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G.R. No. 177168, August 03, 2015 461.

NAVY OFFICERS' VILLAGE ASSOCIATION, INC. The RTC resolved both issues in NOVAI's favor.
(NOVAI), Petitioner, v. REPUBLIC OF THE The CA reversed and set aside the RTC's decision. It ruled
PHILIPPINES, Respondent. that the property is inalienable land of the public domain;
thus, it cannot be disposed of or be the subject of a
DECISION sale. hence, this petition.

The Factual Antecedents


ISSUES: CA erred in declaring that: (a) the property is
5
TCT No. T-15387, issued in NOVAI's name, covers a 475,009 inalienable land of the public domain, (b) the deed of sale and
square-meter parcel of land (the property)6 situated inside the Proclamation No. 2487 were void and nonexistent,
former Fort Andres Bonifacio Military Reservation (FBMR) in respectively, (c) the Republic's action for cancellation of title
Taguig, Metro Manila. was not barred by prescription, and (d) the ruling
in Southsidewas applicable to the present case.
The property previously formed part of parcel of land situated
at the former Fort William McKinley, Rizal, issued in the name BCDA's Comment-in-Intervention
of the Republic of the Philippines.
On December 28, 2007, and while the case was pending
then President Carlos P. Garcia issued Proclamation No. before this Court, the Bases Conversion Development
4237 "reserving for military purposes certain parcels of the Authority (BCDA) filed a motion for leave to file comment-in-
public domain situated in the municipalities of Pasig, Taguig, intervention and to admit the attached comment-in-
Paraaque, province of Rizal, and Pasay City intervention AND WAS GRANTED.cralawrednad

then Pres. Diosdado Macapagal issued Proclamation No. As the Republic has done, the BCDA contends that NOVAI is
4618 which excluded from Fort McKinley "a certain portion of disqualified from acquiring the property given the
land embraced therein, situated in the municipalities of constitutional and statutory provisions that prohibit the
Taguig and Paraaque, Province of Rizal, and Pasay City and acquisition of lands of the public domain by a corporation or
declared the excluded area as "AFP Officers' Village" to be association; The BCDA further contends that NOVAI miserably
disposed of under the provisions of Republic Act Nos. failed to comply with the legal requirements for the release of
2749 and 730.10cralawrednad the property from the military reservation. Also, the BCDA
observed that NOVAI was incorporated only on December 11,
Barely a month after, Pres. Macapagal issued Proclamation 1991, while the deed of sale was purportedly executed on
No. 47811"reserving for the veterans rehabilitation, medicare November 15, 1991, which shows that NOVAI did not yet
and training center site purposes" an area of the land legally exist at the time of the property's purported sale.
previously declared as AFP Officers' Village under
Proclamation No. 461, and placed the reserved area under
the administration of the Veterans Federation of the OUR RULING
Philippines (VFP). The property is within the 537,520 square-
meter parcel of land reserved in VFP's favor. We resolve to DENY NOVAI's petition for review
on certiorari as we find no reversible error committed by the
On November 15, 1991, the property was the subject of a CA
Deed of Sale12between the Republic of the Philippines,
through former Land Management Bureau (LMB) Director B. On BCD A's Intervention
Abelardo G. Palad, Jr., (Dir. Palad) and petitioner NOVAI. The
deed of sale was subsequently registered was issued in In the present case, the BCDA is indisputably the agency
NOVAI's name. specifically created under R.A. No. 7227 32 to own, hold and/or
administer military reservations including, among others,
those located inside the FBMR. If we are to affirm the CA's
The Republic's Complaint for Cancellation of Title decision, the BCDA stands to benefit as a favorable ruling will
enable it to pursue its mandate under R.A. No. 7227. On the
In its complaint13 filed with the the Republic sought to cancel other hand, if we reverse the CA's decision, it stands to suffer
NOVAFs title based on the following grounds: (a) the land as the contrary ruling will greatly affect the BCDA's
covered by NOVAFs title is part of a military reservation; (b) performance of its legal mandate as it will lose the property
the deed of sale conveying the property to NOVAI, which without the opportunity to defend its right in court.
became the basis for the issuance of TCT No. 15387, is
fictitious; (c) the LMB has no records of any application made Indeed, the BCDA has such substantial and material interest
by NOVAI for the purchase of the property, and of the NOVAFs both in the outcome of the case and in the disputed property
alleged payment of P14,250,270.00 for the property; and (d) that a final adjudication cannot be made in its absence
the presidential proclamation, i.e., Proclamation No. 2487, without affecting such interest. Clearly, the BCDA's
claimed to have been issued by then President Corazon C. intervention is necessary; hence, we allow the BCDA's
Aquino in 1991 that authorized the transfer and titling of the intervention although made beyond the period prescribed
property to NOVAI, is fictitious. under Section 2, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court.

NOVAI's Answer to the Complaint


II. Substantive Issues
NOVAI counter-argued that the property was no longer part
of the public dominion, as the land had long been segregated A. The property is non-disposable land of the public domain
from the military reservation pursuant to Proclamation No. reserved for public or quasi-public use or purpose
We agree with the CA that the property remains a part of the of the public domain as alienable and disposable, mineral or
public domain that could not have been validly disposed of in timber land, and transfer such lands from one class to
NOVAI's favor. NOVAI failed to discharge its burden of proving another at any time.
that the property was withdrawn from the intended public or
quasi-public use or purpose. Within the class of alienable and disposable lands of the
public domain, the President may further classify public
While the parties disagree on the character and nature of the domain lands, according to the use or purpose to which they
property at the time of the questioned sale, they agree, are destined, as agricultural: residential, commercial,
however, that the property formed part of the FBMR - a industrial, etc.; educational, charitable, etc.; and reservations
military reservation belonging to the public domain. We note for townsites and for public and quasi-public uses; and, he
that the FBMR has been the subject of several presidential may transfer such lands from one class to the other at any
proclamations and statues issued subsequent to Proclamation time.
No. 423, which either removed or reserved for specific public
or quasi-public use or purpose certain of its portions. Thus, the President may, for example, transfer a certain parcel
of land from its classification as agricultural (under Section 9
Under Section 6 of C.A. No. 141, the President of the Republic [a]), to residential, commercial, industrial, or for similar
of the Philippines, upon the recommendation of the Secretary purposes (under Section 9 [b]) and declare it available for
of Agriculture and Natural Resources, may, from time to disposition under any of the modes of disposition of alienable
time, classifylands of the public domain into alienable or and disposable public lands available under C.A. No. 141, as
disposable, timber and mineral lands, and transfer these amended.
lands from one class to another for purposes of their
administration and disposition. Once these parcels of lands are actually acquired by private
persons, either by sale, grant, or other modes of disposition,
Under Section 7 of C.A. No. 141, the President may, from time they are removed from the mass of land of the public domain
to time, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and become, by operation of law, their private property.
and Natural Resources and for purposes of the administration
and disposition of alienable and disposable public With particular regard, however, to parcels of land classified
lands, declare what lands are open to disposition or as reservations for public and quasi-public uses (under
concession under the Acts' provisions. 33cralawrednad Section 9 [d]), when the President transfers them to the class
of .alienable and disposable public domain lands destined for
Section 8 of C.A. No. 141 sets out the public lands open to residential, commercial, industrial, or for similar purposes
disposition or concession and the requirement that they have (under Section 9 [b]), or some other class under Section 9,
been officially delimited and classified, and when practicable, these reserved public domain lands become available for
surveyed. Section 8 excludes (by implication) from disposition disposition under any of the available modes of disposition
or concession, public lands which have been reserved for under C.A. No. 141, as provided above. Once these re-
public or quasi-public uses; appropriated by the Government; classified lands (to residential purposes from reservation for
or in any manner have become private property, or those on public and quasi-public uses) are actually acquired by private
which a private right authorized and recognized by the Act or persons, they become private property.
any other valid law may be claimed. Further, Section 8
authorizes the President to suspend the concession or In the meantime, however, and until the parcels of land are
disposition of lands previously declared open to disposition, actually granted to, acquired, or purchased by private
until again declared open to disposition by his proclamation persons, they remain lands of the public domain which the
or by act of Congress. President, under Section 9 of C.A. No. 141, may classify again
as reservations for public and quasi-public uses. The President
Lands of the public domain classified as alienable and may also, under Section 8 of C.A. No. 141, suspend their
disposable are further classified, under Section 9 of C.A. No. concession or disposition.
141, according to their use or purpose into: (1) agricultural;
(2) residential, commercial, industrial, or for similar If these parcels of land are re-classified as reservations before
productive purposes; (3) educational, charitable, or other they are actually acquired by private persons, or if the
similar purposes; and (4) reservations for townsites and for President suspends their concession or disposition, they shall
public and quasi-public uses. Section 9 also authorizes the not be subject to occupation, entry, sale, lease, or other
President to make the classifications and, at any time, transfer disposition until again declared open for disposition by
lands from one class to another. proclamation of the President pursuant to Section 88 in
relation with Section 8 of C.A. No. 141.
Section 83 of C.A. No. 141 defines public domain lands
classified as reservations for public and quasi-public uses as Thus, in a limited sense, parcels of land classified as
"any tract or tracts of land of the public domain" which the reservations for public or quasi-public uses under Section 9
President, by proclamation and upon recommendation of the (d) of C.A. No. 141 are still non-alienable and non-disposable,
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, even though they are, by the general classification under
may designate "as reservations for the use of the Republic of Section 6, alienable and disposable lands of the public
the Philippines or any of its branches, or of the inhabitants domain. By specific declaration under Section 88, in relation
thereof or "for quasi-public uses or purposes when the public with Section 8, these lands classified as reservations are non-
interest requires it."34 Under Section 88 of the same alienable and non-disposable.
Act, these "reserved tract or tracts of lands shall be non-
alienable and shall not be subject to occupation, entry, sale, In short, parcels of land classified as reservations for public or
lease or other disposition until again declared alienable quasi-public uses: (1) are non-alienable and non-disposable in
under the provisions of [CA No. 141] or by proclamation of view of Section 88 (in relation with Section 8) of CA No. 141
the President."35cralawrednad specifically declaring them as non-alienable and not subject
to disposition; and (2) they remain public domain lands until
As these provisions operate, the President may classify lands they are actually disposed of in favor of private persons.
In this regard, Article 419 of the Civil Code classifies property
as either of public dominion or of private ownership. Article
42037 defines property of the public dominion as those which
are intended for public use or, while not intended for public
use, belong to the State and are intended for some public
service. Article 421, on the other hand, defines patrimonial
property as all other property of the State which is not of the
character stated in Article 420. While Article 422 states that
public dominion property which is no longer intended for
public use or service shall form part of the State's patrimonial
property.

