POLITICAL LAW Part 1
- Distinguish sovereignty from dominion.
Held: Sovereignty is the right to exercise the functions of a State to the exclusion of any other State. It is often referred to as the power of imperium, which is defined as the government authority possessed by the State. On the other hand, dominion, or dominium, is the capacity of the State to own or acquire property such as lands and natural resources. (Separate Opinion, Kapunan, J., in Isagani Cruz v. Secretary of DENR, G.R. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000, En Banc, See Footnote 86)
- How did Spain acquire the Philippines?
Held: 1. The Philippines passed to Spain by virtue of “discovery” and conquest. Consequently, all lands became the exclusive patrimony and dominion of the Spanish Crown. The Spanish Government took charge of distributing the lands by issuing royal grants and concessions to Spaniards, both military and civilian (Antonio H. Noblejas, Land Titles and Deeds, p. 5 ; These grants were better known as repartimientos and encomiendas. Repartimientos were handouts to the military as fitting reward for their services to the Spanish crown. The encomiendas were given to Spaniards to administer and develop with the right to receive and enjoy for themselves the tributes of the natives assigned to them. – Ponce, supra, p. 12, citing Benitez, History of the Philippines, pp. 125-126). Private land titles could only be acquired from the government either by purchase or by the various modes of land grant from the Crown (Narciso Pena, Registration of Land Titles and Deeds, p. 2 ). (Separate Opinion, Puno, J., in Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, 347 SCRA 128, 166, En Banc [Per Curiam])
- When Spain acquired sovereignty over the Philippines by virtue of its discovery and occupation thereof in the 16th century and the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 which it entered into with Portugal (Under the Treaty of Tordesillas, the world was divided between Spain and Portugal, with the former having exclusive power to claim all lands and territories west of the Atlantic Ocean demarcation line [Lynch, The Legal Bases of Philippine Colonial Sovereignty, 62 Phil. L J 279, 283 ) the continents of Asia, the Americas and Africa were considered as terra nullius although already populated by other peoples (See Akehurst, a Modern Introduction to International Law, 5th ed., 142-143). The discovery and occupation by the European States, who were then considered as the only members of the international community of civilized nations, of lands in the said continents were deemed sufficient to create title under international law (See Cruz, International Law, 1996 ed., pp. 106-107) (Separate Opinion, Kapunan, J., in Isagani Cruz v. Secretary of DENR, G.R. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000, 347 SCRA 128, 271, En Banc [Per Curiam])
- Discuss the concept of “jura regalia” and how it evolved in the Philippines. Does it negate native title to lands held in private ownership since time immemorial?
Held: Generally, under the concept of jura regalia, private title to land must be traced to some grant, express or implied, from the Spanish Crown or its successors, the American Colonial government, and thereafter, the Philippine Republic. The belief that the Spanish Crown is the origin of all land titles in the Philippines has persisted because title to land must emanate from some source for it cannot issue forth from nowhere (Pena, Registration of Land Titles and Deeds, 1994 rev. ed., p. 15).
In its broad sense, the term “jura regalia” refers to royal grants (1 Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 3rd revision, p. 1759), or those rights which the King has by virtue of his prerogatives (Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th ed., p. 1282). In Spanish law, it refers to a right which the sovereign has over anything in which a subject has a right of property or propriedad (76 Corpus Juris Secundum, citing Hart v. Burnett, 15 Cal. 530, 566). These were rights enjoyed during feudal times by the king as the sovereign.
The theory of the feudal system was that title to all lands was originally held by the King, and while the use of lands was granted out to others who were permitted to hold them under certain conditions, the King theoretically retained the title (Washburn, p. 44; see also Williams, Principles Of The Law On Real Property, 6th ed. , p. 2; Bigelow, p. 2). By fiction of law, the King was regarded as the original proprietor of all lands, and the true and only source of title, and from him all lands were held (Warvelle, Abstracts and Examination of Title to Real Property , p. 18). The theory of jura regalia was therefore nothing more than a natural fruit of conquest (1 Dictionary of English Law [Jowitt, ed.] p. 797).
The Regalian theory, however, does not negate native title to lands held in private ownership since time immemorial. In the landmark case of Carino v. Insular Government (41 Phil. 935, 212 U.S. 449, 53 L. Ed. 594 ), the United States Supreme Court, reversing the decision of the pre-war Philippine Supreme Court, made the following pronouncement:
x x x Every presumption is and ought to be taken against the Government in a case like the present. It might, perhaps, be proper and sufficient to say that when, as far back as testimony or memory goes, the land has been held by individuals under a claim of private ownership, it will be presumed to have been held in the same way from before the Spanish conquest, and never to have been public land. x x x (Carino v. Insular Government, supra note 75, at 941)
The above ruling institutionalized the recognition of the existence of native title to land, or ownership of land by Filipinos by virtue of possession under a claim of ownership since time immemorial and independent of any grant from the Spanish Crown, as an exception to the theory of jura regalia.
x x x
Carino was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1909, at a time when decisions of the U.S. Court were binding as precedent in our jurisdiction (Section 10, Philippine Bill of 1902). We applied the Carino doctrine in the 1946 case of Oh Cho v. Director of Lands (75 Phil. 890 ), where we stated that “[a]ll lands that were not acquired from the Government either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain, but [a]n exception to the rule would be any land that should have been in the possession of an occupant and of his predecessors in interest since time immemorial, for such possession would justify the presumption that the land had never been part of the public domain or that it had been private property even before the Spanish conquest.” (Id., at 892). (Separate Opinion, Kapunan, J., in Isagani Cruz v. Secretary of DENR, G.R. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000, 347 SCRA 128, 268-270, En Banc [Per Curiam]
- What was the basis for the early Spanish decrees embracing the theory of jura regalia? Is this also the basis of the declaration in Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution that all lands of the public domain are owned by the State? Consequently, did Spain acquire title over all lands in the Philippines in the 16th century?
Held: Dominium was the basis for the early Spanish decrees embracing the theory of jura regalia. The declaration in Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution that all lands of the public domain are owned by the State is likewise founded on dominium. If dominium, not imperium, is the basis of the theory of jura regalia, then the lands which Spain acquired in the 16th century were limited to non-private lands, because it could only acquire lands which were not yet privately-owned or occupied by the Filipinos. Hence, Spain acquired title only over lands which were unoccupied and unclaimed, i.e., public lands. (Separate Opinion, Kapunan, J., in Isagani Cruz v. Secretary of DENR, G.R. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000, En Banc, See Footnote 86)
- What is the Doctrine of Constitutional Supremacy?
Held: Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the Constitution, that law or contract, whether promulgated by the legislative or by the executive branch or entered into by private persons for private purposes, is null and void and without any force and effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in every statute and contract. (Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS, 267 SCRA 408  [Bellosillo])
- What are self-executing and non-self executing provisions of the Constitution?
Held: A provision which lays down a general principle, such as those found in Article II of the 1987 Constitution, is usually not self-executing. But a provision which is complete in itself and becomes operative without the aid of supplementary or enabling legislation, or that which supplies sufficient rule by means of which the right it grants may be enjoyed or protected, is self-executing. Thus a constitutional provision is self-executing if the nature and extent of the right conferred and the liability imposed are fixed by the Constitution itself, so that they can be determined by an examination and construction of its terms, and there is no language indicating that the subject is referred to the legislature for action. (Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS, 267 SCRA 408  [Bellosillo])
- Are provisions of the Constitution self-executing or non-self executing? Why?
Held: Unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act is necessary to enforce a constitutional mandate, the presumption now is that all provisions are self-executing. If the constitutional provisions are treated as requiring legislation instead of self-executing, the legislature would have the power to ignore and practically nullify the mandate of the fundamental law. This can be cataclysmic. (Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS, 267 SCRA 408  [Bellosillo])
- Is the “Filipino First” Policy expressed in Section 10, Article XII of the Constitution a self-executing provision?
Held: Yes. It is a mandatory, positive command which is complete in itself and which needs no further guidelines or implementing laws or rules for its enforcement. From its very words the provision does not require any legislation to put it in operation. It is per se judicially enforceable. When our Constitution mandates that [i]n the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos, it means just that – qualified Filipinos must be preferred. (Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS, G.R. No. 118295, May 2, 1997, 267 SCRA 408 [Bellosillo])
- Give examples of non-self executing provisions of the Constitution.
Held: By its very nature, Article II of the Constitution is a “declaration of principles and state policies.” These principles in Article II are not intended to be self-executing principles ready for enforcement through the courts. They are used by the judiciary as aids or as guides in the exercise of its power of judicial review, and by the legislature in its enactment of laws. As held in the leading case of Kilosbayan, Incorporated v. Morato (246 SCRA 540, 564, July 17, 1995), the principles and state policies enumerated in Article II and some sections of Article XII are not “self-executing provisions, the disregard of which can give rise to a cause of action in courts. They do not embody judicially enforceable constitutional rights but guidelines for legislation.” (Tanada v. Angara, 272 SCRA 18 , En Banc [Panganiban])
- When are acts of persons considered “State action” covered by the Constitution?
Held: In constitutional jurisprudence, the act of persons distinct from the government are considered “state action” covered by the Constitution (1) when the activity it engages in is a “public function”; (2) when the government is so significantly involved with the private actor as to make the government responsible for his action; and (3) when the government has approved or authorized the action. (Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS, 267 SCRA 408  [Bellosillo])
The Doctrine of State Immunity from Suit
- Discuss the basis of the doctrine of State immunity from suit.
Held: The basic postulate enshrined in the Constitution that “[t]he State may not be sued without its consent,” reflects nothing less than a recognition of the sovereign character of the State and an express affirmation of the unwritten rule effectively insulating it from the jurisdiction of courts. It is based on the very essence of sovereignty. As has been aptly observed by Justice Holmes, a sovereign is exempt from suit, not because of any formal conception or obsolete theory, but on the logical and practical ground that there can be no legal right as against the authority that makes the law on which the right depends. True, the doctrine, not too infrequently, is derisively called “the royal prerogative of dishonesty” because it grants the state the prerogative to defeat any legitimate claim against it by simply invoking its non-suability. We have had occasion to explain in its defense, however, that a continued adherence to the doctrine of non-suability cannot be deplored, for the loss of governmental efficiency and the obstacle to the performance of its multifarious functions would be far greater in severity than the inconvenience that may be caused private parties, if such fundamental principle is to be abandoned and the availability of judicial remedy is not to be accordingly restricted. (Department of Agriculture v. NLRC, 227 SCRA 693, Nov. 11, 1993 [Vitug])
- Is the rule absolute, i.e., that the State may not be sued at all? How may consent of the State to be sued given?
