Table of Contents
Chapter II: Definition of Terms
Chapter III: Rights to Ancestral Domains
Chapter IV: Right to Self-Governance and Empowerment
Chapter V: Social Justice and Human Rights
Chapter VI: Cultural Integrity
Chapter VII: National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)
Chapter VIII: Delineation and Recognition of Ancestral Domains
Chapter IX: Jurisdiction and Procedures for Enforcement of Rights
Chapter X: Ancestral Domains Fund
Chapter XII: Merger of the Office for Northern Cultural Communities (ONCC) and the Office for Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC)
Chapter XIII: Final Provisions
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8371
AN ACT TO RECOGNIZE, PROTECT AND PROMOTE THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS CULTURAL COMMUNITIES/INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, CREATING A NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, ESTABLISHING IMPLEMENTING MECHANISMS, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
Chapter 1: General Provisions
SECTION 1. Short Title. — This Act shall be known as “The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997”.
SECTION 2. Declaration of State Policies. — The State shall recognize and promote all the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) hereunder enumerated within the framework of the Constitution:
a) The State shall recognize and promote the rights of ICCs/IPs within the framework of national unity and development;
b) The State shall protect the rights of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains to ensure their economic, social and cultural well being and shall recognize the applicability of customary laws governing property rights or relations in determining the ownership and extent of ancestral domain;
c) The State shall recognize, respect and protect the rights of ICCs/IPs to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions and institutions. It shall consider these rights in the formulation of national laws and policies;
d) The State shall guarantee that members of the ICCs/IPs regardless of sex, shall equally enjoy the full measure of human rights and freedoms without distinction or discrimination;
e) The State shall take measures, with the participation of the ICCs/IPs concerned, to protect their rights and guarantee respect for their cultural integrity, and to ensure that members of the ICCs/IPs benefit on an equal footing from the rights and opportunities which national laws and regulations grant to other members of the population; and
f) The State recognizes its obligations to respond to the strong expression of the ICCs/IPs for cultural integrity by assuring maximum ICC/IP participation in the direction of education, health, as well as other services of ICCs/IPs, in order to render such services more responsive to the needs and desires of these communities.
Towards these ends, the State shall institute and establish the necessary mechanisms to enforce and guarantee the realization of these rights, taking into consideration their customs, traditions, values, beliefs, interests and institutions, and to adopt and implement measures to protect their rights to their ancestral domains.
Chapter II: Definition of Terms
SECTION 3. Definition of Terms. — For purposes of this Act, the following terms shall mean:
a) Ancestral Domains — Subject to Section 56 hereof, 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, by 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. It shall include ancestral lands, 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 they 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;
b) Ancestral Lands — Subject to Section 56 hereof, 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;
c) Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title — refers to a title formally recognizing the rights of possession and ownership of ICCs/IPs over their ancestral domains identified and delineated in accordance with this law;
d) Certificate of Ancestral Lands Title — refers to a title formally recognizing the rights of ICCs/IPs over their ancestral lands;
e) Communal Claims — refer to claims on land, resources and rights thereon, belonging to the whole community within a defined territory;
f) Customary Laws — refer to a body of written and/or unwritten rules, usages, customs and practices traditionally and continually recognized, accepted and observed by respective ICCs/IPs;
g) Free and Prior Informed Consent — as used in this Act shall mean the consensus of all members of the ICCs/IPs to be determined in accordance with their respective customary laws and practices, free from any external manipulation, interference and coercion, and obtained after fully disclosing the intent and scope of the activity, in a language and process understandable to the community;
h) Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples — refer to a group of people or homogenous societies identified by self-ascription and ascription by others, who have continuously lived as organized community on communally bounded and defined territory, and who have, under claims of ownership since time immemorial, occupied, possessed and utilized such territories, sharing common bonds of language, customs, traditions and other distinctive cultural traits, or who have, through resistance to political, social and cultural inroads of colonization, non-indigenous religions and cultures, became historically differentiated from the majority of Filipinos. ICCs/IPs shall likewise include peoples who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, at the time of conquest or colonization, or at the time of inroads of non-indigenous religions and cultures, or the establishment of present state boundaries, who retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions, but who may have been displaced from their traditional domains or who may have resettled outside their ancestral domains;
i) Indigenous Political Structures — refer to organizational and cultural leadership systems, institutions, relationships, patterns and processes for decision-making and participation, identified by ICCs/IPs such as, but not limited to, Council of Elders, Council of Timuays, Bodong Holders, or any other tribunal or body of similar nature;
j) Individual Claims — refer to claims on land and rights thereon which have been devolved to individuals, families and clans including, but not limited to, residential lots, rice terraces or paddies and tree lots;
k) National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) — refers to the office created under this Act, which shall be under the Office of the President, and which shall be the primary government agency responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies, plans and programs to recognize, protect and promote the rights of ICCs/IPs;
l) Native Title — refers to pre-conquest rights to lands and domains which, as far back as memory reaches, have been held under a claim of private ownership by ICCs/IPs, have never been public lands and are thus indisputably presumed to have been held that way since before the Spanish Conquest;
m) Nongovernment Organization — refers to a private, nonprofit voluntary organization that has been organized primarily for the delivery of various services to the ICCs/IPs and has an established track record for effectiveness and acceptability in the community where it serves;
n) People’s Organization — refers to a private, nonprofit voluntary organization of members of an ICC/IP which is accepted as representative of such ICCs/IPs;
o) Sustainable Traditional Resource Rights — refer to the rights of ICCs/IPs to sustainably use, manage, protect and conserve a) land, air, water, and minerals; b) plants, animals and other organisms; c) collecting, fishing and hunting grounds; d) sacred sites; and e) other areas of economic, ceremonial and aesthetic value in accordance with their indigenous knowledge, beliefs, systems and practices; and
p) Time Immemorial — refers to a period of time when as far back as memory can go, certain ICCs/IPs are known to have occupied, possessed in the concept of owner, and utilized a defined territory devolved to them, by operation of customary law or inherited from their ancestors, in accordance with their customs and traditions.
Chapter III: Rights to Ancestral Domains
SECTION 4. Concept of Ancestral Lands/Domains. — Ancestral lands/domains shall include such concepts of territories which cover not only the physical environment but the total environment including the spiritual and cultural bonds to the areas which the ICCs/IPs possess, occupy and use and to which they have claims of ownership.
SECTION 5. Indigenous Concept of Ownership. — Indigenous concept of ownership sustains the view that ancestral domains and all resources found therein shall serve as the material bases of their cultural integrity. 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.
SECTION 6. Composition of Ancestral Lands/Domains. — Ancestral lands and domains shall consist of all areas generally belonging to ICCs/IPs as referred under Sec. 3, items (a) and (b) of this Act.