Thus, from the perspective of the general Civil Code


provisions on Property, lands which are intended for public
use or public service such as reservations for public or quasi-
public uses are property of the public dominion and remain to
be so as long as they remain reserved.

As property of the public dominion, public lands reserved for


public or quasi-public uses are outside the commerce of
man.38 They cannot be subject to sale, disposition or
encumbrance; any sale, disposition or encumbrance of such
property of the public dominion is void for being contrary to
law and public policy.39cralawrednad

To be subject to sale, occupation or other disposition, lands of


the public domain designated as reservations must first be
withdrawn, by act of Congress or by proclamation of the
President, from the public or quasi-public use for which it has
been reserved or otherwise positively declared to have been
converted to patrimonial property, pursuant to Sections 8 and
88 of C.A. No. 141 and Article 422 of the Civil Code. 40 Without
such express declaration or positive governmental act, the
reserved public domain lands remain to be public dominion
property of the State.41cralawrednad

To summarize our discussion:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

(1) Lands of the public domain classified as reservations for


public or quasi-public uses are non-alienable and shall not be
subject to disposition, although they are, by the general
classification under Section 6 of C.A. No. 141, alienable and
disposable lands of the public domain, until declared open for
disposition by proclamation of the President; and

(2) Lands of the public domain classified as reservations are


property of the public dominion; they remain to be property
of the public dominion until withdrawn from the public or
quasi-public use for which they have been reserved, by act of
Congress or by proclamation of the President, or otherwise
positively declared to have been converted to patrimonial
property.

2. Proclamation No. 2487 which purportedly revoked


Proclamation No. 478 does not legally exist; hence, it did not
withdraw the property from the reservation or from the
public dominion

Neither can Proclamation No. 2487 serve as legal basis for the
property's sale in NOVAI's favor. Proclamation No. 2487
purportedly revoked Proclamation No. 478 and declared the
property open for disposition in favor of NOVAI.

Hence, even if NOVAI relies on Proclamation No. 2487 - on


which it did not as it relied on Proclamation No. 4.61 - the
sale and NOVAI's title are still void.
then President Fidel V. Ramos issued Presidential
Administrative Order No. 365 creating a Legal Task Force to
conduct a study on the legality of the JVA in view of Senate
G.R. No. 133250. July 9, 2002] Committee Report. The Legal Task Force upheld the legality of
the JVA.

