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G.R. No.

110120 March 16, 1994 Cease and Desist Order 8 ordering the City Government of
Caloocan, Metropolitan Manila Authority, their contractors,
LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT and other entities, to completely halt, stop and desist from
AUTHORITY, petitioner, dumping any form or kind of garbage and other waste
vs. matter at the Camarin dumpsite.
Presiding Judge RTC, Branch 127, Caloocan City, The dumping operation was forthwith stopped by the City
HON. MACARIO A. ASISTIO, JR., City Mayor of Government of Caloocan. However, sometime in August
Caloocan and/or THE CITY GOVERNMENT OF 1992 the dumping operation was resumed after a meeting
CALOOCAN,respondents. held in July 1992 among the City Government of
Caloocan, the representatives of Task Force Camarin
The clash between the responsibility of the City Dumpsite and LLDA at the Office of Environmental
Government of Caloocan to dispose off the 350 tons of Management Bureau Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes failed to
garbage it collects daily and the growing concern and settle the problem.
sensitivity to a pollution-free environment of the residents
of Barangay Camarin, Tala Estate, Caloocan City where After an investigation by its team of legal and technical
these tons of garbage are dumped everyday is the hub of personnel on August 14, 1992, the LLDA issued another
this controversy elevated by the protagonists to the order reiterating the December 5, 1991, order and issued
Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) for an Alias Cease and Desist Order enjoining the City
adjudication. Government of Caloocan from continuing its dumping
operations at the Camarin area.
The instant case stemmed from an earlier petition filed
with this Court by Laguna Lake Development Authority On September 25, 1992, the LLDA, with the assistance of
(LLDA for short) docketed as G.R. the Philippine National Police, enforced its Alias Cease
No. 107542 against the City Government of Caloocan, et and Desist Order by prohibiting the entry of all garbage
al. In the Resolution of November 10, 1992, this Court dump trucks into the Tala Estate, Camarin area being
referred G.R. No. 107542 to the Court of Appeals for utilized as a dumpsite.
appropriate disposition. Docketed therein as CA-G.R. SP
No. 29449, the Court of Appeals, in a Pending resolution of its motion for reconsideration earlier
decision 1 promulgated on January 29, 1993 ruled that the filed on September 17, 1992 with the LLDA, the City
LLDA has no power and authority to issue a cease and Government of Caloocan filed with the Regional Trial
desist order enjoining the dumping of garbage in Court of Caloocan City an action for the declaration of
Barangay Camarin, Tala Estate, Caloocan City. The LLDA nullity of the cease and desist order with prayer for the
now seeks, in this petition, a review of the decision of the issuance of writ of injunction, docketed as Civil Case No.
Court of Appeals. C-15598. In its complaint, the City Government of
Caloocan sought to be declared as the sole authority
The facts, as disclosed in the records, are undisputed. empowered to promote the health and safety and enhance
the right of the people in Caloocan City to a balanced
On March 8, 1991, the Task Force Camarin Dumpsite of ecology within its territorial jurisdiction. 9
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan
City, filed a letter-complaint 2 with the Laguna Lake On September 25, 1992, the Executive Judge of the
Development Authority seeking to stop the operation of Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City issued a temporary
the 8.6-hectare open garbage dumpsite in Tala Estate, restraining order enjoining the LLDA from enforcing its
Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City due to its harmful cease and desist order. Subsequently, the case was
effects on the health of the residents and the possibility of raffled to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 126 of
pollution of the water content of the surrounding area. Caloocan which, at the time, was presided over by Judge
Manuel Jn. Serapio of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
On November 15, 1991, the LLDA conducted an on-site 127, the pairing judge of the recently-retired presiding
investigation, monitoring and test sampling of the judge.
leachate 3 that seeps from said dumpsite to the nearby
creek which is a tributary of the Marilao River. The LLDA The LLDA, for its part, filed on October 2, 1992 a motion
Legal and Technical personnel found that the City to dismiss on the ground, among others, that under
Government of Caloocan was maintaining an open Republic Act No. 3931, as amended by Presidential
dumpsite at the Camarin area without first securing an Decree No. 984, otherwise known as the Pollution Control
Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Law, the cease and desist order issued by it which is the
Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the subject matter of the complaint is reviewable both upon
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, as the law and the facts of the case by the Court of Appeals
required under Presidential Decree No. 1586, 4 and and not by the Regional Trial Court. 10
clearance from LLDA as required under Republic Act No.
4850, 5 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 813 and On October 12, 1992 Judge Manuel Jn. Serapio issued an
Executive Order No. 927, series of 1983. 6 order consolidating Civil Case No. C-15598 with Civil
Case No. C-15580, an earlier case filed by the Task Force
After a public hearing conducted on December 4, 1991, Camarin Dumpsite entitled "Fr. John Moran, et al. vs. Hon.
the LLDA, acting on the complaint of Task Force Camarin Macario Asistio." The LLDA, however, maintained during
Dumpsite, found that the water collected from the leachate the trial that the foregoing cases, being independent of
and the receiving streams could considerably affect the each other, should have been treated separately.
quality, in turn, of the receiving waters since it indicates
the presence of bacteria, other than coliform, which may On October 16, 1992, Judge Manuel Jn. Serapio, after
have contaminated the sample during collection or hearing the motion to dismiss, issued in the consolidated
handling. 7 On December 5, 1991, the LLDA issued a cases an order 11 denying LLDA's motion to dismiss and
granting the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction submit within 10 days from notice their respective
enjoining the LLDA, its agent and all persons acting for memoranda on the merits of the case, after which the
and on its behalf, from enforcing or implementing its cease petition shall be deemed submitted for
and desist order which prevents plaintiff City of Caloocan resolution. 15 Notwithstanding such efforts, the parties
from dumping garbage at the Camarin dumpsite during failed to settle the dispute.
the pendency of this case and/or until further orders of the
court. On April 30, 1993, the Court of Appeals promulgated its
decision holding that: (1) the Regional Trial Court has no
On November 5, 1992, the LLDA filed a petition jurisdiction on appeal to try, hear and decide the action for
for certiorari, prohibition and injunction with prayer for annulment of LLDA's cease and desist order, including the
restraining order with the Supreme Court, docketed as issuance of a temporary restraining order and preliminary
G.R. No. 107542, seeking to nullify the aforesaid order injunction in relation thereto, since appeal therefrom is
dated October 16, 1992 issued by the Regional Trial within the exclusive and appellate jurisdiction of the Court
Court, Branch 127 of Caloocan City denying its motion to of Appeals under Section 9, par. (3), of Batas Pambansa
dismiss. Blg. 129; and (2) the Laguna Lake Development Authority
has no power and authority to issue a cease and desist
The Court, acting on the petition, issued a Resolution 12 on order under its enabling law, Republic Act No. 4850, as
November 10, 1992 referring the case to the Court of amended by P.D. No. 813 and Executive Order
Appeals for proper disposition and at the same time, No. 927, series of 1983.
without giving due course to the petition, required the
respondents to comment on the petition and file the same The Court of Appeals thus dismissed Civil Case No.
with the Court of Appeals within ten (10) days from notice. 15598 and the preliminary injunction issued in the said
In the meantime, the Court issued a temporary restraining case was set aside; the cease and desist order of LLDA
order, effective immediately and continuing until further was likewise set aside and the temporary restraining order
orders from it, ordering the respondents: (1) Judge Manuel enjoining the City Mayor of Caloocan and/or the City
Jn. Serapio, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Government of Caloocan to cease and desist from
Branch 127, Caloocan City to cease and desist from dumping its garbage at the Tala Estate, Barangay
exercising jurisdiction over the case for declaration of Camarin, Caloocan City was lifted, subject, however, to
nullity of the cease and desist order issued by the Laguna the condition that any future dumping of garbage in said
Lake Development Authority (LLDA); and (2) City Mayor of area, shall be in conformity with the procedure and
Caloocan and/or the City Government of Caloocan to protective works contained in the proposal attached to the
cease and desist from dumping its garbage at the Tala records of this case and found on pages 152-160 of
Estate, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City. the Rollo, which was thereby adopted by reference and
made an integral part of the decision, until the
Respondents City Government of Caloocan and Mayor corresponding restraining and/or injunctive relief is
Macario A. Asistio, Jr. filed on November 12, 1992 a granted by the proper Court upon LLDA's institution of the
motion for reconsideration and/or to quash/recall the necessary legal proceedings.
temporary restraining order and an urgent motion for
reconsideration alleging that ". . . in view of the calamitous Hence, the Laguna Lake Development Authority filed the
situation that would arise if the respondent city instant petition for review on certiorari, now docketed as
government fails to collect 350 tons of garbage daily for G.R. No. 110120, with prayer that the temporary
lack of dumpsite (i)t is therefore, imperative that the issue restraining order lifted by the Court of Appeals be re-
be resolved with dispatch or with sufficient leeway to allow issued until after final determination by this Court of the
the respondents to find alternative solutions to this issue on the proper interpretation of the powers and
garbage problem." authority of the LLDA under its enabling law.

On November 17, 1992, the Court issued a On July, 19, 1993, the Court issued a temporary
Resolution 13 directing the Court of Appeals to immediately restraining order 16 enjoining the City Mayor of Caloocan
set the case for hearing for the purpose of determining and/or the City Government of Caloocan to cease and
whether or not the temporary restraining order issued by desist from dumping its garbage at the Tala Estate,
the Court should be lifted and what conditions, if any, may Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City, effective as of this date
be required if it is to be so lifted or whether the restraining and containing until otherwise ordered by the Court.
order should be maintained or converted into a preliminary
injunction. It is significant to note that while both parties in this case
agree on the need to protect the environment and to
The Court of Appeals set the case for hearing on maintain the ecological balance of the surrounding areas
November 27, 1992, at 10:00 in the morning at the of the Camarin open dumpsite, the question as to which
Hearing Room, 3rd Floor, New Building, Court of agency can lawfully exercise jurisdiction over the matter
Appeals. 14 After the oral argument, a conference was set remains highly open to question.
on December 8, 1992 at 10:00 o'clock in the morning
where the Mayor of Caloocan City, the General Manager The City Government of Caloocan claims that it is within
of LLDA, the Secretary of DENR or his duly authorized its power, as a local government unit, pursuant to the
representative and the Secretary of DILG or his duly general welfare provision of the Local Government
authorized representative were required to appear. Code, 17 to determine the effects of the operation of the
dumpsite on the ecological balance and to see that such
It was agreed at the conference that the LLDA had until balance is maintained. On the basis of said contention, it
December 15, 1992 to finish its study and review of questioned, from the inception of the dispute before the
respondent's technical plan with respect to the dumping of Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, the power and
its garbage and in the event of a rejection of respondent's authority of the LLDA to issue a cease and desist order
technical plan or a failure of settlement, the parties will enjoining the dumping of garbage in the Barangay
Camarin over which the City Government of Caloocan has The LLDA claims that the appellate court deliberately
territorial jurisdiction. suppressed and totally disregarded the above provisions
of Executive Order No. 927, series of 1983, which granted
The Court of Appeals sustained the position of the City of administrative quasi-judicial functions to LLDA on pollution
Caloocan on the theory that Section 7 of Presidential abatement cases.
