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G.R. No.

101083 July 30, 1993


JUAN ANTONIO, ANNA ROSARIO and JOSE ALFONSO, all surnamd O!OSA, m"nors, and r#rsn$d %y $&"r #arn$s ANTONIO and RI'ALINA
O!OSA, RO(ERTA NI)OLE SA*IUA, m"nor, r#rsn$d %y &r #arn$s )AL+IN and RO(ERTA SA*IUA, )ARLO, A,AN*A SALU* and !ATRIS-A, all
surnamd FLORES, m"nors and r#rsn$d %y $&"r #arn$s ENRI)O and NI*A FLORES, GIANINA *ITA R. FORTUN, m"nor, r#rsn$d %y &r
#arn$s SIGRI* and *OLORES FORTUN, GEORGE II and ,A. )ON)E!)ION, all surnamd ,ISA, m"nors and r#rsn$d %y $&"r #arn$s GEORGE
and ,.RA ,ISA, (ENJA,IN ALAN +. !ESIGAN, m"nor, r#rsn$d %y &"s #arn$s ANTONIO and ALI)E !ESIGAN, JO+IE ,ARIE ALFARO, m"nor,
r#rsn$d %y &r #arn$s JOSE and ,ARIA +IOLETA ALFARO, ,ARIA )ON)E!)ION T. )ASTRO, m"nor, r#rsn$d %y &r #arn$s FRE*ENIL and
JANE )ASTRO, JO-ANNA *ESA,!ARA*O,
m"nor, r#rsn$d %y &r #arn$s JOSE and ANGELA *ESA,!RA*O, )ARLO JOA/UIN T. NAR+ASA, m"nor, r#rsn$d %y &"s #arn$s GREGORIO
II and )RISTINE )-ARIT. NAR+ASA, ,A. ,ARGARITA, JESUS IGNA)IO, ,A. ANGELA and ,ARIE GA(RIELLE, all surnamd SAEN', m"nors,
r#rsn$d %y $&"r #arn$s RO(ERTO and AURORA SAEN', 0RISTINE, ,AR. ELLEN, ,A., GOL*A ,ART-E and *A+I* IAN, all surnamd 0ING,
m"nors, r#rsn$d %y $&"r #arn$s ,ARIO and -A.*EE 0ING, *A+I*, FRAN)IS)O and T-ERESE +I)TORIA, all surnamd EN*RIGA, m"nors,
r#rsn$d %y $&"r #arn$s (ALTA'AR and TERESITA EN*RIGA, JOSE ,A. and REGINA ,A., all surnamd A(A.A, m"nors, r#rsn$d %y $&"r
#arn$s ANTONIO and ,ARI)A A(A.A, ,ARILIN, ,ARIO, JR. and ,ARIETTE, all surnamd )AR*A,A, m"nors, r#rsn$d %y $&"r #arn$s ,ARIO
and LINA )AR*A,A, )LARISSA, ANN ,ARIE, NAGEL, and I,EE L.N, all surnamd O!OSA, m"nors and r#rsn$d %y $&"r #arn$s RI)AR*O and
,ARISSA O!OSA, !-ILI! JOSE!-, STE!-EN JO-N and ISAIA- JA,ES, all surnamd /UI!IT, m"nors, r#rsn$d %y $&"r #arn$s JOSE ,A1 and
+IL,I /UI!IT, (UG-A2 )IELO, )RISANTO, ANNA, *ANIEL and FRAN)IS)O, all surnamd (I(AL, m"nors, r#rsn$d %y $&"r #arn$s FRAN)IS)O,
JR. and ,ILAGROS (I(AL, and T-E !-ILI!!INE E)OLOGI)AL NET2OR0, IN)., petitioners,
vs.
T-E -ONORA(LE FULGEN)IO S. FA)TORAN, JR., "n &"s 3a#a3"$y as $& S3r$ary o4 $& *#ar$mn$ o4 En5"ronmn$ and Na$ural Rsour3s, and
T-E -ONORA(LE ERI(ERTO U. ROSARIO, !rs"d"n6 Jud6 o4 $& RT), ,a7a$", (ran3& 88, respondents.
Oposa Law Office for petitioners.
The Solicitor General for respondents.

*A+I*E, JR., J.:
In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of Filipinos to a balanced and healthful ecology which the petitioners dramatically associate with the twin
concepts of "inter-generational responsibility" and "inter-generational justice." Specifically, it touches on the issue of whether the said petitioners have a cause of
action to "prevent the misappropriation or impairment" of Philippine rainforests and "arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the countrys vital life support systems
and continued rape of !other "arth."
