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In the assailed Decision, the trial court summarized the facts of this case as follows:

THIRD DIVISION
The accused herein Gregorio Daraman and Narciso Lucenecio are charged [with] violation of Section
68 of Presidential Decree No. 705 as amended by Executive Order No. 277 in an information which is
quoted herein below:
[G.R. No. 125797. February 15, 2002]
That on or about the 30th day of November, 1993, at about 1:00 oclock in the afternoon,
at Barangay Bulao, Municipality of San Jorge, Province of Samar, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating together and mutually
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT and NATURAL RESOURCES (DENR), Region helping one another, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously gather, collect and possess
VIII, Tacloban City, Represented by Regional Executive Director Israel seventy two (72) pieces of assorted sizes of lumber, with a total volume of 72.93 board feet valued at
C. Gaddi, petitioner, vs. GREGORIO DARAMAN, NARCISO LUCENECIO and Hon. SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY NINE PESOS (P729.30) and THIRTY CENTAVOS, without first securing
CLEMENTE C. ROSALES, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch and obtaining any permit or license therefor from the proper authorities, thus Violating Section 68 of
32, Calbayog City, respondents. Presidential Decree No. 705, as amended and further Amended by Executive Order No. 277, series of
1989.
DECISION
CONTRARY TO LAW.
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Assisted by their counsels, the accused were arraigned and they entered the plea of not guilty.
Under the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, particularly Section 68-A, the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources secretary or a duly authorized representative may order the
confiscation in favor of the government of, among others, the vehicles used in the commission of Thereafter trial was conducted.
offenses punishable by the said Code.
The prosecution presented Pablo Opinion who testified as follows:

The Case That he is an employee of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as a Forest Ranger.
On November 30, 1993 at about 1:00 oclock in the afternoon, while he was in his house in Brgy. Bulao,
San Jorge, Samar, a vehicle named St. Jude with Plate No. HAJ-848 coming from barangay Blanca
Aurora passed by. He stopped the said vehicle and found some lumber of assorted sizes [and] wood
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the
shavings inside. The lumber consisted of 62 pieces of 1 x 2 x 4, 16 pieces of 1 x 24 x 2.3 and 1 piece of
December 6, 1995 Decision[1] and the June 3, 1996 Order[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
1 x 2 x 4. In his estimate at the price of P10.00 per board foot the total value of the lumber would
of Calbayog City (Branch 32) in Criminal Case No. 1958. The assailed Decision disposed as follows:
be P729.30. He asked the driver for [the] owner of the lumber and he was informed that it was a
certain Asan of Brgy. Blanca Aurora. The driver also informed him that the vehicle was owned by his
WHEREFORE, for insufficiency of evidence, the Court hereby declares accused GREGORIO employer, Narciso Lucenecio of the Holy Cross Funeral Services in Calbayog City. He then took hold of
DARAMAN and NARCISO LUCENECIO acquitted of the crime charged, with costs de [o]ficio. the vehicle and the assorted lumber and, thereafter, he issued a Seizure Receipt marked as Exhs. B
and series. He also took photographs of the lumber which are now marked as Exhs. C and series.
The bond of the accused is hereby cancelled. Besides, he signed a Joint Affidavit with Oligario Mabansag, also a Forest Ranger. When he asked the
driver Gregorio Daraman for some papers for the assorted lumber, the latter replied that he had none
because they were not his. Daraman further told him that [they] went to Brgy. Blanca Aurora to secure
The court hereby orders the CENR Officer of Samar, or any DENR employee who is taking custody of some wood shavings from the furniture shop owned by Asan and Asan merely asked him a favor of
the Holy Cross Funeral Services vehicle St. Jude, with Plate No. HAJ-848, to return the said vehicle to loading his assorted lumbers in the vehicle of the Holy Cross Funeral Services to be brought to his
the owner thereof.[3] (Asans) house in Barangay Abrero, Calbayog City.

The assailed Order denied the Motion for Reconsideration challenging the last paragraph of the The prosecution has still another witness in the person of Oligario Mabansag, but both the prosecution
Decision regarding the return of the subject vehicle to herein respondents. and the defense agreed to dispense with his testimony considering that the case would be merely
corroborative [of] those already offered by Pablo Opinion. The prosecution rested its case with the
admission of Exhs. A and B and their series. Its Exhs. C and series were rejected because the
The Facts photographer who took them did not testify to identify [them].
For the defense, only accused Gregorio Daraman testified because his co-accused would merely offer The trial court acquitted private respondents for insufficiency of evidence.
corroborative testimony. From his testimony, the following facts have been established: The unrebutted testimony of Respondent Daraman was that, in exchange for the wood shavings
from Asan, the former agreed to take the lumber to the latters house in Calbayog City, where the Holy
That on November 30, 1993 in the afternoon his employer Baby Lucenecio instructed him to procure Cross Funeral Services office was also located. Asan advised Daraman to reply, when asked, that the
some wood shavings (sinapyo) in San Jorge, Samar. He used the service vehicle of the Holy Cross papers showing the authorization for the lumber were in the formers shop in Barangay Blanca Aurora.
Funeral Services. His companion[s] were Melio Bedoya, Fanny Fiel and Ragi Mabutol. They went Finding the evidence against Respondent Lucenecio to be likewise insufficient, the RTC considered the
to barangay Blanca Aurora, San Jorge, Samar and thereat, they got some wood shavings from the vehicle as an effect of the crime and ordered its delivery to him.
furniture shop owned by a certain Asan Abing. They loaded 20 sacks of wood shavings, each sack In the challenged Order, the trial court ruled that the Motion for Reconsideration was untenable on
measuring 22 inches in height by 32 1/2 inches in circumference as he demonstrated in court. The procedural and substantive grounds. Since Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Feliciano Aguilar did not
wood shavings [were] being used by the Holy Cross Funeral Services as cushions in the coffin. After sign the Motion, the RTC deemed his silence a sign of his disapproval of the Motion.
the 20 sacks of wood shavings were loaded, Asan Abing asked him a favor to bring his (Asan) assorted
lumber to his house in Brgy. Obrero, Calbayog City where the Holy Cross Funeral Services [was] also Substantively, the trial court ruled:
located. Asan himself personally loaded his assorted lumber into the vehicle. The subject assorted
lumber were already in the furniture shop where they got the wood shavings. On their way home as x x x [T]he Court finds the motion still wanting in merits considering that as found by the Court the
they passed by Brgy. Bulao, Pablo Opinion stopped him and took the wood shavings. Opinion also owner of the vehicle in question, St. Jude, which is the Holy Cross Funeral Parlor owned by
inquired about the assorted lumber and he told him that they were owned by Asan, owner of the accused Narciso Lucenecio, did not commit any violation of P.D. 705. Likewise, the prosecution failed to
furniture shop in Brgy. Blanca Aurora, who loaded them in his vehicle to be brought to his (Asans) sufficiently establish that accused Gregorio Daraman had taken or kept control of the lumber subject of
house in Barangay Obrero, CalbayogCity. He told Opinion also that Asan advised him that if somebody the motion which would thereby demonstrate that he had x x x possession of the subject forest
would [ask] about his lumber, just to tell the person that Asan had the papers for the lumber with him in products. Instead, as established by the evidence it was a certain Asan who owned the subject
his furniture shop at Brgy. Blanca Aurora, San Jorge, Samar. Pablo Opinion, however, did not take his lumber. xxx.
word and he instead impounded the vehicle together with the assorted lumber. At about 5:00 oclock in
the afternoon, the vehicle was still not returned to him and so Gregorio Daraman left and returned to his xxx xxx xxx
employer at Brgy. Obrero, Calbayog City and told the latter about what happened.[4]
The decision of the Court has never been brought on appeal, thereby the same has long become final
After trial, the RTC acquitted both accused and ordered the return of the disputed vehicle and executory.
to Lucenecio.
Prior to these court proceedings, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Again, as shown by the evidence in the alleged confiscation proceedings conducted by the OIC DENR
Community and Environment and Natural Resources Office (DENR-CENRO) Officer Marciano Talavera of Samar on December 2, 1992, the lumber in question [was] found to be
of Catbalogan, Samar conducted administrative confiscation proceedings on the seized lumber and owned by Asan Abing. But notwithstanding this fact, for reasons not known to the Court, the
vehicle in the presence of private respondents.[5] The two failed to present documents to show the said Asan Abing was never made an accused in the present case.
legality of their possession and transportation of the lumber seized. Hence, CENRO
Officer Marciano T. Talavera recommended to the Regional Executive Director (RED) the final Sec. 68-1 of P.D. 705 contemplates a situation where the owner of the vehicle is himself a violator of
confiscation of the seized lumber and conveyance. [6] Atty. Pastor C. Salazar filed a Memorandum P.D. 705 or has been found to have conspired with any other persons who committed the violation of
dated January 26, 1994, concurring with the recommendation to forfeit the lumber and the vehicle Sec. 68 of P.D. 705 or consented to the use of his vehicle in violating the said law. In the present case
seized from private respondents. The Memorandum was approved by RED Augustus L. Momongan and as shown by the evidence, neither the Holy Cross Funeral Parlor or its owner
Arty. Fiel I. Marmita, chief of the Legal Division of the DENR, Region VIII, Tacloban City.[7] accused Narciso Lucenecio has committed a violation of P.D. 705 as already declared by the Court in
its decision of December 6, 1995 nor the driver, accused Gregorio Daraman. In fact both were declared
Atty. Rogelio G. Bato Jr. of DENR, Region 8, Tacloban City, moved for the reconsideration of the acquitted of the violation charged, and the decision has not been appealed. [10]
assailed Decision, only insofar as it ordered the return of the said vehicle to the owner thereof. [8] He
contended that the vehicle had already been administratively confiscated by the DENR on December 2,
1993, and that the RED approved its forfeiture on January 26, 1994.[9]He further claimed that the DENR Hence, this Petition.[11]
had exclusive jurisdiction over the conveyance, which had been used in violation of the Revised
Forestry Code pursuant to Section 68-A of PD 705, as amended by EO 277.
The trial court denied the Motion via the assailed Order. Issues

In its Memorandum, petitioner raises the following issues for the Courts consideration:
Ruling of the Trial Court
(A) Regional Trial Courts have no jurisdiction and/or authority to order x x x the return of
property already owned by the government.
(B) Respondent judge utterly disregarded and/or misinterpreted the provisions of Presidential SEC. 68-A. Administrative Authority of the Department Head or His Duly Authorized Representative to
Decree No. 705, as amended by Executive Order No. 277, otherwise known as the Order Confiscation. -- In all cases of violations of this Code or other forest laws rules and regulations,
Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines. the Department Head or his duly authorized representative, may order the confiscation of any forest
products illegally cut, gathered, removed, or possessed or abandoned, and all conveyances used either
(C) The government is not estopped from protecting its interest by reason of mistake, error or by land, water or air in the commission of the offense and to dispose of the same in accordance with
failure of its officers to perform their duties.[12] pertinent laws, regulations or policies on the matter.[15]

Stated simply, the issues are: (1) whether the RTC had jurisdiction to release the confiscated If a statute is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be understood in its literal meaning and
vehicle; (2) whether the trial court misconstrued PD 705, as amended; and (3) whether, as a result of its applied without resort to interpretation, on the presumption that its wording correctly expresses its intent
filing of the criminal action, petitioner is estopped from confiscating the vehicle administratively. or will. The courts may not construe it differently.[16]
Machinery is a collective term for machines and appliances used in the industrial
arts;[17] equipment covers physical facilities available for production, including buildings, machineries
The Courts Ruling and tools;[18] and implements pertains to whatever may supply a want, especially an instrument, tool or
utensil.[19] These terms do not include conveyances that are specifically covered by Section 68-A. The
implementing guidelines of Section 68-A define conveyance in a manner that includes any type or class
of vehicle, craft, whether motorized or not, used either in land, water or air, or a combination thereof or
The Petition is meritorious.
any mode of transport used in the movement of any forest product. [20]
First Issue:
Hence, the original and exclusive jurisdiction over the confiscation of all conveyances used either
Jurisdiction to Order Return of Vehicle
by land, water or air in the commission of the offense and to dispose of the same is vested in the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary or a duly authorized
representative. The DENR secretary has supervision and control over the enforcement of forestry,
Petitioner contends that the RTC overstepped its jurisdiction when it ordered the return of the reforestation, parks, game and wildlife laws, rules and regulations.[21]
disputed vehicle, because the vehicle had already become government property by virtue of the
forfeiture Order issued by DENR on January 26, 1994. The DENR secretary or his duly authorized To implement Section 68-A, DENR promulgated Administrative Order (AO) No. 54-93, amending
representative, under Section 68-A of PD 705 as amended by EO 277, may order the confiscation and Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 59-90. AO 54-93 provides the guidelines for the
disposition of all conveyances -- by land, water or air -- used in illegally cutting, gathering, removing, confiscation, forfeiture and disposition of conveyances used in violation of forestry laws, rules and
possessing or abandoning forest products. regulations.
We agree. Jurisdiction is conferred by substantive law.[13] A comparison of the provisions of the Even the Information filed in Criminal Case No. 1958 limited the acts attributed to private
two relevant sections of PD 705, as amended, shows that the jurisdiction of the RTC covers the respondents to willfully, unlawfully and feloniously gather, collect and possess seventy two (72) pieces
confiscation of the timber or forest products as well as the machinery, equipment, implements and tools of assorted sizes of lumber, x x x without first securing and obtaining any permit or license therefor from
illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products are found; it is the DENR that has the proper authorities, x x x. The Information did not contain any allegation pertaining to the
jurisdiction over the confiscation of forest products and, to stress, all conveyances used in the transportation or conveyance of illegally cut, gathered, possessed or abandoned lumber in violation of
commission of the offense. Section 68 reads: Section 68-A of PD 705, as amended.

Section 68. 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,
Confiscation Without Due Process
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: x x x. Private respondents main defense is that the Order of Forfeiture (Annex C) is a false, falsified
and perjurious document. The Order was attached to and made part of the record only when petitioner
filed its Motion for Reconsideration dated February 6, 1996, or only after the trial court rendered the
The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest assailed Decision. Petitioner made it appear, according to the private respondents, that
products cut, gathered, collected, removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery, equipment, RED Momongan had approved the Memorandum on January 26, 1994. This does not appear to be true
implements and tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products are found. [14] because Atty. Marmita, officer-in-charge (OIC) of the DENR Legal Division of Tacloban City, signed the
Memorandum recommending approval only on January 31, 1994.
Section 68-A, in contrast, provides:
Further, on April 6, 1995, Judge Rosales of the RTC of Calbayog City (Branch 32) ordered the
provincial environment and natural resources officer to transfer the confiscated vehicle and pieces of
lumber in connection with the prosecution of Criminal Case 1958. [22] Reynaldo R. Villafuerte, OIC of the
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), replied that his office could not deliver laws.[29] Strong paramount public policy should not be degraded by narrow constructions of the law that
the vehicle because it was not in running condition.[23] frustrate its clear intent or unreasonably restrict its scope.[30]
We are not persuaded. The validity and legality of the Order of Forfeiture falls outside the ambit of
the review of the assailed Decision and Order. The basis for the assailed Order to release the vehicle
was private respondents acquittal of the charge of violating Section 68. On the other hand, the forfeiture Third Issue:
Order issued by the DENR was based on Section 68-A, which involved a distinct and separate matter Estoppel
cognizable by it. Petitioner is questioning only the RTCs jurisdiction over the assailed Order to release
the confiscated vehicle. Private respondents have not appealed the DENRs Order of Forfeiture, the
validity of which can thus be presumed.[24] The genuineness of the Order and its proper service upon In view of the foregoing, it becomes unnecessary for this Court to resolve petitioners third issue. It
them are factual issues that will not be dwelt upon by this Court, which is not a trier of facts.[25] is no longer material to rule on whether it was erroneous for the RTC to hold that the assistant provincial
prosecutors failure to comment on petitioners Motion for Reconsideration was an implied disapproval
The jurisdiction of this Court, under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Court, is in the main limited to
thereof. The public prosecutors disapproval does not vest in the trial court the jurisdiction or authority to
reviewing legal errors committed by a lower court.[26] Under PD 705, the actions and the decisions of the
release the vehicle to private respondents.
DENR are reviewable by the courts only through special civil actions for certiorari or prohibition. [27]
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision and Order
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. No costs.
Second Issue: SO ORDERED.
Construing PD 705, as Amended
Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio, JJ., concur.

Petitioner alleges that the RTC misinterpreted the law when it held that Section 68-A, PD 705
contemplated a situation in which the very owner of the vehicle was the violator or was a conspirator
with other violators of that law. Department Order No. 54, Series of 1993, provides that the proceedings
for the confiscation and the forfeiture of the conveyance shall be directed against its owner, and that
lack of knowledge of its illegal use shall not bar its forfeiture.
In the present Petition, the trial court ruled in the assailed Order that Section 68-A of PD 705
contemplated a situation in which the very owner of the vehicle violated this law or conspired with other
persons who violated it or consented to the use of his or her vehicle in violating it.
Respondents Lucenecio and Daraman were not shown to have violated PD 705, and their acquittals
were not appealed.
We side with petitioner. The guilt or the innocence of the accused in the criminal case is
immaterial, because what is punished under Section 68 is the transportation, movement or conveyance
of forest products without legal documents. The DENR secretary or the authorized representatives do
not possess criminal jurisdiction; thus, they are not capable of making such a ruling, which is properly a
function of the courts. Even Section 68-A of PD 705, as amended, does not clothe petitioner with that
authority.
Conversely, the same law takes out of the general jurisdiction of the regional trial courts the
confiscation of conveyances used in violation of forestry laws. Hence, we cannot expect the DENR to
rule on the criminal liability of the accused before it impounds such vehicles. Section 68-A covers only
the movement of lumber or forest products without proper documents. Where the language of a statute
is clear and unambiguous, the law is applied according to its express terms, and interpretation is
resorted to only where a literal interpretation would lead to either an absurdity or an injustice. [28]
We also uphold petitioners argument that the release of the vehicle to private respondents would
defeat the purpose and undermine the implementation of forestry laws. The preamble of the
amendment in EO 277 underscores the urgency to conserve the remaining forest resources of the
country for the benefit of the present and future generations. Our forest resources may be effectively
conserved and protected only through the vigilant enforcement and implementation of our forestry
City, Marlon Baillo (Baillo) and Cipriano Boyatac (Boyatac), were charged with violation of Section 68, P.D. No. 705
as amended by Executive Order No. 277.[7]
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court Subsequently, however, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Cagayan de Oro City issued a
Manila Resolution[8] dated March 13, 1996 recommending the filing of an Information for the aforesaid charge not only
against Latayada, Baillo and Boyatac but also against petitioner Crisostomo Villarin (Villarin),
FIRST DIVISION then Barangay Captain of Pagalungan, Cagayan de Oro City. The dismissal of the complaint against Sudaria was
likewise recommended. Said Resolution was then approved by the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao through a
CRISOSTOMO VILLARIN and G.R. No. 175289 Resolution[9] dated May 9, 1996 ordering the filing of the Information in the RTC of Cagayan de Oro City.
ANIANO LATAYADA, Thus, on October 29, 1996, an Information[10] was filed against petitioners Villarin and Latayada and their
Petitioners, Present: co-accused Baillo and Boyatac, for violation of Section 68, P.D. No. 705 as follows:

That on or about January 13, 1996, in Pagalungan, Cagayan de Oro City,


CORONA, C.J., Chairperson, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, pursuant to RA 7975, the
accused, Crisostomo Villarin, a public officer being the Barangay Captain of Pagalungan, this
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, City, with salary grade below 27, taking advantage of his official position and committing the
offense in relation to his office, and the other above-named accused, all private individuals,
- versus - BERSAMIN,
namely: Marlon Baillo, Cipriano Boyatac, and Aniano Latayada, confederating and mutually
DEL CASTILLO, and helping one another did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously gather and possess
sixty-three (63) pieces flitches of varying sizes belonging to the Apitong specie with a total
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ. volume of Four Thousand Three Hundred Twenty Six (4,326) board feet valued
at P108,150.00, without any authority and supporting documents as required under existing
forest laws and regulation to the damage and prejudice of the government.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:
Respondent. August 31, 2011 CONTRARY TO LAW.[11]

On January 14, 1997, Villarin, Boyatac and Baillo, filed a Motion for Reinvestigation.[12] They alleged that
x--------------------------------------------------------x the Joint Affidavit[13]of the personnel of the DENR which became one of the bases in filing the Information never
mentioned Villarin as one of the perpetrators of the crime while the accusations against Baillo and Boyatac were not
DECISION based on the personal knowledge of the affiants. They also asserted that their indictment was based on polluted
sources, consisting of the sworn statements of witnesses like Latayada and Sudaria, who both appeared to have
DEL CASTILLO, J.: participated in the commission of the crime charged.
Instead of resolving the Motion for Reinvestigation, the RTC, in its Order[14] dated January 27, 1997,
Mere possession of timber without the legal documents required under forest laws and regulations makes one directed Villarin, Boyatac, and Baillo to file their Motion for Reinvestigation with the Office of the Ombudsman-
automatically liable of violation of Section 68, Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 705,[1] as amended. Lack of criminal Mindanao, it being the entity which filed the Information in Court. On March 31, 1997, only Villarin filed a Petition for
intent is not a valid defense. Reinvestigation[15] but same was, however, denied by the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao in an Order[16] dated
May 15, 1997 because the grounds relied upon were not based on newly discovered evidence or errors of fact, law
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse the June 28, 2005 Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals or irregularities that are prejudicial to the interest of the movants, pursuant to Administrative Order No. 07 or the
(CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 26720 which affirmed in all respects the Judgment[3] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman in Criminal Cases. The Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao
Branch 38, Cagayan De Oro City, finding petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 68, P.D. likewise opined that Villarin was directly implicated by Latayada, his co-accused.
No. 705, as amended.Likewise assailed in this petition is the September 22, 2006 Resolution[4] denying petitioners
Motion for The RTC thus proceeded with the arraignment of the accused who entered separate pleas of not
Reconsideration.[5] guilty.[17] Thereafter, trial ensued.

Factual Antecedents The Version of the Prosecution

In a Criminal Complaint[6] filed before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 4, Cagayan de Oro City On December 31, 1995, at around five oclock in the afternoon, prosecution witness Roland Granada (Granada)
by Marcelino B. Pioquinto (Pioquinto), Chief of the Forest Protection and Law Enforcement Unit under the TL Strike noticed that a public utility jeep loaded with timber stopped near his house. The driver, petitioner Latayada, was
Force Team of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), petitioner Aniano Latayada accompanied by four to five other persons, one of whom was Boyatac while the rest could not be identified
(Latayada) and three others namely, Barangay Captain Camilo Sudaria (Sudaria) of Tagpangi, Cagayan de Oro by Granada.[18] They alighted from the jeep and unloaded the timber 10 to 15 meters away from the Batinay bridge
at Barangay Pagalungan, Cagayan De Oro City. Another prosecution witness, Pastor Pansacala (Pansacala), also WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing findings, judgment is hereby rendered finding
noticed the jeep with plate number MBB 226 and owned by Sudaria, loaded with timber.[19] Being then the the accused Crisostomo Villarin, Cipriano Boyatac and Aniano Latayada guilty beyond
president of a community-based organization which serves as a watchdog of illegal cutting of trees,[20] Pansacala reasonable doubt of violating Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. 705 as amended, and
even ordered a certain Mario Bael to count the timber.[21] hereby sentences each of them to suffer an indeterminate sentence of twelve (12) years of
prision mayor as minimum to seventeen (17) years of reclusion temporal as maximum.
At six oclock in the evening of the same day, Barangay Captain Angeles Alarcon (Alarcon)[22] noticed that the pile of
timber was already placed near the bridge. Since she had no knowledge of any scheduled repair of the Batinay Accused Marlon Baillo is hereby acquitted for lack of evidence.
bridge she was surprised to discover that the timber would be used for the repair. After inquiring from the people SO ORDERED.[29]
living near the bridge, she learned that Latayada and Boyatac delivered the timber.[23]

Another prosecution witness, Ariel Palanga (Palanga), testified that at seven oclock in the morning of In reaching said conclusions, the RTC noted that:
January 1, 1996, Boyatac bought a stick of cigarette from his store and requested him to cover the pile of timber
near the bridge for a fee. Palanga acceded and covered the pile with coconut leaves.[24] Without an iota of doubt, accused Crisostomo Villarin, being then a Barangay Captain of
Pagalungan, Cagayan de Oro City, was the one who procured the subject flitches, while
On January 13, 1996, at around ten oclock in the morning, prosecution witness Juan Casenas (Casenas), a radio accused Aniano Latayada and Cipriano Boyatac mutually helped him and each other by
and TV personality of RMN-TV8, took footages of the timber[25] hidden and covered by coconut leaves. Casenas transporting the flitches from Sitio Batinay to the Pagalungan Bridge. The accused would like to
also took footages of more logs inside a bodega at the other side of the bridge. In the following evening, the impress upon the Court that the subject fltiches were intended for the repair of
footages were shown in a news program on television. the Pagalungan Bridge and were acquired by virtue of Barangay Resolution No. 110 of
Barangay Pagalungan. The Court is not impressed by this lame excuse. There is no dispute
On the same day, members of the DENR Region 10 Strike Force Team measured the timber which consisted of that the flitches were intended for the repair of the bridge. The Court finds it a laudable motive.
63 pieces of Apitong flitches and determined that it totaled 4,326 board feet[26]and subsequently entrusted the same The fact remains though that the said forest products were obtained without the necessary
to Alarcon for safekeeping. authority and legal documents required under existing forest laws and regulations.[30]

Upon further investigation, it was learned that the timber was requisitioned by Villarin, who was
then Barangay Captain of Pagulangan, Cagayan de Oro City. Villarin gave Sudaria the specifications for the Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration[31] which was denied by the
requisitioned timber. Thereafter, Boyatac informed Villarin that the timber was already delivered on December 31,
1995.[27] RTC in its Order[32] dated August 20, 2002.

On January 18, 1996, Felix Vera Cruz (Vera Cruz), a security guard at the DENR Region 10 Office, received and Ruling of the Court of Appeals
signed for the confiscated timber since the property custodian at that time was not around.
Petitioners filed an appeal which was denied by the CA in its Decision dated June 28, 2005. The dispositive portion
The filing of the aforestated Information followed. of which reads:
The Version of the Defense
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the judgment of the court a quo finding [d]efendant-
In response to the clamor of the residents of Barangays Tampangan, Pigsag-an, Tuburan and Taglinao, all in [a]ppellants Crisostomo Villarin, Cipriano Boyatac and Aniano Latayada GUILTY beyond
Cagayan De Oro City, Villarin, decided to repair the impassable Batinay bridge.The project was allegedly with the reasonable doubt for violating Sec. 68 of Presidential Decree 705 is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
concurrence of the Barangay Council. No pronouncement as to cost.

Pressured to immediately commence the needed repairs, Villarin commissioned Boyatac to inquire from Sudaria SO ORDERED.[33]
about the availability of timber without first informing the City Engineer. Sudaria asked for the specifications which
Villarin gave. Villarin then asked Baillo and Boyatac to attend to the same. When the timber was already available, it
was transported from Tagpangi to Batinay. However, the timber flitches were seized by the DENR Strike Force Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration[34] which the appellate court denied for lack of merit in its
Team and taken to its office where they were received by Vera Cruz, the security guard on duty. Resolution[35] promulgated on September 22, 2006.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court Issues

In its Memorandum filed before the trial court, the defense notified the court of Boyatacs demise.[28] However, the Undeterred, petitioners filed the instant petition raising the following issues:
trial court did not act on such notice. Instead, it proceeded to rule on the culpability of Boyatac. Thus, in its
Judgment, the trial court found herein petitioners and the deceased Boyatac guilty as charged. On the other hand, it 1. WHETHER X X X THE COURT OF APPEALS[,] ON [THE] MATTER OF
found the evidence against Baillo insufficient. The dispositive portion of the Judgment reads: PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION[,] DECIDED NOT IN ACCORD WITH
JURISPRUDENCE OF THE SUPREME COURT;
2. WHETHER X X X THE COURT OF APPEALS DEPARTED FROM WHAT THE official duty.[40] Besides, it aptly noted that Villarin was implicated by x x x Latayada in his affidavit dated January 22,
SUPREME COURT HAS ALWAYS BEEN SAYING, THAT, TO CONVICT AN 1996 before Marcelino B. Pioquinto, Chief, Forest Protection and Law Enforcement Unit. The denial of Villarin
ACCUSED ALL ELEMENTS OF THE CRIME MUST BE PROVEN BEYOND cannot prevail over the declaration of witnesses.[41]
REASONABLE DOUBT and;
Moreover, the absence of a proper preliminary investigation must be timely raised and must not have been
3. WHETHER X X X THE COURT OF APPEALS[,] IN AFFIRMING THE PENALTY waived. This is to allow the trial court to hold the case in abeyance and conduct its own investigation or require the
IMPOSED BY THE COURT A QUO[,] DEPARTED FROM JURISPRUDENCE THAT prosecutor to hold a reinvestigation, which, necessarily involves a re-examination and re-evaluation of the evidence
EVEN IN CRIMES [INVOLVING] VIOLATION OF SPECIAL LAWS[,] SPECIAL already submitted by the complainant and the accused, as well as the initial finding of probable cause which led to
CONSIDERATION SHOULD BE GIVEN TO CIRCUMSTANCES THAT [CAN BE the filing of the Informations after the requisite preliminary investigation.[42]
CONSIDERED AS MITIGATING HAD THE VIOLATION BEEN PENALIZED UNDER
THE REVISED PENAL CODE, IN ORDER TO REDUCE PENALTY].[36] Here, it is conceded that Villarin raised the issue of lack of a preliminary investigation in his Motion for
Reinvestigation. However, when the Ombudsman denied the motion, he never raised this issue again. He
accepted the Ombudsman's verdict, entered a plea of not guilty during his arraignment and actively participated in
Petitioners argue that the refusal of the Ombudsman to conduct a reinvestigation is tantamount to a denial of the the trial on the merits by attending the scheduled hearings, conducting cross-examinations and testifying on his
right to due process. As Villarin was indicted in the Information despite his not being included in the criminal own behalf. It was only after the trial court rendered judgment against him that he once again assailed the conduct
complaint filed by Pioquinto of the TL Strike Force Team of the DENR, they claim that he was not afforded a of the preliminary investigation in the Motion for Reconsideration.[43] Whatever argument Villarin may have
preliminary investigation. They also bewail the fact that persons who appear to be equally guilty, such as Sudaria, regarding the alleged absence of a preliminary investigation has therefore been mooted. By entering his plea, and
have not been included in the Information. Hence, they argue that the Ombudsman acted with grave abuse of actively participating in the trial, he is deemed to have waived his right to preliminary investigation.
discretion in denying their petition for reinvestigation because it deprived Villarin of his right to preliminary
investigation and in refusing and to equally prosecute the guilty. They contend that the Ombudsman should not Petitioners also contend that Sudaria should also have been included as a principal in the commission of the
have relied on the prosecutors Certification[37] contained in the Information to the effect that a preliminary offense. However, whether Sudaria should or should not be included as co-accused can no longer be raised on
investigation was conducted in the case. appeal. Any right that the petitioners may have in questioning the non-inclusion of Sudaria in the Information should
have been raised in a motion for reconsideration of the March 13, 1996 Resolution of the Office of the City
Moreover, petitioners contend that the evidence was insufficient to prove their guilt beyond reasonable Prosecutor which recommended the dismissal of the complaint against Sudaria.[44] Having failed to avail of the
doubt since they had no intention to possess the timber and dispose of it for personal gain. They likewise claim that proper
there was failure on the part of the prosecution to present the timber, which were the object of the offense. procedural remedy, they are now estopped from assailing his non-inclusion.

