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Republic of the Philippines

1983 of the Intermediate Appellate Courts 3 (now

SUPREME COURT

Court of Appeals) which were allegedly issued

Manila

with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack


of jurisdiction, or in excess of jurisdiction, and

SECOND DIVISION

with patent denial of due process.

G.R. No. L-65935 September 30, 1988


FILINVEST CREDIT CORPORATION, petitioner,
vs.
THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and
NESTOR B. SUGA JR., respondents.
Labaguis, Loyola, Angara Law Offices for
petitioner.

The facts as found by the trial court are as


follows:

This is a case for damages filed by


Nestor B. Sunga Jr., businessman and
owner

of

the

NBS

Machineries

Marketing and the NAP-NAP Transit.


Plaintiff alleged that he purchased a
passenger minibus Mazda from the

Juan C. Navarro, Jr. for private respondent.

Motor

center,

Inc.

at

Calasiao,

Pangasinan on March 21, 1978 and for


which he executed a promissory note
(Exhibit "B") to cover the amount of

SARMIENTO, J.:

P62,592.00 payable monthly in the

In this special civil action for certiorari, Filinvest


Credit Corporation implores us to declare the
nullity of the Decision

1983 and the Resolution

dated September 30,


2

dated December 16,

amount of P2,608.00 for 24 months


due and payable the 1st day of each
month starting May 1, 1978 thru and
inclusive of May 1, 1980. On the same

date, however, a chattel mortgage was

Sunga and T/Sgt. Isidro Pascual of the

executed by him in favor of the Motor

153rd

center, Inc. (Exhibit "A"). The Chattel

assistance of the Dagupan police and

Mortgage

one Florence Onia of the Filinvest

assigned

and
to

Assignment

the

Filinvest

was
Credit

PC

explained

Company

that

the

sought

minibus

the

was

Corporation with the conformity of the

confiscated because the balance was

plaintiff. Nestor Sunga claimed that on

already past due. After verification that

October 21, 1978, the minibus was

his accounts are all in order, Florence

seized by two (2) employees of the

Onia admitted it was their fault. The

defendant Filinvest Credit Corporation

motor vehicle was returned to the

upon orders of the branch manager

plaintiff upon proper receipt.

Mr. Gaspar de los Santos, without any


receipt, who claimed that he was
delinquent in the payments of his

After

decision

vehicle. The plaintiff reported the loss

recovered

from

said

vehicle
the

court a

quo rendered

its

the decretal portion of which reads:


premises

considered,

this Court hereby renders judgment as

verification from the office of the


the

the

WHEREFORE,

to the PC (Exhibit "Y") and after proper


Filinvest,

trial,

follows, to wit:

was

Crisologo

(1) ORDERING the defendant Filinvest

Compound which was later released by

Credit Corporation to pay the plaintiff

Rosario Fronda Assistant Manager of

Nestor

the Filinvest, and Arturo Balatbat as

damages, to wit:

caretaker of the compound. The police


blotter of the Integrated National Police
of Dagupan City shows that Nestor

(a)

Moral

Sunga

Jr.

Damages

the

following

P30,000.00

(b) Loss on Income of the minibus for three days

600.00

It is a patent grave abuse of discretion

(c)

Actual

damages

500.00

(d)

Litigation

expenses

5,000.00

(e) Attorney's Fees 10,000.00

law,

appeal with the respondent court. On September


30, 1983, the latter promulgated its decision
affirming in toto the decision of the trial court
dated July 17, 1981, "except with regard to the
moral damages which, under the circumstances
of the accounting error incurred by Filinvest, is
P50,000.00."

petitioner's

when

the

respondent

Court

private respondent had joined issues

defendant (petitioner herein), interposed a timely

of

in the petitioner's Brief upon which

Dissatisfied with the aforecited decision, the

from

denial

completely ignored the assigned errors

SO ORDERED.

increased

bare

constitutional right to due process of

(2) And to pay the costs.

hereby

amounting to lack of jurisdiction and a

P30,000.00

to

As the reconsideration of said

decision proved futile in view of its denial by the


respondent court in its resolution of December
16, 1983, the petitioners come to us thru this
instant petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court.
The petitioner alleges the following errors:

with petitioner.
In resolving the appeal before it thru
matters and questions not raised at
the trial or on appeal, by either of the
parties, respondent Court exceeded its
jurisdiction

acted

with

grave

abuse of discretion.
When the respondent Court granted
private respondent MORAL DAMAGES
in an exaggerated and unconscionable
amount, respondent Court exceeded
the

bounds

of

its

discretion,

amounting to an absence or lack of


jurisdiction.

and

Respondent Court had NO authority to

and amounts to a grave abuse of

increase the award of DAMAGES to

discretion.

private respondent when the latter did


not

appeal

private

the

decision

respondent

because

considered

the

judgment (questioned by petitioner on


appeal) as "perfect", "sound" and "wise"

The

various

assignments

of

synthesized into the sole issues

error
9

may

be

of. Whether or

not the respondent court a) in allegedly ignoring


the various assigned errors in petitioners brief; b)

(at pp. 17 to 20, Brief for Appellee).

in resolving issues not raised at the trial and on

In relying upon a BILL pending before

damages; and (d) in adhering to its decision in

the Batasan Pambansa to buttress its

Edilberto Rebosura et al. vs. Rogaciano Oropeza,

judgment, the respondent Court acted

CA-G.R. No. 63048-R, as well as to Batasan Bill

contrary to law and jurisprudence,

No. 3075, which is yet to be enacted into law,

making of its judgment a NULLITY.

acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to

appeal; c) in increasing the amount of moral

The extensive citation and adherence

lack of jurisdiction.

by the respondent Court on (sic) its

Contrary views are espoused by the parties in

decision in the case of "Edilberto

this case. Petitioner maintains that it was patent

Rebosura,

et

Oropeza,

CA-G.R.

al.

versus

Rogaciano

grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of

No.

63048-R,

jurisdiction and a bare denial of the petitioner's

December 17, 1983" (which is non-

constitutional right to due process of law, when

doctrinal and under question in the

the respondent court completely brushed aside

Honorable

the assigned errors in its brief.

Supreme

Court)

is

not

warranted in law and jurisprudence,

the

constitutionality

of

10

the

It asserts that
contractual

stipulation between the parties embodied in the

documents denominated as Promissory Note and

the respondent court's invocation of a pending

Deed of Mortgage was not in issue in the

bill in the legislature, Batasan Bill 3075, to

court a quo and neither was the same raised on

support its decision, is untenable.

appea

11

16

Lastly, it

and therefore should not have been

deposits that Rebosura is riot on all fours with

passed upon based on the premise that the

the case at bar and therefore adherence thereto

appellate court should not consider any error

was

other

distinctions:

than

specified.

12

those

Further,

the

following

18

1) In Rebosura, there was unlawful

controversy on appeal is capable of adjudication

former, the plaintiff did not breach the contract

on

without

whereas in this case there is a finding by the

constitutional

court a quo of such violation; 3) in the former, the

It is also the petitioner's submission

contract was denominated Deed of Sale with

that the increase in the award of moral damages

Reservation of Title, while in this case, the

from the P30,000.00 adjudged by the trial court

contracts referred to are the Promissory Note and

which was not appealed by respondent Sunga

Deed of Mortgage; 4) in the former, the defendant

who felt that the award was "perfect," "sound,"

Oropeza was an unpaid seller while the plaintiff

and "wise," to a "whopping P50,000.00" imposed

Rebosura was the buyer, whereas, in this case,

by the respondent Intermediate Appellate Court

the petitioner is the promissor-mortgagee while

(now Court of Appeals) amounted to a grave

Sunga is the promissor-mortgagor; 5) in the

questions.

13

substantive
treading

grounds,
into

that

citing

entry while in this case, there was none; 2) in the

necessarily

submits

or

17

the

other

it

assigned

misplaced,

Thus, the increase in the

former, there was no notice of delinquency and

award which the respondent appellate court

repossession, whereas, in this case, there is

justified by the accounting error committed by

notice and demand; and 6) in the former, the

the petitioner, should not be countenanced, as

contract was in fine print, whereas, in this case,

abuse of discretion.

14

the same had no legal basis.

15

It rationalizes that

it is not so.

On

the

other

side,

the

private

respondent

expenses. In those respects, the petition is

maintains that the respondent court did not

granted

abuse its discretion, stressing that a careful

decision is modified.

reading

and

understanding

of

the

assailed

decision would manifest that all assigned errors


were resolved, citing portions of the decision
which dealt specifically with each of the errors
assigned.

19

He maintains that the award of

moral damages, impeached as exaggerated and


unconscionable, is justified by the prayer in the
appellee's (respondent Sunga's brief, to wit:
FURTHER REMEDIES AND RELIEFS DEEMED
JUST AND EQUITABLE UNDER AND WITHIN
THE PREMISES ARE PRAYED FOR.

20

Lastly, the

private respondent submits that the references to


Batasan Bill No. 3075 and Rebosura were mere
passing comments which did not in any way
detract

from

decision.

21

the

validity

of

the

assailed

After carefully considering and weighing all the


arguments of both protagonists, we hold that the
respondent court committed a grave abuse of
discretion in increasing extravagantly the award
of moral damages and in granting litigation

and to

that extent the questioned

There is no gainsaying that the plaintiff-appellee


(respondent Sunga did not appeal from the
decision of the courta quo which awarded him the
sum of P30,000.00 by way of moral damages.
"Well settled is the rule in this jurisdiction that
whenever an appeal is taken in a civil case an
appellee who has not himself appealed cannot
obtain from the appellate court any affirmative
relief other than the ones granted in the decision
of the court below."

22

Verily the respondent court

disregarded such a well settled rule when it


increased the award for moral damages from
P30,000.00 to P50,000.00, notwithstanding the
fact that the private respondent did not appeal
from the judgment of the trial court, an act
indicative of grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack of jurisdiction.
Certiorari lies when a court has acted
without or in excess of jurisdiction or
with grave abuse of discretion. 'without

jurisdiction'
acted

means

with

that

absolute

the

court

Or, as held in the recent case of Robert Young vs.

want

of

Julio A. Sulit, Jr.,

of

must be capricious, arbitrary, and whimsical

has

exercise of power, the very antithesis of the

jurisdiction but has transcended the

judicial prerogative in accordance with centuries

same or acted without any statutory

of civil law and common law tradition."

jurisdiction.

There

is

"excess

jurisdiction"

where

the

court

authority Leung Ben vs. O'Brien, 38


Phils., 182; Salvador Campos y CIA vs.
Del Rosario, 41 Phil., 45). "Grave
abuse

of

discretion"

implies

such

capricious and whimsical exercise of


judgment as is equivalent to lack of
jurisdiction (Abad Santos vs. Province
of Tarlac, 38 Off. Gaz., 83.) or in other
words, where the power is exercised in
an arbitrary or despotic manner by
reason of passion or personal hostility,
and it must be so patent and gross as
to amount to an evasion of positive
duty or to a virtual refusal to perform

24

"(F)or certiorari to lie, there

We had occasion to state that "there is no hard


and fast rule in the determination of what would
be a fair amount of moral damages, since each
case must be governed by its own peculiar
circumstances."

25

Be that as it may and in

amplification of this generalization, we set the


criterion that "in the case of moral damages, the
yardstick should be that the "amount awarded
should

not

be

palpably

and

scandalously

excessive" so as to indicate that it was the result


of passion, prejudice or corruption on the part of
the trial court ... . Moreover, the actual losses
sustained by the aggrieved parties and the

the duty enjoined or to act at all in

gravity of the injuries must be considered in

contemplation of law. (Talavera-Luna

arriving at reasonable levels ... ."

vs. Nable, 38 Off. Gaz., 62).

26

23

There is no dispute that the private respondent, a


businessman and owner of the NBS Machineries

Marketing and NAP-NAP Transit, is entitled to

words, the award of moral damages is aimed at a

moral damages due to the unwarranted seizure of

restoration within the limits of the possible, of

the minibus Mazda, allegedly because he was

the spiritual status quo ante; and therefore it

delinquent

must

in

the

payment

of

its

monthly

amortizations, which as stated above, turned out


to be incorrect.

27

be

inflicted."

28

proportionate

to

the

suffering

Moreover, "(M)oral damages though

No doubt such intent tainted

not incapable of pecuniary estimations, are in the

private respondent Sunga's reputation in the

category of an award designed to compensate the

business community, thus causing him mental

claimant for actual injury suffered and not to

anguish, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation,

impose a penalty on the wrongdoer.

wounded

feelings,

humiliation.

moral

shock,

Considering,

and

social

however,

that

respondent Sunga was dispossessed of his motor


vehicle for barely three days, that is, from
October

21,

1978

to

October

23,

1978,

possession of which was restored to him soon


after the accounting errors were ironed out, we
find that the award of moral damages even in the
sum of P30,000.00 is excessive for it must be
emphasized that "damages are not intended to
enrich the complainant at the expense of a
defendant. They are awarded only to enable the
injured parties to obtain means, diversions or
amusements that will serve to alleviate the moral
sufferings the injured parties have undergone by
reason of defendant's culpable action. In other

29

It behooves us therefore to reiterate the caveat to


lower courts "to guard against the award of
exorbitant

damages

that

are

way

out

of

proportion to the environmental circumstances of


a case and which time and again, this Court has
reduced or eliminated. Judicial discretion granted
to the courts in the assessment of damages must
always be exercised with balanced restraints and
measured objectivity.

30

We do not agree with private respondent's


argument that the increase in the award of moral
damages is justified by the prayer in its brief, to
wit:

FURTHER

REMEDIES

AND

RELIEFS

DEEMED JUST AND EQUITABLE UNDER AND

WITHIN THE PREMISES ARE PRAYED FOR.


Such statement is usually extant in practically all
pleadings as a final statement; it is rhetorical
flourish as it were and could not be a substitute
for appeal as required by the rules for "the
appellee cannot seek modification or reversal of
the judgment or affirmative relief, unless he has
also appealed therefrom."

31

G.R. No. 110120 March 16, 1994


LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT
AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. MANUEL JN.
SERAPIO, Presiding Judge RTC, Branch 127,

With regard to the award of litigation expenses in

Caloocan City, HON. MACARIO A. ASISTIO,

the sum of P5,000.00, the same is hereby

JR., City Mayor of Caloocan and/or THE CITY

disallowed, there being no price for litigation.

GOVERNMENT OF CALOOCAN,respondents.

WHEREFORE, the petition is partially GRANTED.


The award of moral damages is REDUCED to
P10,000.00 and the grant of litigation expenses is
ELIMINATED.