#he controversy has its genesis in $ivil $ase %o. &'-(( which was filed before )ranch ** +!a,ati, !etro !anila- of the .egional #rial $ourt +.#$-, %ational
$apital /udicial .egion. #he principal plaintiffs therein, now the principal petitioners, are all minors duly represented and joined by their respective parents.
Impleaded as an additional plaintiff is the Philippine "cological %etwor,, Inc. +P"%I-, a domestic, non-stoc, and non-profit corporation organi0ed for the purpose
of, inter alia, engaging in concerted action geared for the protection of our environment and natural resources. #he original defendant was the 1onorable
Fulgencio S. Factoran, /r., then Secretary of the 2epartment of "nvironment and %atural .esources +2"%.-. 1is substitution in this petition by the new
Secretary, the 1onorable 3ngel $. 3lcala, was subse4uently ordered upon proper motion by the petitioners.

1
#he complaint
9
was instituted as a
ta5payers class suit
3
and alleges that the plaintiffs "are all citi0ens of the .epublic of the Philippines, ta5payers,
and entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource treasure that is the countrys virgin
tropical forests." #he same was filed for themselves and others who are e4ually concerned about the
preservation of said resource but are "so numerous that it is impracticable to bring them all before the $ourt."
#he minors further asseverate that they "represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn."
:
$onse4uently, it is prayed for that judgment be rendered6
. . . ordering defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to 7
+8- $ancel all e5isting timber license agreements in the country9
+:- $ease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber
license agreements.
and granting the plaintiffs ". . . such other reliefs just and e4uitable under the premises."
;
#he complaint starts off with the general averments that the Philippine archipelago of (,8'' islands has a land
area of thirty million +;',''','''- hectares and is endowed with rich, lush and verdant rainforests in which
varied, rare and uni4ue species of flora and fauna may be found9 these rainforests contain a genetic, biological
and chemical pool which is irreplaceable9 they are also the habitat of indigenous Philippine cultures which have
e5isted, endured and flourished since time immemorial9 scientific evidence reveals that in order to maintain a
balanced and healthful ecology, the countrys land area should be utili0ed on the basis of a ratio of fifty-four per
cent +<=>- for forest cover and forty-si5 per cent +=*>- for agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and
other uses9 the distortion and disturbance of this balance as a conse4uence of deforestation have resulted in a
host of environmental tragedies, such as +a- water shortages resulting from drying up of the water table,
otherwise ,nown as the "a4uifer," as well as of rivers, broo,s and streams, +b- salini0ation of the water table as a
result of the intrusion therein of salt water, incontrovertible e5amples of which may be found in the island of $ebu
and the !unicipality of )acoor, $avite, +c- massive erosion and the conse4uential loss of soil fertility and
agricultural productivity, with the volume of soil eroded estimated at one billion +8,''',''','''- cubic meters per
annum 7 appro5imately the si0e of the entire island of $atanduanes, +d- the endangering and e5tinction of the
countrys uni4ue, rare and varied flora and fauna, +e- the disturbance and dislocation of cultural communities,
including the disappearance of the Filipinos indigenous cultures, +f- the siltation of rivers and seabeds and
conse4uential destruction of corals and other a4uatic life leading to a critical reduction in marine resource
productivity, +g- recurrent spells of drought as is presently e5perienced by the entire country, +h- increasing
velocity of typhoon winds which result from the absence of windbrea,ers, +i- the floodings of lowlands and
agricultural plains arising from the absence of the absorbent mechanism of forests, +j- the siltation and
shortening of the lifespan of multi-billion peso dams constructed and operated for the purpose of supplying water
for domestic uses, irrigation and the generation of electric power, and +,- the reduction of the earths capacity to
process carbon dio5ide gases which has led to perple5ing and catastrophic climatic changes such as the
phenomenon of global warming, otherwise ,nown as the "greenhouse effect."
Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and detrimental conse4uences of continued and deforestation are so
capable of un4uestionable demonstration that the same may be submitted as a matter of judicial notice. #his
notwithstanding, they e5pressed their intention to present e5pert witnesses as well as documentary,
photographic and film evidence in the course of the trial.
3s their cause of action, they specifically allege that6
CAUSE OF ACTION
(. Plaintiffs replead by reference the foregoing allegations.
