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OPOSA VS. FACTORAN, JR.

224 SCRA 792




Facts:

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.

The complaint was instituted as a taxpayers' class suit 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 asserts that they "represent their generation as well as generations
yet unborn."

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.

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.

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.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 asked the Court to rescind and set aside the dismissal
order on the ground that the respondent Judge gravely abused his discretion in
dismissing the action.

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, the
right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, the concept of generational
genocide and the concept of man's inalienable right to self-preservation and self-
perpetuation. 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. Non-impairment clause does not apply in this case
because TLAs are not contracts, 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.

Respondents avers 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.

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 (TLAs) in the country;
(2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new
TLAs, and
(3) Granting the plaintiffs such other reliefs just and equitable under the premises.



Issue:

Whether or not the 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.


Ruling:

The instant Petition is granted, and the challenged Order of respondent Judge is set
aside. The petitioners may therefore amend their complaint to implead as defendants
the holders or grantees of the questioned timber license agreements.


LOCUS STANDI:
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. The SC likewise declares 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. The SC finds 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 considers the "rhythm and harmony of nature."

Nature means the created world in its entirety.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. Needless
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.

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.

RIGHT TO A BALANCED AND HEALTHFUL ECOLOGY:
The complaint focuses on 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).

This right unites with the right to health which is provided for in the Section 15 of the
same article.

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 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.

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,then President Corazon C. Aquino promulgated on 10 June 1987 E.O. No. 192,
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."

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

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

On 6 June 1977, P.D. No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy) and P.D. No. 1152
(Philippine Environment Code) were issued. As its goal, it speaks of the "responsibilities
of each generation as trustee and guardian of the environment for succeeding
generations." 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 correlative duty or obligation
to respect or protect the same gives rise to a cause of action.
CAUSE OF ACTION:
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.

The question submitted to the court for resolution involves the sufficiency of the facts
alleged in the complaint itself.

Falsity of the said allegations is beside the point for the truth thereof is deemed
hypothetically admitted.

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.

NON-IMPAIRMENT OF CONTRACTS:
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 declared thatto 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 amount to impairment of contracts abhorred by the
fundamental law.

The respondent Secretary did not 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.

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 . . .

Tan vs. Director of Forestry:. . .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.

Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clausecannot be invoked.

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.

Abe vs. Foster Wheeler Corp.: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.

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









































Momongan vs. Judge Omipon
242 SCRA 332

Facts:

At around 10:00 oclock of November 14, 1992, police officers of the Municipality of
Hinunangan, Southern Leyte apprehended Dionisio Golpe while he was driving his truck
loaded with illegally cut lumber. The truck and logs were impounded. A complaint was
filed against Basilio Cabig, the alleged owner of the logs. After conducting the
preliminary investigation, respondent Judge Rafael B. Omipon found that a prima facie
case exists against Mr. Cabig but he ordered the release of the truck inasmuch as the
owner/driver, Mr. Golpe, was not charged in the complaint.
Regional Director Augustus L. Momongan of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources filed the instant complaint against respondent Judge alleging that his
order releasing the truck used in the transport of illegally cut forest products violated
Presidential Decree 705, as amended by Executive Order No. 277, Section 68 and 68-
A1 and Administrative Order No.59 series of 1990. Complainant claims that respondent
Judge has no authority to order the release of the truck despite the non-inclusion of Mr.
Golpe in the complaint. The truck should have been turned over to the Community
Environment and Natural Resources Office of San Juan, Southern Leyte for appropriate
disposition as the same falls under the administrative jurisdiction of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources Office.
Respondent Judge explained that after conducting the preliminary investigation, he
found that Golpe, the owner of the truck, is principally engaged in the hauling of sand
and gravel and the delivery of hollow blocks. On his way home after delivering hollow
blocks in Barangay Sto. Nino II, he met his friend Cabig who requested him to load
sliced lumber and deliver the same at Brgy. Lungsod-daan, Hinundayan to be used for
the construction of a barangay high school building. They were apprehended when the
truck had a flat tire. After changing the tire, both the lumber and the truck were ordered
deposited at the police station of Hinunangan.
Respondent Judge observed that Golpe has a lesser participation in the crime of illegal
logging and, being a mere accessory, he might be utilized by the Acting Chief of Police
as prosecution witness against Cabig. More importantly, the fact that the complaint
charged only Cabig, respondent Judge, in the exercise of his sound discretion, ordered
the release of the truck owned by Golpe.