Our Ruling Two Offenses Penalized Under Sec. 68 of


Presidential Decree No. 705.
The petition is unmeritorious.
Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, provides:
Villarin was properly afforded his right to due
process. Section 68. Cutting, Gathering and/or Collecting Timber or Other Forest Products
Without License. Any person who shall cut, gather, collect, remove timber or other forest
Records show that the investigating prosecutor received a criminal complaint charging Sudaria, Latayada, Baillo products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from private
and Boyatac with violation of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended.[38]The said complaint did not state the land, without any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without legal documents
known addresses of the accused. Neither was the notarized joint-affidavit of the complainants attached thereto. The as required under existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished with the penalties
subpoena issued to the accused and the copy of their counter-affidavits were also not part of the record. Moreover, imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code: Provided, that in the case of
the complaint did not include Villarin as a respondent. However, said infirmities do not constitute denial of due partnerships, associations, or corporations, the officers who ordered the cutting, gathering,
process particularly on the part of Villarin. collection or possession shall be liable, and if such officers are aliens, they shall, in addition to
the penalty, be deported without further proceedings on the part of the Commission on
It is evidently clear from the Resolution dated March 13, 1996 of the Office of the City Prosecutor that Immigration and Deportation.
Villarin and all the accused participated in the scheduled preliminary investigation that was conducted prior to the
filing of the criminal case.[39] They knew about the filing of the complaint and even denied any involvement in the
illegal cutting of timber. They were also given the opportunity to submit countervailing evidence to convince the There are two distinct and separate offenses punished under Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, to wit:
investigating prosecutor of their innocence.
(1) Cutting, gathering, collecting and removing timber or other forest products from any forest land, or
Foregoing findings considered, there is no factual basis to the assertion that Villarin was not afforded a timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land without any authorization; and
preliminary investigation. Accordingly, we find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Office of the
Ombudsman-Mindanao in denying Villarins motion for reconsideration. It validly relied on the certification contained (2) Possession of timber or other forest products without the legal documents required under existing
in the Information that a preliminary investigation was properly conducted in this case. The certification was made forest laws and regulations.[45]
under oath by no less than the public prosecutor, a public officer who is presumed to have regularly performed his
The Information charged petitioners with the second offense which is consummated by the mere
possession of forest products without the proper documents. Q And because of that, in addition, you sent him the specifications of materials for the repair of the bridge in
Pagalungan?
A I let Boyatac go to him and [inquire] from him if he has those specifications.
We reviewed the records and hold that the prosecution had discharged the
burden of proving all the elements of the offense charged. The evidence of the prosecution proved beyond Q And he communicated to you that he has available lumber of those specification?
reasonable doubt that petitioners were in custody of timber without the necessary legal documents. Incidentally, we A Yes, because he sent to Boyatac some requirements of the specifications and he let me sign it.
note that several transcripts of stenographic notes (TSNs) were not submitted by the trial court. No explanation was
provided for these missing TSNs.Notwithstanding the incomplete TSNs, we still find that the prosecution was able Q And after that, you closed the [deal] with Sudaria?
to prove beyond reasonable doubt petitioners culpability. A Yes, because I sent somebody to him and we did not talk anymore.

The prosecution adduced several documents to prove that timber was confiscated from petitioners. It Q And thereafter on December 31, 1995, according to your testimony before, Aniano Latayada delivered the
lumber flitches you ordered on board the passenger jeep of Camilo Sudaria?
presented a Tally Sheet[46] to prove that the DENR Strike Force Team examined the seized timber on January 13,
A When the specifications were given, we were informed that the lumber were already there. So, it was
1996. The number, volume and appraised value of said timber were also noted in the Tally Sheet. Seizure receipts delivered.
were also presented to prove that the confiscated timber were placed in the custody of Alarcon[47] and eventually
taken to the DENR Office.[48] There was a photograph of the timber taken by the television crew led by Casenas.[49] Q Who informed you that the lumber were already delivered?
A Boyatac.
The prosecution likewise presented in evidence the testimonies of eyewitnesses Granada and
Pansacala who testified that Latayada and Boyatac were the ones who delivered the timber.[50] Q And he is referring to those lumber placed alongside the Batinay Bridge.
A Yes, Sir.
More significantly, Villarin admitted that he was the one who commissioned the procurement of the
Q And even without personally inspecting it, you immediately paid Latayada the compensation for the
timber[51] for the repair of the Batinay bridge. He even deputized Boyatac to negotiate with Sudaria and gave delivery of those lumber?
Latayada P2,000.00 to transport the logs. Boyatac later informed him of the delivery of timber. However, he could A There was already an advance payment for his delivery.
not present any document to show that his possession thereof was legal and pursuant to existing forest laws and
regulations. Q To whom did you give the advance?
Relevant portions of the testimony of Villarin are as follows: A To Latayada.

Q As Barangay Captain of Pagalungan, of course, you heard reports prior to the incident on Q You have not given the amount to Camilo Sudaria?
December 31, 1995 that Barangay Captain Camilo Sudaria was also engaged in supplying A No, Sir.
forest products like forest lumber?
A Yes, because I always go to Cagayan de Oro and I can always ride on his jeepney. Q In fact, the money that you paid to Latayada was specifically for the transportation of the lumber from
Tagpangi to Batinay bridge?
Q And you were sure that information of yours was received by you and not only by one but several persons A Yes, Sir.
from Barangay Tagpangi even up to Barangay Pagalungan?
A Thats true because he even has a record with the police. PROS. GALARRITA:
Q And at that time, you paid Latayada P2,000 as payment of the lumber?
Q And you learned [this] prior to January 1995? A Yes, Sir.
A Yes, Sir.
COURT:
Q And your information was even to the effect that Sudaria was supplying illegally cut lumber regularly? Q Did you pay Latayada?
A What I have noticed because I always ride on his jeep wherein lumber was being loaded, the lumber will A Yes, Sir.
be taken when it arrived in Lumbia, kilometer 5.
Q How much?
Q Even if there were already raids being conducted to the person of Camilo Sudaria, still he continued to A P2,000.
load illegally cut lumber?
A He slowed down after several arrest because maybe he was ashamed because he was the Barangay Q And you gave this to the conductor?
Captain of Tagpangi. A Yes, Sir.

Q And his arrest and the slackening of his activities of illegally cut lumber occurred prior to June 1995? Q You told the conductor to pay the money to Latayada?
A Yes, sir. A Yes, sir.

Q [In spite] of your knowledge that he is engaged [in] illegally cut[ting] forest products, you as Barangay Q What did the conductor say?
Captain of Pagalungan transacted with him for the purpose of acquiring lumber [for] the bridge at A The conductor said that the money was for the payment for the transporting of lumber from
Pagalungan? Tagpangi.[52] (Underscoring ours.)
A As we rode together in his jeep, he informed me that he has some lumber to be used to build his house
and he told me he will sell it for the repair of the bridge in Pagalungan.
Violation of Sec. 68 of Presidential committed by a domestic servant, or with grave abuse of confidence, or if the property stolen is
Decree No. 705, as amended, is motor vehicle, mail matter or large cattle or consists of coconuts taken from the premises of the
malum prohibitum. plantation or fish taken from a fishpond or fishery, or if property is taken on the occasion of fire,
earthquake, typhoon, volcanic eruption, or any calamity, vehicular accident or civil disturbance.
As a special law, the nature of the offense is malum prohibitum and as such, criminal intent is not an
Art. 309. Penalties. Any person guilty of theft shall be punished by:
essential element. However, the prosecution must prove that petitioners had the intent to possess (animus
possidendi) the timber.[53] Possession, under the law, includes not only actual possession, but also constructive
1. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of
possession. Actual possession exists when the [object of the crime] is in the immediate physical control of the
the thing stolen is more than 12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos; but if the value
accused. On the other hand, constructive possession exists when the [object of the crime] is under the dominion
of the thing stolen exceeds the latter amount, the penalty shall be the maximum period of the
and control of the accused or when he has the right to exercise dominion and control over the place where it is
one prescribed in this paragraph, and one year for each additional ten thousand pesos, but the
found.[54]
total of the penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in
connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the
There is no dispute that petitioners were in constructive possession of the timber without the requisite
other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal,
legal documents. Villarin and Latayada were personally involved in its procurement, delivery and storage without
as the case may be. x x x
any license or permit issued by any competent authority. Given these and considering that the offense is malum
prohibitum, petitioners contention that the possession of the illegally cut timber was not for personal gain but for the
repair of said bridge is, therefore, inconsequential.
The Information filed against the petitioners alleged that the 63 pieces of timber without the requisite legal
documents measuring 4,326 board feet were valued at P108,150.00. To prove this allegation, the prosecution
Corpus Delicti is the Fact of the Commission of
the Crime presented Pioquinto to testify, among others, on this amount. Tally Sheets and Seizure Receipts were also
presented to corroborate said amount. With the value of the timber exceeding P22,000.00, the basic penalty
is prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods to be imposed in its maximum, the range of which is eight (8)
years, eight (8) months and one (1) day to ten (10) years. Since none of the qualifying circumstances in Article 310
Petitioners argue that their convictions were improper because the corpus delicti had not been
of the RPC was alleged in the Information, the penalty cannot be increased two degrees higher.
established. They assert that the failure to present the confiscated timber in court was fatal to the cause of the
prosecution.
In determining the additional years of imprisonment, P22,000.00 is to be deducted from P108,150.00,
which results to P86,150.00. This remainder must be divided by P10,000.00, disregarding any amount less
We disagree. [C]orpus delicti refers to the fact of the commission of the crime charged or to the body or
than P10,000.00. Consequently, eight (8) years must be added to the basic penalty. Thus the maximum imposable
substance of the crime. In its legal sense, it does not refer to the ransom money in the crime of kidnapping for
penalty ranges from sixteen (16) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day to eighteen (18) years of reclusion
ransom or to the body of the person murdered[55] or, in this case, to the seized timber. Since the corpus delicti is the
temporal.
fact of the commission of the crime, this Court has ruled that even a single witness uncorroborated testimony, if
credible, may suffice to prove it and warrant a conviction therefor. Corpus delicti may even be established by
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum imposable penalty should be taken anywhere
circumstantial evidence.[56]
within the range of the penalty next lower in degree, without considering the modifying circumstances. The penalty
one degree lower from prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods is prision correccional in its medium and
Here, the trial court and the CA held that the corpus delicti was established by the documentary and
maximum periods, the range of which is from two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day to six (6) years. Thus,
testimonial evidence on record. The Tally Sheet, Seizure Receipts issued by the DENR and photograph proved the
the RTC, as affirmed by the CA, erroneously fixed the minimum period of the penalty at twelve (12) years of prision
existence of the timber and its confiscation. The testimonies of the petitioners themselves stating in no uncertain
mayor.
terms the manner in which they consummated the offense they were charged with were likewise crucial to their
conviction.
Finally, the case against Boyatac must be dismissed considering his demise even before the RTC
rendered its Judgment.
We find no reason to deviate from these findings since it has been established that factual findings of a
trial court are binding on us, absent any showing that it overlooked or misinterpreted facts or circumstances of
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated June 28, 2005 and the Resolution
weight and substance.[57] The legal precept applies to this case in which the trial courts findings were affirmed by
dated September 22, 2006 in CA-G.R. CR No. 26720 are AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATIONS that petitioners
the appellate court.[58]
Crisostomo Villarin and Aniano Latayada are each sentenced to suffer imprisonment of two (2) years, four (4)
months, and one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum, to sixteen (16) years, eight (8) months, and one (1)
The Proper Penalty
day of reclusion temporal, as maximum. The complaint against Cipriano Boyatac is hereby DISMISSED.
Violation of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, is penalized as qualified theft under Article 310 in
SO ORDERED.
relation to Article 309 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). The pertinent portions of these provisions read:

Art. 310. Qualified Theft The crime of theft shall be punished by the penalties next
higher by two degrees than those respectively specified in the next preceding articles, if
Republic of the Philippines few ever foresaw and the wound no longer simply heals by itself. [2] But amidst hard evidence and clear
SUPREME COURT signs of a climate crisis that need bold action, the voice of cynicism, naysayers, and procrastinators can
Manila still be heard.

EN BANC This case turns on government agencies and their officers who, by the nature of their respective offices
or by direct statutory command, are tasked to protect and preserve, at the first instance, our internal
waters, rivers, shores, and seas polluted by human activities. To most of these agencies and their
METROPOLITAN MANILA G.R. Nos. 171947-48 official complement, the pollution menace does not seem to carry the high national priority it deserves, if
DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, their track records are to be the norm. Their cavalier attitude towards solving, if not mitigating, the
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT environmental pollution problem, is a sad commentary on bureaucratic efficiency and commitment.
AND NATURAL RESOURCES, Present:
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, At the core of the case is the Manila Bay, a place with a proud historic past, once brimming with marine
CULTURE AND SPORTS,[1] PUNO, C.J., life and, for so many decades in the past, a spot for different contact recreation activities, but now a dirty
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, QUISUMBING, and slowly dying expanse mainly because of the abject official indifference of people and institutions
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, YNARES-SANTIAGO, that could have otherwise made a difference.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC CARPIO,
WORKS AND HIGHWAYS, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND CORONA, This case started when, on January 29, 1999, respondents Concerned Residents of Manila Bay filed a
MANAGEMENT, PHILIPPINE CARPIO MORALES, complaint before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Imus, Cavite against several government agencies,
COAST GUARD, PHILIPPINE AZCUNA, among them the petitioners, for the cleanup, rehabilitation, and protection of the Manila Bay. Raffled to
NATIONAL POLICE MARITIME TINGA, Branch 20 and docketed as Civil Case No. 1851-99 of the RTC, the complaint alleged that the water
GROUP, and DEPARTMENT OF CHICO-NAZARIO, quality of the Manila Bay had fallen way below the allowable standards set by law, specifically
THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL VELASCO, JR., Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1152 or the Philippine Environment Code. This environmental aberration,
GOVERNMENT, NACHURA, the complaint stated, stemmed from:
Petitioners, REYES,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and x x x [The] reckless, wholesale, accumulated and ongoing acts of omission or commission [of the
- versus - BRION, JJ. defendants] resulting in the clear and present danger to public health and in the depletion and
CONCERNED RESIDENTS OF contamination of the marine life of Manila Bay, [for which reason] ALL defendants must be held jointly
MANILA BAY, represented and and/or solidarily liable and be collectively ordered to clean up Manila Bay and to restore its water quality
joined by DIVINA V. ILAS, to class B waters fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.[3]
SABINIANO ALBARRACIN,
MANUEL SANTOS, JR., DINAH
DELA PEA, PAUL DENNIS In their individual causes of action, respondents alleged that the continued neglect of petitioners in
QUINTERO, MA. VICTORIA abating the pollution of the Manila Bay constitutes a violation of, among others:
LLENOS, DONNA CALOZA,
FATIMA QUITAIN, VENICE (1) Respondents constitutional right to life, health, and a balanced ecology;
SEGARRA, FRITZIE TANGKIA, (2) The Environment Code (PD 1152);
SARAH JOELLE LINTAG, (3) The Pollution Control Law (PD 984);
HANNIBAL AUGUSTUS BOBIS, (4) The Water Code (PD 1067);
FELIMON SANTIAGUEL, and Promulgated: (5) The Sanitation Code (PD 856);
JAIME AGUSTIN R. OPOSA, (6) The Illegal Disposal of Wastes Decree (PD 825);
Respondents. December 18, 2008 (7) The Marine Pollution Law (PD 979);
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x (8) Executive Order No. 192;
(9) The Toxic and Hazardous Wastes Law (Republic Act No. 6969);
DECISION (10) Civil Code provisions on nuisance and human relations;
(11) The Trust Doctrine and the Principle of Guardianship; and
VELASCO, JR., J.: (12) International Law

The need to address environmental pollution, as a cause of climate change, has of late gained the Inter alia, respondents, as plaintiffs a quo, prayed that petitioners be ordered to clean
attention of the international community. Media have finally trained their sights on the ill effects of the Manila Bay and submit to the RTC a concerted concrete plan of action for the purpose.
pollution, the destruction of forests and other critical habitats, oil spills, and the unabated improper
disposal of garbage. And rightly so, for the magnitude of environmental destruction is now on a scale
The trial of the case started off with a hearing at the Manila Yacht Club followed by an ocular inspection Defendant DPWH, to remove and demolish structures and other nuisances that obstruct the free flow of
of the Manila Bay. Renato T. Cruz, the Chief of the Water Quality Management Section, Environmental waters to the bay. These nuisances discharge solid and liquid wastes which eventually end up
Management Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), testifying for in Manila Bay. As the construction and engineering arm of the government, DPWH is ordered to actively
petitioners, stated that water samples collected from different beaches around the Manila Bay showed participate in removing debris, such as carcass of sunken vessels, and other non-biodegradable
that the amount of fecal coliform content ranged from 50,000 to 80,000 most probable number garbage in the bay.
(MPN)/ml when what DENR Administrative Order No. 34-90 prescribed as a safe level for bathing and
other forms of contact recreational activities, or the SB level, is one not exceeding 200 MPN/100 ml.[4] Defendant DOH, to closely supervise and monitor the operations of septic and sludge companies and
require them to have proper facilities for the treatment and disposal of fecal sludge and sewage coming
Rebecca de Vera, for Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and in behalf of other from septic tanks.
petitioners, testified about the MWSS efforts to reduce pollution along the Manila Bay through the
Manila Second Sewerage Project. For its part, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) presented, as part of Defendant DECS, to inculcate in the minds and hearts of the people through education the importance
its evidence, its memorandum circulars on the study being conducted on ship-generated waste of preserving and protecting the environment.
treatment and disposal, and its Linis Dagat (Clean the Ocean) project for the cleaning of wastes
accumulated or washed to shore. Defendant Philippine Coast Guard and the PNP Maritime Group, to protect at all costs
the Manila Bay from all forms of illegal fishing.
The RTC Ordered Petitioners to Clean Up and Rehabilitate Manila Bay
No pronouncement as to damages and costs.
On September 13, 2002, the RTC rendered a Decision[5] in favor of respondents. The dispositive portion
reads: SO ORDERED.
The MWSS, Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), and PPA filed before the Court of Appeals
WHEREFORE, finding merit in the complaint, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the abovenamed (CA) individual Notices of Appeal which were eventually consolidated and docketed as CA-G.R. CV No.
defendant-government agencies, jointly and solidarily, to clean up and rehabilitate Manila Bay and 76528.
restore its waters to SB classification to make it fit for swimming, skin-diving and other forms of contact
recreation. To attain this, defendant-agencies, with defendant DENR as the lead agency, are directed, On the other hand, the DENR, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Metropolitan Manila
within six (6) months from receipt hereof, to act and perform their respective duties by devising a Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine National Police (PNP)
consolidated, coordinated and concerted scheme of action for the rehabilitation and restoration of the Maritime Group, and five other executive departments and agencies filed directly with this Court a
bay. petition for review under Rule 45. The Court, in a Resolution of December 9, 2002, sent the said petition
In particular: to the CA for consolidation with the consolidated appeals of MWSS, LWUA, and PPA, docketed as CA-
G.R. SP No. 74944.
Defendant MWSS is directed to install, operate and maintain adequate [sewerage] treatment facilities in
strategic places under its jurisdiction and increase their capacities. Petitioners, before the CA, were one in arguing in the main that the pertinent provisions of the
Environment Code (PD 1152) relate only to the cleaning of specific pollution incidents and do not cover
Defendant LWUA, to see to it that the water districts under its wings, provide, construct and operate cleaning in general. And apart from raising concerns about the lack of funds appropriated for cleaning
sewage facilities for the proper disposal of waste. purposes, petitioners also asserted that the cleaning of the Manila Bay is not a ministerial act which can
be compelled by mandamus.
Defendant DENR, which is the lead agency in cleaning up Manila Bay, to install, operate and maintain
waste facilities to rid the bay of toxic and hazardous substances.
The CA Sustained the RTC
Defendant PPA, to prevent and also to treat the discharge not only of ship-generated wastes but also of By a Decision[6] of September 28, 2005, the CA denied petitioners appeal and affirmed the Decision of
other solid and liquid wastes from docking vessels that contribute to the pollution of the bay. the RTC in toto, stressing that the trial courts decision did not require petitioners to do tasks outside of
their usual basic functions under existing laws.[7]
Defendant MMDA, to establish, operate and maintain an adequate and appropriate sanitary landfill
and/or adequate solid waste and liquid disposal as well as other alternative garbage disposal system Petitioners are now before this Court praying for the allowance of their Rule 45 petition on the following
such as re-use or recycling of wastes. ground and supporting arguments:
THE [CA] DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE NOT HERETOFORE PASSED UPON BY THE
Defendant DA, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, to revitalize the marine life HONORABLE COURT, I.E., IT AFFIRMED THE TRIAL COURTS DECISION DECLARING THAT
in Manila Bay and restock its waters with indigenous fish and other aquatic animals. SECTION 20 OF [PD] 1152 REQUIRES CONCERNED GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO REMOVE ALL
POLLUTANTS SPILLED AND DISCHARGED IN THE WATER SUCH AS FECAL COLIFORMS.
Defendant DBM, to provide and set aside an adequate budget solely for the purpose of cleaning up and
rehabilitation of Manila Bay. ARGUMENTS

I
[SECTIONS] 17 AND 20 OF [PD] 1152 RELATE ONLY TO THE CLEANING OF SPECIFIC big local oil players to cease and desist from operating their business in the so-called Pandacan
POLLUTION INCIDENTS AND [DO] NOT COVER CLEANING IN GENERAL Terminals within six months from the effectivity of the ordinance. But to illustrate with respect to the
instant case, the MMDAs duty to put up an adequate and appropriate sanitary landfill and solid waste
II and liquid disposal as well as other alternative garbage disposal systems is ministerial, its duty being a
THE CLEANING OR REHABILITATION OF THE MANILA BAY IS NOT A MINISTERIAL ACT OF statutory imposition. The MMDAs duty in this regard is spelled out in Sec. 3(c) of Republic Act No. (RA)
PETITIONERS THAT CAN BE COMPELLED BY MANDAMUS. 7924 creating the MMDA. This section defines and delineates the scope of the MMDAs waste disposal
services to include:

The issues before us are two-fold. First, do Sections 17 and 20 of PD 1152 under the Solid waste disposal and management which include formulation and implementation of policies,
headings, Upgrading of Water Quality and Clean-up Operations, envisage a cleanup in general or are standards, programs and projects for proper and sanitary waste disposal. It shall likewise include
they limited only to the cleanup of specific pollution incidents? And second, can petitioners be the establishment and operation of sanitary land fill and related facilities and the implementation
compelled by mandamus to clean up and rehabilitate the ManilaBay? of other alternative programs intended to reduce, reuse and recycle solid waste. (Emphasis added.)

On August 12, 2008, the Court conducted and heard the parties on oral arguments.
The MMDA is duty-bound to comply with Sec. 41 of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA
Our Ruling 9003) which prescribes the minimum criteria for the establishment of sanitary landfills and Sec. 42
which provides the minimum operating requirements that each site operator shall maintain in the
We shall first dwell on the propriety of the issuance of mandamus under the premises. operation of a sanitary landfill. Complementing Sec. 41 are Secs. 36 and 37 of RA 9003, [12] enjoining
the MMDA and local government units, among others, after the effectivity of the law on February 15,
2001, from using and operating open dumps for solid waste and disallowing, five years after such
The Cleaning or Rehabilitation of Manila Bay effectivity, the use of controlled dumps.
Can be Compelled by Mandamus
The MMDAs duty in the area of solid waste disposal, as may be noted, is set forth not only in the
Generally, the writ of mandamus lies to require the execution of a ministerial duty. [8] A ministerial duty is Environment Code (PD 1152) and RA 9003, but in its charter as well. This duty of putting up a proper
one that requires neither the exercise of official discretion nor judgment. [9] It connotes an act in which waste disposal system cannot be characterized as discretionary, for, as earlier stated, discretion
nothing is left to the discretion of the person executing it. It is a simple, definite duty arising under presupposes the power or right given by law to public functionaries to act officially according to their
conditions admitted or proved to exist and imposed by law. [10] Mandamus is available to compel action, judgment or conscience.[13] A discretionary duty is one that allows a person to exercise judgment and
when refused, on matters involving discretion, but not to direct the exercise of judgment or discretion choose to perform or not to perform.[14] Any suggestion that the MMDA has the option whether or not to
one way or the other. perform its solid waste disposal-related duties ought to be dismissed for want of legal basis.

Petitioners maintain that the MMDAs duty to take measures and maintain adequate solid waste and A perusal of other petitioners respective charters or like enabling statutes and pertinent laws would yield
liquid disposal systems necessarily involves policy evaluation and the exercise of judgment on the part this conclusion: these government agencies are enjoined, as a matter of statutory obligation, to perform
of the agency concerned. They argue that the MMDA, in carrying out its mandate, has to make certain functions relating directly or indirectly to the cleanup, rehabilitation, protection, and preservation
decisions, including choosing where a landfill should be located by undertaking feasibility studies and of the Manila Bay. They are precluded from choosing not to perform these duties. Consider:
cost estimates, all of which entail the exercise of discretion.
(1) The DENR, under Executive Order No. (EO) 192, [15] is the primary agency responsible for the
Respondents, on the other hand, counter that the statutory command is clear and that petitioners duty conservation, management, development, and proper use of the countrys environment and natural
to comply with and act according to the clear mandate of the law does not require the exercise of resources. Sec. 19 of the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 (RA 9275), on the other hand, designates
discretion. According to respondents, petitioners, the MMDA in particular, are without discretion, for the DENR as the primary government agency responsible for its enforcement and implementation, more
example, to choose which bodies of water they are to clean up, or which discharge or spill they are to particularly over all aspects of water quality management. On water pollution, the DENR, under the Acts
contain. By the same token, respondents maintain that petitioners are bereft of discretion on whether or Sec. 19(k), exercises jurisdiction over all aspects of water pollution, determine[s] its location, magnitude,
not to alleviate the problem of solid and liquid waste disposal; in other words, it is the MMDAs extent, severity, causes and effects and other pertinent information on pollution, and [takes] measures,
ministerial duty to attend to such services. using available methods and technologies, to prevent and abate such pollution.
The DENR, under RA 9275, is also tasked to prepare a National Water Quality Status Report, an
We agree with respondents. Integrated Water Quality Management Framework, and a 10-year Water Quality Management Area
Action Plan which is nationwide in scope covering the Manila Bay and adjoining areas. Sec. 19 of RA
First off, we wish to state that petitioners obligation to perform their duties as defined by law, on one 9275 provides:
hand, and how they are to carry out such duties, on the other, are two different concepts. While the
implementation of the MMDAs mandated tasks may entail a decision-making process, the enforcement Sec. 19 Lead Agency.The [DENR] shall be the primary government agency responsible for the
of the law or the very act of doing what the law exacts to be done is ministerial in nature and may be implementation and enforcement of this Act x x x unless otherwise provided herein. As such, it shall
compelled by mandamus. We said so in Social Justice Society v. Atienza[11] in which the Court directed have the following functions, powers and responsibilities:
the City of Manila to enforce, as a matter of ministerial duty, its Ordinance No. 8027 directing the three
a) Prepare a National Water Quality Status report within twenty-four (24) months from the effectivity for the prevention and control of water pollution for the development, management, and conservation of
of this Act: Provided, That the Department shall thereafter review or revise and publish annually, or as the fisheries and aquatic resources.
the need arises, said report;
(5) The DPWH, as the engineering and construction arm of the national government, is tasked under
b) Prepare an Integrated Water Quality Management Framework within twelve (12) months following EO 292[23] to provide integrated planning, design, and construction services for, among others, flood
the completion of the status report; control and water resource development systems in accordance with national development objectives
and approved government plans and specifications.
c) Prepare a ten (10) year Water Quality Management Area Action Plan within 12 months following
the completion of the framework for each designated water management area. Such action plan shall In Metro Manila, however, the MMDA is authorized by Sec. 3(d), RA 7924 to perform metro-wide
be reviewed by the water quality management area governing board every five (5) years or as need services relating to flood control and sewerage management which include the formulation and
arises. implementation of policies, standards, programs and projects for an integrated flood control, drainage
and sewerage system.

The DENR has prepared the status report for the period 2001 to 2005 and is in the process of On July 9, 2002, a Memorandum of Agreement was entered into between the DPWH and MMDA,
completing the preparation of the Integrated Water Quality Management Framework. [16] Within twelve whereby MMDA was made the agency primarily responsible for flood control in Metro Manila. For the
(12) months thereafter, it has to submit a final Water Quality Management Area Action Plan. [17] Again, rest of the country, DPWH shall remain as the implementing agency for flood control services. The
like the MMDA, the DENR should be made to accomplish the tasks assigned to it under RA 9275. mandate of the MMDA and DPWH on flood control and drainage services shall include the removal of
Parenthetically, during the oral arguments, the DENR Secretary manifested that the DENR, with the structures, constructions, and encroachments built along rivers, waterways, and esteros (drainages) in
assistance of and in partnership with various government agencies and non-government organizations, violation of RA 7279, PD 1067, and other pertinent laws.
has completed, as of December 2005, the final draft of a comprehensive action plan with estimated
budget and time frame, denominated as Operation Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy, for the (6) The PCG, in accordance with Sec. 5(p) of PD 601, or the Revised Coast Guard Law of 1974, and
rehabilitation, restoration, and rehabilitation of the Manila Bay. Sec. 6 of PD 979,[24] or the Marine Pollution Decree of 1976, shall have the primary responsibility of
enforcing laws, rules, and regulations governing marine pollution within the territorial waters of
The completion of the said action plan and even the implementation of some of its phases should more the Philippines. It shall promulgate its own rules and regulations in accordance with the national rules
than ever prod the concerned agencies to fast track what are assigned them under existing laws. and policies set by the National Pollution Control Commission upon consultation with the latter for the
effective implementation and enforcement of PD 979. It shall, under Sec. 4 of the law, apprehend
(2) The MWSS, under Sec. 3 of RA 6234,[18] is vested with jurisdiction, supervision, and control over all violators who:
waterworks and sewerage systems in the territory comprising what is now the cities of Metro Manila and
several towns of the provinces of Rizal and Cavite, and charged with the duty: a. discharge, dump x x x harmful substances from or out of any ship, vessel, barge, or any other floating
(g) To construct, maintain, and operate such sanitary sewerages as may be necessary for the proper craft, or other man-made structures at sea, by any method, means or manner, into or upon the territorial
sanitation and other uses of the cities and towns comprising the System; x x x and inland navigable waters of the Philippines;

b. throw, discharge or deposit, dump, or cause, suffer or procure to be thrown, discharged, or deposited
(3) The LWUA under PD 198 has the power of supervision and control over local water districts. It can either from or out of any ship, barge, or other floating craft or vessel of any kind, or from the shore,
prescribe the minimum standards and regulations for the operations of these districts and shall monitor wharf, manufacturing establishment, or mill of any kind, any refuse matter of any kind or description
and evaluate local water standards. The LWUA can direct these districts to construct, operate, and whatever other than that flowing from streets and sewers and passing therefrom in a liquid state into
furnish facilities and services for the collection, treatment, and disposal of sewerage, waste, and storm tributary of any navigable water from which the same shall float or be washed into such navigable
water. Additionally, under RA 9275, the LWUA, as attached agency of the DPWH, is tasked with water; and
providing sewerage and sanitation facilities, inclusive of the setting up of efficient and safe collection,
treatment, and sewage disposal system in the different parts of the country. [19] In relation to the instant c. deposit x x x material of any kind in any place on the bank of any navigable water or on the bank of
petition, the LWUA is mandated to provide sewerage and sanitation facilities in Laguna, Cavite, any tributary of any navigable water, where the same shall be liable to be washed into such navigable
Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan to prevent pollution in the Manila Bay. water, either by ordinary or high tides, or by storms or floods, or otherwise, whereby navigation shall or
(4) The Department of Agriculture (DA), pursuant to the Administrative Code of 1987 (EO 292),[20] is may be impeded or obstructed or increase the level of pollution of such water.
designated as the agency tasked to promulgate and enforce all laws and issuances respecting the
conservation and proper utilization of agricultural and fishery resources. Furthermore, the DA, under the
Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 (RA 8550), is, in coordination with local government units (LGUs) and (7) When RA 6975 or the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Act of 1990 was
other concerned sectors, in charge of establishing a monitoring, control, and surveillance system to signed into law on December 13, 1990, the PNP Maritime Group was tasked to perform all police
ensure that fisheries and aquatic resources in Philippine waters are judiciously utilized and managed on functions over the Philippine territorial waters and rivers. Under Sec. 86, RA 6975, the police functions
a sustainable basis.[21] Likewise under RA 9275, the DA is charged with coordinating with the PCG and of the PCG shall be taken over by the PNP when the latter acquires the capability to perform such
DENR for the enforcement of water quality standards in marine waters. [22] More specifically, its Bureau functions. Since the PNP Maritime Group has not yet attained the capability to assume and perform the
of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources(BFAR) under Sec. 22(c) of RA 9275 shall primarily be responsible police functions of PCG over marine pollution, the PCG and PNP Maritime Group shall coordinate with
regard to the enforcement of laws, rules, and regulations governing marine pollution within the territorial
waters of the Philippines. This was made clear in Sec. 124, RA 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of a water supply or a reservoir for domestic or municipal use. And under Sec. 8 of RA 9275, the DOH, in
1998, in which both the PCG and PNP Maritime Group were authorized to enforce said law and other coordination with the DENR, DPWH, and other concerned agencies, shall formulate guidelines and
fishery laws, rules, and regulations.[25] standards for the collection, treatment, and disposal of sewage and the establishment and operation of
a centralized sewage treatment system. In areas not considered as highly urbanized cities, septage or a
(8) In accordance with Sec. 2 of EO 513, the PPA is mandated to establish, develop, regulate, manage mix sewerage-septage management system shall be employed.
and operate a rationalized national port system in support of trade and national
development.[26] Moreover, Sec. 6-c of EO 513 states that the PPA has police authority within the In accordance with Sec. 72[30] of PD 856, the Code of Sanitation of the Philippines, and Sec. 5.1.1[31] of
Chapter XVII of its implementing rules, the DOH is also ordered to ensure the regulation and monitoring
ports administered by it as may be necessary to carry out its powers and functions and attain its of the proper disposal of wastes by private sludge companies through the strict enforcement of the
purposes and objectives, without prejudice to the exercise of the functions of the Bureau of Customs requirement to obtain an environmental sanitation clearance of sludge collection treatment and disposal
and other law enforcement bodies within the area. Such police authority shall include the following: before these companies are issued their environmental sanitation permit.
xxxx
(11) The Department of Education (DepEd), under the Philippine Environment Code (PD 1152), is
b) To regulate the entry to, exit from, and movement within the port, of persons and vehicles, as well as mandated to integrate subjects on environmental education in its school curricula at all levels. [32] Under
movement within the port of watercraft.[27] Sec. 118 of RA 8550, the DepEd, in collaboration with the DA, Commission on Higher Education, and
Philippine Information Agency, shall launch and pursue a nationwide educational campaign to promote
the development, management, conservation, and proper use of the environment. Under the Ecological
Lastly, as a member of the International Marine Organization and a signatory to the International Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003), on the other hand, it is directed to strengthen the integration
Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, as amended by MARPOL of environmental concerns in school curricula at all levels, with an emphasis on waste management
73/78,[28] the Philippines, through the PPA, must ensure the provision of adequate reception facilities at principles.[33]
ports and terminals for the reception of sewage from the ships docking in Philippine ports. Thus, the (12) The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is tasked under Sec. 2, Title XVII of the
PPA is tasked to adopt such measures as are necessary to prevent the discharge and dumping of solid Administrative Code of 1987 to ensure the efficient and sound utilization of government funds and
and liquid wastes and other ship-generated wastes into the Manila Bay waters from vessels docked at revenues so as to effectively achieve the countrys development objectives. [34]
ports and apprehend the violators. When the vessels are not docked at ports but within Philippine
territorial waters, it is the PCG and PNP Maritime Group that have jurisdiction over said vessels. One of the countrys development objectives is enshrined in RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act
of 2004. This law stresses that the State shall pursue a policy of economic growth in a manner
(9) The MMDA, as earlier indicated, is duty-bound to put up and maintain adequate sanitary landfill and consistent with the protection, preservation, and revival of the quality of our fresh, brackish, and marine
solid waste and liquid disposal system as well as other alternative garbage disposal systems. It is waters. It also provides that it is the policy of the government, among others, to streamline processes
primarily responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the provisions of RA 9003, which would and procedures in the prevention, control, and abatement of pollution mechanisms for the protection of
necessary include its penal provisions, within its area of jurisdiction. [29] water resources; to promote environmental strategies and use of appropriate economic instruments and
of control mechanisms for the protection of water resources; to formulate a holistic national program of
Among the prohibited acts under Sec. 48, Chapter VI of RA 9003 that are frequently violated are water quality management that recognizes that issues related to this management cannot be separated
dumping of waste matters in public places, such as roads, canals or esteros, open burning of solid from concerns about water sources and ecological protection, water supply, public health, and quality of
waste, squatting in open dumps and landfills, open dumping, burying of biodegradable or non- life; and to provide a comprehensive management program for water pollution focusing on pollution
biodegradable materials in flood-prone areas, establishment or operation of open dumps as enjoined in prevention.
RA 9003, and operation of waste management facilities without an environmental compliance
certificate. Thus, the DBM shall then endeavor to provide an adequate budget to attain the noble objectives of RA
9275 in line with the countrys development objectives.
Under Sec. 28 of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (RA 7279), eviction or demolition
may be allowed when persons or entities occupy danger areas such asesteros, railroad tracks, garbage All told, the aforementioned enabling laws and issuances are in themselves clear, categorical, and
dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks and complete as to what are the obligations and mandate of each agency/petitioner under the law. We need
playgrounds. The MMDA, as lead agency, in coordination with the DPWH, LGUs, and concerned not belabor the issue that their tasks include the cleanup of the Manila Bay.
agencies, can dismantle and remove all structures, constructions, and other encroachments built in
breach of RA 7279 and other pertinent laws along the rivers, waterways, and esteros in Metro Now, as to the crux of the petition. Do Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment Code encompass the
Manila. With respect to rivers, waterways, and esteros in Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, and cleanup of water pollution in general, not just specific pollution incidents?
Laguna that discharge wastewater directly or eventually into the Manila Bay, the DILG shall direct the
concerned LGUs to implement the demolition and removal of such structures, constructions, and other Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment Code
encroachments built in violation of RA 7279 and other applicable laws in coordination with the DPWH Include Cleaning in General
and concerned agencies.
The disputed sections are quoted as follows:
(10) The Department of Health (DOH), under Article 76 of PD 1067 (the Water Code), is tasked to
promulgate rules and regulations for the establishment of waste disposal areas that affect the source of
Section 17. Upgrading of Water Quality.Where the quality of water has deteriorated to a degree where Pushing the point further, they argue that the aforequoted Sec. 62(g) requires cleanup operations to
its state will adversely affect its best usage, the government agencies concerned shall take such restore the body of water to pre-spill condition, which means that there must have been a specific
measures as may be necessary to upgrade the quality of such water to meet the prescribed water incident of either intentional or accidental spillage of oil or other hazardous substances, as mentioned in
quality standards. Sec. 62(h).