petitioner Frank I. Chavez (Petitioner for brevity) as a


FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, petitioner, vs. PUBLIC ESTATES taxpayer, filed the instant Petition for Mandamus with Prayer
AUTHORITY and AMARI COASTAL BAY for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, respondents. Temporary Restraining Order. Petitioner contends the
government stands to lose billions of pesos in the sale by PEA
the government, through the Commissioner of Public of the reclaimed lands to AMARI. Petitioner prays that PEA
Highways, signed a contract with the Construction and publicly disclose the terms of any renegotiation of the JVA,
Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP for invoking on the right of the people to information on matters
brevity) to reclaim certain foreshore and offshore areas of of public concern. Petitioner assails the sale to AMARI of
Manila Bay. The contract also included the construction of lands of the public domain as a blatant violation of Section 3,
Phases I and II of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road. CDCP Article XII of the 1987 Constitution prohibiting the sale of
obligated itself to carry out all the works in consideration of alienable lands of the public domain to private corporations.
fifty percent of the total reclaimed land. Finally, petitioner asserts that he seeks to enjoin the loss of
billions of pesos in properties of the State that are of public
then President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential dominion.
Decree No. 1084 creating PEA. PD No. 1084 tasked PEA to
reclaim land, including foreshore and submerged areas, and the Court gave due course to the petition and required the
to develop, improve, acquire, x x x lease and sell any and all parties to file their respective memoranda.
kinds of lands.[1] On the same date, then President Marcos
issued Presidential Decree No. 1085 transferring to PEA the PEA and AMARI signed the Amended Joint Venture
lands reclaimed in the foreshore and offshore of the Manila Agreement (Amended JVA, for brevity). the Office of the
Bay[2] under the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation President under the administration of then President Joseph
Project (MCCRRP). E. Estrada approved the Amended JVA. petitioner now prays
that on constitutional and statutory grounds the renegotiated
then President Marcos issued a memorandum directing PEA contract be declared null and void.[14]
to amend its contract with CDCP, so that [A]ll future works in
MCCRRP x x x shall be funded and owned by PEA. Accordingly, The Issues VI. WHETHER THE STIPULATIONS IN THE
PEA and CDCP executed a Memorandum of Agreement AMENDED JOINT VENTURE AGREEMENT FOR THE TRANSFER
TO AMARI OF CERTAIN LANDS, RECLAIMED AND STILL TO BE
then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Special Patent No. RECLAIMED, VIOLATE THE 1987 CONSTITUTION
3517, granting and transferring to PEA the parcels of land so
reclaimed under the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and
Reclamation Project (MCCRRP). Subsequently, on April 9,
ixth issue: whether stipulations in the Amended JVA for the
1988, the Register of Deeds of the Municipality of Paraaque
transfer to AMARI of lands, reclaimed or to be reclaimed,
issued Transfer Certificates of Title Subsequently, on April 9,
violate the Constitution.
1988, the Register of Deeds of the Municipality of Paraaque
issued Transfer Certificates of Title.
The Regalian Doctrine
PEA entered into a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA for brevity)
with AMARI, a private corporation, to develop the Freedom The ownership of lands reclaimed from foreshore and
Islands. The JVA also required the reclamation of an submerged areas is rooted in the Regalian doctrine which
additional 250 hectares of submerged areas surrounding holds that the State owns all lands and waters of the public
these islands to complete the configuration in the Master domain.Upon the Spanish conquest of the Philippines,
Development Plan of the Southern Reclamation Project- ownership of all lands, territories and possessions in the
MCCRRP. PEA and AMARI entered into the JVA through Philippines passed to the Spanish Crown. [42] The King, as the
negotiation without public bidding. the Board of Directors of sovereign ruler and representative of the people, acquired
PEA, in its Resolution No. 1245, confirmed the JVA. then and owned all lands and territories in the Philippines except
President Fidel V. Ramos, through then Executive Secretary those he disposed of by grant or sale to private individuals.
Ruben Torres, approved the JVA. The 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions adopted the
Regalian doctrine substituting, however, the State, in lieu of
then Senate President Ernesto Maceda delivered a privilege the King, as the owner of all lands and waters of the public
speech in the Senate and denounced the JVA as the domain.The Regalian doctrine is the foundation of the time-
grandmother of all scams. As a result, the Senate Committee honored principle of land ownership that all lands that were
on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, and the not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by
Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and grant, belong to the public domain. [43] Article 339 of the Civil
Investigations, conducted a joint investigation. Among the Code of 1889, which is now Article 420 of the Civil Code of
conclusions of their report are: (1) the reclaimed lands PEA 1950, incorporated the Regalian doctrine.
seeks to transfer to AMARI under the JVA are lands of the
public domain which the government has not classified as Ownership and Disposition of Reclaimed Lands
alienable lands and therefore PEA cannot alienate these The Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 was the first
lands; (2) the certificates of title covering the Freedom Islands statutory law governing the ownership and disposition of
are thus void, and (3) the JVA itself is illegal. reclaimed lands in the Philippines. On May 18, 1907, the
Philippine Commission enacted Act No. 1654 which
provided for the lease, but not the sale, of reclaimed lands domain, open to disposition or concession to qualified
of the government to corporations and individuals. Later, on parties.
November 29, 1919, the Philippine Legislature approved Act
At the time then President Aquino issued Special Patent
No. 2874, the Public Land Act, which authorized the lease,
No. 3517, PEA had already reclaimed the Freedom Islands
but not the sale, of reclaimed lands of the government to
although subsequently there were partial erosions on some
corporations and individuals. On November 7, 1936, the
areas. The government had also completed the necessary
National Assembly passed Commonwealth Act No. 141, also
surveys on these islands. Thus, the Freedom Islands were no
known as the Public Land Act, which authorized the lease,
longer part of Manila Bay but part of the land mass. Section 3,
but not the sale, of reclaimed lands of the government to
Article XII of the 1987 Constitution classifies lands of the
corporations and individuals. CA No. 141 continues to this
public domain into agricultural, forest or timber, mineral
day as the general law governing the classification and
lands, and national parks. Being neither timber, mineral, nor
disposition of lands of the public domain.
national park lands, the reclaimed Freedom Islands
necessarily fall under the classification of agricultural lands of
D. Conclusion
the public domain. Under the 1987 Constitution, agricultural
lands of the public domain are the only natural resources that
Reclaimed lands are lands of the public domain. However, by the State may alienate to qualified private parties. All other
statutory authority, the rights of ownership and disposition natural resources, such as the seas or bays, are waters x x x
over reclaimed lands have been transferred to PEA, by virtue owned by the State forming part of the public domain, and
of which PEA, as owner, may validly convey the same to any are inalienable pursuant to Section 2, Article XII of the 1987
qualified person without violating the Constitution or any Constitution.
statute.
AMARI claims that the Freedom Islands are private lands
The constitutional provision prohibiting private corporations because CDCP, then a private corporation, reclaimed the
from holding public land, except by lease (Sec. 3, Art. XVII, islands under a contract dated November 20, 1973 with the
[70]
1987 Constitution), does not apply to reclaimed lands Commissioner of Public Highways. AMARI, citing Article 5 of
whose ownership has passed on to PEA by statutory grant. the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, argues that if the
ownership of reclaimed lands may be given to the party
constructing the works, then it cannot be said that reclaimed
Under Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, the
lands are lands of the public domain which the State may not
foreshore and submerged areas of Manila Bay are part of the
alienate.[75] Article 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters reads as
lands of the public domain, waters x x x and other natural
follows:
resources and consequently owned by the State. As such,
foreshore and submerged areas shall not be alienated, unless
they are classified as agricultural lands of the public Article 5. Lands reclaimed from the sea in consequence of
domain. The mere reclamation of these areas by PEA does works constructed by the State, or by the provinces, pueblos
not convert these inalienable natural resources of the State or private persons, with proper permission, shall become the
into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. There property of the party constructing such works, unless
must be a law or presidential proclamation officially otherwise provided by the terms of the grant of authority.
classifying these reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable (Emphasis supplied)
and open to disposition or concession. Moreover, these
reclaimed lands cannot be classified as alienable or PD No. 3-A repealed Section 5 of the Spanish Law of Waters
disposable if the law has reserved them for some public or of 1866 because reclamation of areas under water could now
quasi-public use.[71] be undertaken only by the National Government or by a
person contracted by the National Government. Private
Section 8 of CA No. 141 provides that only those lands parties may reclaim from the sea only under a contract with
shall be declared open to disposition or concession which the National Government, and no longer by grant or
have been officially delimited and classified.[72] The President permission as provided in Section 5 of the Spanish Law of
has the authority to classify inalienable lands of the public Waters of 1866.
domain into alienable or disposable lands of the public
domain, pursuant to Section 6 of CA No. 141. Executive Order No. 525, issued on February 14, 1979,
designated PEA as the National Governments implementing
PD No. 1085, issued on February 4, 1977, authorized the arm to undertake all reclamation projects of the government,
issuance of special land patents for lands reclaimed by PEA which shall be undertaken by the PEA or through a proper
from the foreshore or submerged areas of Manila Bay. On contract executed by it with any person or entity. Under such
January 19, 1988 then President Corazon C. Aquino issued contract, a private party receives compensation for
Special Patent No. 3517 in the name of PEA for the 157.84 reclamation services rendered to PEA. Payment to the
hectares comprising the partially reclaimed Freedom contractor may be in cash, or in kind consisting of portions of
Islands.Subsequently, on April 9, 1999 the Register of Deeds the reclaimed land, subject to the constitutional ban on
of the Municipality of Paranaque issued TCT Nos. 7309, 7311 private corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the
and 7312 in the name of PEA pursuant to Section 103 of PD public domain. The reclaimed land can be used as payment in
No. 1529 authorizing the issuance of certificates of title kind only if the reclaimed land is first classified as alienable or
corresponding to land patents. To this day, these certificates disposable land open to disposition, and then declared no
of title are still in the name of PEA. longer needed for public service.
PD No. 1085, coupled with President Aquinos actual The Amended JVA covers not only the Freedom Islands,
