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The Four Laws of Ecology (Barry Commoner 1917-2012)

Posted on January 15, 2013 by Sandy Strauss


Note: This is an expanded version of the January 2013 column that appeared in the
monthly newsletter of the United Churches of Lycoming County, Williamsport PA
(www.uclc.org) .

Known to many general readers as the formulator of The Four Laws of Ecology, Dr.
Commoner died last year. A cellular biologist and college professor, in
1970 TIMEmagazine featured him as the Paul Revere of Ecology in a cover
story. Some today regard him as the greatest environmentalist of the 20th
century. His books include The Closing Circle: Nature, Man and Technology (1971)
and Making Peace With the Planet(1990).

The Four Laws of Ecology, with various simple explanations given on different web
sites, and which can be applied to ones daily life, are:

1. Everything Is Connected To Everything Else. There is one ecosphere for


all living organisms and what affects one, affects all. Humans and other species are
connected/dependent on other species. With this in mind it becomes hard to
practice anything other than compassion and harmlessness.
2. Everything Must Go Somewhere. There is no waste in nature, and there
is no away to which things can be thrown. Everything, such as wood smoke,
nuclear waste, carbon emissions, etc., must go somewhere.
3. Nature Knows Best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon
nature, but such change in a natural system is, says Commoner, likely to be
detrimental to that system. The Creation, one can argue, has an intelligence, and to
tinker with that unintellectually we get global warming pollution, etc.
4. There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Exploitation of nature will
inevitably involve the conversion of resources from useful to useless forms. In
nature, both sides of the equation must balance, for every gain there is a cost, and all
debts are eventually paid.
Among Commoners achievements are these two:

1. As a central figure in the mid-20th century anti-nuclear testing movement, he


issued warnings about radioactive fallout (based on an analysis of childrens baby
teeth) that helped lead to a 1963 nuclear test ban treaty that phased out atmospheric
testing.
2. He broadened his ecological message by becoming a politician, running as the
the USA Presidential candidate on the 1980 Citizens Party ticket. His running mate
was LaDonna Harris, the Native-American wife of Fred Harris, former Democratic
Senator from Oklahoma.

http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=13345
The Lay of the Land: Ecosystem Diversity in the Philippines

Viewing biodiversity at the ecosystem level is a holistic way of appreciating and analyzing the
natural richness of the Philippines, taking in consideration the dynamic ecological functions and
interactions of both the living and the non-living parts of the biosphere within a given location,
as well as the impacts of natural phenomena and human-caused environmental changes upon
them.

Viewing biodiversity at the ecosystem level is a holistic way of appreciating and analyzing the
natural richness of the Philippines, taking in consideration the dynamic ecological functions and
interactions of both the living and the non-living parts of the biosphere within a given location,
as well as the impacts of natural phenomena and human-caused environmental changes upon
them.

The Philippiness widely varied geographic features from isolated islands surrounded by water, to staggered
mountain ranges, to the various inland waters within them make the country conducive to the survival of many
types of ecosystems. (FPE)

Here in this country, topography varies to a great extent, ranging from coastal wetlands to
upland region watersheds. It follows, thus, that the country is home to several types of
ecosystems, which can be classified according to their defining features as follows:

General Types (Higher


Sub-types (Lower Level) Major Features
Level)
Forest types classified based on:
Terrestrial
Sub-alpine forest
Ecosystem
Altitude ranging from sea level to 3,000
Mossy forest meters above sea level
Montane forest Presence of dominant forest species and
endemic/native plants
(upper and lower)
Amount of soil nutrients and moisture
Pine forest
Type of soil minerals and soil chemistry
Semi-deciduous
forest (moist
deciduous)
Lowland
evergreen forest
Forest over
limestone (karst)
Forest over
ultrabasic soil
Forest over
ultramafic rocks
Grassland (upland
and lowland)
Beach forest

Lacustrine: Lakes
and ponds
Riverine: rivers, Inland wetlands classified based on
Freshwater
Ecosystem streams, creeks hydrodynamics and geography
Palustrine:
marshes

Found along the shoreline and extending


seaward, found mostly in the mouths of rivers
Mangrove swamp
Brackish/Estuarine Classified based on dominant species/genera
Ecosystem Nipa swamp
Coastal wetlands where sea water and fresh
water mix

Mudflats Coastal marine wetlands


Saltwater/Marine Seagrass belts
Ecosystem Coral reefs
Classified based on dominant species/taxa,
physical features, and geography

Caves Hollow spaces or cavities beneath the


Special Ecosystems
surface of the earth, often with one or several
openings to the surface
May be classified based on the nature of
mineral deposits and geological formations

Some further detailed discussions of various ecosystem types found in the Philippines follow
below.

Forest Ecosystem

Forests are inherently diverse ecosystems, as conditions found within them are ideal for
supporting symbiotic ecological relationships. This is especially so in the Philippines, where the
tropical climate allows forests to receive, absorb, and redistribute rainwater to support life not
only within themselves, but also to other nearby and adjacent ecosystems where the water
reserves are released.

(FPE)

Primarily, forests serve as the countrys most important source of water, thus allowing all other
forms of natural resources to flourish and become productive. Forest ecosystems naturally
provide clean air and food in the process. In addition, these resources also contribute through
power (electricity) generation, and by providing protection as a raw material for houses and
other forms of shelter. They also offer indirect benefits, such as by functioning as buffer zones
from storms and prevention of soil erosion. Forests support human livelihood, although proper
management and conscious conservation efforts are emphatically required in this sense.

Unfortunately, forests are heavily prone to abuse and exploitation. Over the last century,
human populations consumed and altered forest landscapes in favor of agricultural
development and urbanization. It is estimated that from having 70% forest cover at the start of
the 1900s, only about 24% remain, based on 2001-03 satellite imagery, according to the
DENRs Forest Management Bureau. Meanwhile, according to the Philippine Tropical Forest
Conservation Foundation, deforestation continues at an average of 100,000 hectares per year
or 273 hectares per day.

The problem of forest degradation and destruction continues due to the prevalence of logging
practices both legal and otherwise, mining, and land conversion. This, despite more proactive
measures being undertaken to restore them at present. While initiatives such as the DENRs
National Greening Program are in place and already being executed, forests still suffer due to
generally poor state-level policy-making that support activities such as logging and mining for
commercial gain.

Further reading:

FPE & USAID - Upscaling Forest Reforestation in Key Biodiversity Areas


DENR-FMB - 2011 Philippine Forestry Statistics
DENR - National Greening Program

Mangrove Ecosystem

Another prominent type of ecosystem that naturally occurs in the Philippines, given the
multitude of coastal areas of this country, is the mangrove ecosystem. Mangroves are
medium-size and highly tolerant flora that can survive in brackish water (water which is more
saline than freshwater, but not as much as seawater). The Philippines boasts having more than
half of the worlds 70 mangrove species.

(FPE)

People draw benefits from mangrove systems as they serve as breeding and feeding grounds
for local terrestrial and aquatic species, while also being stop-over sites for migratory
species. They also contribute to ecological balance by stabilizing and minimizing sedimentation
and siltation in coral reefs, while also facilitating the increase of land area by way of
accumulated soil and debris.

While mangrove ecosystems are already dynamic and unstable environments due to their
location, they are also commonly threatened by human interaction due to the utilization and
consumption of coastal communities.

Further reading:

RAMSAR - Annotated List of Wetlands of International Importance: Philippines (2013)


UN-FAO - Mangrove Guidebook for Southeast Asia (2006/2007)
DENR-Coastal Resource Management Project & USAID - Mangrove Management Handbook (2000)

Agricultural Ecosystem
Agricultural ecosystems are artificial ecosystems created in the process of developing land and
coastal/aquatic areas for farming, animal husbandry, and fishing.

(FPE)

Since agriculture evolved to bring about gains for human societies, it follows that people have
continued to draw numerous benefits from these types of ecosystems. It has served as
peoples primary source of sustenance and livelihood, as well as other basic needs, for
generations. In the case of the Philippines, it is historically one of the primary economic drivers
for the country.

There are approximately 1,210 local agricultural plant species here, over a third of which has
food value. Agriculture also supports other cash crops for feed, medicinal/herbal, ornamental,
and industrial values. Rice, corn, and coconut are the main types of produce obtained through
agriculture in the Philippines.

It can be said that agricultural ecosystems are both threatened and serve as a threat to other
ecosystems as well, despite their unquestionable socio-economic importance. On one hand,
continuous urban development for residential and commercial land use is encroaching on
agricultural lands. In turn, farmers are forced to move upland, harming forest ecosystems in
the process.

Another important issue that needs to be addressed in matters regarding agriculture is the
debate involving high value hybrid crops and genetically modified organisms that was sparked
by the so-called Green Revolution of the 1960s. While these applications of modern
biotechnology are developed with the benefit of humankind in mind (i.e. increasing food
supply and ensuring world food security), the environmental and human health risks involved
in the propagation of such crops have yet to be adequately studied and are thus still
much-debated in the overall biodiversity protection and conservation campaign.

Further reading:

Philippine Clearing House Mechanism for Biodiversity - Agricultural Biodiversity


UN-FAO - Weighing the GMO Arguments: Against
UN-FAO - Weighing the GMO Arguments: For

Marginal Ecosystem
Marginal ecosystems are those that are located between two ecosystems. These can be either
natural or artificial, such as areas adapted or reappropriated for agricultural use. Marginal
lands now comprise about 70% (over 11 million hectares) of declared forest area in the
Philippines.

(FPE)

Urban Ecosystem

Urban ecosystems are the product of modernized, industrialized human society. These function
as the base of human settlements, as well as economic development. They are a testament to
the economic, academic, and technological progress that humankind has achieved through
generations. That said, they are still rapidly expanding, often to the detriment of natural
ecosystems.

(Source: de.wallpaperswiki.org)

Although urban ecosystems continue to grow,in terms of geographic and demographic sizes
alike, their carrying capacities remain limited. The draw of greener pastures in urban locales
tend to result in over-population that strains limited resources, making these ecosystems
increasingly impractical and hazardous to the health and well-being of its inhabitants.

Further reading:

WHO - Urbanization and Health


Study: Urbanization Process and the Changing Agricultural Landscape Pattern in the Urban Fringe
of Metro Manila, Philippines (2007)

Coral Reef Ecosystem

Whereas forests are a distinctive feature of the Philippiness terrestrial biodiversity, coral reefs
give the country a likewise sterling reputation when it comes to aquatic ecosystems. Owning
5% of the worlds total 617,000 sq km of coral reefs, the Philippines is part of the worlds
Coral Triangle, joining Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and
Timor-Leste as countries that bear the most extensive coral reef ecosystems in the world. In
fact, Verde island in Batangas has been noted to be the center of the center of marine
biodiversity in the world.

Coral reefs are comprised of massive deposits of calcium carbonate that take centuries to
produce and develop. Because of such a long process, coral reefs are very delicate ecosystems
and are due extensive protective measures. A recent example of damage occurred at the
Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea in January 2013, where approximately 1,000 square meters of
coral reef was damaged.

(FPE)

These ecosystems are the natural habitat of fish species and other marine organisms, where
feeding, breeding, and spawning happens at incredibly productive levels. They also serve as
natural breakwaters that protect coastal areas from waves and storms, facilitate coralline sand
production that create remarkable white sand beaches that are a hit among tourists, and
enable oxygen production through supporting photosynthetic algae. Coral reefs also offer
significant educational value for biological and ecological study

Coral reef damage is a serious concern. As of 2006, only 5% of Philippine coral reefs are in
excellent condition, while 32% are already severely damaged (Haribon, 2006). The World
Resources Institute more recently reports that 85% of the reefs in the Coral Triangle as a
whole are threatened (WRI, 2013), shadowing the global average which stands at 60%.

Further reading:

FPE & Diliman Science Research Foundation - Devolution of Power and Per Municipality Approach
to Marine Biodiversity Conservation (2012)
WRI - Reefs at Risk Revisited in the Coral Triangle (2012)
DA-BFAR - Marine Protected Areas: Philippine Coral Reefs
ADB - Comprehensive Action Plans of the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion: A Priority Seascape of
the Coral Triangle Initiative (2011)

Freshwater Ecosystem

Freshwater ecosystems occur in in-land bodies of water and may either be flowing, standing, or
man-made. Rivers and streams, lakes and reservoirs, and artificial fishponds are examples that
fall into the three respective categories. All of these are distinguished by low-salinity water that
flow from the natural rainwater catch basins created by forests.
(FPE)

Freshwater ecosystems serve many practical benefits to people, including being a cheap and
convenient source of water for domestic and industrial use, a natural waste disposal system,
and a reservoir for the natural water cycle. Freshwater bodies also can serve as transport
routes.

This type of ecosystem is commonly put in peril by the need for draining to serve the purposes
of fisheries and agriculture.

Further reading:

DA-BFAR - Managing Aquaculture and its Impacts: A Guidebook for Local Governments (2007)
UN-FAO - National Aquaculture Sector Overview: Philippines
World Bank - Growing Aquaculture in Sustainable Ecosystems (2013)
Seagrass and Soft-Bottom Ecosystems

Seagrass ecosystems comprise of aquatic flowering plants that can live in seawater. These
types of ecosystems occur in shallow water environments.

Primarily, seagrass supports biodiversity by functioning as a food source for grazing and
detritus-feeding creatures. They can also be a nursery for young fish, crustaceans, and other
reef organisms. In addition, seagrass is able to recycle nutrients from sediments back to the
open sea, while also functioning to stabilize sediments, ensuring the integrity of the seabed. As
such, seagrass also functions as a buffer against wave or storm-related damage to its
immediate vicinity, protecting the life forms that make it their natural habitat.

(FPE)
Another type of aquatic/marine ecosystem is the soft bottom ecosystem, which is an area
where sediments have accumulated. Organic matter, coming from plants and animals and
other sources of nutrients, settle at the bottom and become food for deposit-feeders,
bottom-dwelling fish, as well as for invertebrates, decomposers, and microbial life forms. Soft
bottom ecosystems vary based on the size and grain of the sediments.

Same with majority of marine ecosystems in the Philippines, unsustainable fishing and
aquaculture practices are the main threats to seagrass and soft-bottom ecosystems. Worse yet,
with majority of the attention for conservation efforts being concentrated on terrestrial,
wetland, and coral reef ecosystems, these equally important and diversity-rich ecosystems
tend to be overlooked.

Further reading:

Philippine Clearing House Mechanism for Biodiversity - Seagrasses


OneOcean.org - The Philippines Forgotten Resource: Seagrass and its Management
ReefBase.org - Seagrass Ecosystem of the Philippines: Status, Problems and Management
Directions

Species as Indicators of Ecosystem Health

Certain qualifications of species can be used to assess the conditions of natural


ecosystems, although this varies based on the scope or scale of the study (i.e. whether
local, national, or global scale, or whether in land-based or water-based ecosystems).

The value of species as biodiversity indicators may be based on measurable ecological


roles and functions:

Keystone Species - The type on which many others depend for biological needs such as food and
shelter.
Sensitive Species - The type which exhibit the tendency to disappear from a site or habitat when
subjected to external disturbances (i.e. they have a narrow range of tolerance to environmental
changes).
Tolerant Species - The opposite of sensitive species, these can withstand changes to their
environment and are thus useful for studying the impacts and consequences of the said changes on
the species itself and the ecosystem within which it exists.
Endemic Species - In light of the exclusive nature of endemic species within a certain area, they
also serve well as indicators of habitat and ecosystem health.

Meanwhile, some species that serve as biodiversity indicators are simply socially
constructed symbols:

Umbrella Species - This type of species covers those with a large habitat or range, therefore
exerting a major ecological influence on the community.
Flagship Species - This qualification covers species which have caught the sympathy and support of
the public, thus serving a role as an aspirational icon for ecological conservation.
Charismatic Species - Like flagship species, charismatic species are well known to the public and
are regarded as symbols of the conservation agenda. The reason for their popularity is their
distinctive features, such as size, colorful appearance, and the like.

(Adapted from Catibog-Sinha and Heaney, 2006.)

References

Catibog-Sinha CS, Heaney LR. 2006. Philippine Biodiversity: Principles and Practice. Quezon City,
Philippines: Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Forest Management Bureau (DENR-FMB). 2011.
2011 Philippine Forestry Statistics. Quezon City, Philippines: Forest Economics Division.
(Online: http://forestry.denr.gov.ph/2011PFS.pdf)
Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation (PTFCF). Undated. Fast Facts. Last accessed on
February 13, 2014, http://www.ptfcf.org.
Carpenter KE, Springer VG. 2004. The Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity: The
Philippine Islands. Environmental Biology of Fishes (2005) 72: 467-480.
(Online: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10641-004-3154-4#page-1)

http://fpe.ph/biodiversity.html/view/the-lay-of-the-land-ecosystem-diversity-in-the-philippines
ARTICLE II

Declaration of Principles and State Policies

SECTION 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill
health consciousness among them.

SECTION 16. The 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.

Art. XII NATIONAL ECONOMY AND PATRIMONY

Section 1. The goals of the national economy are a more equitable distribution of
opportunities, income, and wealth; a sustained increase in the amount of goods and
services produced by the nation for the benefit of the people; and an expanding
productivity as the key to raising the quality of life for all, especially the underprivileged.

The State shall promote industrialization and full employment based on sound agricultural
development and agrarian reform, through industries that make full and efficient use of
human and natural resources, and which are competitive in both domestic and foreign
markets. However, the State shall protect Filipino enterprises against unfair foreign
competition and trade practices.

In the pursuit of these goals, all sectors of the economy and all regions of the country shall
be given optimum opportunity to develop. Private enterprises, including corporations,
cooperatives, and similar collective organizations, shall be encouraged to broaden the base
of their ownership.

Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other
mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and
fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of
agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration,
development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and
supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter
into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens,
or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such
citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable
for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be
provided by law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply fisheries, or industrial
uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and
limit of the grant.

The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea,
and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino
citizens.

The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino
citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fish-
workers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons.

The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either
technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of
minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions
provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare
of the country. In such agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of
local scientific and technical resources.

The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with
this provision, within thirty days from its execution.

Section 3. Lands of the public domain are classified into agricultural, forest or timber,
mineral lands and national parks. Agricultural lands of the public domain may be further
classified by law according to the uses to which they may be devoted. Alienable lands of
the public domain shall be limited to agricultural lands. Private corporations or associations
may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, for a period not
exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and not to
exceed one thousand hectares in area. Citizens of the Philippines may lease not more than
five hundred hectares, or acquire not more than twelve hectares thereof by purchase,
homestead, or grant.