?. #wenty-five +:<- years ago, the Philippines had some si5teen +8*- million hectares of
rainforests constituting roughly <;> of the countrys land mass.
&. Satellite images ta,en in 8&?( reveal that there remained no more than 8.: million hectares of
said rainforests or four per cent +=.'>- of the countrys land area.
8'. !ore recent surveys reveal that a mere ?<',''' hectares of virgin old-growth rainforests are
left, barely :.?> of the entire land mass of the Philippine archipelago and about ;.' million
hectares of immature and uneconomical secondary growth forests.
88. Public records reveal that the defendants, predecessors have granted timber license
agreements +#@3s- to various corporations to cut the aggregate area of ;.?& million hectares
for commercial logging purposes.
3 copy of the #@3 holders and the corresponding areas covered is hereto attached as 3nne5 "3".
8:. 3t the present rate of deforestation, i.e. about :'',''' hectares per annum or :< hectares
per hour 7 nighttime, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays included 7 the Philippines will be bereft
of forest resources after the end of this ensuing decade, if not earlier.
8;. #he adverse effects, disastrous conse4uences, serious injury and irreparable damage of this
continued trend of deforestation to the plaintiff minors generation and to generations yet unborn
are evident and incontrovertible. 3s a matter of fact, the environmental damages enumerated in
paragraph * hereof are already being felt, e5perienced and suffered by the generation of plaintiff
adults.
8=. #he continued allowance by defendant of #@3 holders to cut and deforest the remaining
forest stands will wor, great damage and irreparable injury to plaintiffs 7 especially plaintiff
minors and their successors 7 who may never see, use, benefit from and enjoy this rare and
uni4ue natural resource treasure.
#his act of defendant constitutes a misappropriation andAor impairment of the natural resource
property he holds in trust for the benefit of plaintiff minors and succeeding generations.
8<. Plaintiffs have a clear and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and are
entitled to protection by the State in its capacity as the parens patriae.
8*. Plaintiff have e5hausted all administrative remedies with the defendants office. Bn !arch :,
8&&', plaintiffs served upon defendant a final demand to cancel all logging permits in the
country.
3 copy of the plaintiffs letter dated !arch 8, 8&&' is hereto attached as 3nne5 ")".
8(. 2efendant, however, fails and refuses to cancel the e5isting #@3s to the continuing serious
damage and e5treme prejudice of plaintiffs.
8?. #he continued failure and refusal by defendant to cancel the #@3s is an act violative of the
rights of plaintiffs, especially plaintiff minors who may be left with a country that is desertified
+sic-, bare, barren and devoid of the wonderful flora, fauna and indigenous cultures which the
Philippines had been abundantly blessed with.
8&. 2efendants refusal to cancel the aforementioned #@3s is manifestly contrary to the public
policy enunciated in the Philippine "nvironmental Policy which, in pertinent part, states that it is
the policy of the State 7
+a- to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive
in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other9
+b- to fulfill the social, economic and other re4uirements of present and future generations of
Filipinos and9
+c- to ensure the attainment of an environmental 4uality that is conductive to a life of dignity and
well-being. +P.2. 88<8, * /une 8&((-
:'. Furthermore, defendants continued refusal to cancel the aforementioned #@3s is
contradictory to the $onstitutional policy of the State to 7
a. effect "a more e4uitable distribution of opportunities, income and wealth" and "ma,e full and
efficient use of natural resources +sic-." +Section 8, 3rticle CII of the $onstitution-9
b. "protect the nations marine wealth." +Section :, ibid-9
c. "conserve and promote the nations cultural heritage and resources +sic-" +Section 8=, 3rticle
CID, id.-9
d. "protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord
with the rhythm and harmony of nature." +Section 8*, 3rticle II, id.-
:8. Finally, defendants act is contrary to the highest law of human,ind 7 the natural law 7 and
violative of plaintiffs right to self-preservation and perpetuation.
::. #here is no other plain, speedy and ade4uate remedy in law other than the instant action to
arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the countrys vital life support systems and continued rape of
!other "arth.
