CA orders Palawan court to reopen case of Ipilan mine closure

CA junks Amihan Resort bid to assert right over property near Tagbanua ancestral land

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The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the appeal of Amihan Resort, Inc., seeking a declaration of its rights and obligations over its claimed property, pending the Tagbanua indigenous peoples’ bid to delineate their nearby ancestral land in Palawan.

In a recent 3-page resolution, the CA sustained its June 28, 2018 decision to affirm the March 4, 2016 ruling of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 91 against Amihan.

The RTC decision pertained to the petition for declaratory relief filed by Amihan out of fear that the Tagbanua peoples’ petition before the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) would chip away at its claimed property in Coron island.

The CA agreed with the RTC that the NCIP, not the regular courts, has the jurisdiction over the issue.

Even if Amihan’s petition was under the guise of the protection of its right, the resort was actually disputing the claim of the Tagbanua peoples to property that may be part of their ancestral domain.

The court said that Amihan’s petition did not pertain to the validity of Section 59 of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA), but was actually questioning specifically its impact on the planned resort projects.

“Ultimately, Amihan Resort wants the court to declare that the subject lands should not be made subject of an application for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) considering that they are not part of the ancestral domain of the Tagbanua Indigenous Peoples,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Ma. Luisa Quijano-Padilla.

The CA added there was “yet no justiciable controversy” for the regular courts to resolve, because the Tagbanua peoples’ petition on their ancestral domain claim was still pending before the NCIP.

It said Amihan should have availed of the relief under Section 62 of the IPRA since what it really wanted was to separate its claimed property from the ancestral domain claim of the Tagbanua peoples.

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