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G.R. No.

101083 July 30, 1993


JUAN ANTONIO, ANNA ROSARIO and JOSE ALFONSO, all surnamed OPOSA,
minors, and represented by their parents ANTONIO and RIZALINA OPOSA,
ROBERTA NICOLE SADIUA, minor, represented by her parents CALVIN and
ROBERTA SADIUA, CARLO, AMANDA SALUD and PATRISHA, all surnamed
FLORES, minors and represented by their parents ENRICO and NIDA
FLORES, GIANINA DITA R. FORTUN, minor, represented by her parents
SIGRID and DOLORES FORTUN, GEORGE II and MA. CONCEPCION, all
surnamed MISA, minors and represented by their parents GEORGE and
MYRA MISA, BENJAMIN ALAN V. PESIGAN, minor, represented by his
parents ANTONIO and ALICE PESIGAN, JOVIE MARIE ALFARO, minor,
represented by her parents JOSE and MARIA VIOLETA ALFARO, MARIA
CONCEPCION T. CASTRO, minor, represented by her parents FREDENIL and
JANE
CASTRO,
JOHANNA
DESAMPARADO,
minor, represented by her parents JOSE and ANGELA DESAMPRADO, CARLO
JOAQUIN T. NARVASA, minor, represented by his parents GREGORIO II and
CRISTINE CHARITY NARVASA, MA. MARGARITA, JESUS IGNACIO, MA.
ANGELA and MARIE GABRIELLE, all surnamed SAENZ, minors, represented
by their parents ROBERTO and AURORA SAENZ, KRISTINE, MARY ELLEN,
MAY, GOLDA MARTHE and DAVID IAN, all surnamed KING, minors,
represented by their parents MARIO and HAYDEE KING, DAVID, FRANCISCO
and THERESE VICTORIA, all surnamed ENDRIGA, minors, represented by
their parents BALTAZAR and TERESITA ENDRIGA, JOSE MA. and REGINA
MA., all surnamed ABAYA, minors, represented by their parents ANTONIO
and MARICA ABAYA, MARILIN, MARIO, JR. and MARIETTE, all surnamed
CARDAMA, minors, represented by their parents MARIO and LINA
CARDAMA, CLARISSA, ANN MARIE, NAGEL, and IMEE LYN, all surnamed
OPOSA, minors and represented by their parents RICARDO and MARISSA
OPOSA, PHILIP JOSEPH, STEPHEN JOHN and ISAIAH JAMES, all surnamed
QUIPIT, minors, represented by their parents JOSE MAX and VILMI QUIPIT,
BUGHAW CIELO, CRISANTO, ANNA, DANIEL and FRANCISCO, all surnamed
BIBAL, minors, represented by their parents FRANCISCO, JR. and
MILAGROS
BIBAL,
and
THE
PHILIPPINE
ECOLOGICAL
NETWORK,
INC., petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., in his capacity as the
Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and
THE HONORABLE ERIBERTO U. ROSARIO, Presiding Judge of the RTC,
Makati, Branch 66, respondents.
Oposa Law Office for petitioners.
The Solicitor General for respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:

In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of Filipinos to a balanced and
healthful ecology which the petitioners dramatically associate with the twin
concepts of "inter-generational responsibility" and "inter-generational justice."
Specifically, it touches on the issue of whether the said petitioners have a cause of
action to "prevent the misappropriation or impairment" of Philippine rainforests and
"arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life support systems and
continued rape of Mother Earth."
The controversy has its genesis in Civil Case No. 90-77 which was filed before
Branch 66 (Makati, Metro Manila) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital
Judicial Region. The principal plaintiffs therein, now the principal petitioners, are all
minors duly represented and joined by their respective parents. Impleaded as an
additional plaintiff is the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI), a domestic, nonstock and non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of, inter alia, engaging in
concerted action geared for the protection of our environment and natural
resources. The original defendant was the Honorable Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., then
Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). His
substitution in this petition by the new Secretary, the Honorable Angel C. Alcala,
was subsequently ordered upon proper motion by the petitioners. 1 The
complaint 2 was instituted as a taxpayers' class suit 3 and alleges that the plaintiffs
"are all citizens of the Republic of the Philippines, taxpayers, and entitled to the full
benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource treasure that is the country's
virgin tropical forests." The same was filed for themselves and others who are
equally concerned about the preservation of said resource but are "so numerous
that it is impracticable to bring them all before the Court." The minors further
asseverate that they "represent their generation as well as generations yet
unborn." 4 Consequently, it is prayed for that judgment be rendered:
. . . ordering defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons
acting in his behalf to
(1) Cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country;
(2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or
approving new timber license agreements.
and granting the plaintiffs ". . . such other reliefs just and equitable under the
premises." 5
The complaint starts off with the general averments that the Philippine archipelago
of 7,100 islands has a land area of thirty million (30,000,000) hectares and is
endowed with rich, lush and verdant rainforests in which varied, rare and unique
species of flora and fauna may be found; these rainforests contain a genetic,
biological and chemical pool which is irreplaceable; they are also the habitat of
indigenous Philippine cultures which have existed, endured and flourished since
time immemorial; scientific evidence reveals that in order to maintain a balanced
and healthful ecology, the country's land area should be utilized on the basis of a
ratio of fifty-four per cent (54%) for forest cover and forty-six per cent (46%) for
agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and other uses; the distortion and
disturbance of this balance as a consequence of deforestation have resulted in a

host of environmental tragedies, such as (a) water shortages resulting from drying
up of the water table, otherwise known as the "aquifer," as well as of rivers, brooks
and streams, (b) salinization of the water table as a result of the intrusion therein of
salt water, incontrovertible examples of which may be found in the island of Cebu
and the Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite, (c) massive erosion and the consequential
loss of soil fertility and agricultural productivity, with the volume of soil eroded
estimated at one billion (1,000,000,000) cubic meters per annum approximately
the size of the entire island of Catanduanes, (d) the endangering and extinction of
the country's unique, rare and varied flora and fauna, (e) the disturbance and
dislocation of cultural communities, including the disappearance of the Filipino's
indigenous cultures, (f) the siltation of rivers and seabeds and consequential
destruction of corals and other aquatic life leading to a critical reduction in marine
resource productivity, (g) recurrent spells of drought as is presently experienced by
the entire country, (h) increasing velocity of typhoon winds which result from the
absence of windbreakers, (i) the floodings of lowlands and agricultural plains arising
from the absence of the absorbent mechanism of forests, (j) the siltation and
shortening of the lifespan of multi-billion peso dams constructed and operated for
the purpose of supplying water for domestic uses, irrigation and the generation of
electric power, and (k) the reduction of the earth's capacity to process carbon
dioxide gases which has led to perplexing and catastrophic climatic changes such as
the phenomenon of global warming, otherwise known as the "greenhouse effect."
Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and detrimental consequences of continued
and deforestation are so capable of unquestionable demonstration that the same
may be submitted as a matter of judicial notice. This notwithstanding, they
expressed their intention to present expert witnesses as well as documentary,
photographic and film evidence in the course of the trial.
As their cause of action, they specifically allege that:
CAUSE OF ACTION
7. Plaintiffs replead by reference the foregoing allegations.
8. Twenty-five (25) years ago, the Philippines had some sixteen (16)
million hectares of rainforests constituting roughly 53% of the
country's land mass.
9. Satellite images taken in 1987 reveal that there remained no more
than 1.2 million hectares of said rainforests or four per cent (4.0%) of
the country's land area.
10. More recent surveys reveal that a mere 850,000 hectares of virgin
old-growth rainforests are left, barely 2.8% of the entire land mass of
the Philippine archipelago and about 3.0 million hectares of immature
and uneconomical secondary growth forests.
11. Public records reveal that the defendant's, predecessors have
granted timber license agreements ('TLA's') to various corporations to

cut the aggregate area of 3.89 million hectares for commercial logging
purposes.
A copy of the TLA holders and the corresponding areas covered is
hereto attached as Annex "A".
12. At the present rate of deforestation, i.e. about 200,000 hectares
per annum or 25 hectares per hour nighttime, Saturdays, Sundays
and holidays included the Philippines will be bereft of forest
resources after the end of this ensuing decade, if not earlier.
13. The adverse effects, disastrous consequences, serious injury and
irreparable damage of this continued trend of deforestation to the
plaintiff minor's generation and to generations yet unborn are evident
and incontrovertible. As a matter of fact, the environmental damages
enumerated in paragraph 6 hereof are already being felt, experienced
and suffered by the generation of plaintiff adults.
14. The continued allowance by defendant of TLA holders to cut and
deforest the remaining forest stands will work great damage and
irreparable injury to plaintiffs especially plaintiff minors and their
successors who may never see, use, benefit from and enjoy this rare
and unique natural resource treasure.
This act of defendant constitutes a misappropriation and/or impairment
of the natural resource property he holds in trust for the benefit of
plaintiff minors and succeeding generations.
15. Plaintiffs have a clear and constitutional right to a balanced and
healthful ecology and are entitled to protection by the State in its
capacity as the parens patriae.
16. Plaintiff have exhausted all administrative remedies with the
defendant's office. On March 2, 1990, plaintiffs served upon defendant
a final demand to cancel all logging permits in the country.
A copy of the plaintiffs' letter dated March 1, 1990 is hereto attached
as Annex "B".
17. Defendant, however, fails and refuses to cancel the existing TLA's
to the continuing serious damage and extreme prejudice of plaintiffs.
18. The continued failure and refusal by defendant to cancel the TLA's
is an act violative of the rights of plaintiffs, especially plaintiff minors
who may be left with a country that is desertified (sic), bare, barren
and devoid of the wonderful flora, fauna and indigenous cultures which
the Philippines had been abundantly blessed with.

19. Defendant's refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is


manifestly contrary to the public policy enunciated in the Philippine
Environmental Policy which, in pertinent part, states that it is the policy
of the State
(a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which
man and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with
each other;
(b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and
future generations of Filipinos and;
(c) to ensure the attainment of an environmental quality that is
conductive to a life of dignity and well-being. (P.D. 1151, 6 June 1977)
20. Furthermore, defendant's continued refusal to cancel the
aforementioned TLA's is contradictory to the Constitutional policy of
the State to
a. effect "a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income and
wealth" and "make full and efficient use of natural resources (sic)."
(Section 1, Article XII of the Constitution);
b. "protect the nation's marine wealth." (Section 2, ibid);
c. "conserve and promote the nation's cultural heritage and resources
(sic)" (Section 14, Article XIV,id.);
d. "protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and
healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature."
(Section 16, Article II, id.)
21. Finally, defendant's act is contrary to the highest law of humankind
the natural law and violative of plaintiffs' right to self-preservation
and perpetuation.
22. There is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in law other
than the instant action to arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the
country's vital life support systems and continued rape of Mother
Earth. 6
On 22 June 1990, the original defendant, Secretary Factoran, Jr., filed a Motion to
Dismiss the complaint based on two (2) grounds, namely: (1) the plaintiffs have no
cause of action against him and (2) the issue raised by the plaintiffs is a political
question which properly pertains to the legislative or executive branches of
Government. In their 12 July 1990 Opposition to the Motion, the petitioners maintain
that (1) the complaint shows a clear and unmistakable cause of action, (2) the
motion is dilatory and (3) the action presents a justiciable question as it involves the
defendant's abuse of discretion.

On 18 July 1991, respondent Judge issued an order granting the aforementioned


motion to dismiss. 7 In the said order, not only was the defendant's claim that the
complaint states no cause of action against him and that it raises a political
question sustained, the respondent Judge further ruled that the granting of the
relief prayed for would result in the impairment of contracts which is prohibited by
the fundamental law of the land.
Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the
Revised Rules of Court and ask this Court to rescind and set aside the dismissal
order on the ground that the respondent Judge gravely abused his discretion in
dismissing the action. Again, the parents of the plaintiffs-minors not only represent
their children, but have also joined the latter in this case. 8
On 14 May 1992, We resolved to give due course to the petition and required the
parties to submit their respective Memoranda after the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG) filed a Comment in behalf of the respondents and the petitioners
filed a reply thereto.
Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly and unmistakably states a cause of
action as it contains sufficient allegations concerning their right to a sound
environment based on Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code (Human Relations),
Section 4 of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 192 creating the DENR, Section 3 of
Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy), Section 16,
Article II of the 1987 Constitution recognizing the right of the people to a balanced
and healthful ecology, the concept of generational genocide in Criminal Law and the
concept of man's inalienable right to self-preservation and self-perpetuation
embodied in natural law. Petitioners likewise rely on the respondent's correlative
obligation per Section 4 of E.O. No. 192, to safeguard the people's right to a
healthful environment.
It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent Secretary's alleged grave
abuse of discretion in granting Timber License Agreements (TLAs) to cover more
areas for logging than what is available involves a judicial question.
Anent the invocation by the respondent Judge of the Constitution's non-impairment
clause, petitioners maintain that the same does not apply in this case because TLAs
are not contracts. They likewise submit that even if TLAs may be considered
protected by the said clause, it is well settled that they may still be revoked by the
State when the public interest so requires.
On the other hand, the respondents aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their
complaint a specific legal right violated by the respondent Secretary for which any
relief is provided by law. They see nothing in the complaint but vague and nebulous
allegations concerning an "environmental right" which supposedly entitles the
petitioners to the "protection by the state in its capacity as parens patriae." Such
allegations, according to them, do not reveal a valid cause of action. They then
reiterate the theory that the question of whether logging should be permitted in the
country is a political question which should be properly addressed to the executive
or legislative branches of Government. They therefore assert that the petitioners'

resources is not to file an action to court, but to lobby before Congress for the
passage of a bill that would ban logging totally.
As to the matter of the cancellation of the TLAs, respondents submit that the same
cannot be done by the State without due process of law. Once issued, a TLA remains
effective for a certain period of time usually for twenty-five (25) years. During its
effectivity, the same can neither be revised nor cancelled unless the holder has
been found, after due notice and hearing, to have violated the terms of the
agreement or other forestry laws and regulations. Petitioners' proposition to have all
the TLAs indiscriminately cancelled without the requisite hearing would be violative
of the requirements of due process.
Before going any further, We must first focus on some procedural matters.
Petitioners instituted Civil Case No. 90-777 as a class suit. The original defendant
and the present respondents did not take issue with this matter. Nevertheless, We
hereby rule that the said civil case is indeed a class suit. The subject matter of the
complaint is of common and general interest not just to several, but to all citizens of
the Philippines. Consequently, since the parties are so numerous, it, becomes
impracticable, if not totally impossible, to bring all of them before the court. We
likewise declare that the plaintiffs therein are numerous and representative enough
to ensure the full protection of all concerned interests. Hence, all the requisites for
the filing of a valid class suit under Section 12, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court
are present both in the said civil case and in the instant petition, the latter being but
an incident to the former.
This case, however, has a special and novel element. Petitioners minors assert that
they represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn. We find no
difficulty in ruling that they can, for themselves, for others of their generation and
for the succeeding generations, file a class suit. Their personality to sue in behalf of
the succeeding generations can only be based on the concept of intergenerational
responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned.
Such
a
right,
as
hereinafter
expounded,
considers
the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature means the created world in its
entirety. 9 Such rhythm and harmony indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious
disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the country's
forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural
resources to the end that their exploration, development and utilization be equitably
accessible to the present as well as future generations. 10 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 question and a meticulous consideration
and evaluation of the issues raised and arguments adduced by the parties, We do
not hesitate to find for the petitioners and rule against the respondent Judge's

challenged order for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack of jurisdiction. The pertinent portions of the said order reads as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
After a careful and circumspect evaluation of the Complaint, the Court
cannot help but agree with the defendant. For although we believe that
plaintiffs have but the noblest of all intentions, it (sic) fell short of
alleging, with sufficient definiteness, a specific legal right they are
seeking to enforce and protect, or a specific legal wrong they are
seeking to prevent and redress (Sec. 1, Rule 2, RRC). Furthermore, the
Court notes that the Complaint is replete with vague assumptions and
vague conclusions based on unverified data. In fine, plaintiffs fail to
state a cause of action in its Complaint against the herein defendant.
Furthermore, the Court firmly believes that the matter before it, being
impressed with political color and involving a matter of public policy,
may not be taken cognizance of by this Court without doing violence to
the sacred principle of "Separation of Powers" of the three (3) co-equal
branches of the Government.
The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how
we stretch our jurisdiction, grant the reliefs prayed for by the
plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the
country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing,
renewing or approving new timber license agreements. For to do
otherwise would amount to "impairment of contracts" abhored (sic) by
the fundamental law. 11
We do not agree with the trial court's conclusions that the plaintiffs failed to allege
with sufficient definiteness a specific legal right involved or a specific legal wrong
committed, and that the complaint is replete with vague assumptions and
conclusions based on unverified data. A reading of the complaint itself belies these
conclusions.
The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right the right to a
balanced and healthful ecology which, for the first time in our nation's constitutional
history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law. Section 16, Article II of the
1987 Constitution explicitly provides:
Sec. 16. The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to
a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and
harmony of nature.
This right unites with the right to health which is provided for in the
preceding section of the same article:
Sec. 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the
people and instill health consciousness among them.