Decree No. 984, otherwise known as the Pollution Control
law, authorizing the defunct National Pollution Control In light of the relevant environmental protection laws cited
Commission to issue an ex-parte cease and desist order which are applicable in this case, and the corresponding
was not incorporated in Presidential Decree No. 813 nor in overlapping jurisdiction of government agencies
Executive Order No. 927, series of implementing these laws, the resolution of the issue of
1983. The Court of Appeals ruled that under Section 4, whether or not the LLDA has the authority and power to
par. (d), of Republic Act No. 4850, as amended, the LLDA issue an order which, in its nature and effect was
is instead required "to institute the necessary legal injunctive, necessarily requires a determination of the
proceeding against any person who shall commence to threshold question: Does the Laguna Lake Development
implement or continue implementation of any project, plan Authority, under its Charter and its amendatory laws, have
or program within the Laguna de Bay region without the authority to entertain the complaint against the
previous clearance from the Authority." dumping of garbage in the open dumpsite in Barangay
Camarin authorized by the City Government of Caloocan
The LLDA now assails, in this partition for review, the which is allegedly endangering the health, safety, and
abovementioned ruling of the Court of Appeals, welfare of the residents therein and the sanitation and
contending that, as an administrative agency which was quality of the water in the area brought about by exposure
granted regulatory and adjudicatory powers and functions to pollution caused by such open garbage dumpsite?
by Republic Act No. 4850 and its amendatory laws,
Presidential Decree No. 813 and Executive Order No. The matter of determining whether there is such pollution
927, series of 1983, it is invested with the power and of the environment that requires control, if not prohibition,
authority to issue a cease and desist order pursuant to of the operation of a business establishment is essentially
Section 4 par. (c), (d), (e), (f) and (g) of Executive Order addressed to the Environmental Management Bureau
No. 927 series of 1983 which provides, thus: (EMB) of the DENR which, by virtue of Section 16 of
Executive Order No. 192, series of 1987, 18 has assumed
Sec. 4. Additional Powers and Functions. the powers and functions of the defunct National Pollution
The authority shall have the following Control Commission created under Republic Act No.
powers and functions: 3931. Under said Executive Order, a Pollution
Adjudication Board (PAB) under the Office of the DENR
xxx xxx xxx Secretary now assumes the powers and functions of the
National Pollution Control Commission with respect to
adjudication of pollution cases. 19
(c) Issue orders or decisions to compel
compliance with the provisions of this
Executive Order and its implementing rules As a general rule, the adjudication of pollution cases
and regulations only after proper notice generally pertains to the Pollution Adjudication Board
and hearing. (PAB), except in cases where the special law provides for
another forum. It must be recognized in this regard that
the LLDA, as a specialized administrative agency, is
(d) Make, alter or modify orders requiring
specifically mandated under Republic Act No. 4850 and its
the discontinuance of pollution specifying
amendatory laws to carry out and make effective the
the conditions and the time within which
declared national policy 20 of promoting and accelerating
such discontinuance must be
the development and balanced growth of the Laguna Lake
area and the surrounding provinces of Rizal and Laguna
and the cities of San Pablo, Manila, Pasay, Quezon and
(e) Issue, renew, or deny permits, under Caloocan 21 with due regard and adequate provisions for
such conditions as it may determine to be environmental management and control, preservation of
reasonable, for the prevention and the quality of human life and ecological systems, and the
abatement of pollution, for the discharge of prevention of undue ecological disturbances, deterioration
sewage, industrial waste, or for the and pollution. Under such a broad grant and power and
installation or operation of sewage works authority, the LLDA, by virtue of its special charter,
and industrial disposal system or parts obviously has the responsibility to protect the inhabitants
thereof. of the Laguna Lake region from the deleterious effects of
pollutants emanating from the discharge of wastes from
(f) After due notice and hearing, the the surrounding areas. In carrying out the aforementioned
Authority may also revoke, suspend or declared policy, the LLDA is mandated, among others, to
modify any permit issued under this Order pass upon and approve or disapprove all plans, programs,
whenever the same is necessary to and projects proposed by local government
prevent or abate pollution. offices/agencies within the region, public corporations, and
private persons or enterprises where such plans,
(g) Deputize in writing or request programs and/or projects are related to those of the LLDA
assistance of appropriate government for the development of the region. 22
agencies or instrumentalities for the
purpose of enforcing this Executive Order In the instant case, when the complainant Task Force
and its implementing rules and regulations Camarin Dumpsite of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish,
and the orders and decisions of the Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City, filed its letter-complaint
Authority. before the LLDA, the latter's jurisdiction under its charter
was validly invoked by complainant on the basis of its order" is, perforce, implied. Otherwise, it may well be
allegation that the open dumpsite project of the City reduced to a "toothless" paper agency.
Government of Caloocan in Barangay Camarin was
undertaken without a clearance from the LLDA, as In this connection, it must be noted that in Pollution
required under Section 4, par. (d), of Republic Act. No. Adjudication Board v. Court of Appeals, et al., 27 the Court
4850, as amended by P.D. No. 813 and Executive Order ruled that the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) has the
No. 927. While there is also an allegation that the said power to issue an ex-parte cease and desist order when
project was without an Environmental Compliance there is prima facie evidence of an establishment
Certificate from the Environmental Management Bureau exceeding the allowable standards set by the anti-pollution
(EMB) of the DENR, the primary jurisdiction of the LLDA laws of the country. Theponente, Associate Justice
over this case was recognized by the Environmental Florentino P. Feliciano, declared:
Management Bureau of the DENR when the latter acted
as intermediary at the meeting among the representatives Ex parte cease and desist orders are
of the City Government of Caloocan, Task Force Camarin permitted by law and regulations in
Dumpsite and LLDA sometime in July 1992 to discuss the situations like that here presented
possibility of precisely because stopping the continuous
re-opening the open dumpsite. discharge of pollutive and untreated
effluents into the rivers and other inland
Having thus resolved the threshold question, the inquiry waters of the Philippines cannot be made
then narrows down to the following issue: Does the LLDA to wait until protracted litigation over the
have the power and authority to issue a "cease and ultimate correctness or propriety of such
desist" order under Republic Act No. 4850 and its orders has run its full course, including
amendatory laws, on the basis of the facts presented in multiple and sequential appeals such as
this case, enjoining the dumping of garbage in Tala those which Solar has taken, which of
Estate, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City. course may take several years. The
relevant pollution control statute and
The irresistible answer is in the affirmative. implementing regulations were enacted
and promulgated in the exercise of that
The cease and desist order issued by the LLDA requiring pervasive, sovereign power to protect the
the City Government of Caloocan to stop dumping its safety, health, and general welfare and
garbage in the Camarin open dumpsite found by the LLDA comfort of the public, as well as the
to have been done in violation of Republic Act No. 4850, protection of plant and animal life,
as amended, and other relevant environment commonly designated as the police power.
laws, 23 cannot be stamped as an unauthorized exercise It is a constitutional commonplace that the
by the LLDA of injunctive powers. By its express terms, ordinary requirements of procedural due
Republic Act No. 4850, as amended by P.D. No. 813 and process yield to the necessities of
Executive Order No. 927, series of 1983, authorizes the protecting vital public interests like those
LLDA to "make, alter or modify order requiring the here involved, through the exercise of
discontinuance or pollution." 24(Emphasis supplied) police power. . . .
Section 4, par. (d) explicitly authorizes the LLDA
to make whatever order may be necessary in the exercise The immediate response to the demands of "the
of its jurisdiction. necessities of protecting vital public interests" gives vitality
to the statement on ecology embodied in the Declaration
To be sure, the LLDA was not expressly conferred the of Principles and State Policies or the 1987 Constitution.
power "to issue and ex-parte cease and desist order" in a Article II, Section 16 which provides:
language, as suggested by the City Government of
Caloocan, similar to the express grant to the defunct The State shall protect and advance the
National Pollution Control Commission under Section 7 of right of the people to a balanced and
P.D. No. 984 which, admittedly was not reproduced in healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm
P.D. No. 813 and E.O. No. 927, series of 1983. However, and harmony of nature.
it would be a mistake to draw therefrom the conclusion
that there is a denial of the power to issue the order in As a constitutionally guaranteed right of every person, it
question when the power "to make, alter or modify orders carries the correlative duty of non-impairment. This is but
requiring the discontinuance of pollution" is expressly and in consonance with the declared policy of the state "to
clearly bestowed upon the LLDA by Executive Order No. protect and promote the right to health of the people and
927, series of 1983. instill health consciousness among them." 28 It is to be
borne in mind that the Philippines is party to the Universal
Assuming arguendo that the authority to issue a "cease Declaration of Human Rights and the Alma Conference
and desist order" were not expressly conferred by law, Declaration of 1978 which recognize health as a
there is jurisprudence enough to the effect that the rule fundamental human right. 29
granting such authority need not necessarily be
express.25 While it is a fundamental rule that an The issuance, therefore, of the cease and desist order by
administrative agency has only such powers as are the LLDA, as a practical matter of procedure under the
expressly granted to it by law, it is likewise a settled rule circumstances of the case, is a proper exercise of its
that an administrative agency has also such powers as power and authority under its charter and its amendatory
are necessarily implied in the exercise of its express laws. Had the cease and desist order issued by the LLDA
powers. 26 In the exercise, therefore, of its express powers been complied with by the City Government of Caloocan
under its charter as a regulatory and quasi-judicial body as it did in the first instance, no further legal steps would
with respect to pollution cases in the Laguna Lake region, have been necessary.
