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Republic Act No. 6716

March 17, 1989

AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF WATER WELLS, RAINWATER COLLECTORS, DEVELOPMENT OF SPRINGS AND REHABILITATION OF EXISTING WATER WELLS IN ALL BARANGAYS IN THE PHILIPPINES SECTION 1. Declaration of Policy.It is hereby declared to be the national policy to promote the quality of life of every Filipino through the provision of adequate social service including, but not limited to, the provision of adequate potable water supply made conveniently available to every barangay in the country. SECTION 2. Water Wells, Rainwater Collectors and Spring Development.The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) shall, within thirty (30) days after the approval of this Act, undertake construction of water wells, rainwater collectors, development of springs and rehabilitation of existing water wells in all barangays in the Philippines in such number as may be needed and feasible, taking into consideration the population, hydrologic conditions, costs of project development and operations, financial and economic factors and institutional arrangements: Provided, however, That the DPWH shall deduct not more than five percent (5%) for supervision, engineering, technical and other overhead expenses or fees: Provided, further, That each barangay in the country shall have at least one additional potable water source. SECTION 3. Operation and Maintenance.In order to ensure the proper use of the water facilities herein provided, a Barangay Waterworks and Sanitation Association, herein referred to as BWSA, shall be formed and organized for the purpose of maintaining the water facilities: Provided, That pending the organization of the BWSA, the water facilities shall be operated and maintained by the barangay council. The BWSA shall be composed of the member-consumers who shall administer, operate and maintain the completed water facility and shall be registered with the corresponding municipal or city council. The BWSA may impose such minimal charges as may be necessary for the maintenance and normal repairs of said facility. Nothing herein shall prevent any resident of the locality from using the water facility under the same terms and conditions as the member-consumers of the BWSA. Organizing and training the recipient communities in the operation and maintenance of water systems shall be conducted by the DPWH prior to the turnover of such facilities to the BWSA subject to the guidelines to be formulated by the Department. SECTION 4. Submission of Report.The Department of Public Works and Highways shall, within ninety (90) days after the approval of this Act and every one hundred eighty (180) days thereafter, submit periodic reports to the respective Committees on Public Works and Highways of both Houses of the Congress of the Philippines for evaluation and consideration. SECTION 5. Funding.The sum needed for the implementation of the construction, rehabilitation and repair program shall be taken from any available appropriations for the Department of Public Works and Highways in the General Appropriations

Act for 1989: Provided, That funds for this purpose shall also be included in the General Appropriations Act for 1990 and 1991: Provided, further, That the total program shall be completed not later than June 30, 1991, and: Provided, finally, That there shall be equitable and proportionate appropriations of funds annually for this purpose for all provinces, cities and municipalities. In addition, a portion of financial grants and concessional loans extended to the Philippines by foreign governments and multilateral agencies every year, the amount to be determined by the President, shall be allocated by the Department of Budget and Management to augment the appropriations of the Department of Public Works and Highways until one hundred thousand (100,000) water wells, rainwater collectors, and springs are completed as envisioned in this Act. SECTION 6. Effectivity.This Act shall take effect upon its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation. Approved: March 17, 1989

DILG to LGUs: Construct rainwater collectors

A February 20, 2012 press release from the Department of the Interior and Local Government As an effective measure to prevent flooding especially in low-lying areas, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo is calling on all local chief executives to include the construction of rainwater collectors in their respective development plans or climate change action plans. Robredo said the installation of rainwater collectors and rainwater collection systems (RWCS) is provided for under Republic Act (RA) No. 6716 or the Rainwater Collector and Springs Development Law, which promotes RWCS as a mechanism to promote water conservation and control flooding. He said RWCS provide a simple and cost-effective means to preserve water, reduce flooding, provide water buffer, and recharge aquifers. These (rainwater collectors) will be useful both during the wet and dry seasons, since they would not only lessen the impact of floods on our people, but would also serve as our additional water resource during summer, the DILG Secretary said. In his directive to provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, and punong barangays, Robredo urged them to include the promotion of RWCS technologies applicable at the community level and install RWCS in local government unit (LGU) infrastructure, where appropriate. These shall serve as models to encourage households in constituent communities to adopt RWCS in a smaller scale, he said. As national agencies involved in the implementation of programs on water and sanitation, and as members of the Advisory Board to the Climate Change Commission, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and DILG