8
Bn :: /une 8&&', the original defendant, Secretary Factoran, /r., filed a !otion to 2ismiss the complaint based
on two +:- grounds, namely6 +8- the plaintiffs have no cause of action against him and +:- the issue raised by the
plaintiffs is a political 4uestion which properly pertains to the legislative or e5ecutive branches of Eovernment. In
their 8: /uly 8&&' Bpposition to the !otion, the petitioners maintain that +8- the complaint shows a clear and
unmista,able cause of action, +:- the motion is dilatory and +;- the action presents a justiciable 4uestion as it
involves the defendants abuse of discretion.
Bn 8? /uly 8&&8, respondent /udge issued an order granting the aforementioned motion to dismiss.
<
In the said
order, not only was the defendants claim 7 that the complaint states no cause of action against him and that it
raises a political 4uestion 7 sustained, the respondent /udge further ruled that the granting of the relief prayed
for would result in the impairment of contracts which is prohibited by the fundamental law of the land.
Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari under .ule *< of the .evised .ules of $ourt and
as, this $ourt to rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the ground that the respondent /udge gravely
abused his discretion in dismissing the action. 3gain, the parents of the plaintiffs-minors not only represent their
children, but have also joined the latter in this case.
8
Bn 8= !ay 8&&:, Fe resolved to give due course to the petition and re4uired the parties to submit their
respective !emoranda after the Bffice of the Solicitor Eeneral +BSE- filed a $omment in behalf of the
respondents and the petitioners filed a reply thereto.
Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly and unmista,ably states a cause of action as it contains sufficient
allegations concerning their right to a sound environment based on 3rticles 8&, :' and :8 of the $ivil $ode
+1uman .elations-, Section = of "5ecutive Brder +".B.- %o. 8&: creating the 2"%., Section ; of Presidential
2ecree +P.2.- %o. 88<8 +Philippine "nvironmental Policy-, Section 8*, 3rticle II of the 8&?( $onstitution
recogni0ing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, the concept of generational genocide in
$riminal @aw and the concept of mans inalienable right to self-preservation and self-perpetuation embodied in
natural law. Petitioners li,ewise rely on the respondents correlative obligation per Section = of ".B. %o. 8&:, to
safeguard the peoples right to a healthful environment.
It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent Secretarys alleged grave abuse of discretion in granting
#imber @icense 3greements +#@3s- to cover more areas for logging than what is available involves a judicial
4uestion.
3nent the invocation by the respondent /udge of the $onstitutions non-impairment clause, petitioners maintain
that the same does not apply in this case because #@3s are not contracts. #hey li,ewise submit that even if
#@3s may be considered protected by the said clause, it is well settled that they may still be revo,ed by the
State when the public interest so re4uires.
Bn the other hand, the respondents aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a specific legal
right violated by the respondent Secretary for which any relief is provided by law. #hey see nothing in the
complaint but vague and nebulous allegations concerning an "environmental right" which supposedly entitles the
petitioners to the "protection by the state in its capacity as parens patriae." Such allegations, according to them,
do not reveal a valid cause of action. #hey then reiterate the theory that the 4uestion of whether logging should
be permitted in the country is a political 4uestion which should be properly addressed to the e5ecutive or
legislative branches of Eovernment. #hey therefore assert that the petitioners resources is not to file an action to
court, but to lobby before $ongress for the passage of a bill that would ban logging totally.
3s to the matter of the cancellation of the #@3s, respondents submit that the same cannot be done by the State
without due process of law. Bnce issued, a #@3 remains effective for a certain period of time 7 usually for
twenty-five +:<- years. 2uring its effectivity, the same can neither be revised nor cancelled unless the holder has
been found, after due notice and hearing, to have violated the terms of the agreement or other forestry laws and
regulations. Petitioners proposition to have all the #@3s indiscriminately cancelled without the re4uisite hearing
would be violative of the re4uirements of due process.
)efore going any further, Fe must first focus on some procedural matters. Petitioners instituted $ivil $ase %o.
&'-((( as a class suit. #he original defendant and the present respondents did not ta,e issue with this matter.
%evertheless, Fe hereby rule that the said civil case is indeed a class suit. #he subject matter of the complaint is
of common and general interest not just to several, but to all citi0ens of the Philippines. $onse4uently, since the
parties are so numerous, it, becomes impracticable, if not totally impossible, to bring all of them before the court.
Fe li,ewise declare that the plaintiffs therein are numerous and representative enough to ensure the full
protection of all concerned interests. 1ence, all the re4uisites for the filing of a valid class suit under Section 8:,
.ule ; of the .evised .ules of $ourt are present both in the said civil case and in the instant petition, the latter
being but an incident to the former.
