Then as senator, former President Gloria ICCs/IPs regarding the traditional boundaries of their respective ancestral
Macapagal-Arroyo authored Senate Bill No. 618, which proposed the creation of domains, customary process shall be followed. The NCIP shall promulgate the
the NCIP. necessary rules and regulations to carry out its adjudicatory functions:
Provided, further, That any decision, order, award or ruling of the NCIP on any
29 July 30, 1996 Committee on Cultural Communities; Senate Technical Working ancestral domain dispute or on any matter pertaining to the application,
implementation, enforcement and interpretation of this Act may be brought for 5. Cases involving Projects, Programs, Activities within ancestral
Petition for Review to the Court of Appeals within fifteen (15) days from receipt lands/domains being implemented without the required FPIC
of a copy thereof. of the affected/host IPs/ICCs;cralawlawlibrary
6. Petitions for annotation on CADTs and CALTs or cancellations
40 Section 54 of the IPRA. thereof, except notice of Us pendens and those that will result
to transfer of ownership;cralawlawlibrary
41The Commission, through its Regional Offices, shall have exclusive original 7. Actions for damages including, but not limited to, claims for
jurisdictionover all claims and disputes involving rights of indigenous people: royalties and other benefits.
Provided, however, that no such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP unless the 8. Cases affecting property rights, claims of ownership, hereditary
parties have exhausted all remedies under their customary laws. For this succession, and settlement of land disputes, between and
purpose a Certification shall be issued by the Council who participated in the among ICCs/IPs that have not been settled under customary
attempt to settle the dispute that the same has not been resolved, which laws; and
certification shall be a condition precedent to the filing of a petition with the 9. Such other cases analogous to the foregoing.
Commission, (underscoring ours)
B. Original and Exclusive Jurisdiction of the Commission En Banc (emphasis
42October 9, 1997; Bicameral Conference Meeting on the Disagreeing supplied)
Provisions of SBN 1728 and HBN 9125.

43Phil
1. Petition for cancellation of registered CADTs and CALTs alleged
Pharmawealth, Inc. v. Pfizer, Inc., G.R. No. 167715, November 17, 2010, to have been fraudulently acquired by, and issued to, any
635 SCRA 140, 153. person or community as provided for under Section 54 of R.A.
44Pua
8371, provided that such action is filed within one (1) year
v. Citibank, G.R. No. 180064, September 16, 2013, 705 SCRA 684. from the date of registration;cralawlawlibrary
2. Actions for cancellations of Certification Precondition (CP),
45RULE III. The NCIP shall exercise jurisdiction over all claims and disputes Certificate of Non-Overlap (CNO), issued by the NCIP, as well
involving rights of the ICCs/IPs and all cases pertaining to the implementation, as, rescissions of FP1C-M0A; and
enforcement, and interpretation of R.A. 8371, including but not limited to the 3. Any other case that deems to vary, amend, or revoke
following: previously issued rulings, resolutions, or decisions of the
Commission en banc.
A. Original and Exclusive Jurisdiction of the Regional Hearing Office:
(emphasis supplied)

1. Cases involving disputes and controversies over ancestral


lands/domains of ICCs/IPs, except those which involve
oppositions to pending applications for CALT and
CADT;cralawlawlibrary
CONCURRING OPINION
2. Enforcement of compromise agreements or decisions rendered
by ICCs/IPs;cralawlawlibrary
3. Actions for redemption/reconveyance under Section 8 (b) of
R.A. 8371;cralawlawlibrary PEREZ, J.:
4. Interpretation, implementation, or enforcement of
Memorandum of Agreements (MOA) entered into by parties as
a result of the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) While I agree with the holding in this case that jurisdiction over the original and
process;cralawlawlibrary amended complaint, accion reivindicatoria and injunction, before the court a
quo, correctly lies with the Regional Trial Courts (RTCs): (1) an accion
reivindicatoria, a civil action involving interest in real property with an assessed
value of P683,760.00; and (2) an injunction, a civil action incapable of pecuniary
estimation, I offer my view on the complex nature of the jurisdiction of the Elders/Leaders who participated in the attempt to settle the dispute that the
National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) conferred in the Indigenous same has not been resolved, which certification shall be a condition precedent
People's Rights Act (IPRA), Republic Act No. 8371. to the filing of a petition with the NCIP. (Emphasis supplied).

Even if in this case the complaint was amended from an accion reivindicatoria to The conferment of such jurisdiction is consistent with state policy averred in the
one for injunction, both containing allegations clearly falling within the RTCs IPRA which recognizes and promotes all the rights of ICCs/IPs within the
jurisdiction, petitioners insist and maintain that as indigenous persons, except framework of the Constitution. Such is likewise reflected in the mandate of the
for two (2) petitioners, with the subject property claimed as their ancestral NCIP to protect and promote the interest and well-being of the ICCs/IPs with
land, the NCIP has exclusive and original jurisdiction over the case. For the due regard to their beliefs, customs, traditions and institutions.4
petitioners, with a submission that the ponencia already dismissed, the mere
fact that this case involves members of Indigenous Cultural The other provisions point out that the NCIP is the primary government agency
Communities/Indigenous Persons (ICCs/IPs) and their ancestral land, responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies, plans and
automatically endows the NCIP, under Section 66 of the IPRA, with jurisdiction programs to promote and protect the rights and well-being of the ICCs/IPs and
over petitioners' complaint. Even the NCIP is of the view of its original and the recognition of their ancestral domains as well as their rights
exclusive jurisdiction over both the original and amended complaints. Hence, thereto.5Nonetheless, the creation of such a government agency does not per
the two (2) Motions to Refer the Case to the Regional Hearing Office-National se grant it primary and/or exclusive and original jurisdiction, excluding the
Commission on Indigenous Peoples (RHO-NCIP) filed by the NCIP Hearing regular courts from taking cognizance, and exercising jurisdiction over cases
Officer before the court a quo. which may involve rights of ICCs/IPs.

I concur with the ponencia on the basis of the principle that "jurisdiction over Significantly, while Section 66 uses the word "all" to qualify the ICCs/IPs "claims
the subject matter of a case is conferred by law and determined by the and disputes" covered by NCIP jurisdiction, it unmistakably contains the
allegations in the complaint, and that the averments in the complaint and the proviso, that restrains or limits the initial generality of the grant of jurisdiction.
character of the relief sought are the ones to be consulted." As clearly delineated
in the ponencia, upon a careful review of Section 66 and based on the qualifying As outlined in the ponencia, the elements of the grant of jurisdiction to the NCIP
proviso, the NCIP shall have jurisdiction over claims and disputes involving are: (1) the claim and dispute involves the rights of ICCs/IPs; and (2) both
rights of ICCs/IPs only when they arise between or among parties belonging to parties have exhausted all remedies provided under their customary laws. Both
the same ICC/IP. And, as clearly alleged by the petitioners in their complaint, the elements must be present prior to the invocation and exercise of the NCIP's
defendants they impleaded are not indigenous people. jurisdiction.