issuance of a special patent covering the Freedom Islands, is but also an additional 592.15 hectares which are still
equivalent to an official proclamation classifying the Freedom submerged and forming part of Manila Bay. There is no
Islands as alienable or disposable lands of the public legislative or Presidential act classifying these submerged
domain. PD No. 1085 and President Aquinos issuance of a areas as alienable or disposable lands of the public domain
land patent also constitute a declaration that the Freedom open to disposition. These submerged areas are not covered
Islands are no longer needed for public service. The Freedom by any patent or certificate of title. There can be no dispute
Islands are thus alienable or disposable lands of the public that these submerged areas form part of the public domain,
and in their present state are inalienable and outside the its reclaimed lands in accordance with the provisions of
commerce of man. Until reclaimed from the sea, these Presidential Decree No. 1084, the charter of PEA.
submerged areas are, under the Constitution, waters x x x
PEAs charter, however, expressly tasks PEA to develop,
owned by the State, forming part of the public domain and
improve, acquire, administer, deal in, subdivide, dispose,
consequently inalienable.Only when actually reclaimed from
lease and sell any and all kinds of lands x x x owned,
the sea can these submerged areas be classified as public
managed, controlled and/or operated by the government.
agricultural lands, which under the Constitution are the only [87]
(Emphasis supplied) There is, therefore, legislative
natural resources that the State may alienate. Once reclaimed
authority granted to PEA to sell its lands, whether
and transformed into public agricultural lands, the
patrimonial or alienable lands of the public domain. PEA
government may then officially classify these lands as
may sell to private parties its patrimonial properties in
alienable or disposable lands open to disposition.Thereafter,
accordance with the PEA charter free from constitutional
the government may declare these lands no longer needed
limitations. The constitutional ban on private corporations
for public service. Only then can these reclaimed lands be
from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain does not
considered alienable or disposable lands of the public domain
apply to the sale of PEAs patrimonial lands.
and within the commerce of man.
PEA may also sell its alienable or disposable lands of
Section 3 of EO No. 525, by declaring that all lands reclaimed
the public domain to private individuals since, with the
by PEA shall belong to or be owned by the PEA, could not
legislative authority, there is no longer any statutory
automatically operate to classify inalienable lands into
prohibition against such sales and the constitutional ban does
alienable or disposable lands of the public
not apply to individuals. PEA, however, cannot sell any of its
domain. Otherwise, reclaimed foreshore and submerged
alienable or disposable lands of the public domain to private
lands of the public domain would automatically become
corporations since Section 3, Article XII of the 1987
alienable once reclaimed by PEA, whether or not classified as
Constitution expressly prohibits such sales. The legislative
alienable or disposable.
authority benefits only individuals. Private corporations
As manager, conservator and overseer of the natural remain barred from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the
resources of the State, DENR exercises supervision and public domain, including government reclaimed lands.
control over alienable and disposable public lands. DENR also
Registration of lands of the public domain
exercises exclusive jurisdiction on the management and
disposition of all lands of the public domain. Thus, DENR In the instant case, the only patent and certificates of title
decides whether areas under water, like foreshore or issued are those in the name of PEA, a wholly government
submerged areas of Manila Bay, should be reclaimed or owned corporation performing public as well as proprietary
not. This means that PEA needs authorization from DENR functions. No patent or certificate of title has been issued to
before PEA can undertake reclamation projects in Manila Bay, any private party. No one is asking the Director of Lands to
or in any part of the country. cancel PEAs patent or certificates of title. In fact, the thrust of
the instant petition is that PEAs certificates of title should
In short, DENR is vested with the power to authorize the
remain with PEA, and the land covered by these certificates,
reclamation of areas under water, while PEA is vested with
being alienable lands of the public domain, should not be sold
the power to undertake the physical reclamation of areas
to a private corporation.
under water, whether directly or through private
contractors. DENR is also empowered to classify lands of the Thus, the provisions of CA No. 141 apply to the Freedom
public domain into alienable or disposable lands subject to Islands on matters not covered by PD No. 1084. Section 60 of
the approval of the President. On the other hand, PEA is CA No. 141 prohibits, except when authorized by Congress,
tasked to develop, sell or lease the reclaimed alienable lands the sale of alienable lands of the public domain that are
of the public domain. transferred to government units or entities.
Clearly, the mere physical act of reclamation by PEA of Alienable lands of the public domain held by government
foreshore or submerged areas does not make the reclaimed entities under Section 60 of CA No. 141 remain public lands
lands alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, because they cannot be alienated or encumbered unless
much less patrimonial lands of PEA. Likewise, the mere Congress passes a law authorizing their disposition. Congress,
transfer by the National Government of lands of the public however, cannot authorize the sale to private corporations of
domain to PEA does not make the lands alienable or reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain because of the
disposable lands of the public domain, much less patrimonial constitutional ban. Only individuals can benefit from such law.
lands of PEA.
The grant of legislative authority to sell public lands in
Absent two official acts a classification that these lands accordance with Section 60 of CA No. 141 does not
are alienable or disposable and open to disposition and a automatically convert alienable lands of the public domain
declaration that these lands are not needed for public service, into private or patrimonial lands. The alienable lands of the
lands reclaimed by PEA remain inalienable lands of the public public domain must be transferred to qualified private
domain. Only such an official classification and formal parties, or to government entities not tasked to dispose of
declaration can convert reclaimed lands into alienable or public lands, before these lands can become private or
disposable lands of the public domain, open to disposition patrimonial lands. Otherwise, the constitutional ban will
under the Constitution. become illusory if Congress can declare lands of the public
domain as private or patrimonial lands in the hands of a
PEAs Authority to Sell Reclaimed Lands
government agency tasked to dispose of public lands. This will
There is no express authority under either PD No. 1085 allow private corporations to acquire directly from
or EO No. 525 for PEA to sell its reclaimed lands. PD No. 1085 government agencies limitless areas of lands which, prior to
merely transferred ownership and administration of lands such law, are concededly public lands.
reclaimed from Manila Bay to PEA, while EO No. 525 declared
Under EO No. 525, PEA became the central
that lands reclaimed by PEA shall belong to or be owned by
implementing agency of the National Government to reclaim
PEA. EO No. 525 expressly states that PEA should dispose of
foreshore and submerged areas of the public domain
As the central implementing agency tasked to undertake 1. The 157.84 hectares of reclaimed lands comprising the
reclamation projects nationwide, with authority to sell Freedom Islands, now covered by certificates of title in the
reclaimed lands, PEA took the place of DENR as the name of PEA, are alienable lands of the public domain. PEA
government agency charged with leasing or selling reclaimed may lease these lands to private corporations but may not sell
lands of the public domain. The reclaimed lands being leased or transfer ownership of these lands to private corporations.
or sold by PEA are not private lands, in the same manner that PEA may only sell these lands to Philippine citizens, subject to
DENR, when it disposes of other alienable lands, does not the ownership limitations in the 1987 Constitution and
dispose of private lands but alienable lands of the public existing laws.
domain. Only when qualified private parties acquire these
lands will the lands become private lands. In the hands of the 2. The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay
government agency tasked and authorized to dispose of remain inalienable natural resources of the public domain
alienable of disposable lands of the public domain, these until classified as alienable or disposable lands open to
lands are still public, not private lands. disposition and declared no longer needed for public service.
The government can make such classification and declaration
Furthermore, PEAs charter expressly states that only after PEA has reclaimed these submerged areas. Only
PEA shall hold lands of the public domain as well as any and then can these lands qualify as agricultural lands of the public
all kinds of lands. PEA can hold both lands of the public domain, which are the only natural resources the government
domain and private lands. Thus, the mere fact that alienable can alienate. In their present state, the 592.15 hectares of
lands of the public domain like the Freedom Islands are submerged areas are inalienable and outside the commerce
transferred to PEA and issued land patents or certificates of of man.
title in PEAs name does not automatically make such lands
private. 3. Since the Amended JVA seeks to transfer to AMARI, a
Chavez v. Pea and Amari private corporation, ownership of 77.34 hectares110 of the
Freedom Islands, such transfer is void for being contrary to
Fact: Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits
In 1973, the Comissioner on Public Highways entered into a private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land
contract to reclaim areas of Manila Bay with the Construction of the public domain.
and Development Corportion of the Philippines (CDCP).
4. Since the Amended JVA also seeks to transfer to AMARI
PEA (Public Estates Authority) was created by President ownership of 290.156 hectares111 of still submerged areas of
Marcos under P.D. 1084, tasked with developing and leasing Manila Bay, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section
reclaimed lands. These lands were transferred to the care of 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits the
PEA under P.D. 1085 as part of the Manila Cavite Road and alienation of natural resources other than agricultural lands of
Reclamation Project (MCRRP). CDCP and PEA entered into an the public domain.
agreement that all future projects under the MCRRP would be
funded and owned by PEA. PEA may reclaim these submerged areas. Thereafter, the
government can classify the reclaimed lands as alienable or
By 1988, President Aquino issued Special Patent No. 3517 disposable, and further declare them no longer needed for
transferring lands to PEA. It was followed by the transfer of public service. Still, the transfer of such reclaimed alienable
three Titles (7309, 7311 and 7312) by the Register of Deeds of lands of the public domain to AMARI will be void in view of
Paranaque to PEA covering the three reclaimed islands known Section 3, Article XII of the 1987Constitution which prohibits
as the FREEDOM ISLANDS. private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land
of the public domain.
Subsquently, PEA entered into a joint venture agreement
(JVA) with AMARI, a Thai-Philippine corporation to develop
the Freedom Islands. Along with another 250 hectares, PEA
and AMARI entered the JVA which would later transfer said
lands to AMARI. This caused a stir especially when Sen.
Maceda assailed the agreement, claiming that such lands
were part of public domain (famously known as the mother
of all scams).