#his case, however, has a special and novel element. Petitioners minors assert that they represent their
generation as well as generations yet unborn. Fe find no difficulty in ruling that they can, for themselves, for
others of their generation and for the succeeding generations, file a class suit. #heir personality to sue in behalf
of the succeeding generations can only be based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the
right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. Such a right, as hereinafter e5pounded, considers
the "rhythm and harmony of nature." %ature means the created world in its entirety.
9
Such rhythm and harmony
indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious disposition, utili0ation, management, renewal and conservation of
the countrys forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural resources to the
end that their e5ploration, development and utili0ation be e4uitably accessible to the present as well as future
generations.
10
%eedless to say, every generation has a responsibility to the ne5t to preserve that rhythm and
harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. Put a little differently, the minors assertion of
their right to a sound environment constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the
protection of that right for the generations to come.
#he locus standi of the petitioners having thus been addressed, Fe shall now proceed to the merits of the
petition.
3fter a careful perusal of the complaint in 4uestion and a meticulous consideration and evaluation of the issues
raised and arguments adduced by the parties, Fe do not hesitate to find for the petitioners and rule against the
respondent /udges challenged order for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lac, of
jurisdiction. #he pertinent portions of the said order reads as follows6
555 555 555
3fter a careful and circumspect evaluation of the $omplaint, the $ourt cannot help but agree
with the defendant. For although we believe that plaintiffs have but the noblest of all intentions, it
+sic- fell short of alleging, with sufficient definiteness, a specific legal right they are see,ing to
enforce and protect, or a specific legal wrong they are see,ing to prevent and redress +Sec. 8,
.ule :, ..$-. Furthermore, the $ourt notes that the $omplaint is replete with vague
assumptions and vague conclusions based on unverified data. In fine, plaintiffs fail to state a
cause of action in its $omplaint against the herein defendant.
Furthermore, the $ourt firmly believes that the matter before it, being impressed with political
color and involving a matter of public policy, may not be ta,en cogni0ance of by this $ourt
without doing violence to the sacred principle of "Separation of Powers" of the three +;- co-e4ual
branches of the Eovernment.
#he $ourt is li,ewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction,
grant the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all e5isting timber license agreements
in the country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or
approving new timber license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of
contracts" abhored +sic- by the fundamental law.
11
Fe do not agree with the trial courts conclusions that the plaintiffs failed to allege with sufficient definiteness a
specific legal right involved or a specific legal wrong committed, and that the complaint is replete with vague
assumptions and conclusions based on unverified data. 3 reading of the complaint itself belies these
conclusions.
#he complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right 7 the right to a balanced and healthful ecology
which, for the first time in our nations constitutional history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law.
Section 8*, 3rticle II of the 8&?( $onstitution e5plicitly provides6
Sec. 8*. #he State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful
ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.
#his right unites with the right to health which is provided for in the preceding section of the
same article6
Sec. 8<. #he State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health
consciousness among them.
Fhile the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the 2eclaration of Principles and State
Policies and not under the )ill of .ights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and
political rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether for it
concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation 7 aptly and fittingly stressed by the
petitioners 7 the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions. 3s a
matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the $onstitution for they are assumed to e5ist from
the inception of human,ind. If they are now e5plicitly mentioned in the fundamental charter, it is because of the
well-founded fear of its framers that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health are
mandated as state policies by the $onstitution itself, thereby highlighting their continuing importance and
imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to preserve the first and protect and advance the second, the day
would not be too far when all else would be lost not only for the present generation, but also for those to come 7
generations which stand to inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of sustaining life.
#he right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the
environment. 2uring the debates on this right in one of the plenary sessions of the 8&?* $onstitutional
$ommission, the following e5change transpired between $ommissioner Filfrido Dillacorta and $ommissioner
3dolfo 30cuna who sponsored the section in 4uestion6
!.. DI@@3$B.#36
2oes this section mandate the State to provide sanctions against all forms of
pollution 7 air, water and noise pollutionG
!.. 3H$I%36
Jes, !adam President. #he right to healthful +sic- environment necessarily
carries with it the correlative duty of not impairing the same and, therefore,
sanctions may be provided for impairment of environmental balance.
19
#he said right implies, among many other things, the judicious management and conservation of the countrys
forests.
Fithout such forests, the ecological or environmental balance would be irreversiby disrupted.
$onformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and healthful ecology and the right to health, as well as the
other related provisions of the $onstitution concerning the conservation, development and utili0ation of the
countrys natural resources,
13
then President $ora0on $. 34uino promulgated on 8' /une 8&?( ".B. %o. 8&:,
1:
Section = of which e5pressly mandates that the 2epartment of "nvironment and %atural .esources "shall be
the primary government agency responsible for the conservation, management, development and proper use of
the countrys environment and natural resources, specifically forest and gra0ing lands, mineral, resources,
including those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of the public domain, as well as the licensing and
regulation of all natural resources as may be provided for by law in order to ensure e4uitable sharing of the
benefits derived therefrom for the welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos." Section ; thereof
ma,es the following statement of policy6
Sec. ;. eclaration of !olic". 7 It is hereby declared the policy of the State to ensure the
sustainable use, development, management, renewal, and conservation of the countrys forest,
mineral, land, off-shore areas and other natural resources, including the protection and
enhancement of the 4uality of the environment, and e4uitable access of the different segments
of the population to the development and the use of the countrys natural resources, not only for
the present generation but for future generations as well. It is also the policy of the state to
recogni0e and apply a true value system including social and environmental cost implications
relative to their utili0ation, development and conservation of our natural resources.
#his policy declaration is substantially re-stated it #itle CID, )oo, ID of the 3dministrative $ode of 8&?(,
1;
specifically in Section 8 thereof which reads6
Sec. 8. eclaration of !olic". 7 +8- #he State shall ensure, for the benefit of the Filipino people,
the full e5ploration and development as well as the judicious disposition, utili0ation,
management, renewal and conservation of the countrys forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries,
wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural resources, consistent with the necessity of maintaining
a sound ecological balance and protecting and enhancing the 4uality of the environment and the
objective of ma,ing the e5ploration, development and utili0ation of such natural resources
e4uitably accessible to the different segments of the present as well as future generations.
+:- #he State shall li,ewise recogni0e and apply a true value system that ta,es into account
social and environmental cost implications relative to the utili0ation, development and
conservation of our natural resources.
#he above provision stresses "the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting and
enhancing the 4uality of the environment." Section : of the same #itle, on the other hand, specifically spea,s of
the mandate of the 2"%.9 however, it ma,es particular reference to the fact of the agencys being subject to law
and higher authority. Said section provides6
Sec. :. #andate. 7 +8- #he 2epartment of "nvironment and %atural .esources shall be
primarily responsible for the implementation of the foregoing policy.
+:- It shall, subject to law and higher authority, be in charge of carrying out the States
constitutional mandate to control and supervise the e5ploration, development, utili0ation, and
conservation of the countrys natural resources.
)oth ".B. %B. 8&: and the 3dministrative $ode of 8&?( have set the objectives which will serve as the bases for
policy formulation, and have defined the powers and functions of the 2"%..
It may, however, be recalled that even before the ratification of the 8&?( $onstitution, specific statutes already
paid special attention to the "environmental right" of the present and future generations. Bn * /une 8&((, P.2.
%o. 88<8 +Philippine "nvironmental Policy- and P.2. %o. 88<: +Philippine "nvironment $ode- were issued. #he
former "declared a continuing policy of the State +a- to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under
which man and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other, +b- to fulfill the social,
economic and other re4uirements of present and future generations of Filipinos, and +c- to insure the attainment
of an environmental 4uality that is conducive to a life of dignity and well-being."
18
3s its goal, it spea,s of the
"responsibilities of each generation as trustee and guardian of the environment for succeeding generations."
1<
#he latter statute, on the other hand, gave flesh to the said policy.
#hus, the right of the petitioners +and all those they represent- to a balanced and healthful ecology is as clear as
the 2"%.s duty 7 under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and functions under ".B. %o. 8&: and the
3dministrative $ode of 8&?( 7 to protect and advance the said right.
3 denial or violation of that right by the other who has the corelative duty or obligation to respect or protect the
same gives rise to a cause of action. Petitioners maintain that the granting of the #@3s, which they claim was
done with grave abuse of discretion, violated their right to a balanced and healthful ecology9 hence, the full
protection thereof re4uires that no further #@3s should be renewed or granted.
3 cause of action is defined as6
. . . an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal right or rights of the other9 and its
essential elements are legal right of the plaintiff, correlative obligation of the defendant, and act
or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right.