Section 20. Clean-up Operations.It shall be the responsibility of the polluter to contain, remove and As a counterpoint, respondents argue that petitioners erroneously read Sec. 62(g) as delimiting the
clean-up water pollution incidents at his own expense. In case of his failure to do so, the government application of Sec. 20 to the containment, removal, and cleanup operations for accidental spills only.
agencies concerned shall undertake containment, removal and clean-up operations and expenses Contrary to petitioners posture, respondents assert that Sec. 62(g), in fact, even expanded the
incurred in said operations shall be charged against the persons and/or entities responsible for such coverage of Sec. 20. Respondents explain that without its Sec. 62(g), PD 1152 may have indeed
pollution. covered only pollution accumulating from the day-to-day operations of businesses around
the Manila Bay and other sources of pollution that slowly accumulated in the bay. Respondents,
however, emphasize that Sec. 62(g), far from being a delimiting provision, in fact even enlarged the
When the Clean Water Act (RA 9275) took effect, its Sec. 16 on the subject, Cleanup Operations, operational scope of Sec. 20, by including accidental spills as among the water pollution incidents
amended the counterpart provision (Sec. 20) of the Environment Code (PD 1152). Sec. 17 of PD 1152 contemplated in Sec. 17 in relation to Sec. 20 of PD 1152.
continues, however, to be operational.
To respondents, petitioners parochial view on environmental issues, coupled with their narrow reading
of their respective mandated roles, has contributed to the worsening water quality of the Manila Bay.
The amendatory Sec. 16 of RA 9275 reads: Assuming, respondents assert, that petitioners are correct in saying that the cleanup coverage of Sec.
20 of PD 1152 is constricted by the definition of the phrase cleanup operations embodied in Sec. 62(g),
SEC. 16. Cleanup Operations.Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 15 and 26 hereof, any person Sec. 17 is not hobbled by such limiting definition. As pointed out, the phrases cleanup operations and
who causes pollution in or pollutes water bodies in excess of the applicable and prevailing standards accidental spills do not appear in said Sec. 17, not even in the chapter where said section is found.
shall be responsible to contain, remove and clean up any pollution incident at his own expense to the
extent that the same water bodies have been rendered unfit for utilization and beneficial use: Provided, Respondents are correct. For one thing, said Sec. 17 does not in any way state that the government
That in the event emergency cleanup operations are necessary and the polluter fails to immediately agencies concerned ought to confine themselves to the containment, removal, and cleaning operations
undertake the same, the [DENR] in coordination with other government agencies concerned, shall when a specific pollution incident occurs. On the contrary, Sec. 17 requires them to act even in the
undertake containment, removal and cleanup operations. Expenses incurred in said operations shall be absence of a specific pollution incident, as long as water quality has deteriorated to a degree where its
reimbursed by the persons found to have caused such pollution under proper administrative state will adversely affect its best usage. This section, to stress, commands concerned government
determination x x x. Reimbursements of the cost incurred shall be made to the Water Quality agencies, when appropriate, to take such measures as may be necessary to meet the prescribed water
Management Fund or to such other funds where said disbursements were sourced. quality standards. In fine, the underlying duty to upgrade the quality of water is not conditional on the
occurrence of any pollution incident.

As may be noted, the amendment to Sec. 20 of the Environment Code is more apparent than real since For another, a perusal of Sec. 20 of the Environment Code, as couched, indicates that it is properly
the amendment, insofar as it is relevant to this case, merely consists in the designation of the DENR as applicable to a specific situation in which the pollution is caused by polluters who fail to clean up the
lead agency in the cleanup operations. mess they left behind. In such instance, the concerned government agencies shall undertake the
cleanup work for the polluters account. Petitioners assertion, that they have to perform cleanup
Petitioners contend at every turn that Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment Code concern themselves operations in the Manila Bay only when there is a water pollution incident and the erring polluters do
only with the matter of cleaning up in specific pollution incidents, as opposed to cleanup in general. not undertake the containment, removal, and cleanup operations, is quite off mark. As earlier discussed,
They aver that the twin provisions would have to be read alongside the succeeding Sec. 62(g) and (h), the complementary Sec. 17 of the Environment Code comes into play and the specific duties of the
which defines the terms cleanup operations and accidental spills, as follows: agencies to clean up come in even if there are no pollution incidents staring at them. Petitioners, thus,
cannot plausibly invoke and hide behind Sec. 20 of PD 1152 or Sec. 16 of RA 9275 on the pretext that
g. Clean-up Operations [refer] to activities conducted in removing the pollutants discharged or spilled in their cleanup mandate depends on the happening of a specific pollution incident. In this regard, what
water to restore it to pre-spill condition. the CA said with respect to the impasse over Secs. 17 and 20 of PD 1152 is at once valid as it is
practical. The appellate court wrote: PD 1152 aims to introduce a comprehensive program of
h. Accidental Spills [refer] to spills of oil or other hazardous substances in water that result environmental protection and management. This is better served by making Secs. 17 & 20 of general
from accidents such as collisions and groundings. application rather than limiting them to specific pollution incidents. [35]

Granting arguendo that petitioners position thus described vis--vis the implementation of Sec. 20 is
Petitioners proffer the argument that Secs. 17 and 20 of PD 1152 merely direct the government correct, they seem to have overlooked the fact that the pollution of the Manila Bay is of such magnitude
agencies concerned to undertake containment, removal, and cleaning operations of a specific polluted and scope that it is well-nigh impossible to draw the line between a specific and a general pollution
portion or portions of the body of water concerned. They maintain that the application of said Sec. 20 is incident. And such impossibility extends to pinpointing with reasonable certainty who the polluters
limited only to water pollution incidents, which are situations that presuppose the occurrence of specific, are. We note that Sec. 20 of PD 1152 mentions water pollution incidents which may be caused by
isolated pollution events requiring the corresponding containment, removal, and cleaning operations. polluters in the waters of the Manila Bay itself or by polluters in adjoining lands and in water bodies or
waterways that empty into the bay. Sec. 16 of RA 9275, on the other hand, specifically adverts to any Judicial notice may likewise be taken of factories and other industrial establishments standing along or
person who causes pollution in or pollutes water bodies, which may refer to an individual or an near the banks of the Pasig River, other major rivers, and connecting waterways. But while they may
establishment that pollutes the land mass near the Manila Bay or the waterways, such that the not be treated as unauthorized constructions, some of these establishments undoubtedly contribute to
contaminants eventually end up in the bay. In this situation, the water pollution incidents are so the pollution of the Pasig River and waterways. The DILG and the concerned LGUs, have, accordingly,
numerous and involve nameless and faceless polluters that they can validly be categorized as beyond the duty to see to it that non-complying industrial establishments set up, within a reasonable period, the
the specific pollution incident level. necessary waste water treatment facilities and infrastructure to prevent their industrial discharge,
Not to be ignored of course is the reality that the government agencies concerned are so undermanned including their sewage waters, from flowing into the Pasig River, other major rivers, and connecting
that it would be almost impossible to apprehend the numerous polluters of the Manila Bay. It may waterways. After such period, non-complying establishments shall be shut down or asked to transfer
perhaps not be amiss to say that the apprehension, if any, of the Manila Bay polluters has been few and their operations.
far between. Hence, practically nobody has been required to contain, remove, or clean up a given water
pollution incident. In this kind of setting, it behooves the Government to step in and undertake cleanup At this juncture, and if only to dramatize the urgency of the need for petitioners-agencies to comply with
operations. Thus, Sec. 16 of RA 9275, previously Sec. 20 of PD 1152, covers for all intents and their statutory tasks, we cite the Asian Development Bank-commissioned study on the garbage problem
purposes a general cleanup situation. in Metro Manila, the results of which are embodied in the The Garbage Book. As there reported, the
garbage crisis in the metropolitan area is as alarming as it is shocking. Some highlights of the report:
The cleanup and/or restoration of the Manila Bay is only an aspect and the initial stage of the long-term
solution. The preservation of the water quality of the bay after the rehabilitation process is as important 1. As early as 2003, three land-filled dumpsites in Metro Manila - the Payatas, Catmon and Rodriquez
as the cleaning phase. It is imperative then that the wastes and contaminants found in the rivers, inland dumpsites - generate an alarming quantity of lead and leachate or liquid run-off. Leachate are toxic
bays, and other bodies of water be stopped from reaching the Manila Bay. Otherwise, any cleanup liquids that flow along the surface and seep into the earth and poison the surface and groundwater that
effort would just be a futile, cosmetic exercise, for, in no time at all, the Manila Bay water quality would are used for drinking, aquatic life, and the environment.
again deteriorate below the ideal minimum standards set by PD 1152, RA 9275, and other relevant
laws. It thus behooves the Court to put the heads of the petitioner-department-agencies and the 2. The high level of fecal coliform confirms the presence of a large amount of human waste in the dump
bureaus and offices under them on continuing notice about, and to enjoin them to perform, their sites and surrounding areas, which is presumably generated by households that lack alternatives to
mandates and duties towards cleaning up the Manila Bay and preserving the quality of its water to the sanitation. To say that Manila Bay needs rehabilitation is an understatement.
ideal level. Under what other judicial discipline describes as continuing mandamus, [36] the Court may,
under extraordinary circumstances, issue directives with the end in view of ensuring that its decision 3. Most of the deadly leachate, lead and other dangerous contaminants and possibly strains of
would not be set to naught by administrative inaction or indifference. In India, the doctrine of continuing pathogens seeps untreated into ground water and runs into the Marikina and Pasig Riversystems
mandamus was used to enforce directives of the court to clean up the length of the Ganges River from and Manila Bay.[40]
industrial and municipal pollution.[37]
The Court can take judicial notice of the presence of shanties and other unauthorized structures which Given the above perspective, sufficient sanitary landfills should now more than ever be established as
do not have septic tanks along the Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the National Capital Region (NCR) prescribed by the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003). Particular note should be taken
(Paraaque-Zapote, Las Pias) Rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, the Meycuayan- of the blatant violations by some LGUs and possibly the MMDA of Sec. 37, reproduced below:
Marilao-Obando (Bulacan) Rivers, the Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, the Laguna De Sec. 37. Prohibition against the Use of Open Dumps for Solid Waste.No open dumps shall be
Bay, and other minor rivers and connecting waterways, river banks, and esteros which discharge their established and operated, nor any practice or disposal of solid waste by any person, including LGUs
waters, with all the accompanying filth, dirt, and garbage, into the major rivers and eventually the Manila which [constitute] the use of open dumps for solid waste, be allowed after the effectivity of this Act:
Bay. If there is one factor responsible for the pollution of the major river systems and the Manila Bay, Provided, further that no controlled dumps shall be allowed (5) years following the effectivity of
these unauthorized structures would be on top of the list. And if the issue of illegal or unauthorized this Act. (Emphasis added.)
structures is not seriously addressed with sustained resolve, then practically all efforts to cleanse these
important bodies of water would be for naught. The DENR Secretary said as much.[38]
RA 9003 took effect on February 15, 2001 and the adverted grace period of five (5) years which ended
Giving urgent dimension to the necessity of removing these illegal structures is Art. 51 of PD 1067 or on February 21, 2006 has come and gone, but no single sanitary landfill which strictly complies with the
the Water Code,[39] which prohibits the building of structures within a given length along banks of rivers prescribed standards under RA 9003 has yet been set up.
and other waterways. Art. 51 reads:
In addition, there are rampant and repeated violations of Sec. 48 of RA 9003, like littering, dumping of
The banks of rivers and streams and the shores of the seas and lakes throughout their entire waste matters in roads, canals, esteros, and other public places, operation of open dumps, open
length and within a zone of three (3) meters in urban areas, twenty (20) meters in agricultural areas burning of solid waste, and the like. Some sludge companies which do not have proper disposal
and forty (40) meters in forest areas, along their margins, are subject to the easement of public use facilities simply discharge sludge into the Metro Manila sewerage system that ends up in
in the interest of recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing and salvage.No person shall be allowed the Manila Bay. Equally unabated are violations of Sec. 27 of RA 9275, which enjoins the pollution of
to stay in this zone longer than what is necessary for recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing or water bodies, groundwater pollution, disposal of infectious wastes from vessels, and unauthorized
salvage or to build structures of any kind. (Emphasis added.) transport or dumping into sea waters of sewage or solid waste and of Secs. 4 and 102 of RA 8550
which proscribes the introduction by human or machine of substances to the aquatic environment
including dumping/disposal of waste and other marine litters, discharge of petroleum or residual
products of petroleum of carbonaceous materials/substances [and other] radioactive, noxious or harmful
liquid, gaseous or solid substances, from any water, land or air transport or other human-made responsible for its enforcement and implementation, the DENR is directed to fully implement
structure. its Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy for the rehabilitation, restoration, and
conservation of the Manila Bay at the earliest possible time. It is ordered to call regular coordination
In the light of the ongoing environmental degradation, the Court wishes to emphasize the extreme meetings with concerned government departments and agencies to ensure the successful
necessity for all concerned executive departments and agencies to immediately act and discharge their implementation of the aforesaid plan of action in accordance with its indicated completion schedules.
respective official duties and obligations. Indeed, time is of the essence; hence, there is a need to set
timetables for the performance and completion of the tasks, some of them as defined for them by law (2) Pursuant to Title XII (Local Government) of the Administrative Code of 1987 and Sec. 25 of the
and the nature of their respective offices and mandates. Local Government Code of 1991,[42] the DILG, in exercising the Presidents power of general supervision
and its duty to promulgate guidelines in establishing waste management programs under Sec. 43 of the
The importance of the Manila Bay as a sea resource, playground, and as a historical landmark cannot Philippine Environment Code (PD 1152), shall direct all LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite,
be over-emphasized. It is not yet too late in the day to restore the Manila Bay to its former splendor and Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan to inspect all factories, commercial establishments, and private homes
bring back the plants and sea life that once thrived in its blue waters. But the tasks ahead, daunting as along the banks of the major river systems in their respective areas of jurisdiction, such as but not
they may be, could only be accomplished if those mandated, with the help and cooperation of all civic- limited to the Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the NCR (Paraaque-Zapote, Las Pias) Rivers, the
minded individuals, would put their minds to these tasks and take responsibility. This means that the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando (Bulacan) Rivers, the
State, through petitioners, has to take the lead in the preservation and protection of the Manila Bay. Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, the Laguna De Bay, and other minor rivers and
waterways that eventually discharge water into the Manila Bay; and the lands abutting the bay, to
The era of delays, procrastination, and ad hoc measures is over. Petitioners must transcend their determine whether they have wastewater treatment facilities or hygienic septic tanks as prescribed by
limitations, real or imaginary, and buckle down to work before the problem at hand becomes existing laws, ordinances, and rules and regulations. If none be found, these LGUs shall be ordered to
unmanageable. Thus, we must reiterate that different government agencies and instrumentalities require non-complying establishments and homes to set up said facilities or septic tanks within a
cannot shirk from their mandates; they must perform their basic functions in cleaning up and reasonable time to prevent industrial wastes, sewage water, and human wastes from flowing into these
rehabilitating the Manila Bay. We are disturbed by petitioners hiding behind two untenable claims: (1) rivers, waterways, esteros, and the Manila Bay, under pain of closure or imposition of fines and other
that there ought to be a specific pollution incident before they are required to act; and (2) that the sanctions.
cleanup of the bay is a discretionary duty.
(3) As mandated by Sec. 8 of RA 9275,[43] the MWSS is directed to provide, install, operate, and
RA 9003 is a sweeping piece of legislation enacted to radically transform and improve waste maintain the necessary adequate waste water treatment facilities in Metro Manila, Rizal, and Cavite
management. It implements Sec. 16, Art. II of the 1987 Constitution, which explicitly provides that the where needed at the earliest possible time.
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. (4) Pursuant to RA 9275,[44] the LWUA, through the local water districts and in coordination with the
DENR, is ordered to provide, install, operate, and maintain sewerage and sanitation facilities and the
So it was that in Oposa v. Factoran, Jr. the Court stated that the right to a balanced and healthful efficient and safe collection, treatment, and disposal of sewage in the provinces of Laguna, Cavite,
ecology need not even be written in the Constitution for it is assumed, like other civil and political rights Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan where needed at the earliest possible time.
guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, to exist from the inception of mankind and it is an issue of (5) Pursuant to Sec. 65 of RA 8550,[45] the DA, through the BFAR, is ordered to improve and restore the
transcendental importance with intergenerational implications.[41] Even assuming the absence of a marine life of the Manila Bay. It is also directed to assist the LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite,
categorical legal provision specifically prodding petitioners to clean up the bay, they and the men and Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan in developing, using recognized methods, the fisheries and
women representing them cannot escape their obligation to future generations of Filipinos to keep the aquatic resources in the Manila Bay.
waters of the Manila Bay clean and clear as humanly as possible. Anything less would be a betrayal of
the trust reposed in them. (6) The PCG, pursuant to Secs. 4 and 6 of PD 979, and the PNP Maritime Group, in accordance with
Sec. 124 of RA 8550, in coordination with each other, shall apprehend violators of PD 979, RA 8550,
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The September 28, 2005 Decision of the CA in CA-G.R. CV No. and other existing laws and regulations designed to prevent marine pollution in the Manila Bay.
76528 and SP No. 74944 and the September 13, 2002 Decision of the RTC in Civil Case No. 1851-99
are AFFIRMED but with MODIFICATIONS in view of subsequent developments or supervening events (7) Pursuant to Secs. 2 and 6-c of EO 513[46] and the International Convention for the Prevention of
in the case. The fallo of the RTC Decision shall now read: Pollution from Ships, the PPA is ordered to immediately adopt such measures to prevent the discharge
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the abovenamed defendant-government and dumping of solid and liquid wastes and other ship-generated wastes into the Manila Bay waters
agencies to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to SB from vessels docked at ports and apprehend the violators.
level (Class B sea waters per Water Classification Tables under DENR Administrative Order No. 34
[1990]) to make them fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation. (8) The MMDA, as the lead agency and implementor of programs and projects for flood control projects
and drainage services in Metro Manila, in coordination with the DPWH, DILG, affected LGUs, PNP
In particular: Maritime Group, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and other agencies,
shall dismantle and remove allstructures, constructions, and other encroachments established or built in
(1) Pursuant to Sec. 4 of EO 192, assigning the DENR as the primary agency responsible for the violation of RA 7279, and other applicable laws along the Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the NCR
conservation, management, development, and proper use of the countrys environment and natural (Paraaque-Zapote, Las Pias) Rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, and connecting
resources, and Sec. 19 of RA 9275, designating the DENR as the primary government agency waterways and esteros in Metro Manila. The DPWH, as the principal implementor of programs and
projects for flood control services in the rest of the country more particularly in Bulacan, Bataan,
Pampanga, Cavite, and Laguna, in coordination with the DILG, affected LGUs, PNP Maritime Group,
HUDCC, and other concerned government agencies, shall remove and demolish all structures,
constructions, and other encroachments built in breach of RA 7279 and other applicable laws along the
Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando (Bulacan) Rivers, the Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, the
Laguna De Bay, and other rivers, connecting waterways, and esteros that discharge wastewater into
the Manila Bay.

In addition, the MMDA is ordered to establish, operate, and maintain a sanitary landfill, as prescribed by
RA 9003, within a period of one (1) year from finality of this Decision.On matters within its territorial
jurisdiction and in connection with the discharge of its duties on the maintenance of sanitary landfills
and like undertakings, it is also ordered to cause the apprehension and filing of the appropriate criminal
cases against violators of the respective penal provisions of RA 9003,[47] Sec. 27 of RA 9275 (the Clean
Water Act), and other existing laws on pollution.
(9) The DOH shall, as directed by Art. 76 of PD 1067 and Sec. 8 of RA 9275, within one (1) year from
finality of this Decision, determine if all licensed septic and sludge companies have the proper facilities
for the treatment and disposal of fecal sludge and sewage coming from septic tanks. The DOH shall
give the companies, if found to be non-complying, a reasonable time within which to set up the
necessary facilities under pain of cancellation of its environmental sanitation clearance.

(10) Pursuant to Sec. 53 of PD 1152,[48] Sec. 118 of RA 8550, and Sec. 56 of RA 9003,[49] the DepEd
shall integrate lessons on pollution prevention, waste management, environmental protection, and like
subjects in the school curricula of all levels to inculcate in the minds and hearts of students and, through
them, their parents and friends, the importance of their duty toward achieving and maintaining a
balanced and healthful ecosystem in the Manila Bay and the entire Philippine archipelago.