I submit that the jurisdiction of the NCIP ought to be definitively drawn to settle We cannot, therefore, be confined to the first phrase that the NCIP shall have
doubts that still linger due to the implicit affirmation done in The City jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs and
Government of Baguio City, et al. v. Atty. Masweng, et al.1 of the NCIP's therefrom deduce primary sole NCIP jurisdiction over all ICCs/IPs claims and
jurisdiction over cases where one of the parties are not ICCs/IPs. disputes to the exclusion of the regular courts. If it were the legislative
intention that: (1) the NCIP exercise primary jurisdiction over, and/or (2) the
Jurisdiction is the power and authority, conferred by the Constitution and by regular courts be excluded from taking cognizance of, claims and disputes
statute, to hear and decide a case.2 The authority to decide a cause at all is what involving rights of ICCs/IPs, the legislature could have easily done so as in other
makes up jurisdiction. instances conferring primary, and original and exclusive jurisdiction to a
specific administrative body.
The enabling statute, Section 66 of the IPRA, is the measure of quasi-judicial
powers the NCIP may exercise:3 Primary jurisdiction, also known as the doctrine of Prior Resort, is the power
and authority vested by the Constitution or by statute upon an administrative
Sec. 66. Jurisdiction of the NCIP. - The NCIP, through its regional offices, shall body to act upon a matter by virtue of its specific competence.6 The doctrine of
have jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs: primary jurisdiction prevents the court from arrogating unto itself the authority
Provided, however, That no such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP unless to resolve a controversy which falls under the jurisdiction of a tribunal
the parties have exhausted all remedies provided under their customary possessed with special competence.7 In one occasion, we have held that regular
laws. For this purpose, a certification shall be issued by the Council of courts cannot or should not determine a controversy involving a question which
is within the jurisdiction of the administrative tribunal before the question is Accordingly, Congress enacted R.A. 6770, otherwise known as "The
resolved by the administrative tribunal, where the question demands the Ombudsman Act of 1989." Section 15 thereof provides:
exercise of sound administrative discretion requiring the special knowledge,
experience and services of the administrative tribunal to determine technical Sec. 15. Powers, Functions and Duties. - The Office of the Ombudsman shall have
and intricate matters of fact, and a uniformity of ruling is essential to comply the following powers, functions and duties:
with the purposes of the regulatory statute administered.8 The objective of the
doctrine of primary jurisdiction is "to guide a court in determining whether it (1) Investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person, any act
should refrain from exercising its jurisdiction until after an administrative or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or
agency has determined some question arising in the proceeding before the omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. It has primary
court."9 jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of
this primary jurisdiction, it may take over, at any stage, from any investigatory
Additionally, primary jurisdiction does not necessarily denote exclusive agency of the government, the investigation of such cases.
jurisdiction.10 It applies where a claim is originally cognizable in the courts and
comes into play whenever enforcement of the claim requires the resolution of Pursuant to the authority given to the Ombudsman by the Constitution and the
issues which, under a regulatory scheme, has been placed within the special Ombudsman Act of 1989 to lay down its own rules and procedure, the Office of
competence of an administrative body; in such case, the judicial process is the Ombudsman promulgated Administrative Order No. 8, dated November 8,
suspended pending referral of such issues to the administrative body for its 1990, entitled, Clarifying and Modifying Certain Rules of Procedure of the
view.11 In some instances, the Constitution and statutes grant the administrative Ombudsman, to wit:
body primary jurisdiction, concurrent with either similarly authorized
government agencies or the regular courts, such as the distinct kinds of A complaint filed in or taken cognizance of by the Office of the Ombudsman
jurisdiction bestowed by the Constitution and statutes on the Ombudsman. charging any public officer or employee including those in government-owned
or controlled corporations, with an act or omission alleged to be illegal, unjust,
The case of Honasan II v. The Panel of Investigating Prosecutors of the improper or inefficient is an Ombudsman case. Such a complaint may be the
Department of Justice12delineated primary and concurrent jurisdiction as subject of criminal or administrative proceedings, or both.
opposed to original and exclusive jurisdiction vested by both the Constitution
and statutes13 on the Ombudsman concurrent, albeit primary, with the For purposes of investigation and prosecution, Ombudsman cases involving
Department of Justice. criminal offenses may be subdivided into two classes, to wit: (I) those cognizable
by the Sandiganbayan, and (2) those falling under the jurisdiction of the regular
Paragraph (1) of Section 13, Article XI of the Constitution, viz: courts. The difference between the two, aside from the category of the courts
wherein they are filed, is on the authority to investigate as distinguished from the
SEC. 13. The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the following powers, functions, authority to prosecute, such cases.
and duties:
The power to investigate or conduct a preliminary investigation on any
1. Investigate on its own, or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of Ombudsman case may be exercised by an investigator or prosecutor of the Office
any public official, employee, office or agency, when such act or omission of the Ombudsman, or by any Provincial or City Prosecutor or their assistance,
appears to be illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient. either in their regular capacities or as deputized Ombudsman prosecutors.