18
It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the complaint fails to state a
cause of action,
19
the 4uestion submitted to the court for resolution involves the sufficiency of the facts alleged
in the complaint itself. %o other matter should be considered9 furthermore, the truth of falsity of the said
allegations is beside the point for the truth thereof is deemed hypothetically admitted. #he only issue to be
resolved in such a case is6 admitting such alleged facts to be true, may the court render a valid judgment in
accordance with the prayer in the complaintG
90
In #ilitante $s. Edrosolano,
91
this $ourt laid down the rule that
the judiciary should "e5ercise the utmost care and circumspection in passing upon a motion to dismiss on the
ground of the absence thereof Kcause of actionL lest, by its failure to manifest a correct appreciation of the facts
alleged and deemed hypothetically admitted, what the law grants or recogni0es is effectively nullified. If that
happens, there is a blot on the legal order. #he law itself stands in disrepute."
3fter careful e5amination of the petitioners complaint, Fe find the statements under the introductory affirmative
allegations, as well as the specific averments under the sub-heading $3IS" BF 3$#IB%, to be ade4uate
enough to show, pri%a facie, the claimed violation of their rights. Bn the basis thereof, they may thus be granted,
wholly or partly, the reliefs prayed for. It bears stressing, however, that insofar as the cancellation of the #@3s is
concerned, there is the need to implead, as party defendants, the grantees thereof for they are indispensable
parties.
#he foregoing considered, $ivil $ase %o. &'-((( be said to raise a political 4uestion. Policy formulation or
determination by the e5ecutive or legislative branches of Eovernment is not s4uarely put in issue. Fhat is
principally involved is the enforcement of a right $is&a&$is policies already formulated and e5pressed in
legislation. It must, nonetheless, be emphasi0ed that the political 4uestion doctrine is no longer, the
insurmountable obstacle to the e5ercise of judicial power or the impenetrable shield that protects e5ecutive and
legislative actions from judicial in4uiry or review. #he second paragraph of section 8, 3rticle DIII of the
$onstitution states that6
/udicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving
rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has
been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lac, or e5cess of jurisdiction on the part of any
branch or instrumentality of the Eovernment.
$ommenting on this provision in his boo,, !hilippine !olitical Law,
99
!r. /ustice Isagani 3. $ru0, a distinguished
member of this $ourt, says6
#he first part of the authority represents the traditional concept of judicial power, involving the
settlement of conflicting rights as conferred as law. #he second part of the authority represents a
broadening of judicial power to enable the courts of justice to review what was before forbidden
territory, to wit, the discretion of the political departments of the government.
3s worded, the new provision vests in the judiciary, and particularly the Supreme $ourt, the
power to rule upon even the wisdom of the decisions of the e5ecutive and the legislature and to
declare their acts invalid for lac, or e5cess of jurisdiction because tainted with grave abuse of
discretion. #he catch, of course, is the meaning of "grave abuse of discretion," which is a very
elastic phrase that can e5pand or contract according to the disposition of the judiciary.
In a'a $s. Sin(son,
93
!r. /ustice $ru0, now spea,ing for this $ourt, noted6
In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection becomes even less tenable and decisive.
#he reason is that, even if we were to assume that the issue presented before us was political in
nature, we would still not be precluded from revolving it under the e5panded jurisdiction
conferred upon us that now covers, in proper cases, even the political 4uestion. 3rticle DII,
Section 8, of the $onstitution clearly provides6 . . .
#he last ground invo,ed by the trial court in dismissing the complaint is the non-impairment of contracts clause
found in the $onstitution. #he court a )uo declared that6
#he $ourt is li,ewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction,
grant the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all e5isting timber license agreements
in the country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or
approving new timber license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of
contracts" abhored +sic- by the fundamental law.
9:
Fe are not persuaded at all9 on the contrary, Fe are ama0ed, if not shoc,ed, by such a sweeping
pronouncement. In the first place, the respondent Secretary did not, for obvious reasons, even invo,e in his
motion to dismiss the non-impairment clause. If he had done so, he would have acted with utmost infidelity to the
Eovernment by providing undue and unwarranted benefits and advantages to the timber license holders
because he would have forever bound the Eovernment to strictly respect the said licenses according to their
terms and conditions regardless of changes in policy and the demands of public interest and welfare. 1e was
aware that as correctly pointed out by the petitioners, into every timber license must be read Section :' of the
Forestry .eform $ode +P.2. %o. ('<- which provides6
. . . !ro$ided, #hat when the national interest so re4uires, the President may amend, modify,
replace or rescind any contract, concession, permit, licenses or any other form of privilege
granted herein . . .