Held: The rule, in any case, is not really absolute for it does not say that the state may not be sued under any circumstances. On the contrary, as correctly phrased, the doctrine only conveys, “the state may not be sued without its consent;” its clear import then is that the State may at times be sued. The State’s consent may be given either expressly or impliedly. Express consent may be made through a general law (i.e., Commonwealth Act No. 327, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1445 [Sections 49-50], which requires that all money claims against the government must first be filed with the Commission on Audit which must act upon it within sixty days. Rejection of the claim will authorize the claimant to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court on certiorari and, in effect, sue the State thereby) or a special law. In this jurisdiction, the general law waiving the immunity of the state from suit is found in Act No. 3083, where the Philippine government “consents and submits to be sued upon any money claim involving liability arising from contract, express or implied, which could serve as a basis of civil action between the private parties.” Implied consent, on the other hand, is conceded when the State itself commences litigation, thus opening itself to a counterclaim or when it enters into a contract. In this situation, the government is deemed to have descended to the level of the other contracting party and to have divested itself of its sovereign immunity. This rule x x x is not, however, without qualification. Not all contracts entered into by the government operate as a waiver of its non-suability; distinction must still be made between one which is executed in the exercise of its sovereign function and another which is done in its proprietary capacity.
In United States of America v. Ruiz (136 SCRA 487), where the questioned transaction dealt with the improvements on the wharves in the naval installation at Subic Bay, we held:
“The traditional rule of immunity exempts a State from being sued in the courts of another State without its consent or waiver. This rule is a necessary consequence of the principle of independence and equality of States. However, the rules of International Law are not petrified; they are constantly developing and evolving. And because the activities of states have multiplied, it has been necessary to distinguish them – between sovereign and governmental acts (jure imperii) and private, commercial and proprietary acts (jure gestionis). The result is that State immunity now extends only to acts jure imperii. The restrictive application of State immunity is now the rule in the United States, the United Kingdom and other states in Western Europe.
X x x
The restrictive application of State immunity is proper only when the proceedings arise out of commercial transactions of the foreign sovereign, its commercial activities or economic affairs. Stated differently, a State may be said to have descended to the level of an individual and can thus be deemed to have tacitly given its consent to be sued only when it enters into business contracts. It does not apply where the contracts relate to the exercise of its sovereign functions. In this case the projects are an integral part of the naval base which is devoted to the defense of both the United States and the Philippines, indisputably a function of the government of the highest order; they are not utilized for nor dedicated to commercial or business purposes.”
(Department of Agriculture v. NLRC, 227 SCRA 693, Nov. 11, 1993 [Vitug])
- When is a suit against a public official deemed to be a suit against the State? Discuss.
Held: 1. The doctrine of state immunity from suit applies to complaints filed against public officials for acts done in the performance of their duties. The rule is that the suit must be regarded as one against the State where the satisfaction of the judgment against the public official concerned will require the State itself to perform a positive act, such as appropriation of the amount necessary to pay the damages awarded to the plaintiff.
The rule does not apply where the public official is charged in his official capacity for acts that are unlawful and injurious to the rights of others. Public officials are not exempt, in their personal capacity, from liability arising from acts committed in bad faith.
Neither does it apply where the public official is clearly being sued not in his official capacity but in his personal capacity, although the acts complained of may have been committed while he occupied a public position. (Amado J. Lansang v. CA, G.R. No. 102667, Feb. 23, 2000, 2nd Div. [Quisumbing])
- As early as 1954, this Court has pronounced that an officer cannot shelter himself by the plea that he is a public agent acting under the color of his office when his acts are wholly without authority. Until recently in 1991 (Chavez v. Sandiganbayan, 193 SCRA 282 ), this doctrine still found application, this Court saying that immunity from suit cannot institutionalize irresponsibility and non-accountability nor grant a privileged status not claimed by any other official of the Republic. (Republic v. Sandoval, 220 SCRA 124, March 19, 1993, En Banc [Campos, Jr.])
- State instances when a suit against the State is proper.
Held: Some instances when a suit against the State is proper are:
- When the Republic is sued by name;
- When the suit is against an unincorporated government agency;
- When the suit is on its face against a government officer but the case is such that ultimate liability will belong not to the officer but to the government.
Republic v. Sandoval, 220 SCRA 124, March 19, 1993, En Banc [Campos, Jr.])
- Has the government waived its immunity from suit in the Mendiola massacre, and, therefore, should indemnify the heirs and victims of the Mendiola incident? Consequently, is the suit filed against the Republic by petitioners in said case really a suit against the State?
Held: Petitioners x x x advance the argument that the State has impliedly waived its sovereign immunity from suit. It is their considered view that by the recommendation made by the Commission for the government to indemnify the heirs and victims of the Mendiola incident and by the public addresses made by then President Aquino in the aftermath of the killings, the State has consented to be sued.
X x x
This is not a suit against the State with its consent.
Firstly, the recommendation made by the Commission regarding indemnification of the heirs of the deceased and the victims of the incident by the government does not in any way mean that liability automatically attaches to the State. It is important to note that A.O. 11 expressly states that the purpose of creating the Commission was to have a body that will conduct an “investigation of the disorder, deaths and casualties that took place.” In the exercise of its functions, A.O. 11 provides guidelines, and what is relevant to Our discussion reads:
“1. Its conclusions regarding the existence of probable cause for the commission of any offense and of the persons probably guilty of the same shall be sufficient compliance with the rules on preliminary investigation and the charges arising therefrom may be filed directly with the proper court.”
In effect, whatever may be the findings of the Commission, the same shall only serve as the cause of action in the event that any party decides to litigate his/her claim. Therefore, the Commission is merely a preliminary venue. The Commission is not the end in itself. Whatever recommendation it makes cannot in any way bind the State immediately, such recommendation not having become final and executory. This is precisely the essence of it being a fact-finding body.
Secondly, whatever acts or utterances that then President Aquino may have done or said, the same are not tantamount to the State having waived its immunity from suit. The President’s act of joining the marchers, days after the incident, does not mean that there was an admission by the State of any liability. In fact to borrow the words of petitioner x x x, “it was an act of solidarity by the government with the people.” Moreover, petitioners rely on President Aquino’s speech promising that the government would address the grievances of the rallyists. By this alone, it cannot be inferred that the State has admitted any liability, much less can it be inferred that it has consented to the suit.
Although consent to be sued may be given impliedly, still it cannot be maintained that such consent was given considering the circumstances obtaining in the instant case.
Thirdly, the case does not qualify as a suit against the State.
X x x
While the Republic in this case is sued by name, the ultimate liability does not pertain to the government. Although the military officers and personnel, then party defendants, were discharging their official functions when the incident occurred, their functions ceased to be official the moment they exceeded their authority. Based on the Commission findings, there was lack of justification by the government forces in the use of firearms. Moreover, the members of the police and military crowd dispersal units committed a prohibited act under B.P. Blg. 880 as there was unnecessary firing by them in dispersing the marchers.
As early as 1954, this Court has pronounced that an officer cannot shelter himself by the plea that he is a public agent acting under the color of his office when his acts are wholly without authority. Until recently in 1991 (Chavez v. Sandiganbayan, 193 SCRA 282 ), this doctrine still found application, this Court saying that immunity from suit cannot institutionalize irresponsibility and non-accountability nor grant a privileged status not claimed by any other official of the Republic. The military and police forces were deployed to ensure that the rally would be peaceful and orderly as well as to guarantee the safety of the very people that they are duty-bound to protect. However, the facts as found by the trial court showed that they fired at the unruly crowd to disperse the latter.
While it is true that nothing is better settled than the general rule that a sovereign state and its political subdivisions cannot be sued in the courts except when it has given its consent, it cannot be invoked by both the military officers to release them from any liability, and by the heirs and victims to demand indemnification from the government. The principle of state immunity from suit does not apply, as in this case, when the relief demanded by the suit requires no affirmative official action on the part of the State nor the affirmative discharge of any obligation which belongs to the State in its political capacity, even though the officers or agents who are made defendants claim to hold or act only by virtue of a title of the state and as its agents and servants. This Court has made it quite clear that even a “high position in the government does not confer a license to persecute or recklessly injure another.”
The inescapable conclusion is that the State cannot be held civilly liable for the deaths that followed the incident. Instead, the liability should fall on the named defendants in the lower court. In line with the ruling of this Court in Shauf v. Court of Appeals (191 SCRA 713 ), herein public officials, having been found to have acted beyond the scope of their authority, may be held liable for damages. (Republic v. Sandoval, 220 SCRA 124, March 19, 1993, En Banc [Campos, Jr.])
- May the Government validly invoke the doctrine of State immunity from suit if its invocation will serve as an instrument for perpetrating an injustice on a citizen?
Held: To our mind, it would be the apex of injustice and highly inequitable for us to defeat petitioners-contractors’ right to be duly compensated for actual work performed and services rendered, where both the government and the public have, for years, received and accepted benefits from said housing project and reaped the fruits of petitioners-contractors’ honest toil and labor.
Incidentally, respondent likewise argues that the State may not be sued in the instant case, invoking the constitutional doctrine of Non-suability of the State, otherwise known as the Royal Prerogative of Dishonesty.
Respondent’s argument is misplaced inasmuch as the principle of State immunity finds no application in the case before us.
Under these circumstances, respondent may not validly invoke the Royal Prerogative of Dishonesty and conveniently hide under the State’s cloak of invincibility against suit, considering that this principle yields to certain settled exceptions. True enough, the rule, in any case, is not absolute for it does not say that the state may not be sued under any circumstances. (Citations omitted)
Thus, in Amigable v. Cuenca, this Court, in effect, shred the protective shroud which shields the state from suit, reiterating our decree in the landmark case of Ministerio v. CFI of Cebu that “the doctrine of governmental immunity from suit cannot serve as an instrument for perpetrating an injustice on a citizen.” It is just as important, if not more so, that there be fidelity to legal norms on the part of officialdom if the rule of law were to be maintained. (Citations omitted)
Although the Amigable and Ministerio cases generously tackled the issue of the State’s immunity from suit vis a vis the payment of just compensation for expropriated property, this Court nonetheless finds the doctrine enunciated in the aforementioned cases applicable to the instant controversy, considering that the ends of justice would be subverted if we were to uphold, in this particular instance, the State’s immunity from suit.