earlier forged a memorandum of agreement to signify both agencies commitment for the promotion, popularization, and implementation of rainwater collection facilities consistent with the intent of RA 6716. For its part, the DILG provided information on the prototype designs developed by the DPWH on RWCS that may be adopted by local governments. It is also pursuing efforts to reiterate and intensify promotion of RWCS as a disaster/CCA mitigation intervention, and to pursue the advocacy for LGU adoption of RWCS. On the other hand, the DPWH is promoting rainwater harvesting for non-domestic use and spearheading the construction of RWCS in public schools as part of its climate change adaptation program. In the same directive, Robredo directed all DILG regional directors to initiate the implementation of showcasing RWCS in their respective offices. He also advised local chief executives and DILG regional offices to seek assistance from the DPWH district offices for the construction of RWCS using DPWH prototype designs.

Probe on DPWH's failure to implement rainwater collections construction sought

05 December 2011 08:43:28 AM Writer: Lorelei V. Castillo, MRS-PRIB A lawmaker has called on the House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry into the failure of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to construct water wells, rainwater collectors, development of springs and rehabilitation of existing water wells in all barangays in the country. Rep. Angelo Palmones (Party-list, Agham), author of House Resolution 1917, said that since Republic Act 6716 was enacted on March 17, 1989, only four rainwater collectors were constructed from January to June 2009 as claimed by the Global Legal Action on Climate Change (GLACC) when they petitioned the Supreme Court to compel local government units to implement the law. "This is contrary to the targeted 100,000 water wells, rain water collectors and springs to be constructed as envisioned in the Act," Palmones said. R.A. 6716 provides for the construction of water wells, rainwater collectors, development of springs and rehabilitation of existing water wells in all barangays nationwide. Palmones said R.A. 6716 provides that DPWH shall, within 30 days after the approval of the Act, construct water wells, rainwater collectors, development of springs and rehabilitation of existing water wells in all barangays in the country in such number as may be needed and feasible, taking into consideration the population, hydrologic conditions, costs of project development and operations, financial and economic factors and institutional arrangements.

The law also provides that the budget needed for the implementation of R.A. 6716 shall be taken from any available appropriations of the DPWH in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 1989 and shall be included in the GAA for 1990 and 1991 and that the total program shall be completed not later than June 30, 1991, Palmones added. In filing the resolution, Palmones noted the Constitutional policy of the State to promote the quality of life of every Filipino through the provision of adequate social service such as the provision of adequate potable water supply made conveniently available to every barangay in the country. "The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) already disclosed that based on their climate forecast models there will be a shift in the weather patterns in the next 50 years wherein the western seaboard in Northern Luzon will become wetter while the Mindanao area will become drier," Palmones said. Palmones said PAGASA recently issued a bulletin indicating that La Nia is expected to occur between December 2011 and February 2012 with anticipated flooding. "Rainwater collection is necessary not only for the provision of potable water and for agricultural and industrial purposes but also as mitigating measure against floods," Palmones said. Palmones stressed that it is imperative for the DPWH to complete the construction of what remains of the 100,000 target before La Nia sets in. Palmones said RA 6716 further provides that to ensure the proper use of the water facilities, a Barangay Waterworks and Sanitation Association (BWSA) shall be formed and organized for the purpose of maintaining the water facilities. Palmones said the law mandates the DPWH to organize and train recipient communities in the operation and maintenance of water systems prior to the turnover of such facilities to the BWSA subject to the guidelines to be formulated by the Department. Source:

Reviving a stillborn law

By Juan L. Mercado Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:04 am | Tuesday, July 12th, 2011 Floods from abnormal cloudbursts have ebbed. Images of sweepstakes scam players now dominate the front pages and TV screens. They have dislodged pictures of water hyacinths clogging Rio Grande de Mindanao. Drenched Metro Manila and Cebu City are drying out. Dig the well before you get thirsty, Chinese sages counsel. Did anybody use cisterns, as required by the Rainwater Catchment Law (RA 6716)? Future summers will be hotterand permanentas the equatorial band of rain shifts, altering weather, caution University of Washington scientists.