SECTION 7. Rights to Ancestral Domains. — The rights of ownership and possession of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains shall be recognized and protected. Such rights shall include:
a) Right of Ownership. — The right to claim ownership over lands, bodies of water traditionally and actually occupied by ICCs/IPs, sacred places, traditional hunting and fishing grounds, and all improvements made by them at any time within the domains;
b) Right to Develop Lands and Natural Resources. — Subject to Section 56 hereof, right to develop, control and use lands and territories traditionally occupied, owned, or used; to manage and conserve natural resources within the territories and uphold the responsibilities for future generations; to benefit and share the profits from allocation and utilization of the natural resources found therein; the right to negotiate the terms and conditions for the exploration of natural resources in the areas for the purpose of ensuring ecological, environmental protection and the conservation measures, pursuant to national and customary laws; the right to an informed and intelligent participation in the formulation and implementation of any project, government or private, that will affect or impact upon the ancestral domains and to receive just and fair compensation for any damages which they may sustain as a result of the project; and the right to effective measures by the government to prevent any interference with, alienation and encroachment upon these rights;
c) Right to Stay in the Territories. — The right to stay in the territory and not to be removed therefrom. No ICCs/IPs will be relocated without their free and prior informed consent, nor through any means other than eminent domain. Where relocation is considered necessary as an exceptional measure, such relocation shall take place only with the free and prior informed consent of the ICCs/IPs concerned and whenever possible, they shall be guaranteed the right to return to their ancestral domains, as soon as the grounds for relocation cease to exist. When such return is not possible, as determined by agreement or through appropriate procedures, ICCs/IPs shall be provided in all possible cases with lands of quality and legal status at least equal to that of the land previously occupied by them, suitable to provide for their present needs and future development. Persons thus relocated shall likewise be fully compensated for any resulting loss or injury;
d) Right in Case of Displacement. — In case displacement occurs as a result of natural catastrophes, the State shall endeavor to resettle the displaced ICCs/IPs in suitable areas where they can have temporary life support systems: Provided, That 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: Provided, further, That should 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: Provided, furthermore, That basic services and livelihood shall be provided to them to ensure that their needs are adequately addressed;
e) Right to Regulate Entry of Migrants. — Right to regulate the entry of migrant settlers and organizations into the domains;
f) Right to Safe and Clean Air and Water. — For this purpose, the ICCs/IPs shall have access to integrated systems for the management of their inland waters and air space;
g) Right to Claim Parts of Reservations. — The right to claim parts of the ancestral domains which have been reserved for various purposes, except those reserved and intended for common public welfare and service; and
h) Right to Resolve Conflict. — Right to resolve land conflicts in accordance with customary laws of the area where the land is located, and only in default thereof shall the complaints be submitted to amicable settlement and to the Courts of Justice whenever necessary.
SECTION 8. Rights to Ancestral Lands. — The right of ownership and possession of the ICCs/IPs to their ancestral lands shall be recognized and protected.
a) Right to transfer land/property. — Such right shall include the 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.
b) Right to Redemption. — In cases where it is shown that the transfer of land/property rights by virtue of any agreement or devise, to a non-member of the concerned ICCs/IPs is tainted by the vitiated consent of the ICCs/IPs, or is transferred for an unconscionable consideration or price, the transferor ICC/IP shall have the right to redeem the same within a period not exceeding fifteen (15) years from the date of transfer.
SECTION 9. Responsibilities of ICCs/IPs to their Ancestral Domains. — ICCs/IPs occupying a duly certified ancestral domain shall have the following responsibilities:
a) Maintain Ecological Balance. — To preserve, restore, and maintain a balanced ecology in the ancestral domain by protecting the flora and fauna, watershed areas, and other reserves;
b) Restore Denuded Areas. — To actively initiate, undertake and participate in the reforestation of denuded areas and other development programs and projects subject to just and reasonable remuneration; and
c) Observe Laws. — To observe and comply with the provisions of this Act and the rules and regulations for its effective implementation.
SECTION 10. Unauthorized and Unlawful Intrusion. — Unauthorized and unlawful intrusion upon, or use of any portion of the ancestral domain, or any violation of the rights hereinbefore enumerated, shall be punishable under this law. Furthermore, the Government shall take measures to prevent non-ICCs/IPs from taking advantage of the ICCs/IPs customs or lack of understanding of laws to secure ownership, possession of land belonging to said ICCs/IPs.
SECTION 11. Recognition of Ancestral Domain Rights. — The rights of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains by virtue of Native Title shall be recognized and respected. Formal recognition, when solicited by ICCs/IPs concerned, shall be embodied in a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT), which shall recognize the title of the concerned ICCs/IPs over the territories identified and delineated.
SECTION 12. Option to Secure Certificate of Title Under Commonwealth Act 141, as amended, or the Land Registration Act 496. — Individual members of cultural communities, with respect to their individually-owned ancestral lands who, by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest, have been in continuous possession and occupation of the same in the concept of owner since time immemorial or for a period of not less than thirty (30) years immediately preceding the approval of this Act and uncontested by the members of the same ICCs/IPs shall have the option to secure title to their ancestral lands under the provisions of Commonwealth Act 141, as amended, or the Land Registration Act 496.
For this purpose, said individually-owned ancestral lands, which are agricultural in character and actually used for agricultural, residential, pasture, and tree farming purposes, including those with a slope of eighteen percent (18%) or more, are hereby classified as alienable and disposable agricultural lands.
The option granted under this section shall be exercised within twenty (20) years from the approval of this Act.
Chapter IV: Right to Self-Governance and Empowerment
SECTION 13. Self-Governance. — The State recognizes the inherent right of ICCs/IPs to self-governance and self-determination and respects the integrity of their values, practices and institutions. Consequently, the State shall guarantee the right of ICCs/IPs to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
SECTION 14. Support for Autonomous Regions. — The State shall continue to strengthen and support the autonomous regions created under the Constitution as they may require or need. The State shall likewise encourage other ICCs/IPs not included or outside Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras to use the form and content of their ways of life as may be compatible with the fundamental rights defined in the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and other internationally recognized human rights.
SECTION 15. Justice System, Conflict Resolution Institutions, and Peace Building Processes. — The ICCs/IPs shall have the right to use their own commonly accepted justice systems, conflict resolution institutions, peace building processes or mechanisms and other customary laws and practices within their respective communities and as may be compatible with the national legal system and with internationally recognized human rights.
SECTION 16. Right to Participate in Decision-Making. — ICCs/IPs have the right to participate fully, if they so choose, at all levels of decision-making in matters which may affect their rights, lives and destinies through procedures determined by them as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous political structures. Consequently, the State shall ensure that the ICCs/IPs shall be given mandatory representation in policy-making bodies and other local legislative councils.
SECTION 17. Right to Determine and Decide Priorities for Development. — The ICCs/IPs shall have the right to determine and decide their own priorities for development affecting their lives, beliefs, institutions, spiritual well-being, and the lands they own, occupy or use. They shall participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of policies, plans and programs for national, regional and local development which may directly affect them.