The

rest

AFFIRMED. Without costs.


SO ORDERED.

of

the

judgment

is

Alberto N. Hidalgo and Ma. Teresa T. Oledan for


petitioner.
The City Legal Officer & Chief, Law Department
for Mayor Macario A. Asistio, Jr. and the City
Government of Caloocan.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

ROMERO, J.:
The clash between the responsibility of the City
Government of Caloocan to dispose off the 350

tons of garbage it collects daily and the growing

this petition, a review of the decision of the Court

concern

of Appeals.

and

environment

sensitivity
of

the

to

residents

pollution-free
of

Barangay

Camarin, Tala Estate, Caloocan City where these


tons of garbage are dumped everyday is the hub
of this controversy elevated by the protagonists to
the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA)
for adjudication.

with

this

Court

by

Laguna

Lake

Development Authority (LLDA for short) docketed


as

G.R.

No. 107542 against the City Government of


Caloocan, et al. In the Resolution of November
10, 1992, this Court referred G.R. No. 107542 to
the Court of Appeals for appropriate disposition.
Docketed
No.

29449,

therein
the

undisputed.
On March 8, 1991, the Task Force Camarin
Dumpsite

of

Our

Lady

of

Lourdes

Parish,

Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City, filed a letter-

The instant case stemmed from an earlier petition


filed

The facts, as disclosed in the records, are

as

Court

CA-G.R.
of

Appeals,

SP
in

decision promulgated on January 29, 1993


ruled that the LLDA has no power and authority
to issue a cease and desist order enjoining the
dumping of garbage in Barangay Camarin, Tala
Estate, Caloocan City. The LLDA now seeks, in

complaint 2 with the Laguna Lake Development


Authority seeking to stop the operation of the
8.6-hectare

open

garbage

dumpsite

in

Tala

Estate, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City due to


its harmful effects on the health of the residents
and the possibility of pollution of the water
content of the surrounding area.
On November 15, 1991, the LLDA conducted an
on-site

investigation,

monitoring

and

test

sampling of the leachate 3 that seeps from said


dumpsite to the nearby creek which is a tributary
of the Marilao River. The LLDA Legal and
Technical

personnel

found

that

the

City

Government of Caloocan was maintaining an


open dumpsite at the Camarin area without first
securing

an

Environmental

Compliance

Certificate

Environmental

The dumping operation was forthwith stopped by

Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of

the City Government of Caloocan. However,

Environment and Natural Resources, as required

sometime in August 1992 the dumping operation

1586, 4 and

was resumed after a meeting held in July 1992

clearance from LLDA as required under Republic

among the City Government of Caloocan, the

under
Act

(ECC)

from

Presidential

No.

4850, 5 as

the

Decree
amended

No.
by

Presidential

Decree No. 813 and Executive Order No. 927,


series of 1983. 6

1991, the LLDA, acting on the complaint of Task


Force Camarin Dumpsite, found that the water
collected from the leachate and the receiving
streams could considerably affect the quality, in
turn, of the receiving waters since it indicates the
presence of bacteria, other than coliform, which
have

contaminated

the

sample

during

collection or handling. 7 On December 5, 1991,


the

LLDA
8

issued

Order ordering

the

Cease
City

and

Desist

Government

of

Caloocan, Metropolitan Manila Authority, their


contractors, and other entities, to completely halt,
stop and desist from dumping any form or kind of
garbage and other waste matter at the Camarin
dumpsite.

and

LLDA

at

the

Office

of

Environmental

Management Bureau Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes


failed to settle the problem.

After a public hearing conducted on December 4,

may

representatives of Task Force Camarin Dumpsite

After an investigation by its team of legal and


technical personnel on August 14, 1992, the
LLDA

issued

another

order

reiterating

the

December 5, 1991, order and issued an Alias


Cease and Desist Order enjoining the City
Government of Caloocan from continuing its
dumping operations at the Camarin area.
On September 25, 1992, the LLDA, with the
assistance of the Philippine National Police,
enforced its Alias Cease and Desist Order by
prohibiting the entry of all garbage dump trucks
into the Tala Estate, Camarin area being utilized
as a dumpsite.

Pending

resolution

of

its

motion

for

The LLDA, for its part, filed on October 2, 1992 a

reconsideration earlier filed on September 17,

motion to dismiss on the ground, among others,

1992 with the LLDA, the City Government of

that under Republic Act No. 3931, as amended

Caloocan filed with the Regional Trial Court of

by Presidential Decree No. 984, otherwise known

Caloocan City an action for the declaration of

as the Pollution Control Law, the cease and desist

nullity of the cease and desist order with prayer

order issued by it which is the subject matter of

for the issuance of writ of injunction, docketed as

the complaint is reviewable both upon the law

Civil Case No. C-15598. In its complaint, the City

and the facts of the case by the Court of Appeals

Government of Caloocan sought to be declared as

and not by the Regional Trial Court.

the sole authority empowered to promote the


health and safety and enhance the right of the
people in Caloocan City to a balanced ecology

10

On October 12, 1992 Judge Manuel Jn. Serapio


issued an order consolidating Civil Case No. C-

within its territorial jurisdiction. 9

15598 with Civil Case No. C-15580, an earlier

On September 25, 1992, the Executive Judge of

entitled "Fr. John Moran, et al. vs. Hon. Macario

the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City issued

Asistio." The LLDA, however, maintained during

a temporary restraining order enjoining the LLDA

the

from

independent of each other, should have been

enforcing

Subsequently,

its
the

cease
case

and

was

case filed by the Task Force Camarin Dumpsite

desist
raffled

order.
to

the

Regional Trial Court, Branch 126 of Caloocan


which, at the time, was presided over by Judge
Manuel Jn. Serapio of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 127, the pairing judge of the recentlyretired presiding judge.

trial

that

the

foregoing

cases,

being

treated separately.
On October 16, 1992, Judge Manuel Jn. Serapio,
after hearing the motion to dismiss, issued in the
consolidated cases an order 11 denying LLDA's
motion to dismiss and granting the issuance of a
writ of preliminary injunction enjoining the

LLDA, its agent and all persons acting for and on

immediately and continuing until further orders

its behalf, from enforcing or implementing its

from it, ordering the respondents: (1) Judge

cease and desist order which prevents plaintiff

Manuel Jn. Serapio, Presiding Judge, Regional

City of Caloocan from dumping garbage at the

Trial Court, Branch 127, Caloocan City to cease

Camarin dumpsite during the pendency of this

and desist from exercising jurisdiction over the

case and/or until further orders of the court.

case for declaration of nullity of the cease and

On November 5, 1992, the LLDA filed a petition


for certiorari, prohibition and injunction with
prayer for restraining order with the Supreme
Court, docketed as G.R. No. 107542, seeking to
nullify the aforesaid order dated October 16,
1992 issued by the Regional Trial Court, Branch

desist

order

issued

by

the

Laguna

Lake

Development Authority (LLDA); and (2) City


Mayor of Caloocan and/or the City Government
of Caloocan to cease and desist from dumping its
garbage at the Tala Estate, Barangay Camarin,
Caloocan City.

127 of Caloocan City denying its motion to

Respondents City Government of Caloocan and

dismiss.

Mayor Macario A. Asistio, Jr. filed on November

The Court, acting on the petition, issued a


Resolution 12 on November 10, 1992 referring the
case

to

the

Court

of

Appeals

for

proper

disposition and at the same time, without giving


due

course

to

the

petition,

required

the

respondents to comment on the petition and file


the same with the Court of Appeals within ten
(10) days from notice. In the meantime, the Court
issued a temporary restraining order, effective

12, 1992 a motion for reconsideration and/or to


quash/recall the temporary restraining order and
an urgent motion for reconsideration alleging that
". . . in view of the calamitous situation that
would arise if the respondent city government
fails to collect 350 tons of garbage daily for lack of
dumpsite (i)t is therefore, imperative that the
issue be resolved with dispatch or with sufficient
leeway

to

allow

the

respondents

to

find

alternative solutions to this garbage problem."

On November 17, 1992, the Court issued a

respect to the dumping of its garbage and in the

Resolution 13 directing the Court of Appeals to

event of a rejection of respondent's technical plan

immediately set the case for hearing for the

or a failure of settlement, the parties will submit

purpose of determining whether or not the

within 10 days from notice their respective

temporary restraining order issued by the Court

memoranda on the merits of the case, after which

should be lifted and what conditions, if any, may

the petition shall be deemed submitted for

be required if it is to be so lifted or whether the

resolution. 15 Notwithstanding such efforts, the

restraining

parties failed to settle the dispute.

order

should

be

maintained

or

converted into a preliminary injunction.

On

April

30,

1993,

the

Court

of

Appeals

The Court of Appeals set the case for hearing on

promulgated its decision holding that: (1) the

November 27, 1992, at 10:00 in the morning at

Regional Trial Court has no jurisdiction on

the Hearing Room, 3rd Floor, New Building,

appeal to try, hear and decide the action for

Court of Appeals. 14 After the oral argument, a

annulment of LLDA's cease and desist order,

conference was set on December 8, 1992 at 10:00

including the issuance of a temporary restraining

o'clock in the morning where the Mayor of

order and preliminary injunction in relation

Caloocan City, the General Manager of LLDA, the

thereto, since appeal therefrom is within the

Secretary

authorized

exclusive and appellate jurisdiction of the Court

representative and the Secretary of DILG or his

of Appeals under Section 9, par. (3), of Batas

duly authorized representative were required to

Pambansa Blg. 129; and (2) the Laguna Lake

appear.

Development

of

DENR

or

his

duly

It was agreed at the conference that the LLDA


had until December 15, 1992 to finish its study
and review of respondent's technical plan with

Authority

has

no

power

and

authority to issue a cease and desist order under


its enabling law, Republic Act No. 4850, as
amended by P.D. No. 813 and Executive Order
No. 927, series of 1983.

The Court of Appeals thus dismissed Civil Case

Court of Appeals be re-issued until after final

No. 15598 and the preliminary injunction issued

determination by this Court of the issue on the

in the said case was set aside; the cease and

proper interpretation of the powers and authority

desist order of LLDA was likewise set aside and

of the LLDA under its enabling law.

the temporary restraining order enjoining the


City

Mayor

of

Caloocan

and/or

the

City

Government of Caloocan to cease and desist from


dumping its garbage at the Tala Estate, Barangay
Camarin, Caloocan City was lifted, subject,
however,

to

the

condition

that

any

future

dumping of garbage in said area, shall be in


conformity with the procedure and protective
works contained in the proposal attached to the
records of this case and found on pages 152-160
of the Rollo, which was thereby adopted by
reference and made an integral part of the
decision, until the corresponding restraining
and/or injunctive relief is granted by the proper
Court upon LLDA's institution of the necessary
legal proceedings.
Hence, the Laguna Lake Development Authority
filed the instant petition for review on certiorari,
now docketed as G.R. No. 110120, with prayer
that the temporary restraining order lifted by the

On July, 19, 1993, the Court issued a temporary


restraining order 16 enjoining the City Mayor of
Caloocan

and/or

the

City

Government

of

Caloocan to cease and desist from dumping its


garbage at the Tala Estate, Barangay Camarin,
Caloocan City, effective as of this date and
containing until otherwise ordered by the Court.
It is significant to note that while both parties in
this case agree on the need to protect the
environment and to maintain the ecological
balance of the surrounding areas of the Camarin
open dumpsite, the question as to which agency
can lawfully exercise jurisdiction over the matter
remains highly open to question.
The City Government of Caloocan claims that it is
within its power, as a local government unit,
pursuant to the general welfare provision of the
Local

Government

Code,

17

to

determine

the

effects of the operation of the dumpsite on the

ecological balance and to see that such balance is

program within the Laguna de Bay region without

maintained. On the basis of said contention, it

previous clearance from the Authority."

questioned, from the inception of the dispute


before the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City,
the power and authority of the LLDA to issue a
cease and desist order enjoining the dumping of
garbage in the Barangay Camarin over which the
City Government of Caloocan has territorial
jurisdiction.

The LLDA now assails, in this partition for review,


the abovementioned ruling of the Court of
Appeals, contending that, as an administrative
agency

which

was

granted

regulatory

and

adjudicatory powers and functions by Republic


Act

No.

4850

and

its

amendatory

laws,

Presidential Decree No. 813 and Executive Order

The Court of Appeals sustained the position of

No. 927, series of 1983, it is invested with the

the City of Caloocan on the theory that Section 7

power and authority to issue a cease and desist

of Presidential Decree No. 984, otherwise known

order pursuant to Section 4 par. (c), (d), (e), (f)

as the Pollution Control law, authorizing the

and (g) of Executive Order No. 927 series of 1983

defunct National Pollution Control Commission to

which provides, thus:

issue an ex-parte cease and desist order was not


incorporated in Presidential Decree No. 813 nor
in

Executive

Order

No.

927,

series

of

1983. The Court of Appeals ruled that under


Section 4, par. (d), of Republic Act No. 4850, as
amended, the LLDA is instead required "to

Sec.

4.

Additional

Powers

and

Functions. The authority shall have the


following powers and functions:
xxx xxx xxx

institute the necessary legal proceeding against

(c) Issue orders or decisions to compel

any person who shall commence to implement or

compliance with the provisions of this

continue implementation of any project, plan or

Executive Order and its implementing

rules and regulations only after proper

(g) Deputize in writing or request

notice and hearing.

assistance of appropriate government

(d)

Make,

requiring

alter
the

or

modify

agencies or instrumentalities for the

orders

discontinuance

purpose of enforcing this Executive

of

Order and its implementing rules and

pollution specifying the conditions and


the

time

within

which

regulations

such

under

such

conditions

as

it

may

determine to be reasonable, for the


prevention and abatement of pollution,
for the discharge of sewage, industrial
waste,

or

operation

for
of

the

installation

sewage

works

or

the

orders

and

decisions of the Authority.

discontinuance must be accomplished.