To be sure, this Court – as the staunch guardian of the citizens’ rights and welfare – cannot sanction an injustice so patent on its face, and allow itself to be an instrument in the perpetration thereof. Justice and equity sternly demand that the State’s cloak of invincibility against suit be shred in this particular instance, and that petitioners-contractors be duly compensated – on the basis of quantum meruit – for construction done on the public works housing project. (EPG Construction Co. v. Vigilar, 354 SCRA 566, Mar.16, 2001, 2nd Div. [Buena])
- To what citizenship principle does the Philippines adhere to? Explain, and give illustrative case.
Held: The Philippine law on citizenship adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis. Thereunder, a child follows the nationality or citizenship of the parents regardless of the place of his/her birth, as opposed to the doctrine of jus soli which determines nationality or citizenship on the basis of place of birth.
Private respondent Rosalind Ybasco Lopez was born on May 16, 1934 in Napier Terrace, Broome, Western Australia, to the spouses, Telesforo Ybasco, a Filipino citizen and native of Daet, Camarines Norte, and Theresa Marquez, an Australian. Historically, this was a year before the 1935 Constitution took into effect and at that time, what served as the Constitution of the Philippines were the principal organic acts by which the United States governed the country. These were the Philippine Bill of July 1, 1902 and the Philippine Autonomy Act of August 29, 1916, also known as the Jones Law.
Among others, these laws defined who were deemed to be citizens of the Philippine Islands. x x x
Under both organic acts, all inhabitants of the Philippines who were Spanish subjects on April 11, 1899 and resided therein including their children are deemed to be Philippine citizens. Private respondent’s father, Telesforo Ybasco, was born on January 5, 1879 in Daet, Camarines Norte, a fact duly evidenced by a certified true copy of an entry in the Registry of Births. Thus, under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and the Jones Law, Telesforo Ybasco was deemed to be a Philippine citizen. By virtue of the same laws, which were the laws in force at the time of her birth, Telesforo’s daughter, herein private respondent Rosalind Ybasco Lopez, is likewise a citizen of the Philippines.
The signing into law of the 1935 Philippine Constitution has established the principle of jus sanguinis as basis for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship x x x. So also, the principle of jus sanguinis, which confers citizenship by virtue of blood relationship, was subsequently retained under the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. Thus, the herein private respondent, Rosalind Ybasco Lopez, is a Filipino citizen, having been born to a Filipino father. The fact of her being born in Australia is not tantamount to her losing her Philippine citizenship. If Australia follows the principle of jus soli, then at most, private respondent can also claim Australian citizenship resulting to her possession of dual citizenship. (Valles v. COMELEC, 337 SCRA 543, Aug. 9, 2000, En Banc [Purisima])
- What are the ways of acquiring citizenship? Discuss.
Held: There are two ways of acquiring citizenship: (1) by birth, and (2) by naturalization. These ways of acquiring citizenship correspond to the two kinds of citizens: the natural-born citizen, and the naturalized citizen. A person who at the time of his birth is a citizen of a particular country, is a natural-born citizen thereof.
As defined in the x x x Constitution, natural-born citizens “are those citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect his Philippine citizenship.”
On the other hand, naturalized citizens are those who have become Filipino citizens through naturalization, generally under Commonwealth Act No. 473, otherwise known as the Revised Naturalization Law, which repealed the former Naturalization Law (Act No. 2927), and by Republic Act No. 530. (Antonio Bengson III v. HRET, G.R. No. 142840, May 7, 2001, En Banc [Kapunan])
- To be naturalized, what must an applicant prove? When and what are the conditions before the decision granting Philippine citizenship becomes executory?
Held: To be naturalized, an applicant has to prove that he possesses all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications provided by law to become a Filipino citizen. The decision granting Philippine citizenship becomes executory only after two (2) years from its promulgation when the court is satisfied that during the intervening period, the applicant has (1) not left the Philippines; (2) has dedicated himself to a lawful calling or profession; (3) has not been convicted of any offense or violation of government promulgated rules; or (4) committed any act prejudicial to the interest of the nation or contrary to any government announced policies (Section 1, R.A. 530). (Antonio Bengson III v. HRET, G.R. No. 142840, May 7, 2001, En Banc [Kapunan])
- What qualifications must be possessed by an applicant for naturalization?
Held: Section 2, Act 473 provides the following qualifications:
- He must be not less than 21 years of age on the day of the hearing of the petition;
- He must have resided in the Philippines for a continuous period of not less than ten years;
- He must be of good moral character and believes in the principles underlying the Philippine Constitution, and must have conducted himself in a proper and irreproachable manner during the entire period of his residence in the Philippines in his relation with the constituted government as well as with the community in which he is living;
- He must own real estate in the Philippines worth not less than five thousand pesos, Philippine currency, or must have some known lucrative trade, profession, or lawful occupation;
- He must be able to speak and write English or Spanish and any of the principal languages; and
- He must have enrolled his minor children of school age, in any of the public schools or private schools recognized by the Bureau of Private Schools of the Philippines where Philippine history, government and civic are taught or prescribed as part of the school curriculum, during the entire period of the residence in the Philippines required of him prior to the hearing of his petition for naturalization as Philippine citizen.
(Antonio Bengson III v. HRET, G.R. No. 142840, May 7, 2001, En Banc [Kapunan])
- What are the disqualifications under Section 4, Act 473, in an application for naturalization?
Held: Section 4, Act 473, provides the following disqualifications:
- He must not be opposed to organized government or affiliated with any association or group of persons who uphold and teach doctrines opposing all organized governments;
- He must not be defending or teaching the necessity or propriety of violence, personal assault, or assassination for the success and predominance of their ideas;
- He must not be a polygamist or believer in the practice of polygamy;
- He must not have been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude;
- He must not be suffering from mental alienation or incurable contagious diseases;
- He must have, during the period of his residence in the Philippines (or not less than six months before filing his application), mingled socially with the Filipinos, or who have not evinced a sincere desire to learn and embrace the customs, traditions and ideals of the Filipinos;
- He must not be a citizen or subject of a nation with whom the Philippines is at war, during the period of such war;
- He must not be a citizen or subject of a foreign country whose laws do not grant Filipinos the right to become naturalized citizens or subjects thereof.
(Antonio Bengson III v. HRET, G.R. No. 142840, May 7, 2001, En Banc [Kapunan])
- Can a legitimate child born under the 1935 Constitution of a Filipino mother and an alien father validly elect Philippine citizenship fourteen (14) years after he has reached the age of majority?
Held: Under Article IV, Section 1(3) of the 1935 Constitution, the citizenship of a legitimate child born of a Filipino mother and an alien father followed the citizenship of the father, unless, upon reaching the age of majority, the child elected Philippine citizenship. C.A. No. 625 which was enacted pursuant to Section 1(3), Article IV of the 1935 Constitution, prescribes the procedure that should be followed in order to make a valid election of Philippine citizenship. However, the 1935 Constitution and C.A. No. 625 did not prescribe a time period within which the election of Philippine citizenship should be made. The 1935 Charter only provides that the election should be made “upon reaching the age of majority.” The age of majority then commenced upon reaching twenty-one (21) years. In the opinions of the Secretary of Justice on cases involving the validity of election of Philippine citizenship, this dilemma was resolved by basing the time period on the decisions of this Court prior to the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution. In these decisions, the proper period for electing Philippine citizenship was, in turn, based on the pronouncements of the Department of State of the United States Government to the effect that the election should be made within a “reasonable time” after attaining the age of majority. The phrase “reasonable time” has been interpreted to mean that the election should be made within three (3) years from reaching the age of majority.
The span of fourteen (14) years that lapsed from the time that person reached the age of majority until he finally expressed his intention to elect Philippine citizenship is clearly way beyond the contemplation of the requirement of electing “upon reaching the age of majority.”
Philippine citizenship can never be treated like a commodity that can be claimed when needed and suppressed when convenient. One who is privileged to elect Philippine citizenship has only an inchoate right to such citizenship. As such, he should avail of the right with fervor, enthusiasm and promptitude. (Re: Application for Admission to the Philippine Bar, Vicente D. Ching, Bar Matter No. 914, Oct. 1, 1999, En Banc [Kapunan])
- How may Philippine citizenship be renounced? Is the application for an alien certificate of registration, and the possession of foreign passport, tantamount to acts of renunciation of Philippine citizenship?
Held: Petitioner also contends that even on the assumption that the private respondent is a Filipino citizen, she has nonetheless renounced her Philippine citizenship. To buttress this contention, petitioner cited private respondent’s application for an alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) and Immigrant Certificate of Residence (ICR), on September 19, 1988, and the issuance to her of an Australian passport on March 3, 1988.
X x x
In order that citizenship may be lost by renunciation, such renunciation must be express. Petitioner’s contention that the application of private respondent for an alien certificate of registration, and her Australian passport, is bereft of merit. This issue was put to rest in the case of Aznar v. COMELEC (185 SCRA 703 ) and in the more recent case of Mercado v. Manzano and COMELEC (G.R. No. 135083, 307 SCRA 630, May 26, 1999).
In the case of Aznar, the Court ruled that the mere fact that he is an American did not mean that he is no longer a Filipino, and that an application for an alien certificate of registration was not tantamount to renunciation of his Philippine citizenship.
And, in Mercado v. Manzano and COMELEC, it was held that the fact that respondent Manzano was registered as an American citizen in the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation and was holding an American passport on April 22, 1997, only a year before he filed a certificate of candidacy for vice-mayor of Makati, were just assertions of his American nationality before the termination of his American citizenship.
Thus, the mere fact that private respondent Rosalind Ybasco Lopez was a holder of an Australian passport and had an alien certificate of registration are not acts constituting an effective renunciation of citizenship and do not militate against her claim of Filipino citizenship. For renunciation to effectively result in the loss of citizenship, the same must be express. As held by this Court in the aforecited case of Aznar, an application for an alien certificate of registration does not amount to an express renunciation or repudiation of one’s citizenship. The application of the herein private respondent for an alien certificate of registration, and her holding of an Australian passport, as in the case of Mercado v. Manzano, were mere acts of assertion of her Australian citizenship before she effectively renounced the same. Thus, at the most, private respondent had dual citizenship – she was an Australian and a Filipino, as well.
