EN BANC . G.R. No. 224469 - DIOSDADO SAMA y HINUPAS and BAjDY MASANGLAY y ACEVEDA, Petitioners, v. PEOPLE OF ~HE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. ~ Promulgated: f '}\ x------------------------------------------------------------- January_5, _202#----------x DISSENTING OPINION LOPEZ, J.: This case stemmed from an Information dated May 27, 2005, charging Diosdado Sama and Bandy Masanglay (petitioners) with violation of Section 77 1 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 705, known as the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines. Allegedly, the petitioners unlawfully and knowingly logged a dita tree with the use of unregistered power chainsaw, without any authority required under the existing laws and regulations. The petitioners were caught in jlagrante delicto when Police Officer (PO) 3 Villamor D. Rance, together with his team comprised of police officers and representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), were patrolling the mountainous areas in Barangay Calangatan, San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro, to address the illegal logging operations in the area. The petitioners claimed that they were Iraya-Mangyan Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and admitted cutting the dita tree planted within their ancestral domain. However, the cutting was for the purpose of constructing their community toilet a project initiated and organized by a Non-Government Organization (NGO). The Regional Trial Court convicted the petitioners and ruled that cutting down the dita tree without a corresponding permit is a violation of PD No. 705, a malum prohibitum. The Court of Appeals affirmed the petitioners' conviction. However, the ponencia acquitted the petitioners. Prefatorily, I agree with the ponencia that the Constitution and Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA) 2 have recognized and strengthened the rights ofIPs. I also agree that the dita tree collected by the petitioners is a specie of timber gathered from a private land (or forest or alienable land) within the contemplation of Section 77 of PD No. 705. I likewise concur that "as outlined, Section 77 SECTION. 77. Cutting, Gathering and/or Collecting Timber, or Other Forest Products Without License. Any person who shall cut, gather, collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land, without any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code: xx x The court shall fmther order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut, gathered, collected, removed, or possessed as well as the machinery, equipment, implements and tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products ar1;:: found. Republic Act No. 8371; approved on October 29, 1997. )

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