While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the
Declaration of Principles and State Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does
not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and political rights
enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of rights
altogether for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation
aptly and fittingly stressed by the petitioners the advancement of which may
even be said to predate all governments and constitutions. As a matter of fact,
these basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for they are assumed
to exist from the inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the
fundamental charter, it is because of the well-founded fear of its framers that unless
the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health are mandated as state
policies by the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting their continuing importance
and imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to preserve the first and protect
and advance the second, the day would not be too far when all else would be lost
not only for the present generation, but also for those to come generations which
stand to inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of sustaining life.
The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to
refrain from impairing the environment. During the debates on this right in one of
the plenary sessions of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, the following exchange
transpired between Commissioner Wilfrido Villacorta and Commissioner Adolfo
Azcuna who sponsored the section in question:
MR. VILLACORTA:
Does this section mandate the State to provide sanctions
against all forms of pollution air, water and noise
pollution?
MR. AZCUNA:
Yes, Madam President.
environment necessarily
duty of not impairing the
may be provided for
balance. 12

The right to healthful (sic)


carries with it the correlative
same and, therefore, sanctions
impairment of environmental

The said right implies, among many other things, the judicious management and
conservation of the country's forests.
Without such forests, the ecological or environmental balance would be
irreversiby disrupted.
Conformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and healthful ecology and the
right to health, as well as the other related provisions of the Constitution concerning
the conservation, development and utilization of the country's natural
resources, 13 then President Corazon C. Aquino promulgated on 10 June 1987 E.O.
No. 192, 14 Section 4 of which expressly mandates that the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources "shall be the primary government agency

responsible for the conservation, management, development and proper use of the
country's environment and natural resources, specifically forest and grazing lands,
mineral, resources, including those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of
the public domain, as well as the licensing and regulation of all natural resources as
may be provided for by law in order to ensure equitable sharing of the benefits
derived therefrom for the welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos."
Section 3 thereof makes the following statement of policy:
Sec. 3. Declaration of Policy. It is hereby declared the policy of the
State to ensure the sustainable use, development, management,
renewal, and conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, offshore areas and other natural resources, including the protection and
enhancement of the quality of the environment, and equitable access
of the different segments of the population to the development and the
use of the country's natural resources, not only for the present
generation but for future generations as well. It is also the policy of the
state to recognize and apply a true value system including social and
environmental cost implications relative to their utilization,
development and conservation of our natural resources.
This policy declaration is substantially re-stated it Title XIV, Book IV of the
Administrative Code of 1987, 15specifically in Section 1 thereof which reads:
Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. (1) The State shall ensure, for the
benefit of the Filipino people, the full exploration and development as
well as the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and
conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries,
wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural resources, consistent with
the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting
and enhancing the quality of the environment and the objective of
making the exploration, development and utilization of such natural
resources equitably accessible to the different segments of the present
as well as future generations.
(2) The State shall likewise recognize and apply a true value system
that takes into account social and environmental cost implications
relative to the utilization, development and conservation of our natural
resources.
The above provision stresses "the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological
balance and protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment." Section 2 of
the same Title, on the other hand, specifically speaks of the mandate of the DENR;
however, it makes particular reference to the fact of the agency's being subject to
law and higher authority. Said section provides:
Sec. 2. Mandate. (1) The Department of Environment and Natural
Resources shall be primarily responsible for the implementation of the
foregoing policy.

(2) It shall, subject to law and higher authority, be in charge of carrying


out the State's constitutional mandate to control and supervise the
exploration, development, utilization, and conservation of the country's
natural resources.
Both E.O. NO. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 have set the objectives
which will serve as the bases for policy formulation, and have defined the powers
and functions of the DENR.
It may, however, be recalled that even before the ratification of the 1987
Constitution, specific statutes already paid special attention to the "environmental
right" of the present and future generations. On 6 June 1977, P.D. No. 1151
(Philippine Environmental Policy) and P.D. No. 1152 (Philippine Environment Code)
were issued. The former "declared a continuing policy of the State (a) to create,
develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in
productive and enjoyable harmony with each other, (b) to fulfill the social, economic
and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos, and (c) to
insure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conducive to a life of
dignity and well-being." 16 As its goal, it speaks of the "responsibilities of each
generation as trustee and guardian of the environment for succeeding
generations." 17 The latter statute, on the other hand, gave flesh to the said policy.
Thus, the right of the petitioners (and all those they represent) to a balanced and
healthful ecology is as clear as the DENR's duty under its mandate and by virtue
of its powers and functions under E.O. No. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987
to protect and advance the said right.
A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the corelative duty or
obligation to respect or protect the same gives rise to a cause of action. Petitioners
maintain that the granting of the TLAs, which they claim was done with grave abuse
of discretion, violated their right to a balanced and healthful ecology; hence, the full
protection thereof requires that no further TLAs should be renewed or granted.
A cause of action is defined as:
. . . an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal right or
rights of the other; and its essential elements are legal right of the
plaintiff, correlative obligation of the defendant, and act or omission of
the defendant in violation of said legal right. 18
It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss based on the ground that
the complaint fails to state a cause of action, 19 the question submitted to the court
for resolution involves the sufficiency of the facts alleged in the complaint itself. No
other matter should be considered; furthermore, the truth of falsity of the said
allegations is beside the point for the truth thereof is deemed hypothetically
admitted. The only issue to be resolved in such a case is: admitting such alleged
facts to be true, may the court render a valid judgment in accordance with the
prayer in the complaint? 20 InMilitante vs. Edrosolano, 21 this Court laid down the
rule that the judiciary should "exercise the utmost care and circumspection in

passing upon a motion to dismiss on the ground of the absence thereof [cause of
action] lest, by its failure to manifest a correct appreciation of the facts alleged and
deemed hypothetically admitted, what the law grants or recognizes is effectively
nullified. If that happens, there is a blot on the legal order. The law itself stands in
disrepute."
After careful examination of the petitioners' complaint, We find the statements
under the introductory affirmative allegations, as well as the specific averments
under the sub-heading CAUSE OF ACTION, to be adequate enough to show, prima
facie, the claimed violation of their rights. On the basis thereof, they may thus be
granted, wholly or partly, the reliefs prayed for. It bears stressing, however, that
insofar as the cancellation of the TLAs is concerned, there is the need to implead, as
party defendants, the grantees thereof for they are indispensable parties.
The foregoing considered, Civil Case No. 90-777 be said to raise a political question.
Policy formulation or determination by the executive or legislative branches of
Government is not squarely put in issue. What is principally involved is the
enforcement of a right vis-a-vis policies already formulated and expressed in
legislation. It must, nonetheless, be emphasized that the political question doctrine
is no longer, the insurmountable obstacle to the exercise of judicial power or the
impenetrable shield that protects executive and legislative actions from judicial
inquiry or review. The second paragraph of section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution
states that:
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and
enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the
part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.
Commenting on this provision in his book, Philippine Political Law,
Isagani A. Cruz, a distinguished member of this Court, says:

22

Mr. Justice

The first part of the authority represents the traditional concept of


judicial power, involving the settlement of conflicting rights as
conferred as law. The second part of the authority represents a
broadening of judicial power to enable the courts of justice to review
what was before forbidden territory, to wit, the discretion of the
political departments of the government.
As worded, the new provision vests in the judiciary, and particularly the
Supreme Court, the power to rule upon even the wisdom of the
decisions of the executive and the legislature and to declare their acts
invalid for lack or excess of jurisdiction because tainted with grave
abuse of discretion. The catch, of course, is the meaning of "grave
abuse of discretion," which is a very elastic phrase that can expand or
contract according to the disposition of the judiciary.
In Daza vs. Singson,

23

Mr. Justice Cruz, now speaking for this Court, noted:

In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection becomes even
less tenable and decisive. The reason is that, even if we were to
assume that the issue presented before us was political in nature, we
would still not be precluded from revolving it under the expanded
jurisdiction conferred upon us that now covers, in proper cases, even
the political question. Article VII, Section 1, of the Constitution clearly
provides: . . .
The last ground invoked by the trial court in dismissing the complaint is the nonimpairment of contracts clause found in the Constitution. The court a quo declared
that:
The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how
we stretch our jurisdiction, grant the reliefs prayed for by the
plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the
country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing,
renewing or approving new timber license agreements. For to do
otherwise would amount to "impairment of contracts" abhored (sic) by
the fundamental law. 24
We are not persuaded at all; on the contrary, We are amazed, if not shocked, by
such a sweeping pronouncement. In the first place, the respondent Secretary did
not, for obvious reasons, even invoke in his motion to dismiss the non-impairment
clause. If he had done so, he would have acted with utmost infidelity to the
Government by providing undue and unwarranted benefits and advantages to the
timber license holders because he would have forever bound the Government to
strictly respect the said licenses according to their terms and conditions regardless
of changes in policy and the demands of public interest and welfare. He was aware
that as correctly pointed out by the petitioners, into every timber license must be
read Section 20 of the Forestry Reform Code (P.D. No. 705) which provides:
. . . Provided, That when the national interest so requires, the President
may amend, modify, replace or rescind any contract, concession,
permit, licenses or any other form of privilege granted herein . . .
Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive
action. It is not a contract, property or a property right protested by the due
process clause of the Constitution. In Tan vs. Director of Forestry, 25 this Court
held:
. . . A timber license is an instrument by which the State regulates the
utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public
welfare is promoted. A timber license is not a contract within the
purview of the due process clause; it is only a license or privilege,
which can be validly withdrawn whenever dictated by public interest or
public welfare as in this case.
A license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be
unlawful, and is not a contract between the authority, federal, state, or

municipal, granting it and the person to whom it is granted; neither is


it property or a property right, nor does it create a vested right; nor is it
taxation (37 C.J. 168). Thus, this Court held that the granting of license
does not create irrevocable rights, neither is it property or property
rights (People vs. Ong Tin, 54 O.G. 7576).
We reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe Ysmael, Jr. & Co., Inc. vs. Deputy
Executive Secretary: 26
. . . Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal
instruments by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition
of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. And it
can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted
by the State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a
permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession area and
the forest products therein. They may be validly amended, modified,
replaced or rescinded by the Chief Executive when national interests so
require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the
due process of law clause [See Sections 3(ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree
No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry, G.R. No. L24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302].
Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which reads:
Sec. 10. No law impairing, the obligation of contracts shall be
passed. 27
cannot be invoked.
In the second place, even if it is to be assumed that the same are contracts, the
instant case does not involve a law or even an executive issuance declaring the
cancellation or modification of existing timber licenses. Hence, the non-impairment
clause cannot as yet be invoked. Nevertheless, granting further that a law has
actually been passed mandating cancellations or modifications, the same cannot
still be stigmatized as a violation of the non-impairment clause. This is because by
its very nature and purpose, such as law could have only been passed in the
exercise of the police power of the state for the purpose of advancing the right of
the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, promoting their health and
enhancing
the
general
welfare.
In Abe
vs.
Foster
Wheeler
28
Corp. this Court stated:
The freedom of contract, under our system of government, is not
meant to be absolute. The same is understood to be subject to
reasonable legislative regulation aimed at the promotion of public
health, moral, safety and welfare. In other words, the constitutional
guaranty of non-impairment of obligations of contract is limited by the
exercise of the police power of the State, in the interest of public
health, safety, moral and general welfare.

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

29

quoted

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

31

Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court did, how the non-impairment
clause could apply with respect to the prayer to enjoin the respondent Secretary
from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber licenses
for, save in cases of renewal, no contract would have as of yet existed in the other
instances. Moreover, with respect to renewal, the holder is not entitled to it as a
matter of right.
WHEREFORE, being impressed with merit, the instant Petition is hereby GRANTED,
and the challenged Order of respondent Judge of 18 July 1991 dismissing Civil Case
No. 90-777 is hereby set aside. The petitioners may therefore amend their
complaint to implead as defendants the holders or grantees of the questioned
timber license agreements.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Cruz, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and
Quiason, JJ., concur.
Narvasa, C.J., Puno and Vitug, JJ., took no part.

Separate Opinions

FELICIANO, J., concurring

I join in the result reached by my distinguished brother in the Court, Davide, Jr., J., in
this case which, to my mind, is one of the most important cases decided by this
Court in the last few years. The seminal principles laid down in this decision are
likely to influence profoundly the direction and course of the protection and
management of the environment, which of course embraces the utilization of all the
natural resources in the territorial base of our polity. I have therefore sought to
clarify, basically to myself, what the Court appears to be saying.
The Court explicitly states that petitioners have the locus standi necessary to
sustain the bringing and, maintenance of this suit (Decision, pp. 11-12). Locus
standi is not a function of petitioners' claim that their suit is properly regarded as
a class suit. I understand locus standi to refer to the legal interest which a plaintiff
must have in the subject matter of the suit. Because of the very broadness of the
concept of "class" here involved membership in this "class" appears to
embrace everyone living
in
the
country
whether
now
or
in
the
future it appears to me that everyone who may be expected to benefit from the
course of action petitioners seek to require public respondents to take, is vested
with the necessary locus standi. The Court may be seen therefore to be recognizing
a beneficiaries' right of action in the field of environmental protection, as against
both the public administrative agency directly concerned and the private persons or
entities operating in the field or sector of activity involved. Whether such
beneficiaries' right of action may be found under any and all circumstances, or
whether some failure to act, in the first instance, on the part of the governmental
agency concerned must be shown ("prior exhaustion of administrative remedies"),
is not discussed in the decision and presumably is left for future determination in an
appropriate case.
The Court has also declared that the complaint has alleged and focused upon "one
specific fundamental legal right the right to a balanced and healthful ecology"
(Decision, p. 14). There is no question that "the right to a balanced and healthful
ecology" is "fundamental" and that, accordingly, it has been "constitutionalized."
But although it is fundamental in character, I suggest, with very great respect, that
it cannot be characterized as "specific," without doing excessive violence to
language. It is in fact very difficult to fashion language more comprehensive in
scope and generalized in character than a right to "a balanced and healthful
ecology." The list of particular claims which can be subsumed under this rubic
appears to be entirely open-ended: prevention and control of emission of toxic
fumes and smoke from factories and motor vehicles; of discharge of oil, chemical
effluents, garbage and raw sewage into rivers, inland and coastal waters by vessels,
oil rigs, factories, mines and whole communities; of dumping of organic and
inorganic wastes on open land, streets and thoroughfares; failure to rehabilitate
land after strip-mining or open-pit mining; kaingin or slash-and-burn farming;
destruction of fisheries, coral reefs and other living sea resources through the use of
dynamite or cyanide and other chemicals; contamination of ground water resources;
loss of certain species of fauna and flora; and so on. The other statements pointed
out by the Court: Section 3, Executive Order No. 192 dated 10 June 1987; Section 1,
Title XIV, Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code; and P.D. No. 1151, dated 6 June
1977 all appear to be formulations of policy, as general and abstract as the
constitutional statements of basic policy in Article II, Section 16 ("the right to a
balanced and healthful ecology") and 15 ("the right to health").