(11) The DBM shall consider incorporating an adequate budget in the General Appropriations Act of
2010 and succeeding years to cover the expenses relating to the cleanup, restoration, and preservation
of the water quality of the Manila Bay, in line with the countrys development objective to attain economic
growth in a manner consistent with the protection, preservation, and revival of our marine waters.
(12) The heads of petitioners-agencies MMDA, DENR, DepEd, DOH, DA, DPWH, DBM, PCG, PNP
Maritime Group, DILG, and also of MWSS, LWUA, and PPA, in line with the principle of continuing
mandamus, shall, from finality of this Decision, each submit to the Court a quarterly progressive report
of the activities undertaken in accordance with this Decision.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
G.R. No. 158290 October 23, 2006 among child vendors. The studies also revealed that the children in Metro Manila showed more
HILARION M. HENARES, JR., VICTOR C. AGUSTIN, ALFREDO L. HENARES, DANIEL L. compromised pulmonary function than their rural counterparts. Petitioners infer that these are mostly
HENARES, ENRIQUE BELO HENARES, and CRISTINA BELO HENARES, petitioners, due to the emissions of PUVs.
vs. To counter the aforementioned detrimental effects of emissions from PUVs, petitioners propose the use
LAND TRANSPORTATION FRANCHISING AND REGULATORY BOARD and DEPARTMENT OF of CNG. According to petitioners, CNG is a natural gas comprised mostly of methane which although
TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS, respondents. containing small amounts of propane and butane, 10 is colorless and odorless and considered the
cleanest fossil fuel because it produces much less pollutants than coal and petroleum; produces up to
90 percent less CO compared to gasoline and diesel fuel; reduces NOx emissions by 50 percent and
RESOLUTION cuts hydrocarbon emissions by half; emits 60 percent less PMs; and releases virtually no sulfur dioxide.
Although, according to petitioners, the only drawback of CNG is that it produces more methane, one of
the gases blamed for global warming.11
QUISUMBING, J.: Asserting their right to clean air, petitioners contend that the bases for their petition for a writ of
Petitioners challenge this Court to issue a writ of mandamus commanding respondents Land mandamus to order the LTFRB to require PUVs to use CNG as an alternative fuel, lie in Section
Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Department of Transportation and 16,12 Article II of the 1987 Constitution, our ruling in Oposa v. Factoran, Jr.,13 and Section 414 of
Communications (DOTC) to require public utility vehicles (PUVs) to use compressed natural gas (CNG) Republic Act No. 8749 otherwise known as the "Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999."
as alternative fuel. Meantime, following a subsequent motion, the Court granted petitioners' motion to implead the
Citing statistics from the Metro Manila Transportation and Traffic Situation Study of 1996, 1 the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) as additional respondent.
Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the National Capital Region, 2 a study of the Asian In his Comment for respondents LTFRB and DOTC, the Solicitor General, cites Section 3, Rule 65 of
Development Bank,3 the Manila Observatory4 and the Department of Environment and Natural the Revised Rules of Court and explains that the writ of mandamus is not the correct remedy since the
Resources5 (DENR) on the high growth and low turnover in vehicle ownership in the Philippines, writ may be issued only to command a tribunal, corporation, board or person to do an act that is
including diesel-powered vehicles, two-stroke engine powered motorcycles and their concomitant required to be done, when he or it unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law
emission of air pollutants, petitioners attempt to present a compelling case for judicial action against the specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station, or unlawfully excludes another
bane of air pollution and related environmental hazards. from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled, there being no other plain,
Petitioners allege that the particulate matters (PM) – complex mixtures of dust, dirt, smoke, and liquid speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. 15 Further citing existing jurisprudence, the
droplets, varying in sizes and compositions emitted into the air from various engine combustions – have Solicitor General explains that in contrast to a discretionary act, a ministerial act, which a mandamus is,
caused detrimental effects on health, productivity, infrastructure and the overall quality of life. is one in which an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in
Petitioners particularly cite the effects of certain fuel emissions from engine combustion when these obedience to a mandate of legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own judgment upon
react to other pollutants. For instance, petitioners aver, with hydrocarbons, oxide of nitrogen (NO x) the propriety or impropriety of an act done.
creates smog; with sulfur dioxide, it creates acid rain; and with ammonia, moisture and other The Solicitor General also notes that nothing in Rep. Act No. 8749 that petitioners invoke, prohibits the
compounds, it reacts to form nitric acid and harmful nitrates. Fuel emissions also cause retardation and use of gasoline and diesel by owners of motor vehicles. Sadly too, according to the Solicitor General,
leaf bleaching in plants. According to petitioner, another emission, carbon monoxide (CO), when not Rep. Act No. 8749 does not even mention the existence of CNG as alternative fuel and avers that
completely burned but emitted into the atmosphere and then inhaled can disrupt the necessary oxygen unless this law is amended to provide CNG as alternative fuel for PUVs, the respondents cannot
in blood. With prolonged exposure, CO affects the nervous system and can be lethal to people with propose that PUVs use CNG as alternative fuel.
weak hearts.6 The Solicitor General also adds that it is the DENR that is tasked to implement Rep. Act No. 8749 and
Petitioners add that although much of the new power generated in the country will use natural gas while not the LTFRB nor the DOTC. Moreover, he says, it is the Department of Energy (DOE), under Section
a number of oil and coal-fired fuel stations are being phased-out, still with the projected doubling of 2616 of Rep. Act No. 8749, that is required to set the specifications for all types of fuel and fuel-related
power generation over the next 10 years, and with the continuing high demand for motor vehicles, the products to improve fuel compositions for improved efficiency and reduced emissions. He adds that
energy and transport sectors are likely to remain the major sources of harmful emissions. Petitioners under Section 2117 of the cited Republic Act, the DOTC is limited to implementing the emission
refer us to the study of the Philippine Environment Monitor 20027, stating that in four of the country's standards for motor vehicles, and the herein respondents cannot alter, change or modify the emission
major cities, Metro Manila, Davao, Cebu and Baguio, the exposure to PM10, a finer PM which can standards. The Solicitor General opines that the Court should declare the instant petition for mandamus
penetrate deep into the lungs causing serious health problems, is estimated at over US$430 without merit.
million.8 The study also reports that the emissions of PMs have caused the following: Petitioners, in their Reply, insist that the respondents possess the administrative and regulatory powers
· Over 2,000 people die prematurely. This loss is valued at about US$140 million. to implement measures in accordance with the policies and principles mandated by Rep. Act No. 8749,
· Over 9,000 people suffer from chronic bronchitis, which is valued at about US$120 million. specifically Section 218 and Section 21.19 Petitioners state that under these laws and with all the
· Nearly 51 million cases of respiratory symptom days in Metro Manila (averaging twice a year in Davao available information provided by the DOE on the benefits of CNG, respondents cannot ignore the
and Cebu, and five to six times in Metro Manila and Baguio), costs about US$170 million. This is a 70 existence of CNG, and their failure to recognize CNG and compel its use by PUVs as alternative fuel
percent increase, over a decade, when compared with the findings of a similar study done in 1992 for while air pollution brought about by the emissions of gasoline and diesel endanger the environment and
Metro Manila, which reported 33 million cases.9 the people, is tantamount to neglect in the performance of a duty which the law enjoins.
Petitioners likewise cite the University of the Philippines' studies in 1990-91 and 1994 showing that Lastly, petitioners aver that other than the writ applied for, they have no other plain, speedy and
vehicular emissions in Metro Manila have resulted to the prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Petitioners insist that the writ in fact should be issued
diseases (COPD); that pulmonary tuberculosis is highest among jeepney drivers; and there is a 4.8 to pursuant to the very same Section 3, Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court that the Solicitor General
27.5 percent prevalence of respiratory symptoms among school children and 15.8 to 40.6 percent invokes.
In their Memorandum, petitioners phrase the issues before us as follows: an act which the law enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station; and (3) in case any
I. WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONERS HAVE THE PERSONALITY TO BRING THE PRESENT tribunal, corporation, board or person unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right
ACTION or office to which such other is legally entitled; and there is no other plain, speedy, and adequate
II. WHETHER OR NOT THE PRESENT ACTION IS SUPPORTED BY LAW remedy in the ordinary course of law.
III. WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT IS THE AGENCY RESPONSIBLE TO IMPLEMENT THE In University of San Agustin, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,25 we said,
SUGGESTED ALTERNATIVE OF REQUIRING PUBLIC UTILITY VEHICLES TO USE COMPRESSED …It is settled that mandamus is employed to compel the performance, when refused, of a ministerial
NATURAL GAS (CNG) duty, this being its main objective. It does not lie to require anyone to fulfill contractual obligations or to
IV. WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT CAN BE COMPELLED TO REQUIRE PUBLIC UTILITY compel a course of conduct, nor to control or review the exercise of discretion. On the part of the
VEHICLES TO USE COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS THROUGH A WRIT OF MANDAMUS20 petitioner, it is essential to the issuance of a writ of mandamus that he should have a clear legal right to
Briefly put, the issues are two-fold. First, Do petitioners have legal personality to bring this petition the thing demanded and it must be the imperative duty of the respondent to perform the act required. It
before us? Second, Should mandamus issue against respondents to compel PUVs to use CNG as never issues in doubtful cases. While it may not be necessary that the duty be absolutely expressed, it
alternative fuel? must however, be clear. The writ will not issue to compel an official to do anything which is not his duty
According to petitioners, Section 16,21 Article II of the 1987 Constitution is the policy statement that to do or which is his duty not to do, or give to the applicant anything to which he is not entitled by
bestows on the people the right to breathe clean air in a healthy environment. This policy is enunciated law. The writ neither confers powers nor imposes duties. It is simply a command to exercise a power
in Oposa.22 The implementation of this policy is articulated in Rep. Act No. 8749. These, according to already possessed and to perform a duty already imposed. (Emphasis supplied.)
petitioners, are the bases for their standing to file the instant petition. They aver that when there is an In this petition the legal right which is sought to be recognized and enforced hinges on a constitutional
omission by the government to safeguard a right, in this case their right to clean air, then, the citizens and a statutory policy already articulated in operational terms, e.g. in Rep. Act No. 8749, the Philippine
can resort to and exhaust all remedies to challenge this omission by the government. This, they say, is Clean Air Act of 1999. Paragraph (a), Section 21 of the Act specifically provides that when PUVs are
embodied in Section 423 of Rep. Act No. 8749. concerned, the responsibility of implementing the policy falls on respondent DOTC. It provides as
Petitioners insist that since it is the LTFRB and the DOTC that are the government agencies clothed follows:
with power to regulate and control motor vehicles, particularly PUVs, and with the same agencies' SEC 21. Pollution from Motor Vehicles. - a) The DOTC shall implement the emission standards for
awareness and knowledge that the PUVs emit dangerous levels of air pollutants, then, the responsibility motor vehicles set pursuant to and as provided in this Act. To further improve the emission standards,
to see that these are curbed falls under respondents' functions and a writ of mandamus should issue the Department [DENR] shall review, revise and publish the standards every two (2) years, or as the
against them. need arises. It shall consider the maximum limits for all major pollutants to ensure substantial
The Solicitor General, for his part, reiterates his position that the respondent government agencies, the improvement in air quality for the health, safety and welfare of the general public.
DOTC and the LTFRB, are not in a position to compel the PUVs to use CNG as alternative fuel. The Paragraph (b) states:
Solicitor General explains that the function of the DOTC is limited to implementing the emission b) The Department [DENR] in collaboration with the DOTC, DTI and LGUs, shall develop an action
standards set forth in Rep. Act No. 8749 and the said law only goes as far as setting the maximum limit plan for the control and management of air pollution from motor vehicles consistent with the
for the emission of vehicles, but it does not recognize CNG as alternative engine fuel. The Solicitor Integrated Air Quality Framework . . . . (Emphasis supplied.)
General avers that the petition should be addressed to Congress for it to come up with a policy that There is no dispute that under the Clean Air Act it is the DENR that is tasked to set the emission
would compel the use of CNG as alternative fuel. standards for fuel use and the task of developing an action plan. As far as motor vehicles are
Patently, this Court is being asked to resolve issues that are not only procedural. Petitioners challenge concerned, it devolves upon the DOTC and the line agency whose mandate is to oversee that motor
this Court to decide if what petitioners propose could be done through a less circuitous, speedy and vehicles prepare an action plan and implement the emission standards for motor vehicles, namely the
unchartered course in an issue that Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. in his ponencia in LTFRB.
the Oposa case,24 describes as "inter-generational responsibility" and "inter-generational justice." In Oposa26 we said, the right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to
Now, as to petitioners' standing. There is no dispute that petitioners have standing to bring their case refrain from impairing the environment. We also said, it is clearly the duty of the responsible government
before this Court. Even respondents do not question their standing. This petition focuses on one agencies to advance the said right.
fundamental legal right of petitioners, their right to clean air. Moreover, as held previously, a party's Petitioners invoke the provisions of the Constitution and the Clean Air Act in their prayer for issuance of
standing before this Court is a procedural technicality which may, in the exercise of the Court's a writ of mandamus commanding the respondents to require PUVs to use CNG as an alternative fuel.
discretion, be set aside in view of the importance of the issue raised. We brush aside this issue of Although both are general mandates that do not specifically enjoin the use of any kind of fuel,
technicality under the principle of the transcendental importance to the public, especially so if these particularly the use of CNG, there is an executive order implementing a program on the use of CNG by
cases demand that they be settled promptly. public vehicles. Executive Order No. 290, entitled Implementing the Natural Gas Vehicle Program for
Undeniably, the right to clean air not only is an issue of paramount importance to petitioners for it Public Transport (NGVPPT), took effect on February 24, 2004. The program recognized, among others,
concerns the air they breathe, but it is also impressed with public interest. The consequences of the natural gas as a clean burning alternative fuel for vehicle which has the potential to produce
counter-productive and retrogressive effects of a neglected environment due to emissions of motor substantially lower pollutants; and the Malampaya Gas-to-Power Project as representing the beginning
vehicles immeasurably affect the well-being of petitioners. On these considerations, the legal standing of the natural gas industry of the Philippines. Paragraph 1.2, Section 1 of E.O. No. 290 cites as one of
of the petitioners deserves recognition. its objectives, the use of CNG as a clean alternative fuel for transport. Furthermore, one of the
Our next concern is whether the writ of mandamus is the proper remedy, and if the writ could issue components of the program is the development of CNG refueling stations and all related facilities in
against respondents. strategic locations in the country to serve the needs of CNG-powered PUVs. Section 3 of E.O. No. 290,
Under Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, mandamus lies under any of the following cases: (1) consistent with E.O. No. 66, series of 2002, designated the DOE as the lead agency (a) in developing
against any tribunal which unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically the natural gas industry of the country with the DENR, through the EMB and (b) in formulating emission
enjoins as a duty; (2) in case any corporation, board or person unlawfully neglects the performance of standards for CNG. Most significantly, par. 4.5, Section 4 tasks the DOTC, working with the DOE, to
develop an implementation plan for "a gradual shift to CNG fuel utilization in PUVs and promote NGVs
[natural gas vehicles] in Metro Manila and Luzon through the issuance of directives/orders providing
preferential franchises in present day major routes and exclusive franchises to NGVs in newly opened
routes…" A thorough reading of the executive order assures us that implementation for a cleaner
environment is being addressed. To a certain extent, the instant petition had been mooted by the
issuance of E.O. No. 290.
Regrettably, however, the plain, speedy and adequate remedy herein sought by petitioners, i.e., a writ
of mandamus commanding the respondents to require PUVs to use CNG, is unavailing. Mandamus is
available only to compel the doing of an act specifically enjoined by law as a duty. Here, there is no law
that mandates the respondents LTFRB and the DOTC to order owners of motor vehicles to use CNG.
At most the LTFRB has been tasked by E.O. No. 290 in par. 4.5 (ii), Section 4 "to grant preferential and
exclusive Certificates of Public Convenience (CPC) or franchises to operators of NGVs based on the
results of the DOTC surveys."
Further, mandamus will not generally lie from one branch of government to a coordinate branch, for the
obvious reason that neither is inferior to the other. 27 The need for future changes in both legislation and
its implementation cannot be preempted by orders from this Court, especially when what is prayed for is
procedurally infirm. Besides, comity with and courtesy to a coequal branch dictate that we give sufficient
time and leeway for the coequal branches to address by themselves the environmental problems raised
in this petition.
In the same manner that we have associated the fundamental right to a balanced and healthful ecology
with the twin concepts of "inter-generational responsibility" and "inter-generational justice"
in Oposa,28 where we upheld the right of future Filipinos to prevent the destruction of the rainforests, so
do we recognize, in this petition, the right of petitioners and the future generation to clean air.
In Oposa we said that if the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is now explicitly found in the
Constitution even if the right is "assumed to exist from the inception of humankind,… it is because of the
well-founded fear of its framers [of the Constitution] that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful
ecology and to health are mandated as state policies by the Constitution 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. . ." 29
It is the firm belief of this Court that in this case, it is timely to reaffirm the premium we have placed on
the protection of the environment in the landmark case of Oposa. Yet, as serious as the statistics are on
air pollution, with the present fuels deemed toxic as they are to the environment, as fatal as these
pollutants are to the health of the citizens, and urgently requiring resort to drastic measures to reduce
air pollutants emitted by motor vehicles, we must admit in particular that petitioners are unable to
pinpoint the law that imposes an indubitable legal duty on respondents that will justify a grant of the writ
of mandamus compelling the use of CNG for public utility vehicles. It appears to us that more properly,
the legislature should provide first the specific statutory remedy to the complex environmental problems
bared by herein petitioners before any judicial recourse by mandamus is taken.
WHEREFORE, the petition for the issuance of a writ of mandamus is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Carpio, Morales, Tinga, and Velasco, Jr., JJ., concur.
creativity usually required for advocacy of issues of the public interest is not so unlimited that it should
G.R. No. 180771 April 21, 2015 be allowed to undermine the other values protected by current substantive and procedural laws. Even
RESIDENT MARINE MAMMALS OF THE PROTECTED SEASCAPE TAÑON STRAIT, e.g., rules of procedure as currently formulated set the balance between competing interests. We cannot
TOOTHED WHALES, DOLPHINS, PORPOISES, AND OTHER CETACEAN SPECIES, Joined in and abandon these rules when the necessity is not clearly and convincingly presented.
Represented herein by Human Beings Gloria Estenzo Ramos and Rose-Liza Eisma-Osorio, In The human petitioners, in G.R. No. 180771, want us to create substantive and procedural rights for
Their Capacity as Legal Guardians of the Lesser Life-Forms and as Responsible Stewards of animals through their allegation that they can speak for them. Obviously, we are asked to accept the
God's Creations, Petitioners, premises that (a) they were chosen by the Resident Marine Mammals of Tañon Strait; (b) they were
vs. chosen by a representative group of all the species of the Resident Marine Mammals; (c) they were
SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), able to communicate with them; and (d) they received clear consent from their animal principals that
SECRETARY JOSE L. ATIENZA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environment they would wish to use human legal institutions to pursue their interests. Alternatively, they ask us to
and Natural Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, DENR Regional Director-Region VII acknowledge through judicial notice that the interests that they, the human petitioners, assert are
and in his capacity as Chairperson of the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape Management Board, identical to what the Resident Marine Mammals would assert had they been humans and the legal
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), DIRECTOR MALCOLM J. SARMIENTO, JR., strategies that they invoked are the strategies that they agree with.
BFAR Regional Director for Region VII ANDRES M. BOJOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION In the alternative, they want us to accept through judicial notice that there is a relationship of
CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its Philippine Agent, SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, guardianship between them and all the resident mammals in the affected ecology.
INC. Respondents. Fundamental judicial doctrines that may significantly change substantive and procedural law cannot be
x-----------------------x founded on feigned representation.
G.R. No. 181527 Instead, I agree that the human petitioners should only speak for themselves and already have legal
CENTRAL VISAYAS FISHERFOLK DEVELOPMENT CENTER (FIDEC), CERILO D. ENGARCIAL, standing to sue with respect to the issue raised in their pleading. The rules on standing have already
RAMON YANONG, FRANCISCO LABID, in their personal capacity and as representatives of the been liberalized to take into consideration the difficulties in the assertion of environmental rights. When
SUBSISTENCE FISHERFOLKS OF THE MUNICIPALITIES OF ALOGUINSAN AND standing becomes too liberal, this can be the occasion for abuse.
PINAMUNGAJAN, CEBU, AND THEIR FAMILIES, AND THE PRESENT AND FUTURE II
GENERATIONS OF FILIPINOS WHOSE RIGHTS ARE SIMILARLY AFFECTED, Petitioners, Rule 3, Section 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, in part, provides:
vs. SECTION 1. Who may be parties; plaintiff and defendant. - Only natural or juridical persons, or entities
SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), authorized by law may be parties in a civil action.
JOSE L. ATIENZA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural The Rules provide that parties may only be natural or juridical persons or entities that may be
Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, in his capacity as DENR Regional Director- authorized by statute to be parties in a civil action.
Region VII and as Chairperson of the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape Management Board, Basic is the concept of natural and juridical persons in our Civil Code:
ALAN ARRANGUEZ, in his capacity as Director - Environmental Management Bureau-Region VII, ARTICLE 37. Juridical capacity, which is the fitness to be the subject of legal relations, is inherent in
DOE Regional Director for Region VIII1 ANTONIO LABIOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION every natural person and is lost only through death. Capacity to act, which is the power to do acts with
CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its Philippine Agent, SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, legal effect, is acquired and may be lost.
INC., Respondents. Article 40 further defines natural persons in the following manner:
CONCURRING OPINION ARTICLE 40. Birth determines personality; but the conceived child shall be considered born for all
"Until one has loved an animal, purposes that are favorable to it, provided it be born later with the conditions specified 'in the following
a part of one 's soul remains unawakened." article.
Anatole France Article 44, on the other hand, enumerates the concept of a juridical person:
LEONEN, J.: ARTICLE 44. The following are juridical persons:
I concur in the result, with the following additional reasons. (1) The State and its political subdivisions;
I (2) Other corporations, institutions and entities for public interest or purpose, created by law; their
In G.R. No. 180771, petitioners Resident Marine Mammals allegedly bring their case in their personal personality begins as soon as they have been constituted according to law;
capacity, alleging that they stand to benefit or be injured from the judgment on the issues. The human (3) Corporations, partnerships and associations for private interest or purpose to which the law grants a
petitioners implead themselves in a representative capacity "as legal guardians of the lesser life-forms juridical personality, separate and distinct from that of each shareholder, partner or member.
and as responsible stewards of God's Creations."1 They use Oposa v. Factoran, Jr.2 as basis for their Petitioners in G.R. No. 180771 implicitly suggest that we amend, rather than simply construe, the
claim, asserting their right to enforce international and domestic environmental laws enacted for their provisions of the Rules of Court as well as substantive law to accommodate Resident Marine Mammals
benefit under the concept of stipulation pour autrui. 3As the representatives of Resident Marine or animals. This we cannot do.
Mammals, the human petitioners assert that they have the obligation to build awareness among the Rule 3, Section 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure further defines real party in interest:
affected residents of Tañon Strait as well as to protect the environment, especially in light of the SEC. 2. Parties in interest.-A real party in interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by
government's failure, as primary steward, to do its duty under the doctrine of public trust.4 the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law
Resident Marine Mammals and the human petitioners also assert that through this case, this court will or these Rules, every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest.
have the opportunity to lower the threshold for locus standi as an exercise of "epistolary jurisdiction." 5 (2a)6
The zeal of the human petitioners to pursue their desire to protect the environment and to continue to A litigant who stands to benefit or sustain an injury from the judgment of a case is a real party in
define environmental rights in the context of actual cases is commendable. However, the space for legal interest.7 When a case is brought to the courts, the real party in interest must show that another party's
act or omission has caused a direct injury, making his or her interest both material and based on an This Comment advocates a shift in contemporary standing doctrine to empower non-profit organizations
enforceable legal right.8 with an established history of dedication to the cause and relevant expertise to serve as official
Representatives as parties, on the other hand, are parties acting in representation of the real party in guardians ad !item on behalf of nonhuman animals interests. The American legal system has numerous
interest, as defined in Rule 3, Section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure: mechanisms for representing the rights and interests of nonhumans; any challenges inherent in
SEC. 3. Representatives as parties. - Where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or defended by a extending these pre-existing mechanisms to nonhuman animals are minimal compared to an interest in
representative or someone acting in a fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title of the proper administration of justice. To adequately protect the statutory rights of nonhuman animals, the
the case and shall be deemed to be the real party in interest. A representative may be a trustee of an legal system must recognize those statutory rights independent of humans and provide a viable means
express rust, a guardian, an executor or administrator, or a party authorized by law or these Rules. An of enforcement. Moreover, the idea of a guardianship for speechless plaintiffs is not new and has been
agent acting in his own name and for the benefit of an undisclosed principal may sue or be sued without urged on behalf of the natural environment. 'Such a model is even more compelling as applied to
joining the principal except when the contract involves things belonging to the principal.(3a) 9 nonhuman animals, because they are sentient beings with the ability to feel pain and exercise rational
The rule is two-pronged. First, it defines .a representative as a party who is not bound to directly or thought. Thus, animals are qualitatively different from other legally protected nonhumans and therefore
actually benefit or suffer from the judgment, but instead brings a case in favor of an identified real party have interests deserving direct legal protection.
in interest.10 The representative is an outsider to the cause of action. Second, the rule provides a list of Furthermore, the difficulty of enforcing the statutory rights of nonhuman animals threatens the integrity
who may be considered as "representatives." It is not an exhaustive list, but the rule limits the coverage of the federal statutes designed to protect them, essentially rendering them meaningless. Sensing that
only to those authorized by law or the Rules of Court.11 laws protecting nonhuman animals would be difficult to enforce, Congress provided for citizen suit
These requirements should apply even in cases involving the environment, which means that for the provisions: the most well-known example is found in the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Such
Petition of the human petitioners to prosper, they must show that (a) the Resident Marine Mammals are provisions are evidence of legislative intent to encourage civic participation on behalf of nonhuman
real parties in interest; and (b) that the human petitioners are authorized by law or the Rules to act in a animals. Our law of standing should reflect this intent and its implication that humans are suitable
representative capacity. representatives of the natural environment, which includes nonhuman animals.14 (Emphasis supplied,
The Resident Marine Mammals are comprised of "toothed whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other citation omitted)
cetacean species inhabiting Tañon Strait." 12 While relatively new in Philippine jurisdiction, the issue of When a court allows guardianship as a basis of representation, animals are considered as similarly
whether animals have legal standing before courts has been the subject of academic discourse in light situated as individuals who have enforceable rights but, for a legitimate reason (e.g., cognitive
of the emergence of animal and environmental rights. disability), are unable to bring suit for themselves. They are also similar to entities that by their very
In the United States, anim4l rights advocates have managed to establish a system which Hogan nature are incapable of speaking for themselves (e.g., corporations, states, and others).
explains as the "guardianship model for nonhuman animals":13 In our jurisdiction, persons and entities are recognized both in law and the Rules of Court as having
Despite Animal Lovers, there exists a well-established system by which nonhuman animals may obtain standing to sue and, therefore, may be properly represented as real parties in interest. The same
judicial review to enforce their statutory rights and protections: guardianships. With court approval, cannot be said about animals.
animal advocacy organizations may bring suit on behalf of nonhuman animals in the same way court- Animals play an important role in households, communities, and the environment. While we, as
appointed guardians bring suit on behalf of mentally-challenged humans who possess an enforceable humans, may feel the need to nurture and protect them, we cannot go as far as saying we represent
right but lack the ability to enforce it themselves. their best interests and can, therefore, speak for them before the courts. As humans, we cannot be so
In the controversial but pivotal Should Trees Have Standing?-Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects, arrogant as to argue that we know the suffering of animals and that we know what remedy they need in
Christopher D. Stone asserts that the environment should possess the right to seek judicial redress the face of an injury.
even though it is incapable of representing itself. While asserting the rights of Even in Hogan's discussion, she points out that in a case before the United States District Court for the
speechless entities such as the environment or nonhuman animals certainly poses legitimate Central District of California, Animal Lovers Volunteer Ass'n v. Weinberger, 15 the court held that an
challenges - such as identifying the proper spokesman -the American legal system is already well- emotional response to what humans perceive to be an injury inflicted on an animal is not within the
equipped with a reliable mechanism by which nonhumans may obtain standing via a judicially "zone-of-interest" protected by law.16Such sympathy cannot stand independent of or as a substitute for
established guardianship. Stone notes that other speechless - and nonhuman - entities such as an actual injury suffered by the claimant.17 The ability to represent animals was further limited in that
corporations, states, estates, and municipalities have standing to bring suit on their own behalf. There is case by the need to prove "genuine dedication" to asserting and protecting animal rights:
little reason to fear abuses under this regime as procedures for removal and substitution, avoiding What ultimately proved fatal to ALVA 's claim, however, was the court's assertion that standing doctrine
conflicts of interest, and termination of a guardianship are well established. further required ALVA to differentiate its genuine dedication to the humane treatment of animals from
In fact, the opinion in Animal Lovers suggests that such an arrangement is indeed possible. The court the general disdain for animal cruelty shared by the public at large. In doing so, the court found ALVA 's
indicated that AL VA might have obtained standing in its own right if it had an established history of asserted organizational injury to be abstract and thus relegated ALVA to the ranks of the "concerned
dedication to the cause of the humane treatment of animals. It noted that the Fund for Animals had bystander. "
standing and indicated that another more well-known advocacy organization might have had standing ....
as well. The court further concluded that an organization's standing is more than a derivative of its In fact, the opinion in Animal Lovers suggests that such an arrangement is indeed possible. The court
history, but history is a relevant consideration where organizations are not well-established prior to indicated that ALVA might have obtained standing in its own right if it had an established history of
commencing legal action. ALVA was not the proper plaintiff because it could not identify previous dedication to the cause of the humane treatment of animals. It noted that the Fund for Animals had
activities demonstrating its recognized activism for and commitment to the dispute independent of its standing and indicated that another more well-known advocacy organization might have had standing
desire to pursue legal action. The court's analysis suggests that a qualified organization with a as well. The court further concluded that an organization's standing is more than a derivative of its
demonstrated commitment to a cause could indeed bring suit on behalf of the speechless in the form of history, but history is a relevant consideration where organizations are not well-established prior to
a court-sanctioned guardianship. commencing legal action. ALVA was not the proper plaintiff because it could not identify previous
activities demonstrating its recognized activism for and commitment to the dispute independent of its
desire to pursue legal action. The court's analysis suggests that a qualified organization with a the Rules of Court must refer to a material interest that is not merely a curiosity about or an "interest in
demonstrated commitment to a cause could indeed bring suit on behalf of the speechless in the form of the question involved." The interest must be present and substantial. It is not a mere expectancy or a
a court-sanctioned guardianship.18(Emphasis supplied, citation omitted) future, contingent interest.
What may be argued as being parallel to this concept of guardianship is the principle of human A person who is not a real party in interest may institute an action if he or she is suing as representative
stewardship over the environment in a citizen suit under the Rules of Procedure for Environmental of a .real party in interest. When an action is prosecuted or defended by a representative, that
Cases. A citizen suit allows any Filipino to act as a representative of a party who has enforceable rights representative is not and does not become the real party in interest. The person represented is deemed
under environmental laws before Philippine courts, and is defined in Section 5: . the real party in interest. The representative remains to be a third party to the action instituted on behalf
SEC. 5. Citizen suit. - Any Filipino citizen in representation of others, including minors or generations of another.
yet unborn, may file an action to enforce rights or obligations under environmental laws. Upon the filing ....
of a citizen suit, the court shall issue an order which shall contain a brief description of the cause of To sue under this rule, two elements must be present: "(a) the suit is brought on behalf of an identified
action and the reliefs prayed for, requiring all interested parties to manifest their interest to intervene in party whose right has been violated, resulting in some form of damage, and (b) the representative
the case within fifteen (15) days from notice thereof. The plaintiff may publish the order once in a authorized by law or the Rules of Court to represent the victim."
newspaper of a general circulation in the Philippines or furnish all affected barangays copies of said The Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases allows filing of a citizen's suit. A citizen's suit under
order. this rule allows any Filipino citizen to file an action for the enforcement of environmental law on behalf of
There is no valid reason in law or the practical requirements of this case to implead and feign minors or generations yet unborn. It is essentially a representative suit that allows persons who are not
representation on behalf of animals. To have done so betrays a very anthropocentric view of real parties in interest to institute actions on behalf of the real party in interest.
environmental advocacy. There is no way that we, humans, can claim to speak for animals let alone The expansion of what constitutes "real party in interest" to include minors and generations yet unborn
present that they would wish to use our court system, which is designed to ensure that humans is a recognition of this court's ruling in Oposa v. Factoran. This court recognized the capacity of minors
seriously carry their responsibility including ensuring a viable ecology for themselves, which of course (represented by their parents) to file a class suit on behalf of succeeding generations based on the
includes compassion for all living things. concept of intergenerational responsibility to ensure the future generation's access to and enjoyment of
Our rules on standing are sufficient and need not be further relaxed. [the] country's natural resources.
In Arigo v. Swift,19 I posed the possibility of further reviewing the broad interpretation we have given to To allow citizen's suits to enforce environmental rights of others, including future generations, is
the rule on standing. While representatives are not required to establish direct injury on their part, they dangerous for three reasons:
should only be allowed to represent after complying with the following: [I]t is imperative for them to First, they run the risk of foreclosing arguments of others who are unable to take part in the suit, putting
indicate with certainty the injured parties on whose behalf they bring the suit. Furthermore, the interest into. question its representativeness. Second, varying interests may potentially result in arguments that
of those they represent must be based upon concrete legal rights. It is not sufficient to draw out a are bordering on political issues, the resolutions of which do not fall upon this court. Third, automatically
perceived interest from a general, nebulous idea of a potential "injury." 20 allowing a class or citizen's suit on behalf of minors and generations yet unborn may result in the
I reiterate my position in Arigo v. Swift and in Paje v. Casiño 21 regarding this rule alongside the oversimplification of what may be a complex issue, especially in light of the impossibility of determining
appreciation of legal standing in Oposa v. Factoran 22 for environmental cases. In Arigo, I opined that future generation's true interests on the matter.
procedural liberality, especially in cases brought by representatives, should be used with great caution: In citizen's suits, persons who may have no interest in the case may file suits for others. Uninterested
Perhaps it is time to revisit the ruling in Oposa v. Factoran. persons will argue for the persons they represent, and the court will decide based on their evidence and
That case was significant in that, at that time, there was need to call attention to environmental arguments. Any decision by the court will be binding upon the beneficiaries, which in this case are the
