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Oposa vs Factoran, Jr.

- It is prayed for that judgment be rendered ordering defendant,


Topic: Promotion of health (Art. II, Sections 15-16 and Art. XIII, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in his
Sections 11-13) behalf to:
(1) Cancel all existing timber license agreements (TLAs) in the
FACTS: country;
- The controversy begun as Civil Case No. 90-77 which was (2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing,
filed before the RTC of Makati City Branch 66. renewing or approving new TLAs. and
(3) granting the plaintiffs such other reliefs just and equitable
- The principal petitioners, are all minors duly represented and under the premises.
joined by their respective parents. Impleaded as an additional
plaintiff is the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI), a - The complaint starts off with the general averments that the
domestic, non-stock and non-profit corporation organized for Philippine archipelago of 7,100 islands has a land area of
the purpose of, inter alia, engaging in concerted action geared thirty million (30,000,000) hectares and is endowed with rich,
for the protection of our environment and natural resources. lush and verdant rainforests in which varied, rare and unique
species of flora and fauna may be found.
- The original defendant was the Honorable Fulgencio S.
Factoran, Jr., then Secretary of the Department of - These rainforests contain a genetic, biological and chemical
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). His substitution pool which is irreplaceable; they are also the habitat of
in this petition by the new Secretary, the Honorable Angel C. indigenous Philippine cultures which have existed, endured
Alcala, was subsequently ordered upon proper motion by the and flourished since time immemorial.
petitioners.
- Scientific evidence reveals that in order to maintain a
- The complaint was instituted as a taxpayers' class suit and balanced and healthful ecology, the country's land area
alleges that the plaintiffs "are all citizens of the Republic of the should be utilized on the basis of a ratio of fifty-four per cent
Philippines, taxpayers, and entitled to the full benefit, use and (54%) for forest cover and forty-six per cent (46%) for
enjoyment of the natural resource treasure that is the agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and other uses.
country's virgin tropical forests."
- The same was filed for themselves and others who are equally - The distortion and disturbance of this balance as a
concerned about the preservation of said resource but are "so consequence of deforestation have resulted in a host of
numerous that it is impracticable to bring them all before the environmental tragedies.
Court."
- Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and detrimental
- The minors further asseverate that they "represent their consequences of continued and deforestation are so capable
generation as well as generations yet unborn."
of unquestionable demonstration that the same may be allegations concerning their right to a sound
submitted as a matter of judicial notice. environment, the right of the people to a balanced and
healthful ecology, the concept of generational
- On 22 June 1990, the original defendant, Secretary Factoran, genocide and the concept of man's inalienable right
Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint based on two (2) to self-preservation and self-perpetuation.
grounds, namely: (1) the plaintiffs have no cause of action o Rely on the respondent's correlative obligation per
against him and (2) the issue raised by the plaintiffs is a Section 4 of E.O. No. 192, to safeguard the people's
political question which properly pertains to the legislative or right to a healthful environment.
executive branches of Government. o It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent
Secretary's alleged grave abuse of discretion in
- In their 12 July 1990 Opposition to the Motion, the petitioners granting Timber License Agreements (TLAs) to cover
maintain that (1) the complaint shows a clear and more areas for logging than what is available involves
unmistakable cause of action, (2) the motion is dilatory and a judicial question.
(3) the action presents a justiciable question as it involves the o Non-impairment clause does not apply in this case
defendant's abuse of discretion. because TLAs are not contracts.
o Even if TLAs may be considered protected by the said
- On 18 July 1991, respondent Judge issued an order granting clause, it is well settled that they may still be revoked
the aforementioned motion to dismiss. In the said order, not by the State when the public interest so requires.
only was the defendant's claim — that the complaint states no
cause of action against him and that it raises a political Respondents:
question — sustained, the respondent Judge further ruled that o Aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their
the granting of the relief prayed for would result in the complaint a specific legal right violated by the
impairment of contracts which is prohibited by the respondent Secretary for which any relief is provided
fundamental law of the land. by law. They see nothing in the complaint but vague
and nebulous allegations concerning an
- Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari "environmental right" which supposedly entitles the
under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court and asked the petitioners to the "protection by the state in its
Court to rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the capacity as parens patriae." Such allegations,
ground that the respondent Judge gravely abused his according to them, do not reveal a valid cause of
discretion in dismissing the action. action.
o They then reiterate the theory that the question of
whether logging should be permitted in the country is