P.D. No. 1152, also dated 6 June 1977, entitled "The Philippine Environment Code,"
is, upon the other hand, a compendious collection of more "specific environment
management policies" and "environment quality standards" (fourth "Whereas"
clause, Preamble) relating to an extremely wide range of topics:
(a) air quality management;
(b) water quality management;
(c) land use management;
(d) natural resources management and conservation embracing:
(i) fisheries and aquatic resources;
(ii) wild life;
(iii) forestry and soil conservation;
(iv) flood control and natural calamities;
(v) energy development;
(vi) conservation and utilization of surface and ground water
(vii) mineral resources
Two (2) points are worth making in this connection. Firstly, neither petitioners nor
the Court has identified the particular provision or provisions (if any) of the
Philippine Environment Code which give rise to a specific legal right which
petitioners are seeking to enforce. Secondly, the Philippine Environment Code
identifies with notable care the particular government agency charged with the
formulation and implementation of guidelines and programs dealing with each of
the headings and sub-headings mentioned above. The Philippine Environment Code
does not, in other words, appear to contemplate action on the part of private
persons who are beneficiaries of implementation of that Code.
As a matter of logic, by finding petitioners' cause of action as anchored on a legal
right comprised in the constitutional statements above noted, the Court is in effect
saying that Section 15 (and Section 16) of Article II of the Constitution are selfexecuting and judicially enforceable even in their present form. The implications of
this doctrine will have to be explored in future cases; those implications are too
large and far-reaching in nature even to be hinted at here.
My suggestion is simply that petitioners must, before the trial court, show a more
specific legal right a right cast in language of a significantly lower order of
generality than Article II (15) of the Constitution that is or may be violated by the
actions, or failures to act, imputed to the public respondent by petitioners so that
the trial court can validly render judgment granting all or part of the relief prayed

for. To my mind, the Court should be understood as simply saying that such a more
specific legal right or rights may well exist in our corpus of law, considering the
general policy principles found in the Constitution and the existence of the
Philippine Environment Code, and that the trial court should have given petitioners
an effective opportunity so to demonstrate, instead of aborting the proceedings on
a motion to dismiss.
It seems to me important that the legal right which is an essential component of a
cause of action be a specific, operable legal right, rather than a constitutional or
statutory policy, for at least two (2) reasons. One is that unless the legal right
claimed to have been violated or disregarded is given specification in operational
terms, defendants may well be unable to defend themselves intelligently and
effectively; in other words, there are due process dimensions to this matter.
The second is a broader-gauge consideration where a specific violation of law or
applicable regulation is not alleged or proved, petitioners can be expected to fall
back on the expanded conception of judicial power in the second paragraph of
Section 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution which reads:
Section 1. . . .
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and
enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been agrave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the
part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. (Emphasis
supplied)
When substantive standards as general as "the right to a balanced and
healthy ecology" and "the right to health" are combined with remedial
standards as broad ranging as "a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
or excess of jurisdiction," the result will be, it is respectfully submitted, to
propel courts into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making.
At least in respect of the vast area of environmental protection and
management, our courts have no claim to special technical competence and
experience and professional qualification. Where no specific, operable norms
and standards are shown to exist, then the policy making departments the
legislative and executive departments must be given a real and effective
opportunity to fashion and promulgate those norms and standards, and to
implement them before the courts should intervene.
My learned brother Davide, Jr., J., rightly insists that the timber companies, whose
concession agreements or TLA's petitioners demand public respondents should
cancel, must be impleaded in the proceedings below. It might be asked that, if
petitioners' entitlement to the relief demanded is not dependent upon proof of
breach by the timber companies of one or more of the specific terms and conditions
of their concession agreements (and this, petitioners implicitly assume), what will
those companies litigate about? The answer I suggest is that they may seek to
dispute the existence of the specific legal right petitioners should allege, as well as
the reality of the claimed factual nexus between petitioners' specific legal rights and

the claimed wrongful acts or failures to act of public respondent administrative


agency. They may also controvert the appropriateness of the remedy or remedies
demanded by petitioners, under all the circumstances which exist.
I vote to grant the Petition for Certiorari because the protection of the environment,
including the forest cover of our territory, is of extreme importance for the country.
The doctrines set out in the Court's decision issued today should, however, be
subjected to closer examination.

# Separate Opinions
FELICIANO, J., concurring
I join in the result reached by my distinguished brother in the Court, Davide, Jr., J., in
this case which, to my mind, is one of the most important cases decided by this
Court in the last few years. The seminal principles laid down in this decision are
likely to influence profoundly the direction and course of the protection and
management of the environment, which of course embraces the utilization of all the
natural resources in the territorial base of our polity. I have therefore sought to
clarify, basically to myself, what the Court appears to be saying.
The Court explicitly states that petitioners have the locus standi necessary to
sustain the bringing and, maintenance of this suit (Decision, pp. 11-12). Locus
standi is not a function of petitioners' claim that their suit is properly regarded as
a class suit. I understand locus standi to refer to the legal interest which a plaintiff
must have in the subject matter of the suit. Because of the very broadness of the
concept of "class" here involved membership in this "class" appears to
embrace everyone living
in
the
country
whether
now
or
in
the
future it appears to me that everyone who may be expected to benefit from the
course of action petitioners seek to require public respondents to take, is vested
with the necessary locus standi. The Court may be seen therefore to be recognizing
a beneficiaries' right of action in the field of environmental protection, as against
both the public administrative agency directly concerned and the private persons or
entities operating in the field or sector of activity involved. Whether such
beneficiaries' right of action may be found under any and all circumstances, or
whether some failure to act, in the first instance, on the part of the governmental
agency concerned must be shown ("prior exhaustion of administrative remedies"),
is not discussed in the decision and presumably is left for future determination in an
appropriate case.
The Court has also declared that the complaint has alleged and focused upon "one
specific fundamental legal right the right to a balanced and healthful ecology"
(Decision, p. 14). There is no question that "the right to a balanced and healthful
ecology" is "fundamental" and that, accordingly, it has been "constitutionalized."
But although it is fundamental in character, I suggest, with very great respect, that

it cannot be characterized as "specific," without doing excessive violence to


language. It is in fact very difficult to fashion language more comprehensive in
scope and generalized in character than a right to "a balanced and healthful
ecology." The list of particular claims which can be subsumed under this rubic
appears to be entirely open-ended: prevention and control of emission of toxic
fumes and smoke from factories and motor vehicles; of discharge of oil, chemical
effluents, garbage and raw sewage into rivers, inland and coastal waters by vessels,
oil rigs, factories, mines and whole communities; of dumping of organic and
inorganic wastes on open land, streets and thoroughfares; failure to rehabilitate
land after strip-mining or open-pit mining; kaingin or slash-and-burn farming;
destruction of fisheries, coral reefs and other living sea resources through the use of
dynamite or cyanide and other chemicals; contamination of ground water resources;
loss of certain species of fauna and flora; and so on. The other statements pointed
out by the Court: Section 3, Executive Order No. 192 dated 10 June 1987; Section 1,
Title XIV, Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code; and P.D. No. 1151, dated 6 June
1977 all appear to be formulations of policy, as general and abstract as the
constitutional statements of basic policy in Article II, Section 16 ("the right to a
balanced and healthful ecology") and 15 ("the right to health").
P.D. No. 1152, also dated 6 June 1977, entitled "The Philippine Environment Code,"
is, upon the other hand, a compendious collection of more "specific environment
management policies" and "environment quality standards" (fourth "Whereas"
clause, Preamble) relating to an extremely wide range of topics:
(a) air quality management;
(b) water quality management;
(c) land use management;
(d) natural resources management and conservation embracing:
(i) fisheries and aquatic resources;
(ii) wild life;
(iii) forestry and soil conservation;
(iv) flood control and natural calamities;
(v) energy development;
(vi) conservation and utilization of surface and ground water
(vii) mineral resources
Two (2) points are worth making in this connection. Firstly, neither petitioners nor
the Court has identified the particular provision or provisions (if any) of the
Philippine Environment Code which give rise to a specific legal right which

petitioners are seeking to enforce. Secondly, the Philippine Environment Code


identifies with notable care the particular government agency charged with the
formulation and implementation of guidelines and programs dealing with each of
the headings and sub-headings mentioned above. The Philippine Environment Code
does not, in other words, appear to contemplate action on the part of private
persons who are beneficiaries of implementation of that Code.
As a matter of logic, by finding petitioners' cause of action as anchored on a legal
right comprised in the constitutional statements above noted, the Court is in effect
saying that Section 15 (and Section 16) of Article II of the Constitution are selfexecuting and judicially enforceable even in their present form. The implications of
this doctrine will have to be explored in future cases; those implications are too
large and far-reaching in nature even to be hinted at here.
My suggestion is simply that petitioners must, before the trial court, show a more
specific legal right a right cast in language of a significantly lower order of
generality than Article II (15) of the Constitution that is or may be violated by the
actions, or failures to act, imputed to the public respondent by petitioners so that
the trial court can validly render judgment granting all or part of the relief prayed
for. To my mind, the Court should be understood as simply saying that such a more
specific legal right or rights may well exist in our corpus of law, considering the
general policy principles found in the Constitution and the existence of the
Philippine Environment Code, and that the trial court should have given petitioners
an effective opportunity so to demonstrate, instead of aborting the proceedings on
a motion to dismiss.
It seems to me important that the legal right which is an essential component of a
cause of action be a specific, operable legal right, rather than a constitutional or
statutory policy, for at least two (2) reasons. One is that unless the legal right
claimed to have been violated or disregarded is given specification in operational
terms, defendants may well be unable to defend themselves intelligently and
effectively; in other words, there are due process dimensions to this matter.
The second is a broader-gauge consideration where a specific violation of law or
applicable regulation is not alleged or proved, petitioners can be expected to fall
back on the expanded conception of judicial power in the second paragraph of
Section 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution which reads:
Section 1. . . .
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and
enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been agrave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the
part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. (Emphasis
supplied)
When substantive standards as general as "the right to a balanced and
healthy ecology" and "the right to health" are combined with remedial

standards as broad ranging as "a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack


or excess of jurisdiction," the result will be, it is respectfully submitted, to
propel courts into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making.
At least in respect of the vast area of environmental protection and
management, our courts have no claim to special technical competence and
experience and professional qualification. Where no specific, operable norms
and standards are shown to exist, then the policy making departments the
legislative and executive departments must be given a real and effective
opportunity to fashion and promulgate those norms and standards, and to
implement them before the courts should intervene.
My learned brother Davide, Jr., J., rightly insists that the timber companies, whose
concession agreements or TLA's petitioners demand public respondents should
cancel, must be impleaded in the proceedings below. It might be asked that, if
petitioners' entitlement to the relief demanded is not dependent upon proof of
breach by the timber companies of one or more of the specific terms and conditions
of their concession agreements (and this, petitioners implicitly assume), what will
those companies litigate about? The answer I suggest is that they may seek to
dispute the existence of the specific legal right petitioners should allege, as well as
the reality of the claimed factual nexus between petitioners' specific legal rights and
the claimed wrongful acts or failures to act of public respondent administrative
agency. They may also controvert the appropriateness of the remedy or remedies
demanded by petitioners, under all the circumstances which exist.
I vote to grant the Petition for Certiorari because the protection of the environment,
including the forest cover of our territory, is of extreme importance for the country.
The doctrines set out in the Court's decision issued today should, however, be
subjected to closer examination
Republic
SUPREME
Manila

of

the

Philippines
COURT

THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 79538 October 18, 1990
FELIPE
YSMAEL,
JR.
&
CO.,
INC., petitioner,
vs.
THE DEPUTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT
AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF FOREST
DEVELOPMENT
and
TWIN
PEAKS
DEVELOPMENT
AND
REALTY
CORPORATION, respondents.
Taada, Vivo & Tan for petitioner.
Antonio E. Escober and Jurado Law Office for respondent Twin Peaks Development
Corporation.

COURTS, J.:
Soon after the change of government in February 1986, petitioner sent a letter
dated March 17, 1986 to the Office of the President, and another letter dated April
2, 1986 to Minister Ernesto Maceda of the Ministry of Natural Resources [MNR],
seeking: (1) the reinstatement of its timber license agreement which was cancelled
in August 1983 during the Marcos administration; (2) the revocation of TLA No. 356
which was issued to Twin Peaks Development and Realty Corporation without public
bidding and in violation of forestry laws, rules and regulations; and, (3) the issuance
of an order allowing petitioner to take possession of all logs found in the concession
area [Annexes "6" and "7" of the Petition; Rollo, pp. 54-63].
Petitioner made the following allegations:
(a) That on October 12, 1965, it entered into a timber license agreement designated
as TLA No. 87 with the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources,
represented by then Secretary Jose Feliciano, wherein it was issued an exclusive
license to cut, collect and remove timber except prohibited species within a
specified portion of public forest land with an area of 54,920 hectares located in the
municipality of Maddela, province of Nueva Vizcaya * from October 12, 1965 until
June 30, 1990;
(b) That on August 18, 1983, the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development
[hereinafter referred to as "Bureau"], Director Edmundo Cortes, issued a
memorandum order stopping all logging operations in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino
provinces, and cancelling the logging concession of petitioner and nine other forest
concessionaires, pursuant to presidential instructions and a memorandum order of
the Minister of Natural Resources Teodoro Pena [Annex "5" of the Petition; Rollo, p.
49];
(c) that on August 25, 1983, petitioner received a telegram from the Bureau, the
contents of which were as follows:
PURSUANT TO THE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE PRESIDENT YOU ARE
REQUESTED TO STOP ALL LOGGING OPERATIONS TO CONSERVE
REMAINING FORESTS PLEASE CONDUCT THE ORDERLY PULL-OUT OF
LOGGING MACHINERIES AND EQUIPMENT AND COORDINATE WITH THE
RESPECTIVE DISTRICT FORESTERS FOR THE INVENTORY OF LOGS CUT
PRIOR TO THIS ORDER THE SUBMISSION OF A COMPLIANCE REPORT
WITHIN THIRTY DAYS SHALL BE APPRECIATED [Annex "4" of the
Petition; Rollo, p. 48];
(d) That after the cancellation of its timber license agreement, it immediately sent a
letter addressed to then President Ferdinand Marcos which sought reconsideration
of the Bureau's directive, citing in support thereof its contributions to alleging that it
was not given the forest conservation and opportunity to be heard prior to the

cancellation of its logging 531, but no operations (Annex "6" of the Petition; Rollo,
pp. 50 favorable action was taken on this letter;
(e) That barely one year thereafter, approximately one-half or 26,000 hectares of
the area formerly covered by TLA No. 87 was re-awarded to Twin Peaks
Development and Reality Corporation under TLA No. 356 which was set to expire on
July 31, 2009, while the other half was allowed to be logged by Filipinas Loggers,
Inc. without the benefit of a formal award or license; and,
(f) That the latter entities were controlled or owned by relatives or cronies of
deposed President Ferdinand Marcos. Acting on petitioner's letter, the MNR through
then Minister Ernesto Maceda issued an order dated July 22, 1986 denying
petitioner's request. The Ministry ruled that a timber license was not a contract
within the due process clause of the Constitution, but only a privilege which could
be withdrawn whenever public interest or welfare so demands, and that petitioner
was not discriminated against in view of the fact that it was among ten
concessionaires whose licenses were revoked in 1983. Moreover, emphasis was
made of the total ban of logging operations in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva
Vizcaya, Quirino and Ifugao imposed on April 2, 1986, thus:
xxx xxx xxx
It should be recalled that [petitioner's] earlier request for
reinstatement has been denied in view of the total ban of all logging
operations in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and
Ifugao which was imposed for reasons of conservation and national
security.
The Ministry imposed the ban because it realizes the great
responsibility it bear [sic] in respect to forest t considers itself the
trustee thereof. This being the case, it has to ensure the availability of
forest resources not only for the present, but also for the future
generations of Filipinos.
On the other hand, the activities of the insurgents in these parts of the
country are well documented. Their financial demands on logging
concessionaires are well known. The government, therefore, is well
within its right to deprive its enemy of sources of funds in order to
preserve itself, its established institutions and the liberty and
democratic way of life of its people.
xxx xxx xxx
[Annex "9" of the Petition, pp. 2-4; Rollo, pp. 65-67.]
Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the aforestated order reiterating, among
others. its request that TLA No. 356 issued to private respondent be declared null
and void. The MNR however denied this motion in an order dated September 15,
1986. stating in part:

xxx xxx xxx


Regarding [petitioner's] request that the award of a 26,000 hectare
portion of TLA No. 87 to Twin Peaks Realty Development Corporation
under TLA No. 356 be declared null and void, suffice it to say that the
Ministry is now in the process of reviewing all contracts, permits or
other form of privileges for the exploration, development, exploitation,
or utilization of natural resources entered into, granted, issued or
acquired before the issuance of Proclamation No. 3, otherwise known
as the Freedom Constitution for the purpose of amending, modifying or
revoking them when the national interest so requires.
xxx xxx xxx
The Ministry, through the Bureau of Forest Development, has
jurisdiction and authority over all forest lands. On the basis of this
authority, the Ministry issued the order banning all logging
operations/activities in Quirino province, among others, where
movant's former concession area is located. Therefore, the issuance of
an order disallowing any person or entity from removing cut or uncut
logs from the portion of TLA No. 87, now under TLA No. 356, would
constitute an unnecessary or superfluous act on the part of the
Ministry.
xxx xxx xxx
[Annex "11" of the Petition, pp. 3-4; Rollo, pp. 77-78.]
On November 26, 1986, petitioner's supplemental motion for reconsideration was
likewise denied. Meanwhile, per MNR Administrative Order No. 54, series of 1986,
issued on November 26, 1986, the logging ban in the province of Quirino was lifted.
Petitioner subsequently appealed from the orders of the MNR to the Office of the
President. In a resolution dated July 6, 1987, the Office of the President, acting
through then Deputy Executive Secretary Catalino Macaraig, denied petitioner's
appeal for lack of merit. The Office of the President ruled that the appeal of
petitioner was prematurely filed, the matter not having been terminated in the MNR.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied on August 14, 1987.
Hence, petitioner filed directly with this Court a petition for certiorari, with prayer
for the issuance of a restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction, on August
27, 1987. On October 13, 1987, it filed a supplement to its petition for certiorari.
Thereafter, public and private respondents submitted their respective comments,
and petitioner filed its consolidated reply thereto. In a resolution dated May 22,
1989, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition.
After a careful study of the circumstances in the case at bar, the Court finds several
factors which militate against the issuance of a writ of certiorari in favor of
petitioner.