A ghastly triage, meanwhile, plays out in todays Horn of Africa drought. Starving mothers abandon dying children to save those who can shuffle another day towards jammed UN refugee camps, the BBC reports. The Philippine government set up four demonstration rainwater collectors out of the 100,000 that RA 6716 set. Thats 0.004 percent of target. Not a single pork barrel centavo went for cisterns, although 66 out of every 100 Filipinos lack water. Indeed, the law hath not been dead, though it hath slept, as Shakespeare wrote. Yet water could whittle down infant mortality rates, now hovering at 52 per 100,000. Compare that to Thailands 17. These are preventable deaths, Viewpoint noted four years ago. The most fractured human right in this country is that of a child to celebrate his first birthday. This is also gross negligence, 2009 Magsaysay Awardee Antonio Oposa said when he asked the Supreme Court to issue its first writ of kalikasan ever to compel the government to implement a law stillborn from cynical indifference. Look at the track record. On behalf of 43 minors, Oposa filed a class suit arguing that the kids constitutional rights to a healthy environment were threatened by rampant logging. The Supreme Court agreed and spelled out the inter-generational equity principle. Written by then Chief Justice Hilario Davide, the 1993 decision affirmed Oposas main thrust: that the interests of future generations should be protected by the courts. A triumph of principle, the case set a precedent for how citizens can leverage the law to protect the environment, the Magsaysay Award citation recalled. In 1999, a citizens group, led by Oposa, sued to hold government liable for the pollution of Manila Bay. It took 10 years to argue. But the Court directed 12 agencies to rehabilitate the Bay. Since then, there has been an initial but still fragile reversal of near-blanket infraction of RA 6716, Oposa told Viewpoint. We have a more responsive government this time, he said. Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson signed on June 6 a little noticed but significant memorandum of agreement to implement the moribund rainwater collections systems law. The MOA sketches out joint action, from stock-taking and providing technical help to securing funds in the 2012 budget. Credit for the slogging work in crafting this MOA goes to the Union of Local Authorities Monina Camacho and Solicitor General Joel Cadiz, Oposa wrote. We may submit this to the Supreme Court. It may well become the first environmental case decided as a consent decree. Who knows? As the the late US Sen. Barry Goldwater once mused, A man will fight over three things: water, women and goldusually in that order. Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo W. Antonino, for his part, took issue with Viewpoints criticism of his House Bill 4252, entitled Freedom of Information and Transparency Act of 2011.

This column endorsed Antoninos support for FOI but noted that the bill snitched sections 10 and 16 from former Rep. Monico Puentevellas HB3306 and Sen. Bong Revillas SB 2150 which would legislate compulsory right of reply measures. The 14th Congress rightly scrapped them as constitutionally prohibited prior restraint. My legislative horizons are not constricted to local issues, Antonino protested. This is an insult to my reputation as a legislator with a track record of having principally authored 21 Republic Acts of national character out of 33 bills in the previous 14th Congress. I am the principal author of 10 House bills in the current Congress, he wrote. And this only took place on my first year of my three-year term. These range from HB 756 which defines terrorist financing as crime to HB 4638 which regulates the practice of nutrition and dietetics. Media should not broadcast or print without giving those mentioned the ability to reply to the same audience with the same prominence in the program or print article. Case in fact is your column which belittled my legislative performance as constricted. Antonino didnt comment on Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Taadas statement to Philippine Press Institute members which said: HB 4252 covers two different matters: freedom of information and right of reply. Each should stand or fall on its own merits. Silenced songbirds last July 5 elicited reactions from Australia to the United States. Inquirer provided interesting facts about the Sulu hornbill, e-mailed Bless Salonga from Sydney. All the more reason why they should be protected. You are so right. We torture animals in the Philippines. I used to brag if I shot a bird because I was bloody ignorant, Mario Aldeguer e mailed. Nobody taught us better The punishment for killing a panda in China without authority is death They mean business. What is really frightening is the destruction of our coral base. Our staple food is basically fish. And were destroying its food source.