Moreover, under Commonwealth Act 63, the fact that a child of Filipino parent/s was born in another country has not been included as a ground for losing one’s Philippine citizenship. Since private respondent did not lose or renounce her Philippine citizenship, petitioner’s claim that respondent must go through the process of repatriation does not hold water. (Valles v. COMELEC, 337 SCRA 543, Aug. 9, 2000, En Banc [Purisima])
- How may Filipino citizens who lost their citizenship reacquire the same?
Answer: Filipino citizens who have lost their citizenship may x x x reacquire the same in the manner provided by law. Commonwealth Act No. 63 enumerates the three modes by which Philippine citizenship may be reacquired by a former citizen: (1) by naturalization, (2) by repatriation, and (3) by direct act of Congress. (Frivaldo v. COMELEC, 257 SCRA 727, June 28, 1996, En Banc [Panganiban]; Antonio Bengson III v. HRET, G.R. No. 142840, May 7, 2001, En Banc [Kapunan])
- Distinguish naturalization from repatriation.
Held: Naturalization is a mode for both acquisition and reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. As a mode of initially acquiring Philippine citizenship, naturalization is governed by Commonwealth Act No. 473, as amended. On the other hand, naturalization as a mode for reacquiring Philippine citizenship is governed by Commonwealth Act No. 63 (An Act Providing for the Ways in Which Philippine Citizenship May Be Lost or Reacquired ). Under this law, a former Filipino citizen who wishes to reacquire Philippine citizenship must possess certain qualifications and none of the disqualifications mentioned in Section 4 of C.A. 473.
Repatriation, on the other hand, may be had under various statutes by those who lost their citizenship due to: (1) desertion of the armed forces (Section 4, C.A. No. 63); (2) service in the armed forces of the allied forces in World War II (Section 1, Republic Act No. 965 ); (3) service in the Armed Forces of the United States at any other time (Sec. 1, Republic Act No. 2630 ); (4) marriage of a Filipino woman to an alien (Sec. 1, Republic Act No. 8171 ); and (5) political and economic necessity (Ibid).
As distinguished from the lengthy process of naturalization, repatriation simply consists of the taking of an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and registering said oath in the Local Civil Registry of the place where the person concerned resides or last resided.
In Angat v. Republic (314 SCRA 438 ), we held:
[P]arenthetically, under these statutes (referring to RA Nos. 965 and 2630), the person desiring to reacquire Philippine citizenship would not even be required to file a petition in court, and all that he had to do was to take an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to register that fact with the civil registry in the place of his residence or where he had last resided in the Philippines.
Moreover, repatriation results in the recovery of the original nationality. This means that a naturalized Filipino who lost his citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a naturalized Filipino citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a natural-born citizen before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be restored to his former status as a natural-born Filipino. (Antonio Bengson III v. HRET, G.R. No. 142840, May 7, 2001, En Banc [Kapunan])
- Who may validly avail of repatriation under R.A. No. 8171?
Held: R.A. No. 8171, which has lapsed into law on October 23, 1995, is an act providing for the repatriation (a) of Filipino women who have lost their Philippine citizenship by marriage to aliens and (b) of natural-born Filipinos who have lost their Philippine citizenship on account of political or economic necessity. (Gerardo Angat v. Republic, G.R. No. 132244, Sept. 14, 1999 [Vitug])
- Before what agency should application for repatriation under R.A 8171 be filed?
Held: Under Section 1 of P.D. No. 725, dated June 5, 1975, amending C.A. No. 63, an application for repatriation could be filed with the Special Committee on Naturalization chaired by the Solicitor General with the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs and the Director of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency as the other members. Although the agency was deactivated by virtue of President Corazon C. Aquino’s Memorandum of March 27, 1987, it was not, however, abrogated. The Committee was reactivated on June 8, 1995. Hence, the application should be filed with said Agency, not with the Regional Trial Court. (Gerardo Angat v. Republic, G.R. No. 132244, Sept. 14, 1999 [Vitug])
- May a natural-born Filipino who became an American citizen still be considered a natural-born Filipino upon his reacquisition of Philippine citizenship and, therefore, qualified to run for Congressman?
Held: Repatriation results in the recovery of the original nationality. This means that a naturalized Filipino who lost his citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a naturalized Filipino citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a natural-born citizen before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be restored to his former status as a natural-born Filipino.
In respondent Cruz’s case, he lost his Filipino citizenship when he rendered service in the Armed Forces of the United States. However, he subsequently reacquired Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 2630, which provides:
Section 1. Any person who had lost his Philippine citizenship by rendering service to, or accepting commission in, the Armed Forces of the United States, or after separation from the Armed Forces of the United States, acquired United States citizenship, may reacquire Philippine citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and registering the same with Local Civil Registry in the place where he resides or last resided in the Philippines. The said oath of allegiance shall contain a renunciation of any other citizenship.
Having thus taken the required oath of allegiance to the Republic and having registered the same in the Civil Registry of Mangatarem, Pangasinan in accordance with the aforecited provision, respondent Cruz is deemed to have recovered his original status as a natural-born citizen, a status which he acquired at birth as the son of a Filipino father. It bears stressing that the act of repatriation allows him to recover, or return to, his original status before he lost his Philippine citizenship.
Petitioner’s contention that respondent Cruz is no longer a natural-born citizen since he had to perform an act to regain his citizenship is untenable. [T]he term “natural-born citizen” was first defined in Article III, Section 4 of the 1973 Constitution as follows:
Section 4. A natural-born citizen is one who is a citizen of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect his Philippine citizenship.
Two requisites must concur for a person to be considered as such: (1) a person must be a Filipino citizen from birth and (2) he does not have to perform any act to obtain or perfect his Philippine citizenship.
Under the 1973 Constitution definition, there were two categories of Filipino citizens which were not considered natural-born: (1) those who were naturalized and (2) those born before January 17, 1973 (the date of effectivity of the 1973 Constitution), of Filipino mothers who, upon reaching the age of majority, elected Philippine citizenship. Those “naturalized citizens” were not considered natural-born obviously because they were not Filipinos at birth and had to perform an act to acquire Philippine citizenship. Those born of Filipino mothers before the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution were likewise not considered natural-born because they also had to perform an act to perfect their Philippine citizenship.
The present Constitution, however, now considers those born of Filipino mothers before the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution and who elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the majority age as natural-born. After defining who are natural-born citizens, Section 2 of Article IV adds a sentence: “Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens.” Consequently, only naturalized Filipinos are considered not natural-born citizens. It is apparent from the enumeration of who are citizens under the present Constitution that there are only two classes of citizens: (1) those who are natural-born and (2) those who are naturalized in accordance with law. A citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino, i.e., did not have to undergo the process of naturalization to obtain Philippine citizenship, necessarily is a natural-born Filipino. Noteworthy is the absence in the said enumeration of a separate category for persons who, after losing Philippine citizenship, subsequently reacquire it. The reason therefore is clear: as to such persons, they would either be natural-born or naturalized depending on the reasons for the loss of their citizenship and the mode prescribed by the applicable law for the reacquisition thereof. As respondent Cruz was not required by law to go through naturalization proceedings in order to reacquire his citizenship, he is perforce a natural-born Filipino. As such, he possessed all the necessary qualifications to be elected as member of the House of Representatives. (Antonio Bengson III v. HRET, G.R. No. 142840, May 7, 2001, En Banc [Kapunan])
- Distinguish dual citizenship from dual allegiance.
Held: Dual citizenship arises when, as a result of the concurrent application of the different laws of two or more states, a person is simultaneously considered a national by the said states. For instance, such a situation may arise when a person whose parents are citizens of a state which adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis is born in a state which follows the doctrine of jus soli. Such a person, ipso facto and without any voluntary act on his part, is concurrently considered a citizen of both states.
Dual allegiance, on the other hand, refers to a situation in which a person simultaneously owes, by some positive act, loyalty to two or more states. While dual citizenship is involuntary, dual allegiance is the result of an individual’s volition. (Mercado v. Manzano, 307 SCRA 630, May 26, 1999, En Banc [Mendoza])
- What is the main concern of Section 5, Article IV, 1987 Constitution, on citizenship? Consequently, are persons with mere dual citizenship disqualified to run for elective local positions under Section 40(d) of the Local Government Code?
Held: In including Section 5 in Article IV on citizenship, the concern of the Constitutional Commission was not with dual citizens per se but with naturalized citizens who maintain their allegiance to their countries of origin even after their naturalization. Hence, the phrase “dual citizenship” in R.A. No. 7160, Section 40(d) (Local Government Code) must be understood as referring to “dual allegiance.” Consequently, persons with mere dual citizenship do not fall under this disqualification. Unlike those with dual allegiance, who must, x x x, be subject to strict process with respect to the termination of their status, for candidates with dual citizenship, it should suffice if, upon the filing of their certificate of candidacy, they elect Philippine citizenship to terminate their status as persons with dual citizenship considering that their condition is the unavoidable consequence of conflicting laws of different states.
By electing Philippine citizenship, such candidates at the same time forswear allegiance to the other country of which they are also citizens and thereby terminate their status as dual citizens. It may be that, from the point of view of the foreign state and of its laws, such an individual has not effectively renounced his foreign citizenship. That is of no moment. (Mercado v. Manzano, G.R. No. 135083, 307 SCRA 630, May 26, 1999 [Mendoza])
- Cite instances when a citizen of the Philippines may possess dual citizenship considering the citizenship clause (Article IV) of the Constitution.
- Those born of Filipino fathers and/or mothers in foreign countries which follow the principle of jus soli;
- Those born in the Philippines of Filipino mothers and alien fathers if by the laws of their father’s country such children are citizens of that country;
- Those who marry aliens if by the laws of the latter’s country the former are considered citizens, unless by their act or omission they are deemed to have renounced Philippine citizenship.
(Mercado v. Manzano, G.R. No. 135083, 307 SCRA 630, May 26, 1999 [Mendoza])
- Does res judicata apply in cases hinging on the issue of citizenship?
Held: Petitioner maintains further that when citizenship is raised as an issue in judicial or administrative proceedings, the resolution or decision thereon is generally not considered res judicata in any subsequent proceeding challenging the same; citing the case of Moy Ya Lim Yao v. Commissioner of Immigration (41 SCRA 292 ). He insists that the same issue of citizenship may be threshed out anew.