%eedless to say, all licenses may thus be revo,ed or rescinded by e5ecutive action. It is not a contract,
property or a property right protested by the due process clause of the $onstitution. In Tan $s. irector
of Forestr",
9;
this $ourt held6
. . . 3 timber license is an instrument by which the State regulates the utili0ation and disposition
of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. 3 timber license is not a contract
within the purview of the due process clause9 it is only a license or privilege, which can be validly
withdrawn whenever dictated by public interest or public welfare as in this case.
3 license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and is not a
contract between the authority, federal, state, or municipal, granting it and the person to whom it
is granted9 neither is it property or a property right, nor does it create a vested right9 nor is it
ta5ation +;( $./. 8*?-. #hus, this $ourt held that the granting of license does not create
irrevocable rights, neither is it property or property rights +People vs. Bng #in, <= B.E. (<(*-.
Fe reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe *s%ael+ ,r. - Co.+ Inc. $s. eput" E.ecuti$e Secretar"6
98
. . . #imber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal instruments by which the
State regulates the utili0ation and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is
promoted. 3nd it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the
State to 4ualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the
particular concession area and the forest products therein. #hey may be validly amended,
modified, replaced or rescinded by the $hief "5ecutive when national interests so re4uire. #hus,
they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law clause K See Sections
;+ee- and :' of Pres. 2ecree %o. ('<, as amended. Also, #an v. 2irector of Forestry, E... %o. @-
:=<=?, Bctober :(, 8&?;, 8:< S$.3 ;':L.
Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which reads6
Sec. 8'. %o law impairing, the obligation of contracts shall be passed.
9<
cannot be invo,ed.
In the second place, even if it is to be assumed that the same are contracts, the instant case does not involve a
law or even an e5ecutive issuance declaring the cancellation or modification of e5isting timber licenses. 1ence,
the non-impairment clause cannot as yet be invo,ed. %evertheless, granting further that a law has actually been
passed mandating cancellations or modifications, the same cannot still be stigmati0ed as a violation of the non-
impairment clause. #his is because by its very nature and purpose, such as law could have only been passed in
the e5ercise of the police power of the state for the purpose of advancing the right of the people to a balanced
and healthful ecology, promoting their health and enhancing the general welfare. In Abe $s. Foster /heeler
Corp.
98
this $ourt stated6
#he freedom of contract, under our system of government, is not meant to be absolute. #he
same is understood to be subject to reasonable legislative regulation aimed at the promotion of
public health, moral, safety and welfare. In other words, the constitutional guaranty of non-
impairment of obligations of contract is limited by the e5ercise of the police power of the State, in
the interest of public health, safety, moral and general welfare.
#he reason for this is emphatically set forth in Nebia $s. New *or0,
99
4uoted in !hilippine A%erican Life
Insurance Co. $s. Auditor General,
30
to wit6
Inder our form of government the use of property and the ma,ing of contracts are normally
matters of private and not of public concern. #he general rule is that both shall be free of
governmental interference. )ut neither property rights nor contract rights are absolute9 for
government cannot e5ist if the citi0en may at will use his property to the detriment of his fellows,
or e5ercise his freedom of contract to wor, them harm. "4ually fundamental with the private right
is that of the public to regulate it in the common interest.
In short, the non-impairment clause must yield to the police power of the state.
31
Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court did, how the non-impairment clause could apply with respect to
the prayer to enjoin the respondent Secretary from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new
timber licenses for, save in cases of renewal, no contract would have as of yet e5isted in the other instances.
!oreover, with respect to renewal, the holder is not entitled to it as a matter of right.
F1"."FB.", being impressed with merit, the instant Petition is hereby E.3%#"2, and the challenged Brder
of respondent /udge of 8? /uly 8&&8 dismissing $ivil $ase %o. &'-((( is hereby set aside. #he petitioners may
therefore amend their complaint to implead as defendants the holders or grantees of the 4uestioned timber
license agreements.
%o pronouncement as to costs.
SB B.2"."2.
Cru'+ !adilla+ 1idin+ Gri2o&A)uino+ 3e(alado+ 3o%ero+ Nocon+ 1ellosillo+ #elo and 4uiason+ ,,.+ concur.
Nar$asa+ C.,.+ !uno and 5itu(+ ,,.+ too0 no part.