Issue:
Whether or not the order of the release of the tuck by the respondent Judge is
legally justifiable.

Ruling:
The court find respondent Judges order to release the truck owned and driven
by Mr. Dionisio Golpe legally justifiable, hence, he is not subject to any disciplinary
sanction. According to the Revised Penal Code, Art. 45, first paragraph: Every penalty
imposed for the commission of a felony shall carry with it the forfeiture of the proceeds
of the crime and the instrument or tools with which it was committed. However, this
cannot be done if such proceeds and instruments or tools be the property of a third
person not liable for the offense. In this case, the truck, though used to transport the
illegally cut lumber, cannot be confiscated and forfeited in the event accused therein be
convicted because the truck owner/driver, Mr. Dionisio Golpe was not indicted. Hence,
there was no justification for respondent Judge not to release the truck.
Complainant is correct in pointing out that based on Pres. Decree No. 705, Sec. 68-A
and Adm. Order No. 59, the DENR Secretary or his duly authorized representative has
the power to confiscate any illegally obtained or gathered forest products and all
conveyances used in the commission of the offense and to dispose of the same in
accordance with pertinent laws. However, as complainant himself likewise pointed out,
this power is in relation to the administrative jurisdiction of the DENR.
The court do not find that when respondent Judge released the truck after he conducted
the preliminary investigation and satisfied himself that there was no reason to continue
keeping the truck, he violated Pres. Decree No. 705 and Adm. Order No. 59. The
release of the truck did not render nugatory the administrative authority of the DENR
Secretary. The confiscation proceedings under Adm. Order No. 59 is different from the
confiscation under the Revised Penal Code, which is an additional penalty imposed in
the event of conviction. Despite the order of release, the truck can be seized again
either by filing a motion for reinvestigation and motion to include the truck owner/driver
as co-accused, which complainant has done as manifested before the lower court or by
enforcing Adm. Order No. 59. Section 12 thereof categorically states that the
confiscation of the conveyance under these regulations shall be without prejudice to any
criminal action which shall be filed against the owner thereof or any person who used
the conveyance in the commission of the offense.
Under Sec. 4 of Adm. Order No. 59, if the apprehension is not made by DENR field
offices, deputized military personnel and officials of other agencies apprehending illegal
logs and other forest products and their conveyances shall notify the nearest DENR
field offices and turn over said forest products and conveyances for proper action and
disposition. A period of about two weeks lapsed from the time the seizure was made
before a complaint was filed. During this period, the apprehending policemen had
enough time to turn over the logs and the truck to the nearest DENR field office for
proper action and disposition since the duty to turn over the truck to the nearest DENR
field office rests on the officials apprehending the illegal logs. There being no mandatory
duty on the part of respondent Judge to turn over the truck, he should not be visited with
disciplinary sanction when he did not refer the same to the DENR field office in San
Juan, Southern Leyte.
The Court takes this opportunity to enjoin the National Police, the DENR, the
prosecutors, and the members of the bench to coordinate with each other for a
successful campaign against illegal logging. It behooves all the concerned agencies to
seriously strive for the attainment of the constitutionally-declared policy to protect and
advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the
rhythm and harmony of nature in order to preserve our natural resources for the benefit
of the generations still to come.

Thus, the complaint was dismissed.