Enforce RA 6716, Echiverri appeals to DPWH

By ED MAHILUM July 25, 2010, 2:24pm

Caloocan City Mayor Enrico Echiverri Sunday appealed to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to immediately enforce Republic Act 6716, the law which states the need to have water wells, develop water wells, and rainwater collectors to avoid repetition of the water supply problem that affects residents of Metro Manila and other parts of the country. Citing the enormous problems that the water shortage did to many parts of Metro Manila, Echiverri said that it is high time the DPWH should implement RA 6716. He said the law has been approved by Congress in 1989 but up to now it has remained "inutile" Panahon na para ipatupad ng DPWH ang naturang batas dahil may 21 taon

na rin naman nila itong tinulugan sapagkat noon pang 1989 ito naaprubahan ng Kongreso, the mayor said. "The problem of water supply was not duly addressed, thats why residents are now hard-pressed to find a viable source for potable water to be used in their daily routine," he said. Echiverri said that the water crisis gripping the country today including parts of Metro Manila, would not have happened and its resident spared of hardship altogether if only R.A. 6716 would have been fully enforced. The water shortage has affected many parts of Caloocan notably Bagong Barrio, Sta. Quiteria, Baesa, Talipapa and other areas in the northern portion of the city's 1st district. Many residents in affected areas in Metro Manila have queued themselves with their pails, basin from morning until afternoon from where they can avail water for their daily routine. Earlier the city government started water rationing to affected areas, two or three days the water supply fell short to lessen the burden of the household members. Once the law is fully enforced, residents would no longer have to worry about water supply since there would always be a viable water source nearby, the mayor said. The local chief executive is optimistic that the national government would consider his appeal noting that a lot of people would benefit from it once it is implemented.

Supreme Court orders government to answer first kalikasan petition

By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) Updated April 29, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the government to answer a petition of a group of environmentalists seeking the creation of rainwater collectors in the country.

SC spokesman Midas Marquez said the national government agencies led by Malacaang, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government representing the 80 provinces, 150 cities, 1,400 towns and 42,000 barangays were given 10 days to comment on the petition filed by the group led by Ramon Magsaysay awardee and environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr.

The SC allowed the petition of Oposa who led the Global Legal Action on Climate Change calling on the national government to come up with a more effective nationwide flood control project by implementing a 1989 law for rainwater collectors in all barangays.

It was the first case to invoke the writ of kalikasan issued by the SC earlier this month and which takes effect today.

Oposas group led invoked the 21-year-old Republic Act 6716 (Rainwater Collector and Springs Development Law), which was also implemented for local government units under the Local Government Code.

Oposa said they are frustrated with the government for its inaction to implement the law in the face of severe weather fluctuations from too much rain brought by tropical storm Ondoy to the current dry spell caused by the El Nio phenomenon.

The group accused the government of gross negligence in the performance of public duty since the DPWH only started complying with RA 6716 last year and completed just four of the 100,000 rainwater catchments required by the law to be completed in 1991.

The anxiety of always alternating between flooding and water scarcity is too much to bear for us ordinary citizens. It must stop, the group stated in their petition.

In their petition, the Global Legal Action on Climate Change cited the successful implementation of the scheme in Singapore and India where rainwater collectors have become significant.

In the Philippines where there are extremely wet and dry seasons, the group said water wells serve as catchment areas to prevent flooding during the rainy season and as sources of freshwater during the dry season.

Rainwater collectors, the group said, also recharge aquifers, improve micro-climatic conditions, and serve as source of recreation and spiritual soothing as well as of food such as fish and vegetables.

The group urged the SC to order the concerned government agencies and LGUs to submit a detailed action plan on how they would implement RA 6716 and appoint a commissioner to monitor its implementation.

