Republic of the Philippines
PALAWAN COUNCIL FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
PCSD Resolution No. 12-433
“RESOLUTION DECLARING SEC. 7 OF PCSD ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 08 AS NULL AND VOID FOR BEING CONTRARY TO THE INTENTS AND PURPOSES OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9072”
WHEREAS, R.A. 7611, otherwise known as the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan, took effect on 19 June 1992, section 6 of which provides that the SEP shall serve as the framework to guide the government agencies concerned in the formulation of plans, programs and projects affecting the environment and natural resources of Palawan;
WHEREAS, Section 2 thereof declares the policy of the State to protect, develop and conserve its natural resources towards which, it shall assist and support the implementation of plans, programs and projects formulated to preserve and enhance the environment, and at the same time pursue the socioeconomic development goals of the country; that it shall support and promote the sustainable development goals for the provinces through proper conservation, utilization and development of natural resources to provide optimum yields on a continuing basis;
WHEREAS, this same law provides that the SEP shall have, as its general philosophy, the sustainable development of Palawan, which is the improvement in the quality of life of its people in the present and future generations through the use of complementary activities of development and conservation that protect life-support ecosystems and rehabilitate exploited areas to allow upcoming generations to sustain development growth;
WHEREAS, Section 7 of the same provides that the SEP shall establish, as its main strategy, a graded system of protection and development control over the whole of Palawan, including its tribal lands, forests, mines, agricultural areas, settlement areas, small islands, mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass beds and the surrounding sea, known as the Environmentally Critical Areas Network (ECAN), and which shall ensure the following: forest conservation and protection; protection of watersheds; preservation of biological diversity; protection of tribal people and the preservation of their culture; maintenance of maximum sustainable yield; protection of the rare and endangered species and their habitat; provision of areas for environmental and ecological research, education and training; and provision of areas for tourist and recreation;
WHEREAS, Section 16 thereof provides that the governance, implementation and policy direction of the SEP shall be exercised by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD);
WHEREAS, Section 19 of this act provides that the PCSD shall (8) adopt, amend and rescind such rules and regulations and impose penalties for the effective implementation of the SEP law, (9) enforce the provisions of this Act and other existing laws, rules and regulations similar to or complementary with this Act; (10) perform related functions which shall promote the development, conservation, management, protection, and utilization of the natural resources of Palawan; and (11) perform such other powers and functions as may be necessary in carrying out its functions, powers, and the provisions of this Act;
WHEREAS, the Council is vested with the power to promulgate the rules and regulations governing the exploration, development, conservation extraction, disposition, use of natural resources and such other commercial activities related thereto in the province of Palawan;
WHEREAS, on April 8, 2001, Republic Act No. 9072, otherwise known as the Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act, was passed into law to carry out the declared policy of the State to “conserve, protect and manage caves and cave resources as part of the country’s natural wealth;
WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 4 of the said Act, which provides that the Council shall be the lead implementing agency in the Province of Palawan under Republic Act No. 7611 or the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan, the PCSD promulgated PCSD Administrative Order No. 08, which provides, among others, that:
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Section 7. Caves within Ancestral Domain/Land. Consistent with the provisions of Republic Act No. 8371 (Indigenous People’s Act) and its implementing rules and regulations, the PCSD shall secure the Free and Prior Informed Consent of the concerned indigenous people in the management and protection of caves and cave resources found within ancestral domains/lands.
The conduct of research and other activities by other agencies or any entity in caves within ancestral domain/lands shall likewise be subject to free and prior informed consent of the concerned indigenous people.
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WHEREAS, the above-quoted provision of the aforesaid PCSD implementing rules contravenes the intent and purposes of Republic Act No. 9072 insofar as it expressly limited the vested authority of the PCSD in the conservation, protection and management of caves and cave resources found within ancestral lands;
WHEREAS, considering that the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) was signed into law on October 29, 1997 while Caves Act was passed only on April 8, 2001, it is presumed that the legislators intended no limitation to the authority of the DENR, or the PCSD in the province of Palawan, to conserve, protect and manage caves and cave resources even those found within ancestral lands as no such limitation is expressly provided under the later law;
WHEREAS, Republic Act 9072 did not even include in the enumeration of laws as exceptions to its Repealing Clause (Section 14) the provisions of the IPRA law on caves within ancestral lands BUT, instead, clearly included caves within private lands (Section 3 on definition of terms) as governed by the provisions of Caves law and thus under the authority of the PCSD in Palawan;
WHEREAS, though the IPRA law seeks to “recognize, promote and protect the rights of the Indigenous Peoples” to their ancestral domains to ensure their economic, social and cultural well-being by mandating the issuance of Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs) to indigenous groups who apply for recognition, the PCSD retains jurisdiction over caves found within ancestral lands. The words of a Supreme Court Justice is enlightening, to wit: “the jurisdiction of government agencies over the natural resources within the ancestral domains does not terminate by such certification (of NCIP) because said agencies are mandated under existing laws to administer the natural resources for the State, which is owned thereof. To construe Section 52[I] as divesting the State, through the government agencies concerned, of jurisdiction over the natural resources within the ancestral domains would be inconsistent with the establish doctrine that all natural resources are owned by the State “;
WHEREAS, the PCSD, having the mandate to conserve, protect and manage all caves found in the Province of Palawan, without exempting those located within ancestral lands, has the authority to exercise such power to conserve, protect and manage caves found within ancestral lands without need of securing a prior consent from the indigenous people but without prejudicing their priority/preferential right in the exploitation of the resources found therein;
WHEREFORE, for and in consideration of the above premises, upon motion, duly seconded, be it RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved, TO DECLARE AS NULL AND VOID, as it is hereby declared, Section 7 of PCSD Administrative Order No. 08 for being contrary to the provisions, intent and purpose of Republic Act No. 9072;
RESOLVED FINALLY, that a copy of this Resolution be furnished to all concerned agencies and stakeholders.
APPROVED and ADOPTED this 27th day of January 2012 in Puerto Princesa City.
I hereby certify to the correctness and accuracy of the above-quoted resolution.
ROMEO B. DORADO
HON.ABRAHAM KAHLIL B. MITRA