(e) Issue, renew, or deny permits,

and

The

LLDA

claims

that

the

appellate

court

deliberately suppressed and totally disregarded


the above provisions of Executive Order No. 927,
series of 1983, which granted administrative
quasi-judicial functions to LLDA on pollution
abatement cases.

and

In light of the relevant environmental protection

industrial disposal system or parts

laws cited which are applicable in this case, and

thereof.

the corresponding overlapping jurisdiction of

(f) After due notice and hearing, the


Authority may also revoke, suspend or
modify any permit issued under this
Order whenever the same is necessary
to prevent or abate pollution.

government agencies implementing these laws,


the resolution of the issue of whether or not the
LLDA has the authority and power to issue an
order which, in its nature and effect was
injunctive, necessarily requires a determination
of the threshold question: Does the Laguna Lake
Development Authority, under its Charter and its

amendatory laws, have the authority to entertain

As a general rule, the adjudication of pollution

the complaint against the dumping of garbage in

cases

the

Camarin

Adjudication Board (PAB), except in cases where

authorized by the City Government of Caloocan

the special law provides for another forum. It

which is allegedly endangering the health, safety,

must be recognized in this regard that the LLDA,

and welfare of the residents therein and the

as

sanitation and quality of the water in the area

specifically mandated under Republic Act No.

brought about by exposure to pollution caused by

4850 and its amendatory laws to carry out and

such open garbage dumpsite?

make effective the declared national policy 20 of

open

dumpsite

in

Barangay

The matter of determining whether there is such


pollution

of

the

environment

that

requires

control, if not prohibition, of the operation of a


business establishment is essentially addressed
to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)
of the DENR which, by virtue of Section 16 of
Executive Order No. 192, series of 1987, 18 has
assumed the powers and functions of the defunct
National Pollution Control Commission created
under

Republic

Act

No.

3931.

Under

said

Executive Order, a Pollution Adjudication Board


(PAB) under the Office of the DENR Secretary
now assumes the powers and functions of the
National

Pollution

Control

Commission

respect to adjudication of pollution cases.

19

with

generally

specialized

pertains

to

the

administrative

Pollution

agency,

is

promoting and accelerating the development and


balanced growth of the Laguna Lake area and the
surrounding provinces of Rizal and Laguna and
the cities of San Pablo, Manila, Pasay, Quezon
and Caloocan 21 with due regard and adequate
provisions for environmental management and
control, preservation of the quality of human life
and ecological systems, and the prevention of
undue ecological disturbances, deterioration and
pollution. Under such a broad grant and power
and authority, the LLDA, by virtue of its special
charter,

obviously

has

the

responsibility

to

protect the inhabitants of the Laguna Lake region


from

the

deleterious

effects

of

pollutants

emanating from the discharge of wastes from the

surrounding

areas.

the

from the Environmental Management Bureau

aforementioned declared policy, the LLDA is

(EMB) of the DENR, the primary jurisdiction of

mandated, among others, to pass upon and

the LLDA over this case was recognized by the

approve or disapprove all plans, programs, and

Environmental Management Bureau of the DENR

projects

when the latter acted as intermediary at the

proposed

offices/agencies

In

by

local
the

out

government
public

meeting among the representatives of the City

corporations, and private persons or enterprises

Government of Caloocan, Task Force Camarin

where such plans, programs and/or projects are

Dumpsite and LLDA sometime in July 1992 to

related to those of the LLDA for the development

discuss

of the region.

within

carrying

region,

the

possibility

of

re-opening the open dumpsite.

22

In the instant case, when the complainant Task

Having thus resolved the threshold question, the

Force Camarin Dumpsite of Our Lady of Lourdes

inquiry then narrows down to the following issue:

Parish, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City, filed

Does the LLDA have the power and authority to

its letter-complaint before the LLDA, the latter's

issue a "cease and desist" order under Republic

jurisdiction under its charter was validly invoked

Act No. 4850 and its amendatory laws, on the

by complainant on the basis of its allegation that

basis

the

enjoining the dumping of garbage in Tala Estate,

open

dumpsite

project

of

the

City

Government of Caloocan in Barangay Camarin


was undertaken without a clearance from the
LLDA, as required under Section 4, par. (d), of
Republic Act. No. 4850, as amended by P.D. No.
813 and Executive Order No. 927. While there is
also an allegation that the said project was
without an Environmental Compliance Certificate

of

the

facts

presented

in

this

case,

Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City.


The irresistible answer is in the affirmative.
The cease and desist order issued by the LLDA
requiring the City Government of Caloocan to
stop dumping its garbage in the Camarin open
dumpsite found by the LLDA to have been done in

violation of Republic Act No. 4850, as amended,

discontinuance of pollution" is expressly and

and other relevant environment laws, 23 cannot be

clearly bestowed upon the LLDA by Executive

stamped as an unauthorized exercise by the

Order No. 927, series of 1983.

LLDA of injunctive powers. By its express terms,


Republic Act No. 4850, as amended by P.D. No.
813 and Executive Order No. 927, series of 1983,
authorizes the LLDA to "make, alter or modify
order

requiring

the

discontinuance

or

24

pollution." (Emphasis supplied) Section 4, par.


(d)

explicitly

authorizes

the

LLDA

to make whatever order may be necessary in the


exercise of its jurisdiction.

Assuming arguendo that the authority to issue a


"cease and desist order" were not expressly
conferred by law, there is jurisprudence enough
to the effect that the rule granting such authority
need not necessarily be express. 25 While it is a
fundamental rule that an administrative agency
has only such powers as are expressly granted to
it by law, it is likewise a settled rule that an
administrative agency has also such powers as

To be sure, the LLDA was not expressly conferred

are necessarily implied in the exercise of its

the power "to issue and ex-parte cease and desist

express powers. 26 In the exercise, therefore, of its

order" in a language, as suggested by the City

express powers under its charter as a regulatory

Government of Caloocan, similar to the express

and quasi-judicial body with respect to pollution

grant to the defunct National Pollution Control

cases in the Laguna Lake region, the authority of

Commission under Section 7 of P.D. No. 984

the LLDA to issue a "cease and desist order" is,

which, admittedly was not reproduced in P.D. No.

perforce, implied. Otherwise, it may well be

813 and E.O. No. 927, series of 1983. However, it

reduced to a "toothless" paper agency.

would be a mistake to draw therefrom the


conclusion that there is a denial of the power to
issue the order in question when the power
"to make, alter or modify orders requiring the

In this connection, it must be noted that


in Pollution

Adjudication

Board

v. Court

of

Appeals, et al., 27 the Court ruled that the

Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) has the power

pervasive, sovereign power to protect

to issue an ex-parte cease and desist order when

the safety, health, and general welfare

there is prima facie evidence of an establishment

and comfort of the public, as well as

exceeding the allowable standards set by the anti-

the protection of plant and animal life,

pollution

commonly designated as the police

Associate

laws

of

Justice

the

country.

Florentino

Theponente,
P.

power.

Feliciano,

declared:
Ex parte cease and desist orders are

stopping

commonplace

that

requirements

of

constitutional
the

ordinary

procedural

due

protecting vital public interests like

situations like that here presented


because

is

process yield to the necessities of

permitted by law and regulations in


precisely

It

those

the

here

involved,

through

the

exercise of police power. . . .

continuous discharge of pollutive and


untreated effluents into the rivers and

The immediate response to the demands of "the

other inland waters of the Philippines

necessities of protecting vital public interests"

cannot

gives

be

made

to

wait

until

vitality

to

the

statement

on

ecology

protracted litigation over the ultimate

embodied in the Declaration of Principles and

correctness or propriety of such orders

State Policies or the 1987 Constitution. Article II,

has run its full course, including

Section 16 which provides:

multiple and sequential appeals such


as those which Solar has taken, which
of course may take several years. The
relevant pollution control statute and
implementing regulations were enacted
and promulgated in the exercise of 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.

As a constitutionally guaranteed right of every

provided under its Section 4 (d) the power to

person, it carries the correlative duty of non-

institute "necessary legal proceeding against any

impairment. This is but in consonance with the

person who shall commence to implement or

declared policy of the state "to protect and

continue implementation of any project, plan or

promote the right to health of the people and

program within the Laguna de Bay region without

instill health consciousness among them." 28 It is

previous clearance from the LLDA."

to be borne in mind that the Philippines is party


to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and the Alma Conference Declaration of 1978
which recognize health as a fundamental human
right.

29

The issuance, therefore, of the cease and desist


order by the LLDA, as a practical matter of
procedure under the circumstances of the case,
is a proper exercise of its power and authority
under its charter and its amendatory laws. Had
the cease and desist order issued by the LLDA
been complied with by the City Government of
Caloocan as it did in the first instance, no further

Clearly, said provision was designed to invest the


LLDA with sufficiently broad powers in the
regulation of all projects initiated in the Laguna
Lake region, whether by the government or the
private sector, insofar as the implementation of
these projects is concerned. It was meant to deal
with cases which might possibly arise where
decisions or orders issued pursuant to the
exercise of such broad powers may not be obeyed,
resulting in the thwarting of its laudabe objective.
To meet such contingencies, then the writs
of mandamus and injunction which are beyond
the power of the LLDA to issue, may be sought

legal steps would have been necessary.

from the proper courts.

The charter of LLDA, Republic Act No. 4850, as

Insofar as the implementation of relevant anti-

amended, instead of conferring upon the LLDA


the means of directly enforcing such orders, has

pollution laws in the Laguna Lake region and its


surrounding provinces, cities and towns are

concerned, the Court will not dwell further on the

AGAPITO MAGBANUA, INENIAS MARTIZANO,

related

CARLITO HERRERA, SR., PAQUITO LOPEZ,

issues

raised

which

are

more

appropriately addressed to an administrative


agency with the special knowledge and expertise
of the LLDA.

AND FRANCISCO HERRERA, petitioners,


vs.
HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The

(SECOND SPECIAL CASES DIVISION),

temporary restraining order issued by the Court

EDUARDO, BUTCH, DIEGO AND NENA All

on July 19, 1993 enjoining the City Mayor of

Surnamed PEREZ, respondents.

Caloocan

and/or

the

City

Government

of

Caloocan from dumping their garbage at the Tala


Estate, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City is
hereby made permanent.

Romulo A. Deles for petitioner.


Jose Valmayor for respondents.

SO ORDERED.
ABAD SANTOS, J.:
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

A joint decision was rendered in CAR Case Nos.


827, 828 and 829 of the defunct Court of
Agrarian Relations stationed in San Carlos City
(Negros Occidental) because the six plaintiffs who

SECOND DIVISION

are the petitioners at bar all alleged that they are

G.R. Nos. L-66870-72 June 29, 1985

defendants diverted the free flow of water from

share

tenants

of

the

defendants;

that

the

their farm lots which caused portions of their


landholdings to dry up to their great damage and

prejudice: and that they were told by the

3) Declares the Writ of Preliminary

defendants' overseer to vacate their respective

Injunction issued on February 23,

areas for they could not plant palay any longer

1982 to be permanent;

due to lack of water. They prayed that they be


declared as leasehold tenants and that the
defendants be ordered to pay attorney's fees and
different kinds of damages.

4)

plaintiffs

to

seek

the

assistance of the Ministry of Agrarian


Reforms in the fixing of their lease
rentals;

The trial court rendered judgment in favor of the


plaintiffs as follows:

5) Orders the defendants to pay all the


six

WHEREFORE,

Orders

coherent

with

the

plaintiffs

cases

in

the

above-entitled

individually

moral

and

foregoing, this Court, in judgment,

exemplary damages in the sum of TEN

hereby:

THOUSAND

1) Declares all the plaintiffs in the

(P10,000.00)

PESOS,

each;

above-entitled cases to be maintained

6) Orders the defendants to pay the

as agricultural lessees in peaceful

attorney's

cultivation

P5,000.00; and

in

their

respective

landholdings;

7)

fees

Dismiss

all

in

the

other

amount

claims

of

and

2) Prohibits defendants from closing

counterclaims of the parties for lack of

and/or disrupting the free flow of

merit (Rollo, pp. 28-29.)

water

supplying

landholdings;

plaintiffs'

The defendants appealed to the Intermediate

landholdings and wilted palay crops.

Appellate Court which in turn rendered the

The allegations in this pleading and

following judgment:

the accompanying pictures were never

WHEREFORE, with the modification

In

this

rebutted by the defendants.

above indicated, deleting the award of

In view of this circumstances, this

moral and exemplary damages and

Court holds the opinion that between

attorney's fees, the decision appealed

the period of the inspection by the PC

from is hereby AFFIRMED in all other

Team on February 24, 1982 and June

respects, with costs against appellants.

13, 1982 when plaintiffs' manifestation

(Rollo, pp. 37-38.)

was filed, there has been complete

petition,

reinstatement

of

the
the

prayer
moral

is

and

for

the

exemplary

damages and the attorney's fees which had been


awarded by the trial court on the ground that the
Intermediate Appellate Court committed a grave
abuse of discretion in eliminating them.
In awarding damages and attorney's fees, the
trial court said:
This Court has likewise noted the
manifestation submitted by plaintiffs
on June 3, 1982 wherein they have
attached photographs of their dried-up

closure of water supplying plaintiffs'


landholdings which resulted to the
drying up of the same that greatly
hampered the healthy growth of the
palay crop. This Court does not believe
that the disruption of the water supply
which led to the very poor harvest is
due to the fault/negligence of the
plaintiffs.
Under the law, the landowner has an
obligation to keep the tenant in the
peaceful and continuous cultivation of
his

landholding.

disturbance

of

possession,

such

as

the

act

the soil; it is destructive of

complained of, is violative of the law.

the system itself, as such an

The Honorable Court of Appeals, thru


Associate Justice Porfirio V. Sison, in

freedom

the

away

the

emancipated

of the New Republic.

in the case of Buenaventura Garcia,


vs.

takes

tenants won under the aegis

June 23, 1982, promulgated a decision


plaintiff-appellant,

attitude

Eduardo

The

plaintiff-appellant

is

Jalandoni, Salud Garcia and Chester

entitled to moral damages in

Garcia,

which

the sum of P5,000.00 and

ruling is relevant to the above-entitled

exemplary damages in the

cases when the said Honorable Court

further sum of P5,000.00 to

state:

be

defendant-appellees,

paid

by

defendant

Eduardo Jalandoni. Let this

The law forbids the use of

be a warning to those who

tenants like balls on a pool

flout the lofty purpose of the

table, whacked and volleyed

agrarian reform program.

and pocketed at the whim


and caprice of the player, or

Plaintiffs have all their legal rights to

their positions placed on the

protect their interests under the law in

auction block like slaves to

filing

be

highest

defendants have done to them, and as

bidder. Such a calamitous

such they are entitled attorney's fees.

situation

(Rollo, pp. 27-28.)

sold

to

the

erode

wholehearted dedication to

these

cases,

for

what

the

Upon the other hand, in deleting the questioned

defendants violated the plaintiffs' rights and

award the Intermediate Appellate Court said:

caused prejudice to the latter by the unjustified

However, We are not inclined to sustain

diversion of the water.

the award of moral and exemplary

The petitioners are also entitled to exemplary

damages, as well as attorney's fees.

damages because the defendants acted in an

There is no evidence showing that, in

oppressive manner. (See Art. 2232. Civil Code.)

dealing

with

plaintiffs,

defendants

acted fraudulently or in bad faith.