does not exclude other government agencies tasked by law to investigate and The prosecution of cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan shall be under the
prosecute cases involving public officials. If it were the intention of the framers direct exclusive control and supervision of the Office of the Ombudsman. In cases
of the 1987 Constitution, they would have expressly declared the exclusive cognizable by the regular Courts, the control and supervision by the Office of the
conferment of the power to the Ombudsman. Instead, paragraph (8) of the same Ombudsman is only in Ombudsman cases in the sense defined above. The law
Section 13 of the Constitution provides: recognizes a concurrence of jurisdiction between the Office of the Ombudsman and
other investigative agencies of the government in the prosecution of cases
(8) Promulgate its rules of procedure and exercise such other powers or cognizable by regular courts.
perform such functions or duties as may be provided by law.
It is noteworthy that as early as 1990, the Ombudsman had properly
differentiated the authority to investigate cases from the authority to thus:
prosecute cases. It is on this note that the Court will first dwell on the
nature or extent of the authority of the Ombudsman to investigate cases. As protector of the people, the office of the Ombudsman has the power, function
Whence, focus is directed to the second sentence of paragraph (1), Section and duty to "act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against
15 of the Ombudsman Act which specifically provides that the public officials" (Sec. 12) and to "investigate x x x any act or omission of any
Ombudsman has primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the public official x x x when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust,
Sandiganbayan, and, in the exercise of this primary jurisdiction, it may improper or inefficient." (Sec. 13.) The Ombudsman is also empowered to
take over, at any stage, from any investigating agency of the government, "direct the officer concerned," in this case the Special Prosecutor, "to take
the investigation of such cases. appropriate action against a public official xxx and to recommend his
prosecution" (Sec. 13).
That the power of the Ombudsman to investigate offenses involving public
officers or employees is not exclusive but is concurrent with other The clause "any [illegal] act or omission of any public official" is broad enough
similarly authorized agencies of the government such as the provincial, to embrace any crime committed by a public official. The law does not qualify
city and state prosecutors has long been settled in several decisions of the the nature of the illegal act or omission of the public official or employee that
Court. (Emphasis supplied) the Ombudsman may investigate. It does not require that the act or omission be
related to or be connected with or arise from, the performance of official duty.
In Cojuangco, Jr. vs. Presidential Commission on Good Government, decided in Since the law does not distinguish, neither should we.
1990, the Court expressly declared:
The reason for the creation of the Ombudsman in the 1987 Constitution and for
A reading of the foregoing provision of the Constitution does not show that the the grant to it of broad investigative authority, is to insulate said office from the
power of investigation including preliminary investigation vested on the long tentacles of officialdom that are able to penetrate judges' and fiscals'
Ombudsman is exclusive. offices, and others involved in the prosecution of erring public officials, and
through the exertion of official pressure and influence, quash, delay, or dismiss
Interpreting the primary jurisdiction of the Ombudsman under Section 15 (1) of investigations into malfeasances and misfeasances committed by public officers.
the Ombudsman Act, the Court held in said case: It was deemed necessary, therefore, to create a special office to
investigate all criminal complaints against public officers regardless of whether
Under Section 15 (1) of Republic Act No. 6770 aforecited, the Ombudsman has or not the acts or omissions complained of are related to or arise from the
primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan so that it may performance of the duties of their office. The Ombudsman Act makes perfectly
take over at any stage from any investigatory agency of the government, the clear that the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman encompasses "all kinds of
investigation of such cases.The authority of the Ombudsman to investigate malfeasance, misfeasance, and non-feasancethat have been committed by any
offenses involving public officers or employees is not exclusive but is concurrent officer or employee as mentioned in Section 13 hereof, during his tenure of
with other similarly authorized agencies of the government. Such investigatory office" (Sec. 16, R.A. 6770).
agencies referred to include the PCGG and the provincial and city prosecutors and
their assistants, the state prosecutors and the judges of the municipal trial courts Indeed, the labors of the constitutional commission that created the
and municipal circuit trial court. Ombudsman as a special body to investigate erring public officials would be
wasted if its jurisdiction were confined to the investigation of minor and less
In other words the provision of the law has opened up the authority to conduct grave offenses arising from, or related to, the duties of public office, but would
preliminary investigation of offenses cognizable by the Sandiganbayan to all exclude those grave and terrible crimes that spring from abuses of official
investigatory agencies of the government duly authorized to conduct a powers and prerogatives, for it is the investigation of the latter where the need
preliminary investigation under Section 2, Rule 112 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal for an independent, fearless, and honest investigative body, like the
Procedure with the only qualification that the Ombudsman may take over at any Ombudsman, is greatest.
stage of such investigation in the exercise of his primary jurisdiction.
At first blush, there appears to be conflicting views in the rulings of the Court in
A little over a month later, the Court, in Deloso vs. Domingo, pronounced that the theCojuangco, Jr. case and the Deloso case. However, the contrariety is more
Ombudsman, under the authority of Section 13 (1) of the 1987 Constitution, has apparent than real. In subsequent cases, the Court elucidated on the nature of
jurisdiction to investigate any crime committed by a public official, elucidating the powers of the Ombudsman to investigate.
— the first law on the Sandiganbayan; (b) Pres. Decree No. 1606 which
In 1993, the Court held in Sanchez vs. Demetriou, that while it may be true that expressly repealed Pres. Decree No. 1486; (c) Section 20 of Batas Pambansa Blg.
the Ombudsman has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute any illegal act or 129; (d) Pres. Decree No. 1860; and (e) Pres. Decree No. 1861.
omission of any public official, the authority of the Ombudsman to investigate is
merely a primary and not an exclusive authority, thus: The latest law on the Sandiganbayan, Sec. 1 of Pres. Decree No. 1861 reads as
follows:
The Ombudsman is indeed empowered under Section 15, paragraph (1) of RA
6770 to investigate and prosecute any illegal act or omission of any public "SECTION 1. Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 1606 is hereby amended to
official. However as we held only two years ago in the case of Aguinaldo vs. read as follows:
Domagas, this authority "is not an exclusive authority but rather a shared or
concurrent authority in respect of the offense charged." 'SEC. 4. Jurisdiction. - The Sandiganbayan shall exercise: '(a) Exclusive original
jurisdiction in all cases involving:
Petitioners finally assert that the information and amended information filed in
this case needed the approval of the Ombudsman. It is not disputed that the (2) Other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and employees in
information and amended information here did not have the approval of the relation to their office, including those employed in government-owned or
Ombudsman. However, we do not believe that such approval was necessary at controlled corporation, whether simple or complexed with other crimes, where
all. In Deloso v. Domingo, 191 SCRA 545 (1990), the Court held that the the penalty prescribed by law is higher that prision correccional or
Ombudsman has authority to investigate charges of illegal acts or omissions on imprisonment for six (6) years, or a fme of P6,000: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, that
the part of any public official, i.e., any crime imputed to a public official. It must, offenses or felonies mentioned in this paragraph where the penalty prescribed
however, be pointed out that the authority of the Ombudsman to investigate "any by law does not exceed prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years or
[illegal] act or omission of any public official" (191 SCRA 550) is not an exclusive a fme of P6,000 shall be tried by the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan
authority but rather a shared or concurrent authority in respect of the offense Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court."
charged, i.e., the crime of sedition. Thus, the non-involvement of the office of the
Ombudsman in the present case does not have any adverse legal consequence A perusal of the aforecited law shows that two requirements must concur under
upon the authority of the panel of prosecutors to file and prosecute the Sec. 4 (a) (2) for an offense to fall under the Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction,
information or amended information. namely: the offense committed by the public officer must be in relation to his
office and the penalty prescribed be higher then prision correccional or
In fact, other investigatory agencies of the government such as the Department of imprisonment for six (6) years, or a fine of P6,000.00.
Justice in connection with the charge of sedition, and the Presidential Commission
on Good Government, in ill gotten wealth cases, may conduct the investigation. Applying the law to the case at bench, we find that although the second
requirement has been met, the first requirement is wanting. A review of these
In Natividad vs. Felix, a 1994 case, where the petitioner municipal mayor Presidential Decrees, except Batas Pambansa Big. 129, would reveal that the
contended that it is the Ombudsman and not the provincial fiscal who has the crime committed by public officers or employees must be "in relation to their
authority to conduct a preliminary investigation over his case for alleged office" if it is to fall within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. This phrase
Murder, the Court held: which is traceable to Pres. Decree No. 1468, has been retained by Pres. Decree
No. 1861 as a requirement before the Ombudsman can acquire primary
The Deloso case has already been re-examined in two cases, namely Aguinaldo jurisdiction on its power to investigate.
vs. Domagas and Sanchez vs. Demetriou. However, by way of amplification, we
feel the need for tracing the history of the legislation relative to the jurisdiction It cannot be denied that Pres. Decree No. 1861 is in pan materia to Article XI,
of Sandiganbayan since the Ombudsman's primary jurisdiction is dependent on Sections 12 and 13 of the 1987 Constitution and the Ombudsman Act of 1989
the cases cognizable by the former. because, as earlier mentioned, the Ombudsman's power to investigate is
dependent on the cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan. Statutes are in pari
In the process, we shall observe how the policy of the law, with reference to the materia when they relate to the same person or thing or to the same class of
subject matter, has been in a state of flux. persons or things, or object, or cover the same specific or particular subject
matter.
These laws, in chronological order, are the following: (a) Pres. Decree No. 1486,
It is axiomatic in statutory construction that a statute must be interpreted, not Ombudsman to conduct the preliminary investigation for complaints filed
only to be consistent with itself, but also to harmonize with other laws on the same with it because the DOJ's authority to act as the principal law agency of the
subject matter, as to form a complete, coherent and intelligible system. The rule is government and investigate the commission of crimes under the Revised
expressed in the maxim, "interpretare et concordare legibus est optimus Penal Code is derived from the Revised Administrative Code which had
interpretandi, " or every statute must be so construed and harmonized with other been held in the Natividad case as not being contrary to the Constitution.
statutes as to form a uniform system of jurisprudence. Thus, in the application and Thus, there is not even a need to delegate the conduct of the preliminary
interpretation of Article XI, Sections 12 and 13 of the 1987 Constitution and the investigation to an agency which has the jurisdiction to do so in the first
Ombudsman Act of 1989, Pres. Decree No. 1861 must be taken into consideration. place. However, the Ombudsman may assert its primary jurisdiction at
It must be assumed that when the 1987 Constitution was written, its framers had any stage of the investigation. (Emphasis supplied)
in mind previous statutes relating to the same subject matter. In the absence of
any express repeal or amendment, the 1987 Constitution and the Ombudsman Act I referred to Honasan II to emphasize the point that the NCIP cannot be said to
of 1989 are deemed in accord with existing statute, specifically, Pres. Decree No. have primary jurisdiction over all the ICC/IP cases comparable to what the
1861. Ombudsman has in cases falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan. We do not find such specificity in the grant of jurisdiction to the
R.A. No. 8249 which amended Section 4, paragraph (b) of the Sandiganbayan NCIP in Section 66 of the IPRA.
Law (P.D. 1861) likewise provides that for other offenses, aside from those
enumerated under paragraphs (a) and (c), to fall under the exclusive Neither does the IPRA confer original and exclusive jurisdiction to the NCIP
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, they must have been committed by public over all claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs.
officers or employees in relation to their office.
Here, I revert to the point on the investiture of primary and/or original and
In summation, the Constitution, Section 15 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989 exclusive jurisdiction to an administrative body which in all instances of such
and Section 4 of the Sandiganbayan Law, as amended, do not give to the grant was explicitly provided in the Constitution and/or the enabling statute, to
Ombudsman exclusive jurisdiction to investigate offenses committed by wit:
public officers or employees. The authority of the Ombudsman to
investigate offenses involving public officers or employees is concurrent 1. Commission on Elections' exclusive original jurisdiction over all elections
with other government investigating agencies such as provincial, city and contests;14
state prosecutors. However, the Ombudsman, in the exercise of its
primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan, may 2. Securities and Exchange Commission's original and exclusive jurisdiction
take over, at any stage, from any investigating agency of the government, over all cases enumerated under Section 5 of Presidential Decree No. 902-
the investigation of such cases. A15 prior to its transfer to courts of general jurisdiction or the appropriate
Regional Trial Court by virtue of Section 4 of the Securities Regulation
In other words, respondent DOJ Panel is not precluded from conducting Code;cralawlawlibrary
any investigation of cases against public officers involving violations of
penal laws but if the cases fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the 3. Energy Regulatory Commission's original and exclusive jurisdiction over all
Sandiganbayan, then respondent Ombudsman may, in the exercise of its cases contesting rates, fees, fines and penalties imposed by it in the exercise of
primary jurisdiction take over at any stage. (Emphasis supplied) its powers, functions and responsibilities;16