SECTION 18. Tribal Barangays. — The ICCs/IPs living in contiguous areas or communities where they form the predominant population but which are located in municipalities, provinces or cities where they do not constitute the majority of the population, may form or constitute a separate barangay in accordance with the Local Government Code on the creation of tribal barangays.
SECTION 19. Role of Peoples Organizations. — The State shall recognize and respect the role of independent ICCs/IPs organizations to enable the ICCs/IPs to pursue and protect their legitimate and collective interests and aspirations through peaceful and lawful means.
SECTION 20. Means for Development/Empowerment of ICCs/IPs. — The Government shall establish the means for the full development/empowerment of the ICCs/IPs own institutions and initiatives and, where necessary, provide the resources needed therefor.
Chapter V: Social Justice and Human Rights
SECTION 21. Equal Protection and Non-discrimination of ICCs/IPs. — Consistent with the equal protection clause of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights including the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and International Human Rights Law, the State shall, with due recognition of their distinct characteristics and identity, accord to the members of the ICCs/IPs the rights, protections and privileges enjoyed by the rest of the citizenry. It shall extend to them the same employment rights, opportunities, basic services, educational and other rights and privileges available to every member of the society. Accordingly, the State shall likewise ensure that the employment of any form of force or coercion against ICCs/IPs shall be dealt with by law.
The State shall ensure that the fundamental human rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution and relevant international instruments are guaranteed also to indigenous women. Towards this end, no provision in this Act shall be interpreted so as to result in the diminution of rights and privileges already recognized and accorded to women under existing laws of general application.
SECTION 22. Rights During Armed Conflict. — ICCs/IPs have the right to special protection and security in periods of armed conflict. The State shall observe international standards, in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, for the protection of civilian populations in circumstances of emergency and armed conflict, and shall not recruit members of the ICCs/IPs against their will into the armed forces, and in particular, for use against other ICCs/IPs; nor recruit children of ICCs/IPs into the armed forces under any circumstance; nor force indigenous individuals to abandon their lands, territories and means of subsistence, or relocate them in special centers for military purposes under any discriminatory condition.
SECTION 23. Freedom from Discrimination and Right to Equal Opportunity and Treatment. — It shall be the right of the ICCs/IPs to be free from any form of discrimination, with respect to recruitment and conditions of employment, such that they may enjoy equal opportunities for admission to employment, medical and social assistance, safety as well as other occupationally-related benefits, informed of their rights under existing labor legislation and of means available to them for redress, not subject to any coercive recruitment systems, including bonded labor and other forms of debt servitude; and equal treatment in employment for men and women, including the protection from sexual harassment.
Towards this end, the State shall, within the framework of national laws and regulations, and in cooperation with the ICCs/IPs concerned, adopt special measures to ensure the effective protection with regard to the recruitment and conditions of employment of persons belonging to these communities, to the extent that they are not effectively protected by laws applicable to workers in general.
ICCs/IPs shall have the right to association and freedom for all trade union activities and the right to conclude collective bargaining agreements with employers’ organizations. They shall likewise have the right not to be subject to working conditions hazardous to their health, particularly through exposure to pesticides and other toxic substances.
SECTION 24. Unlawful Acts Pertaining to Employment. — It shall be unlawful for any person:
a) To discriminate against any ICC/IP with respect to the terms and conditions of employment on account of their descent. Equal remuneration shall be paid to ICC/IP and non-ICC/IP for work of equal value; and
b) To deny any ICC/IP employee any right or benefit herein provided for or to discharge them for the purpose of preventing them from enjoying any of the rights or benefits provided under this Act.
SECTION 25. Basic Services. — The ICCs/IPs have the right to special measures for the immediate, effective and continuing improvement of their economic and social conditions, including in the areas of employment, vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous women, elderly, youth, children and differently-abled persons. Accordingly, the State shall guarantee the right of ICCs/IPs to government’s basic services which shall include, but not limited to, water and electrical facilities, education, health, and infrastructure.
SECTION 26. Women. — ICC/IP women shall enjoy equal rights and opportunities with men, as regards the social, economic, political and cultural spheres of life. The participation of indigenous women in the decision-making process in all levels, as well as in the development of society, shall be given due respect and recognition.
The State shall provide full access to education, maternal and child care, health and nutrition, and housing services to indigenous women. Vocational, technical, professional and other forms of training shall be provided to enable these women to fully participate in all aspects of social life. As far as possible, the State shall ensure that indigenous women have access to all services in their own languages.
SECTION 27. Children and Youth. — The State shall recognize the vital role of the children and youth of ICCs/IPs in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being. Towards this end, the State shall support all government programs intended for the development and rearing of the children and youth of ICCs/IPs for civic efficiency and establish such mechanisms as may be necessary for the protection of the rights of the indigenous children and youth.
SECTION 28. Integrated System of Education. — The State shall, through the NCIP, provide a complete, adequate and integrated system of education, relevant to the needs of the children and young people of ICCs/IPs.
Chapter VI: Cultural Integrity
SECTION 29. Protection of Indigenous Culture, Traditions and Institutions. — The State shall respect, recognize and protect the right of ICCs/IPs to preserve and protect their culture, traditions and institutions. It shall consider these rights in the formulation and application of national plans and policies.
SECTION 30. Educational Systems. — The State shall provide equal access to various cultural opportunities to the ICCs/IPs through the educational system, public or private cultural entities, scholarships, grants and other incentives without prejudice to their right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions by providing education in their own language, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning. Indigenous children/youth shall have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State.
SECTION 31. Recognition of Cultural Diversity. — The State shall endeavor to have the dignity and diversity of the cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations of the ICCs/IPs appropriately reflected in all forms of education, public information and cultural-educational exchange. Consequently, the State shall take effective measures, in consultation with ICCs/IPs concerned, to eliminate prejudice and discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among ICCs/IPs and all segments of society. Furthermore, the Government shall take effective measures to ensure that the State-owned media duly reflect indigenous cultural diversity. The State shall likewise ensure the participation of appropriate indigenous leaders in schools, communities and international cooperative undertakings like festivals, conferences, seminars and workshops to promote and enhance their distinctive heritage and values.
SECTION 32. Community Intellectual Rights. — ICCs/IPs have the right to practice and revitalize their own cultural traditions and customs. The State shall preserve, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures as well as the right to the restitution of cultural, intellectual, religious, and spiritual property taken without their free and prior informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.
SECTION 33. Rights to Religious, Cultural Sites and Ceremonies. — ICCs/IPs shall have the right to manifest, practice, develop, and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect and have access to their religious and cultural sites; the right to use and control of ceremonial objects; and, the right to the repatriation of human remains. Accordingly, the State shall take effective measures, in cooperation with the ICCs/IPs concerned, to ensure that indigenous sacred places, including burial sites, be preserved, respected and protected. To achieve this purpose, it shall be unlawful to:
a) Explore, excavate or make diggings on archeological sites of the ICCs/IPs for the purpose of obtaining materials of cultural values without the free and prior informed consent of the community concerned; and
b) Deface, remove or otherwise destroy artifacts which are of great importance to the ICCs/IPs for the preservation of their cultural heritage.