Peitioner Frank J. Chavez filed case as a taxpayer praying for


mandamus, a writ of preliminary injunction and a TRO against
the sale of reclaimed lands by PEA to AMARI and from
implementing the JVA. Following these events, under
President Estradas admin, PEA and AMARI entered into an
Amended JVA and Mr. Chaves claim that the contract is null
and void.

Issue:
w/n: the transfer to AMARI lands reclaimed or to be
reclaimed as part of the stipulations in the (Amended) JVA
between AMARI and PEA violate Sec. 3 Art. XII of the 1987
Constitution
w/n: the court is the proper forum for raising the issue of
whether the amended joint venture agreement is grossly
disadvantageous to the government.

Held:
On the issue of Amended JVA as violating the constitution:
Petitioner moved for reconsideration but this was denied by
G.R. No. 171514 July 18, 2012 the CA in its Resolution20 dated February 13, 2006.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, Issues b. whether the notation on the blueprint copy of the
vs. plan made by the geodetic engineer who conducted the
DOMINGO ESPINOSA, Respondent. survey sufficed to prove that the land applied for is alienable
and disposable.
DECISION
Our Ruling
, respondent Domingo Espinosa (Espinosa) tiled with the
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Consolacion, Cebu an Obviously, the confusion that attended the lower courts
application3 for land registration covering a parcel of land, disposition of this case stemmed from their failure to apprise
Cebu, Espinosa alleged that: (a) the property, which is more themselves of the changes that Section 48(b) of the PLA
particularly known as Lot No. 8499 of Cad. 545-D (New), is underwent over the years.
alienable and disposable; (b) he purchased the property from
his mother, Isabel Espinosa (Isabel), on July 4, 1970 and the Sec. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines,
latters other heirs had waived their rights thereto; and (c) he occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any
and his predecessor-in-interest had been in possession of the such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles have not
property in the concept of an owner for more than thirty (30) been perfected or completed, may apply to the Court of First
years. Instance of the province where the land is located for
confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate
Espinosa submitted the blueprint of Advanced Survey Plan 07- of title therefor, under the Land Registration Act, to wit:
0008934 to prove the identity of the land. As proof that the
property is alienable and disposable, he marked as evidence On January 25, 1977, P.D. No. 1073 was issued, changing the
the annotation on the advance survey plan made by Cynthia requirement for possession and occupation for a period of
L. Ibaez, Chief of the Map Projection Section, stating that thirty (30) years to possession and occupation since June 12,
".5 Espinosa also presented two (2) tax declarations for to 1945 or earlier.
prove that she had been in possession of the property since
1965. To support his claim that he had been religiously paying On June 11, 1978, P.D. No. 1529 was enacted. Notably, the
the taxes due on the property, Espinosa presented a requirement for possession and occupation since June 12,
Certification6 1945 or earlier was adopted under Section 14(1) thereof.

Petitioner opposed Espinosas application, claiming that: (a) P.D. No. 1073, in effect, repealed R.A. No. 1942 such that
Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141 otherwise applications under Section 48(b) of the PLA filed after the
known as the "Public Land Act" (PLA) had not been complied promulgation of P.D. No. 1073 should allege and prove
with as Espinosas predecessor-in-interest possessed the possession and occupation that dated back to June 12, 1945
property only after June 12, 1945; and (b) the tax declarations or earlier. However, vested rights may have been acquired
do not prove that his possession and that of his predecessor- under Section 48(b) prior to its amendment by P.D. No. 1073.
in-interest are in the character and for the length of time That is, should petitions for registration filed by those who
required by law. had already been in possession of alienable and disposable
lands of the public domain for thirty (30) years at the time
the MTC rendered a Judgment 9 granting Espinosas petition P.D. No. 1073 was promulgated be denied because their
for registrationAccording to the MTC, Espinosa was able to possession commenced after June 12, 1945? In Abejaron v.
prove that the property is alienable and disposable and that Nabasa,21 this Court resolved this legal predicament as
he complied with the requirements of Section 14(1) of follows:
Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529
However, as petitioner Abejarons 30-year period of
Petitioner appealed to the CA and pointed Espinosas failure possession and occupation required by the Public Land Act, as
to prove that his possession and that of his predecessor-in- amended by R.A. 1942 ran from 1945 to 1975, prior to the
interest were for the period required by law. effectivity of P.D. No. 1073 in 1977, the requirement of said
P.D. that occupation and possession should have started on
Petitioner also claimed that Espinosas failure to present the June 12, 1945 or earlier, does not apply to him.
original tracing cloth of the survey plan or a sepia copy
thereof is fatal to his application. Consequently, for one to invoke Section 48(b) and claim an
imperfect title over an alienable and disposable land of the
the CA dismissed petitioners appeal and affirmed the MTC public domain on the basis of a thirty (30)-year possession
Decision and occupation, it must be demonstrated that such
possession and occupation commenced on January 24, 1947
The CA also ruled that registration can be based on other and the thirty (30)-year period was completed prior to the
documentary evidence, not necessarily the original tracing effectivity of P.D. No. 1073.
cloth plan, as the identity and location of the property can be
established by other competent evidence. In sum, the CA, as well as the MTC, erred in not applying the
present text of Section 48(b) of the PLA. That there were
Again, the aforesaid contention of [the petitioner] is without instances wherein applications were granted on the basis of
merit. While the best evidence to identify a piece of land for possession and occupation for thirty (30) years was for the
registration purposes may be the original tracing cloth plan sole reason discussed above. Regrettably, such reason does
from the Land Registration Commission, Moreover, the CA not obtain in this case.
ruled that Espinosa had duly proven that the property is
alienable and disposable:
Being clear that it is Section 14(2) of P.D. No. 1529 that should
apply, it follows that the subject property being supposedly
alienable and disposable will not suffice. As Section 14(2)
categorically provides, only private properties may be
acquired thru prescription and under Articles 420 and 421 of
the Civil Code, only those properties, which are not for public
use, public service or intended for the development of
national wealth, are considered private.

Accordingly, there must be an express declaration by the State


that the public dominion property is no longer intended for
public service or the development of the national wealth or
that the property has been converted into patrimonial.
Without such express declaration, the property, even if
classified as alienable or disposable, remains property of the
public dominion, pursuant to Article 420(2), and thus
incapable of acquisition by prescription. It is only when such
alienable and disposable lands are expressly declared by the
State to be no longer intended for public service or for the
development of the national wealth that the period of
acquisitive prescription can begin to run. Such declaration
shall be in the form of a law duly enacted by Congress or a
Presidential Proclamation in cases where the President is duly
authorized by law.27

Thus, granting that Isabel and, later, Espinosa possessed and


occupied the property for an aggregate period of thirty (30)
years, this does not operate to divest the State of its
ownership. The property, albeit allegedly alienable and
disposable, is not patrimonial.

All lands of the public domain belong to the State, which is


the source of any asserted right to any ownership of land. All
lands not appearing to be clearly within private ownership are
presumed to belong to the State. Accordingly, public lands not
shown to have been reclassified or released as alienable
agricultural land, or alienated to a private person by the State,
remain part of the inalienable public domain. The burden of
proof in overcoming the presumption of State ownership of
the lands of the public domain is on the person applying for
registration (or claiming ownership), who must prove that the
land subject of the application is alienable or disposable. To
overcome this presumption, incontrovertible evidence must
be established that the land subject of the application (or
claim) is alienable or disposable.28

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GIVEN DUE


COURSE and GRANTED. The Decision dated November 11,
2004 and Resolution dated February 13, 2006 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 72456 are REVERSED and SET
ASIDE and Domingo Espinosa's application for registration of
title over Lot No. 8499 of Cad. 545-D (New) located at
Barangay Cabangahan, Consolacion, Cebu is hereby DENIED
for lack of merit. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
IKALAHAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE and HARIBON FOUNDATION
FOR THE CONSERVATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES,
INC., intervenor.
R. No. 135385. December 6, 2000]
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
ISAGANI CRUZ and CESAR EUROPA, petitioners, vs.
SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa brought this
SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT and CHAIRMAN suit for prohibition and mandamus as citizens and taxpayers,
and COMMISSIONERS OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON assailing the constitutionality of certain provisions of Republic
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, respondents. Act No. 8371 (R.A. 8371), otherwise known as the Indigenous
Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), and its Implementing Rules
and Regulations (Implementing Rules).