Petitioner is correct insofar as the general rule is concerned, i.e., the principle of res judicata generally does not apply in cases hinging on the issue of citizenship. However, in the case of Burca v. Republic (51 SCRA 248 ), an exception to this general rule was recognized. The Court ruled in that case that in order that the doctrine of res judicata may be applied in cases of citizenship, the following must be present:
- a person’s citizenship be raised as a material issue in a controversy where said person is a party;
- the Solicitor General or his authorized representative took active part in the resolution thereof, and
- the finding on citizenship is affirmed by this Court.
Although the general rule was set forth in the case of Moy Ya Lim Yao, the case did not foreclose the weight of prior rulings on citizenship. It elucidated that reliance may somehow be placed on these antecedent official findings, though not really binding, to make the effort easier or simpler. (Valles v. COMELEC, 337 SCRA 543, Aug. 9, 2000, En Banc [Purisima])
Civilian Supremacy Clause
- The President issued Letter of Instruction (LOI) ordering the deployment of members of the Philippine Marines in the metropolis to conduct joint visibility patrols with members of the Philippine National Police in various shopping malls. Will this not violate the civilian supremacy clause under Section 3, Article II of the Constitution? Does this not amount to an “insidious incursion” of the military in the task of law enforcement in violation of Section 5(4), Article XVI of the Constitution?
Held: The deployment of the Marines does not constitute a breach of the civilian supremacy clause. The calling of the marines in this case constitutes permissible use of military assets for civilian law enforcement. x x x The limited participation of the Marines is evident in the provisions of the LOI itself, which sufficiently provides the metes and bounds of the Marines’ authority. It is noteworthy that the local police forces are the ones in charge of the visibility patrols at all times, the real authority belonging to the PNP. In fact, the Metro Manila Police Chief is the overall leader of the PNP-Philippine Marines joint visibility patrols. Under the LOI, the police forces are tasked to brief or orient the soldiers on police patrol procedures. It is their responsibility to direct and manage the deployment of the Marines. It is, likewise, their duty to provide the necessary equipment to the Marines and render logistical support to these soldiers. In view of the foregoing, it cannot be properly argued that military authority is supreme over civilian authority.
Moreover, the deployment of the Marines to assist the PNP does not unmake the civilian character of the police force. Neither does it amount to an “insidious incursion” of the military in the task of law enforcement in violation of Section 5, Article XVI of the Constitution.
In this regard, it is not correct to say that General Angelo Reyes, Chief of Staff of the AFP, by his alleged involvement in civilian law enforcement, has been virtually appointed to a civilian post in derogation of the aforecited provision. The real authority in these operations, as stated in the LOI, is lodged with the head of a civilian institution, the PNP, and not with the military. Such being the case, it does not matter whether the AFP Chief actually participates in the Task Force Tulungan since he does not exercise any authority or control over the same. Since none of the Marines was incorporated or enlisted as members of the PNP, there can be no appointment to a civilian position to speak of. Hence, the deployment of the Marines in the joint visibility patrols does not destroy the civilian character of the PNP.
Considering the above circumstances, the Marines render nothing more than assistance required in conducting the patrols. As such, there can be no “insidious incursion” of the military in civilian affairs nor can there be a violation of the civilian supremacy clause in the Constitution.
It is worth mentioning that military assistance to civilian authorities in various forms persists in Philippine jurisdiction. The Philippine experience reveals that it is not averse to requesting the assistance of the military in the implementation and execution of certain traditionally “civil” functions. x x x [S]ome of the multifarious activities wherein military aid has been rendered, exemplifying the activities that bring both the civilian and the military together in a relationship of cooperation, are:
- Administration of the Philippine National Red Cross;
- Relief and rescue operations during calamities and disasters;
- Amateur sports promotion and development;
- Development of the culture and the arts;
- Conservation of natural resources;
- Implementation of the agrarian reform program;
- Enforcement of customs laws;
- Composite civilian-military law enforcement activities;
- Conduct of licensure examinations;
- Conduct of nationwide tests for elementary and high school students;
- Anti-drug enforcement activities;
- Sanitary inspections;
- Conduct of census work;
- Administration of the Civil Aeronautics Board;
- Assistance in installation of weather forecasting devices;
- Peace and order policy formulation in local government units.
This unquestionably constitutes a gloss on executive power resulting from a systematic, unbroken, executive practice, long pursued to the knowledge of Congress and, yet, never before questioned. What we have here is mutual support and cooperation between the military and civilian authorities, not derogation of civilian supremacy.
In the United States, where a long tradition of suspicion and hostility towards the use of military force for domestic purposes has persisted and whose Constitution, unlike ours, does not expressly provide for the power to call, the use of military personnel by civilian law enforcement officers is allowed under circumstances similar to those surrounding the present deployment of the Philippine Marines. (IBP v. Hon. Ronaldo B. Zamora, G.R. No. 141284, Aug. 15, 2000, En Banc [Kapunan])
The Right to a Balanced and Healthful Ecology
- Is the right to a balanced and healthful ecology any less important than any of the civil and political rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights? Explain.
Held: While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles and State Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and political rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation, the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions. As a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for they are assumed to exist from the inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the fundamental charter, it is because of the well-founded fear of its framers that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health are mandated as state policies by the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting their continuing importance and imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to preserve the first and protect and advance the second, the day would not be too far when all else would be lost not only for the present generation, but also for those to come – generations which stand to inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of sustaining life. (Oposa v. Factoran, Jr., 224 SCRA 792 [Davide])
- The Province of Palawan and the City of Puerto Princesa enacted ordinances prohibiting the catching and/or exportation of live tropical fishes, and imposing penalties for violations thereof, in order to stop the illegal practice of cyanide fishing which destroys the corals and other marine resources. Several fishermen apprehended for violating the ordinances in question challenged their constitutionality contending that the ordinances violated their preferential right as subsistence and marginal fishermen to the use of our communal marine resources guaranteed by the Constitution, under Section 7, Article XIII. Will you sustain the challenge?
Held: The “preferential right” of subsistence or marginal fishermen to the use of marine resources is not absolute. In accordance with the Regalian Doctrine, marine resources belong to the State, and, pursuant to the first paragraph of Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, their “exploration, development and utilization x x x shall be under the full control and supervision of the State.” Moreover, their mandated protection, development and conservation x x x imply certain restrictions on whatever right of enjoyment there may be in favor of anyone. What must be borne in mind is the State policy enshrined in the Constitution regarding the duty of the State to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature (Section 16, Article II). The ordinances in question are meant precisely to protect and conserve our marine resources to the end that their enjoyment may be guaranteed not only for the present generation, but also for the generations to come. The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it a correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment. (Tano v. Gov. Salvador P. Socrates, G.R. No. 110249, Aug. 21, 1997)
- How should the State’s power to regulate educational institutions be exercised?
Held: Section 4, Article XIV of the Constitution recognizes the State’s power to regulate educational institutions:
The State recognizes the complementary roles of public and private institutions in the educational system and shall exercise reasonable supervision and regulation of all educational institutions.
As may be gleaned from the above provision, such power to regulate is subject to the requirement of reasonableness. Moreover, the Constitution allows merely the regulation and supervision of educational institutions, not the deprivation of their rights. (Miriam College Foundation, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 348 SCRA 265, 288, Dec. 15, 2000, 1st Div. [Kapunan])
- Discuss the academic freedom of institutions of higher learning.
Held: 1. Equally mandated by Article XIV, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution is that academic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning. Academic freedom of educational institutions has been defined as the right of the school or college to decide for itself, its aims and objectives, and how best to attain them – free from outside coercion or interference save possibly when the overriding public welfare calls for some restraint. It has a wide sphere of autonomy certainly extending to the choice of students. Said constitutional provision is not to be construed in a niggardly manner or in a grudging fashion. That would be to frustrate its purpose and nullify its intent (Garcia v. The Faculty Admission Committee, et al., supra; Tangonan v. Pano, et al., supra.)
While it is true that an institution of learning has a contractual obligation to afford its students a fair opportunity to complete the course they seek to pursue (Licup, et al. v. University of San Carlos [USC], et al., supra.), since a contract creates reciprocal rights and obligations, the obligation of the school to educate a student would imply a corresponding obligation on the part of the student to study and obey the rules and regulations of the school (Capitol Medical Center, Inc., et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al., supra.). When a student commits a serious breach of discipline or failed to maintain the required academic standard, he forfeits his contractual right. In this connection, this Court recognizes the expertise of educational institutions in the various fields of learning. Thus, they are afforded ample discretion to formulate reasonable rules and regulations in the admission of students (Yap Chin Fah, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 90063, December 12, 1989), including setting of academic standards. Within the parameters thereof, they are competent to determine who are entitled to admission and re-admission. (University of San Agustin, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 230 SCRA 761, 774-775, March 7, 1994 [Nocon])
- Section 5, Article XIV of the Constitution guarantees all institutions of higher learning academic freedom. This institutional academic freedom includes the right of the school or college to decide for itself, its aims and objectives, and how best to attain them free from outside coercion or interference save possibly when the overriding public welfare calls for some restraint (Tangonan v. Pano, 137 SCRA 245, 256-257 ). The essential freedoms subsumed in the term “academic freedom” encompasses the freedom to determine for itself on academic grounds:
- Who may teach,
- What may be taught,
- How it shall be taught, and
- Who may be admitted to study. (Isabelo, Jr. v. Perpetual Help College of Rizal, Inc., 227 SCRA 591, 595 ; Ateneo de Manila University v. Capulong, 222 SCRA 643, 660 ; Garcia v. The Faculty Admission Committee, Loyola School of Theology, 68 SCRA 277, 285 . The above formulation was made by Justice Felix Frankfurter in his concurring opinion in Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234, 263)
The right of the school to discipline its students is at once apparent in the third freedom, i.e., “how it shall be taught.” A school certainly cannot function in an atmosphere of anarchy.
Thus, there can be no doubt that the establishment of an educational institution requires rules and regulations necessary for the maintenance of an orderly educational program and the creation of an educational environment conducive to learning. Such rules and regulations are equally necessary for the protection of the students, faculty, and property (Angeles v. Sison, 112 SCRA 26, 37 ).