1. Firstly, the refusal of public respondents herein to reverse final and executory
administrative orders does not constitute grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction.
It is an established doctrine in this jurisdiction that the decisions and orders of
administrative agencies have upon their finality, the force and binding effect of a
final judgment within the purview of the doctrine of res judicata. These decisions
and orders are as conclusive upon the rights of the affected parties as though the
same had been rendered by a court of general jurisdiction. The rule of res
judicata thus forbids the reopening of a matter once determined by competent
authority acting within their exclusive jurisdiction [See Brillantes v. Castro, 99 Phil.
497 (1956); Ipekdjian Merchandising Co., Inc. v. Court of Tax Appeals, G.R. No. L15430, September 30, 1963, 9 SCRA 72; San Luis v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
80160, June 26, 1989].
In the case at bar, petitioner's letters to the Office of the President and the MNR
[now the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) dated March
17, 1986 and April 2, 1986, respectively, sought the reconsideration of a
memorandum order issued by the Bureau of Forest Development which cancelled its
timber license agreement in 1983, as well as the revocation of TLA No. 356
subsequently issued by the Bureau to private respondents in 1984.
But as gleaned from the record, petitioner did not avail of its remedies under the
law, i.e. Section 8 of Pres. Dec. No. 705 as amended, for attacking the validity of
these administrative actions until after 1986. By the time petitioner sent its letter
dated April 2, 1986 to the newly appointed Minister of the MNR requesting
reconsideration of the above Bureau actions, these were already settled matters as
far as petitioner was concerned [See Rueda v. Court of Agrarian Relations, 106 Phil.
300 (1959); Danan v. Aspillera G.R. No. L-17305, November 28, 1962, 6 SCRA 609;
Ocampo v. Arboleda G.R. No. L-48190, August 31, 1987, 153 SCRA 374].
No particular significance can be attached to petitioner's letter dated September 19,
1983 which petitioner claimed to have sent to then President Marcos [Annex "6" of
Petition, Rollo, pp. 50-53], seeking the reconsideration of the 1983 order issued by
Director Cortes of the Bureau. It must be pointed out that the averments in this
letter are entirely different from the charges of fraud against officials under the
previous regime made by petitioner in its letters to public respondents herein. In the
letter to then President Marcos, petitioner simply contested its inclusion in the list of
concessionaires, whose licenses were cancelled, by defending its record of selective
logging and reforestation practices in the subject concession area. Yet, no other
administrative steps appear to have been taken by petitioner until 1986, despite the
fact that the alleged fraudulent scheme became apparent in 1984 as evidenced by
the awarding of the subject timber concession area to other entities in that year.
2. Moreover, petitioner is precluded from availing of the benefits of a writ of
certiorari in the present case because he failed to file his petition within a
reasonable period.
The principal issue ostensibly presented for resolution in the instant petition is
whether or not public respondents herein acted with grave abuse of discretion

amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in refusing to overturn administrative


orders issued by their predecessors in the past regime. Yet, what the petition
ultimately seeks is the nullification of the Bureau orders cancelling TLA No. 87 and
granting TLA No. 356 to private respondent, which were issued way back in 1983
and 1984, respectively.
Once again, the fact that petitioner failed to seasonably take judicial recourse to
have the earlier administrative actions reviewed by the courts through a petition for
certiorari is prejudicial to its cause. For although no specific time frame is fixed for
the institution of a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised
Rules of Court, the same must nevertheless be done within a "reasonable time". The
yardstick to measure the timeliness of a petition for certiorari is the
"reasonableness of the length of time that had expired from the commission of the
acts complained of up to the institution of the proceeding to annul the same"
[Toledo v. Pardo, G.R. No. 56761, November 19, 1982, 118 SCRA 566, 571]. And
failure to file the petition for certiorari within a reasonable period of time renders
the petitioner susceptible to the adverse legal consequences of laches [Municipality
of Carcar v. Court of First Instance of Cebu, G.R. No. L-31628, December 27, 1982,
119 SCRA 392).
Laches is defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained
length of time to do that which by exercising due diligence, could or should have
been done earlier, or to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a
presumption that the party entitled thereto has either abandoned it or declined to
assert it [Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, G.R. No. L-21450, April 15, 1968, 23 SCRA 29; Seno
v. Mangubat, G.R. No. L-44339, December 2, 1987, 156 SCRA 113]. The rule is that
unreasonable delay on the part of a plaintiff in seeking to enforce an alleged right
may, depending upon the circumstances, be destructive of the right itself. Verily,
the laws aid those who are vigilant, not those who sleep upon their rights
(Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt) [See Buenaventura v. David, 37
Phil. 435 (1918)].
In the case at bar, petitioner waited for at least three years before it finally filed a
petition for certiorari with the Court attacking the validity of the assailed Bureau
actions in 1983 and 1984. Considering that petitioner, throughout the period of its
inaction, was not deprived of the opportunity to seek relief from the courts which
were normally operating at the time, its delay constitutes unreasonable and
inexcusable neglect, tantamount to laches. Accordingly, the writ of certiorari
requiring the reversal of these orders will not lie.
3. Finally, there is a more significant factor which bars the issuance of a writ of
certiorari in favor of petitioner and against public respondents herein. It is precisely
this for which prevents the Court from departing from the general application of the
rules enunciated above.
A cursory reading of the assailed orders issued by public respondent Minister
Maceda of the MNR which were ed by the Office of the President, will disclose public
policy consideration which effectively forestall judicial interference in the case at
bar,

Public respondents herein, upon whose shoulders rests the task of implementing the
policy to develop and conserve the country's natural resources, have indicated an
ongoing department evaluation of all timber license agreements entered into, and
permits or licenses issued, under the previous dispensation. In fact, both the
executive and legislative departments of the incumbent administration are
presently taking stock of its environmental policies with regard to the utilization of
timber lands and developing an agenda for future programs for their conservation
and rehabilitation.
The ongoing administrative reassessment is apparently in response to the renewed
and growing global concern over the despoliation of forest lands and the utter
disregard of their crucial role in sustaining a balanced ecological system. The
legitimacy of such concern can hardly be disputed, most especially in this country.
The Court takes judicial notice of the profligate waste of the country's forest
resources which has not only resulted in the irreversible loss of flora and fauna
peculiar to the region, but has produced even more disastrous and lasting economic
and social effects. The delicate balance of nature having been upset, a vicious cycle
of floods and droughts has been triggered and the supply of food and energy
resources required by the people seriously depleted.
While there is a desire to harness natural resources to amass profit and to meet the
country's immediate financial requirements, the more essential need to ensure
future generations of Filipinos of their survival in a viable environment demands
effective and circumspect action from the government to check further denudation
of whatever remains of the forest lands. Nothing less is expected of the
government, in view of the clear constitutional command to maintain a balanced
and healthful ecology. Section 16 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution provides:
SEC. 16. The State shall protect and promote the right of the people to
a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and
harmony of nature.
Thus, while the administration grapples with the complex and multifarious problems
caused by unbridled exploitation of these resources, the judiciary will stand clear. A
long line of cases establish the basic rule that the courts will not interfere in matters
which are addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies entrusted with
the regulation of activities coming under the special technical knowledge and
training of such agencies [See Espinosa v. Makalintal, 79 Phil. 134 (1947); Coloso v.
Board of Accountancy, 92 Phil. 938 (1953); Pajo v. Ago, 108 Phil. 905 (1960); Suarez
v. Reyes, G.R. No. L-19828, February 28, 1963, 7 SCRA 461; Ganitano v. Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources, G. R. No. L-21167, March 31, 1966, 16 SCRA 543;
Villegas v. Auditor General, G.R. No. L-21352, November 29, 1966, 18 SCRA 877;
Manuel v. Villena, G.R. No. L-28218, February 27, 1971, 37 SCRA 745; Lacuesta v.
Herrera, G.R. No. L-33646, January 28, 1975, 62 SCRA 115; Lianga Bay Logging Co.,
Inc. v. Enage, G.R. No. L-30637, July 16, 1987, 152 SCRA 80]. More so where, as in
the present case, the interests of a private logging company are pitted against that
of the public at large on the pressing public policy issue of forest conservation. For
this Court recognizes the wide latitude of discretion possessed by the government in
determining the appropriate actions to be taken to preserve and manage natural
resources, and the proper parties who should enjoy the privilege of utilizing these

resources [Director of Forestry v. Munoz, G.R. No. L-24796, June 28, 1968, 23 SCRA
1183; Lim, Sr. v. The Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, G.R. No. L26990, August 31, 1970, 34 SCRA 751]. Timber licenses, permits and license
agreements are the principal instruments by which the State regulates the
utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is
promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege
granted by the State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent
or irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the forest products
therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief
Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts
within the purview of the due process of law clause [See Sections 3 (ee) and 20 of
Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry, G.R. No. L24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302].
In fine, the legal precepts highlighted in the foregoing discussion more than suffice
to justify the Court's refusal to interfere in the DENR evaluation of timber licenses
and permits issued under the previous regime, or to pre-empt the adoption of
appropriate corrective measures by the department.
Nevertheless, the Court cannot help but express its concern regarding alleged
irregularities in the issuance of timber license agreements to a number of logging
concessionaires.
The grant of licenses or permits to exploit the country's timber resources, if done in
contravention of the procedure outlined in the law, or as a result of fraud and undue
influence exerted on department officials, is indicative of an arbitrary and whimsical
exercise of the State's power to regulate the use and exploitation of forest
resources. The alleged practice of bestowing "special favors" to preferred
individuals, regardless of merit, would be an abuse of this power. And this Court will
not be a party to a flagrant mockery of the avowed public policy of conservation
enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. Therefore, should the appropriate case be
brought showing a clear grave abuse of discretion on the part of officials in the
DENR and related bureaus with respect to the implementation of this public policy,
the Court win not hesitate to step in and wield its authority, when invoked, in the
exercise of judicial powers under the Constitution [Section 1, Article VIII].
However, petitioner having failed to make out a case showing grave abuse of
discretion on the part of public respondents herein, the Court finds no basis to issue
a writ of certiorari and to grant any of the affirmative reliefs sought.
WHEREFORE, the present petition is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez Jr. and Bidin, JJ., concur.
Feliciano, J., is on leave.

Footnotes
* As a result of the creation of the province of Quirino the municipality
of Maddela is now deemed part of the Quirino province.
Republic
SUPREME
Manila

of

the

Philippines
COURT

THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 158290

October 23, 2006

HILARION M. HENARES, JR., VICTOR C. AGUSTIN, ALFREDO L. HENARES,


DANIEL L. HENARES, ENRIQUE BELO HENARES, and CRISTINA BELO
HENARES, petitioners,
vs.
LAND TRANSPORTATION FRANCHISING AND REGULATORY BOARD and
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS, respondents.

RESOLUTION

QUISUMBING, J.:
Petitioners challenge this Court to issue a writ of mandamus commanding
respondents Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the
Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to require public utility
vehicles (PUVs) to use compressed natural gas (CNG) as alternative fuel.
Citing statistics from the Metro Manila Transportation and Traffic Situation Study of
1996,1 the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the National Capital
Region,2 a study of the Asian Development Bank, 3 the Manila Observatory4 and the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources 5 (DENR) on the high growth and
low turnover in vehicle ownership in the Philippines, including diesel-powered
vehicles, two-stroke engine powered motorcycles and their concomitant emission of
air pollutants, petitioners attempt to present a compelling case for judicial action
against the bane of air pollution and related environmental hazards.
Petitioners allege that the particulate matters (PM) complex mixtures of dust, dirt,
smoke, and liquid droplets, varying in sizes and compositions emitted into the air
from various engine combustions have caused detrimental effects on health,
productivity, infrastructure and the overall quality of life. Petitioners particularly cite
the effects of certain fuel emissions from engine combustion when these react to

other pollutants. For instance, petitioners aver, with hydrocarbons, oxide of nitrogen
(NOx) creates smog; with sulfur dioxide, it creates acid rain; and with ammonia,
moisture and other compounds, it reacts to form nitric acid and harmful nitrates.
Fuel emissions also cause retardation and leaf bleaching in plants. According to
petitioner, another emission, carbon monoxide (CO), when not completely burned
but emitted into the atmosphere and then inhaled can disrupt the necessary oxygen
in blood. With prolonged exposure, CO affects the nervous system and can be lethal
to people with weak hearts. 6
Petitioners add that although much of the new power generated in the country will
use natural gas while a number of oil and coal-fired fuel stations are being phasedout, still with the projected doubling of power generation over the next 10 years,
and with the continuing high demand for motor vehicles, the energy and transport
sectors are likely to remain the major sources of harmful emissions. Petitioners refer
us to the study of the Philippine Environment Monitor 2002 7, stating that in four of
the country's major cities, Metro Manila, Davao, Cebu and Baguio, the exposure to
PM10, a finer PM which can penetrate deep into the lungs causing serious health
problems, is estimated at over US$430 million. 8 The study also reports that the
emissions of PMs have caused the following:
Over 2,000 people die prematurely. This loss is valued at about US$140
million.
Over 9,000 people suffer from chronic bronchitis, which is valued at about
US$120 million.
Nearly 51 million cases of respiratory symptom days in Metro Manila
(averaging twice a year in Davao and Cebu, and five to six times in Metro
Manila and Baguio), costs about US$170 million. This is a 70 percent
increase, over a decade, when compared with the findings of a similar study
done in 1992 for Metro Manila, which reported 33 million cases. 9
Petitioners likewise cite the University of the Philippines' studies in 1990-91 and
1994 showing that vehicular emissions in Metro Manila have resulted to the
prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD); that pulmonary
tuberculosis is highest among jeepney drivers; and there is a 4.8 to 27.5 percent
prevalence of respiratory symptoms among school children and 15.8 to 40.6
percent among child vendors. The studies also revealed that the children in Metro
Manila showed more compromised pulmonary function than their rural counterparts.
Petitioners infer that these are mostly due to the emissions of PUVs.
To counter the aforementioned detrimental effects of emissions from PUVs,
petitioners propose the use of CNG. According to petitioners, CNG is a natural gas
comprised mostly of methane which although containing small amounts of propane
and butane,10 is colorless and odorless and considered the cleanest fossil fuel
because it produces much less pollutants than coal and petroleum; produces up to
90 percent less CO compared to gasoline and diesel fuel; reduces NO x emissions by
50 percent and cuts hydrocarbon emissions by half; emits 60 percent less PMs; and
releases virtually no sulfur dioxide. Although, according to petitioners, the only

drawback of CNG is that it produces more methane, one of the gases blamed for
global warming.11
Asserting their right to clean air, petitioners contend that the bases for their petition
for a writ of mandamus to order the LTFRB to require PUVs to use CNG as an
alternative fuel, lie in Section 16, 12 Article II of the 1987 Constitution, our ruling
in Oposa v. Factoran, Jr., 13 and Section 414 of Republic Act No. 8749 otherwise known
as the "Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999."
Meantime, following a subsequent motion, the Court granted petitioners' motion to
implead the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) as
additional respondent.
In his Comment for respondents LTFRB and DOTC, the Solicitor General, cites
Section 3, Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court and explains that the writ of
mandamus is not the correct remedy since the writ may be issued only to command
a tribunal, corporation, board or person to do an act that is required to be done,
when he or it unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law
specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station, or unlawfully
excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such
other is entitled, there being no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the
ordinary course of law.15 Further citing existing jurisprudence, the Solicitor General
explains that in contrast to a discretionary act, a ministerial act, which a mandamus
is, is one in which an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a
prescribed manner, in obedience to a mandate of legal authority, without regard to
or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of an act
done.
The Solicitor General also notes that nothing in Rep. Act No. 8749 that petitioners
invoke, prohibits the use of gasoline and diesel by owners of motor vehicles. Sadly
too, according to the Solicitor General, Rep. Act No. 8749 does not even mention the
existence of CNG as alternative fuel and avers that unless this law is amended to
provide CNG as alternative fuel for PUVs, the respondents cannot propose that PUVs
use CNG as alternative fuel.
The Solicitor General also adds that it is the DENR that is tasked to implement Rep.
Act No. 8749 and not the LTFRB nor the DOTC. Moreover, he says, it is the
Department of Energy (DOE), under Section 26 16 of Rep. Act No. 8749, that is
required to set the specifications for all types of fuel and fuel-related products to
improve fuel compositions for improved efficiency and reduced emissions. He adds
that under Section 2117 of the cited Republic Act, the DOTC is limited to
implementing the emission standards for motor vehicles, and the herein
respondents cannot alter, change or modify the emission standards. The Solicitor
General opines that the Court should declare the instant petition for mandamus
without merit.
Petitioners, in their Reply, insist that the respondents possess the administrative
and regulatory powers to implement measures in accordance with the policies and
principles mandated by Rep. Act No. 8749, specifically Section 2 18 and Section
21.19 Petitioners state that under these laws and with all the available information