SECTION 34. Right to Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices and to Develop own Sciences and Technologies. — ICCs/IPs are entitled to the recognition of the full ownership and control and protection of their cultural and intellectual rights. They shall have the right to special measures to control, develop and protect their sciences, technologies and cultural manifestations, including human and other genetic resources, seeds, including derivatives of these resources, traditional medicines and health practices, vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals, indigenous knowledge systems and practices, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literature, designs, and visual and performing arts.
SECTION 35. Access to Biological and Genetic Resources. — Access to biological and genetic resources and to indigenous knowledge related to the conservation, utilization and enhancement of these resources, shall be allowed within ancestral lands and domains of the ICCs/IPs only with a free and prior informed consent of such communities, obtained in accordance with customary laws of the concerned community.
SECTION 36. Sustainable Agro-Technical Development. — The State shall recognize the right of ICCs/IPs to a sustainable agro-technological development and shall formulate and implement programs of action for its effective implementation. The State shall likewise promote the bio-genetic and resource management systems among the ICCs/IPs and shall encourage cooperation among government agencies to ensure the successful sustainable development of ICCs/IPs.
SECTION 37. Funds for Archeological and Historical Sites. — The ICCs/IPs shall have the right to receive from the national government all funds especially earmarked or allocated for the management and preservation of their archeological and historical sites and artifacts with the financial and technical support of the national government agencies.
Chapter VII: National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)
SECTION 38. National Commission on Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). — To carry out the policies herein set forth, there shall be created the National Commission on ICCs/IPs (NCIP), which shall be the primary government agency responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies, plans and programs to promote and protect the rights and well-being of the ICCs/IPs and the recognition of their ancestral domains as well as the rights thereto.
SECTION 39. Mandate. — The NCIP shall protect and promote the interest and well-being of the ICCs/IPs with due regard to their beliefs, customs, traditions and institutions.
SECTION 40. Composition. — The NCIP shall be an independent agency under the Office of the President and shall be composed of seven (7) Commissioners belonging to ICCs/IPs, one (1) of whom shall be the Chairperson. The Commissioners shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines from a list of recommendees submitted by authentic ICCs/IPs: Provided, That the seven (7) Commissioners shall be appointed specifically from each of the following ethnographic areas: Region I and the Cordilleras; Region II; the rest of Luzon; Island Groups including Mindoro, Palawan, Romblon, Panay and the rest of the Visayas; Northern and Western Mindanao; Southern and Eastern Mindanao; and Central Mindanao: Provided, That at least two (2) of the seven (7) Commissioners shall be women.
SECTION 41. Qualifications, Tenure, Compensation. — The Chairperson and the six (6) Commissioners must be natural born Filipino citizens, bona fide members of the ICCs/IPs as certified by his/her tribe, experienced in ethnic affairs and who have worked for at least ten (10) years with an ICC/IP community and/or any government agency involved in ICC/IP, at least 35 years of age at the time of appointment, and must be of proven honesty and integrity: Provided, That at least two (2) of the seven (7) Commissioners shall be members of the Philippine Bar: Provided, further, That the members of the NCIP shall hold office for a period of three (3) years, and may be subject to re-appointment for another term: Provided, furthermore, That no person shall serve for more than two (2) terms. Appointment to any vacancy shall only be for the unexpired term of the predecessor and in no case shall a member be appointed or designated in a temporary or acting capacity: Provided, finally, That the Chairperson and the Commissioners shall be entitled to compensation in accordance with the Salary Standardization Law.
SECTION 42. Removal from Office. — Any member of the NCIP may be removed from office by the President, on his own initiative or upon recommendation by any indigenous community, before the expiration of his term for cause and after complying with due process requirement of law.
SECTION 43. Appointment of Commissioners. — The President shall appoint the seven (7) Commissioners of the NCIP within ninety (90) days from the effectivity of this Act.
SECTION 44. Powers and Functions. — To accomplish its mandate, the NCIP shall have the following powers, jurisdiction and function:
a) To serve as the primary government agency through which ICCs/IPs can seek government assistance and as the medium, through which such assistance may be extended;
b) To review and assess the conditions of ICCs/IPs including existing laws and policies pertinent thereto and to propose relevant laws and policies to address their role in national development;
c) To formulate and implement policies, plans, programs and projects for the economic, social and cultural development of the ICCs/IPs and to monitor the implementation thereof;
d) To request and engage the services and support of experts from other agencies of government or employ private experts and consultants as may be required in the pursuit of its objectives;
e) To issue certificate of ancestral land/domain title;
f) Subject to existing laws, to enter into contracts, agreements, or arrangement, with government or private agencies or entities as may be necessary to attain the objectives of this Act, and subject to the approval of the President, to obtain loans from government lending institutions and other lending institutions to finance its programs;
g) To negotiate for funds and to accept grants, donations, gifts and/or properties in whatever form and from whatever source, local and international, subject to the approval of the President of the Philippines, for the benefit of ICCs/IPs and administer the same in accordance with the terms thereof; or in the absence of any condition, in such manner consistent with the interest of ICCs/IPs as well as existing laws;
h) To coordinate development programs and projects for the advancement of the ICCs/IPs and to oversee the proper implementation thereof;
i) To convene periodic conventions or assemblies of IPs to review, assess as well as propose policies or plans;
j) To advise the President of the Philippines on all matters relating to the ICCs/IPs and to submit within sixty (60) days after the close of each calendar year, a report of its operations and achievements;
k) To submit to Congress appropriate legislative proposals intended to carry out the policies under this Act;
l) To prepare and submit the appropriate budget to the Office of the President;
m) To issue appropriate certification as a pre-condition to the grant of permit, lease, grant, or any other similar authority for the disposition, utilization, management and appropriation by any private individual, corporate entity or any government agency, corporation or subdivision thereof on any part or portion of the ancestral domain taking into consideration the consensus approval of the ICCs/IPs concerned;
n) To decide all appeals from the decisions and acts of all the various offices within the Commission;
o) To promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for the implementation of this Act;
p) To exercise such other powers and functions as may be directed by the President of the Republic of the Philippines; and
q) To represent the Philippine ICCs/IPs in all international conferences and conventions dealing with indigenous peoples and other related concerns.
SECTION 45. Accessibility and Transparency. — Subject to such limitations as may be provided by law or by rules and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, all official records, documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as research data used as basis for policy development of the Commission shall be made accessible to the public.