Taking into account the requirements of conservation, ecology, and development, and
subject to the requirements of agrarian reform, the Congress shall determine, by law, the
size of lands of the public domain which may be acquired, developed, held, or leased and
the conditions therefor.

Section 4. The Congress shall, as soon as possible, determine by law the specific limits of
forest lands and national parks, marking clearly their boundaries on the ground. Thereafter,
such forest lands and national parks shall be conserved and may not be increased nor
diminished, except by law. The Congress shall provide, for such period as it may determine,
measures to prohibit logging in endangered forests and watershed areas.

Section 5. The State, subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national
development policies and programs, shall protect the rights of indigenous cultural
communities to their ancestral lands to ensure their economic, social, and cultural
well-being.

The Congress may provide for the applicability of customary laws governing property rights
or relations in determining the ownership and extent of ancestral domain.

Section 6. The use of property bears a social function, and all economic agents shall
contribute to the common good. Individuals and private groups, including corporations,
cooperatives, and similar collective organizations, shall have the right to own establish, and
operate economic enterprises, subject to the duty of the State to promote distributive
justice and to intervene when the common good so demands.

Section 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or


conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold
lands of the public domain.

Section 8. Notwithstanding the provisions of Sec. 7 of this Article, a natural-born citizen of


the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a transferee of private lands,
subject to limitations provided by law.

Section 9. The Congress may establish an independent economic and planning agency
headed by the President, which shall, after consultations with the appropriate public
agencies, various private sectors, and local government units, recommend to Congress, and
implement continuing integrated and coordinated programs and policies for national
development.

Until the Congress provides otherwise, the National Economic and Development Authority
shall function as the independent planning agency of the government.

Section 10. The Congress shall, upon recommendation of the economic and planning
agency, when the national interest dictates, reserve to citizens of the Philippines or to
corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such
citizens, or such higher percentage as Congress may prescribe, certain areas of investments.
The Congress shall enact measures that will encourage the formation and operation of
enterprises whose capital is wholly owned by Filipinos.

In the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering the national economy and
patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos.

The State shall regulate and exercise authority over foreign investments within its national
jurisdiction and in accordance with its national goals and priorities.

Section 11. No franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation
of a public utility shall be granted except to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or
associations organized under the laws of the Philippines at least sixty per centum of whose
capital is owned by such citizens, nor shall such franchise, certificate, or authorization be
exclusive in character or for a longer period than fifty years. Neither shall any such
franchise or right be granted except under the condition that it shall be subject to
amendment, alteration, or repeal by the Congress when the common good so requires. The
State shall encourage equity participation in public utilities by the general public. The
participation of foreign investors in the governing body of any public utility enterprise shall
be limited to their proportionate share in its capital, and all the executive and managing
officers of such corporation or association must be citizens of the Philippines.

Art, XIII SOCIAL JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 7. The State shall protect the rights of subsistence fishermen, especially of local
communities, to the preferential use of the communal marine and fishing resources, both
inland and offshore. It shall provide support to such fishermen through appropriate
technology and research, adequate financial, production, and marketing assistance, and
other services. The State shall also protect, develop, and conserve such resources. The
protection shall extend to offshore fishing grounds of subsistence fishermen against foreign
intrusion. Fishworkers shall receive a just share from their labor in the utilization of marine
and fishing resources.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

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.
CASTRO, minor, represented by her parents FREDENIL and JANE CASTRO, JOHANNA
DESAMPARADO,
minor, represented by her parents JOSE and ANGELA DESAMPRADO, CARLO JOAQUIN T.
NARVASA, minor, represented by his parents GREGORIO II and CRISTINE CHARITY
NARVASA, MA. MARGARITA, JESUS IGNACIO, MA. ANGELA and MARIE GABRIELLE, all
surnamed SAENZ, minors, represented by their parents ROBERTO and AURORA SAENZ,
KRISTINE, MARY ELLEN, MAY, GOLDA MARTHE and DAVID IAN, all surnamed KING, minors,
represented by their parents MARIO and HAYDEE KING, DAVID, FRANCISCO and THERESE
VICTORIA, all surnamed ENDRIGA, minors, represented by their parents BALTAZAR and
TERESITA ENDRIGA, JOSE MA. and REGINA MA., all surnamed ABAYA, minors, represented
by their parents ANTONIO and MARICA ABAYA, MARILIN, MARIO, JR. and MARIETTE, all
surnamed CARDAMA, minors, represented by their parents MARIO and LINA CARDAMA,
CLARISSA, ANN MARIE, NAGEL, and IMEE LYN, all surnamed OPOSA, minors and
represented by their parents RICARDO and MARISSA OPOSA, PHILIP JOSEPH, STEPHEN
JOHN and ISAIAH JAMES, all surnamed QUIPIT, minors, represented by their parents JOSE
MAX and VILMI QUIPIT, BUGHAW CIELO, CRISANTO, ANNA, DANIEL and FRANCISCO, all
surnamed BIBAL, minors, represented by their parents FRANCISCO, JR. and MILAGROS
BIBAL, and THE PHILIPPINE ECOLOGICAL NETWORK, INC., petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., in his capacity as the Secretary of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and THE HONORABLE ERIBERTO U.
ROSARIO, Presiding Judge of the RTC, Makati, Branch 66, respondents.

Oposa Law Office for petitioners.

The Solicitor General for respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:

In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of Filipinos to a balanced and healthful ecology
which the petitioners dramatically associate with the twin concepts of "inter-generational
responsibility" and "inter-generational justice." Specifically, it touches on the issue of whether the
said petitioners have a cause of action to "prevent the misappropriation or impairment" of Philippine
rainforests and "arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life support systems and
continued rape of Mother Earth."

The controversy has its genesis in Civil Case No. 90-77 which was filed before Branch 66 (Makati,
Metro Manila) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital Judicial Region. The principal
plaintiffs therein, now the principal petitioners, are all minors duly represented and joined by their
respective parents. Impleaded as an additional plaintiff is the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc.
(PENI), a domestic, non-stock and non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of, inter alia,
engaging in concerted action geared for the protection of our environment and natural resources.
The original defendant was the Honorable Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., then Secretary of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). His substitution in this petition by the
new Secretary, the Honorable Angel C. Alcala, was subsequently ordered upon proper motion by the
petitioners.1 The complaint2 was instituted as a taxpayers' class suit3 and alleges that the plaintiffs
"are all citizens of the Republic of the Philippines, taxpayers, and entitled to the full benefit, use and
enjoyment of the natural resource treasure that is the country's virgin tropical forests." The same was
filed for themselves and others who are equally concerned about the preservation of said resource
but are "so numerous that it is impracticable to bring them all before the Court." The minors further
asseverate that they "represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn."4 Consequently, it
is prayed for that judgment be rendered:

. . . ordering defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to

(1) Cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country;

(2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber
license agreements.

and granting the plaintiffs ". . . such other reliefs just and equitable under the premises."5

The complaint starts off with the general averments that the Philippine archipelago of 7,100 islands
has a land area of thirty million (30,000,000) hectares and is endowed with rich, lush and verdant
rainforests in which varied, rare and unique species of flora and fauna may be found; these
rainforests contain a genetic, biological and chemical pool which is irreplaceable; they are also the
habitat of indigenous Philippine cultures which have existed, endured and flourished since time
immemorial; scientific evidence reveals that in order to maintain a balanced and healthful ecology,
the country's land area should be utilized on the basis of a ratio of fifty-four per cent (54%) for forest
cover and forty-six per cent (46%) for agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and other uses;
the distortion and disturbance of this balance as a consequence of deforestation have resulted in a
host of environmental tragedies, such as (a) water shortages resulting from drying up of the water
table, otherwise known as the "aquifer," as well as of rivers, brooks and streams, (b) salinization of
the water table as a result of the intrusion therein of salt water, incontrovertible examples of which
may be found in the island of Cebu and the Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite, (c) massive erosion and
the consequential loss of soil fertility and agricultural productivity, with the volume of soil eroded
estimated at one billion (1,000,000,000) cubic meters per annum approximately the size of the
entire island of Catanduanes, (d) the endangering and extinction of the country's unique, rare and
varied flora and fauna, (e) the disturbance and dislocation of cultural communities, including the
disappearance of the Filipino's indigenous cultures, (f) the siltation of rivers and seabeds and
consequential destruction of corals and other aquatic life leading to a critical reduction in marine
resource productivity, (g) recurrent spells of drought as is presently experienced by the entire country,
(h) increasing velocity of typhoon winds which result from the absence of windbreakers, (i) the
floodings of lowlands and agricultural plains arising from the absence of the absorbent mechanism of
forests, (j) the siltation and shortening of the lifespan of multi-billion peso dams constructed and
operated for the purpose of supplying water for domestic uses, irrigation and the generation of
electric power, and (k) the reduction of the earth's capacity to process carbon dioxide gases which
has led to perplexing and catastrophic climatic changes such as the phenomenon of global warming,
otherwise known as the "greenhouse effect."

Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and detrimental consequences of continued and
deforestation are so capable of unquestionable demonstration that the same may be submitted as a
matter of judicial notice. This notwithstanding, they expressed their intention to present expert
witnesses as well as documentary, photographic and film evidence in the course of the trial.

As their cause of action, they specifically allege that:

CAUSE OF ACTION

7. Plaintiffs replead by reference the foregoing allegations.

8. Twenty-five (25) years ago, the Philippines had some sixteen (16) million hectares of rainforests
constituting roughly 53% of the country's land mass.

9. Satellite images taken in 1987 reveal that there remained no more than 1.2 million hectares of said
rainforests or four per cent (4.0%) of the country's land area.

10. More recent surveys reveal that a mere 850,000 hectares of virgin old-growth rainforests are left,
barely 2.8% of the entire land mass of the Philippine archipelago and about 3.0 million hectares of
immature and uneconomical secondary growth forests.

11. Public records reveal that the defendant's, predecessors have granted timber license
agreements ('TLA's') to various corporations to cut the aggregate area of 3.89 million hectares for
commercial logging purposes.

A copy of the TLA holders and the corresponding areas covered is hereto attached as Annex "A".

12. At the present rate of deforestation, i.e. about 200,000 hectares per annum or 25 hectares per
hour nighttime, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays included the Philippines will be bereft of
forest resources after the end of this ensuing decade, if not earlier.

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 6 hereof are already being felt, experienced and suffered by the generation of plaintiff
adults.

14. The continued allowance by defendant of TLA holders to cut and deforest the remaining forest
stands will work great damage and irreparable injury to plaintiffs especially plaintiff minors and
their successors who may never see, use, benefit from and enjoy this rare and unique natural
resource treasure.

This act of defendant constitutes a misappropriation and/or impairment of the natural resource
property he holds in trust for the benefit of plaintiff minors and succeeding generations.
15. Plaintiffs have a clear and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and are entitled
to protection by the State in its capacity as the parens patriae.

16. Plaintiff have exhausted all administrative remedies with the defendant's office. On March 2,
1990, plaintiffs served upon defendant a final demand to cancel all logging permits in the country.

A copy of the plaintiffs' letter dated March 1, 1990 is hereto attached as Annex "B".

17. Defendant, however, fails and refuses to cancel the existing TLA's to the continuing serious
damage and extreme prejudice of plaintiffs.

18. The continued failure and refusal by defendant to cancel the TLA's is an act violative of the rights
of plaintiffs, especially plaintiff minors who may be left with a country that is desertified (sic), bare,
barren and devoid of the wonderful flora, fauna and indigenous cultures which the Philippines had
been abundantly blessed with.

19. Defendant's refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is manifestly contrary to the public policy
enunciated in the Philippine Environmental Policy which, in pertinent part, states that it is the policy of
the State

(a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in
productive and enjoyable harmony with each other;

(b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos
and;

(c) to ensure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conductive to a life of dignity and
well-being. (P.D. 1151, 6 June 1977)

20. Furthermore, defendant's continued refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is contradictory
to the Constitutional policy of the State to

a. effect "a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income and wealth" and "make full and
efficient use of natural resources (sic)." (Section 1, Article XII of the Constitution);

b. "protect the nation's marine wealth." (Section 2, ibid);

c. "conserve and promote the nation's cultural heritage and resources (sic)" (Section 14, Article
XIV, id.);

d. "protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the
rhythm and harmony of nature." (Section 16, Article II, id.)

21. Finally, defendant's act is contrary to the highest law of humankind the natural law and
violative of plaintiffs' right to self-preservation and perpetuation.

22. There is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in law other than the instant action to arrest
the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life support systems and continued rape of Mother
Earth. 6
On 22 June 1990, the original defendant, Secretary Factoran, Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss the
complaint based on two (2) grounds, namely: (1) the plaintiffs have no cause of action against him
and (2) the issue raised by the plaintiffs is a political question which properly pertains to the
legislative or executive branches of Government. In their 12 July 1990 Opposition to the Motion, the
petitioners maintain that (1) the complaint shows a clear and unmistakable cause of action, (2) the
motion is dilatory and (3) the action presents a justiciable question as it involves the defendant's
abuse of discretion.

On 18 July 1991, respondent Judge issued an order granting the aforementioned motion to
dismiss.7 In the said order, not only was the defendant's claim that the complaint states no cause
of action against him and that it raises a political question sustained, the respondent Judge further
ruled that the granting of the relief prayed for would result in the impairment of contracts which is
prohibited by the fundamental law of the land.

Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of
Court and ask this Court to rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the ground that the
respondent Judge gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the action. Again, the parents of the
plaintiffs-minors not only represent their children, but have also joined the latter in this case.8

On 14 May 1992, We resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to submit
their respective Memoranda after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Comment in behalf
of the respondents and the petitioners filed a reply thereto.

Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly and unmistakably states a cause of action as it
contains sufficient allegations concerning their right to a sound environment based on Articles 19, 20
and 21 of the Civil Code (Human Relations), Section 4 of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 192 creating the
DENR, Section 3 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy), Section
16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution recognizing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful
ecology, the concept of generational genocide in Criminal Law and the concept of man's inalienable
right to self-preservation and self-perpetuation embodied in natural law. Petitioners likewise rely on
the respondent's correlative obligation per Section 4 of E.O. No. 192, to safeguard the people's right
to a healthful environment.

It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent Secretary's alleged grave abuse of discretion in
granting Timber License Agreements (TLAs) to cover more areas for logging than what is available
involves a judicial question.

Anent the invocation by the respondent Judge of the Constitution's non-impairment clause,
petitioners maintain that the same does not apply in this case because TLAs are not contracts. They
likewise submit that even if TLAs may be considered protected by the said clause, it is well settled
that they may still be revoked by the State when the public interest so requires.

On the other hand, the respondents aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a
specific legal right violated by the respondent Secretary for which any relief is provided by law. They
see nothing in the complaint but vague and nebulous allegations concerning an "environmental right"
which supposedly entitles the petitioners to the "protection by the state in its capacity as parens
patriae." Such allegations, according to them, do not reveal a valid cause of action. They then
reiterate the theory that the question of whether logging should be permitted in the country is a
political question which should be properly addressed to the executive or legislative branches of
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 that would ban logging totally.
As to the matter of the cancellation of the TLAs, respondents submit that the same cannot be done
by the State without due process of law. Once issued, a TLA remains effective for a certain period of
time usually for twenty-five (25) years. During its effectivity, the same can neither be revised nor
cancelled unless the holder has been found, after due notice and hearing, to have violated the terms
of the agreement or other forestry laws and regulations. Petitioners' proposition to have all the TLAs
indiscriminately cancelled without the requisite hearing would be violative of the requirements of due
process.

Before going any further, We must first focus on some procedural matters. Petitioners instituted Civil
Case No. 90-777 as a class suit. The original defendant and the present respondents did not take
issue with this matter. Nevertheless, We hereby rule that the said civil case is indeed a class suit.
The subject matter of the complaint is of common and general interest not just to several, but to all
citizens of the Philippines. Consequently, since the parties are so numerous, it, becomes
impracticable, if not totally impossible, to bring all of them before the court. We likewise declare that
the plaintiffs therein are numerous and representative enough to ensure the full protection of all
concerned interests. Hence, all the requisites for the filing of a valid class suit under Section 12, Rule
3 of the Revised Rules of Court are present both in the said civil case and in the instant petition, the
latter being but an incident to the former.

This case, however, has a special and novel element. Petitioners minors assert that they represent
their generation as well as generations yet unborn. We find no difficulty in ruling that they can, for
themselves, for others of their generation and for the succeeding generations, file a class suit. Their
personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding generations can only be based on the concept of
intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned.
Such a right, as hereinafter expounded, considers
the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature means the created world in its entirety.9 Such rhythm
and harmony indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious disposition, utilization, management,
renewal and conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore
areas and other natural resources to the end that their exploration, development and utilization be
equitably accessible to the present as well as future generations. 10Needless to say, every generation
has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full enjoyment of a
balanced and healthful ecology. Put a little differently, the minors' assertion of their right to a sound
environment constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the
protection of that right for the generations to come.

The locus standi of the petitioners having thus been addressed, We shall now proceed to the merits
of the petition.

After a careful perusal of the complaint in question and a meticulous consideration and evaluation of
the issues raised and arguments adduced by the parties, We do not hesitate to find for the petitioners
and rule against the respondent Judge's challenged order for having been issued with grave abuse
of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The pertinent portions of the said order reads as
follows:

xxx xxx xxx

After a careful and circumspect evaluation of the Complaint, the Court cannot help but agree with the
defendant. For although we believe that plaintiffs have but the noblest of all intentions, it (sic) fell
short of alleging, with sufficient definiteness, a specific legal right they are seeking to enforce and
protect, or a specific legal wrong they are seeking to prevent and redress (Sec. 1, Rule 2, RRC).
Furthermore, the Court notes that the Complaint is replete with vague assumptions and vague
conclusions based on unverified data. In fine, plaintiffs fail to state a cause of action in its Complaint
against the herein defendant.

Furthermore, the Court firmly believes that the matter before it, being impressed with political color
and involving a matter of public policy, may not be taken cognizance of by this Court without doing
violence to the sacred principle of "Separation of Powers" of the three (3) co-equal branches of the
Government.