There

is

no

showing

either

that

attorney's fees are recoverable under


Art: 2208, Civil Code. (Rollo, P. 37.)
Under the facts of the case, the plaintiffs (now
petitioners) are entitled to a measure of moral
damages. Article 2219 of the Civil Code permits
the award of moral damages for acts mentioned
in Article 21 of the same code and the latter
stipulates that: "Any person who wilfully causes

It follows from the foregoing that the petitioners


are also entitled to attorney's fees but the size of
the fees as well as the damages is subject to the
sound discretion of the court.
WHEREFORE,

the

petition

is

plaintiffs is entitled to the following to be paid by


the defendants jointly and severally:
Moral damages P1,000.00
Exemplarly

contrary to morals, good customs or public policy

500.00

irrigation water for their farm lots in order to


them

vacate

their

landholdings.

damages

Attorney's fees 1,000.00

It appears that the petitioners were denied


make

the

decision under review is modified and each of the

loss or injury to another in a manner that is


shall compensate the latter for the damage."

granted;

The

P2,500.00

The costs shall be assessed against the private

minor, represented by her parents SIGRID and

respondents.

DOLORES

SO ORDERED.

FORTUN,

GEORGE

II

and

MA.

CONCEPCION, all surnamed MISA, minors and


represented by their parents GEORGE and
MYRA MISA, BENJAMIN ALAN V. PESIGAN,

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT

minor, represented by his parents ANTONIO


and ALICE PESIGAN, JOVIE MARIE ALFARO,

Manila

minor, represented by her parents JOSE and

EN BANC

CONCEPCION T. CASTRO, minor, represented

MARIA

VIOLETA

ALFARO,

MARIA

by her parents FREDENIL and JANE CASTRO,


JOHANNA
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,

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

THE HONORABLE FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN,

THERESE VICTORIA, all surnamed ENDRIGA,

JR., in his capacity as the Secretary of the

minors,

Department

represented

by

their

parents

of

Environment

and

Natural

BALTAZAR and TERESITA ENDRIGA, JOSE

Resources, and THE HONORABLE ERIBERTO

MA. and REGINA MA., all surnamed ABAYA,

U. ROSARIO, Presiding Judge of the RTC,

minors,

Makati, Branch 66, respondents.

represented

ANTONIO

and

by

MARICA

their

ABAYA,

parents
MARILIN,

MARIO, JR. and MARIETTE, all surnamed


CARDAMA,
parents

minors,

MARIO

represented

and

LINA

by

their

Oposa Law Office for petitioners.


The Solicitor General for respondents.

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
CIELO,

MAX

and

VILMI

CRISANTO,

QUIPIT,

ANNA,

BUGHAW

DANIEL

and

FRANCISCO, all surnamed BIBAL, minors,


represented by their parents FRANCISCO, JR.

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 "intergenerational

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

and MILAGROS BIBAL, and THE PHILIPPINE

or impairment" of Philippine rainforests and

ECOLOGICAL

"arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country's

vs.

NETWORK,

INC., petitioners,

vital life support systems and continued rape of

taxpayers, and entitled to the full benefit, use

Mother Earth."

and enjoyment of the natural resource treasure

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

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:

non-profit corporation organized for the purpose

. . . ordering defendant, his agents,

of, inter alia, engaging in concerted action geared

representatives

for the protection of our environment and natural

acting in his behalf to

resources.

The

original

Honorable

Fulgencio

S.

defendant

was

Factoran,

Jr.,

the
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 3 and alleges that the plaintiffs "are all
citizens of the Republic of the Philippines,

and

other

persons

(1) Cancel all existing timber license


agreements in the country;
(2) Cease and desist from receiving,
accepting,
approving

processing,
new

renewing

timber

or

license

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

The

complaint

general

therein of salt water, incontrovertible examples of

averments that the Philippine archipelago of

which may be found in the island of Cebu and

7,100 islands has a land area of thirty million

the Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite, (c) massive

(30,000,000) hectares and is endowed with rich,

erosion and the consequential loss of soil fertility

lush and verdant rainforests in which varied, rare

and agricultural productivity, with the volume of

and unique species of flora and fauna may be

soil

found;

(1,000,000,000) cubic meters per annum

these

biological
indigenous

off

rainforests

and

irreplaceable;
existed,

starts

with

contain

chemical

they

are

Philippine

endured

and

the

pool

also

estimated

at

one

billion

which

is

approximately the size of the entire island of

habitat

of

Catanduanes, (d) the endangering and extinction

which

have

of the country's unique, rare and varied flora and

since

time

fauna, (e) the disturbance and dislocation of

the

cultures

genetic,

eroded

flourished

immemorial; scientific evidence reveals that in

cultural

order to maintain a balanced and healthful

disappearance

ecology, the country's land area should be

cultures, (f) the siltation of rivers and seabeds

utilized on the basis of a ratio of fifty-four per

and consequential destruction of corals and other

cent (54%) for forest cover and forty-six per cent

aquatic life leading to a critical reduction in

(46%) for agricultural, residential, industrial,

marine resource productivity, (g) recurrent spells

commercial and other uses; the distortion and

of drought as is presently experienced by the

disturbance of this balance as a consequence of

entire country, (h) increasing velocity of typhoon

deforestation

winds

environmental

have

resulted

tragedies,

in

such

a
as

host
(a)

of

communities,

which

of

the

result

including
Filipino's

from

the

the

indigenous

absence

of

water

windbreakers, (i) the floodings of lowlands and

shortages resulting from drying up of the water

agricultural plains arising from the absence of

table, otherwise known as the "aquifer," as well as

the absorbent mechanism of forests, (j) the

of rivers, brooks and streams, (b) salinization of

siltation and shortening of the lifespan of multi-

the water table as a result of the intrusion

billion peso dams constructed and operated for

the purpose of supplying water for domestic uses,

8. Twenty-five (25) years ago, the

irrigation and the generation of electric power,

Philippines

and (k) the reduction of the earth's capacity to

million

process carbon dioxide gases which has led to

constituting

perplexing and catastrophic climatic changes

country's land mass.

such as the phenomenon of global warming,


otherwise known as the "greenhouse effect."

had

some

hectares

sixteen

of

roughly

(16)

rainforests

53%

of

the

9. Satellite images taken in 1987 reveal


that there remained no more than 1.2

Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and

million hectares of said rainforests or

detrimental

four per cent (4.0%) of the country's

consequences

of

continued

and

deforestation are so capable of unquestionable


demonstration that the same may be submitted
as

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.

land area.
10. More recent surveys reveal that a
mere 850,000 hectares of virgin oldgrowth rainforests are left, barely 2.8%
of

the

entire

million

hectares

uneconomical

that:

forests.

7. Plaintiffs replead by reference the


foregoing allegations.

mass

of

the

Philippine archipelago and about 3.0

As their cause of action, they specifically allege

CAUSE OF ACTION

land
of

immature

secondary

and

growth

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

suffered by the generation of plaintiff

for commercial logging purposes.

adults.

A copy of the TLA holders and the

14.

corresponding areas covered is hereto

defendant of TLA holders to cut and

attached as Annex "A".

deforest the remaining forest stands

12.

At

the

present

rate

deforestation, i.e. about

of

200,000

hectares per annum or 25 hectares per


hour nighttime, Saturdays, Sundays
and

holidays

included

the

Philippines will be bereft of forest

The

continued

allowance

by

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.

resources after the end of this ensuing

This act of defendant constitutes a

decade, if not earlier.

misappropriation and/or impairment

13. The adverse effects, disastrous


consequences,

serious

injury

and

irreparable damage of this continued

of the natural resource property he


holds in trust for the benefit of plaintiff
minors and succeeding generations.

trend of deforestation to the plaintiff

15.

minor's generation and to generations

constitutional right to a balanced and

yet

and

healthful ecology and are entitled to

incontrovertible. As a matter of fact,

protection by the State in its capacity

the

as the parens patriae.

unborn

are

environmental

evident

damages

enumerated in paragraph 6 hereof are


already being felt, experienced and

Plaintiffs

have

clear

and

16.

Plaintiff

administrative

have

exhausted

remedies

with

all
the

19. Defendant's refusal to cancel the


aforementioned

TLA's

defendant's office. On March 2, 1990,

contrary

the

plaintiffs served upon defendant a final

enunciated

demand to cancel all logging permits in

Environmental

the country.

pertinent part, states that it is the

A copy of the plaintiffs' letter dated

to

in

is

manifestly

public
the

Policy

policy

Philippine
which,

in

policy of the State

March 1, 1990 is hereto attached as

(a) to create, develop, maintain and

Annex "B".

improve conditions under which man

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

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;

act violative of the rights of plaintiffs,

(c) to ensure the attainment of an

especially plaintiff minors who may be

environmental

left with a country that is desertified

conductive to a life of dignity and well-

(sic), bare, barren and devoid of the

being. (P.D. 1151, 6 June 1977)

wonderful flora, fauna and indigenous


cultures which the Philippines had
been abundantly blessed with.

20.

quality

Furthermore,

continued

refusal

that

is

defendant's
to

cancel

the

aforementioned TLA's is contradictory

to the Constitutional policy of the State

plaintiffs' right to self-preservation and

to

perpetuation.

a. effect "a more equitable distribution

22. There is no other plain, speedy and

of opportunities, income and wealth"

adequate remedy in law other than the

and "make full and efficient use of

instant action to arrest the unabated

natural resources (sic)." (Section 1,

hemorrhage of the country's vital life

Article XII of the Constitution);

support systems and continued rape of


Mother Earth.

b. "protect the nation's marine wealth."


(Section 2, ibid);

On

c. "conserve and promote the nation's


cultural heritage and resources (sic)"
(Section 14, Article XIV,id.);

people to a balanced and healthful


ecology in accord with the rhythm and
of

nature."

(Section

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

d. "protect and advance the right of the

harmony

16,

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

Article II, id.)

shows a clear and unmistakable cause of action,

21. Finally, defendant's act is contrary

presents a justiciable question as it involves the

to the highest law of humankind the

defendant's abuse of discretion.

natural

law

(2) the motion is dilatory and (3) the action

and

violative

of

On 18 July 1991, respondent Judge issued an


order granting the aforementioned motion to

dismiss. 7 In the said order, not only was the

Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly

defendant's claim that the complaint states no

and unmistakably states a cause of action as it

cause of action against him and that it raises a

contains sufficient allegations concerning their

political question sustained, the respondent

right to a sound environment based on Articles

Judge further ruled that the granting of the relief

19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code (Human

prayed for would result in the impairment of

Relations), Section 4 of Executive Order (E.O.) No.

contracts which is prohibited by the fundamental

192 creating the DENR, Section 3 of Presidential

law of the land.

Decree (P.D.) No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental

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.

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.

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

not to file an action to court, but to lobby before

the

Congress for the passage of a bill that would ban

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.

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)

On the other hand, the respondents aver that the

years. During its effectivity, the same can neither

petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a

be revised nor cancelled unless the holder has

specific legal right violated by the respondent

been found, after due notice and hearing, to have

Secretary for which any relief is provided by law.

violated the terms of the agreement or other

They see nothing in the complaint but vague and

forestry

nebulous

an

proposition to have all the TLAs indiscriminately

"environmental right" which supposedly entitles

cancelled without the requisite hearing would be

the petitioners to the "protection by the state in

violative of the requirements of due process.

allegations

concerning

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

laws

and

regulations.

Petitioners'

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

expounded,

several, but to all citizens of the Philippines.

the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature

Consequently, since the parties are so numerous,

means the created world in its entirety. 9 Such

it,

rhythm and harmony indispensably include, inter

becomes

impracticable,

if

not

totally

considers

impossible, to bring all of them before the court.

alia,

We likewise declare that the plaintiffs therein are

management, renewal and conservation of the

numerous and representative enough to ensure

country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries,

the full protection of all concerned interests.

wildlife,

Hence, all the requisites for the filing of a valid

resources to the end that their exploration,

class suit under Section 12, Rule 3 of the Revised

development

Rules of Court are present both in the said civil

accessible to the present as well as future

case and in the instant petition, the latter being

generations.

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

the

judicious

off-shore

areas

and
10

disposition,

and

utilization

utilization,

other
be

natural
equitably

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. 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

assumptions and vague conclusions

question and a meticulous consideration and

based on unverified data. In fine,

evaluation of the issues raised and arguments

plaintiffs fail to state a cause of action

adduced by the parties, We do not hesitate to find

in its Complaint against the herein

for

defendant.

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:

the

matter

impressed

with

before

political

it,

being

color

and

not be taken cognizance of by this

careful

and

circumspect

evaluation of the Complaint, the Court


cannot

that

involving a matter of public policy, may

xxx xxx xxx


After

Furthermore, the Court firmly believes

help

but

agree

with

the

defendant. For although we believe

Court without doing violence to the


sacred
Powers"

principle
of

the

of

"Separation

three

(3)

of

co-equal

branches of the Government.

that plaintiffs have but the noblest of

The Court is likewise of the impression

all intentions, it (sic) fell short of

that it cannot, no matter how we

alleging, with sufficient definiteness, a

stretch

specific legal right they are seeking to

reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e.,

enforce and protect, or a specific legal

to cancel all existing timber license

wrong they are seeking to prevent and

agreements in the country and to

redress

cease

(Sec.

1,

Rule

2,

RRC).

our

and

Furthermore, the Court notes that the

accepting,

Complaint

approving

is

replete

with

vague

jurisdiction,

desist

from

processing,
new

grant

receiving,

renewing

timber

the

or

license

agreements. For to do otherwise would

This right unites with the right to

amount to "impairment of contracts"

health which is provided for in the

abhored

preceding section of the same article:

law.

(sic)

by

the

fundamental

11

Sec. 15. The State shall protect and

We do not agree with the trial court's conclusions

promote the right to health of the

that the plaintiffs failed to allege with sufficient

people and instill health consciousness

definiteness a specific legal right involved or a

among them.

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.

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

specific

important than any of the civil and political

fundamental legal right the right to a balanced

rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right

and healthful ecology which, for the first time in

belongs to a different category of rights altogether

our nation's constitutional history, is solemnly

for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation

incorporated in the fundamental law. Section 16,

and

Article II of the 1987 Constitution explicitly

stressed by the petitioners the advancement of

provides:

which

The

complaint

focuses

on

one

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.

self-perpetuation
may

even

be

aptly

said

to

and

fittingly

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

sanctions against all forms

framers that unless the rights to a balanced and

of pollution air, water and

healthful ecology and to health are mandated as

noise pollution?

state policies by the Constitution itself, thereby

MR. AZCUNA:

highlighting their continuing importance and


imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to

Yes, Madam President. The

preserve the first and protect and advance the

right

second, the day would not be too far when all else

carries

but also for those to come generations which

correlative

stand to inherit nothing but parched earth

impairing

incapable of sustaining life.

impairing the environment. During the debates


on this right in one of the plenary sessions of the
1986 Constitutional Commission, the following
Villacorta

between

and

Commissioner

Commissioner

Adolfo

Azcuna who sponsored the section in question:

with

it

duty
the

the

of

not

same

and,

environmental balance.

