What's a "dispute" involving a mineral agreement?

A dispute is defined as a conflict or controversy; a conflict of claims or rights; an assertion of a right, claim or demand on one side; met by contrary claims or allegations on the other. It is synonymous to a cause of action which is an act or omission by which a party violates a right of another.

A petition or complaint originating from a dispute can be filed or initiated only by a real party-in-interest. The rules of court define a real party-in-interest as the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Every action, therefore, can only be prosecuted in the name of the real party-in-interest. It has been explained that a real party-in-interest plaintiff is one who has a legal right, while a real party-in-interest-defendant is one who has a correlative legal obligation whose act or omission violates the legal right of the former.
On the other hand, interest means material interest, an interest in issue and to be affected by the decree, as distinguished from mere interest in the question involved, or a mere incidental interest. It is settled in this jurisdiction that one having no right or interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court as a party-plaintiff in an action. Real interest is defined as a present substantial interest, as distinguished from a mere expectancy, or a future, contingent, subordinate or consequential interest.

From the foregoing, a petition for the cancellation of an existing mineral agreement covering an area applied for by an applicant based on the alleged violation of any of the terms thereof, is not a dispute involving a mineral agreement under Sec. 77 (b) of RA 7942. It does not pertain to a violation by a party of the right of another. The applicant is not a real party-in-interest as he does not have a material or substantial interest in the mineral agreement but only a prospective or expectant right or interest in the mining area.He has no legal right to such mining claim and hence no dispute can arise between the applicant and the parties to the mineral agreement. The court rules therefore that a petition for cancellation of a mineral agreement anchored on the breach thereof even if filed by an applicant to a mining claim, like Celestial and Blue Ridge, falls within the jurisdiction of the DENR Secretary and not POA. Such petition is excluded from the coverage of the POAs jurisdiction over disputes involving mineral agreements under Sec. 77 (b) of RA 7942. (G.R. No. 169080; December 19, 2007)