provided by the DOE on the benefits of CNG, respondents cannot ignore the
existence of CNG, and their failure to recognize CNG and compel its use by PUVs as
alternative fuel while air pollution brought about by the emissions of gasoline and
diesel endanger the environment and the people, is tantamount to neglect in the
performance of a duty which the law enjoins.
Lastly, petitioners aver that other than the writ applied for, they have no other
plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Petitioners insist
that the writ in fact should be issued pursuant to the very same Section 3, Rule 65
of the Revised Rules of Court that the Solicitor General invokes.
In their Memorandum, petitioners phrase the issues before us as follows:
I. WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONERS HAVE THE PERSONALITY TO BRING
THE PRESENT ACTION
II. WHETHER OR NOT THE PRESENT ACTION IS SUPPORTED BY LAW
III. WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT IS THE AGENCY RESPONSIBLE TO
IMPLEMENT THE SUGGESTED ALTERNATIVE OF REQUIRING PUBLIC UTILITY
VEHICLES TO USE COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS (CNG)
IV. WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT CAN BE COMPELLED TO REQUIRE
PUBLIC UTILITY VEHICLES TO USE COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS THROUGH A
WRIT OF MANDAMUS20
Briefly put, the issues are two-fold. First, Do petitioners have legal personality to
bring this petition before us? Second, Should mandamus issue against respondents
to compel PUVs to use CNG as alternative fuel?
According to petitioners, Section 16,21 Article II of the 1987 Constitution is the policy
statement that bestows on the people the right to breathe clean air in a healthy
environment. This policy is enunciated in Oposa.22 The implementation of this policy
is articulated in Rep. Act No. 8749. These, according to petitioners, are the bases for
their standing to file the instant petition. They aver that when there is an omission
by the government to safeguard a right, in this case their right to clean air, then,
the citizens can resort to and exhaust all remedies to challenge this omission by the
government. This, they say, is embodied in Section 4 23 of Rep. Act No. 8749.
Petitioners insist that since it is the LTFRB and the DOTC that are the government
agencies clothed with power to regulate and control motor vehicles, particularly
PUVs, and with the same agencies' awareness and knowledge that the PUVs emit
dangerous levels of air pollutants, then, the responsibility to see that these are
curbed falls under respondents' functions and a writ of mandamus should issue
against them.
The Solicitor General, for his part, reiterates his position that the respondent
government agencies, the DOTC and the LTFRB, are not in a position to compel the
PUVs to use CNG as alternative fuel. The Solicitor General explains that the function

of the DOTC is limited to implementing the emission standards set forth in Rep. Act
No. 8749 and the said law only goes as far as setting the maximum limit for the
emission of vehicles, but it does not recognize CNG as alternative engine fuel. The
Solicitor General avers that the petition should be addressed to Congress for it to
come up with a policy that would compel the use of CNG as alternative fuel.
Patently, this Court is being asked to resolve issues that are not only procedural.
Petitioners challenge this Court to decide if what petitioners propose could be done
through a less circuitous, speedy and unchartered course in an issue that Chief
Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. in his ponencia in the Oposa case,24 describes as "intergenerational responsibility" and "inter-generational justice."
Now, as to petitioners' standing. There is no dispute that petitioners have standing
to bring their case before this Court. Even respondents do not question their
standing. This petition focuses on one fundamental legal right of petitioners, their
right to clean air. Moreover, as held previously, a party's standing before this Court
is a procedural technicality which may, in the exercise of the Court's discretion, be
set aside in view of the importance of the issue raised. We brush aside this issue of
technicality under the principle of the transcendental importance to the public,
especially so if these cases demand that they be settled promptly.
Undeniably, the right to clean air not only is an issue of paramount importance to
petitioners for it concerns the air they breathe, but it is also impressed with public
interest. The consequences of the counter-productive and retrogressive effects of a
neglected environment due to emissions of motor vehicles immeasurably affect the
well-being of petitioners. On these considerations, the legal standing of the
petitioners deserves recognition.
Our next concern is whether the writ of mandamus is the proper remedy, and if the
writ could issue against respondents.
Under Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, mandamus lies under any of the
following cases: (1) against any tribunal which unlawfully neglects the performance
of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty; (2) in case any corporation,
board or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law enjoins
as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station; and (3) in case any tribunal,
corporation, board or person unlawfully excludes another from the use and
enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is legally entitled; and there is no
other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.
In University of San Agustin, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,25 we said,
It is settled that mandamus is employed to compel the performance,
when refused, of a ministerial duty, this being its main objective. It
does not lie to require anyone to fulfill contractual obligations or to
compel a course of conduct, nor to control or review the exercise of
discretion. On the part of the petitioner, it is essential to the issuance
of a writ of mandamus that he should have a clear legal rightto the
thing demanded and it must be the imperative duty of the respondent

to perform the act required. It never issues in doubtful cases. While it


may not be necessary that the duty be absolutely expressed, it must
however, be clear. The writ will not issue to compel an official to do
anything which is not his duty to do or which is his duty not to do, or
give to the applicant anything to which he is not entitled by law. The
writ neither confers powers nor imposes duties. It is simply a command
to exercise a power already possessed and to perform a duty already
imposed. (Emphasis supplied.)
In this petition the legal right which is sought to be recognized and enforced hinges
on a constitutional and a statutory policy already articulated in operational
terms, e.g. in Rep. Act No. 8749, the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999. Paragraph (a),
Section 21 of the Act specifically provides that when PUVs are concerned, the
responsibility of implementing the policy falls on respondent DOTC. It provides as
follows:
SEC 21. Pollution from Motor Vehicles. - a) The DOTC shall implement the
emission standards for motor vehicles set pursuant to and as provided in this
Act. To further improve the emission standards, the Department [DENR] shall
review, revise and publish the standards every two (2) years, or as the need
arises. It shall consider the maximum limits for all major pollutants to ensure
substantial improvement in air quality for the health, safety and welfare of
the general public.
Paragraph (b) states:
b) The Department [DENR] in collaboration with the DOTC, DTI and LGUs,
shall develop an action plan for the control and management of air
pollution from motor vehicles consistent with the Integrated Air Quality
Framework . . . . (Emphasis supplied.)
There is no dispute that under the Clean Air Act it is the DENR that is tasked to set
the emission standards for fuel use and the task of developing an action plan. As far
as motor vehicles are concerned, it devolves upon the DOTC and the line agency
whose mandate is to oversee that motor vehicles prepare an action plan and
implement the emission standards for motor vehicles, namely the LTFRB.
In Oposa26 we said, the right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the
correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment. We also said, it is clearly
the duty of the responsible government agencies to advance the said right.
Petitioners invoke the provisions of the Constitution and the Clean Air Act in their
prayer for issuance of a writ of mandamus commanding the respondents to require
PUVs to use CNG as an alternative fuel. Although both are general mandates that do
not specifically enjoin the use of any kind of fuel, particularly the use of CNG, there
is an executive order implementing a program on the use of CNG by public vehicles.
Executive Order No. 290, entitled Implementing the Natural Gas Vehicle Program for
Public Transport (NGVPPT), took effect on February 24, 2004. The program
recognized, among others, natural gas as a clean burning alternative fuel for vehicle

which has the potential to produce substantially lower pollutants; and the
Malampaya Gas-to-Power Project as representing the beginning of the natural gas
industry of the Philippines. Paragraph 1.2, Section 1 of E.O. No. 290 cites as one of
its objectives, the use of CNG as a clean alternative fuel for transport. Furthermore,
one of the components of the program is the development of CNG refueling stations
and all related facilities in strategic locations in the country to serve the needs of
CNG-powered PUVs. Section 3 of E.O. No. 290, consistent with E.O. No. 66, series of
2002, designated the DOE as the lead agency (a) in developing the natural gas
industry of the country with the DENR, through the EMB and (b) in formulating
emission standards for CNG. Most significantly, par. 4.5, Section 4 tasks the DOTC,
working with the DOE, to develop an implementation plan for "a gradual shift to
CNG fuel utilization in PUVs and promote NGVs [natural gas vehicles] in Metro
Manila and Luzon through the issuance of directives/orders providing preferential
franchises in present day major routes and exclusive franchises to NGVs in newly
opened routes" A thorough reading of the executive order assures us that
implementation for a cleaner environment is being addressed. To a certain extent,
the instant petition had been mooted by the issuance of E.O. No. 290.
Regrettably, however, the plain, speedy and adequate remedy herein sought by
petitioners, i.e., a writ of mandamus commanding the respondents to require PUVs
to use CNG, is unavailing. Mandamus is available only to compel the doing of an act
specifically enjoined by law as a duty. Here, there is no law that mandates the
respondents LTFRB and the DOTC to order owners of motor vehicles to use CNG. At
most the LTFRB has been tasked by E.O. No. 290 in par. 4.5 (ii), Section 4 "to grant
preferential and exclusive Certificates of Public Convenience (CPC) or franchises to
operators of NGVs based on the results of the DOTC surveys."
Further, mandamus will not generally lie from one branch of government to a
coordinate branch, for the obvious reason that neither is inferior to the other. 27 The
need for future changes in both legislation and its implementation cannot be
preempted by orders from this Court, especially when what is prayed for is
procedurally infirm. Besides, comity with and courtesy to a coequal branch dictate
that we give sufficient time and leeway for the coequal branches to address by
themselves the environmental problems raised in this petition.
In the same manner that we have associated the fundamental right to a balanced
and healthful ecology with the twin concepts of "inter-generational responsibility"
and "inter-generational justice" in Oposa,28 where we upheld the right of future
Filipinos to prevent the destruction of the rainforests, so do we recognize, in this
petition, the right of petitioners and the future generation to clean air. In Oposa we
said that if the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is now explicitly found in
the Constitution even if the right is "assumed to exist from the inception of
humankind, it is because of the well-founded fear of its framers [of the
Constitution] that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to
health are mandated as state policies by the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting
their continuing importance and imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to
preserve the first and protect and advance the second, the day would not be too far
when all else would be lost not only for the present generation, but also for those to
come. . ."29

It is the firm belief of this Court that in this case, it is timely to reaffirm the premium
we have placed on the protection of the environment in the landmark case
of Oposa. Yet, as serious as the statistics are on air pollution, with the present fuels
deemed toxic as they are to the environment, as fatal as these pollutants are to the
health of the citizens, and urgently requiring resort to drastic measures to reduce
air pollutants emitted by motor vehicles, we must admit in particular that
petitioners are unable to pinpoint the law that imposes an indubitable legal duty on
respondents that will justify a grant of the writ of mandamus compelling the use of
CNG for public utility vehicles. It appears to us that more properly, the legislature
should provide first the specific statutory remedy to the complex environmental
problems bared by herein petitioners before any judicial recourse by mandamus is
taken.
WHEREFORE, the petition for
is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

the

issuance

of

writ

of

mandamus

SO ORDERED.
Carpio, Morales, Tinga, and Velasco, Jr., JJ., concur
Republic
SUPREME
Manila

of

the

Philippines
COURT

FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 156052

March 7, 2007

SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY (SJS), VLADIMIR ALARIQUE T. CABIGAO, and


BONIFACIO
S.
TUMBOKON,Petitioners,
vs.
HON. JOSE L. ATIENZA, JR., in his capacity as Mayor of the City of
Manila, Respondent.
DECISION
CORONA, J.:
In this original petition for mandamus,1 petitioners Social Justice Society (SJS),
Vladimir Alarique T. Cabigao and Bonifacio S. Tumbokon seek to compel respondent
Hon. Jose L. Atienza, Jr., mayor of the City of Manila, to enforce Ordinance No. 8027.
The antecedents are as follows.
On November 20, 2001, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Manila enacted Ordinance
No. 8027.2 Respondent mayor approved the ordinance on November 28, 2001. 3 It
became effective on December 28, 2001, after its publication. 4

Ordinance No. 8027 was enacted pursuant to the police power delegated to local
government units, a principle described as the power inherent in a government to
enact laws, within constitutional limits, to promote the order, safety, health, morals
and general welfare of the society. 5 This is evident from Sections 1 and 3 thereof
which state:
SECTION 1. For the purpose of promoting sound urban planning and ensuring
health, public safety, and general welfare of the residents of Pandacan and Sta. Ana
as well as its adjoining areas, the land use of [those] portions of land bounded by
the Pasig River in the north, PNR Railroad Track in the east, Beata St. in the south,
Palumpong St. in the southwest, and Estero de Pancacan in the west[,] PNR Railroad
in the northwest area, Estero de Pandacan in the [n]ortheast, Pasig River in the
southeast and Dr. M.L. Carreon in the southwest. The area of Punta, Sta. Ana
bounded by the Pasig River, Marcelino Obrero St., Mayo 28 St., and F. Manalo Street,
are hereby reclassified from Industrial II to Commercial I.
xxx xxx xxx
SEC. 3. Owners or operators of industries and other businesses, the operation of
which are no longer permitted under Section 1 hereof, are hereby given a period of
six (6) months from the date of effectivity of this Ordinance within which to cease
and desist from the operation of businesses which are hereby in consequence,
disallowed.
Ordinance No. 8027 reclassified the area described therein from industrial to
commercial and directed the owners and operators of businesses disallowed under
Section 1 to cease and desist from operating their businesses within six months
from the date of effectivity of the ordinance. Among the businesses situated in the
area are the so-called "Pandacan Terminals" of the oil companies Caltex
(Philippines), Inc., Petron Corporation and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation.
However, on June 26, 2002, the City of Manila and the Department of Energy (DOE)
entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) 6 with the oil companies in
which they agreed that "the scaling down of the Pandacan Terminals [was] the most
viable and practicable option." Under the MOU, the oil companies agreed to perform
the following:
Section 1. - Consistent with the objectives stated above, the OIL COMPANIES shall,
upon signing of this MOU, undertake a program to scale down the Pandacan
Terminals
which
shall
include,
among
others,
the
immediate
removal/decommissioning process of TWENTY EIGHT (28) tanks starting with the
LPG spheres and the commencing of works for the creation of safety buffer and
green zones surrounding the Pandacan Terminals. xxx
Section 2. Consistent with the scale-down program mentioned above, the OIL
COMPANIES shall establish joint operations and management, including the
operation of common, integrated and/or shared facilities, consistent with
international and domestic technical, safety, environmental and economic
considerations and standards. Consequently, the joint operations of the OIL

COMPANIES in the Pandacan Terminals shall be limited to the common and


integrated areas/facilities. A separate agreement covering the commercial and
operational terms and conditions of the joint operations, shall be entered into by the
OIL COMPANIES.
Section 3. - The development and maintenance of the safety and green buffer
zones mentioned therein, which shall be taken from the properties of the OIL
COMPANIES and not from the surrounding communities, shall be the sole
responsibility of the OIL COMPANIES.
The City of Manila and the DOE, on the other hand, committed to do the following:
Section 1. - The City Mayor shall endorse to the City Council this MOU for its
appropriate action with the view of implementing the spirit and intent thereof.
Section 2. - The City Mayor and the DOE shall, consistent with the spirit and intent
of this MOU, enable the OIL COMPANIES to continuously operate in compliance with
legal requirements, within the limited area resulting from the joint operations and
the scale down program.
Section 3. - The DOE and the City Mayor shall monitor the OIL COMPANIES
compliance with the provisions of this MOU.
Section 4. - The CITY OF MANILA and the national government shall protect the
safety buffer and green zones and shall exert all efforts at preventing future
occupation or encroachment into these areas by illegal settlers and other
unauthorized parties.
The Sangguniang Panlungsod ratified the MOU in Resolution No. 97.7 In the same
resolution, the Sangguniandeclared that the MOU was effective only for a period of
six months starting July 25, 2002. 8 Thereafter, on January 30, 2003,
the Sanggunian adopted Resolution No. 139 extending the validity of Resolution No.
97 to April 30, 2003 and authorizing Mayor Atienza to issue special business permits
to the oil companies. Resolution No. 13, s. 2003 also called for a reassessment of
the ordinance.10
Meanwhile, petitioners filed this original action for mandamus on December 4, 2002
praying that Mayor Atienza be compelled to enforce Ordinance No. 8027 and order
the immediate removal of the terminals of the oil companies. 11
The issues raised by petitioners are as follows:
1. whether respondent has the mandatory legal duty to enforce Ordinance
No. 8027 and order the removal of the Pandacan Terminals, and
2. whether the June 26, 2002 MOU and the resolutions ratifying it can amend
or repeal Ordinance No. 8027.12