Does this section mandate


State

to

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.

MR. VILLACORTA:

the

necessarily

provided for impairment of

carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from

Wilfrido

(sic)

therefore, sanctions may be

The right to a balanced and healthful ecology

transpired

healthful

environment

would be lost not only for the present generation,

exchange

to

provide

Conformably with the enunciated right to a


balanced and healthful ecology and the right to

health, as well as the other related provisions of

development,

management,

the Constitution concerning the conservation,

and

development and utilization of the country's

forest, mineral, land, off-shore areas

conservation

of

the

renewal,
country's

then President Corazon C.

and other natural resources, including

Aquino promulgated on 10 June 1987 E.O. No.

the protection and enhancement of the

natural resources,
192,

14

13

quality

Section 4 of which expressly mandates

equitable

that the Department of Environment and Natural


responsible

for

the

the

different

and

the

use

of

the

for the present generation but for

country's environment and natural resources,

future generations as well. It is also

specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral,

the policy of the state to recognize and

resources, including those in reservation and

apply a true value system including

watershed areas, and lands of the public domain,

social

as well as the licensing and regulation of all

and

environmental

cost

implications relative to their utilization,

natural resources as may be provided for by law

development and conservation of our

in order to ensure equitable sharing of the

natural resources.

benefits derived therefrom for the welfare of the

of policy:

of

and

country's natural resources, not only

management, development and proper use of the

Section 3 thereof makes the following statement

environment,

access

development

conservation,

present and future generations of Filipinos."

the

segments of the population to the

Resources "shall be the primary government


agency

of

This policy declaration is substantially re-stated


it Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of
1987, 15specifically in Section 1 thereof which

Sec. 3. Declaration of Policy. It is


hereby declared the policy of the State
to

ensure

the

sustainable

use,

reads:

Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. (1) The

and

State shall ensure, for the benefit of

resources.

the Filipino people, the full exploration


and

development

judicious

as

well

disposition,

management,

as

the

utilization,

renewal

and

conservation of the country's forest,


mineral,

land,

waters,

wildlife,

off-shore

areas

fisheries,
and

other

natural resources, consistent with the


necessity

of

maintaining

sound

ecological balance and protecting and


enhancing

the

environment

and

quality
the

of

objective

the
of

making the exploration, development


and

utilization

of

such

natural

resources equitably accessible to the

conservation

of

our

natural

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.

Department

of

(1)

Environment

The
and

Natural Resources shall be primarily


responsible for the implementation of
the foregoing policy.

different segments of the present as

(2) It shall, subject to law and higher

well as future generations.

authority, be in charge of carrying out

(2) The State shall likewise recognize


and apply a true value system that
takes

into

environmental

account
cost

social

and

implications

relative to the utilization, development

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

It may, however, be recalled that even before the

of 1987 have set the objectives which will serve as

ratification of the 1987 Constitution, specific

the bases for policy formulation, and have defined

statutes already paid special attention to the

the powers and functions of the DENR.

"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

environment for succeeding generations."

17

the
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

It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to

functions

dismiss based on the ground that the complaint

under

E.O.

No.

192

and

the

Administrative Code of 1987 to protect and

fails to state a cause of action,

advance the said right.

submitted to the court for resolution involves the

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.

violation of the legal right or rights of


the other; and its essential elements
right

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?
21

20

InMilitante vs.

this Court laid down the rule that

the judiciary should "exercise the utmost care

. . . an act or omission of one party in

legal

the question

sufficiency of the facts alleged in the complaint

Edrosolano,

A cause of action is defined as:

are

19

of

the

plaintiff,

correlative obligation of the defendant,


and act or omission of the defendant in
violation of said legal right.

18

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'

protects executive and legislative actions from

complaint, We find the statements under the

judicial inquiry or review. The second paragraph

introductory affirmative allegations, as well as

of section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution states

the specific averments under the sub-heading

that:

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.

be said to raise a political question. Policy


formulation or determination by the executive or
squarely

courts

of

branches
put

in

of

issue.

Government
What

is

is

not

principally

involved is the enforcement of a right vis-avis 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

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

The foregoing considered, Civil Case No. 90-777

legislative

Judicial power includes the duty of the

or

instrumentality

of

the

Government.
Commenting
book, Philippine

on

this

Political

provision
Law,

22

Mr.

in

his

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

less tenable and decisive. The reason is

power to enable the courts of justice to

that, even if we were to assume that

review

forbidden

the issue presented before us was

territory, to wit, the discretion of the

political in nature, we would still not

political

be precluded from revolving it under

what

was

before

departments

of

the

government.

the expanded jurisdiction conferred

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

upon us that now covers, in proper


cases,

even

Article

VII,

the

political

Section

1,

question.
of

the

Constitution clearly provides: . . .

of the executive and the legislature and

The last ground invoked by the trial court in

to declare their acts invalid for lack or

dismissing the complaint is the non-impairment

excess of jurisdiction because tainted

of contracts clause found in the Constitution. The

with grave abuse of discretion. The

court a quo declared that:

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

the

case

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

Mr. Justice Cruz, now

now

agreements in the country and to


cease

speaking for this Court, noted:


In

The Court is likewise of the impression

before

us,

the

jurisdictional objection becomes even

and

accepting,
approving

desist

from

processing,
new

receiving,

renewing

timber

or

license

agreements. For to do otherwise would

. . . Provided, That when the national

amount to "impairment of contracts"

interest so requires, the President may

abhored

amend, modify, replace or rescind any

law.

(sic)

by

the

fundamental

contract, concession, permit, licenses

24

We are not persuaded at all; on the contrary, We


are amazed, if not shocked, by such a sweeping

or any other form of privilege granted


herein . . .

pronouncement. In the first place, the respondent

Needless to say, all licenses may thus be

Secretary did not, for obvious reasons, even

revoked or rescinded by executive action. It

invoke in his motion to dismiss the non-

is not a contract, property or a property

impairment clause. If he had done so, he would

right protested by the due process clause of

have

the

the Constitution. In Tan vs. Director of

and

Forestry,

acted

Government

with
by

utmost

infidelity

providing

undue

to

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:

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

merely evidence a privilege granted by

to

be

the State to qualified entities, and do

contract

not vest in the latter a permanent or

do

what

unlawful,

We

otherwise

and

is

not

would
a

between the authority, federal, state, or

irrevocable

right

municipal, granting it and the person

concession

area

to whom it is granted; neither is it

products therein. They may be validly

property or a property right, nor does

amended,

it create a vested right; nor is it

rescinded by the Chief Executive when

taxation (37 C.J. 168). Thus, this

national interests so require. Thus,

Court held that the granting of license

they are not deemed contracts within

does

rights,

the purview of the due process of law

neither is it property or property rights

clause [See Sections 3(ee) and 20 of

(People vs. Ong Tin, 54 O.G. 7576).

Pres.

reiterated

not

create

this

irrevocable

pronouncement

in Felipe

Ysmael, Jr. & Co., Inc. vs. Deputy Executive


Secretary:

26

. . . Timber licenses, permits and


license agreements are the principal
instruments
regulates

by
the

which

the

State

utilization

and

disposition of forest resources to the


end that public welfare is promoted.
And it can hardly be gainsaid that they

to

the

and

modified,

Decree

amended. Also,

the

forest

replaced

No.
Tan

particular

v.

705,
Director

or

as
of

Forestry, G.R. No. L-24548, October


27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302].
Since timber licenses are not contracts, the nonimpairment clause, which reads:
Sec.

10.

obligation
passed.

No

law

of

contracts

27

cannot be invoked.

impairing,
shall

the
be

In the second place, even if it is to be assumed

welfare.

that the same are contracts, the instant case

constitutional

does not involve a law or even an executive

impairment of obligations of contract is

issuance

or

limited by the exercise of the police

modification of existing timber licenses. Hence,

power of the State, in the interest of

the non-impairment clause cannot as yet be

public

invoked. Nevertheless, granting further that a law

general welfare.

has

declaring

actually

the

been

cancellation

passed

mandating

cancellations or modifications, the same cannot


still be stigmatized as a violation of the nonimpairment 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.
Corp.

28

In Abe

vs.

Foster

Wheeler

this Court stated:

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

other

words,

guaranty

health,

safety,

of

the
non-

moral

and

The reason for this is emphatically set forth


in Nebia vs. New York,
American

Life

29

quoted in Philippine

Insurance

Co.

vs.

Auditor

General, 30 to wit:
Under our form of government the use
of

property

contracts

are

and

the

normally

making

of

matters

of

private and not of public concern. The


general rule is that both shall be free
of

The freedom of contract, under our

In

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.

No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

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

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 94759
January 21, 1991
TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPERS, INC., petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. NARCISO T.
ATIENZA as Presiding Judge, Bulacan, RTC,
and HON. VICENTE CRUZ, Acting Mayor and
the MUNICIPALITY OF STA. MARIA,
BULACAN, respondents.
Diosdado P. Peralta for petitioner.

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.

GANCAYCO, J.:
The authority of the local executive to protect the
community from pollution is the center of this
controversy.
The antecedent facts are related in the appealed
decision of the Court of Appeals as follows:

Petitioner, a domestic private corporation


engaged in the manufacture and export of
charcoal briquette, received a letter dated
February 16, 1989 from private respondent
acting mayor Pablo N. Cruz, ordering the
full cessation of the operation of the
petitioner's plant located at Guyong, Sta.
Maria, Bulacan, until further order. The
letter likewise requested Plant Manager Mr.
Armando Manese to bring with him to the
office of the mayor on February 20, 1989
the following: a) Building permit; b) Mayor's
permit;
c)
Region
III-Pollution
of
Environment and Natural Resources AntiPollution Permit; and of other document.
At the requested conference on February 20,
1989, petitioner, through its representative,
undertook to comply with respondent's
request for the production of the required
documents. In compliance with said
undertaking, petitioner commenced to
secure
"Region
III-Department
of
Environmental and Natural Resources AntiPollution Permit," although among the
permits previously secured prior to the
operation of petitioner's plant was a
"Temporary Permit to Operate Air Pollution
Installation" issued by the then National

Pollution
Control
Commission
(now
Environmental Management Bureau) and is
now at a stage where the Environmental
Management Bureau is trying to determine
the correct kind of anti-pollution devise to
be installed as part of petitioner's request
for the renewal of its permit.
Petitioner's attention having been called to
its lack of mayor's permit, it sent its
representatives to the office of the mayor to
secure the same but were not entertained.
On April 6, 1989, without previous and
reasonable
notice
upon
petitioner,
respondent acting mayor ordered the
Municipality's
station
commander
to
padlock the premises of petitioner's plant,
thus effectively causing the stoppage of its
operation.
Left with no recourse, petitioner instituted
an
action
for certiorari,
prohibition, mandamus with
preliminary
injunction against private respondent with
the court a quo which is presided by the
respondent judge. In its prayer for the
issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory
injunction, it alleged therein that the
closure order was issued in grave abuse of
discretion.

During the hearing of the application for the


issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction
on April 14, 1989, herein parties adduced
their respective evidences. The respondent
judge, April 19, 1989, found that petitioner
is entitled to the issuance of the writ of
preliminary mandatory injunction, hence, it
ordered as follows:
In view of the foregoing, upon
petitioner's posting of a bond in the
amount of P50,000.00 to answer for
such damages that respondents may
sustain should petitioner eventually be
found not entitled to the injunctive
relief
hereby
issued,
let
a
PRELIMINARY
MANDATORY
INJUNCTION
issue
ordering
the
respondent Hon. Pablo N. Cruz, and
other person acting in his behalf and
stead to immediately revoke his closure
order dated April 6, 1989, and allow
petitioner to resume its normal
business operations until after the
instant
case
shall
have
been
adjudicated on the merits without
prejudice to the inherent power of the
court to alter, modify or even revoke
this order at any given time.

SO ORDERED.
The
writ
of
preliminary
mandatory
injunction was issued on April 28, 1989,
upon petitioner's posting a bond in the
amount of P50,000.00.
Private respondent filed his motion for
reconsideration dated May 3, 1989. Said
motion for reconsideration was heard on
May 30, 1989. Petitioner's counsel failed to
appear and the hearing proceeded with the
Provincial
Prosecutor
presenting
his
evidence. The following documents were
submitted:
a) Exhibit "A", Investigation report on the
Technology Developers Inc., prepared by one
Marivic Guina, and her conclusion and
recommendation read:
Due to the manufacturing process and
nature of raw materials used, the
fumes coming from the factory may
contain particulate matters which are
hazardous to the health of the people.
As such, the company should cease
operating until such a time that the
proper air pollution device is installed
and operational.
b) Exhibits "B", "B-1", "B-2", three (3) sheets
of coupon bond containing signatures of

residents of Barangay Guyong, Sta. Maria,


Bulacan;
c) Exhibit "B-3", a letter addressed to Hon.
Roberto Pagdanganan Governor of the
Province of Bulacan, dated November 22,
1988, complaining about the smoke coming
out of the chimney of the company while in
operation.
Reassessing all the evidence adduced, the
lower court, on June 14, 1989, issued an
order (a) setting aside the order dated April
28, 1989, which granted a Writ of
Preliminary Mandatory Injunction, and (b)
dissolving the writ consequently issued.
A motion for reconsideration dated July 6,
1989 was filed by petitioner. Said motion
drew an opposition dated July 19, 1989
from private respondent.
Resolving the petitioner's motion for
reconsideration, the respondent judge
issued an order dated August 9, 1989,
denying said motion for reconsideration.1
Hence a petition for certiorari and prohibition
with preliminary injunction was filed by
petitioner in the Court of Appeals seeking to
annul and set aside (a) the order issued by the
trial court on June 14, 1989, setting aside the
order dated April 28, 1989, and (b) the order of

