Cruz v DENR; GR No. 135385; 06 Dec 2000

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Petitioners assailed the constitutionality of various provisions of R.A. 8731 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA) and its implementing rules and regulations on the ground that they amount to an unlawful deprivation of the State’s ownership over lands of the public domain as well as minerals and other natural resources therein, in violation of the regalian doctrine embodied in Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution.

Whether or not IPRA is unconstitutional.

The justices voted evenly (7-7) on the petition. Upon redeliberation, the votes remained equally divided. As the necessary majority was not obtained, the petition was dismissed and the constitutionality of IPRA was sustained.

The seven justices who voted to dismiss the petition were CJ Davide, Justices Kapunan, Bellosillo, Quisumbing, Santiago, Puno and Mendoza. The seven justices who voted to grant the petition were Justices Panganiban, Vitug, Melo, Pardo, Bueno, Gonzaga-Reyes and De Leon.

There were only 14 active justices when the petition was deliberated upon as Justice Purisima had retired in October 2000 and was only succeeded by Justice Sandoval-Gutierrez on 22 Dec 2000.

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