The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction, grant
the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the
country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new
timber license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of contracts" abhored
(sic) by the fundamental law. 11

We do not agree with the trial court's conclusions that the plaintiffs failed to allege with sufficient
definiteness a specific legal right involved or a specific legal wrong committed, and that the complaint
is replete with vague assumptions and conclusions based on unverified data. A reading of the
complaint itself belies these conclusions.

The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right the right to a balanced and
healthful ecology which, for the first time in our nation's constitutional history, is solemnly
incorporated in the fundamental law. Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides:

Sec. 16. The 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.

This right unites with the right to health which is provided for in the preceding section of the same
article:

Sec. 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health
consciousness among them.

While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles
and State Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any
of the civil and political rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of
rights altogether for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation aptly and
fittingly stressed by the petitioners the advancement of which may even be said to predate all
governments and constitutions. As a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the
Constitution for they are assumed to exist from the inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly
mentioned in the fundamental charter, it is because of the well-founded fear of its framers that unless
the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health are mandated as state policies by the
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
generations which stand to inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of sustaining life.

The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from
impairing the environment. During the debates on this right in one of the plenary sessions of the 1986
Constitutional Commission, the following exchange transpired between Commissioner Wilfrido
Villacorta and Commissioner Adolfo Azcuna who sponsored the section in question:
MR. VILLACORTA:

Does this section mandate the State to provide sanctions against all forms of pollution air, water
and noise pollution?

MR. AZCUNA:

Yes, Madam President. The right to healthful (sic) environment necessarily carries with it the
correlative duty of not impairing the same and, therefore, sanctions may be provided for impairment
of environmental balance. 12

The said right implies, among many other things, the judicious management and conservation of the
country's forests.

Without such forests, the ecological or environmental balance would be irreversiby disrupted.

Conformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and healthful ecology and the right to health, as
well as the other related provisions of the Constitution concerning the conservation, development
and utilization of the country's natural resources, 13 then President Corazon C. Aquino promulgated
on 10 June 1987 E.O. No. 192, 14 Section 4 of which expressly mandates that the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources "shall be the primary government agency responsible for the
conservation, management, development and proper use of the country's environment and natural
resources, specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral, resources, including those in reservation
and watershed areas, and lands of the public domain, as well as the licensing and regulation of all
natural resources as may be provided for by law in order to ensure equitable sharing of the benefits
derived therefrom for the welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos." Section 3 thereof
makes the following statement of policy:

Sec. 3. Declaration of Policy. It is hereby declared the policy of the State to ensure the sustainable
use, development, management, renewal, and conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land,
off-shore areas and other natural resources, including the protection and enhancement of the quality
of the environment, and equitable access of the different segments of the population to the
development and the use of the country's natural resources, not only for the present generation but
for future generations as well. It is also the policy of the state to recognize and apply a true value
system including social and environmental cost implications relative to their utilization, development
and conservation of our natural resources.

This policy declaration is substantially re-stated it Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of
1987,15 specifically in Section 1 thereof which reads:

Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. (1) The State shall ensure, for the benefit of the Filipino people, the
full exploration and development as well as the judicious disposition, utilization, management,
renewal and conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore
areas and other natural resources, consistent with the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological
balance and protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment and the objective of making the
exploration, development and utilization of such natural resources equitably accessible to the
different segments of the present as well as future generations.

(2) The State shall likewise recognize and apply a true value system that takes into account social
and environmental cost implications relative to the utilization, development and conservation of our
natural resources.
The above provision 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. Said section provides:

Sec. 2. Mandate. (1) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources shall be primarily
responsible for the implementation of the foregoing policy.

(2) It shall, subject to law and higher authority, be in charge of carrying out the State's constitutional
mandate to control and supervise the exploration, development, utilization, and conservation of the
country's natural resources.

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.

It may, however, be recalled that even before the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, specific
statutes already paid special attention to the "environmental right" of the present and future
generations. On 6 June 1977, P.D. No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy) and P.D. No. 1152
(Philippine Environment Code) were issued. The former "declared a continuing policy of the State (a)
to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in
productive and enjoyable harmony with each other, (b) to fulfill the social, economic and other
requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos, and (c) to insure the attainment of an
environmental quality that is conducive to a life of dignity and well-being." 16 As its goal, it speaks of
the "responsibilities of each generation as trustee and guardian of the environment for succeeding
generations." 17 The latter statute, on the other hand, gave flesh to the said policy.

Thus, the right of the petitioners (and all those they represent) to a balanced and healthful ecology is
as clear as the DENR's duty under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and functions under
E.O. No. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 to protect and advance the said right.

A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the corelative duty or obligation to respect or
protect the same gives rise to a cause of action. Petitioners maintain that the granting of the TLAs,
which they claim was done with grave abuse of discretion, violated their right to a balanced and
healthful ecology; hence, the full protection thereof requires that no further TLAs should be renewed
or granted.

A cause of action is defined as:

. . . an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal right or rights of the other; and its essential
elements are legal right of the plaintiff, correlative obligation of the defendant, and act or omission of
the defendant in violation of said legal right. 18

It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the complaint fails
to state a cause of action, 19 the question submitted to the court for resolution involves the sufficiency
of the facts alleged in the complaint itself. No other matter should be considered; furthermore, the
truth of falsity of the said allegations is beside the point for the truth thereof is deemed hypothetically
admitted. The only issue to be resolved in such a case is: admitting such alleged facts to be true,
may the court render a valid judgment in accordance with the prayer in the complaint? 20 In Militante
vs. Edrosolano, 21 this Court laid down the rule that the judiciary should "exercise the utmost care and
circumspection in passing upon a motion to dismiss on the ground of the absence thereof [cause of
action] lest, by its failure to manifest a correct appreciation of the facts alleged and deemed
hypothetically admitted, what the law grants or recognizes is effectively nullified. If that happens,
there is a blot on the legal order. The law itself stands in disrepute."

After careful examination of the petitioners' complaint, We find the statements under the introductory
affirmative allegations, as well as the specific averments under the sub-heading CAUSE OF ACTION,
to be adequate enough to show, prima facie, the claimed violation of their rights. On the basis thereof,
they may thus be granted, wholly or partly, the reliefs prayed for. It bears stressing, however, that
insofar as the cancellation of the TLAs is concerned, there is the need to implead, as party
defendants, the grantees thereof for they are indispensable parties.

The foregoing considered, Civil Case No. 90-777 be said to raise a political question. Policy
formulation or determination by the executive or legislative branches of Government is not squarely
put in issue. What is principally involved is the enforcement of a right vis-a-vis policies already
formulated and expressed in legislation. It must, nonetheless, be emphasized that the political
question doctrine is no longer, the insurmountable obstacle to the exercise of judicial power or the
impenetrable shield that protects executive and legislative actions from judicial inquiry or review. The
second paragraph of section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution states that:

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.

Commenting on this provision in his book, Philippine Political Law, 22


Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, a
distinguished member of this Court, says:

The first part of the authority represents the traditional concept of judicial power, involving the
settlement of conflicting rights as conferred as law. The second part of the authority represents a
broadening of judicial power to enable the courts of justice to review what was before forbidden
territory, to wit, the discretion of the political departments of the government.

As worded, the new provision vests in the judiciary, and particularly the Supreme Court, the power to
rule upon even the wisdom of the decisions of the executive and the legislature and to declare their
acts invalid for lack or excess of jurisdiction because tainted with grave abuse of discretion. The
catch, of course, is the meaning of "grave abuse of discretion," which is a very elastic phrase that can
expand or contract according to the disposition of the judiciary.

In Daza vs. Singson, 23 Mr. Justice Cruz, now speaking for this Court, noted:

In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection becomes even less tenable and decisive. The
reason is that, even if we were to assume that the issue presented before us was political in nature,
we would still not be precluded from revolving it under the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon us
that now covers, in proper cases, even the political question. Article VII, Section 1, of the Constitution
clearly provides: . . .

The last ground invoked by the trial court in dismissing the complaint is the non-impairment of
contracts clause found in the Constitution. The court a quo declared that:

The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction, grant
the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the
country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new
timber license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of contracts" abhored
(sic) by the fundamental law. 24

We are not persuaded at all; on the contrary, We are amazed, if not shocked, by such a sweeping
pronouncement. In the first place, the respondent Secretary did not, for obvious reasons, even
invoke in his motion to dismiss the non-impairment clause. If he had done so, he would have acted
with utmost infidelity to the Government by providing undue and unwarranted benefits and
advantages to the timber license holders because he would have forever bound the Government to
strictly respect the said licenses according to their terms and conditions regardless of changes in
policy and the demands of public interest and welfare. He was aware that as correctly pointed out by
the petitioners, into every timber license must be read Section 20 of the Forestry Reform Code (P.D.
No. 705) which provides:

. . . Provided, That when the national interest so requires, the President may amend, modify, replace
or rescind any contract, concession, permit, licenses or any other form of privilege granted herein . . .

Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is not a
contract, property or a property right protested by the due process clause of the Constitution. In Tan
vs. Director of Forestry, 25 this Court held:

. . . A timber license is an instrument by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of
forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. A timber license is not a contract within
the purview of the due process clause; it is only a license or privilege, which can be validly withdrawn
whenever dictated by public interest or public welfare as in this case.

A license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and is not a contract
between the authority, federal, state, or municipal, granting it and the person to whom it is granted;
neither is it property or a property right, nor does it create a vested right; nor is it taxation (37 C.J.
168). 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
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
entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession
area and the forest products therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded
by the Chief Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts
within the purview of the due process of law clause [See Sections 3(ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree No.
705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry, G.R. No. L-24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA
302].

Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which reads:

Sec. 10. No law impairing, the obligation of contracts shall be passed. 27

cannot be invoked.

In the second place, even if it is to be assumed that the same are contracts, the instant case does not
involve a law or even an executive issuance declaring the cancellation or modification of existing
timber licenses. Hence, the non-impairment clause cannot as yet be invoked. Nevertheless, granting
further that a law has actually been passed mandating cancellations or modifications, the same
cannot still be stigmatized as a violation of the non-impairment clause. This is because by its very
nature and purpose, such as law could have only been passed in the exercise of the police power of
the state for the purpose of advancing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology,
promoting their health and enhancing the general welfare. In Abe vs. Foster Wheeler
Corp. 28 this Court stated:

The freedom of contract, under our system of government, is not meant to be absolute. The same is
understood to be subject to reasonable legislative regulation aimed at the promotion of public health,
moral, safety and welfare. In other words, the constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of
obligations of contract is limited by the exercise of the police power of the State, in the interest of
public health, safety, moral and general welfare.

The reason for this is emphatically set forth in Nebia vs. New York, 29
quoted in Philippine American
Life Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General,30 to wit:

Under our form of government the use of property and the making of contracts are normally matters
of private and not of public concern. The general rule is that both shall be free of governmental
interference. But neither property rights nor contract rights are absolute; for government cannot exist
if the citizen may at will use his property to the detriment of his fellows, or exercise his freedom of
contract to work them harm. Equally fundamental with the private right is that of the public to regulate
it in the common interest.

In short, the non-impairment clause must yield to the police power of the state. 31

Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court did, how the non-impairment clause could apply with
respect to the prayer to enjoin the respondent Secretary from receiving, accepting, processing,
renewing or approving new timber licenses for, save in cases of renewal, no contract would have as
of yet existed in the other instances. Moreover, with respect to renewal, the holder is not entitled to it
as a matter of right.

WHEREFORE, being impressed with merit, the instant Petition is hereby GRANTED, and the
challenged Order of respondent Judge of 18 July 1991 dismissing Civil Case No. 90-777 is hereby
set aside. The petitioners may therefore amend their complaint to implead as defendants the holders
or grantees of the questioned timber license agreements.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Cruz, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ.,
concur.

Narvasa, C.J., Puno and Vitug, JJ., took no part.


Separate Opinions

FELICIANO, J., concurring

I join in the result reached by my distinguished brother in the Court, Davide, Jr., J., in this case which,
to my mind, is one of the most important cases decided by this Court in the last few years. The
seminal principles laid down in this decision are likely to influence profoundly the direction and
course of the protection and management of the environment, which of course embraces the
utilization of all the natural resources in the territorial base of our polity. I have therefore sought to
clarify, basically to myself, what the Court appears to be saying.

The Court explicitly states that petitioners have the locus standi necessary to sustain the bringing
and, maintenance of this suit (Decision, pp. 11-12). Locus standi is not a function of petitioners' claim
that their suit is properly regarded as a class suit. I understand locus standi to refer to the legal
interest which a plaintiff must have in the subject matter of the suit. Because of the very broadness of
the concept of "class" here involved membership in this "class" appears to
embrace everyone living in the country whether now or in the
future it appears to me that everyone who may be expected to benefit from the course of action
petitioners seek to require public respondents to take, is vested with the necessary locus standi. The
Court may be seen therefore to be recognizing a beneficiaries' right of action in the field of
environmental protection, as against both the public administrative agency directly concerned and
the private persons or entities operating in the field or sector of activity involved. Whether such
beneficiaries' right of action may be found under any and all circumstances, or whether some failure
to act, in the first instance, on the part of the governmental agency concerned must be shown ("prior
exhaustion of administrative remedies"), is not discussed in the decision and presumably is left for
future determination in an appropriate case.

The Court has also declared that the complaint has alleged and focused upon "one specific
fundamental legal right the right to a balanced and healthful ecology" (Decision, p. 14). There is no
question that "the right to a balanced and healthful ecology" is "fundamental" and that, accordingly, it
has been "constitutionalized." But although it is fundamental in character, I suggest, with very great
respect, that it cannot be characterized as "specific," without doing excessive violence to language. It
is in fact very difficult to fashion language more comprehensive in scope and generalized in character
than a right to "a balanced and healthful ecology." The list of particular claims which can be
subsumed under this rubic appears to be entirely open-ended: prevention and control of emission of
toxic fumes and smoke from factories and motor vehicles; of discharge of oil, chemical effluents,
garbage and raw sewage into rivers, inland and coastal waters by vessels, oil rigs, factories, mines
and whole communities; of dumping of organic and inorganic wastes on open land, streets and
thoroughfares; failure to rehabilitate land after strip-mining or open-pit mining; kaingin or
slash-and-burn farming; destruction of fisheries, coral reefs and other living sea resources through
the use of dynamite or cyanide and other chemicals; contamination of ground water resources; loss
of certain species of fauna and flora; and so on. The other statements pointed out by the Court:
Section 3, Executive Order No. 192 dated 10 June 1987; Section 1, Title XIV, Book IV of the 1987
Administrative Code; and P.D. No. 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 ecology") and 15 ("the right to health").

P.D. No. 1152, also dated 6 June 1977, entitled "The Philippine Environment Code," is, upon the
other hand, a compendious collection of more "specific environment management policies" and
"environment quality standards" (fourth "Whereas" clause, Preamble) relating to an extremely wide
range of topics:

(a) air quality management;

(b) water quality management;

(c) land use management;

(d) natural resources management and conservation embracing:

(i) fisheries and aquatic resources;

(ii) wild life;

(iii) forestry and soil conservation;

(iv) flood control and natural calamities;

(v) energy development;

(vi) conservation and utilization of surface and ground water

(vii) mineral resources

Two (2) points are worth making in this connection. Firstly, neither petitioners nor the Court has
identified the particular provision or provisions (if any) of the Philippine Environment Code which give
rise to a specific legal right which petitioners are seeking to enforce. Secondly, the Philippine
Environment Code identifies with notable care the particular government agency charged with the
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 amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction," the result will be, it is respectfully submitted, to
propel courts into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making. At least in respect of
the vast area of environmental protection and management, our courts have no claim to special
technical competence and experience and professional qualification. Where no specific, operable
norms and standards are shown to exist, then the policy making departments the legislative and
executive departments must be given a real and effective opportunity to fashion and promulgate
those norms and standards, and to implement them before the courts should intervene.

My learned brother Davide, Jr., J., rightly insists that the timber companies, whose concession
agreements or TLA's petitioners demand public respondents should cancel, must be impleaded in
the proceedings below. It might be asked that, if petitioners' entitlement to the relief demanded
is not dependent upon proof of breach by the timber companies of one or more of the specific terms
and conditions of their concession agreements (and this, petitioners implicitly assume), what will
those companies litigate about? The answer I suggest is that they may seek to dispute the existence
of the specific legal right petitioners should allege, as well as the reality of the claimed factual nexus
between petitioners' specific legal rights and the claimed wrongful acts or failures to act of public
respondent administrative agency. They may also controvert the appropriateness of the remedy or
remedies demanded by petitioners, under all the circumstances which exist.

I vote to grant the Petition for Certiorari because the protection of the environment, including the
forest cover of our territory, is of extreme importance for the country. The doctrines set out in the
Court's decision issued today should, however, be subjected to closer examination.

# Separate Opinions

FELICIANO, J., concurring


I join in the result reached by my distinguished brother in the Court, Davide, Jr., J., in this case which,
to my mind, is one of the most important cases decided by this Court in the last few years. The
seminal principles laid down in this decision are likely to influence profoundly the direction and
course of the protection and management of the environment, which of course embraces the
utilization of all the natural resources in the territorial base of our polity. I have therefore sought to
clarify, basically to myself, what the Court appears to be saying.

The Court explicitly states that petitioners have the locus standi necessary to sustain the bringing
and, maintenance of this suit (Decision, pp. 11-12). Locus standi is not a function of petitioners' claim
that their suit is properly regarded as a class suit. I understand locus standi to refer to the legal
interest which a plaintiff must have in the subject matter of the suit. Because of the very broadness of
the concept of "class" here involved membership in this "class" appears to
embrace everyone living in the country whether now or in the
future it appears to me that everyone who may be expected to benefit from the course of action
petitioners seek to require public respondents to take, is vested with the necessary locus standi. The
Court may be seen therefore to be recognizing a beneficiaries' right of action in the field of
environmental protection, as against both the public administrative agency directly concerned and
the private persons or entities operating in the field or sector of activity involved. Whether such
beneficiaries' right of action may be found under any and all circumstances, or whether some failure
to act, in the first instance, on the part of the governmental agency concerned must be shown ("prior
exhaustion of administrative remedies"), is not discussed in the decision and presumably is left for
future determination in an appropriate case.