August 9, 1989, denying petitioner's motion for


reconsideration of the order of June 14, 1989. In
due course the petition was denied for lack of
merit by the appellate court in a decision dated
January 26, 1990. 2 A motion for reconsideration
thereof filed by petitioner was denied on August
10, 1990.
Thus,
the
herein
petition
for
review
on certiorari filed with this Court. Six errors are
alleged to have been committed by the appellate
court which may be synthesized into the singular
issue of whether or not the appellate court
committed a grave abuse of discretion in
rendering its question decision and resolution.
The petition is devoid of merit.
The well-known rule is that the matter of
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction is
addressed to the sound judicial discretion of the
trial court and its action shall not be disturbed
on appeal unless it is demonstrated that it acted
without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction or
otherwise, in grave abuse of its discretion. By the
same token the court that issued such a
preliminary relief may recall or dissolve the writ
as the circumstances may warrant.
To the mind of the Court the following
circumstances militate against the maintenance

of the writ of preliminary injunction sought by


petitioner:
1. No mayor's permit had been secured.
While it is true that the matter of
determining whether there is a pollution of
the environment that requires control if not
prohibition of the operation of a business is
essentially addressed to the then National
Pollution Control Commission of the
Ministry of Human Settlements, now the
Environmental Management Bureau of the
Department of Environment and Natural
Resources, it must be recognized that the
mayor of a town has as much responsibility
to protect its inhabitants from pollution,
and by virture of his police power, he may
deny the application for a permit to operate
a business or otherwise close the same
unless appropriate measures are taken to
control and/or avoid injury to the health of
the residents of the community from the
emissions in the operation of the business.
2. The Acting Mayor, in a letter of February
16, 1989, called the attention of petitioner
to the pollution emitted by the fumes of its
plant whose offensive odor "not only pollute
the air in the locality but also affect the
health of the residents in the area," so that

petitioner was ordered to stop its operation


until further orders and it was required to
bring the following:
(1) Building permit;
(2) Mayor's permit; and
(3)
Region
III-Department
of
Environment and Natural Resources
Anti-Pollution permit. 3
3. This action of the Acting Mayor was in
response to the complaint of the residents of
Barangay Guyong, Sta. Maria, Bulacan,
directed to the Provincial Governor through
channels.4 The alleged NBI finding that
some of the signatures in the four-page
petition
were
written
by
one
5
person, appears to be true in some
instances, (particularly as among members
of the same family), but on the whole the
many signatures appear to be written by
different persons. The certification of the
barrio captain of said barrio that he has not
received any complaint on the matter 6 must
be because the complaint was sent directly
to the Governor through the Acting Mayor.
4. The closure order of the Acting Mayor was
issued only after an investigation was made
by Marivic Guina who in her report of
December 8, 1988 observed that the fumes

emitted by the plant of petitioner goes


directly to the surrounding houses and that
no proper air pollution device has been
installed.7
5. Petitioner failed to produce a building
permit from the municipality of Sta. Maria,
but instead presented a building permit
issued by an official of Makati on March
6,1987.8
6. While petitioner was able to present a
temporary permit to operate by the then
National Pollution Control Commission on
December 15, 1987, the permit was good
only up to May 25, 1988. 9 Petitioner had not
exerted any effort to extend or validate its
permit much less to install any device to
control the pollution and prevent any
hazard to the health of the residents of the
community.
All these factors justify the dissolution of the writ
of preliminary injunction by the trial court and
the appellate court correctly upheld the action of
the lower court.
Petitioner takes note of the plea of petitioner
focusing on its huge investment in this dollarearning industry.1wphi1 It must be stressed
however, that concomitant with the need to
promote investment and contribute to the growth

of the economy is the equally essential imperative


of protecting the health, nay the very lives of the
people, from the deleterious effect of the pollution
of the environment.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, with costs
against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 145328 March 23, 2006
EDUARDO F. HERNANDEZ, MA.
ENCARBACION R. LEGASPI, JAIME BLANCO,
JR., ENRIQUE BELO, CARLOS VIAPLANA,
CARL FURER, VIVENCIO TINIO, MICHAEL
BRIGGS, ROSA CARAM, FAUSTO PREYSLER,
ROBERT KUA, GEORGE LEE, GUILLERMO
LUCHANGCO, PETER DEE, LUISA MARQUEZ,
ANGELITA LILLES, JUAN CARLOS, HOMER
GO, AMADEO VALENZUELA, EMILIO CHING,
ANTONIO CHAN, MURLI SABNANI, MARCOS

ROCES, RAYMUNDO FELICIANO, NORMA

With

GAFFUD, ALF HOLST, LOURDES P. ROQUE,

electromagnetic radiation as their battle cry,

MANUEL DY, RAUL FERNANDEZ, VICTORIA


TENGCO, CHI MO CHENG, BARANGAY
DASMARIAS, and HON. FRANCISCO B.
IBAY, petitioners
vs.
NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, respondent
DECISION

health

risks

linked

to

exposure

to

petitioners, all residents of Dasmarias Village,


are

clamoring

for

the

reversal

of

the

decision2 dated 3 May 2000 of the Court of


Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 57849 as well as the
resolution dated 27 September 2000, denying
their motion for reconsideration.
The assailed decision3 of the Court of Appeals
reversed the order of the Regional Trial Court of

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

Makati, issuing a writ of preliminary injunction

Although Presidential Decree No. 1818 prohibits

(NAPOCOR) to stay the latter from energizing and

any court from issuing injunctions in cases

transmitting high voltage electric current through

involving infrastructure projects, the prohibition

its cables erected from Sucat, Paraaque to

extends only to the issuance of injunctions or

Araneta Ave., Quezon City.

restraining orders against administrative acts in


controversies involving facts or the exercise of
discretion in technical cases. On issues clearly
outside this dimension and involving questions of
law, this Court declared that courts could not be
prevented from exercising their power to restrain
or prohibit administrative acts.1 In such cases, let
the hammer fall and let it fall hard.

against respondent National Power Corporation

But, first, the facts:


Sometime

in

1996,

NAPOCOR

began

the

construction of 29 decagon-shaped steel poles or


towers with a height of 53.4 meters to support
overhead high tension cables in connection with
its 230 Kilovolt Sucat-Araneta-Balintawak Power
Transmission Project. Said transmission line

passes through the Sergio Osmea, Sr. Highway

safety and consultation requirements in the

(South Superhighway), the perimeter of Fort

questioned project.

Bonifacio, and Dasmarias Village proximate to


Tamarind Road, where petitioners homes are.

Petitioners brought their woes to the attention of


Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella, Chairman of the House

Said project later proved to be petitioners bane of

Committee on Energy, wherein NAPOCOR was

existence.

asked to shed light on the petitioners problem. In

Alarmed by the sight of the towering steel towers,


petitioners scoured the internet on the possible
adverse effects that such a structure could cause
to their health and well-being. Petitioners got
hold of published articles and studies linking the

letter

dated

November

1999,

Napocor

President Federico Puno stated that NAPOCOR


was still in the process of coming up with a "winwin" solution to the concerns of the Dasmarias
Village and Forbes Park residents.4

incidence of a fecund of illnesses to exposure to

In a letter dated 10 August 1999 addressed to

electromagnetic fields. These illnesses range from

Congressman Arnulfo P. Fuentebella, NAPOCORs

cancer to leukemia.

President wrote:

Petitioners left no stones unturned to address

We

their malady. They aired this growing concern to

Dasmarias and Forbes residents and we have

the NAPOCOR, which conducted a series of

come up with four (4) options on how to address

meetings with them.

the problem, to wit:

NAPOCOR

received

flak

from

Representative

Francis Joseph G. Escudero, who in his Privilege


Speech dated 10 May 1999, denounced the
cavalier manner with which Napocor ignored

have

Option Cost

discussed

the

matter

with

the

Option 1: Transfer the line to Lawton

NAPOCOR. Harping on the hazardous effects of

Avenue P 111.84

exposure to electromagnetic radiation to the

million

(proposal of Dasmarias/Forbes)

health

Option 2: Maintain 12 meters distance


along P 77.60 million the village
Option

3:

Construct

an

underground

to

themselves

and

their

families, petitioners, through the instant case,


sought what they had failed to achieve through
inter alia, for damages and the relocation of the
transmission

lines

to

Lawton

Avenue,

Fort

Bonifacio.

Option 4: Reroute along C-5 and South


Luzon P 1,018.83 million
(combination

On 13 March 2000, Judge Francisco B. Ibay


issued an order8 in Civil Case No. 00-352, which

of

overhead

and

underground)5
Negotiations

safety

amicable means with NAPOCOR and prayed,

line P 482.00 million

Expressway

and

temporarily

restrained

the

respondent

from

energizing and transmitting high voltage electric


between

petitioners

and

the

NAPOCOR reached an impass, with petitioners

current through the said project. The pertinent


portion of the said order reads:

vying for the relocation of the transmission lines

Acting

to Fort Bonifacio on one hand, and the NAPOCOR

Motion," it appearing that the subject area will be

insisting on a 12-meter easement widening, on

energized by midnight tonight based on a report

the other.

taken from Representative Joker P. Arroyo by

Thus, petitioners, on 9 March 2000 filed a


Complaint7 for Damages with Prayer for the
Issuance of

a Temporary

Restraining

Order

and/or a Writ of Preliminary Injunction against

on

the

plaintiffs

"Urgent

Omnibus

plaintiffs counsel, so as not to render moot and


academic

the

instant

case,

as

prayed

for,

defendant National Power Corporation is ordered


to maintain the status quo and/or be enjoined

from energizing and transmitting high voltage

preliminary injunction or preliminary mandatory

electric current through its cables for forty eight

injunction in any case, dispute, or controversy

(48) hours starting 4 oclock in the afternoon

involving an infrastructure project, or a mining,

today and ending 4 oclock in the afternoon of 15

fishery,

March 2000.9

development project of the government, or any

By order

of 15 March 2000, the trial court

10

extended the restraining order for 18 more days.


NAPOCOR filed a Petition for Certiorari with
Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order and
Preliminary Injunction with the Court of Appeals
assailing the above order by the trial court.
Alluding

to

Presidential

(1981), "Prohibiting

Decree

Courts

No.

from

1818
Issuing

public

forest
utility

or

other

operated

including

among

transport

of

other

the

natural

by

the

public

goods

or

resource

government,
utilities

for

commodities,

stevedoring and arrastre contracts, to prohibit


any person or persons, entity or government
official from proceeding with or continuing the
execution or implementation of any such project,
or the operation of such public utility or pursuing
any lawful activity necessary for such execution,

Restraining Orders or Preliminary Injunctions in

implementation or operation.

Cases

In the interregnum, by order dated 3 April 2000,

Involving

Infrastructure

and

Natural

Resource Development Projects of, and Public


Utilities

Operated

by,

the

Government,"

particularly Sec. 1, NAPOCOR stalwartly sought


the dismissal of the case on the ground of lack
jurisdiction.

Presidential

Decree

No.

1818

provides:

preliminary injunction against NAPOCOR.11 The


trial court articulated that an injunction was
necessary

to

stay

respondent

NAPOCORs

activation of its power lines due to the possible


health risks posed to the petitioners. Asserting

Section 1. No Court in the Philippines shall have


jurisdiction

the trial court ordered the issuance of a writ of

to

issue

any

restraining

order,

its jurisdiction over the case, the trial court was


of the view that Presidential Decree No. 1818 and

jurisprudence proscribing injunctions against

In the challenged decision of 3 May 2000, the

infrastructure projects do not find application in

Court of Appeals reversed the trial courts order,

the case at bar because of the health risks

with the following fallo:

involved.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant

The trial court, thus, enjoined the NAPOCOR

petition for certiorari is hereby GRANTED. The

from further preparing and installing high voltage

assailed orders of the respondent court, dated

cables to the steel pylons erected near petitioners

March 13, 2000 and April 3, 2000, are hereby

homes and from energizing and transmitting high

REVERSED and SET ASIDE.13

voltage electric current through said cables while


the case is pending final adjudication, upon
posting of the bond amounting to P5,000,000.00
executed to the effect that petitioners will pay all
the damages the NAPOCOR may sustain by
reason of the injunction if the Court should
finally decide that the petitioners are not entitled
thereto.12
In light of the foregoing order of the trial court,
the petition which NAPOCOR filed with the Court
of Appeals was later amended to include the
prayer for the nullification and injunction of the
Order dated 3 April 2000 of the trial court.

In

the

Court

of

Appeals

rationale,

the

proscription on injunctions against infrastructure


projects of the government is clearly mandated by
the above-quoted Section 1 of Presidential Decree
No. 1818, as reiterated by the Supreme Court in
its Circulars No. 2-91 and No. 13-93, dated 15
March 1991 and 5 March 1993, respectively.
As their motion for reconsideration was met with
similar lack of success, petitioners, in a last
attempt at vindication, filed the present petition
for review on the following arguments:
I.

Temporary restraining orders and preliminary

case when no less than the rights of the

injunctions were purposely designed to address

petitioners to health and safety hangs on the

matters of extreme urgency where there is

balance.

probability

of

grave injustice and

irreparable

injury.14

Presidential Decree No. 1818 was issued on 16

II.
The

We find the petition to be imbued with merit.

January 1981, prohibiting judges from issuing


rule

requires

on
that

preliminary
unless

injunction

restrained,

merely

the

act

restraining

orders

against

government

infrastructure projects. In part, the decree says,

complained of will probably work injustice to the

"No

court

in

the

applicant or probably violate his rights and tends

jurisdiction

to

issue

to render the judgment ineffectual.15 (Emphasis

preliminary

injunction

in the original.)

preliminary mandatory injunction in any case,

Fundamental to the resolution of the instant


petition is the issue of whether or not the trial
court may issue a temporary restraining order
and

preliminary

injunction

to

enjoin

the

Philippines

shall

have

any

restraining

order,

or

preliminary

order,

dispute or controversy involving an infrastructure


project." Realizing the importance of this decree,
this Tribunal had issued different circulars to
implement this particular law.

construction and operation of the 29 decagon-

Presidential Decree No. 181816 prohibits courts

shaped steel poles or towers by the NAPOCOR,

from issuing injunctions against government

notwithstanding Presidential Decree No. 1818.

infrastructure

Petitioners clutch on their stand that Presidential


Decree No. 1818 could not be construed to apply
to cases of extreme urgency as in the present

projects.

In Garcia

v.

Burgos,17 Presidential Decree No. 1818 was held


to prohibit courts from issuing an injunction
against any infrastructure project in order not to
disrupt or hamper the pursuit of essential

government projects or frustrate the economic

ground that the NAPOCOR Project impinged on

development effort of the nation.

their right to health as enshrined in Article II,

While

its

sole

provision

would

appear

to

encompass all cases involving the implementation

Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution, which


provides:

of projects and contracts on infrastructure,

Sec. 15. The State shall protect and promote the

natural

right

resource

development

and

public

utilities, this rule, however, is not absolute as


there are actually instances when Presidential
Decree No. 1818 should not find application. In a
spate of cases, this Court declared that although
Presidential Decree No. 1818 prohibits any court
from

issuing

injunctions

in

cases

involving

infrastructure projects, the prohibition extends


only to the issuance of injunctions or restraining
orders

against

administrative

acts

in

controversies involving facts or the exercise of


discretion in technical cases. On issues clearly
outside this dimension and involving questions of
law, this Court declared that courts could not be
prevented from exercising their power to restrain
or prohibit administrative acts.