concerns in light of emerging international legal principles. While "intergenerational responsibility" is a minors and the future generations. The court's decision will be res judicata upon them and conclusive
noble principle, it should not be used to obtain judgments that would preclude future generations from upon the issues presented.25
making their own assessment based on their actual concerns. The present generation must restrain The danger in invoking Oposa v. Factoran to justify all kinds of environmental claims lies in its potential
itself from assuming that it can speak best for those who will exist at a different time, under a different to diminish the value of legitimate environmental rights. Extending the application of "real party in
set of circumstances. In essence, the unbridled resort to representative suit will inevitably result in interest" to the Resident Marine Mammals, or animals in general, through a judicial pronouncement will
preventing future generations from protecting their own rights and pursuing their own interests and potentially result in allowing petitions based on mere concern rather than an actual enforcement of a
decisions. It reduces the autonomy of our children and our children 's children. Even before they are right. It is impossible for animals to tell humans what their concerns are. At best, humans can only
born, we again restricted their ability to make their own arguments. surmise the extent of injury inflicted, if there be any. Petitions invoking a right and seeking legal redress
It is my opinion that, at best, the use of the Oposa doctrine in environmental cases should be allowed before this court cannot be a product of guesswork, and representatives have the responsibility to
only when a) there is a clear legal basis for the representative suit; b) there are actual concerns based ensure that they bring "reasonably cogent, rational, scientific, well-founded arguments"26 on behalf of
squarely upon an existing legal right; c) there is no possibility of any countervailing interests existing those they represent.
within the population represented or those that are yet to be born; and d) there is an absolute necessity Creative approaches to fundamental problems should be welcome. However, they should be
for such standing because there is a threat of catastrophe so imminent that an immediate protective considered carefully so that no unintended or unwarranted consequences should follow. I concur with
measure is necessary. Better still, in the light of its costs and risks, we abandon the precedent all the approach of Madame Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro in her brilliant ponencia as it carefully
together.23 (Emphasis in the original) narrows down the doctrine in terms of standing. Resident Marine Mammals and the human petitioners
Similarly, in Paje: have no legal standing to file any kind of petition.
A person cannot invoke the court's jurisdiction if he or she has no right or interest to protect. He or she However, I agree that petitioners in G.R. No. 181527, namely, Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development
who invokes the court's jurisdiction must be the "owner of the right sought to be enforced." In other Center,. Engarcial, Yanong, and Labid, have standing both as real parties in interest and as
words, he or she must have a cause of action. An action may be dismissed on the ground of lack of representatives of subsistence fisherfolks of the Municipalities of Aloguinsan and Pinamungahan, Cebu,
cause of action if the person who instituted it is not the real party in interest. 24 The term "interest" under and their families, and the present and future generations of Filipinos whose rights are similarly
affected. The activities undertaken under Service Contract 46 (SC-46) directly affected their source of VI
livelihood, primarily felt through the significant reduction of their fish harvest. 27 The actual, direct, and Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution states:
material damage they suffered, which has potential long-term effects transcending generations, is a Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all
proper subject of a legal suit. forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural
III resources are owned by the State. With the exception. of agricultural lands, all other natural resources
In our jurisdiction, there is neither reason nor any legal basis for the concept of implied petitioners, most shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under
especially when the implied petitioner was a sitting President of the Republic of the Philippines. In G.R. the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may
No. 180771, apart from adjudicating unto themselves the status of "legal guardians" of whales, enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or
dolphins, porpoises, and other cetacean species, human petitioners also impleaded Former President corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as "unwilling co-petitioner" for "her express declaration and undertaking in the agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-
ASEAN Charter to protect Tañon Strait."28 five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water rights for
No person may implead any other person as a co-plaintiff or co-petitioner without his or her consent. In irrigation, water supply fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power,
our jurisdiction, only when there is a party that should have been a necessary party but was unwilling to beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant.
join would there be an allegation as to why that party has been omitted. In Rule 3, Section 9 of the 1997 The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive
Rules of Civil Procedure: economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.
SEC. 9. Non-joinder of necessary parties to be pleaded. -Whenever in any pleading in which a claim is The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well
asserted a necessary party is not joined, the pleader shall set forth his name, if known, and shall state as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fish-workers in rivers, lakes,
why he is omitted. Should the court find the reason for the omission unmeritorious, it may order the bays, and lagoons.
inclusion of the omitted necessary party if jurisdiction over his person may be obtained. The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or
The failure to comply with the order for his inclusion, without justifiable cause, shall be deemed a waiver financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and
of the claim against such party. other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real
The non-inclusion of a necessary party does not prevent the court from proceeding in the action, and contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State
the judgment rendered therein shall be without prejudice to the rights of such necessary party.29 shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources.
A party who should have been a plaintiff or petitioner but whose consent cannot be obtained should be The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this provision,
impleaded as a defendant in the nature of an unwilling co-plaintiff under Rule 3, Section 10 of the 1997 within thirty days from its execution. (Emphasis supplied)
Rules of Civil Procedure: I agree that fully foreign-owned corporations may participate in the exploration, development, and use of
SEC. 10. Unwilling co-plaintiff. - If the consent of any party who should be joined as plaintiff can not be natural resources, but only through either financial agreements or technical ones. This is the clear
obtained, he may be made a defendant and the reason therefor shall be stated in the complaint. 30 import of the words "either financial or technical assistance agreements." This is also
The reason for this rule is plain: Indispensable party plaintiffs who should be part of the action but who the clear result if we compare the 1987 constitutional provision with the versions in the 1973 and 1935
do not consent should be put within the jurisdiction of the court through summons or other court Constitution:
processes. Petitioners. should not take it upon themselves to simply imp lead any party who does not 1973 CONSTITUTION
consent as a petitioner. This places the unwilling co-petitioner at the risk of being denied due process. ARTICLE XIV
Besides, Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cannot be a party to this suit. As a co-equal THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND THE PATRIMONY OF THE NATION
constitutional department, we cannot assume that the President needs to enforce policy directions by SEC. 9. The disposition, exploration, development, of exploitation, or utilization of any of the natural
suing his or her alter-egos. The procedural situation caused by petitioners may have gained public resources of the Philippines shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or
attention, but its legal absurdity borders on the contemptuous. The Former President's name should be association at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens. The Batasang
stricken out of the title of this case. Pambansa, in the national interest, may allow such citizens, corporations, or associations to enter into
IV service contracts for financial, technical, management, or other forms of assistance with any foreign
I also concur with the conclusion that SC-46 is both. illegal and unconstitutional. person or entity for the exploitation, development, exploitation, or utilization of any of the natural
SC-46 is illegal because it violates Republic Act No. ·7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas resources. Existing valid and binding service contracts for financial, the technical, management, or other
System Act of 1992, and Presidential Decree No. 1234,31 which declared Tañon Strait as a protected forms of assistance are hereby recognized as such. (Emphasis supplied)
seascape. It is unconstitutional because it violates the fourth paragraph of Article XII, Section 2 of the 1935 CONSTITUTION
Constitution. ARTICLE XIII
V CONSERVATION AND UTILIZATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Petitioner Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center asserts that SC-46 violated Article XII, SECTION 1. All agricultural timber, and mineral. lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal,
Section 2, paragraph 1 of the .1987 Constitution because Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd. petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, and other natural resources of the
(JAPEX) is 100% Japanese-owned.32 It further asserts that SC-46 cannot be validly classified as a Philippines belong to the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization shall be
technical and financial assistance agreement executed under Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 4 of the limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the
1987 Constitution.33 Public respondents counter that SC-46 does not fall under the coverage of capital of which is owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right, grant, lease, or concession at
paragraph 1, but is a validly executed contract under paragraph 4. 34· Public respondents further aver the time of the inauguration of the Government established under this Constitution. Natural resources,
that SC-46 neither granted exclusive fishing rights to JAPEX nor violated Central Visayas Fisherfolk with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated, and no license, concession, or
Development Center's right to preferential use of communal marine and fishing resources.35 lease for the exploitation, development, or utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for
a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-five years, except as to water rights for the purpose of gathering information on energy resources and only if such activity is carried out with
for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, in the least damage to surrounding areas. Surveys shall be conducted only in accordance with a program
which cases beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant. approved by the DENR, and the result of such surveys shall be made available to the public and
The clear text of the Constitution in light of its history prevails over any attempt to infer interpretation submitted to the President for recommendation to Congress. Any exploitation and utilization of energy
from the Constitutional Commission deliberations. The constitutional texts are the product of a full resources found within NIP AS areas shall be allowed only through a law passed by
sovereign act: deliberations in a constituent assembly and ratification. Reliance on recorded discussion Congress.40 (Emphasis supplied)
of Constitutional Commissions, on the other hand, may result in dependence on incomplete authorship; No law was passed by Congress specifically providing the standards, terms, and conditions of an oil
Besides, it opens judicial review to further subjectivity from those who spoke during the Constitutional exploration, extraction, and/or utilization for Tañon Strait and, therefore, no such activities could have
Commission deliberations who may not have predicted how their words will be used. It is safer that we been validly undertaken under SC-46. The National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 is
use the words already in the Constitution. The Constitution was their product. Its words were read by clear that exploitation and utilization of energy resources in a protected seascape such as Tañon Strait
those who ratified it. The Constitution is what society relies upon even at present. shall only be allowed through a specific law.
SC-46 is neither a financial assistance nor a technical assistance agreement. VIII
Even supposing for the sake of argument that it is, it could not be declared valid in light of the standards Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was not the signatory to SC-46, contrary to the requirement
set forth in La Bugal-B'laan Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos:36 set by paragraph 4 of Article XII, Section 2 for service contracts involving the exploration of petroleum.
Such service contracts may be entered into only with respect to minerals, petroleum and other mineral SC-46 was entered into by then Department of Energy Secretary Vicente S. Perez, Jr., on behalf of the
oils. The grant thereof is subject to several safeguards, among which are these requirements: government. I agree with the Main Opinion that in cases where the Constitution or law requires the
(1) The service contract shall be crafted m accordance with a general law that will set standard or President to act personally on the matter, the duty cannot be delegated to another public official. 41 La
uniform terms, conditions and requirements, presumably to attain a certain uniformity in provisions and Bugal highlights the importance of the President's involvement, being one of the constitutional
avoid the possible insertion of terms disadvantageous to the country. safeguards against abuse and corruption, as not mere formality:
(2) The President shall be the signatory for the government because, supposedly before an agreement At this point, we sum up the matters established, based on a careful reading of the ConCom
is presented to the President for signature, it will have been vetted several times over at different levels deliberations, as follows:
to ensure that it conforms to law and can withstand public scrutiny. • In their deliberations on what was to become paragraph 4, the framers used the term service contracts
(3) Within thirty days of the executed agreement, the President shall report it to Congress to give that in referring to agreements x x x involving either technical or financial assistance. • They spoke of service
branch of government an opportunity to look over the agreement and interpose timely objections, if contracts as the concept was understood in the 1973 Constitution.
any.37 (Emphasis in the original, citation omitted) • It was obvious from their discussions that they were not about to ban or eradicate service contracts.
Based on the standards pronounced in La Bugal, SC-46' S validity must be tested against three • Instead, they were plainly crafting provisions to. put in place safeguards that would eliminate or m
important points: (a) whether SC-46 was crafted in accordance with a general law that provides minimize the abuses prevalent during the marital law regime.42 (Emphasis in the original)
standards, terms, and conditions; (b) whether SC-46 was signed by the President for and on behalf of Public respondents failed to show that. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was involved in the
the government; and (c) whether it was reported by the President to Congress within 30 days of signing or execution of SC-46. The failure to comply with this constitutional requirement renders SC-46
execution. null and void.
VII IX
The general law referred to as a possible basis for SC-46's validity is Presidential Decree No. 87 or the Public respondents also failed to show that Congress was subsequently informed of the execution and
Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972.1âwphi1 It is my opinion that this law is unconstitutional in existence of SC-46. The reporting requirement is an equally important requisite to the validity of any
that it allows service contracts, contrary to Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution: service contract involving the exploration, development, and utilization of Philippine petroleum. Public
The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or respondents' failure to report to Congress about SC-46 effectively took away any opportunity for the
financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and legislative branch to scrutinize its terms and conditions.
other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real In sum, SC-46 was executed and implemented absent all the requirements provided under paragraph 4
contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State of Article XII, Section 2. It is, therefore, null and void.
shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources. (Emphasis supplied) X
The deletion of service contracts from the enumeration of the kind of agreements the President may I am of the view that SC-46, aside from not having complied with the 1987 Constitution, is also null and
enter into with foreign-owned corporations for exploration and utilization of resources means that void for being violative of environmental laws protecting Tañon Strait. In particular, SC-46 was
service contracts are no longer allowed by the Constitution. Pursuant to Article XVIII, Section 3 of the implemented despite falling short of the requirements of the National Integrated Protected Areas
1987 Constitution,38 this inconsistency renders the law invalid and ineffective. System Act of 1992.
SC-46 suffers from the lack of a special law allowing its activities. The Main Opinion emphasizes an As a protected seascape under Presidential Decree No. 1234,43 Tañon Strait is covered by the National
important point, which is that SC-46 did not merely involve exploratory activities, but also provided the Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992. This law declares as a matter of policy:
rights and obligations of the parties should it be discovered that there is oil in commercial quantities in SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. Cognizant of the profound impact of man's activities on all components of
the area. The Tañon Strait being a protected seascape under Presidential Decree No. 1234 39 requires the natural environment particularly the effect of increasing population, resource exploitation and
that the exploitation and utilization of energy resources from that area are explicitly covered by a law industrial advancement and recognizing the critical importance of protecting and maintaining the natural
passed by Congress specifically for that purpose, pursuant to Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7586 or biological and physical diversities of the environment notably on areas with biologically unique features
the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992: to sustain human life and development, as well as plant and animal life, it is hereby declared the policy
SEC. 14. Survey for Energy R6'sources. - Consistent with the policies declared in Section 2, hereof, of the State to secure for the Filipino people of present and future generations the perpetual existence
protected areas, except strict nature reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration only
of all native plants and animals through the establishment of a comprehensive system of integrated favorable conditions. With the status of Tañon Strait as a protected seascape, the institution of
protected areas within the classification of national park as provided for in the Constitution. additional legal safeguards is even more significant.
It is hereby recognized that these areas, although distinct in features, possess common ecological Public respondents did not validly obtain an Environmental Compliance Certificate for SC-46. Based on
values that may be incorporated into a holistic plan representative of our natural heritage; that effective the records, JAPEX commissioned an environmental impact evaluation only in the second subphase of
administration of these areas is possible only through cooperation among national government, local its project, with the Environmental Management .Bureau of Region
and concerned private organizations; that the use and enjoyment of these protected areas must be VII granting the project an Environmental Compliance Certificate on March 6, 2007. 51
consistent with the principles of biological diversity and sustainable development. Despite its scale, the seismic surveys from May 9 to 18, 2005 were conducted without any
To this end, there is hereby established a National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), which environmental assessment contrary to Section 12 of the National Integrated Protected Areas System
shall encompass outstanding remarkable areas and biologically important public lands that are habitats Act of 1992.
of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, biogeographic zones and related ecosystems, XI
whether terrestrial, wetland or marine, all of which shall be designated as "protected Finally, we honor every living creature when we take care of our environment. As sentient species, we
areas."44 (Emphasis supplied) do not lack in the wisdom or sensitivity to realize that we only borrow the resources that we use to
Pursuant to this law, any proposed activity in Tañon Strait must undergo an Environmental Impact survive and to thrive. We are not incapable of mitigating the greed that is slowly causing the demise of
Assessment: our planet. Thus, there is no need for us to feign representation of any other species or some imagined
SEC. 12. Environmental Impact Assessment. - Proposals for activities which are outside the scope of unborn generation in filing any action in our courts of law to claim any of our fundamental rights to a
the management plan for protected areas shall be subject to an environmental impact assessment as healthful ecology. In this way and with candor and courage, we fully shoulder the responsibility
required by law before they are adopted, and the results thereof shall be taken into consideration in the deserving of the grace and power endowed on our species.
decision-making process.45(Emphasis supplied) ACCORDINGLY, I vote:
The same provision further requires that an Environmental Compliance Certificate be secured under the (a) to DISMISS G.R. No. 180771 for lack of standing and STRIKE OUT the name of Former President
Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment System before arty project is implemented: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the title of this case;
No actual implementation of such activities shall be allowed without the required Environmental (b) to GRANT G.R. No. 181527; and
Compliance Certificate (ECC) under the Philippine Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) system. In (c) to DECLARE SERVICE CONTRACT 46 NULL AND VOID for violating the 1987 Constitution,
instances where such activities are allowed to be undertaken, the proponent shall plan and carry them Republic Act No. 7586, and Presidential Decree No. 1234.
out in such manner as will minimize any adverse effects and take preventive and remedial action when MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN
appropriate. The proponent shall be liable for any damage due to lack of caution or Associate Justice
indiscretion.46 (Emphasis supplied)
In projects involving the exploration or utilization of energy resources, the National Integrated Protected
Areas System Act of 1992 additionally requires that a program be approved by the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources, which shall be publicly accessible. The program shall also be
submitted to the President, who in turn will recommend the program to Congress. Furthermore,
Congress must enact a law specifically allowing the exploitation of energy resources found within a
protected area such as Tañon Strait:
SEC. 14. Survey for Energy Resources. - Consistent with the policies declared in Section 2, hereof,
protected areas, except strict nature reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration only
for the purpose of gathering information on energy resources and only if such activity is carried out with
the least damage to surrounding areas. Surveys shall be conducted only in accordance with a program
approved by the DENR, and the result of such surveys shall be made available to the public and
submitted to the President for recommendation to Congress. Any exploitation and utilization of energy
resources found within NIPAS areas shall be allowed only through a taw passed by
Congress.47 (Emphasis supplied)
Public respondents argue that SC-46 complied with the procedural requirements of obtaining an
Environmental Compliance Certificate.48 At any rate, they assert that the activities covered by SC-46 fell
under Section 14 of the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992, which they interpret to
be an exception to Section 12. They argue that the Environmental Compliance Certificate is not a strict
requirement for the validity of SC-46 since (a) the Tañon Strait is not a nature' reserve or natural park;
(b) the exploration was merely for gathering information; and ( c) measures were in place to ensure that
the exploration caused the least possible damage to the area. 49
Section 14 is not an exception to Section 12, but instead provides additional requirements for cases
involving Philippine energy resources. The National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 was
enacted to recognize the importance of protecting the environment in light of resource exploitation,
among others.50 Systems are put in place to secure for Filipinos local resources under the most
"the Stewards") who allegedly empathize with, and seek the protection of, the aforementioned marine
G.R. No. 180771 April 21, 2015 species. Also impleaded as an unwilling co-petitioner is former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for
RESIDENT MARINE MAMMALS OF THE PROTECTED SEASCAPE TAÑON STRAIT, e.g., her express declaration and undertaking in the ASEAN Charter to protect the Tañon Strait, among
TOOTHED WHALES, DOLPHINS, PORPOISES, AND OTHER CETACEAN SPECIES, Joined in and others.5
Represented herein by Human Beings Gloria Estenzo Ramos and Rose-Liza Eisma-Osorio, In Petitioners in G.R. No. 181527 are the Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (FIDEC), a non-
Their Capacity as Legal Guardians of the Lesser Life-Forms and as Responsible Stewards of stock, non-profit, non-governmental organization, established for the welfare of the marginal fisherfolk in
God's Creations, Petitioners, Region VII; and Cerilo D. Engarcial (Engarcial), Ramon Yanong (Yanong) and Francisco Labid (Labid),
vs. in their personal capacities and as representatives of the subsistence fisherfolk of the municipalities of
SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), Aloguinsan and Pinamungajan, Cebu.
SECRETARY JOSE L. ATIENZA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environment Named as respondents in both petitions are the late Angelo T. Reyes, as then Secretary of the
and Natural Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, DENR Regional Director-Region VII Department of Energy (DOE); Jose L. Atienza, as then Secretary of the DENR; Leonardo R. Sibbaluca,
and in his capacity as Chairperson of the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape Management Board, as then DENRRegional Director for Region VII and Chairman of the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), DIRECTOR MALCOLM J. SARMIENTO, JR., Management Board; Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd. (JAPEX), a company organized and
BFAR Regional Director for Region VII ANDRES M. BOJOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION existing under the laws of Japan with a Philippine branch office; and Supply Oilfield Services, Inc.
CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its Philippine Agent, SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, (SOS), as the alleged Philippine agent of JAPEX.
INC. Respondents. In G.R. No. 181527, the following were impleaded as additional public respondents: Alan C. Arranguez
x-----------------------x (Arranguez) and Antonio Labios (Labios), in their capacities as then Director of the EMB, Region VII
G.R. No. 181527 and then Regional Director of the DOE, Region VII, respectively.6
CENTRAL VISAYAS FISHERFOLK DEVELOPMENT CENTER (FIDEC), CERILO D. ENGARCIAL, On June 13, 2002, the Government of the Philippines, acting through the DOE, entered into a
RAMON YANONG, FRANCISCO LABID, in their personal capacity and as representatives of the Geophysical Survey and Exploration Contract-I 02 (GSEC-102) with JAPEX. This contract involved
SUBSISTENCE FISHERFOLKS OF THE MUNICIPALITIES OF ALOGUINSAN AND geological and geophysical studies of the Tañon Strait. The studies included surface geology, sample
PINAMUNGAJAN, CEBU, AND THEIR FAMILIES, AND THE PRESENT AND FUTURE analysis, and reprocessing of seismic and magnetic data. JAPEX, assisted by DOE, also conducted
GENERATIONS OF FILIPINOS WHOSE RIGHTS ARE SIMILARLY AFFECTED, Petitioners, geophysical and satellite surveys, as well as oil and gas sampling in Tañon Strait. 7
vs. On December 21, 2004, DOE and JAPEX formally converted GSEC-102 into SC-46 for the exploration,
SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), development, and production of petroleum resources in a block covering approximately 2,850 square
JOSE L. ATIENZA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural kilometers offshore the Tañon Strait.8
Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, in his capacity as DENR Regional Director- From May 9 to 18, 2005, JAPEX conducted seismic surveys in and around the Tañon Strait. A multi-
Region VII and as Chairperson of the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape Management Board, channel sub-bottom profiling covering approximately 751 kilometers was also done to determine the
ALAN ARRANGUEZ, in his capacity as Director - Environmental Management Bureau-Region VII, area's underwater composition.9
DOE Regional Director for Region VIII1 ANTONIO LABIOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION JAPEX committed to drill one exploration well during the second sub-phase of the project. Since the
CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its Philippine Agent, SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, well was to be drilled in the marine waters of Aloguinsan and Pinamungajan, where the Tañon Strait
INC., Respondents. was declared a protected seascape in 1988,10 JAPEX agreed to comply with the Environmental Impact
DECISION Assessment requirements pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1586, entitled "Establishing An
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: Environmental Impact Statement System, Including Other Environmental Management Related
Before Us are two consolidated Petitions filed under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Court, concerning Measures And For Other Purposes."11
Service Contract No. 46 (SC-46), which allowed the exploration, development, and exploitation of On January 31, 2007, the Protected Area Management Board 12 of the Tañon Strait (PAMB-Tañon
petroleum resources within Tañon Strait, a narrow passage of water situated between the islands of Strait) issued Resolution No. 2007-001,13 wherein it adopted the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE)
Negros and Cebu.2 commissioned by JAPEX, and favorably recommended the approval of JAPEX's application for an ECC.
The Petition docketed as G.R. No. 180771 is an original Petition for Certiorari, Mandamus, and On March 6, 2007, the EMB of DENR Region VII granted an ECC to the DOE and JAPEX for the
Injunction, which seeks to enjoin respondents from implementing SC-46 and to have it nullified for willful offshore oil and gas exploration project in Tañon Strait. 14 Months later, on November 16, 2007, JAPEX
and gross violation of the 1987 Constitution and certain international and municipal laws.3 began to drill an exploratory well, with a depth of 3,150 meters, near Pinamungajan town in the western
Likewise, the Petition docketed as G.R. No. 181527 is an original Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition, and Cebu Province.15 This drilling lasted until February 8, 2008.16
Mandamus, which seeks to nullify the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued by the It was in view of the foregoing state of affairs that petitioners applied to this Court for redress, via two
Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources separate original petitions both dated December 1 7, 2007, wherein they commonly seek that
(DENR), Region VII in connection with SC-46; to prohibit respondents from implementing SC-46; and to respondents be enjoined from implementing SC-46 for, among others, violation of the 1987
compel public respondents to provide petitioners access to the pertinent documents involving the Tañon Constitution.
Strait Oil Exploration Project.4 On March 31, 2008, SOS filed a Motion to Strike 17 its name as a respondent on the ground that it is not
ANTECEDENT FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS the Philippine agent of JAPEX. In support of its motion, it submitted the branch office application of
Petitioners in G.R. No. 180771, collectively referred to as the "Resident Marine Mammals" in the JAPEX,18 wherein the latter's resident agent was clearly identified. SOS claimed that it had acted as a
petition, are the toothed whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other cetacean species, which inhabit the mere logistics contractor for JAPEX in its oil and gas exploration activities in the Philippines.
waters in and around the Tañon Strait. They are joined by Gloria Estenzo Ramos (Ramos) and Rose- Petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards opposed SOS' s motion on the ground that it was
Liza Eisma-Osorio (Eisma-Osorio) as their legal guardians and as friends (to be collectively known as premature, it was pro-forma, and it was patently dilatory. They claimed that SOS admitted that "it is in
law a (sic) privy to JAPEX" since it did the drilling and other exploration activities in Tañon Strait under On April 24, 2012, this Court issued a Resolution26 granting JAPEX PH's Motion to Admit its Motion for
the instructions of its principal, JAPEX. They argued that it would be premature to drop SOS as a party Clarification. This Court, addressing JAPEX PH's Motion for Clarification, held:
as JAPEX had not yet been joined in the case; and that it was "convenient" for SOS to ask the Court to With regard to its Motion for Clarification (By Special Appearance) dated March 19, 2012, this Court
simply drop its name from the parties when what it should have done was to either notify or ask JAPEX considers JAPEX Philippines, Ltd. as a real party-in-interest in these cases. Under Section 2, Rule 3 of
to join it in its motion to enable proper substitution. At this juncture, petitioners Resident Marine the 1997 Rules of Court, a real party-in-interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the
Mammals and Stewards also asked the Court to" implead JAPEX Philippines as a corespondent or as a judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Contrary to JAPEX Philippines, Ltd. 's
substitute for its parent company, JAPEX.19 allegation that it is a completely distinct corporation, which should not be confused with JAPEX
On April 8, 2008, the Court resolved to consolidate G.R. No. 180771 and G.R. No. 181527. Company, Ltd., JAPEX Philippines, Ltd. is a mere branch office, established by JAPEX Company, Ltd.
On May 26, 2008, the FIDEC manifested20 that they were adopting in toto the Opposition to Strike with for the purpose of carrying out the latter's business transactions here in the Philippines. Thus, JAPEX
Motion to Implead filed by petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards in G.R. No. 180771. Philippines, Ltd., has no separate personality from its mother foreign corporation, the party impleaded in
On June 19, 2008, public respondents filed their Manifestation 21 that they were not objecting to SOS's this case.
Motion to Strike as it was not JAPEX's resident agent. JAPEX during all this time, did not file any Moreover, Section 128 of the Corporation Code provides for the responsibilities and duties of a resident
comment at all. agent of a foreign corporation:
Thus, on February 7, 2012, this Court, in an effort to ensure that all the parties were given ample SECTION 128. Resident agent; service of process. - The Securities and Exchange Commission shall
chance and opportunity to answer the issues herein, issued a Resolution directing the Court's process require as a condition precedent to the issuance of the license to transact business in the Philippines by
servicing unit to again serve the parties with a copy of the September 23, 2008 Resolution of the Court, any foreign corporation that such corporation file with the Securities and Exchange Commission a
which gave due course to the petitions in G.R. Nos. 180771 and 181527, and which required the parties written power of attorney designating some person who must be a resident of the Philippines, on whom
to submit their respective memoranda. The February 7, 2012 Resolution 22 reads as follows: any summons and other legal processes may be served in all actions or other legal proceedings against
G.R. No. 180771 (Resident Marine Mammals of the Protected Seascape Tañon Strait, e.g., Toothed such corporation, and consenting that service upon such resident agent shall be admitted and held as
Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises and Other Cetacean Species, et al. vs. Hon. Angelo Reyes, in his capacity valid as if served upon the duly authorized officers of the foreign corporation at its home office. Any
as Secretary of the Department of Energy, et al.) and G.R. No. 181527 (Central Visayas Fisherfolk such foreign corporation shall likewise execute and file with the Securities and Exchange Commission
Development Center, et al. vs. Hon. Angelo Reyes, et al.). - The Court Resolved to direct the Process an agreement or stipulation, executed by the proper authorities of said corporation, in form and
Servicing Unit to RE-SEND the resolution dated September 23, 2008 to the following parties and substance as follows:
counsel, together with this resolution: "The (name of foreign corporation) does hereby stipulate and agree, in consideration of its being
granted by the Securities and Exchange Commission a license to transact business in the Philippines,
Atty. Aristeo O. Carino 20th Floor Pearlbank Centre
that if at any time said corporation shall cease to transact business in the Philippines, or shall be without
Counsel for Respondent Supply 146 Valero Street
any resident agent in the Philippines on whom any summons or other legal processes may be served,
Oilfield Services, Inc. Salcedo Village, Makati City
then in any action or proceeding arising out of any business or transaction which occurred in the
JAPEX Philippines Ltd. 20th Floor Pearlbank Centre Philippines, service of any summons or other legal process may be made upon the Securities and
146 Valero Street Exchange Commission and that such service shall have the same force and effect as if made upon the
Salcedo Village, Makati City duly-authorized officers of the corporation at its home office."
Whenever such service of summons or other process shall be made upon the Securities and Exchange
JAPEX Philippines Ltd. 19th Floor Pearlbank Centre Commission, the Commission shall, within ten (10) days thereafter, transmit by mail a copy of such
c/o Atty. Maria Farah Z.G. 146 Valero Street summons or other legal process to the corporation at its home or principal office. The sending of such
Nicolas-Suchianco Salcedo Village, Makati City copy by the Commission shall be a necessary part of and shall complete such service. All expenses
incurred by the Commission for such service shall be paid in advance by the party at whose instance
Atty. Maria Farah Z.G. Suite 2404 Discovery Centre the service is made.
Nicolas-Suchianco 25 ADB Avenue In case of a change of address of the resident agent, it shall be his or its duty to immediately notify in
Resident Agent of JAPEX Ortigas Center, Pasig City writing the Securities and Exchange Commission of the new address.
Philippines Ltd. It is clear from the foregoing provision that the function of a resident agent is to receive summons or
legal processes that may be served in all actions or other legal proceedings against the foreign
This Resolution was personally served to the above parties, at the above addresses on February 23, corporation. These cases have been prosecuted in the name of JAPEX Company, Ltd., and JAPEX
2012. On March 20, 2012, JAPEX Philippines, Ltd. (JAPEX PH), by way of special appearance, filed a Philippines Ltd., as its branch office and resident agent, had been receiving the various resolutions from
Motion to Admit23 its Motion for Clarification,24 wherein JAPEX PH requested to be clarified as to this Court, as evidenced by Registry Return Cards signed by its representatives.
whether or not it should deem the February 7, 2012 Resolution as this Court's Order of its inclusion in And in the interest of justice, this Court resolved to grant JAPEX PH's motion for extension of time to file
the case, as it has not been impleaded. It also alleged that JAPEX PH had already stopped exploration its memorandum, and was given until April 21, 2012, as prayed for, within which to comply with the
activities in the Taft. on Strait way back in 2008, rendering this case moot. submission.27
On March 22, 2012, JAPEX PH, also by special appearance, filed a Motion for Extension of Time 25 to Without filing its Memorandum, JAPEX PH, on May 14, 2012, filed a motion, asking this Court for an
file its Memorandum. It stated that since it received the February 7, 2012 Resolution on February 23, additional thirty days to file its Memorandum, to be counted from May 8, 2012. It justified its request by
2012, it had until March 22, 2012 to file its Memorandum. JAPEX PH then asked for an additional thirty claiming that this Court's April 24, 2012 Resolution was issued past its requested deadline for filing,
days, supposedly to give this Court some time to consider its Motion for Clarification. which was on April 21, 2012.28
On June 19, 2012, this Court denied JAPEX PH's second request for additional time to file its I. WHETHER OR NOT SERVICE CONTRACT NO. 46 EXECUTED BETWEEN RESPONDENTS DOE
Memorandum and dispensed with such filing. AND JAPEX SHOULD BE NULLIFIED AND SET ASIDE FOR BEING IN DIRECT VIOLATION OF
Since petitioners had already filed their respective memoranda,29 and public respondents had earlier SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF THE 1987 PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION AND APPLICABLE LAWS;
filed a Manifestation30 that they were adopting their Comment dated March 31, 2008 as their II. WHETHER OR NOT THE OFF-SHORE OIL EXPLORAT[I]ON CONTEMPLATED UNDER SERVICE
memorandum, this Court submitted the case for decision. CONTRACT NO. 46 ·IS LEGALLY PERMISSIBLE WITHOUT A LAW BEING DULY PASSED
Petitioners.' Allegations EXPRESSLY FOR THE PURPOSE;
Protesting the adverse ecological impact of JAPEX's oil exploration activities in the Tañon Strait, III. WHETHER OR NOT THE OIL EXPLORATION BEING CONDUCTED WITHIN THE TAÑON STRAIT
petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards aver that a study made after the seismic survey PROTECTED SEASCAPE VIOLATES THE RIGHTS AND LEGAL PROTECTION GRANTED TO
showed that the fish catch was reduced drastically by 50 to 70 percent. They claim that before the PETITIONERS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION AND APPLICABLE LAWS.
seismic survey, the average harvest per day would be from 15 to 20 kilos; but after the activity, the IV. WHETHER OR NOT THE ISSUANCE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE
fisherfolk could only catch an average of 1 to 2 kilos a day. They attribute this "reduced fish catch" to (ECC) FOR SUCH AN ENVIRONMENTALLY CRITICAL PROJECT INSIDE AN ENVIRONMENTALLY
the destruction of the ''payao," also known as the "fish aggregating device" or "artificial CRITICAL AREA SUCH AS THE TAÑON STRAIT PROTECTED SEASCAPE CONFORMED TO LAW
reef."31 Petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards also impute the incidences of "fish AND EXISTING RULES AND REGULATIONS ON THE MATTER.
kill"32observed by some of the local fisherfolk to the seismic survey. And they further allege that the V. WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENTS MAY BE COMPELLED BY MANDAMUS TO FURNISH
ECC obtained by private respondent JAPEX is invalid because public consultations and discussions PETITIONERS WITH COPIES OF THE DOCUMENTS PERTAINING TO THE TAÑON STRAIT OIL
with the affected stakeholders, a pre-requisite to the issuance of the ECC, were not held prior to the EXPLORATION PROJECT.38
ECC's issuance. In these consolidated petitions, this Court has determined that the various issues raised by the
In its separate petition, petitioner FIDEC confirms petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards' petitioners may be condensed into two primary issues:
allegations of reduced fish catch and lack of public consultations or discussions with the fisherfolk and I. Procedural Issue: Locus Standi of the Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards, petitioners in G.R.
other stakeholders prior to the issuance of the ECC. Moreover, it alleges that during the seismic surveys No. 180771; and
and drilling, it was barred from entering and fishing within a 7-kilometer radius from the point where the II. Main Issue: Legality of Service Contract No. 46.
oilrig was located, an area greater than the 1.5-kilometer radius "exclusion zone" stated in the IEE. 33 It DISCUSSION
also agrees in the allegation that public respondents DENR and EMB abused their discretion when they At the outset, this Court makes clear that the "'moot and academic principle' is not a magical formula
issued an ECC to public respondent DOE and private respondent JAPEX without ensuring the strict that can automatically dissuade the courts in resolving a case." Courts have decided cases otherwise
compliance with the procedural and substantive requirements under the Environmental Impact moot and academic under the following exceptions:
Assessment system, the Fisheries Code, and their implementing rules and regulations. 34It further claims 1) There is a grave violation of the Constitution;
that despite several requests for copies of all the documents pertaining to the project in Tañon Strait, 2) The exceptional character of the situation and the paramount public interest is involved;
only copies of the P AMB-Tañon Strait Resolution and the ECC were given to the fisherfolk. 35 3) The constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the
Public Respondents' Counter-Allegations bar, and the public; and
Public respondents, through the Solicitor General, contend that petitioners Resident Marine Mammals 4) The case is capable of repetition yet evading review.39
and Stewards have no legal standing to file the present petition; that SC-46 does not violate the 1987 In this case, despite the termination of SC-46, this Court deems it necessary to resolve these
Constitution and the various laws cited in the petitions; that the ECC was issued in accordance with consolidated petitions as almost all of the foregoing exceptions are present in this case. Both petitioners
existing laws and regulations; that public respondents may not be compelled by mandamus to furnish allege that SC-46 is violative of the Constitution, the environmental and livelihood issues raised
petitioners copies of all documents relating to SC-46; and that all the petitioners failed to show that they undoubtedly affect the public's interest, and the respondents' contested actions are capable of
are entitled to injunctive relief. They further contend that the issues raised in these petitions have been repetition.
rendered moot and academic by the fact that SC-46 had been mutually terminated by the parties Procedural Issues
thereto effective June 21, 2008.36 Locus Standi of Petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards
ISSUES The Resident Marine Mammals, through the Stewards, "claim" that they have the legal standing to file
The following are the issues posited by petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards in G.R. No. this action since they stand to be benefited or injured by the judgment in this suit. 40 Citing Oposa v.
180771: Factoran, Jr.,41 they also assert their right to sue for the faithful performance of international and
I. WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONERS HAVE LOCUS STAND! TO FILE THE INSTANT PETITION; municipal environmental laws created in their favor and for their benefit. In this regard, they propound
II. WHETHER OR NOT SERVICE CONTRACT NO. 46 IS VIOLA T[IVE] OF THE 1987 PHILIPPINE that they have the right to demand that they be accorded the benefits granted to them in multilateral
CONSTITUTION AND STATUTES; international instruments that the Philippine Government had signed, under the concept of stipulation
III. WHETHER OR NOT THE ON-GOING EXPLORATION AND PROPOSED EXPLOITATION FOR OIL pour autrui.42
AND NATURAL GAS AT, AROUND, AND UNDERNEATH THE MARINE WATERS OF THE TAÑON For their part, the Stewards contend that there should be no question of their right to represent the
STRAIT PROTECTED SEASCAPE IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE PHILIPPINE COMMITMENTS TO Resident Marine Mammals as they have stakes in the case as forerunners of a campaign to build
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS AND INSTRUMENTS; AND awareness among the affected residents of Tañon Strait and as stewards of the environment since the
IV. WHETHER OR NOT THE ISSUANCE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE primary steward, the Government, had failed in its duty to protect the environment pursuant to the public
(ECC) IN ENVIRONMENTALLY CRITICAL AREAS AND HABITATS OF MARINE WILDLIFE AND trust doctrine.43
ENDANGERED SPECIES IS LEGAL AND PROPER.37 Petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards also aver that this Court may lower the benchmark
Meanwhile, in G.R. No. 181527, petitioner FIDEC presented the following issues for our consideration: in locus standi as an exercise of epistolary jurisdiction.44
In opposition, public respondents argue that the Resident Marine Mammals have no standing because Sec. 2. Parties in interest. - A real party in interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by
Section 1, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court requires parties to an action to be either natural or juridical the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law
persons, viz.: or these Rules, every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest.
Section 1. Who may be parties, plaintiff and defendant. - Only natural or juridical persons, or entities Sec. 3. Representatives as parties. - Where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or defended by a
authorized by law may be parties in a civil action. The term "plaintiff' may refer to the claiming party, the representative or someone acting in a fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title of
counter-claimant, the cross-claimant, or the third (fourth, etc.)-party plaintiff. The term "defendant" may the case and shall be deemed to be the real party in interest. A representative may be a trustee of an
refer to the original defending party, the defendant in a counterclaim, the cross-defendant, or the third express trust, a guardian, an executor or administrator, or a party authorized by law or these Rules. An
(fourth, etc.)-party defendant. agent acting in his own name and for the benefit of an undisclosed principal may sue or be sued without
The public respondents also contest the applicability of Oposa, pointing out that the petitioners therein joining the principal except when the contract involves things belonging to the principal.
were all natural persons, albeit some of them were still unborn. 45 It had been suggested by animal rights advocates and environmentalists that not only natural and
As regards the Stewards, the public respondents likewise challenge their claim of legal standing on the juridical persons should be given legal standing because of the difficulty for persons, who cannot show
ground that they are representing animals, which cannot be parties to an action. Moreover, the public that they by themselves are real parties-in-interests, to bring actions in representation of these animals
respondents argue that the Stewards are not the real parties-in-interest for their failure to show how or inanimate objects. For this reason, many environmental cases have been dismissed for failure of the
they stand to be benefited or injured by the decision in this case. 46 Invoking the alter ego principle in petitioner to show that he/she would be directly injured or affected by the outcome of the case.
political law, the public respondents claim that absent any proof that former President Arroyo had However, in our jurisdiction, locus standi in environmental cases has been given a more liberalized
disapproved of their acts in entering into and implementing SC-46, such acts remain to be her own.47 approach. While developments in Philippine legal theory and jurisprudence have not progressed as far
The public respondents contend that since petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards' petition as Justice Douglas's paradigm of legal standing for inanimate objects, the current trend moves towards
was not brought in the name of a real party-in-interest, it should be dismissed for failure to state a cause simplification of procedures and facilitating court access in environmental cases.
of action.48 Recently, the Court passed the landmark Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, 51 which allow
The issue of whether or not animals or even inanimate objects should be given legal standing in actions for a "citizen suit," and permit any Filipino citizen to file an action before our courts for violations of our
before courts of law is not new in the field o f animal rights and environmental law. Petitioners Resident environmental laws:
Marine Mammals and Stewards cited the 1972 United States case Sierra Club v. Rogers C.B. SEC. 5. Citizen suit. - Any Filipino citizen in representation of others, including minors or generations
Morton,49 wherein Justice William 0. Douglas, dissenting to the conventional thought on legal standing, yet unborn, may file an action to enforce rights or obligations under environmental laws. Upon the filing
opined: of a citizen suit, the court shall issue an order which shall contain a brief description of the cause of
The critical question of "standing" would be simplified and also put neatly in focus if we fashioned a action and the reliefs prayed for, requiring all interested parties to manifest their interest to intervene in
federal rule that allowed environmental issues to be litigated before federal agencies or federal courts in the case within fifteen (15) days from notice thereof. The plaintiff may publish the order once in a
the name of the inanimate object about to be despoiled, defaced, or invaded by roads and bulldozers newspaper of a general circulation in the Philippines or furnish all affected barangays copies of said
and where injury is the subject of public outrage. x x x. Inanimate objects are sometimes parties in order.
litigation. A ship has a legal personality, a fiction found useful for maritime purposes. The corporation Citizen suits filed under R.A. No. 8749 and R.A. No. 9003 shall be governed by their respective
sole - a creature of ecclesiastical law - is an acceptable adversary and large fortunes ride on its cases. provisions.52(Emphasis ours.)
The ordinary corporation is a "person" for purposes of the adjudicatory processes, whether it represents Explaining the rationale for this rule, the Court, in the Annotations to the Rules of Procedure for
proprietary, spiritual, aesthetic, or charitable causes. Environmental Cases, commented:
So it should be as respects valleys, alpine meadows, rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, ridges, groves of Citizen suit. To further encourage the protection of the environment, the Rules enable litigants enforcing
trees, swampland, or even air that feels the destructive pressures of modem technology and modem environmental rights to file their cases as citizen suits. This provision liberalizes standing for all cases
life. The river, for example, is the living symbol of all the life it sustains or nourishes-fish, aquatic insects, filed enforcing environmental laws and collapses the traditional rule on personal and direct interest, on
water ouzels, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other animals, including man, who are dependent on it the principle that humans are stewards of nature. The terminology of the text reflects the doctrine first
or who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life enunciated in Oposa v. Factoran, insofar as it refers to minors and generations yet unborn.53 (Emphasis
that is part of it. Those people who have a meaningful relation to that body of water-whether it be a supplied, citation omitted.) Although this petition was filed in 2007, years before the effectivity of the
fisherman, a canoeist, a zoologist, or a logger-must be able to speak for the values which the river Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, it has been consistently held that rules of procedure "may
represents and which are threatened with destruction.50 (Citations omitted.) be retroactively applied to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage and will not
The primary reason animal rights advocates and environmentalists seek to give animals and inanimate violate any right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected, inasmuch as there is no vested
objects standing is due to the need to comply with the strict requirements in bringing a suit to court. Our rights in rules of procedure."54
own 1997 Rules of Court demand that parties to a suit be either natural or juridical persons, or entities Elucidating on this doctrine, the Court, in Systems Factors Corporation v. National Labor Relations
authorized by law. It further necessitates the action to be brought in the name of the real party-in- Commission55held that:
interest, even if filed by a representative, viz.: Remedial statutes or statutes relating to remedies or modes of procedure, which do not create new or
Rule 3 take away vested rights, but only operate in furtherance of the remedy or confirmation of rights already
Parties to Civil Actions existing, do not come within the legal conception of a retroactive law, or the general rule against
Section 1. Who may be parties; plaintiff and defendant. - Only natural or juridical persons, or entities retroactive operation of statutes. Statutes regulating the procedure of the courts will be construed as
authorized by law may be parties in a civil action. The term "plaintiff' may refer to the claiming party, the applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage. Procedural laws are
counter-claimant, the cross-claimant, or the third (fourth, etc.)-party plaintiff. The term "defendant" may retroactive in that sense and to that extent. x x x.
refer to the original defending party, the defendant in a counterclaim, the cross-defendant, or the third Moreover, even before the Rules of Procedure for Environmental · Cases became effective, this Court
(fourth, etc.)-party defendant. had already taken a permissive position on the issue of locus standi in environmental cases. In Oposa,
we allowed the suit to be brought in the name of generations yet unborn "based on the concept of the Government. The petitioners posit that the service contract in La Bugal is presumed to have
intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is complied with the requisites of (a) legislative enactment of a general law after the effectivity of the 1987
concerned."56 Furthermore, we said that the right to a balanced and healthful ecology, a right that does Constitution (such as Republic Act No. 7942, or the Philippine Mining Law of 1995, governing mining
not even need to be stated in our Constitution as it is assumed to exist from the inception of humankind, contracts) and (b) presidential notification. The petitioners thus allege that the ruling in La Bugal, which
carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment. 57 involved mining contracts under Republic Act No. 7942, does not apply in this case. 63 The petitioners
In light of the foregoing, the need to give the Resident Marine Mammals legal standing has been also argue that Presidential Decree No. 87 or the Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972 cannot
eliminated by our Rules, which allow any Filipino citizen, as a steward of nature, to bring a suit to legally justify SC-46 as it is deemed to have been repealed by the 1987 Constitution and subsequent
enforce our environmental laws. It is worth noting here that the Stewards are joined as real parties in laws, which enunciate new policies concerning the environment. 64 In addition, petitioners in G.R. No.
the Petition and not just in representation of the named cetacean species. The Stewards, Ramos and 180771 claim that paragraphs 2 and 3 of Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution mandate the
Eisma-Osorio, having shown in their petition that there may be possible violations of laws concerning exclusive use and enjoyment by the Filipinos of our natural resources,65 and paragraph 4 does not
the habitat of the Resident Marine Mammals, are therefore declared to possess the legal standing to file speak of service contracts but of FTAAs or Financial Technical Assistance Agreements. 66
this petition. The public respondents again controvert the petitioners' claims and asseverate that SC-46 does not
Impleading Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo violate Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. They hold that SC-46 does not fall under the
as an Unwilling Co-Petitioner coverage of paragraph 1 but instead, under paragraph 4 of Section 2, Article XII of the 1987
Petitioners Stewards in G.R. No. 180771 impleaded as an unwilling co-petitioner former President Constitution on FTAAs. They also insist that paragraphs 2 and 3, which refer to the grant of exclusive
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the following reasons, which we quote: fishing right to Filipinos, are not applicable to SC-46 as the contract does not grant exclusive fishing
Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, also of legal age, Filipino and resident of Malacailang Palace, rights to JAPEX nor does it otherwise impinge on the FIDEC's right to preferential use of communal
Manila Philippines. Steward Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo happens to be the incumbent President of the marine and fishing resources.67
Philippine Islands. She is personally impleaded in this suit as an unwilling co-petitioner by reason of her Ruling of the Court
express declaration and undertaking under the recently signed ASEAN Charter to protect Your On the legality of Service Contract No. 46
Petitioners' habitat, among others. She is meantime dominated as an unwilling co-petitioner due to lack vis-a-vis Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution
of material time in seeking her signature and imprimatur hereof and due to possible legal complications The petitioners insist that SC-46 is null and void for having violated Section 2, Article XII of the 1987
that may hereafter arise by reason of her official relations with public respondents under the alter ego Constitution, which reads as follows:
principle in political law.58 This is incorrect. Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all
Section 10, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court provides: forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural
Sec. 10. Unwilling co-plaintiff. - If the consent of any party who should be joined as plaintiff can not be resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources
obtained, he may be made a defendant and the reason therefor shall be stated in the complaint. shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under
Under the foregoing rule, when the consent of a party who should be joined as a plaintiff cannot be the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may
obtained, he or she may be made a party defendant to the case. This will put the unwilling party under enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or
the jurisdiction of the Court, which can properly implead him or her through its processes. The unwilling corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such
party's name cannot be simply included in a petition, without his or her knowledge and consent, as such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-
would be a denial of due process. five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water rights for
Moreover, the reason cited by the petitioners Stewards for including former President Macapagal- irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power,
Arroyo in their petition, is not sufficient to implead her as an unwilling co-petitioner. Impleading the beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant.
former President as an unwilling co-petitioner, for an act she made in the performance of the functions The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive
of her office, is contrary to the public policy against embroiling the President in suits, "to assure the economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens. The Congress may,
exercise of Presidential duties and functions free from any hindrance or distraction, considering that by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish
being the Chief Executive of the Government is a job that, aside from requiring all of the office holder's farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fishworkers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons.
time, also demands undivided attention."59 The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or
Therefore, former President Macapagal-Arroyo cannot be impleaded as one of the petitioners in this financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and
suit. Thus, her name is stricken off the title of this case. other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real
Main Issue: contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State
Legality of Service Contract No. 46 shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources.
Service Contract No. 46 vis-a-vis The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this provision,
Section 2, Article XII of the within thirty days from its execution. (Emphases ours.)
1987 Constitution This Court has previously settled the issue of whether service contracts are still allowed under the 1987
Petitioners maintain that SC-46 transgresses the Jura Regalia Provision or paragraph 1, Section 2, Constitution. In La Bugal, we held that the deletion of the words "service contracts" in the 1987
Article XII of the 1987 Constitution because JAPEX is 100% Japanese-owned.60 Furthermore, the Constitution did not amount to a ban on them per se. In fact, in that decision, we quoted in length,
FIDEC asserts that SC-46 cannot be considered as a technical and financial assistance agreement portions of the deliberations of the members of the Constitutional Commission (ConCom) to show that
validly executed under paragraph 4 of the same provision. 61 The petitioners claim that La Bugal-B'laan in deliberating on paragraph 4, Section 2, Article XII, they were actually referring to service contracts as
Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos62 laid down the guidelines for a valid service contract, one of which is understood in the 1973 Constitution, albeit with safety measures to eliminate or minimize the abuses
that there must exist a general law for oil exploration before a service contract may be entered into by prevalent during the martial law regime, to wit: Summation of the
ConCom Deliberations The disposition, exploration, development, exploitation, and utilization of indigenous petroleum in the
At this point, we sum up the matters established, based on a careful reading of the Con Com Philippines are governed by Presidential Decree No. 87 or the Oil Exploration and Development Act of
deliberations, as follows: 1972. This was enacted by then President Ferdinand Marcos to promote the discovery and production
In their deliberations on what was to become paragraph 4, the framers used the term service contracts of indigenous petroleum through the utilization of government and/or local or foreign private resources
in referring to agreements x x x involving either technical or financial assistance. to yield the maximum benefit to the Filipino people and the revenues to the Philippine Government. 70
They spoke of service contracts as the concept was understood in the 1973 Constitution. Contrary to the petitioners' argument, Presidential Decree No. 87, although enacted in 1972, before the
It was obvious from their discussions that they were not about to ban or eradicate service contracts. adoption of the 1987 Constitution, remains to be a valid law unless otherwise repealed, to wit:
Instead, they were plainly crafting provisions to put in place safeguards that would eliminate or minimize ARTICLE XVIII - TRANSITORY PROVISIONS
the abuses prevalent during the marital law regime. In brief, they were going to permit service contracts Section 3. All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions, and other
with foreign corporations as contractors, but with safety measures to prevent abuses, as an exception to executive issuances not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended,
the general norm established in the first paragraph of Section 2 of Article XII. This provision reserves or repealed, or revoked.
limits to Filipino citizens -- and corporations at least 60 percent of which is owned by such citizens -- the If there were any intention to repeal Presidential Decree No. 87, it would have been done expressly by
exploration, development and utilization of natural resources. Congress. For instance, Republic Act No. 7160, more popularly known as the Local Government Code
This provision was prompted by the perceived insufficiency of Filipino capital and the felt need for of 1991, expressly repealed a number of laws, including a specific provision in Presidential Decree No.
foreign investments in the EDU of minerals and petroleum resources. 87, viz.:
The framers for the most part debated about the sort of safeguards that would be considered adequate SECTION 534. Repealing Clause. - (a) Batas Pambansa Blg. 337, otherwise known as the "Local
and reasonable. But some of them, having more "radical" leanings, wanted to ban service contracts Government Code," Executive Order No. 112 (1987), and Executive Order No. 319 (1988) are hereby
altogether; for them, the provision would permit aliens to exploit and benefit from the nation's natural repealed.
resources, which they felt should be reserved only for Filipinos. (b) Presidential Decree Nos. 684, 1191, 1508 and such other decrees, orders, instructions, memoranda
In the explanation of their votes, the individual commissioners were heard by the entire body. They and issuances related to or concerning the barangay are hereby repealed.
sounded off their individual opinions, openly enunciated their philosophies, and supported or attacked (c) The provisions of Sections 2, 3, and 4 of Republic Act No. 1939 regarding hospital fund; Section 3, a
the provisions with fervor. Everyone's viewpoint was heard. (3) and b (2) of Republic Act No. 5447 regarding the Special Education Fund; Presidential Decree No.
In the final voting, the Article on the National Economy and Patrimony -- including paragraph 4 allowing 144 as amended by Presidential Decree Nos. 559 and 1741; Presidential Decree No. 231 as amended;
service contracts with foreign corporations as an exception to the general norm in paragraph 1 of Presidential Decree No. 436 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 558; and Presidential Decree Nos.
Section 2 of the same article --was resoundingly approved by a vote of 32 to 7, with 2 abstentions. 381, 436, 464, 477, 526, 632, 752, and 1136 are hereby repealed and rendered of no force and effect.
Agreements Involving Technical (d) Presidential Decree No. 1594 is hereby repealed insofar as it governs locally-funded projects.
Or Financial Assistance Are (e) The following provisions are hereby repealed or amended insofar as they are inconsistent with the
Service Contracts with Safeguards provisions of this Code: Sections 2, 16 and 29 of Presidential Decree No. 704; Section 12 of
From the foregoing, we are impelled to conclude that the phrase agreements involving either technical Presidential Decree No. 87, as amended; Sections 52, 53, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, and 74 of
or financial assistance, referred to in paragraph 4, are in fact service contracts. But unlike those of the Presidential Decree No. 463, as amended; and Section 16 of Presidential Decree No. 972, as
1973 variety, the new ones are between foreign corporations acting as contractors on the one hand; amended, and
and on the other, the government as principal or "owner" of the works. In the new service contracts, the (f) All general and special laws, acts, city charters, decrees, executive orders, proclamations and
foreign contractors provide capital, technology and technical know-how, and managerial expertise in the administrative regulations, or part or parts thereof which are inconsistent with any of the provisions of
creation and operation of large-scale mining/extractive enterprises; and the government, through its this Code are hereby repealed or modified accordingly. (Emphasis supplied.)
agencies (DENR, MGB), actively exercises control and supervision over the entire operation.68 This Court could not simply assume that while Presidential Decree No. 87 had not yet been expressly
In summarizing the matters discussed in the ConCom, we established that paragraph 4, with the repealed, it had been impliedly repealed. As we held in Villareña v. The Commission on
safeguards in place, is the exception to paragraph 1, Section 2 of Article XII. The following are the Audit,71 "[i]mplied repeals are not lightly presumed." It is a settled rule that when laws are in conflict with
safeguards this Court enumerated in La Bugal: one another, every effort must be exerted to reconcile them. In Republic of the Philippines v. Marcopper
Such service contracts may be entered into only with respect to minerals, petroleum and other mineral Mining Corporation,72 we said:
oils. The grant thereof is subject to several safeguards, among which are these requirements: The two laws must be absolutely incompatible, and a clear finding thereof must surface, before the
(1) The service contract shall be crafted in accordance with a general law that will set standard or inference of implied repeal may be drawn. The rule is expressed in the maxim, interpretare et
uniform terms, conditions and requirements, presumably to attain a certain uniformity in provisions and concordare leqibus est optimus interpretendi, i.e., every statute must be so interpreted and brought into
avoid the possible insertion of terms disadvantageous to the country. accord with other laws as to form a uniform system of jurisprudence. The fundament is that the
(2) The President shall be the signatory for the government because, supposedly before an agreement legislature should be presumed to have known the existing laws on the subject and not have enacted
is presented to the President for signature, it will have been vetted several times over at different levels conflicting statutes. Hence, all doubts must be resolved against any implied repeal, and all efforts
to ensure that it conforms to law and can withstand public scrutiny. should be exerted in order to harmonize and give effect to all laws on the subject. (Citation omitted.)
(3) Within thirty days of the executed agreement, the President shall report it to Congress to give that Moreover, in cases where the statute seems to be in conflict with the Constitution, but a construction
branch of government an opportunity to look over the agreement and interpose timely objections, if that it is in harmony with the Constitution is also possible, that construction should be preferred.73 This
any.69 Court, in Pangandaman v. Commission on Elections 74 expounding on this point, pronounced:
Adhering to the aforementioned guidelines, this Court finds that SC-46 is indeed null and void for It is a basic precept in statutory construction that a statute should be interpreted in harmony with the
noncompliance with the requirements of the 1987 Constitution. Constitution and that the spirit, rather than the letter of the law determines its construction; for that
1. The General Law on Oil Exploration reason, a statute must be read according to its spirit and intent. x x x. (Citation omitted.)
Consequently, we find no merit in petitioners' contention that SC-46 is prohibited on the ground that the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the constitution that
there is no general law prescribing the standard or uniform terms, conditions, and requirements for law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the executive branch or entered into by
service contracts involving oil exploration and extraction. private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any force and effect. Thus, since the
But note must be made at this point that while Presidential Decree No. 87 may serve as the general law Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in every
upon which a service contract for petroleum exploration and extraction may be authorized, as will be statute and contract. (Emphasis ours.)
discussed below, the exploitation and utilization of this energy resource in the present case may be As this Court has held in La Bugal, our Constitution requires that the President himself be the signatory
allowed only through a law passed by Congress, since the Tañon Strait is a NIPAS75 area. of service agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving the exploration, development, and
2. President was not the signatory to SC-46 and the same was not submitted to Congress utilization of our minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils. This power cannot be taken lightly.
While the Court finds that Presidential Decree No. 87 is sufficient to satisfy the requirement of a general In this case, the public respondents have failed to show that the President had any participation in SC-
law, the absence of the two other conditions, that the President be a signatory to SC-46, and that 46. Their argument that their acts are actually the acts of then President Macapagal-Arroyo, absent
Congress be notified of such contract, renders it null and void. proof of her disapproval, must fail as the requirement that the President herself enter into these kinds of
As SC-46 was executed in 2004, its terms should have conformed not only to the provisions of contracts is embodied not just in any ordinary statute, but in the Constitution itself. These service
Presidential Decree No. 87, but also to those of the 1987 Constitution. The Civil Code provides: contracts involving the exploitation, development, and utilization of our natural resources are of
ARTICLE 1306. The contracting parties may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions paramount interest to the present and future generations. Hence, safeguards were put in place to insure
as they may deem convenient, provided they are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public that the guidelines set by law are meticulously observed and likewise to eradicate the corruption that
order, or public policy. (Italics ours.) may easily penetrate departments and agencies by ensuring that the President has authorized or
In Heirs of San Miguel v. Court of Appeals,76 this Court held that: approved of these service contracts herself.
It is basic that the law is deemed written into every contract. Although a contract is the law between the Even under the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 87, it is required that the Petroleum Board, now
parties, the provisions of positive law which regulate contracts are deemed written therein and shall limit the DOE, obtain the President's approval for the execution of any contract under said statute, as shown
and govern the relations between the parties. x x x. (Citations omitted.) Paragraph 4, Section 2, Article in the following provision:
XII of the 1987 Constitution requires that the President himself enter into any service contract for the SECTION 5. Execution of contract authorized in this Act. -Every contract herein authorized shall,
exploration of petroleum. SC-46 appeared to have been entered into and signed only by the DOE subject to the approval of the President, be executed by the Petroleum Board created in this Act, after
through its then Secretary, Vicente S. Perez, Jr., contrary to the said constitutional requirement. due public notice pre-qualification and public bidding or concluded through negotiations. In case bids
Moreover, public respondents have neither shown nor alleged that Congress was subsequently notified are requested or if requested no bid is submitted or the bids submitted are rejected by the Petroleum
of the execution of such contract. Board for being disadvantageous to the Government, the contract may be concluded through
Public respondents' implied argument that based on the "alter ego principle," their acts are also that of negotiation.
then President Macapagal-Arroyo's, cannot apply in this case. In Joson v. Torres,77 we explained the In opening contract areas and in selecting the best offer for petroleum operations, any of the following
concept of the alter ego principle or the doctrine of qualified political agency and its limit in this wise: alternative procedures may be resorted to by the Petroleum Board, subject to prior approval of the
Under this doctrine, which recognizes the establishment of a single executive, all executive and President[.]
administrative organizations are adjuncts of the Executive Department, the heads of the various Even if we were inclined to relax the requirement in La Bugal to harmonize the 1987 Constitution with
executive departments are assistants and agents of the Chief Executive, and, except in cases where the aforementioned provision of Presidential Decree No. 87, it must be shown that the government
the Chief Executive is required by the Constitution or law to act in person or the exigencies of the agency or subordinate official has been authorized by the President to enter into such service contract
situation demand that he act personally, the multifarious executive and administrative functions of the for the government. Otherwise, it should be at least shown that the President subsequently approved of
Chief Executive are performed by and through the executive departments, and the acts of the such contract explicitly. None of these circumstances is evident in the case at bar.
Secretaries of such departments, performed and promulgated in the regular course of business, are, Service Contract No. 46 vis-a-vis Other Laws
unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive presumptively the acts of the Chief Executive. Petitioners in G.R. No. 180771 claim that SC-46 violates Section 27 of Republic Act. No. 9147 or the
(Emphasis ours, citation omitted.) Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, which bans all marine exploration and exploitation
While the requirements in executing service contracts in paragraph 4, Section 2 of Article XII of the of oil and gas deposits. They also aver that Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7586 or the National
1987 Constitution seem like mere formalities, they, in reality, take on a much bigger role. As we have Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 (NIPAS Act), which allows the exploration of protected
explained in La Bugal, they are the safeguards put in place by the framers of the Constitution to areas for the purpose of information-gathering, has been repealed by Section 27 of Republic Act No.
"eliminate or minimize the abuses prevalent during the martial law regime." 78 Thus, they are not just 914 7. The said petitioners further claim that SC-46 is anathema to Republic Act No. 8550 or the
mere formalities, which will only render a contract unenforceable but not void, if not complied with. They Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, which protects the rights of the fisherfolk in the preferential use of
are requirements placed, not just in an ordinary statute, but in the fundamental law, the non-observance municipal waters, with the exception being limited only to research and survey activities. 80
of which will nullify the contract. Elucidating on the concept of a "constitution," this Court, in Manila The FIDEC, for its part, argues that to avail of the exceptions under Section 14 of the NIP AS Act, the
Prince Hotel v. Government Service Insurance System,79 held: gathering of information must be in accordance with a DENR-approved program, and the exploitation
A constitution is a system of fundamental laws for the governance and administration of a nation. It is and utilization of energy resources must be pursuant to a general law passed by Congress expressly for
supreme, imperious, absolute and unalterable except by the authority from which it emanates. It has that purpose. Since there is neither a DENR approved program nor a general law passed by Congress,
been defined as the fundamental and paramount law of the nation. It prescribes the permanent the seismic surveys and oil drilling operations were all done illegally.81 The FIDEC likewise contends
framework of a system of government, assigns to the different departments their respective powers and that SC-46 infringes on its right to the preferential use of the communal fishing waters as it is denied
duties, and establishes certain fixed principles on which government is founded. The fundamental free access within the prohibited zone, in violation not only of the Fisheries Code but also of the 1987
conception in other words is that it is a supreme law to which all other laws must conform and in Constitutional provisions on subsistence fisherfolk and social justice. 82 Furthermore, the FIDEC believes
accordance with which all private rights must be determined and all public authority administered. Under that the provisions in Presidential Decree No. 87, which allow offshore drilling even in municipal waters,
should be deemed to have been rendered inoperative by the provisions of Republic Act No. 8550 and a. Strict nature reserve;
Republic Act No. 7160, which reiterate the social justice provisions of the Constitution. 83 b. Natural park;
The public respondents invoke the rules on statutory construction and argue that Section 14 of the NIP c. Natural monument;
AS Act is a more particular provision and cannot be deemed to have been repealed by the more d. Wildlife sanctuary;
general prohibition in Section 27 of Republic Act No. 9147. They aver that Section 14, under which SC- e. Protected landscapes and seascapes;
46 falls, should instead be regarded as an exemption to Section 27.84 Addressing the claim of f. Resource reserve;
petitioners in G.R. No. 180771 that there was a violation of Section 27 of Republic Act No. 9147, the g. Natural biotic areas; and
public respondents assert that what the section prohibits is the exploration of minerals, which as defined h. Other categories established by law, conventions or international agreements which the Philippine
in the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, exclude energy materials such as coal, petroleum, natural gas, Government is a signatory.92
radioactive materials and geothennal energy. Thus, since SC-46 involves oil and gas exploration, Under Section 4 of the NIP AS Act, a protected area refers to portions of land and water, set aside due
Section 27 does not apply.85 to their unique physical and biological significance, managed to enhance biological diversity and
The public respondents defend the validity of SC-46 and insist that it does not grant exclusive fishing protected against human exploitation.
rights to JAPEX; hence, it does not violate the rule on preferential use of municipal waters. Moreover, The Tañon Strait, pursuant to Proclamation No. 1234, was set aside and declared a protected area
they allege that JAPEX has not banned fishing in the project area, contrary to the FIDEC's claim. The under the category of Protected Seascape. The NIP AS Act defines a Protected Seascape to be an
public respondents also contest the attribution of the declining fish catch to the seismic surveys and area of national significance characterized by the harmonious interaction of man and land while
aver that the allegation is unfounded. They claim that according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic providing opportunities for public enjoyment through recreation and tourism within the normal lifestyle
