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Oposa vs. Factoran Case Digest (G.R. No.

101083, July
30, 1993)
FACTS:
The plaintiffs in this case are all minors duly represented and joined by their parents. The
first complaint was filed as a taxpayer's class suit at the Branch 66 (Makati, Metro Manila), of
the Regional Trial Court, National capital Judicial Region against defendant (respondent)
Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Reasources (DENR). Plaintiffs
alleged that they are entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource
treasure that is the country's virgin tropical forests. They further asseverate that they
represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn and asserted that continued
deforestation have caused a distortion and disturbance of the ecological balance and have
resulted in a host of environmental tragedies.
Plaintiffs prayed that judgement be rendered ordering the respondent, his agents,
representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to cancel all existing Timber License
Agreement (TLA) in the country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting,
processing, renewing or approving new TLAs.
Defendant, on the other hand, filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint
had no cause of action against him and that it raises a political question.
The RTC Judge sustained the motion to dismiss, further ruling that granting of the relief
prayed for would result in the impairment of contracts which is prohibited by the
Constitution.
Plaintiffs (petitioners) thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari and asked the
court to rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the ground that the respondent RTC
Judge gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the action.
ISSUES:
(1) Whether or not the plaintiffs have a cause of action.
(2) Whether or not the complaint raises a political issue.
(3) Whether or not the original prayer of the plaintiffs result in the impairment of contracts.
RULING:
First Issue: Cause of Action.
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. The Court did
not agree with this. The complaint focuses on one fundamental legal right -- the right to a
balanced and healthful ecology which is incorporated in Section 16 Article II of the
Constitution. The said right carries with it the duty to refrain from impairing the environment
and implies, among many other things, the judicious management and conservation of the

country's forests. Section 4 of E.O. 192 expressly mandates the DENR to be the primary
government agency responsible for the governing and supervising the exploration,
utilization, development and conservation of the country's natural resources. The policy
declaration of E.O. 192 is also substantially re-stated in Title XIV Book IV of the
Administrative Code of 1987. Both E.O. 192 and Administrative Code of 1987 have set the
objectives which will serve as the bases for policy formation, and have defined the powers
and functions of the DENR. Thus, right of the petitioners (and all those they represent) to a
balanced and healthful ecology is as clear as DENR's duty 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 or respect the same gives rise to a cause of action. Petitioners maintain
that the granting of the TLA, which they claim was done with grave abuse of discretion,
violated their right to a balance and healthful ecology. Hence, the full protection thereof
requires that no further TLAs should be renewed or granted.
After careful examination of the petitioners' complaint, the Court finds it to be adequate
enough to show, prima facie, the claimed violation of their rights.

Second Issue: Political Issue.


Second paragraph, Section 1 of Article VIII of the constitution provides for the expanded
jurisdiction vested upon the Supreme Court. It allows the Court to rule upon even on the
wisdom of the decision of the Executive and Legislature and to declare their acts as invalid
for lack or excess of jurisdiction because it is tainted with grave abuse of discretion.

Third Issue: Violation of the non-impairment clause.


The Court held that the Timber License Agreement is an instrument by which the state
regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is
promoted. It is not a contract within the purview of the due process clause thus, the nonimpairment clause cannot be invoked. It can be validly withdraw whenever dictated by
public interest or public welfare as in this case. The granting of license does not create
irrevocable rights, neither is it property or property rights.
Moreover, the constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of obligations of contract is limit by
the exercise by 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.
The instant petition, being impressed with merit, is hereby GRANTED and the RTC decision is
SET ASIDE.