18

In the case at bar, petitioners sought the


issuance of a preliminary injunction on the

to

health

of

the

people

and

instill

consciousness among them.


To

boot,

petitioners,

moreover,

harp

on

respondents failure to conduct prior consultation


with them, as the community affected by the
project, in stark violation of Section 27 of the
Local Government Code which provides: "no
project or program shall be implemented by
government authorities unless the consultations
mentioned are complied with, and prior approval
of the Sanggunian concerned is observed."
From the foregoing, whether there is a violation of
petitioners constitutionally protected right to
health and whether respondent NAPOCOR had
indeed violated the Local Government Code
provision on prior consultation with the affected
communities are veritable questions of law that
invested the trial court with jurisdiction to issue

TRO

preliminary

(c) That a party, court, agency or a person is

injunction. As such, these questions of law divest

doing, threatening, or is attempting to do, or

the

is procuring or suffering to be done, some

case

and
from

subsequently,
the

protective

mantle

of

Presidential Decree No. 1818.

act or acts probably in violation of the rights


of the applicant respecting the subject of

Moreover, the issuance by the trial court of a

the action or proceeding, and tending to

preliminary injunction finds legal support in

render

Section 3 of Rule 58 of the Rules of Court which

3. Grounds

for

issuance

of

preliminary

injunction. - A preliminary injunction may be


granted when it is established:

demanded, and the whole or part of such


relief consists in restraining the commission
or continuance of the act or acts complained
of, or in requiring the performance of an act
or acts, either for a limited period or
perpetually;
(b) That the commission, continuance or
of

the

ineffectual.

(3a)

The

rule

requires

on
that

preliminary
unless

injunction

restrained,

merely

the

act

complained of will probably violate his rights and


tend to render the judgment ineffectual.

(a) That the applicant is entitled to the relief

non-performance

judgment

(Emphasis supplied.)

provides:
Sec.

the

act

or

acts

complained of during the litigation would


probably work injustice to the applicant; or

Here, there is adequate evidence on record to


justify

the

conclusion

that

the

project

of

NAPOCOR probably imperils the health and


safety of the petitioners so as to justify the
issuance

by

the

trial

court

of

writ

of

preliminary injunction.
Petitioners adduced in evidence copies of studies
linking the incidence of illnesses such as cancer
and leukemia to exposure to electromagnetic
fields. The records bear out, to boot, a copy of a
brochure of NAPOCOR regarding its Quezon

Power Project from which will be supplying

With a member of Congress denouncing the

NAPOCOR with the power which will pass

subject project of NAPOCOR because of the very

through the towers subject of the controversy.

same health and safety ills that petitioners now

The NAPOCOR brochure provides that because of

hew to in this petition, and with documents on

the danger concomitant with high voltage power,

record

Philippine laws mandate that the power lines

representations

should be located within safe distances from

looking into the possibility of relocating the

residences.

Project

project, added to the fact that there had been

mandates an easement of 20 meters to the right

series of negotiations and meetings between

and 20 meters to the left which falls short of the

petitioners and NAPOCOR as well as related

12-meter

agencies, there is ample indicia to suggest to the

And

the

easement

Quezon

that

Power

NAPOCOR

was

proposing to petitioners.

to

show
to

that

NAPOCOR

petitioners

that

made

they

are

mind of the court that the health concerns of the

Likewise on record, are copies of letters of


Napocor President Federico Puno to Rep. Arnulfo

petitioners are, at the very least, far from


imaginary.

Fuentebella, Chairman of the House Committee

Indeed,

on Energy, stating updates on the negotiations

NAPOCOR would not have been stirred to come

being undertaken by the NAPOCOR and the

up

Dasmarias Village and Forbes Park residents.

petitioners, nor would Congressman Escudero

Also on file is the Privilege Speech dated 10 May

have fired away those strong words of censure,

1999

G.

assailing what to Congressman Escudero smacks

Escudero, who denounced the cavalier manner

of a "cavalier manner by which the NAPOCOR has

with

and

responded to earnest pleas for a review of its

questioned

practice of installing massive pylons supporting

of

Representative

which

Napocor

Francis
ignored

consultation requirements in
project.

the

Joseph
safety

with

if

there
options

is
to

no

cause

address

for
the

concern,
woes

of

high tension cables in densely populated areas." 19

True,

the

the

Moreover, the Local Government Code, requires

essentially

conference with the affected communities of a

evidentiary in nature, and pertains to the very

government project. NAPOCOR, palpably, made a

merits of the action below. In fact, petitioners

shortcut to this requirement. In fact, there

recognize that the conclusiveness of their life,

appears a lack of exhaustive feasibility studies on

health and safety concerns still needs to be

NAPOCORs part before making a go with the

proved in the main case below and they are

project on hand; otherwise, it should have

prepared to do so especially in the light of some

anticipated the legal labyrinth it is now caught

studies cited by respondent that yield contrary

in.

transmission

issue
lines

of

whether

are

safe

or
is

not

results in a disputed subject. Despite the parties


conflicting results of studies made on the issue,
the

possibility

that

the

exposure

to

electromagnetic radiation causes cancer and


other disorders is still, indeed, within the realm
of scientific scale of probability.

These are facts, which the trial court could not


ignore, and form as sufficient basis to engender
the cloud of doubt that the NAPOCOR project
could,

indeed,

endanger

the

lives

of

the

petitioners. A preliminary injunction is likewise


justified prior to a final determination of the

Equally important, we take judicial notice that

issues of whether or not NAPOCOR ignored safety

the area alluded to as location of the NAPOCOR

and consultation requirements in the questioned

project is a fragile zone being proximate to local

project. Indeed, the court could, nay should,

earthquake

Marikina

grant the writ of preliminary injunction if the

fault, among other zones. This is not to mention

purpose of the other party is to shield a

the risks of falling structures caused by killer

wrongdoing. A ruling to the contrary would

tornadoes and super typhoons, the Philippines,

amount to an erosion of judicial discretion.

faults,

particularly

the

especially Central Luzon, being situated along the


typhoon belt.

After all, for a writ of preliminary injunction to be

order, requiring a party, court, agency, or person

issued, the Rules do not require that the act

to refrain from a particular act or acts. It is a

complained of be in violation of the rights of the

preservative remedy to ensure the protection of a

applicant. Indeed, what the Rules require is that

partys substantive rights or interests pending

the act complained of be probably in violation of

the final judgment in the principal action. A plea

the rights of the applicant. Under the Rules of

for an injunctive writ lies upon the existence of a

Court, probability is enough basis for injunction

claimed emergency or extraordinary situation

to issue as a provisional remedy, which is

which should be avoided for otherwise, the

different from injunction as a main action where

outcome of a litigation would be useless as far as

one needs to establish absolute certainty as basis

the party applying for the writ is concerned.

for a final and permanent injunction.

At times referred to as the "Strong Arm of Equity,"

Pending the final determination of the trial court

we have consistently ruled that there is no power

on the main case for damages, of whether or not

the exercise of which is more delicate and which

the NAPOCOR Project infringes on petitioners

calls

substantive

pending

issuance of an injunction. It should only be

determination of the question of whether there

extended in cases of great injury where courts of

was non-observance of the prior-consultation

law cannot afford an adequate or commensurate

proviso under the Local Government Code, it is

remedy in damages; "in cases of extreme urgency;

prudent to preserve the status quo. In Phil. Ports

where

Authority

considerations of relative inconvenience bear

right

v.

Cipres

to

health

Stevedoring

and

&

Arrastre,

Inc.,20 we held:
A preliminary injunction is an order granted at
any stage of an action prior to judgment of final

for

greater

the

right

circumspection

is

very

than

clear;

the

where

strongly in complainants favor; where there is a


willful and unlawful invasion of plaintiffs right
against his protest and remonstrance, the injury
being a continuing one, and where the effect of

the mandatory injunction is rather to reestablish

There is not a hint from the foregoing circulars

and maintain a preexisting continuing relation

suggesting an unbridled prohibition against the

between the parties, recently and arbitrarily

issuance of temporary restraining orders or

interrupted by the defendant, than to establish a

preliminary injunctions.

new relation." (Emphasis supplied.)

In sum, what Presidential Decree No. 1818 aims

What is more, contrary to respondents assertion,

to avert is the untimely frustration of government

there is not a single syllable in the circulars

infrastructure

issued by this Court enjoining the observance of

provisional remedies, to the detriment of the

Presidential Decree No. 1818, which altogether

greater

and absolutely, ties the hands of the courts from

essential government projects or frustrate the

issuing a writ of preliminary injunction. What

economic

Circular 2-91

dated 15 March 1991 seeks to

Presidential Decree No. 1818, however, was not

enjoin is the indiscriminate issuance of court

meant to be a blanket prohibition so as to

injunctions. The same holds for Circular 13-

disregard the fundamental right to health, safety

9322 dated 5 March 1993 and Circular 68-

and well-being of a community guaranteed by the

94.

fundamental law of the land.25

23

21

And, in Circular No. 7-99, judges are

enjoined to observe utmost caution, prudence


and judiciousness in the issuance of temporary
restraining order and in the grant of writs of
preliminary injunction to avoid any suspicion
that its issuance or grant was for consideration
other than the strict merits of the case. 24

good

projects,
by

disrupting

development

effort

particularly
the
of

pursuit
the

by
of

nation.

Lest we be misconstrued, this decision does not


undermine the purpose of the NAPOCOR project
which is aimed towards the common good of the
people. But, is the promotion of the general
welfare at loggerheads with the preservation of
the rule of law? We submit that it is not. 26

In the present case, the far-reaching irreversible

In hindsight, if, after trial, it turns out that the

effects to human safety should be the primordial

health-related fears that petitioners cleave on to

concerns over presumed economic benefits per se

have adequate confirmation in fact and in law,

as alleged by the NAPOCOR.

the questioned project of NAPOCOR then suffers

Not too long ago, the Court, in Metropolitan


Manila Development Authority (MMDA) v. Bel-Air
Village Association, Inc.,27 upheld the validity of
the writ of preliminary injunction issued by the
Court of Appeals enjoining the implementation of
the Metropolitan Manila Development Authoritys

from a paucity of purpose, no matter how noble


the

purpose

may

be.

For

what

use

will

modernization serve if it proves to be a scourge


on an individuals fundamental right, not just to
health

and

safety,

but,

ostensibly,

to

life

preservation itself, in all of its desired quality?

proposed action of opening of the Neptune Street

WHEREFORE,

to public vehicular traffic. We were categorical -

decision dated 3 May 2000 of the Court of

Not infrequently, the government is tempted to


take legal shortcuts to solve urgent problems of
the people. But even when government is armed
with the best of intention, we cannot allow it to
run roughshod over the rule of law. Again, we let
the hammer fall and fall hard on the illegal
attempt of the MMDA to open for public use a
private road in a private subdivision. While we
hold that the general welfare should be promoted,
we stress that it should not be achieved at the
expense of the rule of law.28

the

petition

is

granted.

The

Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 57849 is REVERSED


as well as the resolution dated 27 September
2000. The Order dated 3 April 2000 of the
Regional Trial Court of Makati in Civil Case No.
00-352

is

hereby

pronouncement as to costs
SO ORDERED.

REINSTATED.

No

Republic of the Philippines

Mariano

Agas,

had

allegedly

represented

SUPREME COURT

themselves as civil service eligibles who passed

Manila

the civil service examinations for sanitarians.

EN BANC

Claiming that his right to be informed of the


eligibilities of Julian Sibonghanoy and Mariano

G.R. No. L-72119 May 29, 1987

Agas, is guaranteed by the Constitution, and that


he has no other plain, speedy and adequate

VALENTIN L. LEGASPI, petitioner,

remedy to acquire the information, petitioner

vs.

prays for the issuance of the extraordinary writ of

CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, respondent.

mandamus

to

compel

the

respondent

Commission to disclose said information.


This is not the first tune that the writ of

CORTES, J.:

mandamus is sought to enforce the fundamental


to

right to information. The same remedy was

information on matters of public concern is

resorted to in the case of Tanada et. al. vs. Tuvera

invoked in this special civil action for mandamus

et. al., (G.R. No. L-63915, April 24,1985,136

instituted

SCRA 27) wherein the people's right to be

The

fundamental

by

right

petitioner

of

the

Valentin

people

L.

Legaspi
The

informed under the 1973 Constitution (Article IV,

respondent had earlier denied Legaspi's request

Section 6) was invoked in order to compel the

for information on the civil service eligibilities of

publication in the Official Gazette of various

certain persons employed as sanitarians in the

presidential decrees, letters of instructions and

Health

other

against

the

Civil

Department

Service

of

Commission.

Cebu

City.

These

government employees, Julian Sibonghanoy and

presidential

issuances.

Prior

to

the

recognition of the right in said Constitution the

statutory right to information provided for in the

of the phrase, "as well as to government research

Land Registration Act (Section 56, Act 496, as

data used as basis for policy development." The

amended) was claimed by a newspaper editor in

new provision reads:

another mandamus proceeding, this time to

The right of the people to information

demand access to the records of the Register of

on matters of public concern shall be

Deeds for the purpose of gathering data on real

recognized. Access to official records,

estate transactions involving aliens (Subido vs.

and

Ozaeta, 80 Phil. 383 [1948]).


The

constitutional

right

to

documents,

and

papers

pertaining to official acts, transactions,


to

information

on

or decisions, as well as to government

matters of public concern first gained recognition

research data used as basis. for policy

in the Bill of Rights, Article IV, of the 1973

development, shall be afforded the

Constitution, which states:

citizen, subject to such stations as may


be provided by law.

Sec. 6. The right of the people to


information

on

matters

public

These constitutional provisions are self-executing.

concern shall be recognized. Access to

They supply the rules by means of which the

official records, and to documents and

right to information may be enjoyed (Cooley, A

papers

acts,

Treatise on the Constitutional Limitations 167

transactions, or decisions, shall be

[1927]) by guaranteeing the right and mandating

afforded the citizen subject to such

the

limitations as may be provided by law.

information.

pertaining

to

of

official

The foregoing provision has been retained and


the right therein provided amplified in Article III,
Sec. 7 of the 1987 Constitution with the addition

duty

to

afford
Hence,

access
the

to

sources

fundamental

of

right

therein recognized may be asserted by the people


upon the ratification of the constitution without
need for any ancillary act of the Legislature.