HON. JUAN M .FLAVIER, HON. PONCIANO BENNAGEN, In its resolution, the Court required respondents to
BAYANI ASCARRAGA, EDTAMI MANSAYANGAN, comment.[1] In compliance, respondents Chairperson and
BASILIO WANDAG, EVELYN DUNUAN, YAOM TUGAS, Commissioners of the National Commission on Indigenous
ALFREMO CARPIANO, LIBERATO A. GABIN, Peoples (NCIP), their Comment to the Petition, in which they
MATERNIDAD M. COLAS, NARCISA M. DALUPINES, defend the constitutionality of the IPRA and pray that the
BAI KIRAM-CONNIE SATURNO, BAE MLOMO- petition be dismissed for lack of merit.
BEATRIZ T. ABASALA, DATU BALITUNGTUNG- respondents Secretary of the Department of
ANTONIO D. LUMANDONG, DATU MANTUMUKAW Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Secretary of
TEOFISTO SABASALES, DATU EDUAARDO BANDA, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) filed
DATU JOEL UNAD, DATU RAMON BAYAAN, TIMUAY through the Solicitor General a consolidated Comment. The
JOSE ANOY, TIMUAY MACARIO D. SALACAO, TIMUAY Solicitor General is of the view that the IPRA is partly
EDWIN B. ENDING, DATU SAHAMPONG MALANAW unconstitutional on the ground that it grants ownership over
VI, DATU BEN PENDAO CABIGON, BAI NANAPNAY- natural resources to indigenous peoples and prays that the
LIZA SAWAY, BAY INAY DAYA-MELINDA S. petition be granted in part.
REYMUNDO, BAI TINANGHAGA HELINITA T.
PANGAN, DATU MAKAPUKAW ADOLINO L. SAWAY, a group of intervenors, composed of Sen. Juan Flavier,
DATU MAUDAYAW-CRISPEN SAWAY, VICKY MAKAY, one of the authors of the IPRA, Mr. Ponciano Bennagen, a
LOURDES D. AMOS, GILBERT P. HOGGANG, TERESA member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, and the
GASPAR, MANUEL S. ONALAN, MIA GRACE L. leaders and members of 112 groups of indigenous peoples
GIRON, ROSEMARIE G. PE, BENITO CARINO, JOSEPH (Flavier, et. al), filed their Motion for Leave to Intervene. They
JUDE CARANTES, LYNETTE CARANTES-VIVAL, join the NCIP in defending the constitutionality of IPRA and
LANGLEY SEGUNDO, SATUR S. BUGNAY, CARLING praying for the dismissal of the petition.
DOMULOT, ANDRES MENDIOGRIN, LEOPOLDO
the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) likewise filed a
ABUGAN, VIRGILIO CAYETANO, CONCHITA G.
Motion to Intervene and/or to Appear as Amicus Curiae. The
DESCAGA, LEVY ESTEVES, ODETTE G. ESTEVEZ,
CHR asserts that IPRA is an expression of the principle of
RODOLFO C. AGUILAR, MAURO VALONES, PEPE H.
parens patriae and that the State has the responsibility to
ATONG, OFELIA T. DAVI, PERFECTO B. GUINOSAO,
protect and guarantee the rights of those who are at a serious
WALTER N. TIMOL, MANUEL T. SELEN, OSCAR
disadvantage like indigenous peoples. For this reason it prays
DALUNHAY, RICO O. SULATAN, RAFFY MALINDA,
that the petition be dismissed.
ALFREDO ABILLANOS, JESSIE ANDILAB, MIRLANDO
H. MANGKULINTAS, SAMIE SATURNO, ROMEO A. On March 23, 1999, another group, composed of the
LINDAHAY, ROEL S. MANSANG-CAGAN, PAQUITO S. Ikalahan Indigenous People and the Haribon Foundation for
LIESES, FILIPE G. SAWAY, HERMINIA S. SAWAY, the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc. (Haribon, et al.),
JULIUS S. SAWAY, LEONARDA SAWAY, JIMMY filed a motion to Intervene with attached Comment-in-
UGYUB, SALVADOR TIONGSON, VENANCIO APANG, Intervention. They agree with the NCIP and Flavier, et al. that
MADION MALID, SUKIM MALID, NENENG MALID, IPRA is consistent with the Constitution and pray that the
MANGKATADONG AUGUSTO DIANO, JOSEPHINE M. petition for prohibition and mandamus be dismissed.
ALBESO, MORENO MALID, MARIO MANGCAL, FELAY
DIAMILING, SALOME P. SARZA, FELIPE P. BAGON, The motions for intervention of the aforesaid groups and
SAMMY SALNUNGAN, ANTONIO D. EMBA, NORMA organizations were granted.
MAPANSAGONOS, ROMEO SALIGA, SR., JERSON P. Petitioners assail the constitutionality of the following
GERADA, RENATO T. BAGON, JR., SARING provisions of the IPRA and its Implementing Rules on the
MASALONG, SOLEDAD M. GERARDA, ELIZABETH L. ground that they amount to an unlawful deprivation of the
MENDI, MORANTE S. TIWAN, DANILO M. States ownership over lands of the public domain as well as
MALUDAO, MINORS MARICEL MALID, represented minerals and other natural resources therein, in violation of
by her father CORNELIO MALID, MARCELINO M. the regalian doctrine embodied in Section 2, Article XII of the
LADRA, represented by her father MONICO D. Constitution:
LADRA, JENNYLYN MALID, represented by her
father TONY MALID, ARIEL M. EVANGELISTA, Petitioners also content that, by providing for an all-
represented by her mother LINAY BALBUENA, encompassing definition of ancestral domains and ancestral
EDWARD M. EMUY, SR., SUSAN BOLANIO, OND, lands which might even include private lands found within
PULA BATO BLAAN TRIBAL FARMERS ASSOCIATION, said areas, Sections 3(a) and 3(b) violate the rights of private
INTER-PEOPLES EXCHANGE, INC. and GREEN landowners.[3]
FORUM-WESTERN VISAYAS, intervenors. In addition, petitioners question the provisions of the
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, intervenor. IPRA defining the powers and jurisdiction of the NCIP and
making customary law applicable to the settlement of
disputes involving ancestral domains and ancestral lands on
the ground that these provisions violate the due process
clause of the Constitution.[4]
After due deliberation on the petition, the members of
the Court voted as follows:
Seven (7) voted to dismiss the petition. Justice Kapunan
filed an opinion, which the Chief Justice and Justices Bellosillo,
Quisumbing, and Santiago join, sustaining the validity of the
challenged provisions of R.A. 8371. Justice Puno also filed a
separate opinion sustaining all challenged provisions of the
law with the exception of Section 1, Part II, Rule III of NCIP
Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998, the Rules and
Regulations Implementing the IPRA, and Section 57 of the
IPRA which he contends should be interpreted as dealing with
the large-scale exploitation of natural resources and should
be read in conjunction with Section 2, Article XII of the 1987
Constitution. On the other hand, Justice Mendoza voted to
dismiss the petition solely on the ground that it does not raise
a justiciable controversy and petitioners do not have standing
to question the constitutionality of R.A. 8371.
Seven (7) other members of the Court voted to grant the
petition. Justice Panganiban filed a separate opinion
expressing the view that Sections 3 (a)(b), 5, 6, 7 (a)(b), 8, and
related provisions of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. He
reserves judgment on the constitutionality of Sections 58, 59,
65, and 66 of the law, which he believes must await the filing
of specific cases by those whose rights may have been
violated by the IPRA. Justice Vitug also filed a separate
opinion expressing the view that Sections 3(a), 7, and 57 of
R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional.Justices Melo, Pardo, Buena,
Gonzaga-Reyes, and De Leon join in the separate opinions of
Justices Panganiban and Vitug.
As the votes were equally divided (7 to 7) and the
necessary majority was not obtained, the case was
redeliberated upon. However, after redeliberation, the voting
remained the same.Accordingly, pursuant to Rule 56, Section
7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the petition is DISMISSED.
Attached hereto and made integral parts thereof are the
separate opinions of Justices Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza,
and Panganiban.
SO ORDERED.
SEC OF DENR VS YAP during the pendency of G.R. No. 167707, President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 1064 [26] classifying
The Antecedents Boracay Island into four hundred (400) hectares of reserved
forest land (protection purposes) and six hundred twenty-
eight and 96/100 (628.96) hectares of agricultural land
G.R. No. 167707 (alienable and disposable). The Proclamation likewise
provided for a fifteen-meter buffer zone on each side of the
centerline of roads and trails, reserved for right-of-way and
On April 14, 1976, the Department of Environment which shall form part of the area reserved for forest land
and Natural Resources (DENR) approved the National protection purposes.
Reservation Survey of Boracay
Island,[6] which identified several lots as being occupied or petitioners-claimants Dr. Orlando Sacay, [27] Wilfredo
claimed by named persons.[7] Gelito,[28] and other landowners[29] in Boracay filed with this
Court an original petition for prohibition, mandamus, and
then President Ferdinand Marcos issued nullification of Proclamation No. 1064.[30] They allege that the
Proclamation No. 1801[8] declaring Boracay Island, as tourist Proclamation infringed on their prior vested rights over
zones and marine reserves under the administration of the portions of Boracay. They have also invested billions of pesos
Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA). President Marcos later in developing their lands and building internationally
approved the issuance of PTACircular 3-82[9] to implement renowned first class resorts on their lots.[31]
Proclamation No. 1801. Opposing the petition, the OSG argued that
petitioners-claimants do not have a vested right over their
respondents-claimants Mayor Jose S. Yap, filed a petition for occupied portions in the island. Boracay is an unclassified
declaratory relief with the RTC in Kalibo, Aklan. In their public forest land pursuant to Section 3(a) of PD No.
petition, respondents-claimants alleged that Proclamation 705. Being public forest, the claimed portions of the island are
No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 raised doubts on their inalienable and cannot be the subject of judicial confirmation
right to secure titles over their occupied lands. They declared of imperfect title. It is only the executive department, not the
that they themselves, or through their predecessors-in- courts, which has authority to reclassify lands of the public
interest, had been in open, continuous, exclusive, and domain into alienable and disposable lands. There is a need
notorious possession and occupation in Boracay since June for a positive government act in order to release the lots for
12, 1945, or earlier since time immemorial. They declared disposition.
their lands for tax purposes and paid realty taxes on them.
They posited that Proclamation No. 1801 did not place this Court ordered the consolidation of the two
Boracay beyond the commerce of man. Since the Island was petitions as they principally involve the same issues on
classified as a tourist zone, it was susceptible of private the land classification of Boracay Island.[33]
ownership.
Issues
The Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG), opposed the petition for declaratory G.R. No. 167707
relief. The OSG counteredthat Boracay Island was
an unclassified land of the public domain. It formed part of The OSG raises the lone issue of whether
the mass of lands classified as public forest, which was not Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 pose any
available for disposition . Since Boracay Island had not been legal obstacle for respondents, and all those similarly
classified as alienable and disposable, whatever possession situated, to acquire title to their occupied lands
they had cannot ripen into ownership. in Boracay Island.[34]