the authority of the LLDA to issue a "cease and desist
The charter of LLDA, Republic Act No. 4850, as amended, MA. and REGINA MA., all surnamed ABAYA, minors,
instead of conferring upon the LLDA the means of directly represented by their parents ANTONIO and MARICA
enforcing such orders, has provided under its Section 4 ABAYA, MARILIN, MARIO, JR. and MARIETTE, all
(d) the power to institute "necessary legal proceeding surnamed CARDAMA, minors, represented by their
against any person who shall commence to implement or parents MARIO and LINA CARDAMA, CLARISSA, ANN
continue implementation of any project, plan or program MARIE, NAGEL, and IMEE LYN, all surnamed OPOSA,
within the Laguna de Bay region without previous minors and represented by their parents RICARDO
JOHN and ISAIAH JAMES, all surnamed QUIPIT,
Clearly, said provision was designed to invest the LLDA minors, represented by their parents JOSE MAX and
with sufficiently broad powers in the regulation of all VILMI QUIPIT, BUGHAW CIELO, CRISANTO, ANNA,
projects initiated in the Laguna Lake region, whether by DANIEL and FRANCISCO, all surnamed BIBAL,
the government or the private sector, insofar as the minors, represented by their parents FRANCISCO, JR.
implementation of these projects is concerned. It was and MILAGROS BIBAL, and THE PHILIPPINE
meant to deal with cases which might possibly arise where ECOLOGICAL NETWORK, INC., petitioners,
decisions or orders issued pursuant to the exercise of vs.
such broad powers may not be obeyed, resulting in the THE HONORABLE FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., in
thwarting of its laudabe objective. To meet such his capacity as the Secretary of the Department of
contingencies, then the writs of mandamus and injunction Environment and Natural Resources, and THE
which are beyond the power of the LLDA to issue, may be HONORABLE ERIBERTO U. ROSARIO, Presiding
sought from the proper courts. Judge of the RTC, Makati, Branch 66, respondents.

Insofar as the implementation of relevant anti-pollution In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of
laws in the Laguna Lake region and its surrounding Filipinos to a balanced and healthful ecology which the
provinces, cities and towns are concerned, the Court will petitioners dramatically associate with the twin concepts of
not dwell further on the related issues raised which are "inter-generational responsibility" and "inter-generational
more appropriately addressed to an administrative agency justice." Specifically, it touches on the issue of whether the
with the special knowledge and expertise of the LLDA. said petitioners have a cause of action to "prevent the
misappropriation or impairment" of Philippine rainforests
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The temporary and "arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital
restraining order issued by the Court on July 19, 1993 life support systems and continued rape of Mother Earth."
enjoining the City Mayor of Caloocan and/or the City
Government of Caloocan from dumping their garbage at The controversy has its genesis in Civil Case No. 90-77
the Tala Estate, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City is which was filed before Branch 66 (Makati, Metro Manila)
hereby made permanent. SO ORDERED. of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital Judicial
Region. The principal plaintiffs therein, now the principal
G.R. No. 101083 July 30, 1993 petitioners, are all minors duly represented and joined by
their respective parents. Impleaded as an additional
plaintiff is the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI), a
domestic, non-stock and non-profit corporation organized
ALFONSO, all surnamed OPOSA, minors, and
for the purpose of, inter alia, engaging in concerted action
represented by their parents ANTONIO and RIZALINA
geared for the protection of our environment and natural
resources. The original defendant was the Honorable
represented by her parents CALVIN and ROBERTA
Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., then Secretary of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
surnamed FLORES, minors and represented by their
(DENR). His substitution in this petition by the new
Secretary, the Honorable Angel C. Alcala, was
FORTUN, minor, represented by her parents SIGRID
subsequently ordered upon proper motion by the
petitioners. 1 The complaint 2 was instituted as a taxpayers'
CONCEPCION, all surnamed MISA, minors and
class suit 3 and alleges that the plaintiffs "are all citizens of
represented by their parents GEORGE and MYRA
the Republic of the Philippines, taxpayers, and entitled to
the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource
represented by his parents ANTONIO and ALICE
treasure that is the country's virgin tropical forests." The
PESIGAN, JOVIE MARIE ALFARO, minor, represented
same was filed for themselves and others who are equally
by her parents JOSE and MARIA VIOLETA ALFARO,
concerned about the preservation of said resource but are
MARIA CONCEPCION T. CASTRO, minor, represented
"so numerous that it is impracticable to bring them all
by her parents FREDENIL and JANE CASTRO,
before the Court." The minors further asseverate that they
"represent their generation as well as generations yet
minor, represented by her parents JOSE and ANGELA
unborn." 4 Consequently, it is prayed for that judgment be
minor, represented by his parents GREGORIO II and
JESUS IGNACIO, MA. ANGELA and MARIE . . . ordering defendant, his agents,
GABRIELLE, all surnamed SAENZ, minors, representatives and other persons acting
represented by their parents ROBERTO and AURORA in his behalf to
MARTHE and DAVID IAN, all surnamed KING, minors, (1) Cancel all existing timber license
represented by their parents MARIO and HAYDEE agreements in the country;
all surnamed ENDRIGA, minors, represented by their
(2) Cease and desist from receiving, 8. Twenty-five (25) years ago, the
accepting, processing, renewing or Philippines had some sixteen (16) million
approving new timber license agreements. hectares of rainforests constituting roughly
53% of the country's land mass.
and granting the plaintiffs ". . . such other reliefs just and
equitable under the premises." 5 9. Satellite images taken in 1987 reveal
that there remained no more than 1.2
The complaint starts off with the general averments that million hectares of said rainforests or four
the Philippine archipelago of 7,100 islands has a land area per cent (4.0%) of the country's land area.
of thirty million (30,000,000) hectares and is endowed with
rich, lush and verdant rainforests in which varied, rare and 10. More recent surveys reveal that a mere
unique species of flora and fauna may be found; these 850,000 hectares of virgin old-growth
rainforests contain a genetic, biological and chemical pool rainforests are left, barely 2.8% of the
which is irreplaceable; they are also the habitat of entire land mass of the Philippine
indigenous Philippine cultures which have existed, archipelago and about 3.0 million hectares
endured and flourished since time immemorial; scientific of immature and uneconomical secondary
evidence reveals that in order to maintain a balanced and growth forests.
healthful ecology, the country's land area should be
utilized on the basis of a ratio of fifty-four per cent (54%) 11. Public records reveal that the
for forest cover and forty-six per cent (46%) for defendant's, predecessors have granted
agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and other timber license agreements ('TLA's') to
uses; the distortion and disturbance of this balance as a various corporations to cut the aggregate
consequence of deforestation have resulted in a host of area of 3.89 million hectares for
environmental tragedies, such as (a) water shortages commercial logging purposes.
resulting from drying up of the water table, otherwise
known as the "aquifer," as well as of rivers, brooks and A copy of the TLA holders and the
streams, (b) salinization of the water table as a result of corresponding areas covered is hereto
the intrusion therein of salt water, incontrovertible attached as Annex "A".
examples of which may be found in the island of Cebu and
the Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite, (c) massive erosion
12. At the present rate of
and the consequential loss of soil fertility and agricultural
deforestation, i.e. about 200,000 hectares
productivity, with the volume of soil eroded estimated at
per annum or 25 hectares per hour
one billion (1,000,000,000) cubic meters per annum
nighttime, Saturdays, Sundays and
approximately the size of the entire island of
holidays included the Philippines will be
Catanduanes, (d) the endangering and extinction of the
bereft of forest resources after the end of
country's unique, rare and varied flora and fauna, (e) the
this ensuing decade, if not earlier.
disturbance and dislocation of cultural communities,
including the disappearance of the Filipino's indigenous
cultures, (f) the siltation of rivers and seabeds and 13. The adverse effects, disastrous
consequential destruction of corals and other aquatic life consequences, serious injury and
leading to a critical reduction in marine resource irreparable damage of this continued trend
productivity, (g) recurrent spells of drought as is presently of deforestation to the plaintiff minor's
experienced by the entire country, (h) increasing velocity generation and to generations yet unborn
of typhoon winds which result from the absence of are evident and incontrovertible. As a
windbreakers, (i) the floodings of lowlands and agricultural matter of fact, the environmental damages
plains arising from the absence of the absorbent enumerated in paragraph 6 hereof are
mechanism of forests, (j) the siltation and shortening of already being felt, experienced and
the lifespan of multi-billion peso dams constructed and suffered by the generation of plaintiff
operated for the purpose of supplying water for domestic adults.
uses, irrigation and the generation of electric power, and
(k) the reduction of the earth's capacity to process carbon 14. The continued allowance by defendant
dioxide gases which has led to perplexing and of TLA holders to cut and deforest the
catastrophic climatic changes such as the phenomenon of remaining forest stands will work great
global warming, otherwise known as the "greenhouse damage and irreparable injury to plaintiffs
effect." especially plaintiff minors and their
successors who may never see, use,
Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and detrimental benefit from and enjoy this rare and unique
consequences of continued and deforestation are so natural resource treasure.
capable of unquestionable demonstration that the same
may be submitted as a matter of judicial notice. This This act of defendant constitutes a
notwithstanding, they expressed their intention to present misappropriation and/or impairment of the
expert witnesses as well as documentary, photographic natural resource property he holds in trust
and film evidence in the course of the trial. for the benefit of plaintiff minors and
succeeding generations.
As their cause of action, they specifically allege that:
15. Plaintiffs have a clear and
CAUSE OF ACTION constitutional right to a balanced and
healthful ecology and are entitled to
protection by the State in its capacity as
7. Plaintiffs replead by reference the
the parens patriae.
foregoing allegations.