xxx xxx 4. Department of Agrarian Reform's17 primary jurisdiction to determine and


adjudicate agrarian reform matters and its exclusive original jurisdiction over
To reiterate for emphasis, the power to investigate or conduct preliminary all matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform except those falling
investigation on charges against any public officers or employees may be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and the
exercised by an investigator or by any provincial or city prosecutor or Department of Environment and Natural Resources;18
their assistants, either in their regular capacities or as deputized
Ombudsman prosecutors. The fact that all prosecutors are in effect 5. Construction' Industry Arbitration Commission's original and exclusive
deputized Ombudsman prosecutors under the OMB-DOJ Circular is a mere jurisdiction over disputes involving contracts of construction, whether
superfluity. The DOJ Panel need not be authorized nor deputized by the government or private, as long as the parties agree to submit the same to
voluntary arbitration;19 within thirty (30) working days after submission of the case by the parties for
decision, the following cases involving all workers, whether agricultural or non-
6. Voluntary arbitrator or panel of voluntary arbitrators' original and exclusive agricultural:
jurisdiction over all unresolved grievances arising from the interpretation or
implementation of the collective bargaining agreement and those arising from 1. Unfair labor practice cases;cralawlawlibrary
the interpretation or enforcement of company personnel policies; 20
2. Those that workers may file involving wages, hours of work and other terms
7. The National Labor Relations Commission's original and exclusive jurisdiction and conditions of employment;cralawlawlibrary
over cases listed in Article 217 of the Labor Code involving all workers, whether
agricultural or non-agricultural; and 3. All money claims of workers, including those based on non-payment or
underpayment of-wages, overtime compensation, separation pay and other
8. Board of Commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration's primary and benefits provided by law or appropriate agreement, except claims for
exclusive jurisdiction over all deportation cases.21 employees' compensation, social security, medicare and maternity
benefits;cralawlawlibrary
That the proviso found in Section 66 of the IPRA is exclusionary, specifically
excluding disputes involving rights of IPs/ICCs where the opposing party is non- 4. Cases involving household services; and
ICC/IP, is reflected in the IPRA's emphasis of customs and customary law to
govern in the lives of the ICCs/IPs. 5. Cases arising from any violation of Article 265 of this Code, including
questions involving the legality of strikes and lockouts.
Indeed, non-ICCs/IPs cannot be subjected to the special and limited jurisdiction
of the NCIP even if the dispute involves rights of ICCs/IPs since the NCIP has no (b) The Commission shall have exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all cases
power and authority to decide on a controversy involving as well rights of decided by Labor Arbiters."
non-ICCs/IPs which may be brought before a court of general jurisdiction
within the legal bounds of rights and remedies. Even as a practical concern, While paragraph 3 above refers to "all money claims of workers," it is not
non-IPs and non-members of ICCs ought to be excepted from the NCIP's necessary to suppose that the entire universe of money claims that might
competence since it cannot determine the right-duty correlative, and breach be asserted by workers against their employers has been absorbed into
thereof, between opposing parties who are ICCs/IPs and non-ICCs/IPs, the the original and exclusive jurisdiction of Labor Arbiters. In the first place,
controversy necessarily contemplating application of other laws, not only paragraph 3 should be read not in isolation from but rather within the context
customs and customary law of the ICCs/IPs. In short, the NCIP is only vested formed by paragraph 1 (relating to unfair labor practices), paragraph 2 (relating
with jurisdiction to determine the rights of ICCs/IPs based on customs and to claims concerning terms and conditions of employment), paragraph 4 (claims
customary law in a given controversy against another ICC/IP, but not the relating to household services, a particular species of employer-employee
applicable law for each and every kind of ICC/IP controversy even against an relations), and paragraph 5 (relating to certain activities prohibited to
opposing non-ICC/IP. employees or to employers). It is evident that there is a unifying element which
runs through paragraphs 1 to 5 and that is, that they all refer to cases or
In San Miguel Corporation v. NLRC,22 the Court delineated the jurisdiction of the disputes arising out of or in connection with an employer-employee
Labor Arbiter and the NLRC, specifically paragraph 3 thereof, as all money relationship. This is, in other words, a situation where the rule of noscitur a
claims of workers, limited to "cases arising from employer-employee relations." sociis may be usefully invoked in clarifying the scope of paragraph 3, and any
The same clause was not expressly carried over, in printer's ink, in Article 217 other paragraph of Article 217 of the Labor Code, as amended. We reach the
as it exists today, but the Court ruled that such was a limitation on the above conclusion from an examination of the terms themselves of Article 217,
jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC, thus: as last amended by BP Blg. 227, and even though earlier versions of Article 217
of the Labor Code expressly brought within the jurisdiction of the Labor
The jurisdiction of Labor Arbiters and the National Labor Relations Commission Arbiters and the NLRC "cases arising from employer-employee relations,'"
is outlined in Article 217 of the Labor Code xxx: which clause was not expressly carried over, in printer's ink, in Article 217 as it
exists today. For it cannot be presumed that money claims of workers which do
"ART. 217. Jurisdiction of Labor Arbiters and the Commission. — (a) The Labor not arise out of or in connection with their employer-employee relationship,
Arbiters shall have the original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide and which would therefore fall within the general jurisdiction of the regular
courts of justice, were intended by the legislative authority to be taken away
from the jurisdiction of the courts and lodged with Labor Arbiters on an 10Honasan II v. The Panel of Investigating Prosecutors of the Department of
exclusive basis. The Court, therefore, believes and so holds that the "money Justice, G.R. No. 159747, April 13, 2004, 427 SCRA 46, 67.
claims of workers" referred to in paragraph 3 of Article 217 embraces money
claims which arise out of or in connection the employer-employee relationship, 11Supra note 9.
or some aspect or incident of such relationship. Put a little differently, that
money claims of workers which now fall within the original and exclusive 12Supra note 10.
jurisdiction of Labor Arbiters are those money claims which have some
reasonable causal connection with the employer-employee relationship. 13Republic Act No. 6770, known as "The Ombudsman Act of 1989" and the
(Emphasis supplied) "1987 Administrative Code."