The petitioners believe this will prevent destructive flooding before the rainy season strikes, citing the countrys experiences during Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng last year. Source:


Forgotten law never enforced can solve water crisis, floodings
By Alcuin Papa First Posted 00:05:00 07/25/2010

THE IMPLEMENTATION of a little-known law requiring that barangays construct catchments or reservoirs to collect rainwater would have helped solve the ongoing water crisis and the countrys regular flooding woes, according to an environmental lawyer. Antonio Oposa Jr., a professor of environmental law at the University of the Philippines, cited Republic Act No. 6716, the law that provides for the construction of water wells, rainwater collectors, development of springs and rehabilitation of existing water wells in all of the countrys barangays. The law, designed to save rainwater during the rainy season in catchments or sumps, was passed in 1989 and has never been implemented, according to Oposa. The water shortage and rationing that we are again going through has been coming for a long time. We are being flooded during the rainy season, yet we are undergoing severe water shortage. And all because we forgot, or simply neglected to implement, a simple law that requires the construction of rainwater catchment/collectors in every barangay, he said. He described the most simple rainwater catchment system as a specially prepared hole in the lowest level of a vacant lot to capture rain water from the sky or from the ground. If properly designed, ground catchment systems can collect large quantities of rainwater. Oposa said harvested rainwater can provide supplemental water for nonpotable household requirements, mitigate flooding by providing a receptacle for excess water and increase soil moisture levels for urban greenery, thus providing areas for recreation. But by far the most important benefit is the replenishment of and improvement in the quality of ground water from where the country draws its supply of drinking water, he said. The rainwater that is saved refill the aquifers or natural reservoirs in a process called groundwater recharge, where the runoff on the ground is collected and allowed to be absorbed, raising the groundwater level and increasing the amount of water stored in the aquifers.


If we only captured rainwater during the rainy season in cavities of the Earth as Nature intended, flooding would be minimized, if not altogether eliminated, said Oposa. Sickbed of non-compliance According to Oposa, the mandate for the construction of the rainwater collectors was originally given to the Department of Public Works and Highways but later devolved to local government units. In June 2009, Oposa and the Global Legal Action on Climate Change wrote to the DPWH inquiring into the implementation of the law. In its reply dated Aug. 6, 2009, the DPWH said that from January to June 2009, it had put up only four demonstration rainwater collectors. The law mandates that there should be at least 100,000 rainwater collectors and catchment areas all over the country by 1991. With the number of basins already built by the DPWH, compliance with the RA 6716 is actually at 0.004 percent, said Oposa. This number is so minuscule, microscopic and infinitesimal that in law, it is tantamount to gross negligence in the performance of public duty. It also presents a clear, unmistakable and palpable cause of action for a writ of mandamus, he said. Last April, Oposa and a group of concerned citizens filed action with the Supreme Court, which they called a writ of kalikasan, asking the high court to compel the government to implement RA 6716 that has long languished in the sickbed of noncompliance. Respondents not responding Named as respondents were the Office of the President, the DPWH, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the newly created Climate Change Commission, 80 provinces, 150 cities, 1,400 municipalities and all 42,000 barangays. None of the respondents have responded. Only the League of Provinces, representing the 80 provinces, has filed a comment, questioning the complaint on procedural matters. Last year, Oposa, who led a citizens group in filing a case holding the government liable for the pollution and cleanup of the Manila Bay, won a landmark decision from the Supreme Court which compelled 11 government agencies to rehabilitate the bay and report the progress of the work to the high court. It was cited by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation that chose Oposa to be one of six Asians conferred Asias equivalent of the Nobel Prize in 2009.