16. Plaintiff have exhausted all 21. Finally, defendant's act is contrary to
administrative remedies with the the highest law of humankind the
defendant's office. On March 2, 1990, natural law and violative of plaintiffs'
plaintiffs served upon defendant a final right to self-preservation and perpetuation.
demand to cancel all logging permits in the
country. 22. There is no other plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in law other than the
A copy of the plaintiffs' letter dated March instant action to arrest the unabated
1, 1990 is hereto attached as Annex "B". hemorrhage of the country's vital life
support systems and continued rape of
17. Defendant, however, fails and refuses Mother Earth. 6
to cancel the existing TLA's to the
continuing serious damage and extreme On 22 June 1990, the original defendant, Secretary
prejudice of plaintiffs. Factoran, Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint
based on two (2) grounds, namely: (1) the plaintiffs have
18. The continued failure and refusal by no cause of action against him and (2) the issue raised by
defendant to cancel the TLA's is an act the plaintiffs is a political question which properly pertains
violative of the rights of plaintiffs, to the legislative or executive branches of Government. In
especially plaintiff minors who may be left their 12 July 1990 Opposition to the Motion, the petitioners
with a country that is desertified (sic), bare, maintain that (1) the complaint shows a clear and
barren and devoid of the wonderful flora, unmistakable cause of action, (2) the motion is dilatory
fauna and indigenous cultures which the and (3) the action presents a justiciable question as it
Philippines had been abundantly blessed involves the defendant's abuse of discretion.
On 18 July 1991, respondent Judge issued an order
19. Defendant's refusal to cancel the granting the aforementioned motion to dismiss. 7 In the
aforementioned TLA's is manifestly said order, not only was the defendant's claim that the
contrary to the public policy enunciated in complaint states no cause of action against him and that it
the Philippine Environmental Policy which, raises a political question sustained, the respondent
in pertinent part, states that it is the policy Judge further ruled that the granting of the relief prayed for
of the State would result in the impairment of contracts which is
prohibited by the fundamental law of the land.
(a) to create, develop, maintain and
improve conditions under which man and Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action
nature can thrive in productive and for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court
enjoyable harmony with each other; and ask this Court to rescind and set aside the dismissal
order on the ground that the respondent Judge gravely
(b) to fulfill the social, economic and other abused his discretion in dismissing the action. Again, the
requirements of present and future parents of the plaintiffs-minors not only represent their
generations of Filipinos and; children, but have also joined the latter in this case. 8

(c) to ensure the attainment of an On 14 May 1992, We resolved to give due course to the
environmental quality that is conductive to petition and required the parties to submit their respective
a life of dignity and well-being. (P.D. 1151, Memoranda after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)
6 June 1977) filed a Comment in behalf of the respondents and the
petitioners filed a reply thereto.
20. Furthermore, defendant's continued
refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly and
is contradictory to the Constitutional policy unmistakably states a cause of action as it contains
of the State to 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
a. effect "a more equitable distribution of
(E.O.) No. 192 creating the DENR, Section 3 of
opportunities, income and wealth" and
Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1151 (Philippine
"make full and efficient use of natural
Environmental Policy), Section 16, Article II of the 1987
resources (sic)." (Section 1, Article XII of
Constitution recognizing the right of the people to a
the Constitution);
balanced and healthful ecology, the concept of
generational genocide in Criminal Law and the concept of
b. "protect the nation's marine wealth." man's inalienable right to self-preservation and self-
(Section 2, ibid); perpetuation embodied in natural law. Petitioners likewise
rely on the respondent's correlative obligation per Section
c. "conserve and promote the nation's 4 of E.O. No. 192, to safeguard the people's right to a
cultural heritage and resources (sic)" healthful environment.
(Section 14, Article XIV,id.);
It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent
d. "protect and advance the right of the Secretary's alleged grave abuse of discretion in granting
people to a balanced and healthful ecology Timber License Agreements (TLAs) to cover more areas
in accord with the rhythm and harmony of for logging than what is available involves a judicial
nature." (Section 16, Article II, id.) question.
Anent the invocation by the respondent Judge of the off-shore areas and other natural resources to the end that
Constitution's non-impairment clause, petitioners maintain their exploration, development and utilization be equitably
that the same does not apply in this case because TLAs accessible to the present as well as future
are not contracts. They likewise submit that even if TLAs generations. 10 Needless to say, every generation has a
may be considered protected by the said clause, it is well responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and
settled that they may still be revoked by the State when harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful
the public interest so requires. ecology. Put a little differently, the minors' assertion of
their right to a sound environment constitutes, at the same
On the other hand, the respondents aver that the time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the
petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a specific protection of that right for the generations to come.
legal right violated by the respondent Secretary for which
any relief is provided by law. They see nothing in the The locus standi of the petitioners having thus been
complaint but vague and nebulous allegations concerning addressed, We shall now proceed to the merits of the
an "environmental right" which supposedly entitles the petition.
petitioners to the "protection by the state in its capacity
as parens patriae." Such allegations, according to them, After a careful perusal of the complaint in question and a
do not reveal a valid cause of action. They then reiterate meticulous consideration and evaluation of the issues
the theory that the question of whether logging should be raised and arguments adduced by the parties, We do not
permitted in the country is a political question which hesitate to find for the petitioners and rule against the
should be properly addressed to the executive or respondent Judge's challenged order for having been
legislative branches of Government. They therefore assert issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
that the petitioners' resources is not to file an action to jurisdiction. The pertinent portions of the said order reads
court, but to lobby before Congress for the passage of a as follows:
bill that would ban logging totally.
xxx xxx xxx
As to the matter of the cancellation of the TLAs,
respondents submit that the same cannot be done by the After a careful and circumspect evaluation
State without due process of law. Once issued, a TLA of the Complaint, the Court cannot help but
remains effective for a certain period of time usually for agree with the defendant. For although we
twenty-five (25) years. During its effectivity, the same can believe that plaintiffs have but the noblest
neither be revised nor cancelled unless the holder has of all intentions, it (sic) fell short of alleging,
been found, after due notice and hearing, to have violated with sufficient definiteness, a specific legal
the terms of the agreement or other forestry laws and right they are seeking to enforce and
regulations. Petitioners' proposition to have all the TLAs protect, or a specific legal wrong they are
indiscriminately cancelled without the requisite hearing seeking to prevent and redress (Sec. 1,
would be violative of the requirements of due process. Rule 2, RRC). Furthermore, the Court
notes that the Complaint is replete with
Before going any further, We must first focus on some vague assumptions and vague conclusions
procedural matters. Petitioners instituted Civil Case No. based on unverified data. In fine, plaintiffs
90-777 as a class suit. The original defendant and the fail to state a cause of action in its
present respondents did not take issue with this matter. Complaint against the herein defendant.
Nevertheless, We hereby rule that the said civil case is
indeed a class suit. The subject matter of the complaint is Furthermore, the Court firmly believes that
of common and general interest not just to several, but to the matter before it, being impressed with
all citizens of the Philippines. Consequently, since the political color and involving a matter of
parties are so numerous, it, becomes impracticable, if not public policy, may not be taken cognizance
totally impossible, to bring all of them before the court. We of by this Court without doing violence to
likewise declare that the plaintiffs therein are numerous the sacred principle of "Separation of
and representative enough to ensure the full protection of Powers" of the three (3) co-equal branches
all concerned interests. Hence, all the requisites for the of the Government.
filing of a valid class suit under Section 12, Rule 3 of the
Revised Rules of Court are present both in the said civil
The Court is likewise of the impression that
case and in the instant petition, the latter being but an
it cannot, no matter how we stretch our
incident to the former.
jurisdiction, grant the reliefs prayed for by
the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing
This case, however, has a special and novel element. timber license agreements in the country
Petitioners minors assert that they represent their and to cease and desist from receiving,
generation as well as generations yet unborn. We find no accepting, processing, renewing or
difficulty in ruling that they can, for themselves, for others approving new timber license agreements.
of their generation and for the succeeding generations, file For to do otherwise would amount to
a class suit. Their personality to sue in behalf of the "impairment of contracts" abhored (sic) by
succeeding generations can only be based on the concept the fundamental law. 11
of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a
balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. Such a right,
We do not agree with the trial court's conclusions that the
as hereinafter expounded, considers
plaintiffs failed to allege with sufficient definiteness a
the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature means the
specific legal right involved or a specific legal wrong
created world in its entirety. 9 Such rhythm and harmony
committed, and that the complaint is replete with vague
indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious disposition,
assumptions and conclusions based on unverified data. A
utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the
reading of the complaint itself belies these conclusions.
country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife,
The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal therefore, sanctions may
right the right to a balanced and healthful ecology be provided for impairment
which, for the first time in our nation's constitutional of environmental
history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law. balance. 12
Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution explicitly
provides: The said right implies, among many other things, the
judicious management and conservation of the country's
Sec. 16. The State shall protect and forests.
advance the right of the people to a
balanced and healthful ecology in accord Without such forests, the ecological or
with the rhythm and harmony of nature. environmental balance would be irreversiby
This right unites with the right to health
which is provided for in the preceding Conformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and
section of the same article: healthful ecology and the right to health, as well as the
other related provisions of the Constitution concerning the
Sec. 15. The State shall protect and conservation, development and utilization of the country's
promote the right to health of the people natural resources, 13 then President Corazon C. Aquino
and instill health consciousness among promulgated on 10 June 1987 E.O. No. 192, 14 Section 4
them. of which expressly mandates that the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources "shall be the primary
While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be government agency responsible for the conservation,
found under the Declaration of Principles and State management, development and proper use of the
Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow country's environment and natural resources, specifically
that it is less important than any of the civil and political forest and grazing lands, mineral, resources, including
rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of
different category of rights altogether for it concerns the public domain, as well as the licensing and regulation
nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation of all natural resources as may be provided for by law in
aptly and fittingly stressed by the petitioners the order to ensure equitable sharing of the benefits derived
advancement of which may even be said to predate all therefrom for the welfare of the present and future
governments and constitutions. As a matter of fact, these generations of Filipinos." Section 3 thereof makes the
basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution following statement of policy:
for they are assumed to exist from the inception of
humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the Sec. 3. Declaration of Policy. It is
fundamental charter, it is because of the well-founded fear hereby declared the policy of the State to
of its framers that unless the rights to a balanced and ensure the sustainable use, development,
healthful ecology and to health are mandated as state management, renewal, and conservation
policies by the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting their of the country's forest, mineral, land, off-
continuing importance and imposing upon the state a shore areas and other natural resources,
solemn obligation to preserve the first and protect and including the protection and enhancement
advance the second, the day would not be too far when all of the quality of the environment, and
else would be lost not only for the present generation, but equitable access of the different segments
also for those to come generations which stand to of the population to the development and
inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of sustaining the use of the country's natural resources,
life. not only for the present generation but for
future generations as well. It is also the
The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with policy of the state to recognize and apply a
it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the true value system including social and
environment. During the debates on this right in one of the environmental cost implications relative to
plenary sessions of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, their utilization, development and
the following exchange transpired between Commissioner conservation of our natural resources.