SECTION 46. Offices within the NCIP. — The NCIP shall have the following offices which shall be responsible for the implementation of the policies hereinafter provided:
a) Ancestral Domains Office — The Ancestral Domain Office shall be responsible for the identification, delineation and recognition of ancestral lands/domains. It shall also be responsible for the management of ancestral lands/domains in accordance with a master plan as well as the implementation of the ancestral domain rights of the ICCs/IPs as provided in Chapter III of this Act. It shall also issue, upon the free and prior informed consent of the ICCs/IPs concerned, certification prior to the grant of any license, lease or permit for the exploitation of natural resources affecting the interests of ICCs/IPs or their ancestral domains and to assist the ICCs/IPs in protecting the territorial integrity of all ancestral domains. It shall likewise perform such other functions as the Commission may deem appropriate and necessary;
b) Office on Policy, Planning and Research — The Office on Policy, Planning and Research shall be responsible for the formulation of appropriate policies and programs for ICCs/IPs such as, but not limited to, the development of a Five-Year Master Plan for the ICCs/IPs. Such plan shall undergo a process such that every five years, the Commission shall endeavor to assess the plan and make ramifications in accordance with the changing situations. The Office shall also undertake the documentation of customary law and shall establish and maintain a Research Center that would serve as a depository of ethnographic information for monitoring, evaluation and policy formulation. It shall assist the legislative branch of the national government in the formulation of appropriate legislation benefiting ICCs/IPs;
c) Office of Education, Culture and Health — The Office on Culture, Education and Health shall be responsible for the effective implementation of the education, cultural and related rights as provided in this Act. It shall assist, promote and support community schools, both formal and non-formal, for the benefit of the local indigenous community, especially in areas where existing educational facilities are not accessible to members of the indigenous group. It shall administer all scholarship programs and other educational rights intended for ICC/IP beneficiaries in coordination with the Department of Education, Culture and Sports and the Commission on Higher Education. It shall undertake, within the limits of available appropriation, a special program which includes language and vocational training, public health and family assistance program and related subjects.
It shall also identify ICCs/IPs with potential training in the health profession and encourage and assist them to enroll in schools of medicine, nursing, physical therapy and other allied courses pertaining to the health profession.
Towards this end, the NCIP shall deploy a representative in each of the said offices who shall personally perform the foregoing task and who shall receive complaints from the ICCs/IPs and compel action from appropriate agency. It shall also monitor the activities of the National Museum and other similar government agencies generally intended to manage and preserve historical and archeological artifacts of the ICCs/IPs and shall be responsible for the implementation of such other functions as the NCIP may deem appropriate and necessary;
d) Office on Socio-Economic Services and Special Concerns — The Office on Socio-Economic Services and Special Concerns shall serve as the Office through which the NCIP shall coordinate with pertinent government agencies specially charged with the implementation of various basic socio-economic services, policies, plans and programs affecting the ICCs/IPs to ensure that the same are properly and directly enjoyed by them. It shall also be responsible for such other functions as the NCIP may deem appropriate and necessary;
e) Office of Empowerment and Human Rights — The Office of Empowerment and Human Rights shall ensure that indigenous socio-political, cultural and economic rights are respected and recognized. It shall ensure that capacity building mechanisms are instituted and ICCs/IPs are afforded every opportunity, if they so choose, to participate in all levels of decision-making. It shall likewise ensure that the basic human rights, and such other rights as the NCIP may determine, subject to existing laws, rules and regulations, are protected and promoted;
f) Administrative Office — The Administrative Office shall provide the NCIP with economical, efficient and effective services pertaining to personnel, finance, records, equipment, security, supplies and related services. It shall also administer the Ancestral Domains Fund; and
g) Legal Affairs Office — There shall be a Legal Affairs Office which shall advice the NCIP on all legal matters concerning ICCs/IPs and which shall be responsible for providing ICCs/IPs with legal assistance in litigation involving community interest. It shall conduct preliminary investigation on the basis of complaints filed by the ICCs/IPs against a natural or juridical person believed to have violated ICCs/IPs rights. On the basis of its findings, it shall initiate the filing of appropriate legal or administrative action to the NCIP.
SECTION 47. Other Offices. — The NCIP shall have the power to create additional offices as it may deem necessary subject to existing rules and regulations.
SECTION 48. Regional and Field Offices. — Existing regional and field offices shall remain to function under the strengthened organizational structure of the NCIP. Other field offices shall be created wherever appropriate and the staffing pattern thereof shall be determined by the NCIP: Provided, That in provinces where there are ICCs/IPs but without field offices, the NCIP shall establish field offices in said provinces.
SECTION 49. Office of the Executive Director. — The NCIP shall create the Office of the Executive Director which shall serve as its secretariat. The Office shall be headed by an Executive Director who shall be appointed by the President of the Republic of the Philippines upon recommendation of the NCIP on a permanent basis. The staffing pattern of the office shall be determined by the NCIP subject to the existing rules and regulations.
SECTION 50. Consultative Body. — A body consisting of the traditional leaders, elders and representatives from the women and youth sectors of the different ICCs/IPs shall be constituted by the NCIP from time to time to advise it on matters relating to the problems, aspirations and interests of the ICCs/IPs.
Chapter VIII: Delineation and Recognition of Ancestral Domains
SECTION 51. Delineation and Recognition of Ancestral Domains. — Self-delineation shall be the guiding principle in the identification and delineation of ancestral domains. As such, the ICCs/IPs concerned shall have a decisive role in all the activities pertinent thereto. The Sworn Statement of the Elders as to the scope of the territories and agreements/pacts made with neighboring ICCs/IPs, if any, will be essential to the determination of these traditional territories. The Government shall take the necessary steps to identify lands which the ICCs/IPs concerned traditionally occupy and guarantee effective protection of their rights of ownership and possession thereto. Measures shall be taken in appropriate cases to safeguard the right of the ICCs/IPs concerned to land which may no longer be exclusively occupied by them, but to which they have traditionally had access for their subsistence and traditional activities, particularly of ICCs/IPs who are still nomadic and/or shifting cultivators.
SECTION 52. Delineation Process. — The identification and delineation of ancestral domains shall be done in accordance with the following procedures:
a) Ancestral Domains Delineated Prior to this Act. — The provisions hereunder shall not apply to ancestral domains/lands already delineated according to DENR Administrative Order No. 2, series of 1993, nor to ancestral lands and domains delineated under any other community/ancestral domain program prior to the enactment of this law. ICCs/IPs whose ancestral lands/domains were officially delineated prior to the enactment of this law shall have the right to apply for the issuance of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) over the area without going through the process outlined hereunder;
b) Petition for Delineation. — The process of delineating a specific perimeter may be initiated by the NCIP with the consent of the ICC/IP concerned, or through a Petition for Delineation filed with the NCIP, by a majority of the members of the ICCs/IPs;
c) Delineation Proper. — The official delineation of ancestral domain boundaries including census of all community members therein, shall be immediately undertaken by the Ancestral Domains Office upon filing of the application by the ICCs/IPs concerned. Delineation will be done in coordination with the community concerned and shall at all times include genuine involvement and participation by the members of the communities concerned;
d) Proof Required. — Proof of Ancestral Domain Claims shall include the testimony of elders or community under oath, and other documents directly or indirectly attesting to the possession or occupation of the area since time immemorial by such ICCs/IPs in the concept of owners which shall be any one (1) of the following authentic documents:
1) Written accounts of the ICCs/IPs customs and traditions;
2) Written accounts of the ICCs/IPs political structure and institution;
3) Pictures showing long term occupation such as those of old improvements, burial grounds, sacred places and old villages;
4) Historical accounts, including pacts and agreements concerning boundaries entered into by the ICCs/IPs concerned with other ICCs/IPs;
5) Survey plans and sketch maps;
6) Anthropological data;
7) Genealogical surveys;
8) Pictures and descriptive histories of traditional communal forests and hunting grounds;
9) Pictures and descriptive histories of traditional landmarks such as mountains, rivers, creeks, ridges, hills, terraces and the like; and
10) Write-ups of names and places derived from the native dialect of the community.
