Salient Features of the IPRA Law

Posted by Admin | Posted in Philippine Constitution | Posted on 06-02-2010

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REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8371 – INDIGENOUS PEOPLE RIGHTS ACT

What is ancestral domain? — Subject to Section 56 of this law, refer to all areas generally belonging to ICCs/IPs comprising lands, inland waters, coastal areas, and natural resources therein, held under a claim of ownership, occupied or possessed by ICCs/IPs, themselves or through their ancestors, communally or individually since time immemorial, continuously to the present except when interrupted by war, force majeure or displacement by force, deceit, stealth or as a consequence of government projects or any other voluntary dealings entered into by government and private individuals, corporations, and which are necessary to ensure their economic, social and cultural welfare. (Section 3)

It shall include ancestral land, forests, pasture, residential, agricultural, and other lands individually owned whether alienable and disposable or otherwise, hunting grounds, burial grounds, worship areas, bodies of water, mineral and other natural resources, and lands which may no longer be exclusively occupied by ICCs/IPs but from which their traditionally had access to for their subsistence and traditional activities, particularly the home ranges of ICCs/IPs who are still nomadic and/or shifting cultivators.

What is ancestral land? Subject to Section 56 of this law, refers to land 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 except when interrupted by war, force majeure or displacement by force, deceit, stealth, or as a consequence of government projects and other voluntary dealings entered into by government and private individuals/corporations, including, but not limited to, residential lots, rice terraces or paddies, private forests, swidden farms and tree lots. (Section 3)

What is the “indigenous concept of ownership”? The indigenous concept of ownership generally holds that ancestral domains are the ICC’s/IP’s private but community property which belongs to all generations and therefore cannot be sold, disposed or destroyed.  It likewise covers sustainable traditional resource rights. This concept sustains the view that ancestral domains and all resources found therein shall serve as the material bases of their cultural integrity. (Section 5)

What are the Rights of the ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains?

1] Rights of ownership and possession

2] Right to develop lands and natural resources

3] Right to stay in the territories

4] Rights in case of displacement

a.  In case of displacement caused by natural catastrophes, the State shall endeavor to resettle the displaced ICCs/IPs in suitable areas where they can have temporary life support system

b. The displaced ICCs/IPs shall have the right to return to their abandoned lands until such time that the normalcy and safety of such lands shall be determined

c. If  their ancestral domain cease to exist and normalcy and safety of the previous settlements are not possible, displaced ICCs/IPs shall enjoy security of tenure over lands to which they have been resettled

d. Basic services and livelihood shall be provided to them to ensure that their needs are adequately addressed.

5] Right to regulate entry of migrants into the domains

6] Right to safe and clean air and water

7] Right to claim parts of the ancestral domains which have been reserved for various purposes, except those reserved and intended for common and public welfare and service; and

8] Right to Resolve Conflict

a. It must be in accordance with customary laws of the area where the land is located; and

b. Only in default of such customary laws shall the complaints be submitted to amicable settlement and to the Courts of Justice whenever necessary.

What are their rights to their ancestral lands?

1] Right of ownership and possession

2] Right to transfer land or property rights to/among members of the same ICCs/IPs, subject to customary laws and traditions of the community concerned.

3] Right of Redemption (by the transferor ICC/IP) within a period not exceeding fifteen (15) years from the date of transfer

a. When the transfer of land/property rights by virtue of any agreement or devise was made to a non-member of the concerned ICCs/IPs; and

b. Such transfer is tainted by the vitiated consent of the ICCs/IPs, or is for an unconscionable consideration or price.

What are the responsibilities of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains?

1] Maintain Ecological Balance

2] Restore Denuded Areas

3] Observe Laws

May ICCs or IPs secure a title over the lands they are occupying?

Yes. Under Section 12 of this law, an option to secure title to their ancestral lands under the provisions of Commonwealth Act 141, as amended, or the Land Registration Act 496, is granted to:

1)  individual members of cultural communities, with respect to individually-owned ancestral lands

2) who, by themselves or through their predecessors-in -interest, have been in continuous possession and occupation of such land for a period of not less than thirty (30) years immediately preceding the approval of this Act and

3) such possession and occupation must be in the concept of an owner since the immemorial or uncontested by the members of the same ICCs/IPs.

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