Wilfrido Villacorta and Commissioner Adolfo Azcuna who
sponsored the section in question: This policy declaration is substantially re-stated it Title
XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of
MR. VILLACORTA: 1987, 15specifically in Section 1 thereof which reads:

Does this section mandate Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. (1) The

the State to provide State shall ensure, for the benefit of the
sanctions against all forms Filipino people, the full exploration and
of pollution air, water development as well as the judicious
and noise pollution? disposition, utilization, management,
renewal and conservation of the country's
MR. AZCUNA: forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries,
wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural
resources, consistent with the necessity of
Yes, Madam President.
maintaining a sound ecological balance
The right to healthful (sic)
and protecting and enhancing the quality
environment necessarily
of the environment and the objective of
carries with it the
making the exploration, development and
correlative duty of not
utilization of such natural resources
impairing the same and,
equitably accessible to the different A cause of action is defined as:
segments of the present as well as future
generations. . . . an act or omission of one party in
violation of the legal right or rights of the
(2) The State shall likewise recognize and other; and its essential elements are legal
apply a true value system that takes into right of the plaintiff, correlative obligation of
account social and environmental cost the defendant, and act or omission of the
implications relative to the utilization, defendant in violation of said legal right. 18
development and conservation of our
natural resources. It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss
based on the ground that the complaint fails to state a
The above provision stresses "the necessity of cause of action, 19 the question submitted to the court for
maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting resolution involves the sufficiency of the facts alleged in
and enhancing the quality of the environment." Section 2 the complaint itself. No other matter should be considered;
of the same Title, on the other hand, specifically speaks of furthermore, the truth of falsity of the said allegations is
the mandate of the DENR; however, it makes particular beside the point for the truth thereof is deemed
reference to the fact of the agency's being subject to law hypothetically admitted. The only issue to be resolved in
and higher authority. Said section provides: such a case is: admitting such alleged facts to be true,
may the court render a valid judgment in accordance with
Sec. 2. Mandate. (1) The Department of the prayer in the complaint? 20 InMilitante vs.
Environment and Natural Resources shall Edrosolano, 21 this Court laid down the rule that the
be primarily responsible for the judiciary should "exercise the utmost care and
implementation of the foregoing policy. circumspection in passing upon a motion to dismiss on the
ground of the absence thereof [cause of action] lest, by its
(2) It shall, subject to law and higher failure to manifest a correct appreciation of the facts
authority, be in charge of carrying out the alleged and deemed hypothetically admitted, what the law
State's constitutional mandate to control grants or recognizes is effectively nullified. If that happens,
and supervise the exploration, there is a blot on the legal order. The law itself stands in
development, utilization, and conservation disrepute."
of the country's natural resources.
After careful examination of the petitioners' complaint, We
Both E.O. NO. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 find the statements under the introductory affirmative
have set the objectives which will serve as the bases for allegations, as well as the specific averments under the
policy formulation, and have defined the powers and sub-heading CAUSE OF ACTION, to be adequate enough
functions of the DENR. 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,
It may, however, be recalled that even before the
that insofar as the cancellation of the TLAs is concerned,
ratification of the 1987 Constitution, specific statutes
there is the need to implead, as party defendants, the
already paid special attention to the "environmental right"
grantees thereof for they are indispensable parties.
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 The foregoing considered, Civil Case No. 90-777 be said
former "declared a continuing policy of the State (a) to to raise a political question. Policy formulation or
create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under determination by the executive or legislative branches of
which man and nature can thrive in productive and Government is not squarely put in issue. What is
enjoyable harmony with each other, (b) to fulfill the social, principally involved is the enforcement of a right vis-a-
economic and other requirements of present and future vis policies already formulated and expressed in
generations of Filipinos, and (c) to insure the attainment of legislation. It must, nonetheless, be emphasized that the
an environmental quality that is conducive to a life of political question doctrine is no longer, the insurmountable
dignity and well-being." 16 As its goal, it speaks of the obstacle to the exercise of judicial power or the
"responsibilities of each generation as trustee and impenetrable shield that protects executive and legislative
guardian of the environment for succeeding actions from judicial inquiry or review. The second
generations." 17 The latter statute, on the other hand, gave paragraph of section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution
flesh to the said policy. states that:

Thus, the right of the petitioners (and all those they Judicial power includes the duty of the
represent) to a balanced and healthful ecology is as clear courts of justice to settle actual
as the DENR's duty under its mandate and by virtue of controversies involving rights which are
its powers and functions under E.O. No. 192 and the legally demandable and enforceable, and
Administrative Code of 1987 to protect and advance to determine whether or not there has
the said right. been a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction
on the part of any branch or instrumentality
A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the
of the Government.
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 Commenting on this provision in his book, Philippine
grave abuse of discretion, violated their right to a balanced Political Law, 22 Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, a
and healthful ecology; hence, the full protection thereof distinguished member of this Court, says:
requires that no further TLAs should be renewed or
The first part of the authority represents . . . Provided, That when the national
the traditional concept of judicial power, interest so requires, the President may
involving the settlement of conflicting rights amend, modify, replace or rescind any
as conferred as law. The second part of contract, concession, permit, licenses or
the authority represents a broadening of any other form of privilege granted herein .
judicial power to enable the courts of ..
justice to review what was before
forbidden territory, to wit, the discretion of Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked
the political departments of the or rescinded by executive action. It is not a
government. contract, property or a property right protested by
the due process clause of the Constitution. In Tan
As worded, the new provision vests in the vs. Director of Forestry, 25 this Court held:
judiciary, and particularly the Supreme
Court, the power to rule upon even the . . . A timber license is an instrument by
wisdom of the decisions of the executive which the State regulates the utilization
and the legislature and to declare their and disposition of forest resources to the
acts invalid for lack or excess of end that public welfare is promoted. A
jurisdiction because tainted with grave timber license is not a contract within the
abuse of discretion. The catch, of course, purview of the due process clause; it is
is the meaning of "grave abuse of only a license or privilege, which can be
discretion," which is a very elastic phrase validly withdrawn whenever dictated by
that can expand or contract according to public interest or public welfare as in this
the disposition of the judiciary. case.

In Daza vs. Singson, 23 Mr. Justice Cruz, now speaking for A license is merely a permit or privilege to
this Court, noted: do what otherwise would be unlawful, and
is not a contract between the authority,
In the case now before us, the federal, state, or municipal, granting it and
jurisdictional objection becomes even less the person to whom it is granted; neither is
tenable and decisive. The reason is that, it property or a property right, nor does it
even if we were to assume that the issue create a vested right; nor is it taxation (37
presented before us was political in nature, C.J. 168). Thus, this Court held that the
we would still not be precluded from granting of license does not create
revolving it under the expanded jurisdiction irrevocable rights, neither is it property or
conferred upon us that now covers, in property rights (People vs. Ong Tin, 54
proper cases, even the political question. O.G. 7576).
Article VII, Section 1, of the Constitution
clearly provides: . . . We reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe Ysmael, Jr. &
Co., Inc. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary: 26
The last ground invoked by the trial court in dismissing the
complaint is the non-impairment of contracts clause found . . . Timber licenses, permits and license
in the Constitution. The court a quo declared that: agreements are the principal instruments
by which the State regulates the utilization
The Court is likewise of the impression that and disposition of forest resources to the
it cannot, no matter how we stretch our end that public welfare is promoted. And it
jurisdiction, grant the reliefs prayed for by can hardly be gainsaid that they merely
the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing evidence a privilege granted by the State
timber license agreements in the country to qualified entities, and do not vest in the
and to cease and desist from receiving, latter a permanent or irrevocable right to
accepting, processing, renewing or the particular concession area and the
approving new timber license agreements. forest products therein. They may be
For to do otherwise would amount to validly amended, modified, replaced or
"impairment of contracts" abhored (sic) by rescinded by the Chief Executive when
the fundamental law. 24 national interests so require. Thus, they
are not deemed contracts within the
We are not persuaded at all; on the contrary, We are purview of the due process of law clause
amazed, if not shocked, by such a sweeping [See Sections 3(ee) and 20 of Pres.
pronouncement. In the first place, the respondent Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v.
Secretary did not, for obvious reasons, even invoke in his Director of Forestry, G.R. No. L-24548,
motion to dismiss the non-impairment clause. If he had October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302].
done so, he would have acted with utmost infidelity to the
Government by providing undue and unwarranted benefits Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-
and advantages to the timber license holders because he impairment clause, which reads:
would have forever bound the Government to strictly
respect the said licenses according to their terms and Sec. 10. No law impairing, the obligation of
conditions regardless of changes in policy and the contracts shall be passed. 27
demands of public interest and welfare. He was aware
that as correctly pointed out by the petitioners, into every cannot be invoked.
timber license must be read Section 20 of the Forestry
Reform Code (P.D. No. 705) which provides:
In the second place, even if it is to be assumed that the ALFREDO TANO, BALDOMERO TANO, DANILO
same are contracts, the instant case does not involve a TANO, ROMUALDO TANO, TEOCENES MIDELLO,
law or even an executive issuance declaring the ANGEL DE MESA, EULOGIO TREMOCHA, FELIPE
cancellation or modification of existing timber licenses. ONGONION, JR., ANDRES LINIJAN, ROBERT LIM,
Hence, the non-impairment clause cannot as yet be VIRGINIA LIM, FELIMON DE MESA, GENEROSO
invoked. Nevertheless, granting further that a law has ARAGON, TEODORICO ANDRE, ROMULO DEL
actually been passed mandating cancellations or ROSARIO, CHOLITO ANDRE, ERICK MONTANO,
modifications, the same cannot still be stigmatized as a ANDRES OLIVA, VITTORIO SALVADOR, LEOPOLDO
violation of the non-impairment clause. This is because by ARAGON, RAFAEL RIBA, ALEJANDRO LEONILA,
its very nature and purpose, such as law could have only JOSE DAMACINTO, RAMIRO MANAEG, RUBEN
been passed in the exercise of the police power of the MARGATE, ROBERTO REYES, DANILO
state for the purpose of advancing the right of the people PANGARUTAN, NOE GOLPAN, ESTANISLAO
to a balanced and healthful ecology, promoting their ROMERO, NICANOR DOMINGO, ROLDAN TABANG,
health and enhancing the general welfare. In Abe vs. ADRIANO TABANG, FREDDIE SACAMAY, MIGUEL
Corp. 28 this Court stated: CELESTINO A. ABANO, ALLAN ALMODAI, BILLY D.