Petitioners contend that respondent has the mandatory legal duty, under Section
455 (b) (2) of the Local Government Code (RA 7160), 13 to enforce Ordinance No.
8027 and order the removal of the Pandacan Terminals of the oil companies.
Instead, he has allowed them to stay.
Respondents defense is that Ordinance No. 8027 has been superseded by the MOU
and the resolutions.14However, he also confusingly argues that the ordinance and
MOU are not inconsistent with each other and that the latter has not amended the
former. He insists that the ordinance remains valid and in full force and effect and
that the MOU did not in any way prevent him from enforcing and implementing it.
He maintains that the MOU should be considered as a mere guideline for its full
implementation.15
Under Rule 65, Section 316 of the Rules of Court, a petition for mandamus may be
filed when any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the
performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an
office, trust or station. Mandamus is an extraordinary writ that is employed to
compel the performance, when refused, of a ministerial duty that is already
imposed on the respondent and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate
remedy in the ordinary course of law. The petitioner should have a well-defined,
clear and certain legal right to the performance of the act and it must be the clear
and imperative duty of respondent to do the act required to be done. 17
Mandamus will not issue to enforce a right, or to compel compliance with a duty,
which is questionable or over which a substantial doubt exists. The principal
function of the writ of mandamus is to command and to expedite, not to inquire and
to adjudicate; thus, it is neither the office nor the aim of the writ to secure a legal
right but to implement that which is already established. Unless the right to the
relief sought is unclouded, mandamus will not issue.18
To support the assertion that petitioners have a clear legal right to the enforcement
of the ordinance, petitioner SJS states that it is a political party registered with the
Commission on Elections and has its offices in Manila. It claims to have many
members who are residents of Manila. The other petitioners, Cabigao and
Tumbokon, are allegedly residents of Manila.
We need not belabor this point. We have ruled in previous cases that when
a mandamus proceeding concerns a public right and its object is to compel a public
duty, the people who are interested in the execution of the laws are regarded as the
real parties in interest and they need not show any specific interest. 19 Besides, as
residents of Manila, petitioners have a direct interest in the enforcement of the
citys ordinances. Respondent never questioned the right of petitioners to institute
this proceeding.
On the other hand, the Local Government Code imposes upon respondent the duty,
as city mayor, to "enforce all laws and ordinances relative to the governance of the
city.">20 One of these is Ordinance No. 8027. As the chief executive of the city, he
has the duty to enforce Ordinance No. 8027 as long as it has not been repealed by
theSanggunian or annulled by the courts. 21 He has no other choice. It is his ministerial duty to do so. In Dimaporo
v. Mitra, Jr.,22 we stated the reason for this:

These officers cannot refuse to perform their duty on the ground of an alleged invalidity of the statute imposing the duty. The reason for this is
obvious. It might seriously hinder the transaction of public business if these officers were to be permitted in all cases to question the
constitutionality of statutes and ordinances imposing duties upon them and which have not judicially been declared unconstitutional. Officers of
the government from the highest to the lowest are creatures of the law and are bound to obey it.23

The question now is whether the MOU entered into by respondent with the oil companies and the subsequent resolutions passed by
the Sanggunian have made the respondents duty to enforce Ordinance No. 8027 doubtful, unclear or uncertain. This is also connected to the
second issue raised by petitioners, that is, whether the MOU and Resolution Nos. 97, s. 2002 and 13, s. 2003 of the Sanggunian can amend or
repeal Ordinance No. 8027.

We need not resolve this issue. Assuming that the terms of the MOU were inconsistent with Ordinance No. 8027, the resolutions which ratified it
and made it binding on the City of Manila expressly gave it full force and effect only until April 30, 2003. Thus, at present, there is nothing that
legally hinders respondent from enforcing Ordinance No. 8027.24

Ordinance No. 8027 was enacted right after the Philippines, along with the rest of the world, witnessed the horror of the September 11, 2001
attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The objective of the ordinance is to protect the residents of Manila from the
catastrophic devastation that will surely occur in case of a terrorist attack25 on the Pandacan Terminals. No reason exists why such a protective
measure should be delayed.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. Respondent Hon. Jose L. Atienza, Jr., as mayor of the City of Manila, is directed to immediately
enforce Ordinance No. 8027.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
METROPOLITAN MANILA G.R. Nos. 171947-48
DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY,
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT
AND NATURAL RESOURCES, Present:
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION,
CULTURE AND SPORTS,[1] PUNO, C.J.,
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, QUISUMBING,
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, YNARES-SANTIAGO,
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC CARPIO,
WORKS AND HIGHWAYS, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND CORONA,
MANAGEMENT, PHILIPPINE CARPIO MORALES,
COAST GUARD, PHILIPPINE AZCUNA,
NATIONAL POLICE MARITIME TINGA,
GROUP, and DEPARTMENT OF CHICO-NAZARIO,
THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL VELASCO, JR.,
GOVERNMENT, NACHURA,
Petitioners, REYES,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and


- versus - BRION, JJ.
CONCERNED RESIDENTS OF
MANILA BAY, represented and
joined by DIVINA V. ILAS,
SABINIANO ALBARRACIN,
MANUEL SANTOS, JR., DINAH
DELA PEA, PAUL DENNIS
QUINTERO, MA. VICTORIA
LLENOS, DONNA CALOZA,
FATIMA QUITAIN, VENICE
SEGARRA, FRITZIE TANGKIA,
SARAH JOELLE LINTAG,
HANNIBAL AUGUSTUS BOBIS,
FELIMON SANTIAGUEL, and Promulgated:
JAIME AGUSTIN R. OPOSA,
Respondents. December 18, 2008
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J.:
The need to address environmental pollution, as a cause of climate change,
has of late gained the attention of the international community. Media have finally
trained their sights on the ill effects of pollution, the destruction of forests and other
critical habitats, oil spills, and the unabated improper disposal of garbage. And
rightly so, for the magnitude of environmental destruction is now on a scale few
ever foresaw and the wound no longer simply heals by itself. [2] But amidst hard
evidence and clear signs of a climate crisis that need bold action, the voice of
cynicism, naysayers, and procrastinators can still be heard.
This case turns on government agencies and their officers who, by the nature
of their respective offices or by direct statutory command, are tasked to protect and
preserve, at the first instance, our internal waters, rivers, shores, and seas polluted
by human activities. To most of these agencies and their official complement, the
pollution menace does not seem to carry the high national priority it deserves, if
their track records are to be the norm. Their cavalier attitude towards solving, if not
mitigating, the environmental pollution problem, is a sad commentary on
bureaucratic efficiency and commitment.

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

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


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

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


neglect of petitioners in abating the pollution of the Manila Bay constitutes a
violation of, among others:
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)
(7)
(8)
(9)
(10)
(11)
(12)

Respondents constitutional right to life, health, and a balanced


ecology;
The Environment Code (PD 1152);
The Pollution Control Law (PD 984);
The Water Code (PD 1067);
The Sanitation Code (PD 856);
The Illegal Disposal of Wastes Decree (PD 825);
The Marine Pollution Law (PD 979);
Executive Order No. 192;
The Toxic and Hazardous Wastes Law (Republic Act No. 6969);
Civil Code provisions on nuisance and human relations;
The Trust Doctrine and the Principle of Guardianship; and
International Law

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


to clean the Manila Bay and submit to the RTC a concerted concrete plan of action
for the purpose.
The trial of the case started off with a hearing at the Manila Yacht Club
followed by an ocular inspection of the Manila Bay. Renato T. Cruz, the Chief of the
Water

Quality

Department

of

Management
Environment

Section,
and

Environmental

Natural

Resources

Management
(DENR),

Bureau,

testifying

for

petitioners, stated that water samples collected from different beaches around the
Manila Bay showed that the amount of fecal coliform content ranged from 50,000 to
80,000 most probable number (MPN)/ml when what DENR Administrative Order No.
34-90 prescribed as a safe level for bathing and other forms of contact recreational
activities, or the SB level, is one not exceeding 200 MPN/100 ml. [4]
Rebecca de Vera, for Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS)
and in behalf of other petitioners, testified about the MWSS efforts to reduce
pollution along the Manila Bay through the Manila Second Sewerage Project. For its
part, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) presented, as part of its evidence, its
memorandum circulars on the study being conducted on ship-generated waste
treatment and disposal, and its Linis Dagat (Clean the Ocean) project for the
cleaning of wastes accumulated or washed to shore.
The RTC Ordered Petitioners to Clean Up and Rehabilitate Manila Bay
On September 13,

2002,

the

RTC

rendered

Decision [5] in

favor

respondents. The dispositive portion reads:


WHEREFORE, finding merit in the complaint, judgment is hereby
rendered ordering the abovenamed defendant-government agencies,
jointly and solidarily, to clean up and rehabilitate Manila Bay and
restore its waters to SB classification to make it fit for swimming, skindiving and other forms of contact recreation. To attain this, defendantagencies, with defendant DENR as the lead agency, are directed,
within six (6) months from receipt hereof, to act and perform their
respective duties by devising a consolidated, coordinated and
concerted scheme of action for the rehabilitation and restoration of the
bay.
In particular:

of

Defendant MWSS is directed to install, operate and maintain adequate


[sewerage] treatment facilities in strategic places under its jurisdiction
and increase their capacities.
Defendant LWUA, to see to it that the water districts under its wings,
provide, construct and operate sewage facilities for the proper disposal
of waste.
Defendant DENR, which is the lead agency in cleaning up Manila Bay,
to install, operate and maintain waste facilities to rid the bay of toxic
and hazardous substances.
Defendant PPA, to prevent and also to treat the discharge not only of
ship-generated wastes but also of other solid and liquid wastes from
docking vessels that contribute to the pollution of the bay.
Defendant MMDA, to establish, operate and maintain an adequate and
appropriate sanitary landfill and/or adequate solid waste and liquid
disposal as well as other alternative garbage disposal system such as
re-use or recycling of wastes.
Defendant DA, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources,
to revitalize the marine life in Manila Bay and restock its waters with
indigenous fish and other aquatic animals.
Defendant DBM, to provide and set aside an adequate budget solely
for the purpose of cleaning up and rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
Defendant DPWH, to remove and demolish structures and other
nuisances that obstruct the free flow of waters to the bay. These
nuisances discharge solid and liquid wastes which eventually end up
in Manila Bay. As the construction and engineering arm of the
government, DPWH is ordered to actively participate in removing
debris, such as carcass of sunken vessels, and other nonbiodegradable garbage in the bay.
Defendant DOH, to closely supervise and monitor the operations of
septic and sludge companies and require them to have proper facilities
for the treatment and disposal of fecal sludge and sewage coming from
septic tanks.
Defendant DECS, to inculcate in the minds and hearts of the people
through education the importance of preserving and protecting the
environment.
Defendant Philippine Coast Guard and the PNP Maritime Group, to
protect at all costs the Manila Bay from all forms of illegal fishing.
No pronouncement as to damages and costs.

SO ORDERED.
The MWSS, Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), and PPA filed before the
Court of Appeals (CA) individual Notices of Appeal which were eventually
consolidated and docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 76528.
On the other hand, the DENR, Department of Public Works and Highways
(DPWH), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine Coast
Guard (PCG), Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime Group, and five other
executive departments and agencies filed directly with this Court a petition for
review under Rule 45. The Court, in a Resolution of December 9, 2002, sent the said
petition to the CA for consolidation with the consolidated appeals of MWSS, LWUA,
and PPA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 74944.
Petitioners, before the CA, were one in arguing in the main that the pertinent
provisions of the Environment Code (PD 1152) relate only to the cleaning of specific
pollution incidents and do not cover cleaning in general. And apart from raising
concerns about the lack of funds appropriated for cleaning purposes, petitioners
also asserted that the cleaning of the Manila Bay is not a ministerial act which can
be compelled by mandamus.

The CA Sustained the RTC


By a Decision[6] of September 28, 2005, the CA denied petitioners appeal and
affirmed the Decision of the RTC in toto, stressing that the trial courts decision did
not require petitioners to do tasks outside of their usual basic functions under
existing laws.[7]
Petitioners are now before this Court praying for the allowance of their Rule
45 petition on the following ground and supporting arguments:
THE [CA] DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE NOT
HERETOFORE PASSED UPON BY THE HONORABLE COURT, I.E., IT
AFFIRMED THE TRIAL COURTS DECISION DECLARING THAT SECTION 20
OF [PD] 1152 REQUIRES CONCERNED GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO
REMOVE ALL POLLUTANTS SPILLED AND DISCHARGED IN THE WATER
SUCH AS FECAL COLIFORMS.
ARGUMENTS
I

[SECTIONS] 17 AND 20 OF [PD] 1152 RELATE ONLY TO THE


CLEANING OF SPECIFIC POLLUTION INCIDENTS AND [DO] NOT COVER
CLEANING IN GENERAL
II
THE CLEANING OR REHABILITATION OF THE MANILA BAY IS NOT
A MINISTERIAL ACT OF PETITIONERS THAT CAN BE COMPELLED BY
MANDAMUS.

The issues before us are two-fold. First, do Sections 17 and 20 of PD 1152


under the headings, Upgrading of Water Quality and Clean-up Operations, envisage
a cleanup in general or are they limited only to the cleanup of specific pollution
incidents? And second, can petitioners be compelled by mandamus to clean up and
rehabilitate the ManilaBay?
On August 12, 2008, the Court conducted and heard the parties on oral
arguments.
Our Ruling
We shall first dwell on the propriety of the issuance of mandamus under the
premises.
The Cleaning or Rehabilitation of Manila Bay
Can be Compelled by Mandamus
Generally, the writ of mandamus lies to require the execution of a ministerial duty.
[8]

A ministerial duty is one that requires neither the exercise of official discretion nor

judgment.[9] It connotes an act in which nothing is left to the discretion of the person
executing it. It is a simple, definite duty arising under conditions admitted or proved
to exist and imposed by law. [10] Mandamus is available to compel action, when
refused, on matters involving discretion, but not to direct the exercise of judgment
or discretion one way or the other.
Petitioners maintain that the MMDAs duty to take measures and maintain
adequate solid waste and liquid disposal systems necessarily involves policy
evaluation and the exercise of judgment on the part of the agency concerned. They
argue that the MMDA, in carrying out its mandate, has to make decisions, including

choosing where a landfill should be located by undertaking feasibility studies and


cost estimates, all of which entail the exercise of discretion.
Respondents, on the other hand, counter that the statutory command is clear
and that petitioners duty to comply with and act according to the clear mandate of
the law does not require the exercise of discretion. According to respondents,
petitioners, the MMDA in particular, are without discretion, for example, to choose
which bodies of water they are to clean up, or which discharge or spill they are to
contain. By the same token, respondents maintain that petitioners are bereft of
discretion on whether or not to alleviate the problem of solid and liquid waste
disposal; in other words, it is the MMDAs ministerial duty to attend to such services.
We agree with respondents.
First off, we wish to state that petitioners obligation to perform their duties as
defined by law, on one hand, and how they are to carry out such duties, on the
other, are two different concepts. While the implementation of the MMDAs
mandated tasks may entail a decision-making process, the enforcement of the law
or the very act of doing what the law exacts to be done is ministerial in nature and
may be compelled by mandamus. We said so in Social Justice Society v. Atienza[11] in
which the Court directed the City ofManila to enforce, as a matter of ministerial
duty, its Ordinance No. 8027 directing the three big local oil players to cease and
desist from operating their business in the so-called Pandacan Terminals within six
months from the effectivity of the ordinance. But to illustrate with respect to the
instant case, the MMDAs duty to put up an adequate and appropriate sanitary
landfill and solid waste and liquid disposal as well as other alternative garbage
disposal systems is ministerial, its duty being a statutory imposition. The MMDAs
duty in this regard is spelled out in Sec. 3(c) of Republic Act No. (RA) 7924 creating
the MMDA. This section defines and delineates the scope of the MMDAs waste
disposal services to include:
Solid waste disposal and management which include formulation
and implementation of policies, standards, programs and projects for
proper and sanitary waste disposal. It shall likewise include
the establishment and operation of sanitary land fill and
related facilities and the implementation of other alternative
programs intended to reduce, reuse and recycle solid waste. (Emphasis
added.)