Clearly, the phraseology of "all claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs" 14 Article IX-C, Section 2, paragraph 2.
does not necessarily grant the NCIP all-encompassing jurisdiction whenever the
case involves rights of ICCs/IPs without regard to the status of the parties, i.e. SEC. 2. The Commission on elections shall exercise the following powers and
whether the opposing parties are both ICCs/IPs. functions:

In all, for the reason that under the provisions of the IPRA, specifically Section xxx
66 thereof, the jurisdiction of the NCIP is special and limited, confined only to
cases involving rights of IPs/ICCs, where both such parties belong to the same (2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the
ICC/IP, the original and amended complaint herein properly fall within the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city
jurisdiction of the regular courts, specifically the RTC. Thus, I concur in the officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal
denial of the petition. officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective
barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction, xxx
Endnotes:
15Section 5. In addition to the regulatory and adjudicative functions of the
Securities and Exchange Commission over corporations, partnerships and other
1 G.R. No. 180206, 597 Phil. 668 (2009). forms of associations registered with it as expressly granted under existing laws
and decrees, it shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and
2Bank of Commerce v. Planters Development Bank, G.R. Nos. 154470-71 and G.R. decide cases involving.
Nos. 154589-90, September 24, 2012, 681 SCRA521 556
a) Devices or schemes employed by or any acts, of the board of directors,
3 Id. business associates, its officers or partnership, amounting to fraud and
misrepresentation which may be detrimental to the interest of the public
4 Section 39 IPRA. and/or of the stockholder, partners, members of associations or organizations
registered with the Commission.
5 Section 38 IPRA.
b) Controversies arising out of intra-corporate or partnership relations,
6Cristobal v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 125339, June 22, 1998, 291 SCRA 122, between and among stockholders, members, or associates; between any or all of
132. them and the corporation, partnership or association of which they are
stockholders, members or associates, respectively; and between such
7 See Crusaders Broadcasting System, Inc. v. NTC, 388 Phil. 624, 636 (2000). corporation, partnership or association and the state insofar as it concerns their
individual franchise or right to exist as such entity; and
8Sps. Abejo v. Judge De la Cruz, 233 Phil. 668, 684-685 (1987).
c) Controversies in the election or appointments of directors, trustees, officers
9Fabia v. Court of Appeals, 437 Phil. 389, 403 (2002). or managers of such corporations, partnerships or associations.
16 RA 9136, Section 43, paragraph u. filed by respondents against petitioners before the Regional Trial Court of
Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon on March 3, 2004, docketed as Civil Case No. 04-03-
17Including the creation of the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication 01. This Petition for Accion Reivindicatoria was subsequently amended by
board (DARAB). respondents into a Complaint for injunction, damages, and other
relief4 (Amended Complaint).
18The DAR's jurisdiction under Section 50 of RA 6657 is two-fold: (1)
Essentially executive and pertains to the enforcement and administration of On March 20, 2004, petitioners Brazil and Macapayag filed their Answer to the
laws, carrying them into practical operation and enforcing their due observance, original Complaint, asserting that respondents had no cause of action against
while the second is judicial and involves the determination of rights and them.5
obligations of the parties.
On March 23, 2004, the other petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss. They argued
19Except for disputes arising from employer-employee relationships which that the Regional Trial Court had no jurisdiction over the case. They asserted
shall continue to be covered by the Labor Cdde of the Philippines; EO No. 1008 that they were members of the Miarayon, Lapok, Lirongan Talaandig Tribal
or the Construction Industry Arbitration Law. Association or the Talaandig Tribe, and claimed residence in Barangay
Miarayon, Talakag, Bukidnon. They noted that on July 25, 2003, Certificate of
20 Articles 260-261 of the Labor Code. Ancestral Domain Claim No. R-10-TAL-0703-0010 was issued in favor of the
Talaandig Tribe through NCIP En Bane Resolution No. 08-2003. On October 30,
21 Administrative Code of 1987, Book IV, Title III, Chapter 10, Section 31. 2003, this Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim was formally awarded to the
Talaandig Tribe by former President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo. The Certificate
22 G.R. No. 80774, 244 Phil. 741, 747 (1988). covered a total area of 11,105.5657 hectares in Barangay Miarayon, Talakag,
Bukidnon.6 Petitioners argued that as the case filed by respondents entailed a
dispute over the ancestral land of an ICC/IP, it fell within the exclusive original
jurisdiction of the NCIP.7

CONCURRING OPINION On July 1, 2004, the NCIP filed a Motion to Refer the Case to the Regional
Hearing Office - National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (Motion to Refer).
As with petitioners who filed the Motion to Dismiss, the NCIP insisted that the
LEONEN, J..: Regional Trial Court did not have jurisdiction over the case.8

I concur with the ponencia in holding that respondents' action, alleged to be On July 5, 2004, respondents filed a Motion to Amend and Supplement the
involving a claim over the ancestral domain of an indigenous cultural original Complaint into one for injunction, damages, and other relief. Attached
community/indigenous people (ICC/IP), does not fall within the exclusive to this Motion was the amended Complaint.9
original jurisdiction of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
On July 30, 3004, petitioners filed their Opposition to the Admission of the
A careful reading of Section 661 of Republic Act No. 8371, otherwise known as amended Complaint. On August 1, 2004, they also filed a Motion to Dismiss the
the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997, with particular emphasis on its amended Complaint, insisting on the Regional Trial Court's lack of jurisdiction. 10
proviso will reveal that the jurisdiction of the NCIP is limited to disputes where
both parties are members of ICC/IPs and come from the same ethnolinguistic On August 10, 2004, the Regional Trial Court issued the Order granting the
group. Motion to Amend and Supplement. The same Order declared the NCIP's Motion
to Refer and petitioners' Motions to Dismiss moot and academic.11
Thus, the assailed Decision dated August 17, 2006 and Resolution dated July 4,
2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 00204-MIN must be affirmed. On August 25, 2004, petitioners filed another Motion to Refer and another
Motion to Dismiss.12
The present Petition for Review on Certiorari 2 is an offshoot of a Petition
for Accion Reivindicatoria with prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining On September 14, 2004, respondents filed their Opposition and a Motion for
order or preliminary prohibitory injunction with damages3 (Original Complaint) Judgment by Default.13
not belong to an indigenous cultural community.
On February 14, 2005, the Regional Trial Court issued the Order denying the
Motion to Refer, declaring petitioners (except Macapayag and Brazil, who had Section 38 of the Act created the NCIP to carry out the policies set forth in the
earlier filed an Answer) in default, and calling the case for pre-trial (against Indigenous Peoples Rights Act. Per Section 38, the NCIP "shall be the primary
Macapayag and Brazil) and for ex-parte presentation of evidence (against the government agency responsible for the formulation and implementation of
other petitioners). The court also issued a Writ of Preliminary Injunction subject policies, plans and programs to promote and protect the rights and well-being
to respondents' posting of a P100,000.00 bond.14 of the ICCs/IPs and the recognition of their ancestral domains as well as their
rights thereto." Section 39 provides for the NCIP's mandate to "protect and
Aggrieved, petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule promote the interest and well-being of the ICCs/IPs with due regard to their
65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure before the Court of Appeals. beliefs, customs, traditions and institutions."