e) Preparation of Maps. — On the basis of such investigation and the findings of fact based thereon, the Ancestral Domains Office of the NCIP shall prepare a perimeter map, complete with technical descriptions, and a description of the natural features and landmarks embraced therein;
f) Report of Investigation and Other Documents. — A complete copy of the preliminary census and a report of investigation, shall be prepared by the Ancestral Domains Office of the NCIP;
g) Notice and Publication. — A copy of each document, including a translation in the native language of the ICCs/IPs concerned shall be posted in a prominent place therein for at least fifteen (15) days. A copy of the document shall also be posted at the local, provincial and regional offices of the NCIP, and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks to allow other claimants to file opposition thereto within fifteen (15) days from date of such publication: Provided, That in areas where no such newspaper exists, broadcasting in a radio station will be a valid substitute: Provided, further, That mere posting shall be deemed sufficient if both newspaper and radio station are not available;
h) Endorsement to NCIP. — Within fifteen (15) days from publication, and of the inspection process, the Ancestral Domains Office shall prepare a report to the NCIP endorsing a favorable action upon a claim that is deemed to have sufficient proof. However, if the proof is deemed insufficient, the Ancestral Domains Office shall require the submission of additional evidence: Provided, That the Ancestral Domains Office shall reject any claim that is deemed patently false or fraudulent after inspection and verification: Provided, further, That in case of rejection, the Ancestral Domains Office shall give the applicant due notice, copy furnished all concerned, containing the grounds for denial. The denial shall be appealable to the NCIP: Provided, furthermore, That in cases where there are conflicting claims among ICCs/IPs on the boundaries of ancestral domain claims, the Ancestral Domains Office shall cause the contending parties to meet and assist them in coming up with a preliminary resolution of the conflict, without prejudice to its full adjudication according to the section below.
i) Turnover of Areas Within Ancestral Domains Managed by Other Government Agencies. — The Chairperson of the NCIP shall certify that the area covered is an ancestral domain. The secretaries of the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and Department of Justice, the Commissioner of the National Development Corporation, and any other government agency claiming jurisdiction over the area shall be notified thereof. Such notification shall terminate any legal basis for the jurisdiction previously claimed;
j) Issuance of CADT . — ICCs/IPs whose ancestral domains have been officially delineated and determined by the NCIP shall be issued a CADT in the name of the community concerned, containing a list of all those identified in the census; and
k) Registration of CADTs. — The NCIP shall register issued certificates of ancestral domain titles and certificates of ancestral lands titles before the Register of Deeds in the place where the property is situated.
SECTION 53. Identification, Delineation and Certification of Ancestral Lands. —
a) The allocation of lands within any ancestral domain to individual or indigenous corporate (family or clan) claimants shall be left to the ICCs/IPs concerned to decide in accordance with customs and traditions;
b) Individual and indigenous corporate claimants of ancestral lands which are not within ancestral domains, may have their claims officially established by filing applications for the identification and delineation of their claims with the Ancestral Domains Office. An individual or recognized head of a family or clan may file such application in his behalf or in behalf of his family or clan, respectively;
c) Proofs of such claims shall accompany the application form which shall include the testimony under oath of elders of the community and other documents directly or indirectly attesting to the possession or occupation of the areas since time immemorial by the individual or corporate claimants in the concept of owners which shall be any of the authentic documents enumerated under Sec. 52 (d) of this Act, including tax declarations and proofs of payment of taxes;
d) The Ancestral Domains Office may require from each ancestral claimant the submission of such other documents, Sworn Statements and the like, which in its opinion, may shed light on the veracity of the contents of the application/claim;
e) Upon receipt of the applications for delineation and recognition of ancestral land claims, the Ancestral Domains Office shall cause the publication of the application and a copy of each document submitted including a translation in the native language of the ICCs/IPs concerned in a prominent place therein for at least fifteen (15) days. A copy of the document shall also be posted at the local, provincial, and regional offices of the NCIP and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks to allow other claimants to file opposition thereto within fifteen (15) days from the date of such publication: Provided, That in areas where no such newspaper exists, broadcasting in a radio station will be a valid substitute: Provided, further, That mere posting shall be deemed sufficient if both newspapers and radio station are not available;
f) Fifteen (15) days after such publication, the Ancestral Domains Office shall investigate and inspect each application, and if found to be meritorious, shall cause a parcellary survey of the area being claimed. The Ancestral Domains Office shall reject any claim that is deemed patently false or fraudulent after inspection and verification. In case of rejection, the Ancestral Domains Office shall give the applicant due notice, copy furnished all concerned, containing the grounds for denial. The denial shall be appealable to the NCIP. In case of conflicting claims among individuals or indigenous corporate claimants, the Ancestral Domains Office shall cause the contending parties to meet and assist them in coming up with a preliminary resolution of the conflict, without prejudice to its full adjudication according to Sec. 62 of this Act. In all proceedings for the identification or delineation of the ancestral domains as herein provided, the Director of Lands shall represent the interest of the Republic of the Philippines; and
g) The Ancestral Domains Office shall prepare and submit a report on each and every application surveyed and delineated to the NCIP, which shall, in turn, evaluate the report submitted. If the NCIP finds such claim meritorious, it shall issue a certificate of ancestral land, declaring and certifying the claim of each individual or corporate (family or clan) claimant over ancestral lands.
SECTION 54. Fraudulent Claims. — The Ancestral Domains Office may, upon written request from the ICCs/IPs, review existing claims which have been fraudulently acquired by any person or community. Any claim found to be fraudulently acquired by, and issued to, any person or community may be cancelled by the NCIP after due notice and hearing of all parties concerned.
SECTION 55. Communal Rights. — Subject to Section 56 hereof, areas within the ancestral domains, whether delineated or not, shall be presumed to be communally held: Provided, That communal rights under this Act shall not be construed as co-ownership as provided in Republic Act No. 386, otherwise known as the New Civil Code.
