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The Commonwealth Constitution : Article XII

ARTICLE XII: RESTRICTIONS ON ALIENATION OF LAND



Case Annotations: Wabol v. Villacrusis, 1 N.M.I. 34--36, 37; Sablan v. Iginoef, 1 N.M.I. 190--196; Aldan-Pierce v. Mafnas, 2 N.M.I. 122--129, 131, 132, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 144, 145, 151, 152, 153, 154, 156, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164 (1991), rev'd, 31 F.3d 756 (9th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. ___, 115 S. Ct. 913, 130 L. Ed. 2d 794 (1995); Ferreira v. Borja, 2 N.M.I. 514--518, 520, 521, 522, 523, 524, 525, 527, 531, 532, 533 , vacated, 1 F.3d 960 (9th Cir. 1993); Cepeda v. Hefner, 3 N.M.I. 121--123, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132; Manglona v. Kaipat, 3 N.M.I. 322--326, 327, 328, 330, 331, 333, 334, 335, 337, 342; Sablan v. Inos, 3 N.M.I. 418--432; In re Estate of Tudela, 4 N.M.I. 1--2, 3, 4, 5, 6; Deleon Guerrero v. Nabors, 4 N.M.I. 31--33; Bolalin v. Guam Publications, Inc., 4 N.M.I. 176--180; Ferreira v. Borja, 4 N.M.I. 211--212; Diamond Hotel Co., Ltd. v. Matsunaga, 4 N.M.I. 213--215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 223, 224, 225, 227; Hofschneider v. Hofschneider, 4 N.M.I. 277--278; Wabol v. Villacrusis, 4 N.M.I. 314--315, 316, 321.

 

Section 1: Alienation of Land. The acquisition of permanent and long-term interests in real property within the Commonwealth shall be restricted to persons of Northern Marianas descent.

Source: Original provision, unaltered (ratified 1977, effective 1978).

 

Case Annotations: Aldan-Pierce v. Mafnas, 2 N.M.I. 122--136, 143, 161, 162 (1991), rev'd, 31 F.3d 756 (9th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. ___, 115 S. Ct. 913, 130 L. Ed. 2d 794 (1995); Ferreira v. Borja, 2 N.M.I. 514--521, 524; Manglona v. Kaipat, 3 N.M.I. 322--328, 334, 335; In re Estate of Tudela, 4 N.M.I. 1--5; Diamond Hotel Co., Ltd. v. Matsunaga, 4 N.M.I. 213--216, 217, 218, 219, 221, 227.

 

Section 2: Acquisition. The term acquisition used in Section 1 includes acquisition by sale, lease, gift, inheritance or other means. A transfer to a spouse by inheritance is not an acquisition under this section if the owner dies without issue or with issue not eligible to own land in the Northern Mariana Islands. A transfer to a mortgagee by means of a foreclosure on a mortgage is not an acquisition under this section if the mortgagee is a full service bank, Federal Agency or Governmental entity of the Commonwealth and does not hold the permanent or long-term interest in real property for more than ten years beyond the term of the mortgage.

 

Source: Original provision (ratified 1977, effective 1978); amended by Second Const. Conv. Amend. 34 (1985).

Case Annotations: Aldan-Pierce v. Mafnas, 2 N.M.I. 122--138, 143, 160, 161 (1991), rev'd, 31 F.3d 756 (9th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. ___, 115 S. Ct. 913, 130 L. Ed. 2d 794 (1995); Ferreira v. Borja, 2 N.M.I. 514--521; In re Estate of Tudela, 4 N.M.I. 1--5; Diamond Hotel Co., Ltd. v. Matsunaga, 4 N.M.I. 213--222.

 

Section 3: Permanent and Long-Term Interests in Real Property. The term permanent and long-term interests in real property used in Section 1 includes freehold interests and leasehold interests of more than fifty-five years including renewal rights, except an interest acquired above the first floor of a condominium building. Any interests acquired above the first floor of a condominium building is restricted to private lands. Any land transaction in violation of this provision shall be void. This amendment does not apply to existing leasehold agreements.

 

Source: Original provision (ratified 1977, effective 1978); amended by Second Const. Conv. Amend. 35 (1985).