The freedom of contract, under our system MELANIE AMANTE, CLARO E. YATOC, MERGELDO B.
of government, is not meant to be BALDEO, EDGAR M. ALMASETA, JOSELITO
absolute. The same is understood to be MANAEG, LIBERATO ANDRADA, JR., ROBERTO
subject to reasonable legislative regulation BERRY, RONALD VILLANUEVA, EDUARDO
aimed at the promotion of public health, VALMORIA, WILFREDO MENDOZA, NAPOLEON
moral, safety and welfare. In other words, BABANGGA, ROBERTO TADEPA, RUBEN ASINGUA,
the constitutional guaranty of non- SILVERIO GABO, JERRY ROMERO, DAVID
impairment of obligations of contract is PANGGARUTAN, DANIEL PANGGARUTAN, ROMEO
limited by the exercise of the police power AGAWIN, FERNANDO EQUIZ, DITO LEQUIZ, RONILO
of the State, in the interest of public health, MODERABLE, BENEDICTO TORRES, ROSITO A.
safety, moral and general welfare. VALDEZ, CRESENCIO A. SAYANG, NICOMEDES S.
The reason for this is emphatically set forth in Nebia vs. RAUTO, DIOSDADO A. ACOSTA, BONIFACIO G.
New York, 29 quoted in Philippine American Life Insurance SISMO, TACIO ALUBA, DANIEL B. BATERZAL,
Co. vs. Auditor General, 30 to wit: ELISEO YBAEZ, DIOSDADO E. HANCHIC, EDDIE
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
OF PALAWAN,petitioners,
fundamental with the private right is that of
the public to regulate it in the common
In short, the non-impairment clause must yield to the ZABALA, ROSALINO R. ACOSTA, JOSELITO A.
police power of the state. 31 CADLAON, ANDRES R. BAACO, NELSON P.
Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court did, how ORDINARIO, ERNESTO A. LLACUNA, RODOLFO C.
the non-impairment clause could apply with respect to the FLORDELIZA, GILBERT S. BAACO, WINSTON G.
prayer to enjoin the respondent Secretary from receiving, ARZAGA, NAPOLEON F. ORDONEZ and GIL P.
accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber ACOSTA, CITY MAYOR EDWARD HAGEDORN,
licenses for, save in cases of renewal, no contract would MEMBERS OF SANGGUNIANG PANLUNGSOD NG
have as of yet existed in the other instances. Moreover, PUERTO PRINCESA, ALL MEMBERS OF BANTAY
with respect to renewal, the holder is not entitled to it as a DAGAT, MEMBERS OF PHILIPPINE NATIONAL
WHEREFORE, being impressed with merit, the instant PRINCESA CITY, and ALL JUDGES OF PALAWAN,
Petition is hereby GRANTED, and the challenged Order of REGIONAL, MUNICIPAL AND
respondent Judge of 18 July 1991 dismissing Civil Case METROPOLITAN,respondents.
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 DAVIDE, JR., J.:
Petitioners caption their petition as one for "Certiorari,
G.R. No. 110249 August 21, 1997 Injunction With Preliminary and Mandatory Injunction, with
Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order" and pray that C. MUDFISH A kind of fish
this Court: (1) declare as unconstitutional: (a) Ordinance under the family of
No. 15-92, dated 15 December 1992, of the Sangguniang Orphicaphalisae better known as
Panglungsod of Puerto Princesa; (b) Office Order No. 23, DALAG;
Series of 1993, dated 22 January 1993, issued by Acting
City Mayor Amado L. Lucero of Puerto Princesa City; and D. ALL LIVE FISH All alive,
(c) Resolution No. 33, Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993, breathing not necessarily moving
dated 19 February 1993, of the Sangguniang of all specie[s] use[d] for food and
Panlalawigan of Palawan; (2) enjoin the enforcement for aquarium purposes.
thereof; and (3) restrain respondents Provincial and City
Prosecutors of Palawan and Puerto Princesa City and E. LIVE LOBSTER Several
Judges of the Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial relatively, large marine
Courts 1 and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Palawan crusteceans [sic] of the genus
from assuming jurisdiction over and hearing cases Homarus that are alive and
concerning the violation of the Ordinances and of the breathing not necessarily moving.
Office Order.
Sec. 4. It shall be unlawful [for] any
More appropriately, the petition is, and shall be treated as, person or any business enterprise
a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition. or company to ship out from Puerto
Princesa City to any point of
The following is petitioners' summary of the factual destination either via aircraft or
antecedents giving rise to the petition: seacraft of any live fish and lobster
1. On December 15, 1992, the Sangguniang MUDFISH, AND MILKFISH FRIES.
Panlungsod ng Puerto Princesa City enacted
Ordinance No. 15-92 which took effect on January Sec. 5. Penalty Clause. Any
1, 1993 entitled: "AN ORDINANCE BANNING person/s and or business entity
THE SHIPMENT OF ALL LIVE FISH AND violating this Ordinance shall be
LOBSTER OUTSIDE PUERTO PRINCESA CITY penalized with a fine of not more
FROM JANUARY 1, 1993 TO JANUARY 1, 1998 than P5,000.00 or imprisonment of
AND PROVIDING EXEMPTIONS, PENALTIES not more than twelve (12) months,
AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES THEREOF", the cancellation of their permit to do
full text of which reads as follows: business in the City of Puerto
Princesa or all of the herein stated
Sec. 1. Title of the Ordinance. penalties, upon the discretion of
This Ordinance is entitled: AN the court.
SHIPMENT OF ALL LIVE FISH Sec. 6. If the owner and/or
AND LOBSTER OUTSIDE operator of the establishment
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY FROM found violating the provisions of
JANUARY 1, 1993 TO JANUARY this ordinance is a corporation or a
1, 1998 AND PROVIDING partnership, the penalty prescribed
EXEMPTIONS, PENALTIES AND in Section 5 hereof shall be
FOR OTHER PURPOSES imposed upon its president and/or
THEREOF. General Manager or Managing
Partner and/or Manager, as the
Sec. 2. Purpose, Scope and case maybe [sic].
Coverage. To effectively free
our City Sea Waters from Cyanide Sec. 7. Any existing ordinance or
and other Obnoxious substance[s], any provision of any ordinance
and shall cover all persons and/or inconsistent to [sic] this ordinance
entities operating within and is deemed repealed.
outside the City of Puerto Princesa
who is are (sic) directly or indirectly Sec. 8. This Ordinance shall take
in the business or shipment of live effect on January 1, 1993.
fish and lobster outside the City.
Sec. 3. Definition of terms. For
purpose of this Ordinance the
xxx xxx xxx
following are hereby defined:
2. To implement said city ordinance, then Acting
A. SEA BASS A kind of fish
City Mayor Amado L. Lucero issued Office Order
under the family of Centropomidae,
No. 23, Series of 1993 dated January 22, 1993
better known as APAHAP;
which reads as follows:
B. CATFISH A kind of fish under
In the interest of public service and for purposes of
the family of Plotosidae, better
City Ordinance No. PD 426-14-74, otherwise
known as HITO-HITO;
ENGAGE IN ANY BUSINESS, TRADE, remain to be in excellent condition
OCCUPATION, CALLING OR PROFESSION OR as [a] habitat of marine coral
HAVING IN HIS POSSESSION ANY OF THE dwelling aquatic organisms;
MAYOR'S PERMIT" and "City Ordinance No. 15- that the destruction and
92, AN ORDINANCE BANNING THE SHIPMENT devastation of the corals of our
OF ALL LIVE FISH AND LOBSTER OUTSIDE province were principally due to
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY FROM JANUARY 1, illegal fishing activities like
1993 TO JANUARY 1, 1998, you are hereby dynamite fishing, sodium cyanide
authorized and directed to check or conduct fishing, use of other obnoxious
necessary inspections on cargoes containing live substances and other related
fish and lobster being shipped out from the Puerto activities;
Princesa Airport, Puerto Princesa Wharf or at any
port within the jurisdiction of the City to any point WHEREAS, there is an imperative
of destinations [sic] either via aircraft or seacraft. and urgent need to protect and
preserve the existence of the
The purpose of the inspection is to ascertain remaining excellent corals and
whether the shipper possessed the required allow the devastated ones to
Mayor's Permit issued by this Office and the reinvigorate and regenerate
shipment is covered by invoice or clearance themselves into vitality within the
issued by the local office of the Bureau of span of five (5) years;
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and as to
compliance with all other existing rules and WHEREAS, Sec. 468, Par. 1, Sub-
regulations on the matter. Par. VI of the [sic] R.A. 7160
otherwise known as the Local
Any cargo containing live fish and lobster without Government Code of 1991
the required documents as stated herein must be empowers the Sangguniang
held for proper disposition. Panlalawigan to protect the
environment and impose
In the pursuit of this Order, you are hereby appropriate penalties [upon] acts
authorized to coordinate with the PAL Manager, which endanger the environment
the PPA Manager, the local PNP Station and other such as dynamite fishing and other
offices concerned for the needed support and forms of destructive fishing, among
cooperation. Further, that the usual courtesy and others.
diplomacy must be observed at all times in the
conduct of the inspection. NOW, THEREFORE, on motion by
Kagawad Nelson P. Peneyra and
Please be guided accordingly. upon unanimous decision of all the
members present;
xxx xxx xxx
Be it resolved as it is hereby
3. On February 19, 1993, the Sangguniang resolved, to approve Resolution
Panlalawigan, Provincial Government of Palawan No. 33, Series of 1993 of the
enacted Resolution No. 33 entitled: "A Sangguniang Panlalawigan and to
MARGARITEFERA (MOTHER PEARL, shall be known as an "Ordinance
OYSTERS, GIANT CLAMS AND OTHER Prohibiting the catching, gathering,
SPECIES), PENAEUS MONODON (TIGER possessing, buying, selling and
PRAWN-BREEDER SIZE OR shipment of live marine coral
MOTHER), EPINEPHELUS SUILLUS (LOBA OR dwelling aquatic organisms, to wit:
GREEN GROUPER) AND 1. Family: Scaridae (Mameng), 2.
