Thursday, October 18, 2007

La Bugal-B'Laan Tribal Assn vs Ramos Case Digest

G.R. No 127882

Facts :

On July 25, 1987, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order (E.O.) No. 2796 authorizing the DENR Secretary to accept, consider and evaluate proposals from foreign-owned corporations or foreign investors for contracts or agreements involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, which, upon appropriate recommendation of the Secretary, the President may execute with the foreign proponent.

On March 3, 1995, then President Fidel V. Ramos approved R.A. No. 7942 to "govern the exploration, development, utilization and processing of all mineral resources." R.A. No. 7942 defines the modes of mineral agreements for mining operations, outlines the procedure for their filing and approval, assignment/transfer and withdrawal, and fixes their terms. Similar provisions govern financial or technical assistance agreements.

On April 9, 1995, 30 days following its publication on March 10, 1995 in Malaya and Manila Times, two newspapers of general circulation, R.A. No. 7942 took effect. Shortly before the effectivity of R.A. No. 7942, however, or on March 30, 1995, the President entered into an FTAA with WMCP covering 99,387 hectares of land in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and North Cotabato.

On August 15, 1995, then DENR Secretary Victor O. Ramos issued DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 95-23, s. 1995, otherwise known as the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 7942. This was later repealed by DAO No. 96-40, s. 1996 which was adopted on December 20, 1996.

On January 10, 1997, counsels for petitioners sent a letter to the DENR Secretary demanding that the DENR stop the implementation of R.A. No. 7942 and DAO No. 96-40, giving the DENR fifteen days from receipt to act thereon. The DENR, however, has yet to respond or act on petitioners' letter.

Petitioners claim that the DENR Secretary acted without or in excess of jurisdiction.

They pray that the Court issue an order:

(a) Permanently enjoining respondents from acting on any application for Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements;
(b) Declaring the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or Republic Act No. 7942 as unconstitutional and null and void;
(c) Declaring the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Philippine Mining Act contained in DENR Administrative Order No. 96-40 and all other similar administrative issuances as unconstitutional and null and void; and
(d) Cancelling the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement issued to Western Mining Philippines, Inc. as unconstitutional, illegal and null and void.

Issue :

Whether or not Republic Act No. 7942 is unconstitutional.

Ruling :
The Court finds the following provisions of R.A. No. 7942 to be violative of Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution and hereby declares unconstitutional and void:

(1) The proviso in Section 3 (aq), which defines "qualified person," to wit:
Provided, That a legally organized foreign-owned corporation shall be deemed a qualified person for purposes of granting an exploration permit, financial or technical assistance agreement or mineral processing permit.

(2) Section 23, which specifies the rights and obligations of an exploration permittee, insofar as said section applies to a financial or technical assistance agreement,

(3) Section 33, which prescribes the eligibility of a contractor in a financial or technical assistance agreement;

(4) Section 35, which enumerates the terms and conditions for every financial or technical assistance agreement;

(5) Section 39, which allows the contractor in a financial and technical assistance agreement to convert the same into a mineral production-sharing agreement;

(6) Section 56, which authorizes the issuance of a mineral processing permit to a contractor in a financial and technical assistance agreement;
The following provisions of the same Act are likewise void as they are dependent on the foregoing provisions and cannot stand on their own:

(1) Section 3 (g), which defines the term "contractor," insofar as it applies to a financial or technical assistance agreement.

Section 34, which prescribes the maximum contract area in a financial or technical assistance agreements;

Section 36, which allows negotiations for financial or technical assistance agreements;

Section 37, which prescribes the procedure for filing and evaluation of financial or technical assistance agreement proposals;

Section 38, which limits the term of financial or technical assistance agreements;

Section 40, which allows the assignment or transfer of financial or technical assistance agreements;

Section 41, which allows the withdrawal of the contractor in an FTAA;
The second and third paragraphs of Section 81, which provide for the Government's share in a financial and technical assistance agreement; and

Section 90, which provides for incentives to contractors in FTAAs insofar as it applies to said contractors;

When the parts of the statute are so mutually dependent and connected as conditions, considerations, inducements, or compensations for each other, as to warrant a belief that the legislature intended them as a whole, and that if all could not be carried into effect, the legislature would not pass the residue independently, then, if some parts are unconstitutional, all the provisions which are thus dependent, conditional, or connected, must fall with them.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED.

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