Case Annotations: Aldan-Pierce v. Mafnas, 2 N.M.I. 122--143, 161 (1991), rev'd, 31 F.3d 756 (9th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. ___, 115 S. Ct. 913, 130 L. Ed. 2d 794 (1995); Ferreira v. Borja, 2 N.M.I. 514--521, 522; In re Estate of Tudela, 4 N.M.I. 1--5; Diamond Hotel Co., Ltd. v. Matsunaga, 4 N.M.I. 213--216, 217, 218, 222.

 

Section 4: Persons of Northern Marianas Descent. A person of Northern Marianas descent is a person who is a citizen or national of the United States and who is of at least one-quarter Northern Marianas Chamorro or Northern Marianas Carolinian blood or a combination thereof or an adopted child of a person of Northern Marianas descent if adopted while under the age of eighteen years. For purposes of determining Northern Marianas descent, a person shall be considered to be a full-blooded Northern Marianas Chamorro or Northern Marianas Carolinian if that person was born or domiciled in the Northern Mariana Islands by 1950 and was a citizen of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands before the termination of the Trusteeship with respect to the Commonwealth.

 

Source: Original provision, unaltered (ratified 1977, effective 1978).

Case Annotations: Aldan-Pierce v. Mafnas, 2 N.M.I. 122--137 (1991), rev'd, 31 F.3d 756 (9th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. ___, 115 S. Ct. 913, 130 L. Ed. 2d 794 (1995); Ferreira v. Borja, 2 N.M.I. 514--522; Manglona v. Kaipat, 3 N.M.I. 322--325.

 

Section 5: Corporation. A corporation shall be considered to be a person of Northern Marianas descent so long as it is incorporated in the Commonwealth, has its principal place of business in the Commonwealth, has directors one-hundred percent of whom are persons of Northern Marianas descent and has voting shares (i.e. common or preferred) one-hundred percent of which are actually owned by persons of Northern Marianas descent as defined in Section 4. Minors, as defined by applicable laws of the Commonwealth, may not be eligible to become directors of a corporation. No trusts or voting by proxy by persons not of Northern Marianas descent may be permitted. Beneficial title shall not be served from legal title.

 

Source: Original provision (ratified 1977, effective 1978); amended by Second Const. Conv. Amend. 36 (1985).

Case Annotations: Aldan-Pierce v. Mafnas, 2 N.M.I. 122--137 (1991), rev'd, 31 F.3d 756 (9th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. ___, 115 S. Ct. 913, 130 L. Ed. 2d 794 (1995); Ferreira v. Borja, 2 N.M.I. 514--522.

 

Section 6: Enforcement. Any transaction made in violation of Section 1 shall be void ab initio. Whenever a corporation ceases to be qualified under Section 5, a permanent or long-term interest in land in the Commonwealth acquired by the Corporation after the effective date of this amendment shall be immediately forfeited without right of redemption to the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Registrar of Corporation shall issue regulations to ensure compliance and the legislature may enact enforcement laws and procedures.

 

Source: Original provision (ratified 1977, effective 1978); amended by Second Const. Conv. Amend. 36 (1985).

Case Annotations: Aldan-Pierce v. Mafnas, 2 N.M.I. 122--137, 143, 151, 153, 160, 163 (1991), rev'd, 31 F.3d 756 (9th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. ___, 115 S. Ct. 913, 130 L. Ed. 2d 794 (1995); Ferreira v. Borja, 2 N.M.I. 514--522, 523, 524, 532; Manglona v. Kaipat, 3 N.M.I. 322-- 334, 335; Diamond Hotel Co., Ltd. v. Matsunaga, 4 N.M.I. 213--219, 221; Wabol v. Villacrusis, 4 N.M.I. 314--315.

 

—Operation and Effect Intention of drafters of N.M.I. Const. art. XII, § 6 could not be clearer; any transaction which violates N.M.I. Const. art. XII, § 1 is completely without force and effect. The language of N.M.I. Const. art. XII, § 6 admits of no equitable exceptions. Diamond Hotel Co., Ltd. v. Matsunaga, 4 N.M.I. 213 (1995), aff'd, 99 F.3d 296 (9th Cir. 1996).

 

There can never be a situation where there is an automatic illegal purpose (in a conveyance) under N.M.I. Const. art. XII. There must first be an acquisition of an interest in land. Then a court may analyze the acquisition to determine if it violates N.M.I. Const. art. XII. If it makes such a determination, then the acquisition (i.e., transaction) becomes void ab initio. Manglona v. Kaipat, 3 N.M.I. 322 (1992).