Petitioners: a political question which should be properly
o Contend that the complaint clearly and unmistakably addressed to the executive or legislative branches of
states a cause of action as it contains sufficient Government. They therefore assert that the
petitioners' resources is not to file an action to court,
but to lobby before Congress for the passage of a bill - This right unites with the right to health which is provided for
that would ban logging totally. in the Section 15 of the same article.
o As to the matter of the cancellation of the TLAs,
respondents submit that the same cannot be done by - While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be
the State without due process of law. Once issued, a found under the Declaration of Principles and State Policies
TLA remains effective for a certain period of time — and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less
usually for twenty-five (25) years. During its important than any of the civil and political rights enumerated
effectivity, the same can neither be revised nor in the latter.
cancelled unless the holder has been found, after due
notice and hearing, to have violated the terms of the - Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether
agreement or other forestry laws and regulations. for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-
Petitioners' proposition to have all the TLAs perpetuation the advancement of which may even be said to
indiscriminately cancelled without the requisite predate all governments and constitutions.
hearing would be violative of the requirements of due
process. - As a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written
Issue/s: in the Constitution for they are assumed to exist from the
- Whether or not the petitioners have a cause of action to inception of humankind.
prevent the misappropriation or impairment of Philippine
rainforests and arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the - If they are now explicitly mentioned in the fundamental
country's vital life support systems and continued rape of charter, it is because of the well-founded fear of its framers
Mother Earth. (YES) that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and
to health are mandated as state policies by the Constitution
Ruling: itself, thereby highlighting their continuing importance and
- The instant Petition is granted, and the challenged Order of imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to preserve the
respondent Judge is set aside. The petitioners may therefore first and protect and advance the second, the day would not
amend their complaint to implead as defendants the holders be too far when all else would be lost not only for the present
or grantees of the questioned timber license agreements. generation, but also for those to come — generations which
stand to inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of
sustaining life.
RIGHT TO A BALANCED AND HEALTHFUL ECOLOGY:
- The complaint focuses on the right to a balanced and healthful - The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it
ecology which, for the first time in our nation's constitutional the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment.
history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law
(Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution).
- The said right implies, among many other things, the judicious - On 6 June 1977, P.D. No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental
management and conservation of the country's forests. Policy) and P.D. No. 1152 (Philippine Environment Code)
were issued. As its goal, it speaks of the "responsibilities of
- Without such forests, the ecological or environmental balance each generation as trustee and guardian of the environment
would be irreversiby disrupted. for succeeding generations." The latter statute, on the other
hand, gave flesh to the said policy.
- Conformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and
healthful ecology and the right to health, then President - Thus, the right of the petitioners (and all those they represent)
Corazon C. Aquino promulgated on 10 June 1987 E.O. No. to a balanced and healthful ecology is as clear as the DENR's
192, Section 4 of which expressly mandates that the duty — under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and
Department of Environment and Natural Resources "shall be functions under E.O. No. 192 and the Administrative Code of
the primary government agency responsible for the 1987 — to protect and advance the said right.
conservation, management, development and proper use of
the country's environment and natural resources, specifically - A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the
forest and grazing lands, mineral, resources, including those correlative duty or obligation to respect or protect the same
in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of the public gives rise to a cause of action.
domain, as well as the licensing and regulation of all natural
resources as may be provided for by law in order to ensure
equitable sharing of the benefits derived therefrom for the
welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos."

- This policy declaration is substantially re-stated it Title XIV,


Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987. It stresses "the
necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and
protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment."
Section 2 of the same Title, on the other hand, specifically
speaks of the mandate of the DENR; however, it makes
particular reference to the fact of the agency's being subject
to law and higher authority.

- Both E.O. NO. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 have
set the objectives which will serve as the bases for policy
formulation, and have defined the powers and functions of the
DENR.