Resources' fish catch data, the reduced fish catch started in the 1970s due to destructive fishing and economic activity of this areas;93 thus a management plan for each area must be designed to
practices.86 protect and enhance the permanent preservation of its natural conditions.94 Consistent with this
Ruling of the Court endeavor is the requirement that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) be made prior to
On the legality of Service Contract No. 46 undertaking any activity outside the scope of the management plan. Unless an ECC under the EIA
vis-a-vis Other Laws system is obtained, no activity inconsistent with the goals of the NIP AS Act shall be implemented. 95
Although we have already established above that SC-46 is null and void for being violative of the 1987 The Environmental Impact Statement System (EISS) was established in 1978 under Presidential
Constitution, it is our duty to still rule on the legality of SC-46 vis-a-vis other pertinent laws, to serve as a Decree No. 1586. It prohibits any person, partnership or corporation from undertaking or operating any
guide for the Government when executing service contracts involving not only the Tafion Strait, but also declared environmentally critical project or areas without first securing an ECC issued by the President
other similar areas. While the petitioners allege that SC-46 is in violation of several laws, including or his duly authorized representative.96Pursuant to the EISS, which called for the proper management of
international ones, their arguments focus primarily on the protected status of the Tañon Strait, thus this environmentally critical areas,97 Proclamation No. 214698 was enacted, identifying the areas and types
Court will concentrate on those laws that pertain particularly to the Tañon Strait as a protected of projects to be considered as environmentally critical and within the scope of the EISS, while DENR
seascape. Administrative Order No. 2003-30 provided for its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
The Tañon Strait is a narrow passage of water bounded by the islands of Cebu in the East and Negros DENR Administrative Order No. 2003-30 defines an environmentally critical area as "an area delineated
in the West. It harbors a rich biodiversity of marine life, including endangered species of dolphins and as environmentally sensitive such that significant environmental impacts are expected if certain types of
whales. For this reason, former President Fidel V. Ramos declared the Tañon Strait as a protected proposed projects or programs are located, developed, or implemented in it";99 thus, before a project,
seascape in 1998 by virtue of Proclamation No. 1234 -Declaring the Tañon Strait situated in the which is "any activity, regardless of scale or magnitude, which may have significant impact on the
Provinces of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental as a Protected Area pursuant to the NIP AS environment,"100 is undertaken in it, such project must undergo an EIA to evaluate and predict the likely
Act and shall be known as Tañon Strait Protected Seascape. During former President Joseph E. impacts of all its stages on the environment.101An EIA is described in detail as follows:
Estrada's time, he also constituted the Tañon Strait Commission via Executive Order No. 76 to ensure h. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) - process that involves evaluating and predicting the likely
the optimum and sustained use of the resources in that area without threatening its marine life. He impacts of a project (including cumulative impacts) on the environment during construction,
followed this with Executive Order No. 177, 87 wherein he included the mayor of Negros Occidental commissioning, operation and abandonment. It also includes designing appropriate preventive,
Municipality/City as a member of the Tañon Strait Commission, to represent the LGUs concerned. This mitigating and enhancement measures addressing these consequences to protect the environment and
Commission, however, was subsequently abolished in 2002 by then President Gloria Macapagal- the community's welfare. The process is undertaken by, among others, the project proponent and/or
Arroyo, via Executive Order No. 72.88 EIA Consultant, EMB, a Review Committee, affected communities and other stakeholders. 102
True to the constitutional policy that the "State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a Under Proclamation No. 2146, the Tañon Strait is an environmentally critical area, having been
balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature," 89 Congress enacted declared as a protected area in 1998; therefore, any activity outside the scope of its management plan
the NIP AS Act to secure the perpetual existence of all native plants and animals through the may only be implemented pursuant to an ECC secured after undergoing an EIA to determine the effects
establishment of a comprehensive system of integrated protected areas. These areas possess common of such activity on its ecological system.
ecological values that were incorporated into a holistic plan representative of our natural heritage. The The public respondents argue that they had complied with the procedures in obtaining an ECC 103 and
system encompasses outstandingly remarkable areas and biologically important public lands that are that SC-46 falls under the exceptions in Section 14 of the NIP AS Act, due to the following reasons:
habitats of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, biogeographic zones and related 1) The Tañon Strait is not a strict nature reserve or natural park;
ecosystems, whether terrestrial, wetland, or marine.90 It classifies and administers all the designated 2) Exploration is only for the purpose of gathering information on possible energy resources; and 3)
protected areas to maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems, to preserve Measures are undertaken to ensure that the exploration is being done with the least damage to
genetic diversity, to ensure sustainable use of resources found therein, and to maintain their natural surrounding areas.104
conditions to the greatest extent possible. 91 The following categories of protected areas were We do not agree with the arguments raised by the public respondents.
established under the NIPAS Act: Sections 12 and 14 of the NIPAS Act read:
SECTION 12. Environmental Impact Assessment. - Proposals for activities which are outside the scope ecosystems, whether terrestrial, wetland or marine, all of which shall be designated as "protected
of the management plan for protected areas shall be subject to an environmental impact assessment as areas."
required by law before they are adopted, and the results thereof shall be taken into consideration in the The public respondents themselves admitted that JAPEX only started to secure an ECC prior to the
decision-making process. second sub-phase of SC-46, which required the drilling of an oil exploration well. This means that when
No actual implementation of such activities shall be allowed without the required Environmental the seismic surveys were done in the Tañon Strait, no such environmental impact evaluation was done.
Compliance Certificate (ECC) under the Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) system. In Unless seismic surveys are part of the management plan of the Tañon Strait, such surveys were done
instances where such activities are allowed to be undertaken, the proponent shall plan and carry them in violation of Section 12 of the NIPAS Act and Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 1586, which
out in such manner as will minimize any adverse effects and the preventive and remedial action when provides:
appropriate. The proponent shall be liable for any damage due to lack of caution or indiscretion. Section 4. Presidential Proclamation of Environmentally Critical Areas and Projects. - The President of
SECTION 14. Survey for Energy Resources. - Consistent with the policies declared in Section 2 hereof, the Philippines may, on his own initiative or upon recommendation of the National Environmental
protected areas, except strict nature reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration only Protection Council, by proclamation declare certain projects, undertakings or areas in the country as
for the purpose of gathering information on energy resources and only if such activity is carried out with environmentally critical. No person, partnership or corporation shall undertake or operate any such
the least damage to surrounding areas. Surveys shall be conducted only in accordance with a program declared environmentally critical project or area without first securing an Environmental Compliance
approved by the DENR, and the result of such surveys shall be made available to the public and Certificate issued by the President or his duly authorized representative. For the proper management of
submitted to the President for recommendation to Congress. Any exploitation and utilization of energy said critical project or area, the President may by his proclamation reorganize such government offices,
resources found within NIP AS areas shall be allowed only through a law passed by Congress. agencies, institutions, corporations or instrumentalities including the re-alignment of government
It is true that the restrictions found under the NIP AS Act are not without exceptions. However, while an personnel, and their specific functions and responsibilities.
exploration done for the purpose of surveying for energy resources is allowed under Section 14 of the For the same purpose as above, the Ministry of Human Settlements shall: (a) prepare the proper land or
NIP AS Act, this does not mean that it is exempt from the requirement to undergo an EIA under Section water use pattern for said critical project(s) or area(s); (b) establish ambient environmental quality
12. In Sotto v. Sotto,105 this Court explained why a statute should be construed as a whole: standards; (c) develop a program of environmental enhancement or protective measures against
A statute is passed as a whole and not in parts or sections and is animated by one general purpose and calamitous factors such as earthquakes, floods, water erosion and others, and (d) perform such other
intent. Consequently each part or section should be construed in connection with every other part or functions as may be directed by the President from time to time.
section and so as to produce a harmonious whole. It is not proper to confine the attention to the one The respondents' subsequent compliance with the EISS for the second sub-phase of SC-46 cannot and
section to be construed. It is always an unsafe way of construing a statute or contract to divide it by a will not cure this violation. The following penalties are provided for under Presidential Decree No. 1586
process of etymological dissection, into separate words, and then apply to each, thus separated from its and the NIPAS Act.
context, some particular definition given by lexicographers, and then reconstruct the instrument upon Section 9 of Presidential Decree No. 1586 provides for the penalty involving violations of the ECC
the basis of these definitions. An instrument must always be construed as a whole, and the particular requirement:
meaning to be attached to any word or phrase is usually to be ascertained from the context, the nature Section 9. Penalty for Violation. - Any person, corporation or partnership found violating Section 4 of this
of the subject treated of and the purpose or intention of the parties who executed the contract, or of the Decree, or the terms and conditions in the issuance of the Environmental Compliance Certificate, or of
body which enacted or framed the statute or constitution. x x x. the standards, rules and regulations issued by the National Environmental Protection Council pursuant
Surveying for energy resources under Section 14 is not an exemption from complying with the EIA to this Decree shall be punished by the suspension or cancellation of his/its certificates and/or a fine in
requirement in Section 12; instead, Section 14 provides for additional requisites before any exploration an amount not to exceed Fifty Thousand Pesos (₱50,000.00) for every violation thereof, at the
for energy resources may be done in protected areas. discretion of the National Environmental Protection Council. (Emphasis supplied.)
The rationale for such additional requirements are incorporated m Section 2 of the NIP AS Act, to wit: Violations of the NIP AS Act entails the following fines and/or imprisonment under Section 21:
SECTION 2. Declaration of Policy - Cognizant of the profound impact of man's activities on all SECTION 21. Penalties. - Whoever violates this Act or any rules and regulations issued by the
components of the natural environment particularly the effect of increasing population, resource Department pursuant to this Act or whoever is found guilty by a competent court of justice of any of the
exploitation and industrial advancement and recognizing the critical importance of protecting and offenses in the preceding section shall be fined in the amount of not less than Five thousand pesos
maintaining the natural biological and physical diversities of the environment notably on areas with (₱5,000) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (₱500,000), exclusive of the value of the thing
biologically unique features to sustain human life and development, as well as plant and animal life, it is damaged or imprisonment for not less than one (1) year but not more than six (6) years, or both, as
hereby declared the policy of the State to secure for the Filipino people of present and future determined by the court: Provided, that, if the area requires rehabilitation or restoration as determined
generations the perpetual existence of all native plants and animals through the establishment of a by the court, the offender shall be required to restore or compensate for the restoration to the damages:
comprehensive system of integrated protected areas within the classification of national park as Provided, further, that court shall order the eviction of the offender from the land and the forfeiture in
provided for in the Constitution. favor of the Government of all minerals, timber or any species collected or removed including all
It is hereby recognized that these areas, although distinct in features, possess common ecological equipment, devices and firearms used in connection therewith, and any construction or improvement
values that may be incorporated into a holistic plan representative of our natural heritage; that effective made thereon by the offender. If the offender is an association or corporation, the president or manager
administration of this area is possible only through cooperation among national government, local shall be directly responsible for the act of his employees and laborers: Provided, finally, that the DENR
government and concerned private organizations; that the use and enjoyment of these protected areas may impose administrative fines and penalties consistent with this Act. (Emphases supplied.) Moreover,
must be consistent with the principles of biological diversity and sustainable development. SC-46 was not executed for the mere purpose of gathering information on the possible energy
To this end, there is hereby established a National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), which resources in the Tañon Strait as it also provides for the parties' rights and obligations relating to
shall encompass outstandingly remarkable areas and biologically important public lands that are extraction and petroleum production should oil in commercial quantities be found to exist in the area.
habitats of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, biogeographic zones and related While Presidential Decree No. 87 may serve as the general law upon which a service contract for
petroleum exploration and extraction may be authorized, the exploitation and utilization of this energy
resource in the present case may be allowed only through a law passed by Congress, since the Tañon
Strait is a NIPAS area.106Since there is no such law specifically allowing oil exploration and/or extraction
in the Tañon Strait, no energy resource exploitation and utilization may be done in said protected
seascape.
In view of the foregoing premises and conclusions, it is no longer necessary to discuss the other issues
raised in these consolidated petitions.
WHEREFORE, the Petitions in G.R. Nos. 180771 and 181527 are GRANTED, Service Contract No. 46
is hereby declared NULL AND VOID for violating the 1987 Constitution, Republic Act No. 7586, and
Presidential Decree No. 1586.
SO ORDERED.
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice
On 28 July 1997, prior to the filing of the amended complaint, the trial court issued a 20-day temporary
restraining order enjoining the construction of the mooring facility. However, the trial court lifted the
G.R. No. 131442 July 10, 2003 same on 6 August 1997 on NAPOCOR's manifestation that the provincial government of Oriental
BANGUS FRY FISHERFOLK, DIWATA MAGBUHOS, ANGELITA BINAY, ELMA GARCIA, VIRGILIO Mindoro was the one undertaking the construction of the mooring facility.7
PANGUIO, ARSENIO CASTILLO, ARIEL PANGUIO, ANTONIO PANGUIO, ANTONIO BUNQUIN, On 28 August 1997, before filing their answers, respondents ORMECO and the provincial officials of
GENEROSO BUNQUIN, CHARLIE DIMAYACYAC, RENATO PANGUIO, ATILANO BUNQUIN, Oriental Mindoro moved to dismiss the complaint. These respondents claimed that petitioners failed to
CARLOS CHAVEZ, JUAN DIMAYACYAC, FILEMON BUNQUIN, MARIO MAGBUHOS, MAURO exhaust administrative remedies, rendering the complaint without cause of action. They also asserted
MAGBUHOS, NORA MAGBUHOS, JEOVILYN, GENALYN and JORVAN QUIMUEL, minors, that the Manila RTC has no jurisdiction to enjoin the construction of the mooring facility in Oriental
represented by their parents FELICIANA and SABINO QUIMUEL, MARICAR MAGBUHOS, minor, Mindoro, which lies outside the Manila RTC's territorial jurisdiction.
represented by her parents CARMELITA and ANTONIO MAGBUHOS, MARLO BINAY, minor, Petitioners opposed the motion on the ground that there was no need to exhaust administrative
represented by his parents EFRENITA and CHARLITO BINAY, and the BANGUS, BANGUS FRY remedies. They argued that the issuance of the ECC was in patent violation of Presidential Decree No.
and other MARINE LIFE OF MINOLO COVE, petitioners, 1605, 8 Sections 26 and 27 of Republic Act No. 7160, 9 and the provisions of DENR Department
vs. Administrative Order No. 96-37 ("DAO 96-37") on the documentation of ECC applications. Petitioners
THE HONORABLE ENRICO LANZANAS as Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch also claimed that the implementation of the ECC was in patent violation of its terms.
VII, THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES — Region IV, In its order of 7 November 1997, the trial court granted the motion and dismissed petitioners' complaint.
represented by its Regional Executive Director and its Regional Director for Environment, THE Hence, this petition.
NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, ORIENTAL MINDORO ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, The Ruling of the Trial Court
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF ORIENTAL MINDORO, herein represented by GOVERNOR The trial court's order dismissing the complaint reads in part:
RODOLFO VALENCIA, PUERTO GALERA MAYOR GREGORIO DELGADO, VICE MAYOR After careful evaluation and analysis, this Court finds the Motion to Dismiss tenable and meritorious.
ARISTEO ATIENZA, and MEMBERS OF THE SANGGUNIANG BAYAN OF PUERTO GALERA, Petitioners have clearly failed to exhaust all administrative remedies before taking this legal action in
JUAN ASCAN, JR., RAFAEL ROMEY, CENON SALCEDO, JERRY DALISAY, SIMON BALITAAN, Court x x x.
RENATO CATAQUIS, MARCELINO BANAAG, DANIEL ENRIQUEZ, AMELYN MARCO, GABRIEL It is x x x worth mentioning that the decision of the Regional Director may still be x x x elevated to the
ILAGAN, MUNICIPAL ENGINEER RODEL RUBIO, and MUNICIPAL PLANNING and Office of the Secretary of the DENR to fully comply with the process of exhaustion of administrative
DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR WILHELMINA LINESES, respondents. remedies. And well settled is the rule in our jurisdiction that before bringing an action in or resorting to
CARPIO, J.: the Courts of Justice, all remedies of administrative character affecting or determinative of the
The Case controversy at that level should first be exhausted by the aggrieved party (Pestanas vs. Dyogi, L-25786,
This is a petition for review1 of the Order2 dated 7 November 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, February 27, 1978). And petitioners' failure to exhaust administrative remedies renders his [sic] petition
Branch 7 ("Manila RTC"), dismissing petitioners' complaint for lack of cause of action and lack of dismissible (Chia vs. Acting Collector of Customs, 177 SCRA 755). And a dismissal on the ground of
jurisdiction. failure to exhaust administrative remedies is tantamount to a dismissal based on lack of cause of action
The Facts (Baguiro vs. Basa, Jr., 214 SCRA 437; Pineda vs. CFI of Davao, 111 Phil. 643; Sarabia vs. Secretary of
On 30 June 1997, Regional Executive Director Antonio G. Principe ("RED Principe") of Region IV, Agriculture & Natural Resources, L-16002, May 23, 1961; Gone, et al. vs. District Engineer, et. al., L-
Department of Environment and Natural Resources ("DENR"), issued an Environmental Clearance 22782, August 29, 1975; Abe-Abe, et al. vs. Manta, et. al., L-4827, May 31, 1979) although it does not
Certificate ("ECC") in favor of respondent National Power Corporation ("NAPOCOR"). The ECC affect the jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter (Mun. of La Trinidad, et al. vs. CFI of Baguio-
authorized NAPOCOR to construct a temporary mooring facility in Minolo Cove, Sitio Minolo, Barangay Benguet, et al., L-33889, June 28, 1983).
San Isidro, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. The Sangguniang Bayan of Puerto Galera has declared Moreover, this Court finds the Opposition of the Petitioners highly untenable and bereft of merits that
Minolo Cove, a mangrove area and breeding ground for bangus fry, an eco-tourist zone.3 the controverted act in question is patently illegal and there was an immediate need for judicial
The mooring facility would serve as the temporary docking site of NAPOCOR's power barge, which, due intervention.
to turbulent waters at its former mooring site in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, required relocation to a safer The ECC in question was issued by the Regional Office of the DENR which has jurisdiction and
site like Minolo Cove. The 14.4 megawatts power barge would provide the main source of power for the authority over the same . . .. And corollary to this, the issue as to whether or not the Minolo Cove is
entire province of Oriental Mindoro pending the construction of a land-based power plant in Calapan, within the enclosed coves and waters embraced by Puerto Galera bay and protected by Medio island is
Oriental Mindoro. The ECC for the mooring facility was valid for two years counted from its date of a clear question of fact which the DENR may appropriately resolve before resorting to [the] Court[s].
issuance or until 30 June 1999.4 This Court is likewise aware and cognizant of its territorial jurisdiction in the enforcement of Writ of
Petitioners, claiming to be fisherfolks from Minolo, San Isidro, Puerto Galera,5 sought reconsideration of Injunction. That truly, [a] writ of injunction can only be enforced within [the] territorial jurisdiction of this
the ECC issuance. RED Principe, however, denied petitioners' plea on 15 July 1997. On 21 July 1997, Court but not for acts which are being or about to be committed outside its territorial jurisdiction. Thus,
petitioners filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 7, for the cancellation of the in Philippine National Bank vs. Pineda, 197 SCRA 1, the Honorable Supreme Court ruled: "Regional
ECC and for the issuance of a writ of injunction to stop the construction of the mooring facility. Trial Courts can only enforce their writs of injunction within their respective designated territories.
Impleaded as defendants were the following: (1) NAPOCOR, (2) RED Principe, (3) DENR Region IV Furthermore, we find the issuance of the preliminary injunction directed against the Provincial Sheriff of
Technical Director for Environment Oscar Dominguez, (4) Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative Negros Occidental a jurisdictional paux [sic] pas (from Black Dictionary means jurisdictional falsity) as
("ORMECO"), which is engaged in the distribution of electricity in Oriental Mindoro, and (5) certain the Courts of First Instance now Regional Trial Court[s], can only enforce their writs of injunction within
officials of Puerto Galera.6 Petitioners subsequently amended their complaint to include as additional their respective designated territories.
defendants the elective officials of Oriental Mindoro represented by then Governor Rodolfo G. Valencia. And finally, this Court is not unmindful of the relevant and square application in the case at bar of
Petitioners further prayed for the demolition of mooring structures that respondents had already built. Presidential Decree No. 1818, Executive Order No. 380 dated November 27, 1989, and Circular No. 2-
91 of the Supreme Court that the National Power Corporation (NPC) is a public utility, created under its violation.15 Obviously, neither the Manila RTC nor the Oriental Mindoro RTC can issue an injunctive
special legislation, engaged in the generation and distribution of electric power and energy. The writ to stop the construction of the mooring facility. Only this Court can do so under PD No. 1818 and
mooring site of NPC in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro is one of its infrastructure projects falling within later under RA No. 8975. Thus, the question of whether the Manila RTC has jurisdiction over the
the mantle of Executive Order No. 380, November 27, 1989 x x x. complaint considering that its injunctive writ is not enforceable in Oriental Mindoro is academic.
And as held by the Supreme Court in the case of National Power Corporation vs. Honorable Abraham Clearly, the Manila RTC has jurisdiction to determine the validity of the issuance of the ECC, although it
P. Vera, et al., 170 SCRA 721, courts are without jurisdiction to issue injunctive writs against [the] could not issue an injunctive writ against the DENR or NAPOCOR. However, since the construction of
National Power Corporation. The latter enjoys the protective mantle of P.D. 1818, (Circular No. 2-91). the mooring facility could not proceed without a valid ECC, the validity of the ECC remains the
xxx xxx xxx determinative issue in resolving petitioners' complaint.
Injunction in this case is not a mere ancillary [sic] writ but the main action itself together with the Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Annulment of the Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC). Even assuming arguendo that the court The settled rule is before a party may seek the intervention of the courts, he should first avail of all the
[can] annul the ECC how can the latter enforce the same against the Provincial Government of Oriental means afforded by administrative processes. Hence, if a remedy within the administrative machinery is
Mindoro which was impleaded by the petitioners as a necessary party together with the Oriental still available, with a procedure prescribed pursuant to law for an administrative officer to decide the
Mindoro Electric Cooperative and the government officials of Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, whose controversy, a party should first exhaust such remedy before resorting to the courts. The premature
acts and functions are being performed outside the territorial jurisdiction of this court? x x x Indisputably, invocation of a court's intervention renders the complaint without cause of action and dismissible on
the injunction and annulment of ECC as prayed for in the petition are inseparable x x x. such ground.16
The conclusion, therefore, is inescapable that petitioners have failed to exhaust all the available RED Principe of the DENR Region IV Office issued the ECC based on (1) Presidential Decree No. 1586
administrative remedies and this Court has no jurisdiction to issue the injunctive writ prayed for in the ("PD No. 1586") and its implementing rules establishing the Environmental Impact Statement System,
Amended [Complaint].10 (2) DAO 96-3717 and (3) the Procedural Manual of DAO 96-37. Section 418 of PD No. 1586 requires a
The Issue proponent of an environmentally critical project, or a project located within an environmentally critical
The issue is whether the trial court erred in dismissing petitioners' complaint for lack of cause action and area as declared by the President, to secure an ECC prior to the project's operation.19 NAPOCOR thus
lack of jurisdiction. secured the ECC because the mooring facility in Minolo Cove, while not an environmentally critical
The Ruling of the Court project, is located within an environmentally critical area under Presidential Proclamation No. 2146,
The petition has no merit. issued on 14 December 1981.20
Jurisdiction of the Manila RTC over the Case The rules on administrative appeals from rulings of the DENR Regional Directors on the implementation
Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law. Such jurisdiction is determined by the of PD No. 1586 are found in Article VI of DAO 96-37, which provides:
allegations in the complaint, irrespective of whether the plaintiff is entitled to all or some of the reliefs SECTION 1.0. Appeal to the Office of the Secretary. — Any party aggrieved by the final decision of the
sought.11 RED may, within 15 days from receipt of such decision, file an appeal with the Office of the Secretary.
A perusal of the allegations in the complaint shows that petitioners' principal cause of action is the The decision of the Secretary shall be immediately executory.
alleged illegality of the issuance of the ECC. The violation of laws on environmental protection and on SECTION 2.0. Grounds for Appeal. — The grounds for appeal shall be limited to grave abuse of
local government participation in the implementation of environmentally critical projects is an issue that discretion and serious errors in the findings of fact which would cause grave or irreparable injury to the
involves the validity of NAPOCOR's ECC. If the ECC is void, then as a necessary consequence, aggrieved party. Frivolous appeals shall not be countenanced.
NAPOCOR or the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro could not construct the mooring facility. SECTION 3.0. Who May Appeal. — The proponent or any stakeholder, including but not limited to, the
The subsidiary issue of non-compliance with pertinent local ordinances in the construction of the LGUs concerned and affected communities, may file an appeal.
mooring facility becomes immaterial for purposes of granting petitioners' main prayer, which is the The DENR Procedural Manual for DAO 96-37 explains these provisions thus:
annulment of the ECC. Thus, if the court has jurisdiction to determine the validity of the issuance of the Final decisions of the RED may be appealed. These decisions include those relating to the issuance or
ECC, then it has jurisdiction to hear and decide petitioners' complaint. non-issuance of an ECC, and the imposition of fines and penalties. By inference, the decision of the
Petitioners' complaint is one that is not capable of pecuniary estimation. It falls within the exclusive and Secretary on the issuance or non-issuance of the ECC may also be appealed based on this
original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts under Section 19(1) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as provision. Resort to courts prior to availing of this remedy would make the appellant's action dismissible
amended by Republic Act No. 7691. The question of whether petitioners should file their complaint in on the ground of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies.
the Regional Trial Court of Manila or Oriental Mindoro then becomes a matter of venue, to be The right to appeal must be exercised within 15 days from receipt by the aggrieved party of such
determined by the residence of the parties.12 decision. Failure to file such appeal within the requisite period will result in the finality of the RED's or
Petitioners' main prayer is the annulment of the ECC. The principal respondent, DENR Region IV, has Secretary's decision(s), which can no longer be disturbed.
its main office at the L & S Building, Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Regional Executive Director Principe of An appeal shall not stay the effectivity of the RED's decision, unless the Secretary directs otherwise.
the DENR Region IV, who issued the ECC, holds office there. Plainly, the principal respondent resides The right to appeal does not prevent the aggrieved party from first resorting to the filing of a motion for
in Manila, which is within the territorial jurisdiction of the Manila RTC. Thus, petitioners filed their reconsideration with the RED, to give the RED an opportunity to re-evaluate his decision. (Emphasis
complaint in the proper venue. added)
On the other hand, the jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts to issue injunctive writs is limited to acts Instead of following the foregoing procedure, petitioners bypassed the DENR Secretary and
committed or about to be committed within their judicial region.13 Moreover, Presidential Decree No. immediately filed their complaint with the Manila RTC, depriving the DENR Secretary the opportunity to
1818 ("PD No. 1818") prohibited14 courts from issuing injunctive writs against government infrastructure review the decision of his subordinate, RED Principe. Under the Procedural Manual for DAO 96-37 and
projects like the mooring facility in the present case. Republic Act No. 8975 ("RA No. 8975"), which took applicable jurisprudence, petitioners' omission renders their complaint dismissible for lack of cause of
effect on 26 November 2000, superseded PD No. 1818 and delineates more clearly the coverage of the action.21 Consequently, the Manila RTC did not err in dismissing petitioners' complaint for lack of cause
prohibition, reserves the power to issue such writs exclusively with this Court, and provides penalties for of action.
On the Alleged Patent Illegality of the ECC such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate relocation sites have been
Petitioners nevertheless contend that they are exempt from filing an appeal with the DENR Secretary provided, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
because the issuance of the ECC was in patent violation of existing laws and regulations. These are (1) In Lina, Jr. v. Paño,27 the Court interpreted these provisions in this manner:
Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1605, as amended, (2) Sections 26 and 27 of Republic Act No. Section 27 of the Code should be read in conjunction with Section 26 thereof x x x.
7160 (Local Government Code of 1991), and (3) the provisions of DAO 96-37 on the documentary Thus, the projects and programs mentioned in Section 27 should be interpreted to mean projects and
requirements for the zoning permit and social acceptability of the mooring facility. programs whose effects are among those enumerated in Sections 26 and 27, to wit, those that: (1) may
Petitioners' contention is without merit. While the patent illegality of an act exempts a party from cause pollution; (2) may bring about climatic change; (3) may cause the depletion of non-renewable
complying with the rule on exhaustion Of administrative remedies, 22 this does not apply in the present resources; (4) may result in loss of crop land, rangeland, or forest cover; (5) may eradicate certain
case. animal or plant species; and (6) other projects or programs that may call for the eviction of a particular
Presidential Decree No. 1605 group of people residing in the locality where these will be implemented.
Presidential Decree No. 1605 ("PD No. 1605"),23 as amended by Presidential Decrees Nos. 1605-A and Again, Sections 26 and 27 do not apply to this case because as petitioners admit, 28 the mooring facility
1805, declares as ecologically threatened zone "the coves and waters embraced by Puerto Galera Bay itself is not environmentally critical and hence does not belong to any of the six types of projects
as protected by Medio Island." This decree provides in part: mentioned in the law. There is no statutory requirement for the concerned sanggunian to approve the
Section 1. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the construction of marinas, hotels, construction of the mooring facility. It is another matter if the operation of the power barge is at issue. As
restaurants, other commercial structures; commercial or semi-commercial wharfs [sic]; commercial an environmentally critical project that causes pollution, the operation of the power barge needs the
docking within the enclosed coves of Puerto Galera; the destruction of its mangrove stands; the prior approval of the concerned sanggunian. However, what is before this Court is only the construction
devastation of its corals and coastline by large barges, motorboats, tugboat propellers, and any form of of the mooring facility, not the operation of the power barge. Thus, the issuance of the ECC does not
destruction by other human activities are hereby prohibited. violate Sections 26 and 27 of RA No. 7160.
Section 2. x x x Documentary Requirements for ECC Applications
No permit for the construction of any wharf, marina, hotel, restaurants and other commercial Under DAO 96-37, an ECC applicant for a project located within an environmentally critical area is
structures in Puerto Galera shall be issued without prior approval of the Office of the President upon the required to submit an Initial Environment Examination, which must contain a brief description of the
recommendation of the Philippine Tourism Authority. (Emphasis supplied) environmental setting and a documentation of the consultative process undertaken, when
NAPOCOR claims that since Minolo Cove lies outside of "Puerto Galera Bay as protected by Medio appropriate.29 As part of the description of the environmental setting, the ECC applicant must submit a
Island",24 PD No. 1605 does not apply to this case. However, petitioners assert that Minolo Cove is one certificate of locational clearance or zoning certificate.
of the "enclosed coves of Puerto Galera"25 and thus protected under PD No. 1605. This is a question of Petitioners further contend that NAPOCOR, in applying for the ECC, did not submit to the DENR Region
fact that the DENR Secretary should have first resolved. In any event, there is no dispute that IV Office the documents proving the holding of consultations and the issuance of a locational clearance
NAPOCOR will use the mooring facility for its power barge that will supply 14.4 megawatts of electricity or zoning certificate. Petitioners assert that this omission renders the issuance of the ECC patently
to the entire province of Oriental Mindoro, including Puerto Galera. The mooring facility is obviously a illegal.
government-owned public infrastructure intended to serve a basic need of the people of Oriental The contention is also without merit. While such documents are part of the submissions required from a
Mindoro. The mooring facility is not a "commercial structure; commercial or semi-commercial wharf or project proponent, their mere absence does not render the issuance of the ECC patently illegal. To
commercial docking" as contemplated in Section 1 of PD No. 1605. Therefore, the issuance of the ECC justify non-exhaustion of administrative remedies due to the patent illegality of the ECC, the public
does not violate PD No. 1605 which applies only to commercial structures like wharves, marinas, hotels officer must have issued the ECC "[without any] semblance of compliance, or even an attempt to
and restaurants. comply, with the pertinent laws; when manifestly, the officer has acted without jurisdiction or has
Sections 26 and 27 of RA No. 7160 exceeded his jurisdiction, or has committed a grave abuse of discretion; or when his act is clearly and
Congress introduced Sections 26 and 27 in the Local Government Code to emphasize the legislative obviously devoid of any color of authority."30
concern "for the maintenance of a sound ecology and clean environment." 26 These provisions require RED Principe, as chief of DENR Region IV, is the officer duly authorized under DAO 96-3731 to issue
every national government agency or government-owned and controlled corporation to hold prior ECCs for projects located within environmentally critical areas. RED Principe issued the ECC on the
consultations with the local government unit concerned and to secure the prior approval of recommendation of Amelia Supetran, the Director of the Environmental Management Bureau. Thus,
its sanggunian before implementing "any project or program that may cause pollution, climatic change, RED Principe acted with full authority pursuant to DENR regulations. Moreover, the legal presumption is
depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of cropland, rangeland, or forest cover and extinction of that he acted with the requisite authority.32 This clothes RED Principe's acts with presumptive validity
animal or plant species." Sections 26 and 27 respectively provide: and negates any claim that his actions are patently illegal or that he gravely abused his discretion.
Section 26. Duty of National Government Agencies in the Maintenance of Ecological Balance. — It shall While petitioners may present proof to the contrary, they must do so before the proper administrative
be the duty of every national agency or government-owned or controlled corporation authorized or forum before resorting to judicial remedies.
involved in the planning and implementation of any project or program that may cause pollution, climatic On the Alleged Non-Compliance with the Terms of the ECC
change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of crop land, rangeland, or forest cover and Lastly, petitioners claim that they are justified in immediately seeking judicial recourse because
extinction of animal or plant species, to consult with the local government units, non-governmental NAPOCOR is guilty of violating the conditions of the ECC, which requires it to secure a separate ECC
organizations, and other sectors concerned and explain the goals and objectives of the project or for the operation of the power barge. The ECC also mandates NAPOCOR to secure the usual local
program, its impact upon the people and the community in terms of environmental or ecological government permits, like zoning and building permits, from the municipal government of Puerto Galera.
balance, and the measures that will be undertaken to prevent or minimize the adverse effects thereof. The contention is similarly without merit. The fact that NAPOCOR's ECC is subject to cancellation for
Section 27. Prior Consultations Required. — No project or program shall be implemented by non-compliance with its conditions does not justify petitioners' conduct in ignoring the procedure
government authorities unless the consultations mentioned in Section . . . 26 hereof are complied with, prescribed in DAO 96-37 on appeals from the decision of the DENR Executive Director. Petitioners
and prior approval of the sanggunian concerned is obtained: Provided, That occupants in areas where vigorously insist that NAPOCOR should comply with the requirements of consultation and locational
clearance prescribed in DAO 96-37. Ironically, petitioners themselves refuse to abide with the
procedure for filing complaints and appealing decisions laid down in DAO 96-37.
DAO 96-37 provides for a separate administrative proceeding to address complaints for the cancellation
of an ECC. Under Article IX of DAO 96-37, complaints to nullify an ECC must undergo an administrative
investigation, after which the hearing officer will submit his report to the EMB Director or the Regional
Executive Director, who will then render his decision. The aggrieved party may file an appeal to the
DENR Secretary, who has authority to issue cease and desist orders. Article IX also classifies the types
of violations covered under DAO 96-37, including projects operating without an ECC or violating the
conditions of the ECC. This is the applicable procedure to address petitioners' complaint on
NAPOCOR's alleged violations and not the filing of the instant case in court.
A Final Word
The Court commends petitioners for their courageous efforts to safeguard and maintain the ecological
balance of Minolo Cove. This Court recognizes the utmost importance of protecting the
environment.33 Indeed, we have called for the vigorous prosecution of violators of environmental
laws.34 Legal actions to achieve this end, however, must be done in accordance with established rules
of procedure that were intended, in the first place, to achieve orderly and efficient administration of
justice.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 101083 July 30, 1993