The MMDA is duty-bound to comply with Sec. 41 of the Ecological Solid Waste
Management Act (RA 9003) which prescribes the minimum criteria for the
establishment of sanitary landfills and Sec. 42 which provides the minimum
operating requirements that each site operator shall maintain in the operation of a
sanitary landfill. Complementing Sec. 41 are Secs. 36 and 37 of RA 9003,
[12]

enjoining the MMDA and local government units, among others, after the

effectivity of the law on February 15, 2001, from using and operating open dumps
for solid waste and disallowing, five years after such effectivity, the use of
controlled dumps.
The MMDAs duty in the area of solid waste disposal, as may be noted, is set
forth not only in the Environment Code (PD 1152) and RA 9003, but in its charter as
well. This duty of putting up a proper waste disposal system cannot be
characterized as discretionary, for, as earlier stated, discretion presupposes the
power or right given by law to public functionaries to act officially according to their
judgment or conscience.[13] A discretionary duty is one that allows a person to
exercise judgment and choose to perform or not to perform. [14] Any suggestion that
the MMDA has the option whether or not to perform its solid waste disposal-related
duties ought to be dismissed for want of legal basis.
A perusal of other petitioners respective charters or like enabling statutes and
pertinent laws would yield this conclusion: these government agencies are enjoined,
as a matter of statutory obligation, to perform certain functions relating directly or
indirectly to the cleanup, rehabilitation, protection, and preservation of the Manila
Bay. They are precluded from choosing not to perform these duties. Consider:
(1) The DENR, under Executive Order No. (EO) 192, [15] is the primary agency
responsible for the conservation, management, development, and proper use of the
countrys environment and natural resources. Sec. 19 of the Philippine Clean Water
Act of 2004 (RA 9275), on the other hand, designates the DENR as the primary
government agency responsible for its enforcement and implementation, more
particularly over all aspects of water quality management. On water pollution, the
DENR, under the Acts Sec. 19(k), exercises jurisdiction over all aspects of water
pollution, determine[s] its location, magnitude, extent, severity, causes and effects

and other pertinent information on pollution, and [takes] measures, using available
methods and technologies, to prevent and abate such pollution.
The DENR, under RA 9275, is also tasked to prepare a National Water Quality Status
Report, an Integrated Water Quality Management Framework, and a 10-year Water
Quality Management Area Action Plan which is nationwide in scope covering
the Manila Bay and adjoining areas. Sec. 19 of RA 9275 provides:
Sec. 19 Lead Agency.The [DENR] shall be the primary government
agency responsible for the implementation and enforcement of this Act
x x x unless otherwise provided herein. As such, it shall have the
following functions, powers and responsibilities:
a)
Prepare a National Water Quality Status report within twenty-four
(24) months from the effectivity of this Act: Provided, That the
Department shall thereafter review or revise and publish annually,
or as the need arises, said report;
b)

Prepare an Integrated Water Quality Management Framework


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

c)

Prepare a ten (10) year Water Quality Management Area Action


Plan within 12 months following the completion of the framework
for each designated water management area. Such action plan shall
be reviewed by the water quality management area governing
board every five (5) years or as need arises.

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

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

(3) The LWUA under PD 198 has the power of supervision and control over
local water districts. It can prescribe the minimum standards and regulations for the
operations of these districts and shall monitor and evaluate local water standards.
The LWUA can direct these districts to construct, operate, and furnish facilities and
services for the collection, treatment, and disposal of sewerage, waste, and storm
water. Additionally, under RA 9275, the LWUA, as attached agency of the DPWH, is
tasked with providing sewerage and sanitation facilities, inclusive of the setting up
of efficient and safe collection, treatment, and sewage disposal system in the
different parts of the country. [19] In relation to the instant petition, the LWUA is
mandated to provide sewerage and sanitation facilities in Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan,
Pampanga, and Bataan to prevent pollution in theManila Bay.
(4) The Department of Agriculture (DA), pursuant to the Administrative Code of
1987 (EO 292),[20] is designated as the agency tasked to promulgate and enforce all
laws and issuances respecting the conservation and proper utilization of agricultural
and fishery resources. Furthermore, the DA, under the Philippine Fisheries Code of
1998 (RA 8550), is, in coordination with local government units (LGUs) and other
concerned sectors, in charge of establishing a monitoring, control, and surveillance
system to ensure that fisheries and aquatic resources in Philippine waters are
judiciously utilized and managed on a sustainable basis. [21] Likewise under RA 9275,
the DA is charged with coordinating with the PCG and DENR for the enforcement of
water quality standards in marine waters. [22] More specifically, its Bureau of Fisheries
and Aquatic Resources(BFAR) under Sec. 22(c) of RA 9275 shall primarily be
responsible for the prevention and control of water pollution for the development,
management, and conservation of the fisheries and aquatic resources.

(5) The DPWH, as the engineering and construction arm of the national government,
is tasked under EO 292[23] to provide integrated planning, design, and construction
services for, among others, flood control and water resource development systems
in accordance with national development objectives and approved government
plans and specifications.
In Metro Manila, however, the MMDA is authorized by Sec. 3(d), RA 7924 to perform
metro-wide services relating to flood control and sewerage management which
include the formulation and implementation of policies, standards, programs and
projects for an integrated flood control, drainage and sewerage system.
On July 9, 2002, a Memorandum of Agreement was entered into between the DPWH
and MMDA, whereby MMDA was made the agency primarily responsible for flood
control in Metro Manila. For the rest of the country, DPWH shall remain as the
implementing agency for flood control services. The mandate of the MMDA and
DPWH on flood control and drainage services shall include the removal of
structures, constructions, and encroachments built along rivers, waterways,
and esteros (drainages) in violation of RA 7279, PD 1067, and other pertinent laws.
(6) The PCG, in accordance with Sec. 5(p) of PD 601, or the Revised Coast
Guard Law of 1974, and Sec. 6 of PD 979, [24] or the Marine Pollution Decree of 1976,
shall have the primary responsibility of enforcing laws, rules, and regulations
governing marine pollution within the territorial waters of the Philippines. It shall
promulgate its own rules and regulations in accordance with the national rules and
policies set by the National Pollution Control Commission upon consultation with the
latter for the effective implementation and enforcement of PD 979. It shall, under
Sec. 4 of the law, apprehend violators who:
a. discharge, dump x x x harmful substances from or out of any ship,
vessel, barge, or any other floating craft, or other man-made structures
at sea, by any method, means or manner, into or upon the territorial
and inland navigable waters of the Philippines;
b. throw, discharge or deposit, dump, or cause, suffer or procure to be
thrown, discharged, or deposited either from or out of any ship, barge,
or other floating craft or vessel of any kind, or from the shore, wharf,
manufacturing establishment, or mill of any kind, any refuse matter of
any kind or description whatever other than that flowing from streets

and sewers and passing therefrom in a liquid state into tributary of any
navigable water from which the same shall float or be washed into
such navigable water; and
c. deposit x x x material of any kind in any place on the bank of any
navigable water or on the bank of any tributary of any navigable water,
where the same shall be liable to be washed into such navigable water,
either by ordinary or high tides, or by storms or floods, or otherwise,
whereby navigation shall or may be impeded or obstructed or increase
the level of pollution of such water.

(7) When RA 6975 or the Department of the Interior and Local Government
(DILG) Act of 1990 was signed into law on December 13, 1990, the PNP Maritime
Group was tasked to perform all police functions over the Philippine territorial
waters and rivers. Under Sec. 86, RA 6975, the police functions of the PCG shall be
taken over by the PNP when the latter acquires the capability to perform such
functions. Since the PNP Maritime Group has not yet attained the capability to
assume and perform the police functions of PCG over marine pollution, the PCG and
PNP Maritime Group shall coordinate with regard to the enforcement of laws, rules,
and regulations governing marine pollution within the territorial waters of
the Philippines. This was made clear in Sec. 124, RA 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries
Code of 1998, in which both the PCG and PNP Maritime Group were authorized to
enforce said law and other fishery laws, rules, and regulations. [25]
(8) In accordance with Sec. 2 of EO 513, the PPA is mandated to establish,
develop, regulate, manage and operate a rationalized national port system in
support of trade and national development. [26] Moreover, Sec. 6-c of EO 513 states
that the PPA has police authority within the
ports administered by it as may be necessary to carry out its powers
and functions and attain its purposes and objectives, without prejudice
to the exercise of the functions of the Bureau of Customs and other law
enforcement bodies within the area. Such police authority shall include
the following:
xxxx
b) To regulate the entry to, exit from, and movement within the port, of
persons and vehicles, as well as movement within the port of
watercraft.[27]

Lastly, as a member of the International Marine Organization and a signatory


to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, as
amended by MARPOL 73/78,[28] the Philippines, through the PPA, must ensure the
provision of adequate reception facilities at ports and terminals for the reception of
sewage from the ships docking in Philippine ports. Thus, the PPA is tasked to adopt
such measures as are necessary to prevent the discharge and dumping of solid and
liquid wastes and other ship-generated wastes into the Manila Bay waters from
vessels docked at ports and apprehend the violators. When the vessels are not
docked at ports but within Philippine territorial waters, it is the PCG and PNP
Maritime Group that have jurisdiction over said vessels.
(9) The MMDA, as earlier indicated, is duty-bound to put up and maintain adequate
sanitary landfill and solid waste and liquid disposal system as well as other
alternative

garbage

disposal

systems.

It

is

primarily

responsible

for

the

implementation and enforcement of the provisions of RA 9003, which would


necessary include its penal provisions, within its area of jurisdiction. [29]
Among the prohibited acts under Sec. 48, Chapter VI of RA 9003 that are frequently
violated are dumping of waste matters in public places, such as roads, canals
or esteros, open burning of solid waste, squatting in open dumps and landfills, open
dumping, burying of biodegradable or non- biodegradable materials in flood-prone
areas, establishment or operation of open dumps as enjoined in RA 9003, and
operation of waste management facilities without an environmental compliance
certificate.
Under Sec. 28 of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (RA 7279),
eviction or demolition may be allowed when persons or entities occupy danger
areas such asesteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines,
waterways, and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks and
playgrounds. The MMDA, as lead agency, in coordination with the DPWH, LGUs, and
concerned agencies, can dismantle and remove all structures, constructions, and
other encroachments built in breach of RA 7279 and other pertinent laws along the
rivers, waterways, and esteros in Metro Manila. With respect to rivers, waterways,
and esteros in Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, and Laguna that discharge
wastewater directly or eventually into the Manila Bay, the DILG shall direct the
concerned LGUs to implement the demolition and removal of such structures,

constructions, and other encroachments built in violation of RA 7279 and other


applicable laws in coordination with the DPWH and concerned agencies.
(10) The Department of Health (DOH), under Article 76 of PD 1067 (the Water
Code), is tasked to promulgate rules and regulations for the establishment of waste
disposal areas that affect the source of a water supply or a reservoir for domestic or
municipal use. And under Sec. 8 of RA 9275, the DOH, in coordination with the
DENR, DPWH, and other concerned agencies, shall formulate guidelines and
standards for the collection, treatment, and disposal of sewage and the
establishment and operation of a centralized sewage treatment system. In areas not
considered as highly urbanized cities, septage or a mix sewerage-septage
management system shall be employed.
In accordance with Sec. 72[30] of PD 856, the Code of Sanitation of
the Philippines, and Sec. 5.1.1 [31] of Chapter XVII of its implementing rules, the DOH
is also ordered to ensure the regulation and monitoring of the proper disposal of
wastes by private sludge companies through the strict enforcement of the
requirement to obtain an environmental sanitation clearance of sludge collection
treatment and disposal before these companies are issued their environmental
sanitation permit.
(11) The Department of Education (DepEd), under the Philippine Environment
Code (PD 1152), is mandated to integrate subjects on environmental education in
its school curricula at all levels. [32] Under Sec. 118 of RA 8550, the DepEd, in
collaboration with the DA, Commission on Higher Education, and Philippine
Information Agency, shall launch and pursue a nationwide educational campaign to
promote the development, management, conservation, and proper use of the
environment. Under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003), on the
other hand, it is directed to strengthen the integration of environmental concerns in
school curricula at all levels, with an emphasis on waste management principles. [33]
(12) The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is tasked under Sec. 2, Title
XVII of the Administrative Code of 1987 to ensure the efficient and sound utilization
of government funds and revenues so as to effectively achieve the countrys
development objectives.[34]

One of the countrys development objectives is enshrined in RA 9275 or the


Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004. This law stresses that the State shall pursue a
policy of economic growth in a manner consistent with the protection, preservation,
and revival of the quality of our fresh, brackish, and marine waters. It also provides
that it is the policy of the government, among others, to streamline processes and
procedures in the prevention, control, and abatement of pollution mechanisms for
the protection of water resources; to promote environmental strategies and use of
appropriate economic instruments and of control mechanisms for the protection of
water resources; to formulate a holistic national program of water quality
management that recognizes that issues related to this management cannot be
separated from concerns about water sources and ecological protection, water
supply, public health, and quality of life; and to provide a comprehensive
management program for water pollution focusing on pollution prevention.
Thus, the DBM shall then endeavor to provide an adequate budget to attain the
noble objectives of RA 9275 in line with the countrys development objectives.
All told, the aforementioned enabling laws and issuances are in themselves
clear, categorical, and complete as to what are the obligations and mandate of each
agency/petitioner under the law. We need not belabor the issue that their tasks
include the cleanup of the Manila Bay.
Now, as to the crux of the petition. Do Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment
Code encompass the cleanup of water pollution in general, not just specific pollution
incidents?
Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment Code
Include Cleaning in General
The disputed sections are quoted as follows:
Section 17. Upgrading of Water Quality.Where the quality of water has
deteriorated to a degree where its state will adversely affect its best
usage, the government agencies concerned shall take such measures
as may be necessary to upgrade the quality of such water to meet the
prescribed water quality standards.

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


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

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

The amendatory Sec. 16 of RA 9275 reads:


SEC. 16. Cleanup Operations.Notwithstanding the provisions of
Sections 15 and 26 hereof, any person who causes pollution in or
pollutes water bodies in excess of the applicable and prevailing
standards shall be responsible to contain, remove and clean up any
pollution incident at his own expense to the extent that the same
water bodies have been rendered unfit for utilization and beneficial
use: Provided, That in the event emergency cleanup operations are
necessary and the polluter fails to immediately undertake the same,
the [DENR] in coordination with other government agencies concerned,
shall undertake containment, removal and cleanup operations.
Expenses incurred in said operations shall be reimbursed by the
persons found to have caused such pollution under proper
administrative determination x x x. Reimbursements of the cost
incurred shall be made to the Water Quality Management Fund or to
such other funds where said disbursements were sourced.

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


apparent than real since the amendment, insofar as it is relevant to this case,
merely consists in the designation of the DENR as lead agency in the cleanup
operations.
Petitioners contend at every turn that Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment
Code concern themselves only with the matter of cleaning up in specific pollution
incidents, as opposed to cleanup in general. They aver that the twin provisions

would have to be read alongside the succeeding Sec. 62(g) and (h), which defines
the terms cleanup operations and accidental spills, as follows:
g. Clean-up Operations [refer] to activities conducted in removing
the pollutants discharged or spilled in water to restore it to prespill condition.
h.

Accidental Spills [refer] to spills of oil or other hazardous


substances in water that result from accidents such as collisions
and groundings.

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


direct the government agencies concerned to undertake containment, removal, and
cleaning operations of a specific polluted portion or portions of the body of water
concerned. They maintain that the application of said Sec. 20 is limited only to
water pollution incidents, which are situations that presuppose the occurrence of
specific, isolated pollution events requiring the corresponding containment,
removal, and cleaning operations. Pushing the point further, they argue that the
aforequoted Sec. 62(g) requires cleanup operations to restore the body of water to
pre-spill condition, which means that there must have been a specific incident of
either intentional or accidental spillage of oil or other hazardous substances, as
mentioned in Sec. 62(h).
As a counterpoint, respondents argue that petitioners erroneously read Sec. 62(g)
as delimiting the application of Sec. 20 to the containment, removal, and cleanup
operations for accidental spills only. Contrary to petitioners posture, respondents
assert that Sec. 62(g), in fact, even expanded the coverage of Sec. 20. Respondents
explain that without its Sec. 62(g), PD 1152 may have indeed covered only pollution
accumulating

from

the

day-to-day

operations

of

businesses

around

the Manila Bay and other sources of pollution that slowly accumulated in the bay.
Respondents, however, emphasize that Sec. 62(g), far from being a delimiting
provision, in fact even enlarged the operational scope of Sec. 20, by including
accidental spills as among the water pollution incidents contemplated in Sec. 17 in
relation to Sec. 20 of PD 1152.
To respondents, petitioners parochial view on environmental issues, coupled
with their narrow reading of their respective mandated roles, has contributed to the

worsening water quality of the Manila Bay. Assuming, respondents assert, that
petitioners are correct in saying that the cleanup coverage of Sec. 20 of PD 1152 is
constricted by the definition of the phrase cleanup operations embodied in Sec.
62(g), Sec. 17 is not hobbled by such limiting definition. As pointed out, the phrases
cleanup operations and accidental spills do not appear in said Sec. 17, not even in
the chapter where said section is found.
Respondents are correct. For one thing, said Sec. 17 does not in any way
state that the government agencies concerned ought to confine themselves to the
containment, removal, and cleaning operations when a specific pollution incident
occurs. On the contrary, Sec. 17 requires them to act even in the absence of a
specific pollution incident, as long as water quality has deteriorated to a degree
where its state will adversely affect its best usage. This section, to stress,
commands concerned government agencies, when appropriate, to take such
measures as may be necessary to meet the prescribed water quality standards. In
fine, the underlying duty to upgrade the quality of water is not conditional on the
occurrence of any pollution incident.
For another, a perusal of Sec. 20 of the Environment Code, as couched,
indicates that it is properly applicable to a specific situation in which the pollution is
caused by polluters who fail to clean up the mess they left behind. In such instance,
the concerned government agencies shall undertake the cleanup work for the
polluters account. Petitioners assertion, that they have to perform cleanup
operations in the Manila Bay only when there is a water pollution incident and the
erring polluters do not undertake the containment, removal, and cleanup
operations, is quite off mark. As earlier discussed, the complementary Sec. 17 of the
Environment Code comes into play and the specific duties of the agencies to clean
up come in even if there are no pollution incidents staring at them. Petitioners, thus,
cannot plausibly invoke and hide behind Sec. 20 of PD 1152 or Sec. 16 of RA 9275
on the pretext that their cleanup mandate depends on the happening of a specific
pollution incident. In this regard, what the CA said with respect to the impasse over
Secs. 17 and 20 of PD 1152 is at once valid as it is practical. The appellate court
wrote: PD 1152 aims to introduce a comprehensive program of environmental
protection and management. This is better served by making Secs. 17 & 20 of
general application rather than limiting them to specific pollution incidents. [35]

