G.R. No. 224469 - Diosdado Samay Hinupas and Bandy Mass:tlay y Aceveda v. People of the Philippines. , Promulgated: ~ . 1 ~ January 5, 2021 x----------------------------------------1----- ---x SEPARATE CONCURRING OPINION ZALAMEDA, J.: Petitioners are before this Court seeking their acquittal from the offense punished under Section 77 of Presidential Decree No. 705 (P.D. 705), specifically the offense of cutting down a tree without the requisite permit or authority. Petitioners, who are members of the Iraya-Mangyan indigenous cultural community (ICC), averred that they are not criminally liable because they were merely exercising their legitimate right to use and enjoy the natural resources within their ancestral domains, and were acting in accordance with their elders' directions. The People, however, argued that petitioners violated the law when they logged the dita tree, for which violation they must be held accountable. They further argue that petitioners, even as members of an indigenous cultural group, enjoy no right more special or distinct from the rest of the Filipino people. Petitioners' mere act of cutting a tree without permit is sufficient for conviction. I concur in the result reached by my distinguished colleague, J. Lazaro-Javier, in her ponencia.

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