SECTION 56. Existing Property Rights Regimes. — Property rights within the ancestral domains already existing and/or vested upon effectivity of this Act, shall be recognized and respected.
SECTION 57. Natural Resources within Ancestral Domains. — The ICCs/IPs shall have priority rights in the harvesting, extraction, development or exploitation of any natural resources within the ancestral domains. A non-member of the ICCs/IPs concerned may be allowed to take part in the development and utilization of the natural resources for a period of not exceeding twenty-five (25) years renewable for not more than twenty-five (25) years: Provided, That a formal and written agreement is entered into with the ICCs/IPs concerned or that the community, pursuant to its own decision making process, has agreed to allow such operation: Provided, finally, That the NCIP may exercise visitorial powers and take appropriate action to safeguard the rights of the ICCs/IPs under the same contract.
SECTION 58. Environmental Considerations. — Ancestral domains or portions thereof, which are found to be necessary for critical watersheds, mangroves, wildlife sanctuaries, wilderness, protected areas, forest cover, or reforestation as determined by appropriate agencies with the full participation of the ICCs/IPs concerned shall be maintained, managed and developed for such purposes. The ICCs/IPs concerned shall be given the responsibility to maintain, develop, protect and conserve such areas with the full and effective assistance of government agencies. Should the ICCs/IPs decide to transfer the responsibility over the areas, said decision must be made in writing. The consent of the ICCs/IPs should be arrived at in accordance with its customary laws without prejudice to the basic requirements of existing laws on free and prior informed consent: Provided, That the transfer shall be temporary and will ultimately revert to the ICCs/IPs in accordance with a program for technology transfer: Provided, further, That no ICCs/IPs shall be displaced or relocated for the purpose enumerated under this section without the written consent of the specific persons authorized to give consent.
SECTION 59. Certification Precondition. — All departments and other governmental agencies shall henceforth be strictly enjoined from issuing, renewing, or granting any concession, license or lease, or entering into any production-sharing agreement, without prior certification from the NCIP that the area affected does not overlap with any ancestral domain. Such certification shall only be issued after a field-based investigation is conducted by the Ancestral Domains Office of the area concerned: Provided, That no certification shall be issued by the NCIP without the free and prior informed and written consent of ICCs/IPs concerned: Provided, further, That no department, government agency or government-owned or -controlled corporation may issue new concession, license, lease, or production sharing agreement while there is a pending application for a CADT: Provided, finally, That the ICCs/IPs shall have the right to stop or suspend, in accordance with this Act, any project that has not satisfied the requirement of this consultation process.
SECTION 60. Exemption from Taxes. — All lands certified to be ancestral domains shall be exempt from real property taxes, special levies, and other forms of exaction except such portion of the ancestral domains as are actually used for large-scale agriculture, commercial forest plantation and residential purposes or upon titling by private persons: Provided, That all exactions shall be used to facilitate the development and improvement of the ancestral domains.
SECTION 61. Temporary Requisition Powers. — Prior to the establishment of an institutional surveying capacity whereby it can effectively fulfill its mandate, but in no case beyond three (3) years after its creation, the NCIP is hereby authorized to request the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) survey teams as well as other equally capable private survey teams, through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), to delineate ancestral domain perimeters. The DENR Secretary shall accommodate any such request within one (1) month of its issuance: Provided, That the Memorandum of Agreement shall stipulate, among others, a provision for technology transfer to the NCIP.
SECTION 62. Resolution of Conflicts. — In cases of conflicting interest, where there are adverse claims within the ancestral domains as delineated in the survey plan, and which can not be resolved, the NCIP shall hear and decide, after notice to the proper parties, the disputes arising from the delineation of such ancestral domains: Provided, That if the dispute is between and/or among ICCs/IPs regarding the traditional boundaries of their respective ancestral domains, customary process shall be followed. The NCIP shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations to carry out its adjudicatory functions: Provided, further, That any decision, order, award or ruling of the NCIP on any ancestral domain dispute or on any matter pertaining to the application, implementation, enforcement and interpretation of this Act may be brought for Petition for Review to the Court of Appeals within fifteen (15) days from receipt of a copy thereof.
SECTION 63. Applicable Laws. — Customary laws, traditions and practices of the ICCs/IPs of the land where the conflict arises shall be applied first with respect to property rights, claims and ownerships, hereditary succession and settlement of land disputes. Any doubt or ambiguity in the application and interpretation of laws shall be resolved in favor of the ICCs/IPs.
SECTION 64. Remedial Measures. — Expropriation may be resorted to in the resolution of conflicts of interest following the principle of the “common good”. The NCIP shall take appropriate legal action for the cancellation of officially documented titles which were acquired illegally: Provided, That such procedure shall ensure that the rights of possessors in good faith shall be respected: Provided, further, That the action for cancellation shall be initiated within two (2) years from the effectivity of this Act: Provided, finally, That the action for reconveyance shall be within a period of ten (10) years in accordance with existing laws.
Chapter IX: Jurisdiction and Procedures for Enforcement of Rights
SECTION 65. Primacy of Customary Laws and Practices. — When disputes involve ICCs/IPs, customary laws and practices shall be used to resolve the dispute.
SECTION 66. Jurisdiction of the NCIP. — The NCIP, through its regional offices, shall have jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs: Provided, however, That no such dispute shall be brought to the NCIP unless the parties have exhausted all remedies provided under their customary laws. For this purpose, a certification shall be issued by the Council of Elders/Leaders who participated in the attempt to settle the dispute that the same has not been resolved, which certification shall be a condition precedent to the filing of a petition with the NCIP.
SECTION 67. Appeals to the Court of Appeals. — Decisions of the NCIP shall be appealable to the Court of Appeals by way of a petition for review.
SECTION 68. Execution of Decisions, Awards, Orders. — Upon expiration of the period herein provided and no appeal is perfected by any of the contending parties, the Hearing Officer of the NCIP, on its own initiative or upon motion by the prevailing party, shall issue a writ of execution requiring the sheriff or the proper officer to execute final decisions, orders or awards of the Regional Hearing Officer of the NCIP.
SECTION 69. Quasi-Judicial Powers of the NCIP. — The NCIP shall have the power and authority:
a) To promulgate rules and regulations governing the hearing and disposition of cases filed before it as well as those pertaining to its internal functions and such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act;
b) To administer oaths, summon the parties to a controversy, issue subpoenas requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses or the production of such books, papers, contracts, records, agreements and other document of similar nature as may be material to a just determination of the matter under investigation or hearing conducted in pursuance of this Act;
c) To hold any person in contempt, directly or indirectly, and impose appropriate penalties therefor; and
d) To enjoin any or all acts involving or arising from any case pending before it which, if not restrained forthwith, may cause grave or irreparable damage to any of the parties to the case or seriously affect social or economic activity.
SECTION 70. No Restraining Order or Preliminary Injunction. — No inferior court of the Philippines shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against the NCIP or any of its duly authorized or designated offices in any case, dispute or controversy arising from, necessary to, or interpretation of this Act and other pertinent laws relating to ICCs/IPs and ancestral domains.