Moreover, the school has an interest in teaching the student discipline, a necessary, if not indispensable, value in any field of learning. By instilling discipline, the school teaches discipline. Accordingly, the right to discipline the student likewise finds basis in the freedom “what to teach.”
Incidentally, the school not only has the right but the duty to develop discipline in its students. The Constitution no less imposes such duty.
[All educational institutions] shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country, teach the rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge, and promote vocational efficiency (Section 3, Article XIV, Constitution).
In Angeles v. Sison, we also said that discipline was a means for the school to carry out its responsibility to help its students “grow and develop into mature, responsible, effective and worthy citizens of the community.” (Supra, at 37)
Finally, nowhere in the above formulation is the right to discipline more evident than in “who may be admitted to study.” If a school has the freedom to determine whom to admit, logic dictates that it also has the right to determine whom to exclude or expel, as well as upon whom to impose lesser sanctions such as suspension and the withholding of graduation privileges.
Thus, in Ateneo de Manila v. Capulong (222 SCRA 643 ), the Court upheld the expulsion of students found guilty of hazing by petitioner therein, holding that:
No one can be so myopic as to doubt that the immediate reinstatement of respondent students who have been investigated and found guilty by the Disciplinary Board to have violated petitioner university’s disciplinary rules and standards will certainly undermine the authority of the administration of the school. This we would be most loathe to do.
More importantly, it will seriously impair petitioner university’s academic freedom which has been enshrined in the 1935, 1973 and the present 1987 Constitution (Id., at 659-660).
(Miriam College Foundation, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 348 SCRA 265, Dec. 15, 2000, 1st Div. [Kapunan])
- May a university validly revoke a degree or honor it has conferred to a student after the graduation of the latter after finding that such degree or honor was obtained through fraud?
Held: In Garcia v. Faculty Admission Committee, Loyola School of Theology (68 SCRA 277 ), the SC pointed out that academic freedom of institutions of higher learning is a freedom granted to “institutions of higher learning” which is thus given a “wide sphere of authority certainly extending to the choice of students.” If such institution of higher learning can decide who can and who cannot study in it, it certainly can also determine on whom it can confer the honor and distinction of being its graduates.
Where it is shown that the conferment of an honor or distinction was obtained through fraud, a university has the right to revoke or withdraw the honor or distinction it has thus conferred. This freedom of a university does not terminate upon the “graduation” of a student, for it is precisely the “graduation” of such a student that is in question. (UP Board of Regents v. Hon. Court of Appeals and Arokiaswamy William Margaret Celine, G.R. No. 134625, Aug. 31, 1999, 2nd Div. [Mendoza])
- What are the essential freedoms subsumed in the term “academic freedom”?
Held: In Ateneo de Manila University v. Capulong (G.R. No. 99327, 27 May 1993), this Court cited with approval the formulation made by Justice Felix Frankfurter of the essential freedoms subsumed in the term “academic freedom” encompassing not only “the freedom to determine x x x on academic grounds who may teach, what may be taught (and) how it shall be taught,” but likewise “who may be admitted to study.” We have thus sanctioned its invocation by a school in rejecting students who are academically delinquent (Tangonan v. Pano, 137 SCRA 245 ), or a laywoman seeking admission to a seminary (Garcia v. Loyola School of Theology, 68 SCRA 277 ), or students violating “School Rules on Discipline.” (Ateneo de Manila University v. Capulong, supra.) (Isabelo, Jr. v. Perpetual Help College of Rizal, Inc., 227 SCRA 595-597, Nov. 8, 1993, En Banc [Vitug])
- Between the COA’s findings and conclusions and that of private auditors, which should prevail?
Held: Moreover, as the constitutionally-mandated auditor of all government agencies, the COA’s findings and conclusions necessarily prevail over those of private auditors, at least insofar as government agencies and officials are concerned. The superiority or preponderance of the COA audit over private audit can be gleaned from the records of the Constitutional Commission x x x. The findings and conclusions of the private auditor may guide private investors or creditors who require such private audit. Government agencies and officials, however, remain bound by the findings and conclusions of the COA, whether the matter falls under the first or second paragraph of Section 2, unless of course such findings and conclusions are modified or reversed by the courts.
The power of the COA to examine and audit government agencies, while non-exclusive, cannot be taken away from the COA. Section 3, Article IX-C of the Constitution mandates that:
“Sec. 3. No law shall be passed exempting any entity of the Government or its subsidiary in any guise whatsoever, or any investment of public funds, from the jurisdiction of the Commission on Audit.”
The mere fact that private auditors may audit government agencies does not divest the COA of its power to examine and audit the same government agencies. The COA is neither by-passed nor ignored since even with a private audit the COA will still conduct its usual examination and audit, and its findings and conclusions will still bind government agencies and their officials. A concurrent private audit poses no danger whatsoever of public funds or assets escaping the usual scrutiny of a COA audit. (Development Bank of the Philippines v. Commission on Audit, 373 SCRA 356, January 16, 2002, En Banc [Carpio])
- Is the constitutional power of the COA to examine and audit government banks and agencies exclusive? Does it preclude a concurrent audit by a private external auditor?
Held: The resolution of the primordial issue of whether or not the COA has the sole and exclusive power to examine and audit government banks involves an interpretation of Section 2, Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution. This Section provides as follows:
“Sec. 2. (1) The Commission on Audit shall have the power, authority, and duty to examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property, owned and held in trust by, or pertaining to, the Government, or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters, x x x.
“(2) The Commission shall have the exclusive authority, subject to the limitations in this Article, to define the scope of its audit and examination, establish the techniques and methods required therefore, and promulgate accounting and auditing rules and regulations, including those for the prevention and disallowance of irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable expenditures, or uses of government funds and properties.” (Emphasis supplied)
The COA vigorously asserts that under the first paragraph of Section 2, the COA enjoys the sole and exclusive power to examine and audit all government agencies, including the DBP. The COA contends this is similar to its sole and exclusive authority, under the same paragraph of the same section, to define the scope of its audit, promulgate auditing rules and regulations, including rules on the disallowance of unnecessary expenditures of government agencies. The bare language of Section 2, however, shows that the COA’s power under the first paragraph is not declared exclusive, while its authority under the second paragraph is expressly declared “exclusive.” There is a significant reason for this marked difference in language.
During the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, Commissioner Serafin Guingona proposed the addition of the word “exclusive” in the first paragraph of Section 2, thereby granting the COA the sole and exclusive power to examine and audit all government agencies. However, the Constitutional Commission rejected the addition of the word “exclusive” in the first paragraph of Section 2 and Guingona was forced to withdraw his proposal. X x x.
X x x
In sharp contrast, the Constitutional Commission placed the word “exclusive” to qualify the authority of the COA under the second paragraph of the same Section 2. This word “exclusive” did not appear in the counterpart provisions of Section 2 in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions. There is no dispute that the COA’s authority under the second paragraph of Section 2 is exclusive as the language of the Constitution admits of no other meaning. Thus, the COA has the exclusive authority to decide on disallowances of unnecessary government expenditures. Other government agencies and their officials, as well as private auditors engaged by them, cannot in any way intrude into this exclusive function of the COA.
The qualifying word “exclusive” in the second paragraph of Section 2 cannot be applied to the first paragraph which is another sub-section of Section 2. A qualifying word is intended to refer only to the phrase to which it is immediately associated, and not to a phrase distantly located in another paragraph or sub-section (Felipe v. De la Cruz, 99 Phil. 940 ; Tirona v. Cudiamat, 14 SCRA 264 ). Thus, the first paragraph of Section 2 must be read the way it appears, without the word “exclusive,” signifying that non-COA auditors can also examine and audit government agencies. Besides, the framers of the Constitution intentionally omitted the word “exclusive” in the first paragraph of Section 2 precisely to allow concurrent audit by private external auditors.
The clear and unmistakable conclusion from a reading of the entire Section 2 is that the COA’s power to examine and audit is non-exclusive. On the other hand, the COA’s authority to define the scope of its audit, promulgate auditing rules and regulations, and disallow unnecessary expenditures is exclusive.
X x x
Manifestly, the express language of the Constitution, and the clear intent of its framers, point to only one indubitable conclusion – the COA does not have the exclusive power to examine and audit government agencies. The framers of the Constitution were fully aware of the need to allow independent private audit of certain government agencies in addition to the COA audit, as when there is a private investment in a government-controlled corporation, or when a government corporation is privatized or publicly listed, or as in the case at bar when the government borrows money from abroad.
In these instances the government enters the marketplace and competes with the rest of the world in attracting investments or loans. To succeed, the government must abide with the reasonable business practices of the marketplace. Otherwise no investor or creditor will do business with the government, frustrating government efforts to attract investments or secure loans that may be critical to stimulate moribund industries or resuscitate a badly shattered national economy as in the case at bar. By design the Constitution is flexible enough to meet these exigencies. Any attempt to nullify this flexibility in the instances mentioned, or in similar instances, will be ultra vires, in the absence of a statute limiting or removing such flexibility.
The deliberations of the Constitutional Commission reveal eloquently the intent of Section 2, Article IX-D of the Constitution. As this Court has ruled repeatedly, the intent of the law is the controlling factor in the interpretation of the law (People v. Purisima, 86 SCRA 542 ; others omitted). If a law needs interpretation, the most dominant influence is the intent of the law (De Jesus v. City of Manila, 29 Phil. 73 ). The intent of the law is that which is expressed in the words of the law, which should be discovered within its four corners aided, if necessary, by its legislative history (Manila Lodge No. 761 v. Court of Appeals, 73 SCRA 162 ). In the case of Section 2, Article IX-D of the Constitution, the intent of the framers of the Constitution is evident from the bare language of Section 2 itself. The deliberations of the Constitutional Commission confirm expressly and even elucidate further this intent beyond any doubt whatsoever.
There is another constitutional barrier to the COA’s insistence of exclusive power to examine and audit all government agencies. The COA’s claim clashes directly with the Central Bank’s constitutional power of “supervision” over banks under Section 20, Article XII of the Constitution. X x x
Historically, the Central Bank has been conducting periodic and special examination and audit of banks to determine the soundness of their operations and the safety of the deposits of the public. Undeniably, the Central Bank’s power of “supervision” includes the power to examine and audit banks, as the banking laws have always recognized this power of the Central Bank. Hence, the COA’s power to examine and audit government banks must be reconciled with the Central Bank’s power to supervise the same banks. The inevitable conclusion is that the COA and the Central Bank have concurrent jurisdiction, under the Constitution, to examine and audit government banks.
