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G.R. No. 1010183, July 30, 1993
The principal petitioners are all minors duly represented and joined by their re
spective parents. Impleaded as an additional plaintiff is the Philippine Ecologi
cal Network, Inc. (PENI), a domestic, non-stock and non-profit corporation organ
ized 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 E
nvironment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The complaint was instituted as a taxpayers' class suit and alleges that the pla
intiffs "are all citizens of the Republic of the Philippines, taxpayers, and ent
itled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource treasure th
at is the country's virgin tropical forests." This instant petition was filed to
seek for the cancelation of all existing timber license agreements (TLAs) in th
e country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewin
g or approving new timber license agreements.
Minor petitioners contend that continued granting of timber license constitutes
a misappropriation or impairment of the natural resource property and violates t
heir constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology (Art. II, Sec. 16,
1987 Constitution) and the protection by the State in its capacity as parens pa
triae. 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 enviro
1. Whether or not the petitioners have locus standi.
2. Whether or not the petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a specific
legal right violated by the respondent Secretary for which any relief is provid
ed by law.
1. The Court finds no difficulty in ruling that they can file a class suit becau
se they represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn. Their pers
onality 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 a
nd healthful ecology is concerned. Such a right, as hereinafter expounded, consi
ders the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature means the created world in its e
ntirety. Such rhythm and harmony indispensably include, inter alia, the judiciou
s 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. Every gen
eration 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 differentl
y, the minors' assertion of their right to a sound environment constitutes, at t
he same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of th
at right for the generations to come.
2. The Court does not agree with the trial court's conclusions that the plaintif
fs failed to allege with sufficient definiteness a specific legal right involved
or a specific legal wrong committed, and that the complaint is replete with vag
ue assumptions and conclusions based on unverified data.
The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right the right to a bal
anced and healthful ecology which, for the first time in our nation's constituti
onal history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law (Section 16, Artic
le II of the 1987 Constitution).
While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Dec
laration of Principles and State Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it d
oes not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and political rig
hts enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of ri
ghts altogether for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-per
petuation aptly and fittingly stressed by the petitioners the advancement of whi
ch may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions.
The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative du
ty to refrain from impairing the environment. EO 192 and Admin Code of 1987 defi
ne the powers and functions of DENR, under whose authority and office the compla
int falls. The petitioners right to a balanced and healthful ecology is as clear
as DENRs duty to protect and advance the said right. The petitioners personality t
o sue in behalf of their own as well as the future generations behalf can only be
based on the concept of intergenerational esponsibility insofar as the said rig
ht is concerned.