The Court has also declared that the complaint has alleged and focused upon "one specific
fundamental legal right the right to a balanced and healthful ecology" (Decision, p. 14). There is no
question that "the right to a balanced and healthful ecology" is "fundamental" and that, accordingly, it
has been "constitutionalized." But although it is fundamental in character, I suggest, with very great
respect, that it cannot be characterized as "specific," without doing excessive violence to language. It
is in fact very difficult to fashion language more comprehensive in scope and generalized in character
than a right to "a balanced and healthful ecology." The list of particular claims which can be
subsumed under this rubic appears to be entirely open-ended: prevention and control of emission of
toxic fumes and smoke from factories and motor vehicles; of discharge of oil, chemical effluents,
garbage and raw sewage into rivers, inland and coastal waters by vessels, oil rigs, factories, mines
and whole communities; of dumping of organic and inorganic wastes on open land, streets and
thoroughfares; failure to rehabilitate land after strip-mining or open-pit mining; kaingin or
slash-and-burn farming; destruction of fisheries, coral reefs and other living sea resources through
the use of dynamite or cyanide and other chemicals; contamination of ground water resources; loss
of certain species of fauna and flora; and so on. The other statements pointed out by the Court:
Section 3, Executive Order No. 192 dated 10 June 1987; Section 1, Title XIV, Book IV of the 1987
Administrative Code; and P.D. No. 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 ecology") and 15 ("the right to health").

P.D. No. 1152, also dated 6 June 1977, entitled "The Philippine Environment Code," is, upon the
other hand, a compendious collection of more "specific environment management policies" and
"environment quality standards" (fourth "Whereas" clause, Preamble) relating to an extremely wide
range of topics:

(a) air quality management;

(b) water quality management;


(c) land use management;

(d) natural resources management and conservation embracing:

(i) fisheries and aquatic resources;

(ii) wild life;

(iii) forestry and soil conservation;

(iv) flood control and natural calamities;

(v) energy development;

(vi) conservation and utilization of surface and ground water

(vii) mineral resources

Two (2) points are worth making in this connection. Firstly, neither petitioners nor the Court has
identified the particular provision or provisions (if any) of the Philippine Environment Code which give
rise to a specific legal right which petitioners are seeking to enforce. Secondly, the Philippine
Environment Code identifies with notable care the particular government agency charged with the
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 amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction," the result will be, it is respectfully submitted, to
propel courts into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making. At least in respect of
the vast area of environmental protection and management, our courts have no claim to special
technical competence and experience and professional qualification. Where no specific, operable
norms and standards are shown to exist, then the policy making departments the legislative and
executive departments must be given a real and effective opportunity to fashion and promulgate
those norms and standards, and to implement them before the courts should intervene.

My learned brother Davide, Jr., J., rightly insists that the timber companies, whose concession
agreements or TLA's petitioners demand public respondents should cancel, must be impleaded in
the proceedings below. It might be asked that, if petitioners' entitlement to the relief demanded
is not dependent upon proof of breach by the timber companies of one or more of the specific terms
and conditions of their concession agreements (and this, petitioners implicitly assume), what will
those companies litigate about? The answer I suggest is that they may seek to dispute the existence
of the specific legal right petitioners should allege, as well as the reality of the claimed factual nexus
between petitioners' specific legal rights and the claimed wrongful acts or failures to act of public
respondent administrative agency. They may also controvert the appropriateness of the remedy or
remedies demanded by petitioners, under all the circumstances which exist.

I vote to grant the Petition for Certiorari because the protection of the environment, including the
forest cover of our territory, is of extreme importance for the country. The doctrines set out in the
Court's decision issued today should, however, be subjected to closer examination.

# Footnotes

1 Rollo, 164; 186.

2 Id., 62-65, exclusive of annexes.

3 Under Section 12, Rule 3, Revised Rules of Court.

4 Rollo, 67.

5 Id., 74.

6 Rollo, 70-73.

7 Annex "B" of Petitions; Id., 43-44.


8 Paragraph 7, Petition, 6; Rollo, 20.

9 Webster's Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, 1986, 1508.

10 Title XIV (Environment and Natural Resources), Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, E.O.
No. 292.

11 Annex "B" of Petition; Rollo, 43-44.

12 Record of the Constitutional Commission, vol. 4, 913.

13 For instance, the Preamble and Article XII on the National Economy and Patrimony.

14 The Reorganization Act of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

15 E.O. No. 292.

16 Section 1.

17 Section 2.

18 Ma-ao Sugar Central Co. vs. Barrios, 79 Phil. 666 [1947]; Community Investment and Finance
Corp. vs. Garcia, 88 Phil. 215 [1951]; Remitere vs. Vda. de Yulo, 16 SCRA 251 [1966]; Caseas vs.
Rosales, 19 SCRA 462 [1967]; Virata vs. Sandiganbayan, 202 SCRA 680 [1991]; Madrona vs. Rosal,
204 SCRA 1 [1991].

19 Section 1(q), Rule 16, Revised Rules of Court.

20 Adamos vs. J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. 25 SCRA 529 [1968]; Virata vs. Sandiganbayn, supra;
Madrona vs. Rosal, supra.

21 39 SCRA 473, 479 [1971].

22 1991 ed., 226-227.

23 180 SCRA 496, 501-502 [1989]. See also, Coseteng vs. Mitra, 187 SCRA 377 [1990]; Gonzales
vs. Macaraig, 191 SCRA 452 [1990]; Llamas vs. Orbos, 202 SCRA 844 [1991]; Bengzon vs. Senate
Blue Ribbon Committee, 203 SCRA 767 [1991].

24 Rollo, 44.

25 125 SCRA 302, 325 [1983].

26 190 SCRA 673, 684 [1990].

27 Article III, 1987 Constitution.

28 110 Phil. 198, 203 [1960]; footnotes omitted.

29 291 U.S. 502, 523, 78 L. ed. 940, 947-949.


30 22 SCRA 135, 146-147 [1968].

31 Ongsiako vs. Gamboa, 86 Phil. 50 [1950]; Abe vs. Foster Wheeler Corp. supra.; Phil. American
Life Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General, supra.; Alalayan vs. NPC, 24 SCRA 172[1968]; Victoriano vs.
Elizalde Rope Workers' Union, 59 SCRA 54 [1974]; Kabiling vs. National Housing Authority, 156
SCRA 623 [1987].
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

METROPOLITAN MANILA G.R. Nos. 171947-48


DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY,
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT
AND NATURAL RESOURCES, Present:
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION,
CULTURE AND SPORTS,[1] PUNO, C.J.,
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, QUISUMBING,
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, YNARES-SANTIAGO,
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC CARPIO,
WORKS AND HIGHWAYS, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND CORONA,
MANAGEMENT, PHILIPPINE CARPIO MORALES,
COAST GUARD, PHILIPPINE AZCUNA,
NATIONAL POLICE MARITIME TINGA,
GROUP, and DEPARTMENT OF CHICO-NAZARIO,
THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL VELASCO, JR.,
GOVERNMENT, NACHURA,
Petitioners, REYES,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
- versus - BRION, JJ.
CONCERNED RESIDENTS OF
MANILA BAY, represented and
joined by DIVINA V. ILAS,
SABINIANO ALBARRACIN,
MANUEL SANTOS, JR., DINAH
DELA PEA, PAUL DENNIS
QUINTERO, MA. VICTORIA
LLENOS, DONNA CALOZA,
FATIMA QUITAIN, VENICE
SEGARRA, FRITZIE TANGKIA,
SARAH JOELLE LINTAG,
HANNIBAL AUGUSTUS BOBIS,
FELIMON SANTIAGUEL, and Promulgated:
JAIME AGUSTIN R. OPOSA,
Respondents. December 18, 2008
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

The need to address environmental pollution, as a cause of climate change,


has of late gained the attention of the international community. Media have finally
trained their sights on the ill effects of 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
few ever foresaw and the wound no longer simply heals by itself.[2] But amidst
hard evidence and clear signs of a climate crisis that need bold action, the voice of
cynicism, naysayers, and procrastinators can still be heard.

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 official
complement, the pollution menace does not seem to carry the high national
priority it deserves, if their track records are to be the norm. Their cavalier attitude
towards solving, if not mitigating, the environmental pollution problem, is a sad
commentary on bureaucratic efficiency and commitment.

At the core of the case is the Manila Bay, a place with a proud historic past,
once brimming with marine life and, for so many decades in the past, a spot for
different contact recreation activities, but now a dirty and slowly dying expanse
mainly because of the abject official indifference of people and institutions that
could have otherwise made a difference.

This case started when, on January 29, 1999, respondents Concerned


Residents of Manila Bay filed a complaint before the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
in Imus, Cavite against several government agencies, among them the petitioners,
for the cleanup, rehabilitation, and protection of the Manila Bay. Raffled to Branch
20 and docketed as Civil Case No. 1851-99 of the RTC, the complaint alleged that
the water quality of the Manila Bay had fallen way below the allowable standards
set by law, specifically Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1152 or the Philippine
Environment Code. This environmental aberration, the complaint stated, stemmed
from:
x x x [The] reckless, wholesale, accumulated and ongoing acts of omission or
commission [of the defendants] resulting in the clear and present danger to public
health and in the depletion and contamination of the marine life of Manila Bay,
[for which reason] ALL defendants must be held jointly and/or solidarily liable
and be collectively ordered to clean up Manila Bay and to restore its water
quality to class B waters fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of
contact recreation.[3]

In their individual causes of action, respondents alleged that the continued


neglect of petitioners in abating the pollution of the Manila Bay constitutes a
violation of, among others:
(1) Respondents constitutional right to life, health, and a balanced ecology;
(2) The Environment Code (PD 1152);
(3) The Pollution Control Law (PD 984);
(4) The Water Code (PD 1067);
(5) The Sanitation Code (PD 856);
(6) The Illegal Disposal of Wastes Decree (PD 825);
(7) The Marine Pollution Law (PD 979);
(8) Executive Order No. 192;
(9) The Toxic and Hazardous Wastes Law (Republic Act No. 6969);
(10) Civil Code provisions on nuisance and human relations;
(11) The Trust Doctrine and the Principle of Guardianship; and
(12) International Law

Inter alia, respondents, as plaintiffs a quo, prayed that petitioners be ordered


to clean the Manila Bay and submit to the RTC a concerted concrete plan of action
for the purpose.

The trial of the case started off with a hearing at the Manila Yacht Club
followed by an ocular inspection of the Manila Bay. Renato T. Cruz, the Chief of
the Water Quality Management Section, Environmental Management Bureau,
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), testifying for
petitioners, stated that water samples collected from different beaches around the
Manila Bay showed that the amount of fecal coliform content ranged from 50,000
to 80,000 most probable number (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]

Rebecca de Vera, for Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System


(MWSS) and in behalf of other 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 its
evidence, its memorandum circulars on the study being conducted on
ship-generated waste treatment and disposal, and its Linis Dagat (Clean the Ocean)
project for the cleaning of wastes accumulated or washed to shore.

The RTC Ordered Petitioners to Clean Up and Rehabilitate Manila Bay

On September 13, 2002, the RTC rendered a Decision[5] in favor of


respondents. The dispositive portion reads:

WHEREFORE, finding merit in the complaint, judgment is hereby rendered


ordering the abovenamed defendant-government agencies, jointly and solidarily,
to clean up and rehabilitate Manila Bay and 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, within six (6) months from receipt hereof, to act and perform their
respective duties by devising a consolidated, coordinated and concerted scheme
of action for the rehabilitation and restoration of the bay.
In particular:

Defendant MWSS is directed to install, operate and maintain adequate [sewerage]


treatment facilities in strategic places under its jurisdiction and increase their
capacities.

Defendant LWUA, to see to it that the water districts under its wings, provide,
construct and operate sewage facilities for the proper disposal of waste.

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.
Defendant PPA, to prevent and also to treat the discharge not only of
ship-generated wastes but also of other solid and liquid wastes from docking
vessels that contribute to the pollution of the bay.

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 such as re-use or recycling of
wastes.

Defendant DA, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, to


revitalize the marine life in Manila Bay and restock its waters with indigenous
fish and other aquatic animals.

Defendant DBM, to provide and set aside an adequate budget solely for the
purpose of cleaning up and rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

Defendant DPWH, to remove and demolish structures and other nuisances that
obstruct the free flow of waters to the bay. These nuisances discharge solid and
liquid wastes which eventually end up in Manila Bay. As the construction and
engineering arm of the government, DPWH is ordered to actively participate in
removing debris, such as carcass of sunken vessels, and other non-biodegradable
garbage in the bay.

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 from septic tanks.

Defendant DECS, to inculcate in the minds and hearts of the people through
education the importance of preserving and protecting the environment.

Defendant Philippine Coast Guard and the PNP Maritime Group, to protect at all
costs the Manila Bay from all forms of illegal fishing.

No pronouncement as to damages and costs.

SO ORDERED.
The MWSS, Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), and PPA filed before
the Court of Appeals (CA) individual Notices of Appeal which were eventually
consolidated and docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 76528.

On the other hand, the DENR, Department of Public Works and Highways
(DPWH), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine
Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime Group, and five
other executive departments and agencies filed directly with this Court a petition
for review under Rule 45. The Court, in a Resolution of December 9, 2002, sent
the said petition to the CA for consolidation with the consolidated appeals of
MWSS, LWUA, and PPA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 74944.

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 cleaning in general. And
apart from raising concerns about the lack of funds appropriated for cleaning
purposes, petitioners also asserted that the cleaning of the Manila Bay is not a
ministerial act which can be compelled by mandamus.

The CA Sustained the RTC


By a Decision[6] of September 28, 2005, the CA denied petitioners appeal
and affirmed the Decision of 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]

Petitioners are now before this Court praying for the allowance of their Rule
45 petition on the following ground and supporting arguments:
THE [CA] DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE NOT
HERETOFORE PASSED UPON BY THE HONORABLE COURT, I.E., IT
AFFIRMED THE TRIAL COURTS DECISION DECLARING THAT
SECTION 20 OF [PD] 1152 REQUIRES CONCERNED GOVERNMENT
AGENCIES TO REMOVE ALL POLLUTANTS SPILLED AND
DISCHARGED IN THE WATER SUCH AS FECAL COLIFORMS.

ARGUMENTS

I
[SECTIONS] 17 AND 20 OF [PD] 1152 RELATE ONLY TO THE
CLEANING OF SPECIFIC POLLUTION INCIDENTS AND [DO] NOT
COVER CLEANING IN GENERAL

II
THE CLEANING OR REHABILITATION OF THE MANILA BAY IS
NOT A MINISTERIAL ACT OF PETITIONERS THAT CAN BE
COMPELLED BY MANDAMUS.
The issues before us are two-fold. First, do Sections 17 and 20 of PD 1152
under the headings, Upgrading of Water Quality and Clean-up Operations,
envisage a cleanup in general or are they limited only to the cleanup of specific
pollution incidents? And second, can petitioners be compelled by mandamus to
clean up and rehabilitate the ManilaBay?

On August 12, 2008, the Court conducted and heard the parties on oral
arguments.

Our Ruling

We shall first dwell on the propriety of the issuance of mandamus under the
premises.

The Cleaning or Rehabilitation of Manila Bay


Can be Compelled by Mandamus

Generally, the writ of mandamus lies to require the execution of a ministerial


duty.[8] A ministerial duty is one that requires neither the exercise of official
discretion nor judgment.[9] It connotes an act in which nothing is left to the
discretion of the person executing it. It is a simple, definite duty arising under
conditions admitted or proved to exist and imposed by law.[10] Mandamus is
available to compel action, when refused, on matters involving discretion, but not
to direct the exercise of judgment or discretion one way or the other.

Petitioners maintain that the MMDAs duty to take measures and maintain
adequate solid waste and liquid disposal systems necessarily involves policy
evaluation and the exercise of judgment on the part of the agency concerned. They
argue that the MMDA, in carrying out its mandate, has to make decisions,
including choosing where a landfill should be located by undertaking feasibility
studies and cost estimates, all of which entail the exercise of discretion.

Respondents, on the other hand, counter that the statutory command is clear
and that petitioners duty to comply with and act according to the clear mandate of
the law does not require the exercise of discretion. According to respondents,
petitioners, the MMDA in particular, are without discretion, for example, to
choose which bodies of water they are to clean up, or which discharge or spill they
are to contain. By the same token, respondents maintain that petitioners are bereft
of discretion on whether or not to alleviate the problem of solid and liquid waste
disposal; in other words, it is the MMDAs ministerial duty to attend to such
services.

We agree with respondents.

First off, we wish to state that petitioners obligation to perform their duties
as defined by law, on one 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 of the law
or the very act of doing what the law exacts to be done is ministerial in nature and
may be compelled by mandamus. We said so in Social Justice Society v.
Atienza[11] in which the Court directed the City of Manila to enforce, as a matter of
ministerial duty, its Ordinance No. 8027 directing the three big local oil players to
cease and desist from operating their business in the so-called Pandacan 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 and liquid disposal as well as other alternative
garbage disposal systems is ministerial, its duty being a statutory imposition. The
MMDAs duty in this regard is spelled out in Sec. 3(c) of Republic Act No. (RA)
7924 creating the MMDA. This section defines and delineates the scope of the
MMDAs waste disposal services to include:

Solid waste disposal and management which include formulation and


implementation of policies, standards, programs and projects for proper and
sanitary waste disposal. It shall likewise include the establishment and
operation of sanitary land fill and related facilities and the implementation of
other alternative programs intended to reduce, reuse and recycle solid waste.
(Emphasis added.)

The MMDA is duty-bound to comply with Sec. 41 of the Ecological Solid


Waste Management Act (RA 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 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 effectivity, the use of
controlled dumps.

The MMDAs duty in the area of solid waste disposal, as may be noted, is
set forth not only in the Environment Code (PD 1152) and RA 9003, but in its
charter as well. This duty of putting up a proper waste disposal system cannot be
characterized as discretionary, for, as earlier stated, discretion presupposes the
power or right given by law to public functionaries to act officially according to
their judgment or conscience.[13] A discretionary duty is one that allows a person to
exercise judgment and choose to perform or not to perform.[14] Any suggestion that
the MMDA has the option whether or not to perform its solid waste
disposal-related duties ought to be dismissed for want of legal basis.