Daylinda A. Lagua, et al. Vs. Hon. Vicente N. Cusi et al.,
160 SCRA 260

Facts:

On January 1, 1976, Atty. Ernesto Nombrado, legal counsel for defendants,
issued a memorandum to the Chief Security Guard of Defendant Eastcoast directing the
latter to prevent the passage of Plaintiff Laguas hauling trucks loaded with logs for the
Japanese vessel on the national highway loading towards where the vessel was
berthed. In compliance with this directive, the security force of Defendant Eastcoast
closed the road to the use by plaintiffs trucks and other equipments and effectively
prevented their passage thereof while the vehicles and trucks of other people were
curiously not disturbed and were allowed passage on the same road.
Upon representations made to Indalecio L. Aspiras, Acting Station Officer-in-
Charge, BFD Lambajon Forest Station, and in response to plaintiff Laguas complaint, a
letter dated 2 January 1976 was addressed by Aspiras to the Resident Manager of
Defendant Eastcoast with instructions to open and allow Plaintiff Laguas trucks and
machineries to pass that road closed to them (but not to others) by Defendant Eastcoast.
Accordingly, Sagrado Constantino, Resident Manager of Defendant Eastcoast, issued
an order to their Chief Security Guard for the latter to comply with the Aspiras letter.
When Plaintiffs Laguas were already resuming the hauling operations of their logs
towards the Japanese Vessel on January 3, 1976, again that same road, only the day
before ordered by the BFD to be opened for use and passage by plaintiffs, was closed
to them by Defendant Eastcoasts security men upon a radio message order of
Defendant Maglana.
Given no recourse in the face of the blatant and illegal closure of the road in
defiance of BFD orders to the contrary by the Defendant Eastcoast through the order of
Defendant Maglana, Plaintiff Laguas had to depart posthaste to Mati, Davao Oriental,
from Baganga where the shipment and the road closure were made, to seek the
assistance of the PC Command thereat.

Issue:
Whether or not Bureau of Forest Development has the power and authority not
only to regulate the use or blockade of logging roads but also to exclusively determine
the legality of a closure of such roads.


Ruling:

P.D. No. 705 upon which the respondent court based its order does not vest any power
in the Bureau of Forest Development to determine whether or not the closure of a
logging road is legal or illegal and to make such determination a pre-requisite before an
action for damages may be maintained. Moreover, the complaint instituted by the
petitioners is clearly for damages based on the alleged illegal closure of the logging
road. Whether or not such closure was illegal is a matter to be established on the part of
the petitioners and a matter to be disproved by the private respondents. This should
appropriately be threshed out in a judicial proceeding. It is beyond the power and
authority of the Bureau of Forest Development to determine the unlawful closure of a
passage way, much less award or deny the payment of damages based on such
closure. Not every activity inside a forest area is subject to the jurisdiction of the Bureau
of Forest Development.

The private respondents, in their memorandum filed with the respondent court, alleged
that the logs of petitioner Achanzar were cut down and removed outside of the area
granted to the latter under his Private Timber License No. 2 and therefore inside the
concession area of respondent companys Timber License Agreement. This, apparently,
was the reason why the respondent company denied to the petitioners the use of the
logging road. If we hold the respondents to their contention that the Bureau of Forest
Development has the power and authority not only to regulate the use or blockade of
logging roads but also to exclusively determine the legality of a closure of such roads,
why then did they take it upon themselves to initially close the disputed logging road
before taking up the matter with the Bureau and why did they close it again
notwithstanding the Bureaus order to open it after the petitioners had duly informed the
said Bureau of the closure? To use the Bureaus authority which the respondents
ignored to now defeat the courts jurisdiction would be totally unacceptable. The trial court
committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the complaint on the ground of lack
of jurisdiction over the subject matter.

The petition is hereby GRANTED. The questioned order of the respondent court is SET
ASIDE and this case is ordered remanded to the court of origin for trial on the merits.