Chapter X: Ancestral Domains Fund
SECTION 71. Ancestral Domains Fund. — There is hereby created a special fund, to be known as the Ancestral Domains Fund, an initial amount of One hundred thirty million pesos (P130,000,000) to cover compensation for expropriated lands, delineation and development of ancestral domains. An amount of Fifty million pesos (P50,000,000) shall be sourced from the gross income of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) from its lotto operation, Ten million pesos (P10,000,000) from the gross receipts of the travel tax of the preceding year, the fund of the Social Reform Council intended for survey and delineation of ancestral lands/domains, and such other source as the government may deem appropriate. Thereafter, such amount shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act. Foreign as well as local funds which are made available for the ICCs/IPs through the government of the Philippines shall be coursed through the NCIP. The NCIP may also solicit and receive donations, endowments and grants in the form of contributions, and such endowments shall be exempted from income or gift taxes and all other taxes, charges or fees imposed by the government or any political subdivision or instrumentality thereof.
Chapter XI: Penalties
SECTION 72. Punishable Acts and Applicable Penalties. — Any person who commits violation of any of the provisions of this Act, such as, but not limited to, unauthorized and/or unlawful intrusion upon any ancestral lands or domains as stated in Sec. 10, Chapter III, or shall commit any of the prohibited acts mentioned in Sections 21 and 24, Chapter V, Section 33, Chapter VI hereof, shall be punished in accordance with the customary laws of the ICCs/IPs concerned: Provided, That no such penalty shall be cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment: Provided, further, That neither shall the death penalty or excessive fines be imposed. This provision shall be without prejudice to the right of any ICCs/IPs to avail of the protection of existing laws. In which case, any person who violates any provision of this Act shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment of not less than nine (9) months but not more than twelve (12) years or a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000) or both such fine and imprisonment upon the discretion of the court. In addition, he shall be obliged to pay to the ICCs/IPs concerned whatever damage may have been suffered by the latter as a consequence of the unlawful act.
SECTION 73. Persons Subject to Punishment. — If the offender is a juridical person, all officers such as, but not limited to, its president, manager, or head of office responsible for their unlawful act shall be criminally liable therefor, in addition to the cancellation of certificates of their registration and/or license: Provided, That if the offender is a public official, the penalty shall include perpetual disqualification to hold public office.
Chapter XII: Merger of the Office for Northern Cultural Communities (ONCC) and the Office for Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC)
SECTION 74. Merger of ONCC/OSCC. — The Office for Northern Cultural Communities (ONCC) and the Office of Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC), created under Executive Order Nos. 122-B and 122-C respectively, are hereby merged as organic offices of the NCIP and shall continue to function under a revitalized and strengthened structures to achieve the objectives of the NCIP: Provided, That the positions of Staff Directors, Bureau Directors, Deputy Executive Directors and Executive Directors, except positions of Regional Directors and below, are hereby phased-out upon the effectivity of this Act: Provided, further, That officials and employees of the phased-out offices who may be qualified may apply for reappointment with the NCIP and may be given prior rights in the filling up of the newly created positions of NCIP, subject to the qualifications set by the Placement Committee: Provided, furthermore, That in the case where an indigenous person and a non-indigenous person with similar qualifications apply for the same position, priority shall be given to the former. Officers and employees who are to be phased-out as a result of the merger of their offices shall be entitled to gratuity a rate equivalent to one and a half (1 ½) months salary for every year of continuous and satisfactory service rendered or the equivalent nearest fraction thereof favorable to them on the basis of the highest salary received. If they are already entitled to retirement or gratuity, they shall have the option to select either such retirement benefits or the gratuity herein provided. Officers and employees who may be reinstated shall refund such retirement benefits or gratuity received: Provided, finally, That absorbed personnel must still meet the qualifications and standards set by the Civil Service and the Placement Committee herein created.
SECTION 75. Transition Period. — The ONCC/OSCC shall have a period of six (6) months from the effectivity of this Act within which to wind up its affairs and to conduct audit of its finances.
SECTION 76. Transfer of Assets/Properties. — All real and personal properties which are vested in, or belonging to, the merged offices as aforestated shall be transferred to the NCIP without further need of conveyance, transfer or assignment and shall be held for the same purpose as they were held by the former offices: Provided, That all contracts, records and documents relating to the operations of the merged offices shall be transferred to the NCIP. All agreements and contracts entered into by the merged offices shall remain in full force and effect unless otherwise terminated, modified or amended by the NCIP.
SECTION 77. Placement Committee. — Subject to rules on government reorganization, a Placement Committee shall be created by the NCIP, in coordination with the Civil Service Commission, which shall assist in the judicious selection and placement of personnel in order that the best qualified and most deserving persons shall be appointed in the reorganized agency. The Placement Committee shall be composed of seven (7) commissioners and an ICCs’/IPs’ representative from each of the first and second level employees association in the Offices for Northern and Southern Cultural Communities (ONCC/OSCC), nongovernment organizations (NGOs) who have served the community for at least five (5) years and peoples organizations (POs) with at least five (5) years of existence. They shall be guided by the criteria of retention and appointment to be prepared by the consultative body and by the pertinent provisions of the civil service law.
Chapter XIII: Final Provisions
SECTION 78. Special Provision. — The City of Baguio shall remain to be governed by its Charter and all lands proclaimed as part of its townsite reservation shall remain as such until otherwise reclassified by appropriate legislation: Provided, That prior land rights and titles recognized and/or acquired through any judicial, administrative or other processes before the effectivity of this Act shall remain valid: Provided, further, That this provision shall not apply to any territory which becomes part of the City of Baguio after the effectivity of this Act.
SECTION 79. Appropriations. — The amount necessary to finance the initial implementation of this Act shall be charged against the current year’s appropriation of the ONCC and the OSCC. Thereafter, such sums as may be necessary for its continued implementation shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
SECTION 80. Implementing Rules and Regulations. — Within sixty (60) days immediately after appointment, the NCIP shall issue the necessary rules and regulations, in consultation with the Committees on National Cultural Communities of the House of Representatives and the Senate, for the effective implementation of this Act.
SECTION 81. Saving Clause. — This Act will not in any manner adversely affect the rights and benefits of the ICCs/IPs under other conventions, recommendations, international treaties, national laws, awards, customs and agreements.
SECTION 82. Separability Clause. — In case any provision of this Act or any portion thereof is declared unconstitutional by a competent court, other provisions shall not be affected thereby.
SECTION 83. Repealing Clause. — Presidential Decree No. 410, Executive Order Nos. 122-B and 122-C, and all other laws, decrees, orders, rules and regulations or parts thereof inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
SECTION 84. Effectivity. — This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days upon its publication in the Official Gazette or in any two (2) newspapers of general circulation.
Approved: October 29, 1997