11 Source:

Frustrated by government inaction in the face of severe weather fluctuations, a group of citizens known as the Global Legal Action on Climate Change filed a Petition for "Mandamus in the nature of a Writ of Kalikasan" before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 21 April 2010, a day before the celebration of Earth Day. The group of citizens is composed of young environmental law students from the University of the Philippines College of Law, backed by some of the country's top environmental lawyers. It is the first case to invoke the Writ of Kalikasan, an innovation introduced by the Supreme Court just this month. The Petition, with G.R. No. 191806, seeks to compel the Office of the President, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and various local government units (LGUs) as class defendants, to implement a 21-year-old law on rainwater collectors. The lawRepublic Act 6716was enacted on 17 March 1989, and it mandated the DPWH to construct rainwater collectors and develop springs in every barangay in the Philippines. With the passage of Rep. Act 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, constructing rainwater collectors became a shared burden of the LGUs. The citizens-petitioners and legal team leader Antonio Oposa, Jr., said the [p]etitioners are citizens of the Philippines, taxpayers, and are persons affected by the frequent flooding and water scarcity. According to the petition, rainwater collectors have become increasingly important in light of the extremely wet and dry seasons climate change has brought upon the Philippines. During rainy seasons, rainwater collectors serve as catchment areas to prevent flooding; in dry seasons, they serve as sources of freshwater. The petition cites the successful implementation of rainwater collectors in waterinsecure countries such as Singapore and India. Apart from the twin benefits of flood prevention (during rainy months) and increased water supply (during dry, summer months), rainwater collectors also serve other purposes: from recharging aquifers, to improving micro-climatic conditions; from being a source of recreation and spiritual soothing, to being home to food sources such as fish and vegetables. The petition also that out of the 100,000 rainwater catchments required by law to be completed in 1991, the DPWH has only done FOUR of such rainwater collectors and only started doing so last January to June 2009. The measly number of rainwater collectors constructed by the government agencies concerned is "so infinitesimal it is tantamount to gross negligence in the performance of public duty", said the petition.The anxiety of always alternating between flooding and water scarcity is too much to bear for us ordinary citizens.

12 It must stop, the Petition stated. Thus, the relief being sought is two-pronged: first, for the concerned agencies and LGUs to submit a detailed action plan and program of action on how they will implement Rep. Acts 6716 and 7160 on rainwater catchments/collectors; and second, for a Court-appointed Commissioner to continuously monitor the laws implementation. According to the petitioners, "[t]he time for talk is over. It is time for action." Source:


Philippines: Landmark court challenge could force action to curb climate-related flooding
By Purple S. Romero 24 May 2010

MANILA (AlertNet) - Climate change activists have taken their fight for flooding mitigation measures to the Philippines' supreme court, in a case that would also test the effectiveness of the world's first ever "writ of kalikasan" (nature). Global Legal Action on Climate Change (GLACC), a civil society organization headed by environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa, has asked the High Tribunal to compel the government to implement two old laws that could ease flooding, a common problem in the Philippines and one expected to worsen as climate change brings more severe storms and sea level rise. "We, ordinary citizens, dare to come forward and bring up this matter of extreme urgency before a more stable branch of government: a court of justice," GLACC said in its petition. "We, ordinary citizens - from whence emanate all governmental power - humbly seek to use the law to compel our so-called political leaders to take notice, and then take positive action." GLACC is seeking a remedy under the writ of kalikasan, described by newly-retired chief justice Reynato Puno as the first legal weapon in the world that empowers the man-on-the-street to seek concrete actions for ecological protection from their government officials. The high court promulgated the writ last April. USING LAW TO FORCE GOVERNMENT ACTION Under this writ, the court can issue a writ of mandamus commanding the government to execute laws already on the books. In this case, those include Republic Acts 6716 and 7160, which mandate the construction of rainwater collectors, mainly manmade ponds. "The simple solution (to flooding) is to find a receptacle for the excess waters," GLACC explained in its petition. "In areas that have already been paved over with concrete, like our cities, the need to put up water catchment and rainwater collectors is even more pronounced and even more urgent." RA 6716, the rainwater collector and springs development law, enacted on March 17, 1989, requires each barangay, or village, to have a rainwater collector.