A perusal of other petitioners respective charters or like enabling statutes and


pertinent laws would yield this conclusion: these government agencies are
enjoined, as a matter of statutory obligation, to perform certain functions relating
directly or indirectly to the cleanup, rehabilitation, protection, and preservation of
the Manila Bay. They are precluded from choosing not to perform these duties.
Consider:

(1) The DENR, under Executive Order No. (EO) 192,[15] is the primary agency
responsible for the conservation, management, development, and proper use of the
countrys environment and natural resources. Sec. 19 of the Philippine Clean Water
Act of 2004 (RA 9275), on the other hand, designates the DENR as the primary
government agency responsible for its enforcement and implementation, more
particularly over all aspects of water quality management. On water pollution, the
DENR, under the Acts Sec. 19(k), exercises jurisdiction over all aspects of water
pollution, determine[s] its location, magnitude, extent, severity, causes and effects
and other pertinent information on pollution, and [takes] measures, 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 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 9275 provides:

Sec. 19 Lead Agency.The [DENR] shall be the primary government agency


responsible for the implementation and enforcement of this Act x x x unless
otherwise provided herein. As such, it shall have the following functions, powers
and responsibilities:
a) Prepare a National Water Quality Status report within twenty-four (24)
months from the effectivity of this Act: Provided, That the Department shall
thereafter review or revise and publish annually, or as the need arises, said
report;

b) Prepare an Integrated Water Quality Management Framework within twelve


(12) months following the completion of the status report;

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 be reviewed by the water
quality management area governing board every five (5) years or as need
arises.

The DENR has prepared the status report for the period 2001 to 2005 and is in the
process of completing the preparation of the Integrated Water Quality
Management Framework.[16] Within twelve (12) months thereafter, it has to submit
a final Water Quality Management Area Action Plan.[17] Again, like the MMDA,
the DENR should be made to accomplish the tasks assigned to it under RA 9275.
Parenthetically, during the oral arguments, the DENR Secretary manifested that
the DENR, with the assistance of and in partnership with various government
agencies and non-government organizations, 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 rehabilitation, restoration, and rehabilitation of the Manila Bay.

The completion of the said action plan and even the implementation of some of its
phases should more than ever prod the concerned agencies to fast track what are
assigned them under existing laws.
(2) The MWSS, under Sec. 3 of RA 6234,[18] is vested with jurisdiction,
supervision, and control over all 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:
(g) To construct, maintain, and operate such sanitary sewerages as may be
necessary for the proper sanitation and other uses of the cities and towns
comprising the System; x x x

(3) The LWUA under PD 198 has the power of supervision and control over
local water districts. It can prescribe the minimum standards and regulations for
the operations of these districts and shall monitor and evaluate local water
standards. The LWUA can direct these districts to construct, operate, and furnish
facilities and services for the collection, treatment, and disposal of sewerage,
waste, and storm water. Additionally, under RA 9275, the LWUA, as attached
agency of the DPWH, is tasked with 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
petition, the LWUA is mandated to provide sewerage and sanitation facilities in
Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan to prevent pollution in
the Manila Bay.
(4) The Department of Agriculture (DA), pursuant to the Administrative Code of
1987 (EO 292),[20] is 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 other concerned sectors, in charge of establishing a monitoring,
control, and surveillance system to ensure that fisheries and aquatic resources in
Philippine waters are judiciously utilized and managed on a sustainable
basis.[21] Likewise under RA 9275, the DA is charged with coordinating with the
PCG and DENR for the enforcement of water quality standards in marine
waters.[22] More specifically, its Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources(BFAR)
under Sec. 22(c) of RA 9275 shall primarily be responsible for the prevention and
control of water pollution for the development, management, and conservation of
the fisheries and aquatic resources.
(5) The DPWH, as the engineering and construction arm of the national
government, is tasked under EO 292[23] to provide integrated planning, design, and
construction services for, among others, flood control and water resource
development systems in accordance with national development objectives and
approved government plans and specifications.

In Metro Manila, however, the MMDA is authorized by Sec. 3(d), RA 7924 to


perform metro-wide services relating to flood control and sewerage management
which include the formulation and implementation of policies, standards,
programs and projects for an integrated flood control, drainage and sewerage
system.

On July 9, 2002, a Memorandum of Agreement was entered into between the


DPWH and MMDA, whereby MMDA was made the agency primarily responsible
for flood control in Metro Manila. For the rest of the country, DPWH shall remain
as the implementing agency for flood control services. The mandate of the MMDA
and DPWH on flood control and drainage services shall include the removal of
structures, constructions, and encroachments built along rivers, waterways,
and esteros (drainages) in violation of RA 7279, PD 1067, and other pertinent
laws.

(6) The PCG, in accordance with Sec. 5(p) of PD 601, or the Revised Coast
Guard Law of 1974, and 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 Philippines. It shall promulgate its own rules and regulations in accordance
with the national rules 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 violators who:
a. discharge, dump x x x harmful substances from or out of any ship, vessel,
barge, or any other floating craft, or other man-made structures at sea, by any
method, means or manner, into or upon the territorial and inland navigable waters
of the Philippines;

b. throw, discharge or deposit, dump, or cause, suffer or procure to be thrown,


discharged, or deposited either from or out of any ship, barge, or other floating
craft or vessel of any kind, or from the shore, wharf, manufacturing establishment,
or mill of any kind, any refuse matter of any kind or description whatever other
than that flowing from streets and sewers and passing therefrom in a liquid state
into tributary of any navigable water from which the same shall float or be
washed into such navigable water; and

c. deposit x x x material of any kind in any place on the bank of any navigable
water or on the bank of any tributary of any navigable water, where the same
shall be liable to be washed into such navigable water, either by ordinary or high
tides, or by storms or floods, or otherwise, whereby navigation shall or may be
impeded or obstructed or increase the level of pollution of such water.

(7) When RA 6975 or the Department of the Interior and Local Government
(DILG) Act of 1990 was signed into law on December 13, 1990, the PNP
Maritime Group was tasked to perform all police functions over the Philippine
territorial waters and rivers. Under Sec. 86, RA 6975, the police functions of the
PCG shall be taken over by the PNP when the latter acquires the capability to
perform such functions. Since the PNP Maritime Group has not yet attained the
capability to assume and perform the 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 1998, in which both the PCG and PNP Maritime
Group were authorized to enforce said law and other fishery laws, rules, and
regulations.[25]

(8) In accordance with Sec. 2 of EO 513, the PPA is mandated to establish,


develop, regulate, manage 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
ports administered by it as may be necessary to carry out its powers and functions
and attain its purposes and objectives, without prejudice to the exercise of the
functions of the Bureau of Customs and other law enforcement bodies within the
area. Such police authority shall include the following:
xxxx

b) To regulate the entry to, exit from, and movement within the port, of persons
and vehicles, as well as movement within the port of watercraft.[27]
Lastly, as a member of the International Marine Organization and a
signatory to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from
Ships, as amended by MARPOL 73/78,[28] the Philippines, through the PPA, must
ensure the provision of adequate reception facilities at ports and terminals for the
reception of sewage from the ships docking in Philippine ports. Thus, the PPA is
tasked to adopt such measures as are necessary to prevent the discharge and
dumping of solid and liquid wastes and other ship-generated wastes into
the Manila Bay waters from vessels docked at 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.

(9) The MMDA, as earlier indicated, is duty-bound to put up and maintain


adequate sanitary landfill and solid waste and liquid disposal system as well as
other alternative garbage disposal systems. It is primarily responsible for the
implementation and enforcement of the provisions of RA 9003, which would
necessary include its penal provisions, within its area of jurisdiction.[29]

Among the prohibited acts under Sec. 48, Chapter VI of RA 9003 that are
frequently violated are dumping of waste matters in public places, such as roads,
canals or esteros, open burning of solid waste, squatting in open dumps and
landfills, open dumping, burying of biodegradable or non- biodegradable materials
in flood-prone areas, establishment or operation of open dumps as enjoined in RA
9003, and operation of waste management facilities without an environmental
compliance certificate.

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 dumps, riverbanks, shorelines,
waterways, and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks and
playgrounds. The MMDA, as lead agency, in coordination with the DPWH, LGUs,
and concerned 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 Manila. With respect to rivers,
waterways, and esteros in Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, and 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 encroachments built in violation of RA 7279
and other applicable laws in coordination with the DPWH and concerned agencies.

(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 a water supply or a reservoir for
domestic or municipal use. And under Sec. 8 of RA 9275, the DOH, in
coordination with the DENR, DPWH, and other concerned agencies, shall
formulate guidelines and 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 mix
sewerage-septage management system shall be employed.

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 of the proper disposal
of wastes by private sludge companies through the strict enforcement of the
requirement to obtain an environmental sanitation clearance of sludge collection
treatment and disposal before these companies are issued their environmental
sanitation permit.

(11) The Department of Education (DepEd), under the Philippine


Environment Code (PD 1152), is mandated to integrate subjects on environmental
education in its school curricula at all levels.[32] Under 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 Solid Waste Management Act (RA
9003), on the other hand, it is directed to strengthen the integration of
environmental concerns in school curricula at all levels, with an emphasis on
waste management principles.[33]
(12) The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is tasked under Sec. 2,
Title XVII of the Administrative Code of 1987 to ensure the efficient and sound
utilization of government funds and revenues so as to effectively achieve the
countrys development objectives.[34]

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 consistent with the protection,
preservation, and revival of the quality of our fresh, brackish, and marine waters. It
also provides that it is the policy of the government, among others, to streamline
processes and procedures in the prevention, control, and abatement of pollution
mechanisms for the protection of 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
water quality management that recognizes that issues related to this management
cannot be separated from concerns about water sources and ecological protection,
water supply, public health, and quality of life; and to provide a comprehensive
management program for water pollution focusing on pollution prevention.

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.

All told, the aforementioned enabling laws and issuances are in themselves
clear, categorical, and complete as to what are the obligations and mandate of each
agency/petitioner under the law. We need not belabor the issue that their tasks
include the cleanup of the Manila Bay.

Now, as to the crux of the petition. Do Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment


Code encompass the cleanup of water pollution in general, not just specific
pollution incidents?

Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment Code


Include Cleaning in General

The disputed sections are quoted as follows:


Section 17. Upgrading of Water Quality.Where the quality of water has
deteriorated to a degree where its state will adversely affect its best usage, the
government agencies concerned shall take such measures as may be necessary to
upgrade the quality of such water to meet the prescribed water quality standards.

Section 20. Clean-up Operations.It shall be the responsibility of the polluter to


contain, remove and clean-up water pollution incidents at his own expense. In
case of his failure to do so, the government agencies concerned shall undertake
containment, removal and clean-up operations and expenses incurred in said
operations shall be charged against the persons and/or entities responsible for
such pollution.

When the Clean Water Act (RA 9275) took effect, its Sec. 16 on the
subject, Cleanup Operations, amended the counterpart provision (Sec. 20) of the
Environment Code (PD 1152). Sec. 17 of PD 1152 continues, however, to be
operational.

The amendatory Sec. 16 of RA 9275 reads:


SEC. 16. Cleanup Operations.Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections
15 and 26 hereof, any person who causes pollution in or pollutes water bodies in
excess of the applicable and prevailing standards 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, That in the event emergency cleanup operations are necessary and the
polluter fails to immediately undertake the same, the [DENR] in coordination
with other government agencies concerned, shall undertake containment, removal
and cleanup operations. Expenses incurred in said operations shall be reimbursed
by the persons found to have caused such pollution under proper administrative
determination x x x. Reimbursements of the cost incurred shall be made to the
Water Quality Management Fund or to such other funds where said
disbursements were sourced.

As may be noted, the amendment to Sec. 20 of the Environment Code is more


apparent than real since the amendment, insofar as it is relevant to this case,
merely consists in the designation of the DENR as lead agency in the cleanup
operations.

Petitioners contend at every turn that Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment


Code concern themselves only with the matter of cleaning up in specific pollution
incidents, as opposed to cleanup in general. They aver that the twin provisions
would have to be read alongside the succeeding Sec. 62(g) and (h), which defines
the terms cleanup operations and accidental spills, as follows:
g. Clean-up Operations [refer] to activities conducted in removing the pollutants
discharged or spilled in water to restore it to pre-spill condition.

h. Accidental Spills [refer] to spills of oil or other hazardous substances in


water that result from accidents such as collisions and groundings.

Petitioners proffer the argument that Secs. 17 and 20 of PD 1152 merely


direct the government agencies concerned to undertake containment, removal, and
cleaning operations of a specific polluted portion or portions of the body of water
concerned. They maintain that the application of said Sec. 20 is limited only to
water pollution incidents, which are situations that presuppose the occurrence of
specific, isolated pollution events requiring the corresponding containment,
removal, and cleaning operations. Pushing the point further, they argue that the
aforequoted Sec. 62(g) requires cleanup operations to restore the body of water to
pre-spill condition, which means that there must have been a specific incident of
either intentional or accidental spillage of oil or other hazardous substances, as
mentioned in Sec. 62(h).

As a counterpoint, respondents argue that petitioners erroneously read Sec. 62(g)


as delimiting the application of Sec. 20 to the containment, removal, and cleanup
operations for accidental spills only. Contrary to petitioners posture, respondents
assert that Sec. 62(g), in fact, even expanded the coverage of Sec. 20. Respondents
explain that without its Sec. 62(g), PD 1152 may have indeed 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 operational scope of Sec. 20, by including
accidental spills as among the water pollution incidents contemplated in Sec. 17 in
relation to Sec. 20 of PD 1152.

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. 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. 17 is not hobbled by such limiting definition. As pointed out, the
phrases cleanup operations and accidental spills do not appear in said Sec. 17, not
even in the chapter where said section is found.

Respondents are correct. For one thing, said Sec. 17 does not in any way
state that the government agencies concerned ought to confine themselves to the
containment, removal, and cleaning operations when a specific pollution incident
occurs. On the contrary, Sec. 17 requires them to act even in the absence of a
specific pollution incident, as long as water quality has deteriorated to a degree
where its state will adversely affect its best usage. This section, to stress,
commands concerned government agencies, when appropriate, to take such
measures as may be necessary to meet the prescribed water quality standards. In
fine, the underlying duty to upgrade the quality of water is not conditional on the
occurrence of any pollution incident.

For another, a perusal of Sec. 20 of the Environment Code, as couched,


indicates that it is properly applicable to a specific situation in which the pollution
is caused by polluters who fail to clean up the 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
operations in the Manila Bay only when there is a water pollution incident and the
erring polluters do not undertake the containment, removal, and cleanup
operations, is quite off mark. As earlier discussed, the complementary Sec. 17 of
the Environment Code comes into play and the specific duties of the 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 their cleanup mandate depends on
the happening of a specific pollution incident. In this regard, what 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 environmental protection and management. This is
better served by making Secs. 17 & 20 of general 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 correct, they seem to have overlooked the fact that
the pollution of the Manila Bay is of such magnitude and scope that it is well-nigh
impossible to draw the line between a specific and a general pollution incident.
And such impossibility extends to pinpointing with reasonable certainty who the
polluters are. We note that Sec. 20 of PD 1152 mentions water pollution incidents
which may be caused by 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 person who
causes pollution in or pollutes water bodies, which may refer to an individual or an
establishment that pollutes the land mass near the Manila Bay or the waterways,
such that the contaminants eventually end up in the bay. In this situation, the water
pollution incidents are so numerous and involve nameless and faceless polluters
that they can validly be categorized as beyond the specific pollution incident level.
Not to be ignored of course is the reality that the government agencies
concerned are so undermanned that it would be almost impossible to apprehend
the numerous polluters of the Manila Bay. It may perhaps not be amiss to say that
the apprehension, if any, of the Manila Bay polluters has been few and 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 operations. Thus, Sec. 16 of RA 9275, previously
Sec. 20 of PD 1152, covers for all intents and purposes a general cleanup situation.

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 as the cleaning phase. It is
imperative then that the wastes and contaminants found in the rivers, inland bays,
and other bodies of water be stopped from reaching the Manila Bay. Otherwise,
any cleanup effort would just be a futile, cosmetic exercise, for, in no time at all,
the Manila Bay water quality would 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 bureaus and
offices under them on continuing notice about, and to enjoin them to perform, their
mandates and duties towards cleaning up the Manila Bay and preserving the
quality of its water to the 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
would not be set to naught by administrative inaction or indifference. In India, the
doctrine of continuing mandamus was used to enforce directives of the court to
clean up the length of the Ganges River from industrial and municipal pollution.[37]
The Court can take judicial notice of the presence of shanties and other
unauthorized structures which do not have septic tanks along the
Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the National Capital Region (NCR)
(Paraaque-Zapote, Las Pias) Rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros
Rivers, the Meycuayan-Marilao-Obando (Bulacan) Rivers, the Talisay (Bataan)
River, the Imus (Cavite) River, the Laguna De Bay, and other minor rivers and
connecting waterways, river banks, and esteros which discharge their waters, with
all the accompanying filth, dirt, and garbage, into the major rivers and eventually
the Manila Bay. If there is one factor responsible for the pollution of the major
river systems and the Manila Bay, these unauthorized structures would be on top
of the list. And if the issue of illegal or unauthorized 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]

Giving urgent dimension to the necessity of removing these illegal structures is


Art. 51 of PD 1067 or the Water Code,[39] which prohibits the building of
structures within a given length along banks of rivers and other waterways. Art. 51
reads:
The banks of rivers and streams and the shores of the seas and
lakes throughout their entire length and within a zone of three (3) meters in
urban areas, twenty (20) meters in agricultural areas and forty (40) meters in
forest areas, along their margins, are subject to the easement of public use in
the interest of recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing and salvage.No person
shall be allowed to stay in this zone longer than what is necessary for recreation,
navigation, floatage, fishing or salvage or to build structures of any
kind. (Emphasis added.)

Judicial notice may likewise be taken of factories and other industrial


establishments standing along or near the banks of the Pasig River, other major
rivers, and connecting waterways. But while they may not be treated as
unauthorized constructions, some of these establishments undoubtedly contribute
to the pollution of the Pasig River and waterways. The DILG and the concerned
LGUs, have, accordingly, the duty to see to it that non-complying industrial
establishments set up, within a reasonable period, the necessary waste water
treatment facilities and infrastructure to prevent their industrial discharge,
including their sewage waters, from flowing into the Pasig River, other major
rivers, and connecting waterways. After such period, non-complying
establishments shall be shut down or asked to transfer their operations.

At this juncture, and if only to dramatize the urgency of the need for
petitioners-agencies to comply with their statutory tasks, we cite the Asian
Development Bank-commissioned study on the garbage problem 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:
1. As early as 2003, three land-filled dumpsites in Metro Manila - the
Payatas, Catmon and Rodriquez dumpsites - generate an alarming quantity of
lead and leachate or liquid run-off. Leachate are toxic liquids that flow along the
surface and seep into the earth and poison the surface and groundwater that are
used for drinking, aquatic life, and the environment.

