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Oposa vs.

Factoran
Summary Cases:

Oposa vs. Factoran, Jr., 224 SCRA 792

Subject:

Cause of action, right to a balanced and healthful ecology, right to health, non-impairment clause

Facts:

The petition stems from a civil case instituted by minors duly represented and joined by their respective
parents against Fulgencio S. Factoran, the then Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR). The petitioners also aver that they represent their generation and generations yet
born. In the said civil case, the petitioners sought to have all existing timber license agreements (TLAs)
cancelled and for the DENR Secretary to cease and desist from approving new TLAs. A motion to
dismiss was granted finding that (1) the complaint states no cause of action; (2) the complaint raises a
political question; and (3) granting the reliefs prayed for would result to an impairment of contracts. The
petitioner filed a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 asking the Court to set aside the
judgment.

Held:

Right to a balanced and healthful ecology

1. The right to a balanced and healthful ecology is a specific fundamental legal right

2. Although 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 Bill of
Rights.

3. The right to a balanced and healthful ecology is self-executory and does not need an
implementing legislation.
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4. Under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and functions under E.O. No. 192 and the
Administrative Code of 1987, the DENR has a duty to protect and advance the right to a balanced and
healthful ecology.

Cause of action

5. A denial or violation of a right by the other who has a correlative duty of obligation to respect or protect
the same gives rise to a cause of action

6. In a motion to dismiss based on the ground that a complaint fails to state a cause of action, what is in
question is the sufficiency of the facts alleged in the complaint itself.

7. The allegations and averments of the petitioners claiming that the grant of the TLAs violated their right
to a balanced and healthful ecology is adequate enough to show prim facie the claimed violation of rights.

Non-impairment of contracts

8. TLAs are merely evidence of a privilege granted by the State, and do not vest a permanent or
irrevocable right. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded when the national
interests so require.

9. Since TLAs are not contracts, the non-impairment clause cannot be invoked.

(a) Assuming arguendo that TLAs are contracts, the case does not involve a law or executive issuance
ordering a cancellation or modification of TLAs. Thus, the clause is not applicable.

(b) Further, assuming that there is such a law, the law could have been passed in the exercise of police
power. The non-impairment clause must yield to the police power of the state.

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