In the Decision15 dated August 17, 2006, the Court of Appeals affirmed with Chapter IX of the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act pertains to the quasi-judicial
modification (i.e., lifted the order of default) the Regional Trial Court's February powers of the NCIP. Thus, Section 6920 expressly enables the NCIP to exercise
14, 2005 Order. In the Resolution dated July 4, 2007, the Court of Appeals powers that are necessary incidents of this quasi-judicial power: the
denied petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration. promulgation of rules and regulations; the administration of oaths; the power to
summon parties, issue subpoenas, and contempt power; and the power to issue
Hence, this Petition was filed. writs of injunction. Section 6821 enables the NCIP to issue writs of execution.
Section 6722 provides for the mode of appeal from decisions of the NCIP. Section
Petitioners pray that the Court of Appeals' August 17, 2006 Decision and July 4, 7023 bars inferior courts from restraining proceedings in the NCIP. Section
2007 Resolution be reversed and set aside and that a decision be rendered 6524 establishes a framework for resolving disputes by recognizing the primacy
declaring that the Regional Trial Court has no jurisdiction, enjoining the of customary laws and practices.
Regional Trial Court from proceeding, ordering that the case be referred to the
NCIP, and declaring void the Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued by the Section 66 specifically provides for the jurisdiction of the
Regional Trial Court. NCIP:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Petitioners insist that the NCIP has exclusive and original jurisdiction over the SEC. 66. Jurisdiction of the NCIP. The NCIP, through its regional offices, shall
case as it involves the ancestral domain of an ICC/IP. They also assail the have jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs:
amendment of the Complaint from accion reivindicatoria to one for injunction, Provided, however, That no such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP unless the
saying that the amendment was made merely to clothe the Regional Trial Court parties have exhausted all remedies provided under their customary laws. For
with jurisdiction and to downplay how the case is ultimately concerned with an this purpose, a certification shall be issued by the Council of Elders/Leaders
ICC/IP's rights over its ancestral domain. Likewise, they claim that the NCIP who participated in the attempt to settle the dispute that the same has not been
should not be deprived of jurisdiction merely on account of the Complaints' resolved, which certification shall be a condition precedent to the filing of a
failure to allege that parties to the case belong to ICCs/IPs. petition with the NCIP.ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

This case concerns the issue of which, between the Regional Trial Court and the Section 66's grant of jurisdiction is ostensibly cast in absolute terms:
NCIP, has jurisdiction over the case. "over all claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs."

The case filed by respondents does not fall within the scope of the NCIP's However, further into Section 66 are two clauses that qualify the NCIP's
jurisdiction as laid out in Section 6616 of the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act. jurisdiction. First is the proviso that "no such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP
unless the parties have exhausted all remedies provided under their customary
"Jurisdiction is the power and authority of [a] tribunal to hear, try and decide a laws. " Second is that "a certification . . . issued by the Council of Elders/Leaders
case."17Moreover, "[jurisdiction over a subject matter is conferred by law." 18 It who participated in the attempt to settle the dispute that the same has not been
could not be conferred by any other source, such as the parties' action or resolved . . . shall be a condition precedent to the filing of a petition with the NCIP.
conduct and "any judgment, order or resolution issued without it is void."19 "

The NCIP does not have jurisdiction over cases where one of the parties does A cursory reading of these clauses shows that they state a procedural
requirement (i.e., exhaustion of remedies under customary law) and a formal
requirement (i.e., certification issued by the Council of Elders/Leaders) that The phrase "their customary laws" is significant in two respects. First, "their" is
must first be complied with before the NCIP may take cognizance of a case. a plural possessive pronoun substituting for the noun phrase "the parties."
However, these procedural and formal requirements are not all there is to the Second, "their" is a possessive determiner indicating possession (or otherwise a
qualifying clauses of Section 66.chanrobleslaw sense of belonging) of the words that follow it.

II Section 66's use of the phrase "their customary laws" is, therefore, to say that
"the parties" have customary laws. Considering what the phrase "the parties"
Attention must be drawn to the proviso's choice of words. To reiterate, the refers to (as explained previously), it follows that both the petitioner(s) and the
proviso reads: "Provided, however, That no such dispute shall be brought to the respondent(s) must have or adhere to customary laws in order that a case
NCIP unless the partieshave exhausted all remedies provided between them may fall under the jurisdiction of the NCIP.
under their customary laws."
Section 3(f) of the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act defines "customary laws" as
The proviso uses the plural term "the parties." It also uses the plural "their," follows:
which is a possessive pronoun substituting for the noun phrase "the parties."
Section 3. Definition of Terms. — For purposes of this Act, the following terms
The use of the plural "the parties" necessarily means that the requirement of shall mean:
exhaustion of remedies provided under customary laws is a requirement that ....
is not exclusive to a singular party.
f) Customary Laws — refer to a body of written and/or unwritten rules, usages,
The basic framework of adversarial litigation, as is the case in our a jurisdiction, customs and practices traditionally and continually recognized, accepted and
is one that entails two (2) parties: first, the one initiating or bringing the action observed by respective ICCs/IPs[.] (Emphasis supplied)
(i.e., the plaintiff/complainant/ claimant/petitioner); and the one against whom
an action is initiated or brought (i.e., the defendant/respondent). It is evident that only those belonging to ICCs/IPs have or adhere to customary
laws. Since Section 66 refers to parties having customary laws, it follows that
Thus, for Section 66 to say that "the parties" must exhaust all remedies is to say the NCIP's jurisdiction, as defined in Section 66 of the Indigenous Peoples'
that both plaintiff/complainant/claimant/petitioner, on one hand, and Rights Act, is limited to parties who belong to ICCs/IPs. It excludes those who do
defendant/respondent, on the other, must comply. In a case brought by A not.
against B, both A and B must comply with the requirement.
To hold otherwise is to summarily compel those who do not belong to ICCs/IPs
Had Section 66 intended that compliance with the requirement by only one to adhere and subject themselves to customary laws despite their not having
party shall suffice, it should have used the singular "a party," similar language "traditionally and continually recognized, accepted[,] and observed"25 these
like "either party" or permissive language like "a/the party/ies? Had Section laws. This runs afoul of fair play and violates their right to due process.
66 intended that the requirement must be complied with by a specific party, it
should have used specific language like "the petitioner." Thus, Section 66's qualifiers—as specifically worded—indicate that cases that
fall under the jurisdiction of the NCIP must be limited to those where both
One may point out that the plural "the parties" can be taken to mean two or parties belong to ICCs/IPs.chanrobleslaw
more of several petitioners, or two or more of several respondents where there
are multiple petitioners and/or respondents. This interpretation is untenable. IV
Precisely, it would find application only in situations where there are multiple
petitioners and/or respondents. To adopt this interpretation would, therefore, The requirement that both parties must exhaust all remedies provided under
be to unduly restrict and to render inutile under general circumstances the their customary laws necessarily means that both parties must belong to the
requirement of exhaustion of remedies.chanrobleslaw same ICC/IP.