2. The high level of fecal coliform confirms the presence of a large


amount of human waste in the dump sites and surrounding areas, which is
presumably generated by households that lack alternatives to sanitation. To say
that Manila Bay needs rehabilitation is an understatement.

3. Most of the deadly leachate, lead and other dangerous contaminants


and possibly strains of pathogens seeps untreated into ground water and runs into
the Marikina and Pasig Riversystems and Manila Bay.[40]

Given the above perspective, sufficient sanitary landfills should now more
than ever be established as prescribed by the Ecological Solid Waste Management
Act (RA 9003). Particular note should be taken of the blatant violations by some
LGUs and possibly the MMDA of Sec. 37, reproduced below:
Sec. 37. Prohibition against the Use of Open Dumps for Solid Waste.No
open dumps shall be established and operated, nor any practice or disposal of
solid waste by any person, including LGUs which [constitute] the use of open
dumps for solid waste, be allowed after the effectivity of this Act: Provided,
further that no controlled dumps shall be allowed (5) years following the
effectivity of this Act. (Emphasis added.)

RA 9003 took effect on February 15, 2001 and the adverted grace period of
five (5) years which ended on February 21, 2006 has come and gone, but no single
sanitary landfill which strictly complies with the prescribed standards under RA
9003 has yet been set up.

In addition, there are rampant and repeated violations of Sec. 48 of RA 9003,


like littering, dumping of waste matters in roads, canals, esteros, and other public
places, operation of open dumps, open burning of solid waste, and the like. Some
sludge companies which do not have proper disposal facilities simply discharge
sludge into the Metro Manila sewerage system that ends up in
the Manila Bay. Equally unabated are violations of Sec. 27 of RA 9275, which
enjoins the pollution of water bodies, groundwater pollution, disposal of infectious
wastes from vessels, and unauthorized 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 structure.

In the light of the ongoing environmental degradation, the Court wishes to


emphasize the extreme necessity for all concerned executive departments and
agencies to immediately act and discharge their 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 and the nature of their respective offices and mandates.

The importance of the Manila Bay as a sea resource, playground, and as a


historical landmark cannot be over-emphasized. It is not yet too late in the day to
restore the Manila Bay to its former splendor and bring back the plants and sea life
that once thrived in its blue waters. But the tasks ahead, daunting as they may be,
could only be accomplished if those mandated, with the help and cooperation of
all civic-minded individuals, would put their minds to these tasks and take
responsibility. This means that the State, through petitioners, has to take the lead
in the preservation and protection of the Manila Bay.

The era of delays, procrastination, and ad hoc measures is over. Petitioners


must transcend their limitations, real or imaginary, and buckle down to work
before the problem at hand becomes unmanageable. Thus, we must reiterate that
different government agencies and instrumentalities cannot shirk from their
mandates; they must perform their basic functions in cleaning up and rehabilitating
the Manila Bay. We are disturbed by petitioners hiding behind two untenable
claims: (1) that there ought to be a specific pollution incident before they are
required to act; and (2) that the cleanup of the bay is a discretionary duty.

RA 9003 is a sweeping piece of legislation enacted to radically transform


and improve waste management. It implements Sec. 16, Art. II of the 1987
Constitution, which explicitly provides that the 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.

So it was that in Oposa v. Factoran, Jr. the Court stated that the right to a
balanced and healthful ecology need not even be written in the Constitution for it
is assumed, like other civil and political rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, to
exist from the inception of mankind and it is an issue of transcendental importance
with intergenerational implications.[41] Even assuming the absence of a categorical
legal provision specifically prodding petitioners to clean up the bay, they and the
men and women representing them cannot escape their obligation to future
generations of Filipinos to keep the waters of the Manila Bay clean and clear as
humanly as possible. Anything less would be a betrayal of the trust reposed in
them.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The September 28, 2005 Decision of


the CA in CA-G.R. CV No. 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 in the case. The fallo of the RTC Decision shall now read:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the abovenamed
defendant-government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate, and
preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to SB 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.

In particular:

(1) Pursuant to Sec. 4 of EO 192, assigning the DENR as the primary agency
responsible for the conservation, management, development, and proper use of the
countrys environment and natural resources, and Sec. 19 of RA 9275, designating
the DENR as the primary government agency responsible for its enforcement and
implementation, the DENR is directed to fully implement 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 meetings with concerned government departments and
agencies to ensure the successful implementation of the aforesaid plan of action in
accordance with its indicated completion schedules.

(2) Pursuant to Title XII (Local Government) of the Administrative Code of 1987
and Sec. 25 of the 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 Philippine
Environment Code (PD 1152), shall direct all LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal,
Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan to inspect all factories,
commercial establishments, and private homes along the banks of the major river
systems in their respective areas of jurisdiction, such as but not limited to the
Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the NCR (Paraaque-Zapote, Las Pias) Rivers, the
Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando
(Bulacan) Rivers, the 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 determine whether they have
wastewater treatment facilities or hygienic septic tanks as prescribed by existing
laws, ordinances, and rules and regulations. If none be found, these LGUs shall be
ordered to require non-complying establishments and homes to set up said
facilities or septic tanks within a reasonable time to prevent industrial wastes,
sewage water, and human wastes from flowing into these rivers,
waterways, esteros, and the Manila Bay, under pain of closure or imposition of
fines and other sanctions.

(3) As mandated by Sec. 8 of RA 9275,[43] the MWSS is directed to provide, install,


operate, and maintain the necessary adequate waste water treatment facilities in
Metro Manila, Rizal, and Cavite where needed at the earliest possible time.

(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 efficient and safe collection,
treatment, and disposal of sewage in the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan,
Pampanga, and Bataan where needed at the earliest possible time.
(5) Pursuant to Sec. 65 of RA 8550,[45] the DA, through the BFAR, is ordered to
improve and restore the marine life of the Manila Bay. It is also directed to assist
the LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga, and
Bataan in developing, using recognized methods, the fisheries and aquatic
resources in the Manila Bay.

(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, and other existing laws and regulations
designed to prevent marine pollution in the Manila Bay.

(7) Pursuant to Secs. 2 and 6-c of EO 513[46] and the International


Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, the PPA is ordered to
immediately adopt such measures to prevent the discharge and dumping of solid
and liquid wastes and other ship-generated wastes into the Manila Bay waters
from vessels docked at ports and apprehend the violators.

(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 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 violation of RA 7279, and other applicable
laws along the Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the NCR (Paraaque-Zapote, Las
Pias) Rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, and connecting
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:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice Associate Justice

RENATO C. CORONA CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES Associate


Justice Associate Justice

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA DANTE O. TINGA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

RUBEN T. REYES TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that
the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
[1]
Now the Department of Education (DepEd).
[2]
Gore, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH 161.
[3]
Rollo, p. 74.
[4] Id. at 53.
[5]
Id. at 109-123. Penned by Executive Judge Lucenito N. Tagle (now retired Court of Appeals Justice).
[6]
Id. at 47-58. Penned by Associate Justice Eliezer R. De Los Santos and concurred in by Associate Justices
Eugenio S. Labitoria and Jose C. Reyes, Jr.
[7]
Id. at 52.
[8]
Angchangco, Jr. v. Ombudsman, G.R. No. 122728, February 13, 1997, 268 SCRA 301, 306.
[9] BLACKS LAW DICTIONARY (8th ed., 2004).
[10]
Lamb v. Phipps, 22 Phil. 456, 490 (1912).
[11]
G.R. No. 156052, March 7, 2007, 517 SCRA 657, as subsequently reiterated on February 13, 2008.
[12]
RA 9003 was approved on January 26, 2001.
[13]
2 Feria Noche, CIVIL PROCEDURE ANNOTATED.
[14]
BLACKS LAW DICTIONARY (8th ed., 2004).
[15] Providing for the Reorganization of the [DENR], Renaming it as the Department of Environment and Natural

Resources, and for Other Purposes.


[16]
Per DENR Secretary Jose Atienza, the DENR is preparing an EO for the purpose. TSN of oral
arguments, p. 118.
[17]
Per information from the Water Quality Management Section, Environmental Management Bureau, DENR, as
validated by the DENR Secretary during the oral arguments. TSN, pp. 119-120.
[18] An Act Creating the [MWSS] and Dissolving the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority

[NAWASA]; and for Other Purposes.


[19]
Sec. 22. Linkage Mechanism.The [DENR] and its concerned attached agencies x x x shall coordinate
and enter into agreement with other government agencies, industrial sector and other concerned sectors in the
furtherance of the objectives of this Act. The following agencies shall perform tile functions specified hereunder:
xxxx
b) DPWH through its attached agencies, such as the MWSS, LWUA, and including other urban water
utilities for the provision or sewerage and sanitation facilities and the efficient and safe collection, treatment and
disposal of sewage within their area of jurisdiction.
[20]
Book IV, Title IV, Sec. 2.
[21]
Sec. 14. Monitoring Control and Surveillance of the Philippine Waters.A monitoring, control and
surveillance system shall be established by the [DA] in coordination with LGUs and other agencies concerned to
ensure that the fisheries and aquatic resources in the Philippine waters are judiciously and wisely utilized and
managed on a sustainable basis x x x.
[22]
Sec. 22. Linkage Mechanism.x x x x
a) Philippine Coast Guard in coordination with DA and DENR shall enforce for the enforcement of water
quality standards in marine waters x x x specifically from offshore sources;
xxxx
c) DA, shall coordinate with the DENR, in the formulation of guidelines x x x for the prevention, control
and abatement of pollution from agricultural and aquaculture activities x x x Provided, further, That the x x x BFAR
of the DA shall be primarily responsible for the prevention and control of water pollution for the development,
management and conservation of the fisheries and aquatic resources.
[23]
Book IV, Title V, Sec. 2. Mandate.The [DPWH] shall be the States engineering arm and is tasked to
carry out the policy enumerated above [i.e., the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure
facilities, especially x x x flood control and water resources development systems].
Sec. 3. Powers and Functions.The Department, in order to carry out its mandate, shall:
xxxx
(2) Develop and implement effective codes, standards, and reasonable guidelines to ensure the safety of all
public and private structures in the country and assure efficiency and proper quality in the construction of public
works;
(3) Ascertain that all public works plans and project implementation designs are consistent with current
standards and guidelines;
xxxx
(8) Provide an integrated planning for x x x flood control and water resource and water resource
development systems x x x.
[24]
Sec. 6. Enforcement and Implementation.The [PCG] shall have the primary responsibility of enforcing
the laws, rules and regulations governing marine pollution. However, it shall be the joint responsibility of the [PCG]
and the National Pollution Control Commission to coordinate and cooperate with each other in the enforcement of
the provisions of this decree and its implementing rules and regulations, and may call upon any other government
office, instrumentality or agency to extend every assistance in this respect.
[25]
Sec. 124. Persons and Deputies Authorized to Enforce this Code x x x.The law enforcements of the [DA], the
Philippine Navy, [PCG, PNP], PNP-Maritime Command x x x are hereby authorized to enforce this Code and other
fishery laws x x x.
[26]
<http://www.ppa.com.ph> (visited November 20, 2008).
[27]
EO 513, Reorganizing the Philippine Ports Authority, Sec. 2 provides further:
Section 6 is hereby amended by adding a new paragraph to read as follows:
Sec. 6-c. Police Authority.x x x Such police authority shall include the following:
xxxx
c) To maintain peace and order inside the port, in coordination with local police authorities;
xxxx
e) To enforce rules and regulations promulgated by the Authority pursuant to law.
[28]
International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of
1978 Relating Thereto.
[29]
Sec. 10. Role of LGUs in Solid Waste Management.Pursuant to the relevant provisions of RA No. 7160,
otherwise known as the Local Government Code, the LGUs shall be primarily responsible for the implementation
and enforcement of the provisions of this Act within their respective jurisdictions.
[30]
Sec. 72. Scope of Supervision of the Department.The approval of the Secretary or his duly authorized
representative is required in the following matters:
xxxx
(g) Method of disposal of sludge from septic tanks or other treatment plants.
[31]
Sec. 5.1.1.a. It shall be unlawful for any person, entity or firm to discharge untreated effluent of septic tanks
and/or sewage treatment plants to bodies of water without obtaining approval from the Secretary of Health or his
duly authorized representatives.
[32]
Sec. 53. Environmental Education.The [DepEd] shall integrate subjects on environmental education in
its school curricula at all levels. It shall also endeavor to conduct special community education emphasizing the
relationship of man and nature as well as environmental sanitation and practices.
[33]
Sec. 56. Environmental Education in the Formal and Nonformal Sectors.The national government,
through the [DepEd] and in coordination with concerned government agencies, NGOs and private institutions, shall
strengthen the integration of environmental concerns in school curricula at all levels, with particular emphasis on
the theory and practice of waste management principles like waste minimization, specifically resource conservation
and recovery, segregation at source, reduction, recycling, re-use, and composing, in order to promote environmental
awareness and action among the citizenry.
[34]
Title XVII, Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy.The national budget shall be formulated and implemented as
an instrument of national development, reflective of national objectives and plans; supportive of and consistent with
the socio-economic development plans and oriented towards the achievement of explicit objectives and expected
results, to ensure that the utilization of funds and operations of government entities are conducted effectively;
formulated within the context of a regionalized governmental structure and within the totality of revenues and other
receipts, expenditures and borrowings of all levels of government and of government-owned or controlled
corporations; and prepared within the context of the national long-term plans and budget programs of the
Government.
[35]
Rollo, p. 76.
[36]
Vineet Narain v. Union of India, 1 SCC 226 (1998).
[37] M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, 4 SC 463 (1987).
[38] TSN, p. 121.
[39]
Repealed Art. 638 of the CIVIL CODE. See E.L. Pineda, PROPERTY 399 (1999).
[40]
Asian Development Bank, THE GARBAGE BOOK 44-45 (November 2006).
[41]
G.R. No. 101083, July 30, 1993, 224 SCRA 792, 805.
[42]
Sec. 25. National Supervision over Local Government Units.(a) Consistent with the basic policy on
local autonomy, the President shall exercise general supervision over local government units to ensure that their
acts are within the scope of their prescribed powers and functions.
[43]
Sec. 8. Domestic Sewage Collection, Treatment and Disposal.Within five (5) years following the
effectivity of this Act, the Agency vested to provide water supply and sewerage facilities and/or concessionaires in
Metro Manila and other highly urbanized cities (HUCs) as defined in [RA] 7160, in coordination with LGUs, shall
be required to connect the existing sewage line found in all subdivisions, condominiums, commercial centers, hotels,
sports and recreational facilities, hospitals, market places, public buildings, industrial complex and other similar
establishments including households to available sewerage system. Provided, That the said connection shall be
subject to sewerage services charge/fees in accordance with existing laws, rules or regulations unless the sources
had already utilized their own sewerage system: Provided, further, That all sources of sewage and septage shall
comply with the requirements herein.
[44]
Supra note 19.
[45]
Sec. 65. Functions of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.As a line bureau, the BFAR shall
have the following functions:
xxxx
q. assist the LGUs in developing their technical capability in the development, management, regulation,
conservation, and protection of fishery resources;
xxxx
s. perform such other related function which shall promote the development, conservation, management,
protection and utilization of fisheries and aquatic resources.
[46]
Supra notes 26 & 27.
[47]
Among the prohibited and penalized acts under Sec. 48 of RA 9003 are: (1) littering and dumping of
waste matters in public places; (2) open burning of solid wastes; (3) squatting in open dumps and landfills; (4)
transporting and dumping in bulk of collected domestic, industrial, commercial and institutional wastes in areas
other than centers and facilities prescribed under the Act; (5) construction or operation of waste management
facilities without an Environmental Compliance Certificate; and (6) construction or operation of landfills or any
waste disposal facility on any aquifer, groundwater reservoir or watershed area.
[48]
Supra note 32.
[49]
Supra note 33.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Baguio City

EN BANC

G.R. No. 180771 April 21, 2015

RESIDENT MARINE MAMMALS OF THE PROTECTED SEASCAPE TAON STRAIT, e.g.,


TOOTHED WHALES, DOLPHINS, PORPOISES, AND OTHER CETACEAN SPECIES, Joined in
and Represented herein by Human Beings Gloria Estenzo Ramos and Rose-Liza
Eisma-Osorio, In Their Capacity as Legal Guardians of the Lesser Life-Forms and as
Responsible Stewards of God's Creations, Petitioners,
vs.
SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Energy
(DOE), SECRETARY JOSE L. ATIENZA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, DENR Regional
Director-Region VII and in his capacity as Chairperson of the Taon Strait Protected
Seascape Management Board, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR),
DIRECTOR MALCOLM J. SARMIENTO, JR., BFAR Regional Director for Region VII ANDRES M.
BOJOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its
Philippine Agent, SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, INC. Respondents.

x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 181527

CENTRAL VISAYAS FISHERFOLK DEVELOPMENT CENTER (FIDEC), CERILO D. ENGARCIAL,


RAMON YANONG, FRANCISCO LABID, in their personal capacity and as representatives of
the SUBSISTENCE FISHERFOLKS OF THE MUNICIPALITIES OF ALOGUINSAN AND
PINAMUNGAJAN, CEBU, AND THEIR FAMILIES, AND THE PRESENT AND FUTURE
GENERATIONS OF FILIPINOS WHOSE RIGHTS ARE SIMILARLY AFFECTED, Petitioners,
vs.
SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Energy
(DOE), JOSE L. ATIENZA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, in his capacity as DENR Regional
Director-Region VII and as Chairperson of the Taon Strait Protected Seascape Management
Board, ALAN ARRANGUEZ, in his capacity as Director - Environmental Management
Bureau-Region VII, DOE Regional Director for Region VIII1 ANTONIO LABIOS, JAPAN
PETROLEUM EXPLORATION CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its Philippine Agent,
SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, INC., Respondents.

CONCURRING OPINION

"Until one has loved an animal,


a part of one 's soul remains unawakened."

Anatole France

LEONEN, J.:
I concur in the result, with the following additional reasons.