Granting arguendo that petitioners position thus described vis--vis the


implementation of Sec. 20 is correct, they seem to have overlooked the fact that the
pollution of theManila Bay is of such magnitude and scope that it is well-nigh
impossible to draw the line between a specific and a general pollution incident. And
such impossibility extends to pinpointing with reasonable certainty who the
polluters are. We note that Sec. 20 of PD 1152 mentions water pollution incidents
which may be caused by polluters in the waters of the Manila Bay itself or by
polluters in adjoining lands and in water bodies or waterways that empty into the
bay. Sec. 16 of RA 9275, on the other hand, specifically adverts to any person who
causes pollution in or pollutes water bodies, which may refer to an individual or an
establishment that pollutes the land mass near the Manila Bay or the waterways,
such that the contaminants eventually end up in the bay. In this situation, the water
pollution incidents are so numerous and involve nameless and faceless polluters
that they can validly be categorized as beyond the specific pollution incident level.
Not to be ignored of course is the reality that the government agencies
concerned are so undermanned that it would be almost impossible to apprehend the
numerous polluters of the Manila Bay. It may perhaps not be amiss to say that the
apprehension, if any, of the Manila Bay polluters has been few and far between.
Hence, practically nobody has been required to contain, remove, or clean up a given
water pollution incident. In this kind of setting, it behooves the Government to step
in and undertake cleanup operations. Thus, Sec. 16 of RA 9275, previously Sec. 20
of PD 1152, covers for all intents and purposes a general cleanup situation.
The cleanup and/or restoration of the Manila Bay is only an aspect and the initial
stage of the long-term solution. The preservation of the water quality of the bay
after the rehabilitation process is as important as the cleaning phase. It is
imperative then that the wastes and contaminants found in the rivers, inland bays,
and other bodies of water be stopped from reaching the Manila Bay. Otherwise, any
cleanup effort would just be a futile, cosmetic exercise, for, in no time at all,
the Manila Bay water quality would again deteriorate below the ideal minimum
standards set by PD 1152, RA 9275, and other relevant laws. It thus behooves the
Court to put the heads of the petitioner-department-agencies and the bureaus and
offices under them on continuing notice about, and to enjoin them to perform, their
mandates and duties towards cleaning up the Manila Bay and preserving the quality
of its water to the ideal level. Under what other judicial discipline describes as
continuing mandamus,[36] the Court may, under extraordinary circumstances, issue

directives with the end in view of ensuring that its decision would not be set to
naught by administrative inaction or indifference. In India, the doctrine of continuing
mandamus was used to enforce directives of the court to clean up the length of
the Ganges River from industrial and municipal pollution.[37]
The Court can take judicial notice of the presence of shanties and other
unauthorized structures which do not have septic tanks along the Pasig-MarikinaSan Juan Rivers, the National Capital Region (NCR) (Paraaque-Zapote, Las Pias)
Rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, the Meycuayan-MarilaoObando (Bulacan) Rivers, the Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, the
Laguna De Bay, and other minor rivers and connecting waterways, river banks,
and esteros which discharge their waters, with all the accompanying filth, dirt, and
garbage, into the major rivers and eventually the Manila Bay. If there is one factor
responsible for the pollution of the major river systems and the Manila Bay, these
unauthorized structures would be on top of the list. And if the issue of illegal or
unauthorized structures is not seriously addressed with sustained resolve, then
practically all efforts to cleanse these important bodies of water would be for
naught. The DENR Secretary said as much. [38]
Giving urgent dimension to the necessity of removing these illegal structures is Art.
51 of PD 1067 or the Water Code, [39] which prohibits the building of structures within
a given length along banks of rivers and other waterways. Art. 51 reads:
The banks of rivers and streams and the shores of the
seas and lakes throughout their entire length and within a zone
of three (3) meters in urban areas, twenty (20) meters in
agricultural areas and forty (40) meters in forest areas, along their
margins, are subject to the easement of public use in the
interest of recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing and
salvage.No person shall be allowed to stay in this zone longer
than what is necessary for recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing or
salvage or to build structures of any kind. (Emphasis added.)

Judicial notice may likewise be taken of factories and other industrial establishments
standing along or near the banks of the Pasig River, other major rivers, and
connecting waterways. But while they may not be treated as unauthorized
constructions, some of these establishments undoubtedly contribute to the pollution
of the Pasig River and waterways. The DILG and the concerned LGUs, have,
accordingly, the duty to see to it that non-complying industrial establishments set

up, within a reasonable period, the necessary waste water treatment facilities and
infrastructure to prevent their industrial discharge, including their sewage waters,
from flowing into the Pasig River, other major rivers, and connecting waterways.
After such period, non-complying establishments shall be shut down or asked to
transfer their operations.
At this juncture, and if only to dramatize the urgency of the need for petitionersagencies to comply with their statutory tasks, we cite the Asian Development Bankcommissioned study on the garbage problem in Metro Manila, the results of which
are embodied in the The Garbage Book. As there reported, the garbage crisis in the
metropolitan area is as alarming as it is shocking. Some highlights of the report:
1. As early as 2003, three land-filled dumpsites in Metro Manila the Payatas, Catmon and Rodriquez dumpsites - generate an alarming
quantity of lead and leachate or liquid run-off. Leachate are toxic
liquids that flow along the surface and seep into the earth and poison
the surface and groundwater that are used for drinking, aquatic life,
and the environment.
2. The high level of fecal coliform confirms the presence of a
large amount of human waste in the dump sites and surrounding
areas, which is presumably generated by households that lack
alternatives to sanitation. To say that Manila Bay needs rehabilitation is
an understatement.
3. Most of the deadly leachate, lead and other dangerous
contaminants and possibly strains of pathogens seeps untreated into
ground water and runs into the Marikina and Pasig Riversystems
and Manila Bay.[40]
Given the above perspective, sufficient sanitary landfills should now more
than ever be established as prescribed by the Ecological Solid Waste Management
Act (RA 9003). Particular note should be taken of the blatant violations by some
LGUs and possibly the MMDA of Sec. 37, reproduced below:
Sec. 37. Prohibition against the Use of Open Dumps for Solid
Waste.No open dumps shall be established and operated, nor any
practice or disposal of solid waste by any person, including LGUs which
[constitute] the use of open dumps for solid waste, be allowed after the
effectivity of this Act: Provided, further that no controlled dumps
shall be allowed (5) years following the effectivity of this Act.
(Emphasis added.)

RA 9003 took effect on February 15, 2001 and the adverted grace period of
five (5) years which ended on February 21, 2006 has come and gone, but no single
sanitary landfill which strictly complies with the prescribed standards under RA 9003
has yet been set up.
In addition, there are rampant and repeated violations of Sec. 48 of RA 9003,
like littering, dumping of waste matters in roads, canals, esteros, and other public
places, operation of open dumps, open burning of solid waste, and the like. Some
sludge companies which do not have proper disposal facilities simply discharge
sludge

into

the

Metro

Manila

sewerage

system

that

ends

up

in

the Manila Bay. Equally unabated are violations of Sec. 27 of RA 9275, which enjoins
the pollution of water bodies, groundwater pollution, disposal of infectious wastes
from vessels, and unauthorized transport or dumping into sea waters of sewage or
solid waste and of Secs. 4 and 102 of RA 8550 which proscribes the introduction by
human

or

machine

of

substances

to

the

aquatic

environment

including

dumping/disposal of waste and other marine litters, discharge of petroleum or


residual products of petroleum of carbonaceous materials/substances [and other]
radioactive, noxious or harmful liquid, gaseous or solid substances, from any water,
land or air transport or other human-made structure.
In the light of the ongoing environmental degradation, the Court wishes to
emphasize the extreme necessity for all concerned executive departments and
agencies to immediately act and discharge their respective official duties and
obligations. Indeed, time is of the essence; hence, there is a need to set timetables
for the performance and completion of the tasks, some of them as defined for them
by law and the nature of their respective offices and mandates.
The importance of the Manila Bay as a sea resource, playground, and as a
historical landmark cannot be over-emphasized. It is not yet too late in the day to
restore theManila Bay to its former splendor and bring back the plants and sea life
that once thrived in its blue waters. But the tasks ahead, daunting as they may be,
could only be accomplished if those mandated, with the help and cooperation of all
civic-minded

individuals,

would

put

their minds

to these

tasks

and

take

responsibility. This means that the State, through petitioners, has to take the lead in
the preservation and protection of the Manila Bay.

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


must transcend their limitations, real or imaginary, and buckle down to work before
the problem at hand becomes unmanageable. Thus, we must reiterate that different
government agencies and instrumentalities cannot shirk from their mandates; they
must perform their basic functions in cleaning up and rehabilitating the Manila Bay.
We are disturbed by petitioners hiding behind two untenable claims: (1) that there
ought to be a specific pollution incident before they are required to act; and (2) that
the cleanup of the bay is a discretionary duty.
RA 9003 is a sweeping piece of legislation enacted to radically transform and
improve waste management. It implements Sec. 16, Art. II of the 1987 Constitution,
which explicitly provides that the State shall protect and advance the right of the
people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony
of nature.
So it was that in Oposa v. Factoran, Jr. the Court stated that the right to a
balanced and healthful ecology need not even be written in the Constitution for it is
assumed, like other civil and political rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, to exist
from the inception of mankind and it is an issue of transcendental importance with
intergenerational implications.[41] Even assuming the absence of a categorical legal
provision specifically prodding petitioners to clean up the bay, they and the men
and women representing them cannot escape their obligation to future generations
of Filipinos to keep the waters of the Manila Bay clean and clear as humanly as
possible. Anything less would be a betrayal of the trust reposed in them.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The September 28, 2005 Decision of the CA
in CA-G.R. CV No. 76528 and SP No. 74944 and the September 13, 2002 Decision of
the RTC in Civil Case No. 1851-99 are AFFIRMED but with MODIFICATIONS in view
of subsequent developments or supervening events in the case. The fallo of the RTC
Decision shall now read:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the abovenamed
defendant-government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate, and
preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to SB level
(Class B sea waters per Water Classification Tables under DENR
Administrative Order No. 34 [1990]) to make them fit for swimming,
skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.
In particular:

(1) Pursuant to Sec. 4 of EO 192, assigning the DENR as the primary agency
responsible for the conservation, management, development, and proper use of the
countrys environment and natural resources, and Sec. 19 of RA 9275, designating
the DENR as the primary government agency responsible for its enforcement and
implementation, the DENR is directed to fully implement its Operational Plan for the
Manila Bay Coastal Strategy for the rehabilitation, restoration, and conservation of
the Manila Bay at the earliest possible time. It is ordered to call regular coordination
meetings with concerned government departments and agencies to ensure the
successful implementation of the aforesaid plan of action in accordance with its
indicated completion schedules.
(2) Pursuant to Title XII (Local Government) of the Administrative Code of 1987 and
Sec. 25 of the Local Government Code of 1991,[42] the DILG, in exercising the
Presidents power of general supervision and its duty to promulgate guidelines in
establishing waste management programs under Sec. 43 of the Philippine
Environment Code (PD 1152), shall direct all LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna,
Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan to inspect all factories, commercial
establishments, and private homes along the banks of the major river systems in
their respective areas of jurisdiction, such as but not limited to the Pasig-MarikinaSan Juan Rivers, the NCR (Paraaque-Zapote, Las Pias) Rivers, the Navotas-MalabonTullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando (Bulacan) Rivers, the
Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, the Laguna De Bay, and other minor
rivers and waterways that eventually discharge water into the Manila Bay; and the
lands abutting the bay, to determine whether they have wastewater treatment
facilities or hygienic septic tanks as prescribed by existing laws, ordinances, and
rules and regulations. If none be found, these LGUs shall be ordered to require noncomplying establishments and homes to set up said facilities or septic tanks within
a reasonable time to prevent industrial wastes, sewage water, and human wastes
from flowing into these rivers, waterways, esteros, and the Manila Bay, under pain
of closure or imposition of fines and other sanctions.
(3) As mandated by Sec. 8 of RA 9275, [43] the MWSS is directed to provide, install,
operate, and maintain the necessary adequate waste water treatment facilities in
Metro Manila, Rizal, and Cavite where needed at the earliest possible time.

(4) Pursuant to RA 9275,[44] the LWUA, through the local water districts and in
coordination with the DENR, is ordered to provide, install, operate, and maintain
sewerage and sanitation facilities and the efficient and safe collection, treatment,
and disposal of sewage in the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and
Bataan where needed at the earliest possible time.
(5) Pursuant to Sec. 65 of RA 8550, [45] the DA, through the BFAR, is ordered to
improve and restore the marine life of the Manila Bay. It is also directed to assist the
LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan in
developing, using recognized methods, the fisheries and aquatic resources in
the Manila Bay.
(6) The PCG, pursuant to Secs. 4 and 6 of PD 979, and the PNP Maritime Group, in
accordance with Sec. 124 of RA 8550, in coordination with each other, shall
apprehend violators of PD 979, RA 8550, and other existing laws and regulations
designed to prevent marine pollution in the Manila Bay.
(7) Pursuant to Secs. 2 and 6-c of EO 513 [46] and the International Convention
for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, the PPA is ordered to immediately adopt
such measures to prevent the discharge and dumping of solid and liquid wastes and
other ship-generated wastes into the Manila Bay waters from vessels docked at
ports and apprehend the violators.
(8) The MMDA, as the lead agency and implementor of programs and projects
for flood control projects and drainage services in Metro Manila, in coordination with
the DPWH, DILG, affected LGUs, PNP Maritime Group, Housing and Urban
Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and other agencies, shall dismantle
and remove allstructures, constructions, and other encroachments established or
built in violation of RA 7279, and other applicable laws along the Pasig-Marikina-San
Juan Rivers, the NCR (Paraaque-Zapote, Las Pias) Rivers, the Navotas-MalabonTullahan-Tenejeros

Rivers,

and

connecting

waterways

and esteros in

Metro

Manila. The DPWH, as the principal implementor of programs and projects for flood
control services in the rest of the country more particularly in Bulacan, Bataan,
Pampanga, Cavite, and Laguna, in coordination with the DILG, affected LGUs, PNP
Maritime Group, HUDCC, and other concerned government agencies, shall remove
and demolish all structures, constructions, and other encroachments built in breach
of RA 7279 and other applicable laws along the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando

(Bulacan) Rivers, the Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, the Laguna De
Bay,

and

other

rivers,

connecting

waterways,

and esteros that

discharge

wastewater into the Manila Bay.


In addition, the MMDA is ordered to establish, operate, and maintain a sanitary
landfill, as prescribed by RA 9003, within a period of one (1) year from finality of this
Decision.On matters within its territorial jurisdiction and in connection with the
discharge of its duties on the maintenance of sanitary landfills and like
undertakings, it is also ordered to cause the apprehension and filing of the
appropriate criminal cases against violators of the respective penal provisions of RA
9003,[47] Sec. 27 of RA 9275 (the Clean Water Act), and other existing laws on
pollution.
(9) The DOH shall, as directed by Art. 76 of PD 1067 and Sec. 8 of RA 9275, within
one (1) year from finality of this Decision, determine if all licensed septic and sludge
companies have the proper facilities for the treatment and disposal of fecal sludge
and sewage coming from septic tanks. The DOH shall give the companies, if found
to be non-complying, a reasonable time within which to set up the necessary
facilities under pain of cancellation of its environmental sanitation clearance.
(10) Pursuant to Sec. 53 of PD 1152, [48] Sec. 118 of RA 8550, and Sec. 56 of RA
9003,[49] the

DepEd

shall

integrate

lessons

on

pollution

prevention,

waste

management, environmental protection, and like subjects in the school curricula of


all levels to inculcate in the minds and hearts of students and, through them, their
parents and friends, the importance of their duty toward achieving and maintaining
a balanced and healthful ecosystem in the Manila Bay and the entire Philippine
archipelago.
(11) The DBM shall consider incorporating an adequate budget in the General
Appropriations Act of 2010 and succeeding years to cover the expenses relating to
the cleanup, restoration, and preservation of the water quality of the Manila Bay, in
line with the countrys development objective to attain economic growth in a manner
consistent with the protection, preservation, and revival of our marine waters.
(12) The heads of petitioners-agencies MMDA, DENR, DepEd, DOH, DA, DPWH, DBM,
PCG, PNP Maritime Group, DILG, and also of MWSS, LWUA, and PPA, in line with the
principle of continuing mandamus, shall, from finality of this Decision, each submit

to the Court a quarterly progressive report of the activities undertaken in


accordance with this Decision.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.