III The word "respective" denotes "belonging or relating to each one of the people
or things that have been mentioned."26
Quasi-judicial or administrative adjudicatory power on the other hand is the
Section 3(f) of the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act conceives of "customary laws" power of the administrative agency to adjudicate the rights of persons before it. It
as "refer[ring] to a body of ... rules, usages, customs[,] and practices traditionally is the power to hear and determine questions of fact to which the legislative
and continually recognized, accepted[,] and observed by respective ICCs/IPs." policy is to apply and to decide in accordance with the standards laid down by
Thus, inherent in the Act's conception of "customary laws" is a recognition that the law itself in enforcing and administering the same law. The administrative
each ICC/IP has a set of continually recognized, accepted, and observed rules, body exercises its quasi-judicial power when it performs in a judicial manner an
usages, customs, and practices that is distinct and separate from those of other act which is essentially of an executive or administrative nature, where the
ICCs/IPs. power to act in such manner is incidental to or reasonably necessary for the
performance of the executive or administrative duty entrusted to it. In carrying
The recognition that ICCs/IPs have distinct customary laws is similarly a out their quasi-judicial functions the administrative officers or bodies
recognition that each ICC/IP has a distinct dispute settlement mechanism are required to investigate facts or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings,
pursuant to their respective customary laws. To belong to a specific ICC/IP is, weigh evidence, and draw conclusions from them as basis for their official action
therefore, to say that one adheres not only to a specific set of customary laws and exercise of discretion in a judicial nature. Since rights of specific persons are
but also to a specific dispute settlement mechanism applicable to that ICC/IP. affected it is elementary that in the proper exercise of quasi-judicial power due
process must be observed in the conduct of the proceedings.27 (Emphasis
Thus, much as interpreting Section 66 as encompassing disputes where a party supplied)
does not belong to an ICC/IP runs afoul of fair play and violates the (non-ICC/IP
member's) right to due process, so does interpreting Section 66 as Judicial power, in turn, has been defined in Macasiano v. National Housing
encompassing disputes where the parties belong to different ICCs/IPs. As with Authority,28 as the "right to determine actual controversies arising between
the former, to make such a conclusion is to summarily compel a party who adverse litigants."29 In Lopez v. Roxas:30
adheres to a specific set of customary laws and dispute settlement mechanisms
to adhere and be subjected to another set of customary laws. Judicial power is the authority to settle justiciable controversies or disputes
involving rights that are enforceable and demandable before the courts of
Rule IV, Section 14 of NCIP Administrative Circular No. 1-03, the Rules on justice or the redress of wrongs for violations of such rights.31
Pleadings, Practice and Procedure Before the NCIP (NCIP Rules) provides for
situations "[w]here one of the parties . . . does not belong to the same IP/IC It is true that the other provisions of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act pertain
Community" as an exception to the requirement of a certification issued by the to the competencies of the NCIP. However, a reading of these provisions will
Council of Elders/Leaders who participated in the attempt to settle the dispute. show that they do not extend the NCIP's jurisdiction, in the exercise of its
This is a recognition that the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act does not provide a quasi-judicial power, to those who do not belong to ICCs/IPs.
dispute settlement mechanism where the parties belong to different ICCs/IPs.
However, even as Rule IV, Section 14 of the NCIP Rules does away with the Section 3832 creates the NCIP and states its purpose as "the primary
certification requirement, it cannot serve to extend the NCIP's jurisdiction to government agency responsible for the formulation and implementation of
disputes involving parties from different ICCs/IPs.chanrobleslaw policies, plans and programsto promote and protect the rights and well-being
of the ICCs/IPs and the recognition of their ancestral domains as well as the
V rights thereto."

Extending the NCIP's jurisdiction to those who do not belong to an indigenous Section 3933 articulates in broad language the mandate of the NCIP to "protect
cultural community or are not indigenous peoples finds no support elsewhere and promote the interest and well-being of the ICCs/IPs with due regard to their
in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act. beliefs, customs, traditions and institutions."

Section 66 is the sole provision of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act that spells Section 4434 provides that the NCIP shall have the "powers, jurisdiction and
out the NCIP's jurisdiction in respect of the exercise of its quasi-judicial power. function" provided therein in order that it may "accomplish its mandate."
Section 44 lists 17 of such "powers, jurisdiction and function":
This court has defined quasi-judicial power as follows:
(1) Item (a) identifies the NCIP "as the primary government agency
through which ICCs/IPs can seek government assistance and as the
medium, through which such assistance may be extended." None but two (2) of these 17 "powers, jurisdiction and function[s]" are directly
(2) Item (b) authorizes the NCIP "[t]o review and assess the conditions of related to the NCIP's exercise of its quasi-judicial power. These two (2) items
ICCs/IPs ... to propose relevant laws and policies[,]" a function which are item (n)—on the NCIP's appellate power—and Item (o)— on the NCIP's
is evidently not (quasi-)judicial in nature. rule-making power— which may be read vis-a-vis Section 69's investiture upon
(3) Item (c) refers to the "formulat[ion] and implementation] [of] policies, the NCIP of the power "[t]o promulgate rules and regulations governing the
plans, programs and projects[.]" hearing and disposition of cases filed before it as well as those pertaining to its
(4) Item (d) permits the NCIP to avail itself of "the services and support" internal functions and such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry
of experts and consultants, whether from government or the private out the purposes of this Act." Neither of these two states that the NCIP's
sector. jurisdiction extends to disputes where a party does not belong to an ICC/IP or to
(5) Item (e) places in the NCIP the authority "[t]o issue certificate[s] of those where the parties belong to different ICCs/IPs.
ancestral land/domain title."
(6) Item (f) enables the NCIP "to enter into contracts, agreements, or Item (m) enables the NCIP to exercise authority over those who not belong to
arrangement[s]. . . and ... to obtain loans." ICCs/IPs, i.e., "any private individual, corporate entity or any government
(7) Item (g) enables the NCIP "[t]o negotiate for funds and to accept grants, agency, corporation or subdivision thereof." However, item (m) refers
donations, gifts[,] and/or properties . . . and administer the same." specifically to the "issuance of certification[s] as a pre-condition to the grant of
(8) Item (h) makes the NCIP the "coordinator] [of] development programs ... authority for the disposition, utilization, management[s] and appropriation ...
and projects." on any part or portion of the ancestral domain[.]" It does not refer to the
(9) Item (i) enables the NCIP "[t]o convene periodic conventions or "exercise of discretion in a judicial nature"35 and the "determin[ation] [of] actual
assemblies of IPs to review, assess as well as propose policies or plans." controversies arising between adverse litigants."36
(10) Item (j) spells out the NCIP's advisory and reportorial duties vis-a-vis
the President of the Philippines, i.e., "[t]o advise the President of the VI
Philippines on all matters relating to the ICCs/IPs and to submit within
sixty (60) days after the close of each calendar year, a report of its Reliance on the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act's Implementing Rules and
operations and achievements." Regulations and the NCIP's rules in support of the assertion that the NCIP has
(11) Item (k) allows the NCIP "[t]o submit to Congress jurisdiction is misplaced. In extending the NCIP's jurisdiction, these rules
appropriate legislative proposals." contradict statutory provisions.
(12) Item (1) spells out the budgetary duty of the NCIP, ie., "[t]o prepare and
submit the appropriate budget to the Office of the President." Rule IX, Section 1 of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act's Implementing Rules
(13) Item (m) relates to the "issu[ance] [of] . . . certification[s] as a pre- and Regulations reads:
condition to the grant of... authority for the disposition, utilization,
management[s] and appropriation by any private individual, RULE IX. JURISDICTION AND PROCEDURES FOR
corporate entity or any government agency, corporation or ENFORCEMENT OF RIGHTS
subdivision thereof on any part or portion of the ancestral domain[.]"
(14) Item (n) provides for the NCIP's appellate power, i.e., "[t]o decide all Section 1. Primacy of Customary Law. All conflicts related to ancestral domains
appealsfrom the decisions and acts of all the various offices within the and lands, involving ICCs/IPs, such as but not limited to conflicting claims and
Commission." boundary disputes, shall be resolved by the concerned parties through the
(15) Item (o) provides for the NCIP's rule-making power, i.e., "[t]o promulgate application of customary laws in the area where the disputed ancestral domain
the necessary rules and regulations for the implementation of this Act. " or land is located.
(16) Item (p) is a catch-all provision enabling the NCIP "[t]o exercise such
otherpowers and functions as may be directed by the President of the All conflicts related to the ancestral domains or lands where one of the parties is a
Republic of the Philippines." non-ICC/IP or where the dispute could not be resolved through customary law
(17) Item (q) allows the NCIP "[t]o represent the Philippine ICCs/IPs in shall be heard and adjudicated in accordance with the Rules on Pleadings,
all international conferences and conventions dealing with Practice and Procedures Before the NCIP to be adopted hereafter.
indigenous peoples and other related concerns."
All decisions of the NCIP may be brought on Appeal by Petition for Review to
the Court of Appeals within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the Order or Section 14. Exceptions. The certification shall not be required in the following
Decision. (Emphasis supplied)ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary cases:

Rule III, Section 5 of the NCIP Rules, NCIP Administrative Circular No. 1-03 a. Where one of the parties is a public or private
reads: corporation, partnership, association or juridical person
or a public officer or employee and the dispute is in
Sec. 5. Jurisdiction of the NCIP.—The NCIP through its Regional Hearing Offices connection with the performance of his official
shall exercise jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of functions;cralawlawlibrary
ICCs/IPs and all cases pertaining to the implementation, enforcement, and
interpretation of R.A. 8371, including but not limited to the following: b. Where one of the parties is non-IP/ICC or does not
belong to the same IP/IC Community, except when he
(1) Original and Exclusive Jurisdiction of the Regional Hearing Office (RHO): voluntarily submits to the jurisdiction of the Council of
a. Cases involving disputes and controversies over ancestral Elders/Leaders;cralawlawlibrary
lands/domains of ICCs/IPs;
b. Cases involving violations of the requirement of free and prior and c. Where the relief sought for in the complaint or petition
informed consent of ICCs/IPs; seeks to prevent any grave, imminent and irreparable
c. Actions for enforcement of decisions of ICCs/IPs involving violations of damage or injury that may result if not acted upon
customary laws or desecration of ceremonial sites, sacred places, or immediately; and
rituals;
d. Actions for redemption/reconveyance under Section 8(b) of R.A. 8371; d. Where the Council of Elders/Leaders refuse to issue
and the necessary certification without justifiable reasons.
e. Such other cases analogous to the foregoing. (Emphasis supplied)
(2) Original Jurisdiction of the Regional Hearing Officer:
a. Cases affecting property rights, claims of ownership, hereditary
succession, and settlement of land disputes, between and among These provisions support the conclusion that the NCIP has jurisdiction even
ICCs/IPs that have not been settled under customary laws; and over cases where a party does not belong to an ICC/IP.
b. Actions for damages arising out of any violation of Republic Act No.
8371. However, it is a basic principle in administrative law that an administrative rule
(3) Exclusive and Original Jurisdiction of the Commission: must conform to and not contradict the provision of an enabling law. In Fort
a. Petition for cancellation of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Bonifacio Development Corporation v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue:37
Titles/Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles (CADTs/CALTs) alleged to
have been fraudulently acquired by, and issued to, any person or
As mandated by Article 7 of the Civil Code,38 an administrative rule or
community as provided for under Section 54 of R.A. 8371. Provided that
regulation cannot contravene the law on which it is based. . . . The rules and
such action is filed within one (1) year from the date of registration.
regulations that administrative agencies promulgate, which are the product of a
(Emphasis supplied)
delegated legislative power to create new and additional legal provisions that
have the effect of law, should be within the scope of the statutory authority
Apart from these, Rule IV, Sections 13 and 14 of the NCIP Rules provide:
granted by the legislature to the objects and purposes of the law, and should not
be in contradiction to, but in conformity with, the standards prescribed by law.
Section 13. Certification to File Action. Upon the request of the proper party,
members of the indigenous dispute settlement group or council of elders shall To be valid, an administrative rule or regulation must conform, not contradict,
likewise issue a certification to file action before the NCIP. In giving due regard the provisions of the enabling law. An implementing rule or regulation cannot
to customary laws, the certification may be in any form so long as it states in modify, expand, or subtract from the law it is intended to implement. Any rule
substance the failure of settlement notwithstanding the efforts made under that is not consistent with the statute itself is null and void.
customary law or traditional practices.
While administrative agencies . . . may issue regulations to implement statutes, tribe."41 Thus, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples may not exercise
they are without authority to limit the scope of the statute to less than what it jurisdiction over the case filed by respondents.chanrobleslaw
provides, or extend or expand the statute beyond its terms, or in any way
modify explicit provisions of the law. Indeed, a quasi-judicial body or an VII
administrative agency for that matter cannot amend an act of Congress. Hence,
in case of a discrepancy between the basic law and an interpretative or Customary norms are as varied as there are tribes within ethnolinguistic
administrative ruling, the basic law prevails.39ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary groups. If we are to animate the spirit of both the Constitution and the
Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, we should not stereotype all cultures as
The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act does not extend the NCIP's jurisdiction to homogenous or incapable of dynamic interfaces with each other. Customary law
disputes involving those who do not belong to ICCs/IPs. The precise wording of is a descriptive label which should acknowledge that each tribe lived through its
Section 66 and the silence of the remainder of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act own history and endogenously emerged their own set of norms reflecting their
on extending the NCIP's jurisdiction bear this out. values and lifeways. To say that the customary norms of the Kalinga are the
same as those of the Subanen betrays the same colonial mindset that
Likewise, "[j]urisdiction over a subject matter is conferred by law.40 No amount marginalized what our colonizers called as "Non-Christian Tribes" in the distant
of administrative rule-making can vest jurisdiction where neither Constitution past.
nor statute vests it.
Neither should we straightjacket any culture as incapable of dynamic interfaces
Thus, Rule IX, Section 1 of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act's Implementing or accommodation with other cultures. Various groups of indigenous
Rules and Regulations, Rule III, Section 5, and Rule IV, Sections 13 and 14 of the communities are able to work with the entirety of our legal system in
NCIP Rules, insofar as they extend the NCIP's jurisdiction to disputes where a appropriate cases. This case, which involves a party not of their tribe, is
party does not belong to an ICC/IP, must be deemed null and void. They are certainly one such case.
inconsistent with the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act in that they modify and
expand the NCIP's jurisdiction as spelled out in Section 66. In light of this ACCORDINGLY, I vote to DENY the Petition for Review on Certiorari . The
discrepancy between a basic law and administrative rules, the basic law—the assailed Decision dated August 17, 2006 and Resolution dated July 4, 2007 of
Indigenous Peoples Rights Act— must prevail. the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 00204-MIN must be AFFIRMED.
n
VII

In sum, the requirements for the proper exercise of the NCIP's jurisdiction over
a dispute, pursuant to Section 66 of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, are as
follows:

(1) The claim or dispute must involve the rights of ICCs/IPs;


(2) Both parties must belong to the same ICC/IP;
(3) These parties must have exhausted all remedies provided under their
ICC/IP's customary laws; and
(4) Compliance with this requirement of exhausting remedies under
customary laws must be evidenced by a certification issued by the
Council of Elders/Leaders who participated in the attempt to settle the
dispute, to the effect that the dispute has not been resolved.

In this case, it is not disputed that respondents do not belong to an ICC/IP. Their
sole interest is in their supposed ownership and possession of land which, in
turn, "appears to be located within the ancestral domain of the Talaandig