In G.R. No. 180771, petitioners Resident Marine Mammals allegedly bring their case in their personal
capacity, alleging that they stand to benefit or be injured from the judgment on the issues. The
human petitioners implead themselves in a representative capacity "as legal guardians of the lesser
life-forms and as responsible stewards of God's Creations."1 They use Oposa v. Factoran, Jr.2 as
basis for their claim, asserting their right to enforce international and domestic environmental laws
enacted for their benefit under the concept of stipulation pour autrui.3As the representatives of
Resident Marine Mammals, the human petitioners assert that they have the obligation to build
awareness among the affected residents of Taon Strait as well as to protect the environment,
especially in light of the government's failure, as primary steward, to do its duty under the doctrine of
public trust.4

Resident Marine Mammals and the human petitioners also assert that through this case, this court
will have the opportunity to lower the threshold for locus standi as an exercise of "epistolary
jurisdiction."5

The zeal of the human petitioners to pursue their desire to protect the environment and to continue to
define environmental rights in the context of actual cases is commendable. However, the space for
legal creativity usually required for advocacy of issues of the public interest is not so unlimited that it
should be allowed to undermine the other values protected by current substantive and procedural
laws. Even rules of procedure as currently formulated set the balance between competing interests.
We cannot abandon these rules when the necessity is not clearly and convincingly presented.

The human petitioners, in G.R. No. 180771, want us to create substantive and procedural rights for
animals through their allegation that they can speak for them. Obviously, we are asked to accept the
premises that (a) they were chosen by the Resident Marine Mammals of Taon Strait; (b) they were
chosen by a representative group of all the species of the Resident Marine Mammals; (c) they were
able to communicate with them; and (d) they received clear consent from their animal principals that
they would wish to use human legal institutions to pursue their interests. Alternatively, they ask us to
acknowledge through judicial notice that the interests that they, the human petitioners, assert are
identical to what the Resident Marine Mammals would assert had they been humans and the legal
strategies that they invoked are the strategies that they agree with.

In the alternative, they want us to accept through judicial notice that there is a relationship of
guardianship between them and all the resident mammals in the affected ecology.

Fundamental judicial doctrines that may significantly change substantive and procedural law cannot
be founded on feigned representation.

Instead, I agree that the human petitioners should only speak for themselves and already have legal
standing to sue with respect to the issue raised in their pleading. The rules on standing have already
been liberalized to take into consideration the difficulties in the assertion of environmental rights.
When standing becomes too liberal, this can be the occasion for abuse.

II

Rule 3, Section 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, in part, provides:


SECTION 1. Who may be parties; plaintiff and defendant. - Only natural or juridical persons, or
entities authorized by law may be parties in a civil action.

The Rules provide that parties may only be natural or juridical persons or entities that may be
authorized by statute to be parties in a civil action.

Basic is the concept of natural and juridical persons in our Civil Code:

ARTICLE 37. Juridical capacity, which is the fitness to be the subject of legal relations, is inherent in
every natural person and is lost only through death. Capacity to act, which is the power to do acts
with legal effect, is acquired and may be lost.

Article 40 further defines natural persons in the following manner:

ARTICLE 40. Birth determines personality; but the conceived child shall be considered born for all
purposes that are favorable to it, provided it be born later with the conditions specified 'in the
following article.

Article 44, on the other hand, enumerates the concept of a juridical person:

ARTICLE 44. The following are juridical persons:

(1) The State and its political subdivisions;

(2) Other corporations, institutions and entities for public interest or purpose, created by law; their
personality begins as soon as they have been constituted according to law;

(3) Corporations, partnerships and associations for private interest or purpose to which the law
grants a juridical personality, separate and distinct from that of each shareholder, partner or member.

Petitioners in G.R. No. 180771 implicitly suggest that we amend, rather than simply construe, the
provisions of the Rules of Court as well as substantive law to accommodate Resident Marine
Mammals or animals. This we cannot do.

Rule 3, Section 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure further defines real party in interest:

SEC. 2. Parties in interest.-A real party in interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured
by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized
by law or these Rules, every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in
interest. (2a)6

A litigant who stands to benefit or sustain an injury from the judgment of a case is a real party in
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 enforceable legal right.8

Representatives as parties, on the other hand, are parties acting in representation of the real party in
interest, as defined in Rule 3, Section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure:

SEC. 3. Representatives as parties. - Where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or defended by a


representative or someone acting in a fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title
of the case and shall be deemed to be the real party in interest. A representative may be a trustee of
an express rust, a guardian, an executor or administrator, or a party authorized by law or these Rules.
An agent acting in his own name and for the benefit of an undisclosed principal may sue or be sued
without joining the principal except when the contract involves things belonging to the principal.(3a)9

The rule is two-pronged. First, it defines .a representative as a party who is not bound to directly or
actually benefit or suffer from the judgment, but instead brings a case in favor of an identified real
party in interest.10 The representative is an outsider to the cause of action. Second, the rule provides
a list of who may be considered as "representatives." It is not an exhaustive list, but the rule limits the
coverage only to those authorized by law or the Rules of Court.11

These requirements should apply even in cases involving the environment, which means that for the
Petition of the human petitioners to prosper, they must show that (a) the Resident Marine Mammals
are real parties in interest; and (b) that the human petitioners are authorized by law or the Rules to
act in a representative capacity.

The Resident Marine Mammals are comprised of "toothed whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other
cetacean species inhabiting Taon Strait."12 While relatively new in Philippine jurisdiction, the issue of
whether animals have legal standing before courts has been the subject of academic discourse in
light of the emergence of animal and environmental rights.

In the United States, anim4l rights advocates have managed to establish a system which Hogan
explains as the "guardianship model for nonhuman animals":13

Despite Animal Lovers, there exists a well-established system by which nonhuman animals may
obtain judicial review to enforce their statutory rights and protections: guardianships. With court
approval, animal advocacy organizations may bring suit on behalf of nonhuman animals in the same
way court-appointed guardians bring suit on behalf of mentally-challenged humans who possess an
enforceable right but lack the ability to enforce it themselves.

In the controversial but pivotal Should Trees Have Standing?-Toward Legal Rights for Natural
Objects, Christopher D. Stone asserts that the environment should possess the right to seek judicial
redress even though it is incapable of representing itself. While asserting the rights of

speechless entities such as the environment or nonhuman animals certainly poses legitimate
challenges - such as identifying the proper spokesman -the American legal system is already
well-equipped with a reliable mechanism by which nonhumans may obtain standing via a judicially
established guardianship. Stone notes that other speechless - and nonhuman - entities such as
corporations, states, estates, and municipalities have standing to bring suit on their own behalf.
There is little reason to fear abuses under this regime as procedures for removal and substitution,
avoiding conflicts of interest, and termination of a guardianship are well established.

In fact, the opinion in Animal Lovers suggests that such an arrangement is indeed possible. The
court indicated that AL VA might have obtained standing in its own right if it had an established
history of dedication to the cause of the humane treatment of animals. It noted that the Fund for
Animals had 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 history, but history is a relevant consideration where organizations are not
well-established prior to 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 demonstrated commitment to a cause could indeed bring suit on behalf of the
speechless in the form of a court-sanctioned guardianship.

This Comment advocates a shift in contemporary standing doctrine to empower non-profit


organizations with an established history of dedication to the cause and relevant expertise to serve
as official guardians ad !item on behalf of nonhuman animals interests. The American legal system
has numerous mechanisms for representing the rights and interests of nonhumans; any challenges
inherent in extending these pre-existing mechanisms to nonhuman animals are minimal compared to
an interest in the proper administration of justice. To adequately protect the statutory rights of
nonhuman animals, the legal system must recognize those statutory rights independent of humans
and provide a viable means of enforcement. Moreover, the idea of a guardianship for speechless
plaintiffs is not new and has been urged on behalf of the natural environment. 'Such a model is even
more compelling as applied to nonhuman animals, because they are sentient beings with the ability
to feel pain and exercise rational thought. Thus, animals are qualitatively different from other legally
protected nonhumans and therefore have interests deserving direct legal protection.

Furthermore, the difficulty of enforcing the statutory rights of nonhuman animals threatens the
integrity of the federal statutes designed to protect them, essentially rendering them meaningless.
Sensing that laws protecting nonhuman animals would be difficult to enforce, Congress provided for
citizen suit provisions: the most well-known example is found in the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Such provisions are evidence of legislative intent to encourage civic participation on behalf of
nonhuman animals. Our law of standing should reflect this intent and its implication that humans are
suitable representatives of the natural environment, which includes nonhuman animals.14 (Emphasis
supplied, citation omitted)

When a court allows guardianship as a basis of representation, animals are considered as similarly
situated as individuals who have enforceable rights but, for a legitimate reason (e.g., cognitive
disability), are unable to bring suit for themselves. They are also similar to entities that by their very
nature are incapable of speaking for themselves (e.g., corporations, states, and others).

In our jurisdiction, persons and entities are recognized both in law and the Rules of Court as having
standing to sue and, therefore, may be properly represented as real parties in interest. The same
cannot be said about animals.

Animals play an important role in households, communities, and the environment. While we, as
humans, may feel the need to nurture and protect them, we cannot go as far as saying we represent
their best interests and can, therefore, speak for them before the courts. As humans, we cannot be
so arrogant as to argue that we know the suffering of animals and that we know what remedy they
need in the face of an injury.

Even in Hogan's discussion, she points out that in a case before the United States District Court for
the Central District of California, Animal Lovers Volunteer Ass'n v. Weinberger,15 the court held that
an emotional response to what humans perceive to be an injury inflicted on an animal is not within
the "zone-of-interest" protected by law.16Such sympathy cannot stand independent of or as a
substitute for an actual injury suffered by the claimant.17 The ability to represent animals was further
limited in that case by the need to prove "genuine dedication" to asserting and protecting animal
rights:

What ultimately proved fatal to ALVA 's claim, however, was the court's assertion that standing
doctrine further required ALVA to differentiate its genuine dedication to the humane treatment of
animals from the general disdain for animal cruelty shared by the public at large. In doing so, the
court found ALVA 's asserted organizational injury to be abstract and thus relegated ALVA to the
ranks of the "concerned bystander. "

....

In fact, the opinion in Animal Lovers suggests that such an arrangement is indeed possible. The
court indicated that ALVA might have obtained standing in its own right if it had an established history
of dedication to the cause of the humane treatment of animals. It noted that the Fund for Animals had
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 history, but history is a relevant consideration where organizations are not
well-established prior to 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 demonstrated commitment to a cause could indeed bring suit on behalf of the
speechless in the form of a court-sanctioned guardianship.18(Emphasis supplied, citation omitted)

What may be argued as being parallel to this concept of guardianship is the principle of human
stewardship over the environment in a citizen suit under the Rules of Procedure for Environmental
Cases. A citizen suit allows any Filipino to act as a representative of a party who has enforceable
rights under environmental laws before Philippine courts, and is defined in Section 5: .

SEC. 5. Citizen suit. - Any Filipino citizen in representation of others, including minors or generations
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 action and the reliefs prayed for, requiring all interested parties to manifest their interest to
intervene in the case within fifteen (15) days from notice thereof. The plaintiff may publish the order
once in a newspaper of a general circulation in the Philippines or furnish all affected barangays
copies of said order.

There is no valid reason in law or the practical requirements of this case to implead and feign
representation on behalf of animals. To have done so betrays a very anthropocentric view of
environmental advocacy. There is no way that we, humans, can claim to speak for animals let alone
present that they would wish to use our court system, which is designed to ensure that humans
seriously carry their responsibility including ensuring a viable ecology for themselves, which of
course includes compassion for all living things.

Our rules on standing are sufficient and need not be further relaxed.

In Arigo v. Swift,19 I posed the possibility of further reviewing the broad interpretation we have given to
the rule on standing. While representatives are not required to establish direct injury on their part,
they should only be allowed to represent after complying with the following: [I]t is imperative for them
to indicate with certainty the injured parties on whose behalf they bring the suit. Furthermore, the
interest of those they represent must be based upon concrete legal rights. It is not sufficient to draw
out a perceived interest from a general, nebulous idea of a potential "injury."20

I reiterate my position in Arigo v. Swift and in Paje v. Casio21 regarding this rule alongside the
appreciation of legal standing in Oposa v. Factoran22 for environmental cases. In Arigo, I opined that
procedural liberality, especially in cases brought by representatives, should be used with great
caution:

Perhaps it is time to revisit the ruling in Oposa v. Factoran.


That case was significant in that, at that time, there was need to call attention to environmental
concerns in light of emerging international legal principles. While "intergenerational responsibility" is
a noble principle, it should not be used to obtain judgments that would preclude future generations
from making their own assessment based on their actual concerns. The present generation must
restrain itself from assuming that it can speak best for those who will exist at a different time, under a
different set of circumstances. In essence, the unbridled resort to representative suit will inevitably
result in preventing future generations from protecting their own rights and pursuing their own
interests and decisions. It reduces the autonomy of our children and our children 's children. Even
before they are born, we again restricted their ability to make their own arguments.

It is my opinion that, at best, the use of the Oposa doctrine in environmental cases should be allowed
only when a) there is a clear legal basis for the representative suit; b) there are actual concerns
based squarely upon an existing legal right; c) there is no possibility of any countervailing interests
existing within the population represented or those that are yet to be born; and d) there is an absolute
necessity for such standing because there is a threat of catastrophe so imminent that an immediate
protective measure is necessary. Better still, in the light of its costs and risks, we abandon the
precedent all together.23 (Emphasis in the original)

Similarly, in Paje:

A person cannot invoke the court's jurisdiction if he or she has no right or interest to protect. He or
she who invokes the court's jurisdiction must be the "owner of the right sought to be enforced." In
other words, he or she must have a cause of action. An action may be dismissed on the ground of
lack of cause of action if the person who instituted it is not the real party in interest.24 The term
"interest" under the Rules of Court must refer to a material interest that is not merely a curiosity about
or an "interest in the question involved." The interest must be present and substantial. It is not a mere
expectancy or a future, contingent interest.

A person who is not a real party in interest may institute an action if he or she is suing as
representative of a .real party in interest. When an action is prosecuted or defended by a
representative, that representative is not and does not become the real party in interest. The person
represented is deemed the real party in interest. The representative remains to be a third party to the
action instituted on behalf of another.

....

To sue under this rule, two elements must be present: "(a) the suit is brought on behalf of an
identified party whose right has been violated, resulting in some form of damage, and (b) the
representative authorized by law or the Rules of Court to represent the victim."

The Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases allows filing of a citizen's suit. A citizen's suit under
this rule allows any Filipino citizen to file an action for the enforcement of environmental law on behalf
of minors or generations yet unborn. It is essentially a representative suit that allows persons who
are not real parties in interest to institute actions on behalf of the real party in interest.

The expansion of what constitutes "real party in interest" to include minors and generations yet
unborn is a recognition of this court's ruling in Oposa v. Factoran. This court recognized the capacity
of minors (represented by their parents) to file a class suit on behalf of succeeding generations
based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility to ensure the future generation's access to
and enjoyment of [the] country's natural resources.
To allow citizen's suits to enforce environmental rights of others, including future generations, is
dangerous for three reasons:

First, they run the risk of foreclosing arguments of others who are unable to take part in the suit,
putting into. question its representativeness. Second, varying interests may potentially result in
arguments that are bordering on political issues, the resolutions of which do not fall upon this court.
Third, automatically allowing a class or citizen's suit on behalf of minors and generations yet unborn
may result in the oversimplification of what may be a complex issue, especially in light of the
impossibility of determining future generation's true interests on the matter.

In citizen's suits, persons who may have no interest in the case may file suits for others. Uninterested
persons will argue for the persons they represent, and the court will decide based on their evidence
and arguments. Any decision by the court will be binding upon the beneficiaries, which in this case
are the minors and the future generations. The court's decision will be res judicata upon them and
conclusive upon the issues presented.25

The danger in invoking Oposa v. Factoran to justify all kinds of environmental claims lies in its
potential to diminish the value of legitimate environmental rights. Extending the application of "real
party in interest" to the Resident Marine Mammals, or animals in general, through a judicial
pronouncement will potentially result in allowing petitions based on mere concern rather than an
actual enforcement of a right. It is impossible for animals to tell humans what their concerns are. At
best, humans can only surmise the extent of injury inflicted, if there be any. Petitions invoking a right
and seeking legal redress before this court cannot be a product of guesswork, and representatives
have the responsibility to ensure that they bring "reasonably cogent, rational, scientific, well-founded
arguments"26 on behalf of those they represent.

Creative approaches to fundamental problems should be welcome. However, they should be


considered carefully so that no unintended or unwarranted consequences should follow. I concur
with the approach of Madame Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro in her brilliant ponencia as it
carefully narrows down the doctrine in terms of standing. Resident Marine Mammals and the human
petitioners have no legal standing to file any kind of petition.

However, I agree that petitioners in G.R. No. 181527, namely, Central Visayas Fisherfolk
Development Center,. Engarcial, Yanong, and Labid, have standing both as real parties in interest
and as representatives of subsistence fisherfolks of the Municipalities of Aloguinsan and
Pinamungahan, Cebu, 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 livelihood, primarily felt through the significant reduction of their fish
harvest.27 The actual, direct, and material damage they suffered, which has potential long-term
effects transcending generations, is a proper subject of a legal suit.

III

In our jurisdiction, there is neither reason nor any legal basis for the concept of implied petitioners,
most especially when the implied petitioner was a sitting President of the Republic of the Philippines.
In G.R. No. 180771, apart from adjudicating unto themselves the status of "legal guardians" of
whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other cetacean species, human petitioners also impleaded Former
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as "unwilling co-petitioner" for "her express declaration and
undertaking in the ASEAN Charter to protect Taon Strait."28

No person may implead any other person as a co-plaintiff or co-petitioner without his or her consent.
In our jurisdiction, only when there is a party that should have been a necessary party but was
unwilling to join would there be an allegation as to why that party has been omitted. In Rule 3,
Section 9 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure:

SEC. 9. Non-joinder of necessary parties to be pleaded. -Whenever in any pleading in which a claim
is asserted a necessary party is not joined, the pleader shall set forth his name, if known, and shall
state why he is omitted. Should the court find the reason for the omission unmeritorious, it may order
the inclusion of the omitted necessary party if jurisdiction over his person may be obtained.

The failure to comply with the order for his inclusion, without justifiable cause, shall be deemed a
waiver of the claim against such party.