Section17 of RA 7160, or the local government code, directs local government officials such as mayors to provide "small water impounding projects and other similar projects; fish ports; artesian wells, spring development, rainwater collectors and water supply systems; seawalls, dikes, drainage and sewerage, and flood control." If the high court grants GLACC's petition for a writ of kalikasan, it will force a range of government agencies, from the Office of the President to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the League of Municipalities, Cities and Provinces and the country's Climate Change Commission to fund and oversee the establishment of 100,000 rainwater collectors all over the Philippines. All of the above agencies by law are responsible for the creation and maintenance of rainwater collectors. The Climate Change Commission is a newly-formed body that coordinates programs and policies on climate change mitigation and adaptation. ACTION ON FLOODING LONG OVERDUE RA 6716 mandates the establishment of 100,000 catchment ponds nationwide, but according to the national public works department only four have been constructed since the law was enacted in 1989. "More than 21 years have passed and this law lies atrophied in the sickbed of noncompliance," GLACC said in its petition. GLACC particularly named as respondents the city of Mandaluyong, the municipality of Binalonan in the province of Pangasinan, Barangay 84 in Caloocan city and the province of Misamis Occidental. These places are home to over 50,000 villages with no rainwater collectors. Heherson Alvarez, chair of the Climate Change Commission, said he welcomed the petition. "These kind of cases should be encouraged," he said. He noted, however, that the commission, formed in late 2009, would rather provide a systemic solution to the problem of flooding than just create rainwater collectors. The commission focuses in part on disaster risk reduction and is looking at river basin management as a whole. "We want to do it systemically," he said. Mandaluyong city Mayor Benhur Abalos, however, was surprised that his city was named as a respondent and accused GLACC of cherry-picking. "They are just looking at one aspect," he said. Mandaluyong has taken a lead role in responding to the challenges of climate change, he said, though they have prioritized the reduction of carbon emissions. Mandaluyong is the first city in the Philippines to pass an ordinance mandating the conversion of two-stroke engines in three-wheel motorbikes to four-stroke engines. Four-stroke engines use less fuel and are more environment-friendly. LAWYER HAS PREVIOUS WINS


The potentially landmark case would not be the first for Oposa, who has pushed through a number of ambitious legal orders so far. In 2008, Oposa succeeded in getting the court to compel the government to clean up Manila Bay, a 19 kilometer-long harbor damaged by pollution. As a result, the Department of Budget and Management allocated 1.64 billion pesos (about $21 million) for the cleanup the following year. The Manila Metropolitan Development Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said they would use the money to improve water quality management and rehabilitate drainage systems. Turning the money into action has still proved difficult, however. The court has subsequently had to threaten to hold government officials in contempt if they do not act on the court order. Oposa in 1993 also won Oposa v. Factoran, a case in which young petitioners, all minors, asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cancel all timber license agreements. A trial court initially refused the case in order to uphold a constitutional provision on the non-impairment of contracts. But the High Tribunal said such agreements are merely licenses, not contracts, and as such could be revoked anytime. The Supreme Court also gave weight to the fact that children have legal standing to ask the DENR secretary to protect forests for future generations. The High Tribunal ruled that the case should be resolved by the lower court. Again, however, no timber license was cancelled after the celebrated court decision, as the case was not brought again to the trial court. Despite the challenges of producing real change on the ground, Oposa hopes that he will be victorious again in his latest legal challenge. "I would not have filed it if I did not expect it to be acted upon positively by the courts," he said. CASE COULD TRIGGER OTHER SUITS If the petition is granted, environmental groups say it will spark a number of cases which could propel government actions against climate change and environmental degradation. The People's Network for Environment (PNE), for one, plans to ask the court to order the government to desist from approving mining projects. PNE national coordinator Clemente Bautista said that mining has led to massive deforestation, destroying carbon sinks all over the country. "We challenge the supreme court and the legislative bodies of the government to further strengthen the laws and rules that protect our environment and conserve our natural resources. (The court) must take another positive step by reviewing, reversing or junking laws that have been proven to be detrimental not only to our environment but to our people as well, such as the Mining Act of 1995," he said.


Antonio La Vina, a member of the Philippine climate change negotiating team, predicted that the writ of kalikasan "can be used against any major carbon dioxide producer." Purple S. Romero is a researcher-writer with Newsbreak, a Philippines-based independent news organization.