However, despite the Central Bank’s concurrent jurisdiction over government banks, the COA’s audit still prevails over that of the Central Bank since the COA is the constitutionally mandated auditor of government banks. And in matters falling under the second paragraph of Section 2, Article IX-D of the Constitution, the COA’s jurisdiction is exclusive. Thus, the Central Bank is devoid of authority to allow or disallow expenditures of government banks since this function belongs exclusively to the COA. (Development Bank of the Philippines v. Commission on Audit, 373 SCRA 356, January 16, 2002, En Banc [Carpio])
- Does the Constitutional policy of a “self-reliant and independent national economy” rule out foreign competition?
Held: The constitutional policy of a “self-reliant and independent national economy” does not necessarily rule out the entry of foreign investments, goods and services. It contemplates neither “economic seclusion” nor “mendicancy in the international community.”
Aside from envisioning a trade policy based on “equality and reciprocity,” the fundamental law encourages industries that are “competitive in both domestic and foreign markets,” thereby demonstrating a clear policy against a sheltered domestic trade environment, but one in favor of the gradual development of robust industries that can compete with the best in the foreign markets. (Tanada v. Angara, 272 SCRA 18 )
- Is PHILSECO (Philippine Shipyard and Engineering Corporation), as a shipyard, a public utility and, hence, could be operated only by a corporation at least 60% of whose capital is owned by Filipino citizens in accordance with Article XII, Section 10 of the Constitution?
Held: Petitioner asserts that a shipyard is a public utility pursuant to Section 13 (b) of Commonwealth Act No. 146. Respondents, on the other hand, contend that shipyards are no longer public utilities by express provision of Presidential Decree No. 666, which provided incentives to the shipbuilding and ship repair industry.
Indeed, P.D. No. 666 dated March 5, 1975 explicitly stated that a “shipyard” was not a “public utility.” x x x
However, Section 1 of P.D. No. 666 was expressly repealed by Section 20 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 391, the Investment Incentive Policy Act of 1983. Subsequently, Executive Order No. 226, the Omnibus Investments Code of 1987, was issued and Section 85 thereof expressly repealed B.P. Blg. 391.
The express repeal of B.P. Blg. 391 by E.O. No. 226 did not revive Section 1 of P.D. No. 666, declassifying the shipbuilding and ship repair industry as a public utility, as said executive order did not provide otherwise. When a law which expressly repeals a prior law is itself repealed, the law first repealed shall not be thereby revived unless expressly so provided (Administrative Code of 1987, Book I, Chapter 5, Section 21). Consequently, when the APT [Asset Privatization Trust] drafted the ASBR [Asset Specific Bidding Rules] sometime in 1993, P.D. No. 666 no longer existed in our statute books. While it is true that the repeal of a statute does not operate to impair rights that have become vested or accrued while the statute was in force, there are no vested rights of the parties that should be protected in the case at bar. The reason is simple: said decree was already inexistent when the ASBR was issued.
A shipyard such as PHILSECO being a public utility as provided by law, the following provision of the Article XII of the Constitution applies:
“Sec. 11. No franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility shall be granted except to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations organized under the laws of the Philippines at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens, nor shall such franchise, certificate, or authorization be exclusive in character or for a longer period than fifty years. Neither shall any such franchise or right be granted except under the condition that it shall be subject to amendment, alteration, or repeal by the Congress when the common good so requires. The State shall encourage equity participation in public utilities by the general public. The participation of foreign investors in the governing body of any public utility enterprise shall be limited to their proportionate share in its capital, and all the executive and managing officers of such corporation or association shall be citizens of the Philippines.”
The progenitor of this constitutional provision, Article XIV, Section 5 of the 1973 Constitution, required the same proportion of 60%-40% capitalization. The JVA [Joint Venture Agreement] between NIDC [National Investment and Development Corporation] and Kawasaki [Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. of Kobe, Japan] entered into on January 27, 1977 manifests the intention of the parties to abide by the constitutional mandate on capitalization of public utilities. x x x
A joint venture is an association of persons or companies jointly undertaking some commercial enterprise with all of them generally contributing assets and sharing risks. x x x. Considered more of a partnership (Aurbach v. Sanitary Wares Manufacturing Corporation, G.R. No. 75875, 180 SCRA 130, 147 ), a joint venture is governed by the laws on contracts and on partnership. The joint venture created between NIDC and Kawasaki falls within the purview of an “association” pursuant to Section 5 of Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution and Section 11 of Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Consequently, a joint venture that would engage in the business of operating a public utility, such as a shipyard, must observe the proportion of 60%-40% Filipino-foreign capitalization. (JG Summit Holdings, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 345 SCRA 143, Nov. 20, 2000, 1st Div. [Ynares-Santiago])
The Rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples
- Does R.A. 8371, otherwise known as “the Indigenous People’s Rights Act” infringe upon the State’s ownership over the natural resources within the ancestral domains?
Held: Petitioners posit that IPRA deprives the State of its ownership over mineral lands of the public domain and other natural resources, as well as the State’s full control and supervision over the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources. Specifically, petitioners and the Solicitor General assail Sections 3[a], 5, and 7 of IPRA as violative of Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution which states, in part, that “[a]ll lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State.” (Section 2, Article XII, Constitution) They would have the Court declare as unconstitutional Section 3[a] of IPRA because the inclusion of natural resources in the definition of ancestral domains purportedly results in the abdication of State ownership over these resources.
X x x
Section 3[a] merely defines the coverage of ancestral domains, and describes the extent, limit and composition of ancestral domains by setting forth the standards and guidelines in determining whether a particular area is to be considered as part of and within the ancestral domains. In other words, Section 3[a] serves only as a yardstick which points out what properties are within the ancestral domains. It does not confer or recognize any right of ownership over the natural resources to the indigenous peoples. Its purpose is definitional and not declarative of a right or title.
The specification of what areas belong to the ancestral domains is, to our mind, important to ensure that no unnecessary encroachment on private properties outside the ancestral domains will result during the delineation process. The mere fact that Section 3[a] defines ancestral domains to include the natural resources found therein does not ipso facto convert the character of such natural resources as private property of the indigenous peoples. Similarly, Section 5 in relation to Section 3[a] cannot be construed as a source of ownership rights of indigenous people over the natural resources simply because it recognizes ancestral domains as their “private but community property.”
The phrase “private but community property” is merely descriptive of the indigenous peoples’ concept of ownership as distinguished from that provided in the Civil Code. x x x. In contrast, the indigenous peoples’ concept of ownership emphasizes the importance of communal or group ownership. By virtue of the communal character of ownership, the property held in common “cannot be sold, disposed or destroyed” because it was meant to benefit the whole indigenous community and not merely the individual member.
That IPRA is not intended to bestow ownership over natural resources to the indigenous peoples is also clear from the deliberations of the bicameral conference committee on Section 7 which recites the rights of indigenous peoples over their ancestral domains x x x.
Further, Section 7 makes no mention of any right of ownership of the indigenous peoples over the natural resources. In fact, Section 7[a] merely recognizes the “right to claim ownership over lands, bodies of water traditionally and actually occupied by indigenous peoples, sacred places, traditional hunting and fishing grounds, and all improvements made by them at any time within the domains.” Neither does Section 7[b], which enumerates certain rights of the indigenous peoples over the natural resources found within their ancestral domains, contain any recognition of ownership vis-à-vis the natural resources.
What is evident is that the IPRA protects the indigenous peoples’ rights and welfare in relation to the natural resources found within their ancestral domains, including the preservation of the ecological balance therein and the need to ensure that the indigenous peoples will not be unduly displaced when the State-approved activities involving the natural resources located therein are undertaken. (Separate Opinion, Kapunan, J., in Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, 347 SCRA 128, 284-293, Dec. 6, 2000, En Banc [Per Curiam])
- Has the concept of native title to natural resources, like native title to land, been recognized in the Philippines?
Held: The concept of native title to natural resources, unlike native title to land, has not been recognized in the Philippines. NCIP and Flavier, et al. invoke the case of Reavies v. Fianza (40 Phil. 1017 , 215 US 16, 54 L Ed 72) in support of their thesis that native title to natural resources has been upheld in this jurisdiction. They insist that “it is possible for rights over natural resources to vest on a private (as opposed to a public) holder if these were held prior to the 1935 Constitution.” However, a judicious examination of Reavies reveals that, contrary to the position of NCIP and Flavier, et al., the Court did not recognize native title to natural resources. Rather, it merely upheld the right of the indigenous peoples to claim ownership of minerals under the Philippine Bill of 1902.
While x x x native title to land or private ownership by Filipinos of land by virtue of time immemorial possession in the concept of an owner was acknowledged and recognized as far back during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, there was no similar favorable treatment as regards natural resources. The unique value of natural resources has been acknowledged by the State and is the underlying reason for its consistent assertion of ownership and control over said natural resources from the Spanish regime up to the present. Natural resources, especially minerals, were considered by Spain as an abundant source of revenue to finance its battle in wars against other nations. Hence, Spain, by asserting its ownership over minerals wherever these may be found, whether in public or private lands, recognized the separability of title over lands and that over minerals which may be found therein (Noblejas, Philippine Law on Natural Resources 1961 Revised Ed., p. 6).
On the other hand, the United States viewed natural resources as a source of wealth for its nationals. As the owner of natural resources over the Philippines after the latter’s cession from Spain, the United States saw it fit to allow both Filipino and American citizens to explore and exploit minerals in public lands, and to grant patents to private mineral lands. x x x. Although the United States made a distinction between minerals found in public lands and those found in private lands, title in these minerals was in all cases sourced from the State. The framers of the 1935 Constitution found it necessary to maintain the State’s ownership over natural resources to insure their conservation for future generations of Filipinos, to prevent foreign control of the country through economic domination; and to avoid situations whereby the Philippines would become a source of international conflicts, thereby posing danger to its internal security and independence.
The declaration of State ownership and control over minerals and other natural resources in the 1935 Constitution was reiterated in both the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. (Separate Opinion, Kapunan, J., in Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, 347 SCRA 128, 284-293, Dec. 6, 2000, En Banc [Per Curiam])
- Enumerate the Constitutional provisions recognizing and protecting the rights and interests of the indigenous peoples.