PERFECTO PALLADA vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
385 Phil. 195

Facts:
Sometime in the latter part of 1992, DENR received a reports that illegally cut lumber were
delivered in the warehouse of Valencia Golden Harvest Corporation in Valencia Bukidnon. DENR
officers in collaboration of PNP raided the companys warehouse and found a large stockpile of
lumber invarying sizes cut by a chainsaw. As proof that the company had acquired the lumber by
purchase, petitioner produced two receipts issued by R.L. Rivero Lumberyard of Maramag,
Bukidnon, dated March 6 and 17, 1992. The DENR officers did not, however, give credit to
the receipt considering that R. L. Rivero Lumberyard's permit to operate had long been
suspended. What is more, the pieces of lumber were cut by chain saw and thus could not have
come from a licensed sawmill operator. On February 23, 1993, petitioner, as general manager,
together with Noel Sy, as assistant operations manager, and Francisco Tankiko, as president of
the Valencia Golden Harvest Corporation, and Isaias Valdehueza, were charged with violation of
section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended. During the trial, the accused presented documents
that the lumber are legally obtained. This may include the certificate of origin. However, the
court found out that Pallada was guilty of the violation of PD 705 and the rest of the
accused were acquitted due to insufficiency of evidence. The case was appealed to the CA
and rendered a decision affirming the decision of the lower court, thus this case was elevated.

Issue:
Whether a separate certificates of origin is used for lumber and timber.

Ruling:
Yes, there should be a separate Certificate of origin. The trial court acted correctly in not giving
credence to the Certificates of Timber Origin presented by petitioner since the lumber
held by the company should be covered by Certificates of Lumber Origin. For indeed, as
BFD Circular No. 10-83 states in pertinent parts:

In order to provide an effective mechanism to pinpoint accountability and
responsibility for shipment of lumber . . . and to have uniformity in
documenting the origin thereof, the attached Certificate of Lumber.

Origin (CLO) . . . which form[s] part of this circular [is] hereby
adopted as accountable forms for official use by authorized BFD
officers . . . .

5. Lumber . . . transported/shipped without the necessary Certificate
of Lumber Origin (CLO) . . . as herein required shall be considered
as proceeding from illegal sources and as such, shall be subject to
confiscation and disposition in accordance with LOI 1020 and BFD
implementing guidelines.

The irregularities and discrepancies make the documents in which they are found not only
questionable but invalid and, thus, justified the trial court in giving no credence to the same.
The presence of such glaring irregularities negates the presumption that the CTOs were regularly
executed by the DENR officials concerned.














































DAGUDAG VS. PADERANGA
555 SCRA 117

Facts:

On or about January 30, 2005, the Region VII Philippine National Police Regional
Maritime Group (PNPRMG) received information that MV General Ricarte of NMC
Container Lines, Inc. was shipping container vans containing illegal forest products from
Cagayan de Oro to Cebu. The shipments were falsely declared as cassava meal and
corn grains to avoid inspection by the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR).
On 30 and 31 January 2005, a team composed of representatives from the
PNPRMG, DENR, and the Philippine Coast Guard inspected the container vans at a
port in Mandaue City, Cebu. The team discovered the undocumented forest products
and the names of the shippers and consignees.
The crew of MV General Ricarte failed to produce the certificate of origin forms
and other pertinent transport documents covering the forest products, as required by
DENR Administrative Order No. 07-94.
Gen. Dagudag alleged that, since nobody claimed the forest products within a
reasonable period of time, the DENR considered them as abandoned and, on January
31, 2005, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) Officer-in-
Charge (OIC), Richard N. Abella, issued a seizure receipt to NMC Container Lines, Inc.
On February 1, 2005, Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO)
OIC Loreto A. Rivac (Rivac) sent a notice to NMC Container Lines, Inc. asking for
explanation why the government should not confiscate the forest products.
In an affidavit dated 9 February 2005, NMC Container Lines, Inc.s Branch
Manager Alex Conrad M. Seno stated that he did not see any reason why the
government should not confiscate the forest products and that NMC Container Lines,
Inc. had no knowledge of the actual content of the container vans.
On 2, 9, and 15 February 2005, DENR Forest Protection Officer Lucio S. Canete,
Jr. posted notices on the CENRO and PENRO bulletin boards and at the NMC
Container Lines, Inc. building informing the unknown owner about the administrative
adjudication scheduled on 18 February 2005 at the Cebu City CENRO. Nobody
appeared during the adjudication.
In a resolution dated 10 March 2005, Rivac, acting as adjudication officer,
recommended to DENR Regional Executive Director Clarence L. Baguilat that the forest
products be confiscated in favor of the government.
In a complaint dated 16 March 2005 and filed before Judge Paderanga, a certain
Roger C. Edma (Edma) prayed that a writ of replevin be issued ordering the defendants
DENR, CENRO, Gen. Dagudag, and others to deliver the forest products to him and
that judgment be rendered ordering the defendants to pay him moral damages,
attorneys fees, and litigation expenses.
On 29 March 2005, Judge Paderanga issued a writ of replevin ordering Sheriff
Reynaldo L. Salceda to take possession of the forest products.
In a motion to quash the writ of replevin, the defendants DENR, CENRO, and
Gen. Dagudag prayed that the writ of replevin be set aside.
Judge Paderanga denied the motion to quash the writ of replevin for lack of
merit.
Gen. Dagudag filed with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) an
affidavit-complaint

dated July 8, 2005 charging Judge Paderanga with gross ignorance
of the law and conduct unbecoming a judge.

Issue:
Whether or not Judge Paderanga is liable for gross ignorance of the law and
conduct unbecoming a judge.

Ruling:

The Court finds Judge Paderanga liable for gross ignorance of the law and for
conduct unbecoming a judge.
The DENR is the agency responsible for the enforcement of forestry laws.
Section 4 of Executive Order No. 192 states that the DENR shall be the primary agency
responsible for the conservation, management, development, and proper use of the
countrys natural resources.
Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. 705, as amended by Executive Order No.
277, states that possessing forest products without the required legal documents is
punishable. Section 68-A states that the DENR Secretary or his duly authorized
representatives may order the confiscation of any forest product illegally cut, gathered,
removed, possessed, or abandoned.
In the instant case, the forest products were possessed by NMC Container Lines,
Inc. without the required legal documents and were abandoned by the unknown owner.
Consequently, the DENR seized the forest products.
Judge Paderanga should have dismissed the replevin suit outright for three
reasons:
First, under the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, courts cannot
take cognizance of cases pending before administrative agencies.In the instant case,
Edma did not resort to, or avail of, any administrative remedy. He went straight to court
and filed a complaint for replevin and damages. Section 8 of Presidential Decree No.
705, as amended, states that (1) all actions and decisions of the Bureau of Forest
Development Director are subject to review by the DENR Secretary; (2) the decisions of
the DENR Secretary are appealable to the President; and (3) courts cannot review the
decisions of the DENR Secretary except through a special civil action for certiorari or
prohibition.
Second, under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, courts cannot take cognizance
of cases pending before administrative agencies of special competence. The DENR is
the agency responsible for the enforcement of forestry laws. The complaint for replevin
itself stated that members of DENRs Task Force Sagip Kalikasan took over the forest
products and brought them to the DENR Community Environment and Natural
Resources Office. This should have alerted Judge Paderanga that the DENR had
custody of the forest products, that administrative proceedings may have been
commenced, and that the replevin suit had to be dismissed outright.
Third, the forest products are already in custodia legis and thus cannot be the
subject of replevin. There was a violation of the Revised Forestry Code and the DENR
seized the forest products in accordance with law.
Judge Paderangas acts of taking cognizance of the replevin suit and of issuing the writ
of replevin constitute gross ignorance of the law.