FISHES) FOR A PERIOD FIVE (5) YEARS IN Cromileptes altivelis (Panther or
AND COMING FROM PALAWAN WATERS", the Senorita), lobster below 200 grams
full text of which reads as follows: and spawning), 4. Tridacna Gigas
(Taklobo), 5. Pinctada
WHEREAS, scientific and factual Margaretefera (Mother Pearl,
researches [sic] and studies Oysters, Giant Clams and other
disclose that only five (5) percent species), 6. Penaeus Monodon
of the corals of our province (Tiger Prawn-breeder size or
mother), 7. Epinephelus Suillus perspective and consideration of
(Loba or Green Grouper) and 8. [sic] their prosperity, and to attain
Family: Balistidae (T[r]opical this end, the Sangguniang
Aquarium Fishes) for a period of Panlalawigan henceforth declares
five (5) years in and coming from that is (sic) shall be unlawful for
Palawan Waters. any person or any business entity
to engage in catching, gathering,
Sec. II. PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS possessing, buying, selling and
shipment of live marine coral
1. Sec. 2-A (Rep. Act 7160). It is dwelling aquatic organisms as
hereby declared, the policy of the enumerated in Section 1 hereof in
state that the territorial and political and coming out of Palawan Waters
subdivisions of the State shall for a period of five (5) years;
enjoy genuine and meaningful
local autonomy to enable them to Sec. IV. PENALTY CLAUSE.
attain their fullest development as Any person and/or business entity
self-reliant communities and make violating this Ordinance shall be
them more effective partners in the penalized with a fine of not more
attainment of national goals. than Five Thousand Pesos
Toward this end, the State shall (P5,000.00), Philippine Currency,
provide for [a] more responsive and/or imprisonment of six (6)
and accountable local government months to twelve (12) months and
structure instituted through a confiscation and forfeiture of
system of decentralization whereby paraphernalias [sic] and equipment
local government units shall be in favor of the government at the
given more powers, authority, discretion of the Court;
responsibilities and resources.
2. Sec. 5-A (R.A. 7160). Any If for any reason, a Section or
provision on a power of [a] local provision of this Ordinance shall be
Government Unit shall be liberally held as unconditional [sic] or
interpreted in its favor, and in case invalid, it shall not affect the other
of doubt, any question thereon provisions hereof.
shall be resolved in favor of
devolution of powers and of the Sec. VI. REPEALING CLAUSE.
lower government units. "Any fair Any existing Ordinance or a
and reasonable doubts as to the provision of any ordinance
existence of the power shall be inconsistent herewith is deemed
interpreted in favor of the Local modified, amended or repealed.
Government Unit concerned."
3. Sec. 5-C (R.A. 7160). The Ordinance shall take effect ten (10)
general welfare provisions in this days after its publication.
Code shall be liberally interpreted
to give more powers to local SO ORDAINED.
government units in accelerating
economic development and xxx xxx xxx
upgrading the quality of life for the
people in the community.
4. The respondents implemented the said
ordinances, Annexes "A" and "C" hereof thereby
4. Sec. 16 (R.A. 7160). General depriving all the fishermen of the whole province
Welfare. Every local of Palawan and the City of Puerto Princesa of their
government unit shall exercise the only means of livelihood and the petitioners Airline
powers expressly granted, those Shippers Association of Palawan and other marine
necessarily implied therefrom, as merchants from performing their lawful occupation
well as powers necessary, and trade;
appropriate, or incidental for its
efficient and effective governance;
5. Petitioners Alfredo Tano, Baldomero Tano,
and those which are essential to
Teocenes Midello, Angel de Mesa, Eulogio
the promotion of the general
Tremocha, and Felipe Ongonion, Jr. were even
charged criminally under criminal case no. 93-05-
C in the 1st Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Cuyo-
Sec. III. DECLARATION OF Agutaya-Magsaysay, an original carbon copy of
POLICY. It is hereby declared to the criminal complaint dated April 12, 1993 is
be the policy of the Province of hereto attached as Annex "D"; while xerox copies
Palawan to protect and conserve are attached as Annex "D" to the copies of the
the marine resources of Palawan petition;
not only for the greatest good of
the majority of the present
6. Petitioners Robert Lim and Virginia Lim, on the
generation but with [the] proper
other hand, were charged by the respondent PNP
with the respondent City Prosecutor of Puerto public hearings were conducted before the enactment of
Princess City, a xerox copy of the complaint is the Ordinance which, undoubtedly, had a lawful purpose
hereto attached as Annex "E"; and employed reasonable means; while as to the latter, a
substantial distinction existed "between a fisherman who
Without seeking redress from the concerned local catches live fish with the intention of selling it live, and a
government units, prosecutor's office and courts, fisherman who catches live fish with no intention at all of
petitioners directly invoked our original jurisdiction by filing selling it live," i.e., "the former uses sodium cyanide while
this petition on 4 June 1993. In sum, petitioners contend the latter does not." Further, the Ordinance applied equally
that: to all those belonging to one class.

First, the Ordinances deprived them of due process of law, On 25 October 1993 petitioners filed an Urgent Plea for
their livelihood, and unduly restricted them from the the Immediate Issuance of a Temporary Restraining
practice of their trade, in violation of Section 2, Article XII Order, claiming that despite the pendency of this case,
and Sections 2 and 7 of Article XIII of the 1987 Branch 50 of the Regional Trial Court of Palawan was
Constitution. bent on proceeding with Criminal Case No. 11223 against
petitioners Danilo Tano, Alfredo Tano, Eulogio Tremocha,
Second, Office Order No. 23 contained no regulation nor Romualdo Tano, Baldomero Tano, Andres Linijan and
condition under which the Mayor's permit could be granted Angel de Mesa for violation of Ordinance No. 2 of the
or denied; in other words, the Mayor had the absolute Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan. Acting on said
authority to determine whether or not to issue the permit. plea, we issued on 11 November 1993 a temporary
restraining order directing Judge Angel Miclat of said court
to cease and desist from proceeding with the arraignment
Third, as Ordinance No. 2 of the Province of Palawan
and pre-trial of Criminal Case No. 11223.
"altogether prohibited the catching, gathering, possession,
buying, selling and shipping of live marine coral dwelling
organisms, without any distinction whether it was caught On 12 July 1994, we excused the Office of the Solicitor
or gathered through lawful fishing method," the Ordinance General from filing a comment, considering that as
took away the right of petitioners-fishermen to earn their claimed by said office in its Manifestation of 28 June 1994,
livelihood in lawful ways; and insofar as petitioners- respondents were already represented by counsel.
members of Airline Shippers Association are concerned,
they were unduly prevented from pursuing their vocation The rest of the respondents did not file any comment on
and entering "into contracts which are proper, necessary, the petition.
and essential to carry out their business endeavors to a
successful conclusion." In the resolution of 15 September 1994, we resolved to
consider the comment on the petition as the Answer, gave
Finally, as Ordinance No. 2 of the Sangguniang due course to the petition and required the parties to
Panlalawigan is null and void, the criminal cases based submit their respective memoranda. 2
thereon against petitioners Tano and the others have to
be dismissed. On 22 April 1997 we ordered impleaded as party
respondents the Department of Agriculture and the
In the Resolution of 15 June 1993 we required Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and required
respondents to comment on the petition, and furnished the the Office of the Solicitor General to comment on their
Office of the Solicitor General with a copy thereof. behalf. But in light of the latter's motion of 9 July 1997 for
an extension of time to file the comment which would only
In their comment filed on 13 August 1993, public result in further delay, we dispensed with said comment.
respondents Governor Socrates and Members of the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan defended the After due deliberation on the pleadings filed, we resolved
validity of Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993, as a valid to dismiss this petition for want of merit, and on 22 July
exercise of the Provincial Government's power under the 1997, assigned it to the ponente to write the opinion of the
general welfare clause (Section 16 of the Local Court.