Held: The framers of the 1987 Constitution, looking back to the long destitution of our less fortunate brothers, fittingly saw the historic opportunity to actualize the ideals of people empowerment and social justice, and to reach out particularly to the marginalized sectors of society, including the indigenous peoples. They incorporated in the fundamental law several provisions recognizing and protecting the rights and interests of the indigenous peoples, to wit:
Section 22. The State recognizes and promotes the rights of indigenous peoples within the framework of national unity and development. (Article II of the Constitution, entitled State Principles and Policies)
Section 5. The State, subject to the provisions of the Constitution and national development policies and programs, shall protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to their ancestral lands to ensure their economic, social, and cultural well-being.
The Congress may provide for the applicability of customary laws governing property rights and relations in determining the ownership and extent of ancestral domains. (Article XII of the Constitution, entitled National Economy and Patrimony)
Section 1. The Congress shall give the highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic and political inequalities, and remove cultural inequalities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good.
To this end, the State shall regulate the acquisition, ownership, use and disposition of property and its increments. (Article XIII of the Constitution, entitled Social Justice and Human Rights)
Section 6. The State shall apply the principles of agrarian reform or stewardship, whenever applicable in accordance with law, in the disposition and utilization of other natural resources, including lands of the public domain under lease or concession, subject to prior rights, homestead rights of small settlers, and the rights of indigenous communities to their ancestral lands. (Ibid.)
Section 17. The State shall recognize, respect, and protect the rights of cultural communities to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions, and institutions. It shall consider these rights in the formulation of national plans and policies. (Article XIV of the Constitution, entitled Education, Science, Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports)
Section 12. The Congress may create a consultative body to advise the President on policies affecting indigenous cultural communities, the majority of the members of which shall come from such communities. (Article XVI of the Constitution, entitled General Provisions)
(Separate Opinion, Kapunan, J., in Isagani Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, et al., G.R. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000, En Banc)
- Discuss the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (R.A. No. 8371).
Held: Republic Act No. 8371 is entitled “An Act to Recognize, Protect and Promote the Rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples, Creating a National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Establishing Implementing Mechanisms, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes.” It is simply known as “The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997” or the IPRA.
The IPRA recognizes the existence of the indigenous cultural communities or indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) as a distinct sector in Philippine society. It grants these people the ownership and possession of their ancestral domains and ancestral lands, and defines the extent of these lands and domains. The ownership given is the indigenous concept of ownership under customary law which traces its origin to native title.
X x x
Within their ancestral domains and ancestral lands, the ICCs/IPs are given the right to self-governance and empowerment (Sections 13 to 20), social justice and human rights (Sections 21 to 28), the right to preserve and protect their culture, traditions, institutions and community intellectual rights, and the right to develop their own sciences and technologies (Sections 29 to 37). (Separate Opinion, Puno, J., in Isagani Cruz v. Secretary of DENR, et al., G.R. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000, En Banc)
- Define “indigenous peoples/indigenous cultural communities.”
Held: 1. Drawing inspiration from both our fundamental law and international law, IPRA now employs the politically-correct conjunctive term “indigenous peoples/indigenous cultural communities” as follows:
Section 3. Definition of Terms. – For purposes of this Act, the following terms shall mean:
- Indigenous peoples/Indigenous cultural communities. – refer to a group of people or homogenous societies identified by self-ascription and ascription by others, who have continuously lived as organized community on communally bounded and defined territory, and who have, under claims of ownership since time immemorial, occupied, possessed and utilized such territories, sharing common bonds of language, customs, traditions, and other distinctive cultural traits, or who have, through resistance to political, social and cultural inroads of colonization, non-indigenous religions and cultures, became historically differentiated from the majority of Filipinos. Indigenous peoples shall likewise include peoples who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country at the time of conquest or colonization, or at the time of inroads of non-indigenous religions and cultures, or the establishment of present State boundaries, who retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions, but who may have been displaced from their traditional domains or who may have resettled outside their ancestral domains x x x.
(Separate Opinion, Kapunan, J., in Isagani Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, et al., G.R. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000, En Banc)
- The IPRA is a law dealing with a specific group of people, i.e., the Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) or the Indigenous Peoples (IPs). The term “ICCs” is used in the 1987 Constitution while that of “IPs” is the contemporary international language in the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169 (Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, June 27, 1989) and the United Nations (UN) Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Guide to R.A. 8371, published by the Coalition for IPs Rights and Ancestral Domains in cooperation with the ILO and Bilance-Asia Department, p. 4  – hereinafter referred to as Guide to R.A. 8371).
Indigenous Cultural Communities or Indigenous Peoples refer to a group of people or homogeneous societies who have continuously lived as an organized community on communally bounded and defined territory. These groups of people have actually occupied, possessed and utilized their territories under claim of ownership since time immemorial. They share common bonds of language, customs, traditions and other distinctive cultural traits, or, they, by their resistance to political, social and cultural inroads of colonization, non-indigenous religions and cultures, became historically differentiated from the Filipino majority. ICCs/IPs also include descendants of ICCs/IPs who inhabited the country at the time of conquest or colonization, who retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions but who may have been displaced from their traditional territories or who may have resettled outside their ancestral domains. (Separate Opinion, Puno, J., in Isagani Cruz v. Secretary of DENR, et al., G.R. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000, En Banc)
- Define “ancestral domains” and “ancestral lands.” Do they constitute part of the land of the public domain?
Held: Ancestral domains and ancestral lands are the private property of indigenous peoples and do not constitute part of the land of the public domain.
The IPRA grants to ICCs/IPs a distinct kind of ownership over ancestral domains and ancestral lands. Ancestral lands are not the same as ancestral domains. These are defined in Section 3(a) and (b) of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act x x x.
Ancestral domains are all areas belonging to ICCs/IPs held under a claim of ownership, occupied or possessed by ICCs/IPs by themselves or through their ancestors, communally or individually since time immemorial, continuously until the present, except when interrupted by war, force majeure or displacement by force, deceit, stealth or as a consequence of government projects or any other voluntary dealings with government and/or private individuals or corporations. Ancestral domains comprise lands, inland waters, coastal areas, and natural resources therein and includes ancestral lands, forests, pasture, residential, agricultural, and other lands individually owned whether alienable or not, hunting grounds, burial grounds, worship areas, bodies of water, mineral and other natural resources. They also include lands which may no longer be exclusively occupied by ICCs/IPs but from which they traditionally had access to for their subsistence and traditional activities, particularly the home ranges of ICCs/IPs who are still nomadic and/or shifting cultivators (Section 3[a], IPRA).
Ancestral lands are lands held by the ICCs/IPs under the same conditions as ancestral domains except that these are limited to lands and that these lands are not merely occupied and possessed but are also utilized by the ICCs/IPs under claims of individual or traditional group ownership. These lands include but are not limited to residential lots, rice terraces or paddies, private forests, swidden farms and tree lots (Section 3[b], IPRA). (Separate Opinion, Puno, J., in Isagani Cruz v. Secretary of DENR, et al., G.R. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000, En Banc)
- How may ICCs/IPs acquire rights to their ancestral domains and ancestral lands?
Held: The rights of the ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains and ancestral lands may be acquired in two modes: (1) by native title over both ancestral lands and domains; or (2) by torrens title under the Public Land Act and the Land Registration Act with respect to ancestral lands only. (Separate Opinion, Puno, J., in Isagani Cruz v. Secretary of DENR, et al., G.R. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000, En Banc)
- What is the concept of “native title”? What is a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT)?
Held: Native title refers to ICCs/IPs preconquest rights to lands and domains held under a claim of private ownership as far back as memory reaches. These lands are deemed never to have been public lands and are indisputably presumed to have been held that way since before the Spanish Conquest. The rights of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains (which also include ancestral lands) by virtue of native title shall be recognized and respected (Section 11, IPRA). Formal recognition, when solicited by ICCs/IPs concerned, shall be embodied in a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT), which shall recognize the title of the concerned ICCs/IPs over the territories identified and delineated.
Like a torrens title, a CADT is evidence of private ownership of land by native title. Native title, however, is a right of private ownership peculiarly granted to ICCs/IPs over their ancestral lands and domains. The IPRA categorically declares ancestral lands and domains held by native title as never to have been public land. Domains and lands held under native title are, therefore, indisputably presumed to have never been public lands and are private.
The concept of native title in the IPRA was taken from the 1909 case of Carino v. Insular Government (41 Phil. 935 , 212 U.S. 449, 53 L. Ed. 594). Carino firmly established a concept of private land title that existed irrespective of any royal grant from the State. (Separate Opinion, Puno, J., in Isagani Cruz v. Secretary of DENR, et al., G.R. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000, En Banc)
- Distinguish ownership of land under native title and ownership by acquisitive prescription against the State.
Held: Ownership by virtue of native title presupposes that the land has been held by its possessor and his predecessor-in-interest in the concept of an owner since time immemorial. The land is not acquired from the State, that is, Spain or its successor-in-interest, the United States and the Philippine Government. There has been no transfer of title from the State as the land has been regarded as private in character as far back as memory goes. In contrast, ownership of land by acquisitive prescription against the State involves a conversion of the character of the property from alienable public land to private land, which presupposes a transfer of title from the State to a private person. (Separate Opinion, Kapunan, J., in Isagani Cruz v. Secretary of DENR, G.R. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000, En Banc)
The Right of the State to Recover Properties Unlawfully Acquired by Public Officials or Employees
- Does the right of the State to recover properties unlawfully acquired by public officials or employees which may not be barred by prescription, laches, or estoppel under Section 15, Article XI of the Constitution apply to criminal cases for the recovery of ill-gotten wealth?
Held: Section 15, Article XI, 1987 Constitution provides that “[T]he right of the State to recover properties unlawfully acquired by public officials or employees, from them or from their nominees as transferees, shall not be barred by prescription, laches, or estoppel.” From the proceedings of the Constitutional Commission of 1986, however, it was clear that this provision applies only to civil actions for recovery of ill-gotten wealth, and not to criminal cases. Thus, the prosecution of offenses arising from, relating or incident to, or involving ill-gotten wealth contemplated in Section 15, Article XI of the Constitution may be barred by prescription. (Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans, et al. v. Hon. Aniano A. Desierto, et al., G.R. No. 130140, Oct. 25, 1999, En Banc [Davide, C.J.])