ISSUE: whether Proclamation No. 1801 posed any legal ISSUE: In capsule, the main issue is whether private claimants
hindrance or impediment to the titling of the lands in (respondents-claimants in G.R. No. 167707 and petitioners-
Boracay. claimants in G.R. No. 173775) have a right to secure titles
over their occupied portions in Boracay.
RTC and CA Dispositions
Our Ruling
the RTC rendered a decision in favor of respondents-
claimants,The RTC upheld respondents-claimants right to Regalian Doctrine and power of the executive
have their occupied lands titled in their name. It ruled that to reclassify lands of the public domain
neither Proclamation No. 1801 nor PTA Circular No. 3-82
mentioned that lands in Boracay were inalienable or could
not be the subject of disposition.[18] The Circular itself But first, a peek at the Regalian principle and the
recognized private ownership of lands.[19] power of the executive to reclassify lands of the public
domain.
The OSG moved for reconsideration but its motion
was denied.[23] The Republic then appealed to the CA. the The 1935 Constitution classified lands of the public
appellate court affirmed in toto the RTC decision The CA held domain into agricultural, forest or timber. [40] Meanwhile, the
that respondents-claimants could not be prejudiced by a 1973 Constitution provided the following divisions:
declaration that the lands they occupied since time agricultural, industrial or commercial, residential,
immemorial were part of a forest reserve.Again, resettlement, mineral, timber or forest and grazing lands, and
the OSG sought reconsideration but it was similarly denied. such other classes as may be provided by law, [41] giving the
[25]
Hence, the present petition under Rule 45. government great leeway for classification.[42] Then the 1987
Constitution reverted to the 1935 Constitution classification
G.R. No. 173775 with one addition: national parks.[43] Of these, onlyagricultural
lands may be alienated. [44] Prior to Proclamation No. 1064
of May 22, 2006, Boracay Island had never been expressly the Philippine Islands remained in the
and administratively classified under any of these grand government; and that the governments title
divisions. Boracay was an unclassified land of the public to public land sprung from the Treaty of
domain. Paris and other subsequent treaties
between Spain and the United States. The
The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the term public land referred to all lands of the
public domain belong to the State, that the State is the source public domain whose title still remained in
of any asserted right to ownership of land and charged with the government and are thrown open to
the conservation of such patrimony.[45] The doctrine has been private appropriation and settlement, and
consistently adopted under the 1935, 1973, and 1987 excluded the patrimonial property of the
Constitutions.[46] government and the friar lands.

All lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly Thus, it is plain error for petitioners to argue that
within private ownership are presumed to belong to the under the Philippine Bill of 1902
State.[47] Thus, all lands that have not been acquired from the and Public Land Act No. 926, mere possession by
government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the private individuals of lands creates the legal
State as part of the inalienable public domain. [48] Necessarily, presumption that the lands are alienable and
it is up to the State to determine if lands of the public domain disposable.[108] (Emphasis Ours)
will be disposed of for private ownership. The government, as
the agent of the state, is possessed of the plenary power as Except for lands already covered by existing titles,
the persona in law to determine who shall be the favored Boracay was an unclassified land of the public domain prior
recipients of public lands, as well as under what terms they to Proclamation No. 1064. Such unclassified lands are
may be granted such privilege, not excluding the placing of considered public forest under PD No. 705. The DENR[109] and
obstacles in the way of their exercise of what otherwise the National Mapping and Resource Information
would be ordinary acts of ownership.[49] Authority[110] certify that Boracay Island is an unclassified land
of the public domain.
A positive act declaring land as alienable and
disposable is required. In keeping with the presumption of The Court notes that the classification of Boracay as
State ownership, the Court has time and again emphasized a forest land under PD No. 705 may seem to be out of touch
that there must be a positive act of the government, such as with the present realities in the island. Boracay, no doubt, has
an official proclamation,[80] declassifying inalienable public been partly stripped of its forest cover to pave the way for
land into disposable land for agricultural or other purposes. commercial developments. As a premier tourist destination
[81]
In fact, Section 8 of CA No. 141 limits alienable or for local and foreign tourists, Boracay appears more of a
disposable lands only to those lands which have been commercial island resort, rather than a forest land.
officially delimited and classified.[82]
Nevertheless, that the occupants of Boracay have
The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption built multi-million peso beach resorts on the island; [111] that
of State ownership of the lands of the public domain is on the the island has already been stripped of its forest cover; or that
person applying for registration (or claiming ownership), the implementation of Proclamation No. 1064 will destroy the
In the case at bar, no such proclamation, executive islands tourism industry, do not negate its character as public
order, administrative action, report, statute, or certification forest.
was presented to the Court. The records are bereft of
evidence showing that, prior to 2006, the portions of Boracay . Hence, even if its forest cover has been replaced by beach
occupied by private claimants were subject of a government resorts, restaurants and other commercial establishments, it
proclamation that the land is alienable and disposable.Absent has not been automatically converted from public forest to
such well-nigh incontrovertible evidence, the Court cannot alienable agricultural land.
accept the submission that lands occupied by private
claimants were already open to disposition before Private claimants cannot rely on Proclamation No.
2006. Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot 1801 as basis for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The
be assumed. They call for proof.[87] proclamation did not convert Boracay into an agricultural
land.
Private claimants reliance on Ankron and De
Aldecoa is misplaced. Proclamation No. 1801 or PTA Circular No. 3-82 did
Ankron and De Aldecoa were decided at a time when not convert the whole of Boracay into an agricultural
the President of the Philippines had no power to classify lands land. There is nothing in the law or the Circular which
of the public domain into mineral, timber, and agricultural. At made Boracay Island an agricultural land. The reference in
that time, the courts were free to make corresponding Circular No. 3-82 to private lands [117] and areas declared as
classifications in justiciable cases, or were vested with implicit alienable and disposable[118] does not by itself classify the
power to do so, depending upon the preponderance of the entire island as agricultural.
evidence. Therefore, Proclamation No. 1801 cannot be
deemed the positive act needed to classify Boracay Island as
alienable and disposable land. If President Marcos intended
Private claimants continued possession under Act to classify the island as alienable and disposable or forest, or
No. 926 does not create a presumption that the land is both, he would have identified the specific limits of each, as
alienable. President Arroyo did in Proclamation No. 1064. This was not
Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural done in Proclamation No. 1801.. Simply put, the proclamation
Resources,107-a ruled: is aimed at administering the islands for tourism and
ecological purposes. It does not address the areas alienability.
In short, the Public Land Act operated on [119]

the assumption that title to public lands in


It was Proclamation No. 1064 of 2006 which
positively declared part of Boracay as alienable and opened
the same to private ownership.

In issuing Proclamation No. 1064, President Gloria


Macapagal-Arroyo merely exercised the authority granted to
her to classify lands of the public domain, presumably subject
to existing vested rights. Classification of public lands is the
exclusive prerogative of the Executive Department, through
the Office of the President. Courts have no authority to do so.
[122]
Absent such classification, the land remains unclassified
until released and rendered open to disposition.[123]

One Last Note

The Court is aware that millions of pesos have been


invested for the development of Boracay Island, making it a
by-word in the local and international tourism industry. The
Court also notes that for a number of years, thousands of
people have called the island their home. While the Court
commiserates with private claimants plight, We are bound to
apply the law strictly and judiciously. This is the law and it
should prevail. Ito ang batas at ito ang dapat umiral.

All is not lost, however, for private claimants. While


they may not be eligible to apply for judicial confirmation of
imperfect title under Section 48(b) of CA No. 141, as
amended, this does not denote their automatic ouster from
the residential, commercial, and other areas they possess
now classified as agricultural. Neither will this mean the loss
of their substantial investments on their occupied alienable
lands. Lack of title does not necessarily mean lack of right to
possess.

For one thing, those with lawful possession may


claim good faith as builders of improvements. They can take
steps to preserve or protect their possession. For another,
they may look into other modes of applying for original
registration of title, such as by homestead [131] or sales patent,
[132]
subject to the conditions imposed by law.

More realistically, Congress may enact a law to


entitle private claimants to acquire title to their occupied lots
or to exempt them from certain requirements under the
present land laws. There is one such bill[133] now pending in
the House of Representatives. Whether that bill or a similar
bill will become a law is for Congress to decide.

WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:

1. The petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 167707


is GRANTED and the Court of Appeals Decision in CA-G.R. CV
No. 71118 REVERSED AND SET ASIDE.

2. The petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 173775


is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
35 of Bontoc, Mt. Province (RTC).
[ GR No. 189852, Aug 17, 2016 ]
RTC RULING
THOMAS BEGNAEN v. SPOUSES LEO CALIGTAN &
ELMACALIGTAN + RTC reversed saying that it was MCTC court that had
jurisdiction over the case for forcible entry.. According to the
RTC, IPRA must be read to harmonize with B.P. Big. 129.[18]
The case at Bench is an opportunity for Us to reaffirm and
reemphasize Our ruling in Lim v Gamosa[1] where We struck
down as void an administrative rule that expanded the Undaunted, respondents appealed to the CA.
jurisdiction of the National Commission on Indigenous People
(NCIP) beyond the boundaries of the Indigenous Peoples' CA RULING
Rights Act (IPRA). In the process, it likewise behooves Us to the CA reversed and set aside the RTC rulings and reinstated
resolve a question of concurrent jurisdiction and determine the Resolution of the MCTC. In upholding the jurisdiction of
the proper tribunal/body to take cognizance of the instant the NCIP over the present case, the CA ruled that the passage
dispute. of the IPRA has divested regular courts of their jurisdiction
when the parties involved are members of ICCs/IPs and the
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under disputed property forms part of their ancestral land/domain.
[21]
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the Decision [2] and Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but it was
Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. denied by the CA in its questioned Resolution. [22]
104150. The CA reversed and set aside the Decision [4] and
Order[5] rendered by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bontoc, Hence, this Petition.
Mountain (Mt.) Province, and reinstated the Resolution [6] of
the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Bauko, Mt. RULING OF THE COURT
Province. The case concerns an ancestral land dispute
between members of an Indigenous Cultural Community The NCIP Rule purporting to
(ICC), particularly the Kankanaey Tribe of Mt. Province. establish the jurisdiction of the
NCIP-Regional Hearing Officer
The basic issue is whether or not the CA, in upholding the as original and exclusive has been
jurisdiction of the National Commission on Indigenous declared VOID for expanding the
Peoples (NCIP) over the aforementioned dispute, to the law.
exclusion of regular courts, committed reversible error.

PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE NCIP-RHO & MCTC R.A. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997,
particularly Sections 65 and 66 thereof, provide:
petitioner Thomas Begnaen (Begnaen) filed a Complaint with
Prayer for Preliminary Injunction against respondents Spouses SECTION 65. Primacy of Customary Laws and
Leo and Elma Caligtan (Sps. Caligtan) for "Land Dispute and Practices, When disputes involve ICCs/IPs, customary laws
Enforcement of Rights" before the Regional Hearing Office and practices shall be used to resolve the dispute.
(RHO) of the NCIP at La Trinidad, Benguet.[7] The RHO
thereafter issued an Order[8] dismissing the complaint based SECTION 66. Jurisdiction of the NCIP. The NCIP, through its
on respondents' argument that the case should have gone to regional offices, shall have jurisdiction over all claims and
the council of elders and not through the Barangay Lupon, as disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs: Provided, however, That
mandated by the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA). [9] no such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP unless the
parties have exhausted all remedies provided under their
However, instead of abiding by the Order of the RHO, customary laws. For this purpose, a certification shall be
Begnaen filed against the Sps. Caligtan a Complaint for issued by the Council of Elders/Leaders who participated in
Forcible before the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of the attempt to settle the dispute that the same has not
Bauko-Sabangan, Mt. Province. been resolved, which certification shall be a condition
precedent to the filing of a petition with the NCIP. (Emphasis
Begnaen alleged that he was the owner of a 125 square supplied)
meter parcel of land situated in Supang, Sabangan, Mt.
The IPRA confers jurisdiction on the NCIP over "all claims and
Province. He claimed that on two occasions,[11] respondents -
disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs," without qualification as
by using force, intimidation, stealth, and threat -entered a
to whether such jurisdiction is original and/or exclusive.
portion of the subject property, hurriedly put up a chicken-
However, Section 5, Rule III of NCIP Administrative Circular
wire fence, and started building a shack thereon without
No. 1-03 dated 9 April 2003, known as "The Rules on
Begnaen's knowledge and consent.[12]
Pleadings, Practice, and Procedure Before the NCIP" (NCIP
Rules), went beyond the provisions of the IPRA
respondents averred that they owned the area in question as
part of the land they had purchased from a certain Leona
" At the outset, We said:
Vicente in 1959 pursuant to age-old customs and traditions.
They introduced improvements evidencing their prior physical
(I)n Unduran, et at. v. Aberasturi, et al, we ruled that Section
possession.[13]
66 of the IPRA does not endow the NCIP with primary and/or
exclusive and original jurisdiction over all claims and disputes
MCTC RULING
involving rights of ICCs/IPs. Based on the qualifying proviso,
we held that the NCIP's jurisdiction over such claims and
the MCTC dismissed the ejectment complaint in favor of
disputes occur only when they arise between or among
respondents. reasoned that the fact that petitioner initially
parties belonging to the same ICC/IP. Since two of the
filed a complaint with the NCIP-RHO shows that he recognized
defendants therein were not IPs/ICCs, the regular courts had
the primary jurisdiction of the NCIP.[16] Aggrieved, petitioner-
jurisdiction over the complaint in that case.
appellant filed an appeal before Regional Trial Court Branch
SECTION 1. Right to Transfer Land or Property. The various
After a comprehensive analysis of the classes of jurisdiction, indigenous modes of acquisition and transfer of property
We held that "the NCIP cannot be said to have even primary between and among members of the ICCs/IPs shall be
jurisdiction over all the ICC/IP cases x x x. We do not find recognized as legal, valid and enforceable. [33] (Emphases
such specificity in the grant of jurisdiction to the NCIP in supplied)
Section 66 of the IPRA. Neither does the IPRA confer original
and exclusive jurisdiction to the NCIP over all claims and Furthermore, when questioned, both parties admitted that
disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs." Furthermore, the land subject of their dispute and of the case, was
ancestral land.[34] This admission was also attested to in
respondents' Comment/Opposition to the Petition, and the
It ought to be stressed that the function of promulgating rules land subject of this case is an ancestral land." [35]
and regulations may be legitimately exercised only for the
purpose of carrying out the provisions of the law into effect.. the RHO in effect determined that the property was ancestral
Indeed, administrative issuances must not override, but land, and that the parties to the dispute must conform to the
must remain consistent with the law they seek to apply and customary practice of dispute settlement.
implement. They are intended to carry out, not to supplant
or to modify, the law.
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition for Review is DENIED. The
Decision of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 104150 is
At best, the limited jurisdiction of the NCIP is concurrent hereby AFFIRMED. The Decision dated 11 March 2008 and
with that of the regular trial courts in the exercise of the the Order dated 29 May 2008, both rendered by the RTC of
latter's general jurisdiction extending to all controversies Bontoc, Mt. Province, are hereby REVERSED AND SET
brought before them within the legal bounds of rights and ASIDE; and the Resolution of the MCTC of Bauko, Sabangan,
remedies. (Emphases supplied) dated 6 August 2007 is REINSTATED.

Thus, We struck down as void the latest iteration of the NCIP SO ORDERED.
rule purporting to confer original and exclusive jurisdiction
upon the RHO, contrary to the provisions of the IPRA:

WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision of the


Court of Appeals in are REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The
petition is DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction of the National
Commission on Indigenous Peoples. Section 1 of NCIP
Administrative Circular No. 1, Series of 2014,
promulgated on 9 October 2014 declaring the jurisdiction
of the Regional Hearing Officer as original and exclusive is
declared VOID for expanding the law. x x x. (Emphasis
supplied)

The NCIP is vested with jurisdiction


over (1) the parties, who are all
members of the same ICC, and (2)
the subject property, which is ancestral land.

We do not agree.

Republic Act No. 8371 (R.A. 8371), otherwise known as the


Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997, specifically governs
the rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands and
domains.[30]

Section 3(a) and (b) and Section 56 of R.A. 8371 provide for a
more comprehensive definition of ancestral domains and
ancestral lands:

Indeed, "ancestral lands are lands occupied, possessed and


utilized by individuals, families and clans who are members of
the ICCs/IPs since time immemorial, by themselves or
through their predecessors-in-interest, under claims of
individual or traditional group ownership, continuously, to
the present xxx." Thus, the claim of petitioner that when land
is purchased, it is no longer within the ambit of ancestral
land/domain, is devoid of merit.

PART III

Rights of the ICCs/IPs to Their Ancestral Lands