(Id. at, p. 165) What may be provided for by the

duty on the part of the Commission to furnish

Legislature

the petitioner with the information he seeks.

are

reasonable

conditions

and

limitations upon the access to be afforded which


must,

of

necessity,

be

consistent

with

the

declared State policy of full public disclosure of


all

transactions

involving

public

interest

(Constitution, Art. 11, Sec. 28). However, it


cannot

be

overemphasized

that

whatever

limitation may be prescribed by the Legislature,


the right and the duty under Art. III Sec. 7 have
become operative and enforceable by virtue of the
adoption of the New Charter. Therefore, the right
may

be

properly

invoked

in

mandamus

interposes

procedural

proceeding such as this one.


The

Solicitor

General

objections to Our giving due course to this


Petition. He challenges the petitioner's standing
to sue upon the ground that the latter does not
possess any clear legal right to be informed of the
civil

service

eligibilities

of

the

government

employees concerned. He calls attention to the


alleged failure of the petitioner to show his actual
interest in securing this particular information.
He further argues that there is no ministerial

1. To be given due course, a Petition for


mandamus must have been instituted by a party
aggrieved by the alleged inaction of any tribunal,
corporation, board or person which unlawfully
excludes said party from the enjoyment of a legal
right. (Ant;-Chinese League of the Philippines vs.
Felix, 77 Phil. 1012 [1947]). The petitioner in
every case must therefore be an "aggrieved party"
in the sense that he possesses a clear legal right
to be enforced and a direct interest in the duty or
act to be performed.
In the case before Us, the respondent takes issue
on the personality of the petitioner to bring this
suit. It is asserted that, the instant Petition is
bereft

of

any

allegation

of

Legaspi's actual

interest in the civil service eligibilities of Julian


Sibonghanoy and Mariano Agas, At most there is
a vague reference to an unnamed client in whose
behalf he had allegedly acted when he made
inquiries on the subject (Petition, Rollo, p. 3).

But what is clear upon the face of the Petition is

the petitioner is a citizen, and therefore, part of

that the petitioner has firmly anchored his case

the general "public" which possesses the right.

upon the right of the people to information on


matters of public concern, which, by its very
nature, is a public right. It has been held that:

The Court had opportunity to define the word


"public" in the Subido case, supra, when it held
that even those who have no direct or tangible

* * * when the question is one of public

interest in any real estate transaction are part of

right and the object of the mandamus

the "public" to whom "(a)ll records relating to

is to procure the enforcement of a

registered lands in the Office of the Register of

public duty, the people are regarded as

Deeds shall be open * * *" (Sec. 56, Act No. 496,

the real party in interest and the

as amended). In the words of the Court:

relator

at

whose

instigation

the

proceedings are instituted need not


show that he has any legal or special
interest in the result, it being sufficient
to show that he is a citizen and as
such interested in the execution of the
laws * * * (Tanada et. al. vs. Tuvera, et.
al., G.R. No. L- 63915, April 24, 1985,
136 SCRA 27, 36).

inclusive term. Properly construed, it


embraces every person. To say that
only those who have a present and
existing

interest

of

pecuniary

character in the particular information


sought are given the right of inspection
is to make an unwarranted distinction.
*** (Subido vs. Ozaeta, supra at p.

From the foregoing, it becomes apparent that


when a mandamus proceeding

* * * "Public" is a comprehensive, all-

involves the

assertion of a public right, the requirement of


personal interest is satisfied by the mere fact that

387).
The petitioner, being a citizen who, as such is
clothed with personality to seek redress for the
alleged obstruction of the exercise of the public

right. We find no cogent reason to deny his

research

standing to bring the present suit.

development, subject to such limitations as may

2. For every right of the people recognized as


fundamental, there lies a corresponding duty on
the part of those who govern, to respect and
protect that right. That is the very essence of the
Bill of Rights in a constitutional regime. Only
governments operating under fundamental rules

data

used

as

basis

for

policy

be provided by law. The guarantee has been


further enhanced in the New Constitution with
the adoption of a policy of full public disclosure,
this

time

"subject

to

reasonable

conditions

prescribed by law," in Article 11, Section 28


thereof, to wit:

defining the limits of their power so as to shield

Subject

individual rights against its arbitrary exercise can

prescribed by law, the State adopts

properly

and implements a policy of full public

claim

to

be

constitutional

to

reasonable

(Cooley, supra, at p. 5). Without a government's

disclosure

acceptance of the limitations imposed upon it by

involving public interest. (Art. 11, Sec.

the Constitution in order to uphold individual

28).

liberties, without an acknowledgment on its part


of those duties exacted by the rights pertaining to
the citizens, the Bill of Rights becomes a
sophistry, and liberty, the ultimate illusion.

In

of

all

its

conditions

the Tanada case, supra, the

transactions

constitutional

guarantee was bolstered by what this Court


declared as an imperative duty of the government
officials concerned to publish all important

In recognizing the people's right to be informed,

legislative acts and resolutions of a public nature

both the 1973 Constitution and the New Charter

as well as all executive orders and proclamations

expressly mandate the duty of the State and its

of general applicability. We granted mandamus in

agents

said case, and in the process, We found occasion

to

afford

access

to

official

records,

documents, papers and in addition, government

to expound briefly on the nature of said duty:

The

* * * That duty must be enforced if the

and objects of the person seeking

Constitutional right of the people to be

access to the records. It is not their

informed on matters of public concern

prerogative to see that the information

is to be given substance and reality.

which

The law itself makes a list of what

flaunted before public gaze, or that

should be published in the Official

scandal is not made of it. If it be wrong

Gazette. Such listing, to our mind,

to publish the contents of the records, it

leaves respondents with no discretion

is the legislature and not the officials

whatsoever as to what must be in

having custody thereof which is called

included

upon to devise a remedy. *** (Subido v.

or

excluded

from

such

the

records

publication. (Tanada v. Tuvera,supra, at

Ozaeta, supra at

39). (Emphasis supplied).

supplied).

absence

discretion

this Court that government agencies are without

examination of public records, specifically, the

discretion in refusing disclosure of, or access to,

records in the Office of the Register of Deeds, is

information of public concern. This is not to lose

emphasized in Subido vs. Ozaeta, supra:

sight of the reasonable regulations which may be

in

part

(Emphasis

the

es

the

not

It is clear from the foregoing pronouncements of

agencia

on

388).

is

of

government

of

contain

allowing

Except, perhaps when it is clear that


the purpose of the examination is
unlawful, or sheer, idle curiosity, we do
not believe it is the duty under the law
of

registration

officers

to

concern

themselves with the motives, reasons,

imposed by said agencies in custody of public


records on the manner in which the right to
information may be exercised by the public. In
the Subido case, We recognized the authority of
the Register of Deeds to regulate the manner in
which persons desiring to do so, may inspect,
examine or copy records relating to registered

lands.

However,

the

regulations

which

the

that the respondent had allowed the complainant

Register of Deeds may promulgate are confined

to open and view the subject records, We

to:

absolved the respondent. In effect, We have also


* * * prescribing the manner and hours
of examination to the end that damage
to or loss of, the records may be

Applying

records were reasonable.


In both the Subido and the Baldoza cases, We

the duties of the custodian of the

were

books

other

authority to regulate the manner of examining

employees may be prevented, that the

public records does not carry with it the power to

right of other persons entitled to make

prohibit. A distinction has to be made between

inspection may be insured * * * (Subido

the discretion to refuse outright the disclosure of

vs. Ozaeta, 80 Phil. 383, 387)

or access to a particular information and the

and

documents

the Subido ruling

by

and

analogy,

We

judge, to regulate the manner of inspection by the


public of criminal docket records in the case
of Baldoza vs. Dimaano (Adm. Matter No. 1120May

him upon the manner of examining the public

avoided, that undue interference with

recognized a similar authority in a municipal

MJ,

held that the rules and conditions imposed by

5,

administrative

1976,
case

71
was

SCRA
filed

14).
against

Said
the

respondent judge for his alleged refusal to allow


examination of the criminal docket records in his
sala. Upon a finding by the Investigating Judge

emphatic

in

Our

statement

that

the

authority to regulate the manner in which the


access is to be afforded. The first is a limitation
upon the availability of access to the information
sought, which only the Legislature may impose
(Art. III, Sec. 6, 1987 Constitution). The second
pertains to the government agency charged with
the custody of public records. Its authority to
regulate access is to be exercised solely to the
end that damage to, or loss of, public records
may be avoided, undue interference with the
duties of said agencies may be prevented, and

more importantly, that the exercise of the same

mandamus

constitutional right by other persons shall be

information sought by the petitioner is within the

assured (Subido vs. Ozaetal supra).

ambit of the constitutional guarantee.

Thus, while the manner of examining public

3. The incorporation in the Constitution of a

records may be subject to reasonable regulation

guarantee of access to information of public

by the government agency in custody thereof, the

concern is a recognition of the essentiality of the

duty

public

free flow of ideas and information in a democracy

concern, and to afford access to public records

(Baldoza v. Dimaano, Adm. Matter No. 1120-MJ,

cannot be discretionary on the part of said

May 5, 1976, 17 SCRA 14). In the same way that

agencies. Certainly, its performance cannot be

free discussion enables members of society to

made contingent upon the discretion of such

cope with the exigencies of their time (Thornhill

agencies.

the

vs. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88,102 [1939]), access to

constitutional right may be rendered nugatory by

information of general interest aids the people in

any whimsical exercise of agency discretion. The

democratic decision-making (87 Harvard Law

constitutional duty, not being discretionary, its

Review 1505 [1974]) by giving them a better

performance may be compelled by a writ of

perspective of the vital issues confronting the

mandamus in a proper case.

nation.

But what is a proper case for Mandamus to

But the constitutional guarantee to information

issue? In the case before Us, the public right to

on matters of public concern is not absolute. It

be enforced and the concomitant duty of the

does not open every door to any and all

State

to

are

disclose

the

Otherwise,

information

the

unequivocably

enjoyment

The

decisive

propriety

the

issuance

of

this

case

is,

whether

the

forth

in

the

information. Under the Constitution, access to

question

on

the

official records, papers, etc., are "subject to

of

limitations as may be provided by law" (Art. III,

set

Constitution.
of

of

in

of

the

writ

Sec. 7, second sentence). The law may therefore

operation of the guarantee. To hold otherwise will

exempt certain types of information from public

serve to dilute the constitutional right. As aptly

scrutiny,

observed,

such

as

those

affecting

national

".

the

government

is

in

an

security (Journal No. 90, September 23, 1986, p.

advantageous position to marshall and interpret

10; and Journal No. 91, September 24, 1986, p.

arguments against release . . ." (87 Harvard Law

32, 1986 Constitutional Commission). It follows

Review

that, in every case, the availability of access to a

constitutional right, every denial of access by the

particular public record must be circumscribed

government agency concerned is subject to review

by the nature of the information sought, i.e., (a)

by the courts, and in the proper case, access may

being of public concern or one that involves

be compelled by a writ of Mandamus.

public interest, and, (b) not being exempted by


law from the operation of the constitutional
guarantee. The threshold question is, therefore,
whether or not the information sought is of
public interest or public concern.
a.

This

question

is

first

addressed

1511

[1974]).

To

safeguard

the

In determining whether or not a particular


information is of public concern there is no rigid
test which can be applied. "Public concern" like
"public interest" is a term that eludes exact
definition. Both terms embrace a broad spectrum

to

the

of subjects which the public may want to know,

government agency having custody of the desired

either because these directly affect their lives, or

information. However, as already discussed, this

simply because such matters naturally arouse

does not give the agency concerned any discretion

the interest of an ordinary citizen. In the final

to grant or deny access. In case of denial of

analysis, it is for the courts to determine in a

access, the government agency has the burden of

case by case basis whether the matter at issue is

showing that the information requested is not of

of interest or importance, as it relates to or

public concern, or, if it is of public concern, that

affects the public.

the same has been exempted by law from the

The public concern invoked in the case of Tanada

Public office being a public trust, [Const. Art. XI,

v. Tuvera, supra, was the need for adequate notice

Sec. 1] it is the legitimate concern of citizens to

to the public of the various laws which are to

ensure that government positions requiring civil

regulate the actions and conduct of citizens.

service eligibility are occupied only by persons

In Subido vs. Ozaeta, supra,the public concern

who are eligibles. Public officers are at all times

deemed covered by the statutory right was the

accountable to the people even as to their

knowledge of those real estate transactions which

eligibilities for their respective positions.

some believed to have been registered in violation


of the Constitution.

b. But then, it is not enough that the information


sought is of public interest. For mandamus to lie

The information sought by the petitioner in this

in a given case, the information must not be

case is the truth of the claim of certain

among the species exempted by law from the

government employees that they are civil service

operation of the constitutional guarantee.

eligibles for the positions to which they were


appointed. The Constitution expressly declares as
a State policy that:

In the instant, case while refusing to confirm or


deny the claims of eligibility, the respondent has
failed to cite any provision in the Civil Service

Appointments in the civil service shall

Law which would limit the petitioner's right to

be made only according to merit and

know who are, and who are not, civil service

fitness to be determined, as far as

eligibles. We take judicial notice of the fact that

practicable, and except as to positions

the names of those who pass the civil service

which are policy determining, primarily

examinations,

confidential or highly technical, by

licensure examinations for various professions,

competitive examination. (Art. IX, B,

are released to the public. Hence, there is

Sec. 2.[2]).

nothing secret about one's civil service eligibility,

as

in

bar

examinations

and

if actually possessed. Petitioner's request is,

WHEREFORE, the Civil Service Commission is

therefore, neither unusual nor unreasonable.

ordered to open its register of eligibles for the

And when, as in this case, the government

position of sanitarian, and to confirm or deny, the

employees concerned claim to be civil service

civil service eligibility of Julian Sibonghanoy and

eligibles, the public, through any citizen, has a

Mariano Agas, for said position in the Health

right to verify their professed eligibilities from the

Department of Cebu City, as requested by the

Civil Service Commission.

petitioner Valentin L. Legaspi.

The civil service eligibility of a sanitarian being of

Teehankee, C.J., Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-

public concern, and in the absence of express

Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Gancayco,

limitations under the law upon access to the

Padilla, Bidin and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.

register of civil service eligibles for said position,


the duty of the respondent Commission to
confirm or deny the civil service eligibility of any
person

occupying

the

position

imperative. Mandamus, therefore lies.

becomes

Feliciano, J., is on leave.