JUAN ANTONIO, ANNA ROSARIO and JOSE ALFONSO, all surnamed OPOSA, minors, and
represented by their parents ANTONIO and RIZALINA OPOSA, ROBERTA NICOLE SADIUA,
minor, represented by her parents CALVIN and ROBERTA SADIUA, CARLO, AMANDA SALUD
and PATRISHA, all surnamed FLORES, minors and represented by their parents ENRICO and
NIDA FLORES, GIANINA DITA R. FORTUN, minor, represented by her parents SIGRID and
DOLORES FORTUN, GEORGE II and MA. CONCEPCION, all surnamed MISA, minors and
represented by their parents GEORGE and MYRA MISA, BENJAMIN ALAN V. PESIGAN, minor,
represented by his parents ANTONIO and ALICE PESIGAN, JOVIE MARIE ALFARO, minor,
represented by her parents JOSE and MARIA VIOLETA ALFARO, MARIA CONCEPCION T. (2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license
CASTRO, minor, represented by her parents FREDENIL and JANE CASTRO, JOHANNA agreements.
DESAMPARADO, and granting the plaintiffs ". . . such other reliefs just and equitable under the premises." 5
minor, represented by her parents JOSE and ANGELA DESAMPRADO, CARLO JOAQUIN T. The complaint starts off with the general averments that the Philippine archipelago of 7,100 islands has
NARVASA, minor, represented by his parents GREGORIO II and CRISTINE CHARITY NARVASA, a land area of thirty million (30,000,000) hectares and is endowed with rich, lush and verdant rainforests
MA. MARGARITA, JESUS IGNACIO, MA. ANGELA and MARIE GABRIELLE, all surnamed SAENZ, in which varied, rare and unique species of flora and fauna may be found; these rainforests contain a
minors, represented by their parents ROBERTO and AURORA SAENZ, KRISTINE, MARY ELLEN, genetic, biological and chemical pool which is irreplaceable; they are also the habitat of indigenous
MAY, GOLDA MARTHE and DAVID IAN, all surnamed KING, minors, represented by their parents Philippine cultures which have existed, endured and flourished since time immemorial; scientific
MARIO and HAYDEE KING, DAVID, FRANCISCO and THERESE VICTORIA, all surnamed evidence reveals that in order to maintain a balanced and healthful ecology, the country's land area
ENDRIGA, minors, represented by their parents BALTAZAR and TERESITA ENDRIGA, JOSE MA. should be utilized on the basis of a ratio of fifty-four per cent (54%) for forest cover and forty-six per cent
and REGINA MA., all surnamed ABAYA, minors, represented by their parents ANTONIO and (46%) for agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and other uses; the distortion and disturbance
MARICA ABAYA, MARILIN, MARIO, JR. and MARIETTE, all surnamed CARDAMA, minors, of this balance as a consequence of deforestation have resulted in a host of environmental tragedies,
represented by their parents MARIO and LINA CARDAMA, CLARISSA, ANN MARIE, NAGEL, and such as (a) water shortages resulting from drying up of the water table, otherwise known as the
IMEE LYN, all surnamed OPOSA, minors and represented by their parents RICARDO and "aquifer," as well as of rivers, brooks and streams, (b) salinization of the water table as a result of the
MARISSA OPOSA, PHILIP JOSEPH, STEPHEN JOHN and ISAIAH JAMES, all surnamed QUIPIT, intrusion therein of salt water, incontrovertible examples of which may be found in the island of Cebu
minors, represented by their parents JOSE MAX and VILMI QUIPIT, BUGHAW CIELO, and the Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite, (c) massive erosion and the consequential loss of soil fertility
CRISANTO, ANNA, DANIEL and FRANCISCO, all surnamed BIBAL, minors, represented by their and agricultural productivity, with the volume of soil eroded estimated at one billion (1,000,000,000)
parents FRANCISCO, JR. and MILAGROS BIBAL, and THE PHILIPPINE ECOLOGICAL cubic meters per annum — approximately the size of the entire island of Catanduanes, (d) the
NETWORK, INC., petitioners, endangering and extinction of the country's unique, rare and varied flora and fauna, (e) the disturbance
vs. and dislocation of cultural communities, including the disappearance of the Filipino's indigenous
THE HONORABLE FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., in his capacity as the Secretary of the cultures, (f) the siltation of rivers and seabeds and consequential destruction of corals and other aquatic
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and THE HONORABLE ERIBERTO U. life leading to a critical reduction in marine resource productivity, (g) recurrent spells of drought as is
ROSARIO, Presiding Judge of the RTC, Makati, Branch 66, respondents. presently experienced by the entire country, (h) increasing velocity of typhoon winds which result from
Oposa Law Office for petitioners. the absence of windbreakers, (i) the floodings of lowlands and agricultural plains arising from the
The Solicitor General for respondents. 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,
DAVIDE, JR., J.: irrigation and the generation of electric power, and (k) the reduction of the earth's capacity to process
In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of Filipinos to a balanced and healthful ecology carbon dioxide gases which has led to perplexing and catastrophic climatic changes such as the
which the petitioners dramatically associate with the twin concepts of "inter-generational responsibility" phenomenon of global warming, otherwise known as the "greenhouse effect."
and "inter-generational justice." Specifically, it touches on the issue of whether the said petitioners have Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and detrimental consequences of continued and deforestation
a cause of action to "prevent the misappropriation or impairment" of Philippine rainforests and "arrest are so capable of unquestionable demonstration that the same may be submitted as a matter of judicial
the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life support systems and continued rape of Mother notice. This notwithstanding, they expressed their intention to present expert witnesses as well as
Earth." documentary, photographic and film evidence in the course of the trial.
The controversy has its genesis in Civil Case No. 90-77 which was filed before Branch 66 (Makati, As their cause of action, they specifically allege that:
Metro Manila) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital Judicial Region. The principal plaintiffs CAUSE OF ACTION
therein, now the principal petitioners, are all minors duly represented and joined by their respective 7. Plaintiffs replead by reference the foregoing allegations.
parents. Impleaded as an additional plaintiff is the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI), a 8. Twenty-five (25) years ago, the Philippines had some sixteen (16) million hectares of rainforests
domestic, non-stock and non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of, inter alia, engaging in constituting roughly 53% of the country's land mass.
concerted action geared for the protection of our environment and natural resources. The original 9. Satellite images taken in 1987 reveal that there remained no more than 1.2 million hectares of said
defendant was the Honorable Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., then Secretary of the Department of rainforests or four per cent (4.0%) of the country's land area.
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). His substitution in this petition by the new Secretary, the 10. More recent surveys reveal that a mere 850,000 hectares of virgin old-growth rainforests are left,
Honorable Angel C. Alcala, was subsequently ordered upon proper motion by the petitioners. 1 The barely 2.8% of the entire land mass of the Philippine archipelago and about 3.0 million hectares of
complaint2 was instituted as a taxpayers' class suit3 and alleges that the plaintiffs "are all citizens of the immature and uneconomical secondary growth forests.
Republic of the Philippines, taxpayers, and entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural 11. Public records reveal that the defendant's, predecessors have granted timber license agreements
resource treasure that is the country's virgin tropical forests." The same was filed for themselves and ('TLA's') to various corporations to cut the aggregate area of 3.89 million hectares for commercial
others who are equally concerned about the preservation of said resource but are "so numerous that it logging purposes.
is impracticable to bring them all before the Court." The minors further asseverate that they "represent A copy of the TLA holders and the corresponding areas covered is hereto attached as Annex "A".
their generation as well as generations yet unborn."4 Consequently, it is prayed for that judgment be 12. At the present rate of deforestation, i.e. about 200,000 hectares per annum or 25 hectares per hour
rendered: — nighttime, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays included — the Philippines will be bereft of forest
. . . ordering defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to — resources after the end of this ensuing decade, if not earlier.
(1) Cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country; 13. The adverse effects, disastrous consequences, serious injury and irreparable damage of this
continued trend of deforestation to the plaintiff minor's generation and to generations yet unborn are
evident and incontrovertible. As a matter of fact, the environmental damages enumerated in paragraph the granting of the relief prayed for would result in the impairment of contracts which is prohibited by the
6 hereof are already being felt, experienced and suffered by the generation of plaintiff adults. fundamental law of the land.
14. The continued allowance by defendant of TLA holders to cut and deforest the remaining forest Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of
stands will work great damage and irreparable injury to plaintiffs — especially plaintiff minors and their Court and ask this Court to rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the ground that the respondent
successors — who may never see, use, benefit from and enjoy this rare and unique natural resource Judge gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the action. Again, the parents of the plaintiffs-minors
treasure. not only represent their children, but have also joined the latter in this case.8
This act of defendant constitutes a misappropriation and/or impairment of the natural resource property On 14 May 1992, We resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to submit their
he holds in trust for the benefit of plaintiff minors and succeeding generations. respective Memoranda after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Comment in behalf of the
15. Plaintiffs have a clear and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and are entitled to respondents and the petitioners filed a reply thereto.
protection by the State in its capacity as the parens patriae. Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly and unmistakably states a cause of action as it contains
16. Plaintiff have exhausted all administrative remedies with the defendant's office. On March 2, 1990, sufficient allegations concerning their right to a sound environment based on Articles 19, 20 and 21 of
plaintiffs served upon defendant a final demand to cancel all logging permits in the country. the Civil Code (Human Relations), Section 4 of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 192 creating the DENR,
A copy of the plaintiffs' letter dated March 1, 1990 is hereto attached as Annex "B". Section 3 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy), Section 16, Article II
17. Defendant, however, fails and refuses to cancel the existing TLA's to the continuing serious damage of the 1987 Constitution recognizing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, the
and extreme prejudice of plaintiffs. concept of generational genocide in Criminal Law and the concept of man's inalienable right to self-
18. The continued failure and refusal by defendant to cancel the TLA's is an act violative of the rights of preservation and self-perpetuation embodied in natural law. Petitioners likewise rely on the respondent's
plaintiffs, especially plaintiff minors who may be left with a country that is desertified (sic), bare, barren correlative obligation per Section 4 of E.O. No. 192, to safeguard the people's right to a healthful
and devoid of the wonderful flora, fauna and indigenous cultures which the Philippines had been environment.
abundantly blessed with. It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent Secretary's alleged grave abuse of discretion in
19. Defendant's refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is manifestly contrary to the public policy granting Timber License Agreements (TLAs) to cover more areas for logging than what is available
enunciated in the Philippine Environmental Policy which, in pertinent part, states that it is the policy of involves a judicial question.
the State — Anent the invocation by the respondent Judge of the Constitution's non-impairment clause, petitioners
(a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in maintain that the same does not apply in this case because TLAs are not contracts. They likewise
productive and enjoyable harmony with each other; submit that even if TLAs may be considered protected by the said clause, it is well settled that they may
(b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos still be revoked by the State when the public interest so requires.
and; On the other hand, the respondents aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a specific
(c) to ensure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conductive to a life of dignity and well- legal right violated by the respondent Secretary for which any relief is provided by law. They see nothing
being. (P.D. 1151, 6 June 1977) in the complaint but vague and nebulous allegations concerning an "environmental right" which
20. Furthermore, defendant's continued refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is contradictory to supposedly entitles the petitioners to the "protection by the state in its capacity as parens patriae." Such
the Constitutional policy of the State to — allegations, according to them, do not reveal a valid cause of action. They then reiterate the theory that
a. effect "a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income and wealth" and "make full and efficient the question of whether logging should be permitted in the country is a political question which should
use of natural resources (sic)." (Section 1, Article XII of the Constitution); be properly addressed to the executive or legislative branches of Government. They therefore assert
b. "protect the nation's marine wealth." (Section 2, ibid); that the petitioners' resources is not to file an action to court, but to lobby before Congress for the
c. "conserve and promote the nation's cultural heritage and resources (sic)" (Section 14, Article passage of a bill that would ban logging totally.
XIV, id.); As to the matter of the cancellation of the TLAs, respondents submit that the same cannot be done by
d. "protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the the State without due process of law. Once issued, a TLA remains effective for a certain period of time
rhythm and harmony of nature." (Section 16, Article II, id.) — usually for twenty-five (25) years. During its effectivity, the same can neither be revised nor cancelled
21. Finally, defendant's act is contrary to the highest law of humankind — the natural law — and unless the holder has been found, after due notice and hearing, to have violated the terms of the
violative of plaintiffs' right to self-preservation and perpetuation. agreement or other forestry laws and regulations. Petitioners' proposition to have all the TLAs
22. There is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in law other than the instant action to arrest indiscriminately cancelled without the requisite hearing would be violative of the requirements of due
the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life support systems and continued rape of Mother process.
Earth. 6 Before going any further, We must first focus on some procedural matters. Petitioners instituted Civil
On 22 June 1990, the original defendant, Secretary Factoran, Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss the Case No. 90-777 as a class suit. The original defendant and the present respondents did not take issue
complaint based on two (2) grounds, namely: (1) the plaintiffs have no cause of action against him and with this matter. Nevertheless, We hereby rule that the said civil case is indeed a class suit. The subject
(2) the issue raised by the plaintiffs is a political question which properly pertains to the legislative or matter of the complaint is of common and general interest not just to several, but to all citizens of the
executive branches of Government. In their 12 July 1990 Opposition to the Motion, the petitioners Philippines. Consequently, since the parties are so numerous, it, becomes impracticable, if not totally
maintain that (1) the complaint shows a clear and unmistakable cause of action, (2) the motion is impossible, to bring all of them before the court. We likewise declare that the plaintiffs therein are
dilatory and (3) the action presents a justiciable question as it involves the defendant's abuse of numerous and representative enough to ensure the full protection of all concerned interests. Hence, all
discretion. the requisites for the filing of a valid class suit under Section 12, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court
On 18 July 1991, respondent Judge issued an order granting the aforementioned motion to dismiss. 7 In are present both in the said civil case and in the instant petition, the latter being but an incident to the
the said order, not only was the defendant's claim — that the complaint states no cause of action former.
against him and that it raises a political question — sustained, the respondent Judge further ruled that
This case, however, has a special and novel element. Petitioners minors assert that they represent their the civil and political rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of rights
generation as well as generations yet unborn. We find no difficulty in ruling that they can, for altogether for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation — aptly and fittingly
themselves, for others of their generation and for the succeeding generations, file a class suit. Their stressed by the petitioners — the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments
personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding generations can only be based on the concept of and constitutions. As a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for
intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. they are assumed to exist from the inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the
Such a right, as hereinafter expounded, considers fundamental charter, it is because of the well-founded fear of its framers that unless the rights to a
the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature means the created world in its entirety. 9 Such rhythm and balanced and healthful ecology and to health are mandated as state policies by the Constitution itself,
harmony indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal thereby highlighting their continuing importance and imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to
and conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and preserve the first and protect and advance the second, the day would not be too far when all else would
other natural resources to the end that their exploration, development and utilization be equitably be lost not only for the present generation, but also for those to come — generations which stand to
accessible to the present as well as future generations. 10Needless to say, every generation has a inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of sustaining life.
responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing
healthful ecology. Put a little differently, the minors' assertion of their right to a sound environment the environment. During the debates on this right in one of the plenary sessions of the 1986
constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of that right for Constitutional Commission, the following exchange transpired between Commissioner Wilfrido
the generations to come. Villacorta and Commissioner Adolfo Azcuna who sponsored the section in question:
The locus standi of the petitioners having thus been addressed, We shall now proceed to the merits of MR. VILLACORTA:
the petition. Does this section mandate the State to provide sanctions against all forms of pollution — air, water and
After a careful perusal of the complaint in question and a meticulous consideration and evaluation of the noise pollution?
issues raised and arguments adduced by the parties, We do not hesitate to find for the petitioners and MR. AZCUNA:
rule against the respondent Judge's challenged order for having been issued with grave abuse of Yes, Madam President. The right to healthful (sic) environment necessarily carries with it the correlative
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The pertinent portions of the said order reads as follows: duty of not impairing the same and, therefore, sanctions may be provided for impairment of
xxx xxx xxx environmental balance. 12
After a careful and circumspect evaluation of the Complaint, the Court cannot help but agree with the The said right implies, among many other things, the judicious management and conservation of the
defendant. For although we believe that plaintiffs have but the noblest of all intentions, it (sic) fell short country's forests.
of alleging, with sufficient definiteness, a specific legal right they are seeking to enforce and protect, or a Without such forests, the ecological or environmental balance would be irreversiby disrupted.
specific legal wrong they are seeking to prevent and redress (Sec. 1, Rule 2, RRC). Furthermore, the Conformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and healthful ecology and the right to health, as
Court notes that the Complaint is replete with vague assumptions and vague conclusions based on well as the other related provisions of the Constitution concerning the conservation, development and
unverified data. In fine, plaintiffs fail to state a cause of action in its Complaint against the herein utilization of the country's natural resources, 13 then President Corazon C. Aquino promulgated on 10
defendant. June 1987 E.O. No. 192, 14 Section 4 of which expressly mandates that the Department of Environment
Furthermore, the Court firmly believes that the matter before it, being impressed with political color and and Natural Resources "shall be the primary government agency responsible for the conservation,
involving a matter of public policy, may not be taken cognizance of by this Court without doing violence management, development and proper use of the country's environment and natural resources,
to the sacred principle of "Separation of Powers" of the three (3) co-equal branches of the Government. specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral, resources, including those in reservation and watershed
The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction, grant areas, and lands of the public domain, as well as the licensing and regulation of all natural resources as
the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country may be provided for by law in order to ensure equitable sharing of the benefits derived therefrom for the
and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos." Section 3 thereof makes the following
license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of contracts" abhored (sic) by the statement of policy:
fundamental law. 11 Sec. 3. Declaration of Policy. — It is hereby declared the policy of the State to ensure the sustainable
We do not agree with the trial court's conclusions that the plaintiffs failed to allege with sufficient use, development, management, renewal, and conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, off-
definiteness a specific legal right involved or a specific legal wrong committed, and that the complaint is shore areas and other natural resources, including the protection and enhancement of the quality of the
replete with vague assumptions and conclusions based on unverified data. A reading of the complaint environment, and equitable access of the different segments of the population to the development and
itself belies these conclusions. the use of the country's natural resources, not only for the present generation but for future generations
The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right — the right to a balanced and healthful as well. It is also the policy of the state to recognize and apply a true value system including social and
ecology which, for the first time in our nation's constitutional history, is solemnly incorporated in the environmental cost implications relative to their utilization, development and conservation of our natural
fundamental law. Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides: resources.
Sec. 16. The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology This policy declaration is substantially re-stated it Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of
in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature. 1987,15 specifically in Section 1 thereof which reads:
This right unites with the right to health which is provided for in the preceding section of the same Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. — (1) The State shall ensure, for the benefit of the Filipino people, the full
article: exploration and development as well as the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and
Sec. 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other
consciousness among them. natural resources, consistent with the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and
While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment and the objective of making the exploration,
and State Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of
development and utilization of such natural resources equitably accessible to the different segments of they may thus be granted, wholly or partly, the reliefs prayed for. It bears stressing, however, that
the present as well as future generations. insofar as the cancellation of the TLAs is concerned, there is the need to implead, as party defendants,
(2) The State shall likewise recognize and apply a true value system that takes into account social and the grantees thereof for they are indispensable parties.
environmental cost implications relative to the utilization, development and conservation of our natural The foregoing considered, Civil Case No. 90-777 be said to raise a political question. Policy formulation
resources. or determination by the executive or legislative branches of Government is not squarely put in issue.
The above provision stresses "the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting What is principally involved is the enforcement of a right vis-a-vis policies already formulated and
and enhancing the quality of the environment." Section 2 of the same Title, on the other hand, expressed in legislation. It must, nonetheless, be emphasized that the political question doctrine is no
specifically speaks of the mandate of the DENR; however, it makes particular reference to the fact of longer, the insurmountable obstacle to the exercise of judicial power or the impenetrable shield that
the agency's being subject to law and higher authority. Said section provides: protects executive and legislative actions from judicial inquiry or review. The second paragraph of
Sec. 2. Mandate. — (1) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources shall be primarily section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution states that:
responsible for the implementation of the foregoing policy. Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights
(2) It shall, subject to law and higher authority, be in charge of carrying out the State's constitutional which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave
mandate to control and supervise the exploration, development, utilization, and conservation of the abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
country's natural resources. instrumentality of the Government.
Both E.O. NO. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 have set the objectives which will serve as the Commenting on this provision in his book, Philippine Political Law, 22 Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, a
bases for policy formulation, and have defined the powers and functions of the DENR. distinguished member of this Court, says:
It may, however, be recalled that even before the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, specific statutes The first part of the authority represents the traditional concept of judicial power, involving the
already paid special attention to the "environmental right" of the present and future generations. On 6 settlement of conflicting rights as conferred as law. The second part of the authority represents a
June 1977, P.D. No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy) and P.D. No. 1152 (Philippine Environment broadening of judicial power to enable the courts of justice to review what was before forbidden territory,
Code) were issued. The former "declared a continuing policy of the State (a) to create, develop, to wit, the discretion of the political departments of the government.
maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable As worded, the new provision vests in the judiciary, and particularly the Supreme Court, the power to
harmony with each other, (b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future rule upon even the wisdom of the decisions of the executive and the legislature and to declare their acts
generations of Filipinos, and (c) to insure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conducive to invalid for lack or excess of jurisdiction because tainted with grave abuse of discretion. The catch, of
a life of dignity and well-being." 16 As its goal, it speaks of the "responsibilities of each generation as course, is the meaning of "grave abuse of discretion," which is a very elastic phrase that can expand or
trustee and guardian of the environment for succeeding generations." 17 The latter statute, on the other contract according to the disposition of the judiciary.
hand, gave flesh to the said policy. In Daza vs. Singson, 23 Mr. Justice Cruz, now speaking for this Court, noted:
Thus, the right of the petitioners (and all those they represent) to a balanced and healthful ecology is as In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection becomes even less tenable and decisive. The
clear as the DENR's duty — under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and functions under E.O. No. reason is that, even if we were to assume that the issue presented before us was political in nature, we
192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 — to protect and advance the said right. would still not be precluded from revolving it under the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon us that now
A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the corelative duty or obligation to respect or covers, in proper cases, even the political question. Article VII, Section 1, of the Constitution clearly
protect the same gives rise to a cause of action. Petitioners maintain that the granting of the TLAs, provides: . . .
which they claim was done with grave abuse of discretion, violated their right to a balanced and The last ground invoked by the trial court in dismissing the complaint is the non-impairment of contracts
healthful ecology; hence, the full protection thereof requires that no further TLAs should be renewed or clause found in the Constitution. The court a quo declared that:
granted. The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction, grant
A cause of action is defined as: the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country
. . . an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal right or rights of the other; and its essential and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber
elements are legal right of the plaintiff, correlative obligation of the defendant, and act or omission of the license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of contracts" abhored (sic) by the
defendant in violation of said legal right. 18 fundamental law. 24
It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the complaint fails to We are not persuaded at all; on the contrary, We are amazed, if not shocked, by such a sweeping
state a cause of action, 19 the question submitted to the court for resolution involves the sufficiency of pronouncement. In the first place, the respondent Secretary did not, for obvious reasons, even invoke in
the facts alleged in the complaint itself. No other matter should be considered; furthermore, the truth of his motion to dismiss the non-impairment clause. If he had done so, he would have acted with utmost
falsity of the said allegations is beside the point for the truth thereof is deemed hypothetically admitted. infidelity to the Government by providing undue and unwarranted benefits and advantages to the timber
The only issue to be resolved in such a case is: admitting such alleged facts to be true, may the court license holders because he would have forever bound the Government to strictly respect the said
render a valid judgment in accordance with the prayer in the complaint? 20 In Militante vs. licenses according to their terms and conditions regardless of changes in policy and the demands of
Edrosolano, 21 this Court laid down the rule that the judiciary should "exercise the utmost care and public interest and welfare. He was aware that as correctly pointed out by the petitioners, into every
circumspection in passing upon a motion to dismiss on the ground of the absence thereof [cause of timber license must be read Section 20 of the Forestry Reform Code (P.D. No. 705) which provides:
action] lest, by its failure to manifest a correct appreciation of the facts alleged and deemed . . . Provided, That when the national interest so requires, the President may amend, modify, replace or
hypothetically admitted, what the law grants or recognizes is effectively nullified. If that happens, there rescind any contract, concession, permit, licenses or any other form of privilege granted herein . . .
is a blot on the legal order. The law itself stands in disrepute." Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is not a contract,
After careful examination of the petitioners' complaint, We find the statements under the introductory property or a property right protested by the due process clause of the Constitution. In Tan vs. Director
affirmative allegations, as well as the specific averments under the sub-heading CAUSE OF ACTION, to of Forestry, 25 this Court held:
be adequate enough to show, prima facie, the claimed violation of their rights. On the basis thereof,
. . . A timber license is an instrument by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest aside. The petitioners may therefore amend their complaint to implead as defendants the holders or
resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. A timber license is not a contract within the grantees of the questioned timber license agreements.
purview of the due process clause; it is only a license or privilege, which can be validly withdrawn No pronouncement as to costs.
whenever dictated by public interest or public welfare as in this case. SO ORDERED.
A license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and is not a contract Cruz, Padilla, Bidin, Griño-Aquino, Regalado, Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ.,
between the authority, federal, state, or municipal, granting it and the person to whom it is granted; concur.
neither is it property or a property right, nor does it create a vested right; nor is it taxation (37 C.J. 168). Narvasa, C.J., Puno and Vitug, JJ., took no part.
Thus, this Court held that the granting of license does not create irrevocable rights, neither is it property
or property rights (People vs. Ong Tin, 54 O.G. 7576).
We reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe Ysmael, Jr. & Co., Inc. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary: 26
. . . Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal instruments by which the State Separate Opinions
regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted.
And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the State to qualified FELICIANO, J., concurring
entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession area I join in the result reached by my distinguished brother in the Court, Davide, Jr., J., in this case which, to
and the forest products therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the my mind, is one of the most important cases decided by this Court in the last few years. The seminal
Chief Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts within the principles laid down in this decision are likely to influence profoundly the direction and course of the
purview of the due process of law clause [See Sections 3(ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as protection and management of the environment, which of course embraces the utilization of all the
amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry, G.R. No. L-24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302]. natural resources in the territorial base of our polity. I have therefore sought to clarify, basically to
Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which reads: myself, what the Court appears to be saying.
Sec. 10. No law impairing, the obligation of contracts shall be passed. 27 The Court explicitly states that petitioners have the locus standi necessary to sustain the bringing and,
cannot be invoked. maintenance of this suit (Decision, pp. 11-12). Locus standi is not a function of petitioners' claim that
In the second place, even if it is to be assumed that the same are contracts, the instant case does not their suit is properly regarded as a class suit. I understand locus standi to refer to the legal interest
involve a law or even an executive issuance declaring the cancellation or modification of existing timber which a plaintiff must have in the subject matter of the suit. Because of the very broadness of the
licenses. Hence, the non-impairment clause cannot as yet be invoked. Nevertheless, granting further concept of "class" here involved — membership in this "class" appears to embrace everyone living in
that a law has actually been passed mandating cancellations or modifications, the same cannot still be the country whether now or in the
stigmatized as a violation of the non-impairment clause. This is because by its very nature and purpose, future — it appears to me that everyone who may be expected to benefit from the course of action
such as law could have only been passed in the exercise of the police power of the state for the petitioners seek to require public respondents to take, is vested with the necessary locus standi. The
purpose of advancing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, promoting their health Court may be seen therefore to be recognizing a beneficiaries' right of action in the field of
and enhancing the general welfare. In Abe vs. Foster Wheeler environmental protection, as against both the public administrative agency directly concerned and the
Corp. 28 this Court stated: private persons or entities operating in the field or sector of activity involved. Whether such
The freedom of contract, under our system of government, is not meant to be absolute. The same is beneficiaries' right of action may be found under any and all circumstances, or whether some failure to
understood to be subject to reasonable legislative regulation aimed at the promotion of public health, act, in the first instance, on the part of the governmental agency concerned must be shown ("prior
moral, safety and welfare. In other words, the constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of obligations of exhaustion of administrative remedies"), is not discussed in the decision and presumably is left for
contract is limited by the exercise of the police power of the State, in the interest of public health, safety, future determination in an appropriate case.
moral and general welfare. The Court has also declared that the complaint has alleged and focused upon "one specific
The reason for this is emphatically set forth in Nebia vs. New York, 29 quoted in Philippine American Life fundamental legal right — the right to a balanced and healthful ecology" (Decision, p. 14). There is no
Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General,30 to wit: question that "the right to a balanced and healthful ecology" is "fundamental" and that, accordingly, it
Under our form of government the use of property and the making of contracts are normally matters of has been "constitutionalized." But although it is fundamental in character, I suggest, with very great
private and not of public concern. The general rule is that both shall be free of governmental respect, that it cannot be characterized as "specific," without doing excessive violence to language. It is
interference. But neither property rights nor contract rights are absolute; for government cannot exist if in fact very difficult to fashion language more comprehensive in scope and generalized in character than
the citizen may at will use his property to the detriment of his fellows, or exercise his freedom of contract a right to "a balanced and healthful ecology." The list of particular claims which can be subsumed under
to work them harm. Equally fundamental with the private right is that of the public to regulate it in the this rubic appears to be entirely open-ended: prevention and control of emission of toxic fumes and
common interest. smoke from factories and motor vehicles; of discharge of oil, chemical effluents, garbage and raw
In short, the non-impairment clause must yield to the police power of the state. 31 sewage into rivers, inland and coastal waters by vessels, oil rigs, factories, mines and whole
Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court did, how the non-impairment clause could apply with communities; of dumping of organic and inorganic wastes on open land, streets and thoroughfares;
respect to the prayer to enjoin the respondent Secretary from receiving, accepting, processing, failure to rehabilitate land after strip-mining or open-pit mining; kaingin or slash-and-burn farming;
renewing or approving new timber licenses for, save in cases of renewal, no contract would have as of destruction of fisheries, coral reefs and other living sea resources through the use of dynamite or
yet existed in the other instances. Moreover, with respect to renewal, the holder is not entitled to it as a cyanide and other chemicals; contamination of ground water resources; loss of certain species of fauna
matter of right. and flora; and so on. The other statements pointed out by the Court: Section 3, Executive Order No.
WHEREFORE, being impressed with merit, the instant Petition is hereby GRANTED, and the 192 dated 10 June 1987; Section 1, Title XIV, Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code; and P.D. No.
challenged Order of respondent Judge of 18 July 1991 dismissing Civil Case No. 90-777 is hereby set 1151, dated 6 June 1977 — all appear to be formulations of policy, as general and abstract as the
constitutional statements of basic policy in Article II, Section 16 ("the right — to a balanced and healthful amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction," the result will be, it is respectfully submitted, to propel
ecology") and 15 ("the right to health"). courts into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making. At least in respect of the vast
P.D. No. 1152, also dated 6 June 1977, entitled "The Philippine Environment Code," is, upon the other area of environmental protection and management, our courts have no claim to special technical
hand, a compendious collection of more "specific environment management policies" and "environment competence and experience and professional qualification. Where no specific, operable norms and
quality standards" (fourth "Whereas" clause, Preamble) relating to an extremely wide range of topics: standards are shown to exist, then the policy making departments — the legislative and executive
(a) air quality management; departments — must be given a real and effective opportunity to fashion and promulgate those norms
(b) water quality management; and standards, and to implement them before the courts should intervene.
(c) land use management; My learned brother Davide, Jr., J., rightly insists that the timber companies, whose concession
(d) natural resources management and conservation embracing: agreements or TLA's petitioners demand public respondents should cancel, must be impleaded in the
(i) fisheries and aquatic resources; proceedings below. It might be asked that, if petitioners' entitlement to the relief demanded
(ii) wild life; is not dependent upon proof of breach by the timber companies of one or more of the specific terms and
(iii) forestry and soil conservation; conditions of their concession agreements (and this, petitioners implicitly assume), what will those
(iv) flood control and natural calamities; companies litigate about? The answer I suggest is that they may seek to dispute the existence of the
(v) energy development; specific legal right petitioners should allege, as well as the reality of the claimed factual nexus between
(vi) conservation and utilization of surface and ground water petitioners' specific legal rights and the claimed wrongful acts or failures to act of public respondent
(vii) mineral resources administrative agency. They may also controvert the appropriateness of the remedy or remedies
Two (2) points are worth making in this connection. Firstly, neither petitioners nor the Court has demanded by petitioners, under all the circumstances which exist.
identified the particular provision or provisions (if any) of the Philippine Environment Code which give I vote to grant the Petition for Certiorari because the protection of the environment, including the forest
rise to a specific legal right which petitioners are seeking to enforce. Secondly, the Philippine cover of our territory, is of extreme importance for the country. The doctrines set out in the Court's
Environment Code identifies with notable care the particular government agency charged with the decision issued today should, however, be subjected to closer examination.
formulation and implementation of guidelines and programs dealing with each of the headings and sub-
headings mentioned above. The Philippine Environment Code does not, in other words, appear to
contemplate action on the part of private persons who are beneficiaries of implementation of that Code.
As a matter of logic, by finding petitioners' cause of action as anchored on a legal right comprised in the
constitutional statements above noted, the Court is in effect saying that Section 15 (and Section 16) of
Article II of the Constitution are self-executing and judicially enforceable even in their present form. The
implications of this doctrine will have to be explored in future cases; those implications are too large and
far-reaching in nature even to be hinted at here.
My suggestion is simply that petitioners must, before the trial court, show a more specific legal right — a
right cast in language of a significantly lower order of generality than Article II (15) of the Constitution —
that is or may be violated by the actions, or failures to act, imputed to the public respondent by
petitioners so that the trial court can validly render judgment granting all or part of the relief prayed for.
To my mind, the Court should be understood as simply saying that such a more specific legal right or
rights may well exist in our corpus of law, considering the general policy principles found in the
Constitution and the existence of the Philippine Environment Code, and that the trial court should have
given petitioners an effective opportunity so to demonstrate, instead of aborting the proceedings on a
motion to dismiss.
It seems to me important that the legal right which is an essential component of a cause of action be a
specific, operable legal right, rather than a constitutional or statutory policy, for at least two (2) reasons.
One is that unless the legal right claimed to have been violated or disregarded is given specification in
operational terms, defendants may well be unable to defend themselves intelligently and effectively; in
other words, there are due process dimensions to this matter.
The second is a broader-gauge consideration — where a specific violation of law or applicable
regulation is not alleged or proved, petitioners can be expected to fall back on the expanded conception
of judicial power in the second paragraph of Section 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution which reads:
Section 1. . . .
Judicial 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 lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the Government. (Emphasis supplied)
When substantive standards as general as "the right to a balanced and healthy ecology" and "the right
to health" are combined with remedial standards as broad ranging as "a grave abuse of discretion