The non-inclusion of a necessary party does not prevent the court from proceeding in the action, and
the judgment rendered therein shall be without prejudice to the rights of such necessary party.29

A party who should have been a plaintiff or petitioner but whose consent cannot be obtained should
be impleaded as a defendant in the nature of an unwilling co-plaintiff under Rule 3, Section 10 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure:

SEC. 10. Unwilling co-plaintiff. - If the consent of any party who should be joined as plaintiff can not
be obtained, he may be made a defendant and the reason therefor shall be stated in the complaint.30

The reason for this rule is plain: Indispensable party plaintiffs who should be part of the action but
who do not consent should be put within the jurisdiction of the court through summons or other court
processes. Petitioners. should not take it upon themselves to simply imp lead any party who does not
consent as a petitioner. This places the unwilling co-petitioner at the risk of being denied due
process.

Besides, Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cannot be a party to this suit. As a co-equal
constitutional department, we cannot assume that the President needs to enforce policy directions by
suing his or her alter-egos. The procedural situation caused by petitioners may have gained public
attention, but its legal absurdity borders on the contemptuous. The Former President's name should
be stricken out of the title of this case.

IV

I also concur with the conclusion that SC-46 is both. illegal and unconstitutional.

SC-46 is illegal because it violates Republic Act No. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas
System Act of 1992, and Presidential Decree No. 1234,31 which declared Taon Strait as a protected
seascape. It is unconstitutional because it violates the fourth paragraph of Article XII, Section 2 of the
Constitution.

Petitioner Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center asserts that SC-46 violated Article XII,
Section 2, paragraph 1 of the .1987 Constitution because Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd.
(JAPEX) is 100% Japanese-owned.32 It further asserts that SC-46 cannot be validly classified as a
technical and financial assistance agreement executed under Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 4 of
the 1987 Constitution.33 Public respondents counter that SC-46 does not fall under the coverage of
paragraph 1, but is a validly executed contract under paragraph 4.34 Public respondents further aver
that SC-46 neither granted exclusive fishing rights to JAPEX nor violated Central Visayas Fisherfolk
Development Center's right to preferential use of communal marine and fishing resources.35

VI

Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution states:

Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all
forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural
resources are owned by the State. With the exception. of agricultural lands, all other natural
resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources
shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such
activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with
Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned
by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable
for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law.
In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply fisheries, or industrial uses other than the
development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant.

The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and
exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.

The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as
well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fish-workers in rivers,
lakes, bays, and lagoons.

The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical
or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals,
petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law,
based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such
agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical
resources.

The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this
provision, within thirty days from its execution. (Emphasis supplied)

I agree that fully foreign-owned corporations may participate in the exploration, development, and
use of natural resources, but only through either financial agreements or technical ones. This is the
clear import of the words "either financial or technical assistance agreements." This is also

the clear result if we compare the 1987 constitutional provision with the versions in the 1973 and
1935 Constitution:

1973 CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE XIV
THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND THE PATRIMONY OF THE NATION

SEC. 9. The disposition, exploration, development, of exploitation, or utilization of


any of the natural resources of the Philippines shall be limited to citizens of the
Philippines, or to corporations or association at least sixty per centum of the capital of
which is owned by such citizens. The Batasang Pambansa, in the national interest,
may allow such citizens, corporations, or associations to enter into service contracts
for financial, technical, management, or other forms of assistance with any foreign
person or entity for the exploitation, development, exploitation, or utilization of any of
the natural resources. Existing valid and binding service contracts for financial, the
technical, management, or other forms of assistance are hereby recognized as such.
(Emphasis supplied)

1935 CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE XIII
CONSERVATION AND UTILIZATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES

SECTION 1. All agricultural timber, and mineral. lands of the public domain, waters,
minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, and
other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State, and their disposition,
exploitation, development, or utilization shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines,
or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is
owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right, grant, lease, or concession at
the time of the inauguration of the Government established under this Constitution.
Natural resources, with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated,
and no license, concession, or 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 irrigation,
water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power,
in which cases beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant.

The clear text of the Constitution in light of its history prevails over any attempt to infer interpretation
from the Constitutional Commission deliberations. The constitutional texts are the product of a full
sovereign act: deliberations in a constituent assembly and ratification. Reliance on recorded
discussion of Constitutional Commissions, on the other hand, may result in dependence on
incomplete authorship; Besides, it opens judicial review to further subjectivity from those who spoke
during the Constitutional Commission deliberations who may not have predicted how their words will
be used. It is safer that we use the words already in the Constitution. The Constitution was their
product. Its words were read by those who ratified it. The Constitution is what society relies upon
even at present.

SC-46 is neither a financial assistance nor a technical assistance agreement.

Even supposing for the sake of argument that it is, it could not be declared valid in light of the
standards set forth in La Bugal-B'laan Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos:36

Such service contracts may be entered into only with respect to minerals, petroleum and other
mineral oils. The grant thereof is subject to several safeguards, among which are these
requirements:

(1) The service contract shall be crafted m accordance with a general law that will set standard or
uniform terms, conditions and requirements, presumably to attain a certain uniformity in provisions
and avoid the possible insertion of terms disadvantageous to the country.
(2) The President shall be the signatory for the government because, supposedly before an
agreement is presented to the President for signature, it will have been vetted several times over at
different levels to ensure that it conforms to law and can withstand public scrutiny.

(3) Within thirty days of the executed agreement, the President shall report it to Congress to give that
branch of government an opportunity to look over the agreement and interpose timely objections, if
any.37 (Emphasis in the original, citation omitted)

Based on the standards pronounced in La Bugal, SC-46' S validity must be tested against three
important points: (a) whether SC-46 was crafted in accordance with a general law that provides
standards, terms, and conditions; (b) whether SC-46 was signed by the President for and on behalf
of the government; and (c) whether it was reported by the President to Congress within 30 days of
execution.

VII

The general law referred to as a possible basis for SC-46's validity is Presidential Decree No. 87 or
the Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972. It is my opinion that this law is unconstitutional in
1 wphi1

that it allows service contracts, contrary to Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution:

The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical
or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals,
petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law,
based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such
agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical
resources. (Emphasis supplied)

The deletion of service contracts from the enumeration of the kind of agreements the President may
enter into with foreign-owned corporations for exploration and utilization of resources means that
service contracts are no longer allowed by the Constitution. Pursuant to Article XVIII, Section 3 of the
1987 Constitution,38 this inconsistency renders the law invalid and ineffective.

SC-46 suffers from the lack of a special law allowing its activities. The Main Opinion emphasizes an
important point, which is that SC-46 did not merely involve exploratory activities, but also provided
the rights and obligations of the parties should it be discovered that there is oil in commercial
quantities in the area. The Taon Strait being a protected seascape under Presidential Decree No.
123439 requires that the exploitation and utilization of energy resources from that area are explicitly
covered by a law passed by Congress specifically for that purpose, pursuant to Section 14 of
Republic Act No. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992:

SEC. 14. Survey for Energy R6'sources. - 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 NIP AS areas shall be allowed only through a law passed
by Congress.40 (Emphasis supplied)

No law was passed by Congress specifically providing the standards, terms, and conditions of an oil
exploration, extraction, and/or utilization for Taon Strait and, therefore, no such activities could have
been validly undertaken under SC-46. The National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992
is clear that exploitation and utilization of energy resources in a protected seascape such as Taon
Strait shall only be allowed through a specific law.

VIII

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was not the signatory to SC-46, contrary to the
requirement set by paragraph 4 of Article XII, Section 2 for service contracts involving the exploration
of petroleum. SC-46 was entered into by then Department of Energy Secretary Vicente S. Perez, Jr.,
on behalf of the government. I agree with the Main Opinion that in cases where the Constitution or
law requires the President to act personally on the matter, the duty cannot be delegated to another
public official.41 La Bugal highlights the importance of the President's involvement, being one of the
constitutional safeguards against abuse and corruption, as not mere formality:

At this point, we sum up the matters established, based on a careful reading of the ConCom
deliberations, as follows:

In their deliberations on what was to become paragraph 4, the framers used the term service
contracts in referring to agreements x x x involving either technical or financial assistance. They
spoke of service contracts as the concept was understood in the 1973 Constitution.

It was obvious from their discussions that they were not about to ban or eradicate service contracts.

Instead, they were plainly crafting provisions to. put in place safeguards that would eliminate or m
minimize the abuses prevalent during the marital law regime.42 (Emphasis in the original)

Public respondents failed to show that. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was involved in
the signing or execution of SC-46. The failure to comply with this constitutional requirement renders
SC-46 null and void.

IX

Public respondents also failed to show that Congress was subsequently informed of the execution
and existence of SC-46. The reporting requirement is an equally important requisite to the validity of
any service contract involving the exploration, development, and utilization of Philippine petroleum.
Public respondents' failure to report to Congress about SC-46 effectively took away any opportunity
for the legislative branch to scrutinize its terms and conditions.

In sum, SC-46 was executed and implemented absent all the requirements provided under
paragraph 4 of Article XII, Section 2. It is, therefore, null and void.

I am of the view that SC-46, aside from not having complied with the 1987 Constitution, is also null
and void for being violative of environmental laws protecting Taon Strait. In particular, SC-46 was
implemented despite falling short of the requirements of the National Integrated Protected Areas
System Act of 1992.

As a protected seascape under Presidential Decree No. 1234,43 Taon Strait is covered by the
National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992. This law declares as a matter of policy:
SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. Cognizant of the profound impact of man's activities on all components
of the natural environment particularly the effect of increasing population, resource exploitation and
industrial advancement and recognizing the critical importance of protecting and maintaining the
natural biological and physical diversities of the environment notably on areas with biologically
unique features to sustain human life and development, as well as plant and animal life, it is hereby
declared the policy of the State to secure for the Filipino people of present and future generations the
perpetual existence of all native plants and animals through the establishment of a comprehensive
system of integrated protected areas within the classification of national park as provided for in the
Constitution.

It is hereby recognized that these areas, although distinct in features, possess common ecological
values that may be incorporated into a holistic plan representative of our natural heritage; that
effective administration of these areas is possible only through cooperation among national
government, local and concerned private organizations; that the use and enjoyment of these
protected areas must be consistent with the principles of biological diversity and sustainable
development.

To this end, there is hereby established a National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS),
which shall encompass outstanding remarkable areas and biologically important public lands that are
habitats of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, biogeographic zones and related
ecosystems, whether terrestrial, wetland or marine, all of which shall be designated as "protected
areas."44 (Emphasis supplied)

Pursuant to this law, any proposed activity in Taon Strait must undergo an Environmental Impact
Assessment:

SEC. 12. Environmental Impact Assessment. - Proposals for activities which are outside the scope of
the management plan for protected areas shall be subject to an environmental impact assessment
as required by law before they are adopted, and the results thereof shall be taken into consideration
in the decision-making process.45(Emphasis supplied)

The same provision further requires that an Environmental Compliance Certificate be secured under
the Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment System before arty project is implemented:

No actual implementation of such activities shall be allowed without the required Environmental
Compliance Certificate (ECC) under the Philippine Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) system. In
instances where such activities are allowed to be undertaken, the proponent shall plan and carry
them out in such manner as will minimize any adverse effects and take preventive and remedial
action when appropriate. The proponent shall be liable for any damage due to lack of caution or
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 Taon 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 Taon 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 favorable conditions. With the status of Taon Strait as a protected seascape, the institution
of additional legal safeguards is even more significant.

Public respondents did not validly obtain an Environmental Compliance Certificate for SC-46. Based
on the records, JAPEX commissioned an environmental impact evaluation only in the second
subphase of its project, with the Environmental Management .Bureau of Region

VII granting the project an Environmental Compliance Certificate on March 6, 2007.51

Despite its scale, the seismic surveys from May 9 to 18, 2005 were conducted without any
environmental assessment contrary to Section 12 of the National Integrated Protected Areas System
Act of 1992.

XI

Finally, we honor every living creature when we take care of our environment. As sentient species,
we do not lack in the wisdom or sensitivity to realize that we only borrow the resources that we use to
survive and to thrive. We are not incapable of mitigating the greed that is slowly causing the demise
of our planet. Thus, there is no need for us to feign representation of any other species or some
imagined unborn generation in filing any action in our courts of law to claim any of our fundamental
rights to a healthful ecology. In this way and with candor and courage, we fully shoulder the
responsibility deserving of the grace and power endowed on our species.

ACCORDINGLY, I vote:

(a) to DISMISS G.R. No. 180771 for lack of standing and STRIKE OUT the name of Former
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the title of this case;

(b) to GRANT G.R. No. 181527; and

(c) to DECLARE SERVICE CONTRACT 46 NULL AND VOID for violating the 1987 Constitution,
Republic Act No. 7586, and Presidential Decree No. 1234.
MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN
Associate Justice

Footnotes

1
Rollo (G.R. No. 180771), p. 7-8.

2 G.R. No. 101083, July 30, 1993, 224 SCRA 792 [Per J. Davide, Jr., En Banc].

3 Rollo (G.R. No. 180771), p. 16.

4
Rollo (G.R. No. 180771), p. 123-124.

5
Id. at 196.

6
1997 RULES OF CIV. PROC., Rule 3, sec. 2.

7 See Consumido v. Ros, 555 Phil. 652, 658 (2007) [Per J. Tinga, Second Division].

8Rebollido v. Court of Appeals, 252 Phil. 831, 839 (1989) [Per J. Gutierrez, Jr., Third Division], citing
Lee et al. v. Romillo, Jr., 244 Phil. 606, 612 ( 1988) [Per J. Gutierrez, Jr., Third Division].

9 1997 RULES OF CIV. PROC., Rule 3, sec. 3.

Ang, represented by Aceron v. Spouses Ang, G.R. No. 186993, August 22, 2012, 678 SCRA 699,
10

709 [Per J. Reyes, Second Division].

11
1997 RULESOFCIV. PROC., Rule 3, sec. 3.

12
Rollo (G.R No. 180771), p. 8.

13Marguerite Hogan, Standing for Nonhuman Animals: Developing a Guardianship Model from the
Dissents in Sierra Club v. Morton, 95 CAL. L. REV. 513 (2007)

<http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/califomialawreview/vol95/iss2/4> (visited March 15, 2015).

14 Id. at 517-519.

Id. at 513-514. Footnote 1 of Marguerite Hogan's article cites this case as Animal Lovers Volunteer
15

Ass'n v. Weinberger, 765 F.2d 937, 938 (9th Cir., 1985).

16
In that case, the claim was based on a law called "National Environmental Policy Act."

17
Marguerite Hogan, Standing for Nonhuman Animals: Developing a Guardianship Model from the
Dissents in Sierra. Club v. Morton, 95 CAL. L. REV. 513, 514 (2007)
<http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/califomialawreview/vol95/iss2/4> (visited March 15, 2015).

18
Id. at 515, 518.
19 J. Leonen, Concurring Opinion in Arigo v. Swift, G.R No. 206510, September 14, 2014

<http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/jurisprudence/2014/september2014/206510 _
leonen.pdf> [Per J. Villarama, Jr., En Banc].

20 Id. at 11.

21J. Leanen, Concurring and Dissenting Opinion in Paje v. Casino, G.R. No. 205257, February 3,
2015 <http://sc.judiciary.gov .ph/pdf/web/viewer.htm
l?fi!e=/jurisprudence/2015/february2015/207257_leonen.pdf> [Per J. Del Castillo, En Banc].

22 G.R. No. 101083, July 30, 1993, 224 SCRA 792, 803 [Per J. Davide, Jr., En Banc].

23J. Leanen, Concurring Opinion in Arigo v. Swift, G.R No. 206510, September 14, 2014, 13
<http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/jurisprudence/2014/september:iO 14/206510
_leonen.pdf> [Per J. Villarama, Jr., En Banc].

24
J. Leanen, Concurring and Dissenting Opinion in Paje v. Casino, G.R. No. 205257, February 3,
2015 <http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/jurisprudence/20l5/february2015/207257
_ leonen.pdf> [Per J. Del Castillo, En Banc]. See also De Leon v. Court of Appeals, 343 Phil. 254,
265 (1997) [Per J. Davide, Jr., Third Division], citing Columbia Pictures, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 329
Phil. 875, 900-902 (1996) [Per J. Regalado, En Banc].

25J. Leonen, Concurring and Dissenting Opinion in Paje v. Casino, G.R. No. 205257, February 3,
2015, 3-5
<http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/jurisprudence/20l5/february2015/207257_leone
n.pdt> [Per J. Del Castillo, En Banc].

26
Id. at 7.

27 Rollo (G.RNo.180771), p.12.

28 Id. at 8.

29
1997 RULES OF CIV. PROC., Rule 3, sec. 9.

30
1997 RULES OP CIV. PROC., Rule 3, sec. 10. e 31

31
Declaring the Taon Strait Situated in the Provinces of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros
Oriental as a Protected Area Pursuant to R.A. 7586 (NIPAS Act of 1992) and Shall be Known as
Taon Strait Protected Seascape, May 27, 1998.

32
Rollo (G.R No. 181527), p. 26.

33
Id. at 26-28.

34 Rollo (G.R No. 180771), p. 81-83.

35 Id.
36 486 Phil. 754 (2004) [Per J. Panganiban, En Banc].

37 Id. at 815.

38Section 3. All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions, and
other executive issuances not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until
amended, repealed, or revoked.

39Declaring the Taon Strait Situated in the Provinces of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros
Oriental as a Protected Area Pursuant to R.A. 7586 (NIPAS Act of 1992) and Shall be Known as
Taon Strait Protected Seascape, May 27, 1998.

40 Rep. Act No. 7856 (1992), sec. 14.

See Jason v. Executive Secretary Ruber Torres, 352 Phil. 888 (1998) [Per J. Puno, Second
41

Division].

a Bugal-B'laan Tribal.Association, Inc. v. Ramos, 486 Phil. 754, 813-814 (2004) [Per J. Panganiban,
42

En Banc].

43
Declaring the Taon Strait Situated in the Provinces of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros
Oriental as a Protected Area Pursuant to R.A. 7586 (NIPAS Act of 1992) and Shall be Known as
Taon Strait Protected Seascape, May 27, 1998.

44 Rep. Act No. 7856 (1992), sec. 2.

45
Rep. Act No. 7856 (1992), sec. 12.

46
Rep. Act No. 7856 (1992), sec. 12.

47 Rep. Act No. 7856 (1992), sec. 14.

48 Rollo (G.R No. 180771), p. 91-92.

49
Id. at 85.

50
Rep. Act No. 7856 (1992), sec. 2.

51 Rollo (G.R No. 181527), p. 58-59.