Government Code of 1991 [hereafter, LGC]), and its
specific power to protect the environment and impose I
appropriate penalties for acts which endanger the
environment, such as dynamite fishing and other forms of There are actually two sets of petitioners in this case. The
destructive fishing under Section 447 (a) (1) (vi), Section first is composed of Alfredo Tano, Baldomero Tano,
458 (a) (1) (vi), and Section 468 (a) (1) (vi), of the LGC. Danilo Tano, Romualdo Tano, Teocenes Midello, Angel
They claimed that in the exercise of such powers, the de Mesa, Eulogio Tremocha, Felipe Ongonion, Jr., Andres
Province of Palawan had "the right and responsibility . . . Linijan, and Felimon de Mesa, who were criminally
to insure that the remaining coral reefs, where fish dwells charged with violating Sangguniang Panlalawigan
[sic], within its territory remain healthy for the future Resolution No. 33 and Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993, of
generation." The Ordinance, they further asserted, the Province of Palawan, in Criminal Case No. 93-05-C of
covered only live marine coral dwelling aquatic the 1st Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of
organismswhich were enumerated in the ordinance and Palawan; 3 and Robert Lim and Virginia Lim who were
excluded other kinds of live marine aquatic organisms not charged with violating City Ordinance No. 15-92 of Puerto
dwelling in coral reefs; besides the prohibition was for only Princesa City and Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993, of the
five (5) years to protect and preserve the pristine coral and Province of Palawan before the Office of the City
allow those damaged to regenerate. Prosecutor of Puerto Princesa.4 All of them, with the
exception of Teocenes Midello, Felipe Ongonion, Jr.,
Aforementioned respondents likewise maintained that Felimon de Mesa, Robert Lim and Virginia Lim, are
there was no violation of the due process and equal likewise the accused in Criminal Case No. 11223 for the
protection clauses of the Constitution. As to the former, violation of Ordinance No. 2 of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan of Palawan, pending before Branch 50 of While we have concurrent jurisdiction with Regional Trial
the Regional Trial Court of Palawan. 5 courts and with the Court of Appeals to issue writs
of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas
The second set of petitioners is composed of the rest of corpus and injunction, such concurrence gives petitioners
the petitioners numbering seventy-seven (77), all of no unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum, so we
whom, except the Airline Shippers Association of Palawan held in People v. Cuaresma. 13
an alleged private association of several marine
merchants are natural persons who claim to be This concurrence of jurisdiction is not . . . to be
fishermen. taken as according to parties seeking any of the
writs an absolute unrestrained freedom of choice
The primary interest of the first set of petitioners is, of of the court to which application therefor will be
course, to prevent the prosecution, trial and determination directed. There is after all hierarchy of courts. That
of the criminal cases until the constitutionality or legality of hierarchy is determinative of the venue of appeals,
the Ordinances they allegedly violated shall have been and should also serve as a general determinant of
resolved. The second set of petitioners merely claim that the appropriate forum for petitions for the
being fishermen or marine merchants, they would be extraordinary writs. A becoming regard for that
adversely affected by the ordinance's. judicial hierarchy most certainly indicates that
petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs
As to the first set of petitioners, this special civil against first level ("inferior") courts should be filed
for certiorari must fail on the ground of prematurity with the Regional Trial Court, and those against
amounting to a lack of cause of action. There is no the latter, with the Court of Appeals. A direct
showing that said petitioners, as the accused in the invocation of the Supreme Court's original
criminal cases, have filed motions to quash the jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed
informations therein and that the same were denied. The only when there are special and important reasons
ground available for such motions is that the facts charged therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the
therein do not constitute an offense because the petition. This is established policy. It is a policy
ordinances in question are unconstitutional. 6 It cannot necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon
then be said that the lower courts acted without or in the Court's time and attention which are better
excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion to devoted to those matters within its exclusive
justify recourse to the extraordinary remedy of certiorari or jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-crowding
prohibition. It must further be stressed that even if of the Court's docket. . . .
petitioners did file motions to quash, the denial thereof
would not forthwith give rise to a cause of action under The Court feels the need to reaffirm that policy at
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. The general rule is that this time, and to enjoin strict adherence thereto in
where a motion to quash is denied, the remedy therefrom the light of what it perceives to be a growing
is not certiorari, but for the party aggrieved thereby to go tendency on the part of litigants and lawyers to
to trial without prejudice to reiterating special defenses have their applications for the so-called
involved in said motion, and if, after trial on the merits an extraordinary writs, and sometimes even their
adverse decision is rendered, to appeal therefrom in the appeals, passed upon and adjudicated directly
manner authorized by law. 7 And, even where in an and immediately by the highest tribunal of the
exceptional circumstance such denial may be the subject land. . . .
of a special civil action for certiorari, a motion for
reconsideration must have to be filed to allow the court In Santiago v. Vasquez, 14 this Court forcefully expressed
concerned an opportunity to correct its errors, unless such that the propensity of litigants and lawyers to disregard the
motion may be dispensed with because of existing hierarchy of courts must be put to a halt, not only because
exceptional circumstances. 8 Finally, even if a motion for of the imposition upon the precious time of this Court, but
reconsideration has been filed and denied, the remedy also because of the inevitable and resultant delay,
under Rule 65 is still unavailable absent any showing of intended or otherwise, in the adjudication of the case
the grounds provided for in Section 1 thereof. 9 For which often has to be remanded or referred to the lower
obvious reasons, the petition at bar does not, and could court, the proper forum under the rules of procedure, or as
not have, alleged any of such grounds. better equipped to resolve the issues since this Court is
not a trier of facts. We reiterated "the judicial policy that
As to the second set of petitioners, the instant petition is this Court will not entertain direct resort to it unless the
obviously one for DECLARATORY RELIEF, i.e., for a redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate
declaration that the Ordinances in question are a "nullity . . courts or where exceptional and compelling circumstances
. for being unconstitutional." 10 As such, their petition must justify availment of a remedy within and calling for the
likewise fail, as this Court is not possessed of original exercise of [its] primary jurisdiction."
jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory relief even if only
questions of law are involved, 11 it being settled that the III
Court merely exercises appellate jurisdiction over such
petitions.12 Notwithstanding the foregoing procedural obstacles
against the first set of petitioners, we opt to resolve this
II case on its merits considering that the lifetime of the
challenged Ordinances is about to end. Ordinance No. 15-
Even granting arguendo that the first set of petitioners 92 of the City of Puerto Princesa is effective only up to 1
have a cause of action ripe for the extraordinary writ January 1998, while Ordinance No. 2 of the Province of
ofcertiorari, there is here a clear disregard of the hierarchy Palawan, enacted on 19 February 1993, is effective for
of courts, and no special and important reason or only five (5) years. Besides, these Ordinances were
exceptional and compelling circumstance has been undoubtedly enacted in the exercise of powers under the
adduced why direct recourse to us should be allowed. new LGC relative to the protection and preservation of the
environment and are thus novel and of paramount as "a private association composed of Marine
importance. No further delay then may be allowed in the Merchants;" petitioners Robert Lim and Virginia
resolution of the issues raised. Lim, as "merchants;" while the rest of the
petitioners claim to be "fishermen," without any
It is of course settled that laws (including ordinances qualification, however, as to their status.
enacted by local government units) enjoy the presumption
of constitutionality. 15 To overthrow this presumption, there Since the Constitution does not specifically
must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the provide a definition of the terms "subsistence" or
Constitution, not merely a doubtful or argumentative "marginal" fishermen, 18 they should be construed
contradiction. In short, the conflict with the Constitution in their general and ordinary sense. A marginal
must be shown beyond reasonable doubt. 16 Where doubt fisherman is an individual engaged in fishing
exists, even if well-founded, there can be no finding of whose margin of return or reward in his harvest of
unconstitutionality. To doubt is to sustain. 17 fish as measured by existing price levels is barely
sufficient to yield a profit or cover the cost of
After a scrutiny of the challenged Ordinances and the gathering the fish, 19 while a subsistence fisherman
provisions of the Constitution petitioners claim to have is one whose catch yields but the irreducible
been violated, we find petitioners' contentions baseless minimum for his livelihood. 20 Section 131(p) of the
and so hold that the former do not suffer from any LGC (R.A. No. 7160) defines a marginal farmer or
infirmity, both under the Constitution and applicable laws. fisherman as "an individual engaged in
subsistence farming or fishing which shall be
Petitioners specifically point to Section 2, Article XII and limited to the sale, barter or exchange of
Sections 2 and 7, Article XIII of the Constitution as having agricultural or marine products produced by
been transgressed by the Ordinances. himself and his immediate family." It bears
repeating that nothing in the record supports a
finding that any petitioner falls within these
The pertinent portion of Section 2 of Article XII reads:
Sec. 2. . . .
Besides, Section 2 of Article XII aims primarily not
to bestow any right to subsistence fishermen, but
The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth to lay stress on the duty of the State to protect the
in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and nation's marine wealth. What the provision merely
exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and recognizes is that the State may allow, by law,
enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens. cooperative fish farming, with priority to
subsistence fishermen and fishworkers in rivers,
The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale lakes, bays and lagoons. Our survey of the statute
utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, books reveals that the only provision of law which
as well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to speaks of a preferential right of marginal
subsistence fishermen and fishworkers in rivers, fishermen is Section 149 of the LGC, which
lakes, bays, and lagoons. pertinently provides:

Sections 2 and 7 of Article XIII provide: Sec. 149. Fishery Rentals, Fees and
Charges. . . .
Sec. 2. The promotion of social justice
shall include the commitment to create (b) The sangguniang bayan may:
economic opportunities based on freedom
of initiative and self-reliance. (1) Grant fishery privileges to erect fish corrals,
oyster, mussels or other aquatic beds or bangus
xxx xxx xxx fry areas, within a definite zone of the municipal
waters, as determined by it: Provided, however,
Sec. 7. The State shall protect the rights of That duly registered organizations and
subsistence fishermen, especially of local cooperatives of marginal fishermen shall have the
communities, to the preferential use of the preferential right to such fishery privileges . . . .
communal marine and fishing resources,
both inland and offshore. It shall provide In a Joint Administrative Order No. 3 dated 25
support to such fishermen through April 1996, the Secretary of the Department of
appropriate technology and research, Agriculture and the Secretary of the Department of
adequate financial, production, and Interior and Local Government prescribed
marketing assistance, and other services. guidelines concerning the preferential treatment of
The State shall also protect, develop, and small fisherfolk relative to the fishery right
conserve such resources. The protection mentioned in Section 149. This case, however,
shall extend to offshore fishing grounds of does not involve such fishery right.
subsistence fishermen against foreign
intrusion. Fishworkers shall receive a just Anent Section 7 of Article XIII, it speaks not only of
share from their labor in the utilization of the use of communal marine and fishing
marine and fishing resources. resources, but of their protection, development
and conservation. As hereafter shown, the
There is absolutely no showing that any of the ordinances in question are meant precisely to
petitioners qualifies as a subsistence or marginal protect and conserve our marine resources to the
fisherman. In their petition, petitioner Airline end that their enjoyment may be guaranteed not
Shippers Association of Palawan is self-described
only for the present generation, but also for the Philippines and fish in any
generations to come. fishing grounds.

The so-called "preferential right" of subsistence or MR. BENGZON:

marginal fishermen to the use of marine resources
is not at all absolute. In accordance with the Subject to whatever rules
Regalian Doctrine, marine resources belong to the and regulations and local
State, and, pursuant to the first paragraph of laws that may be passed,
Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, their may be existing or will be
"exploration, development and utilization . . . shall passed. 21 (emphasis
be under the full control and supervision of the supplied)
State." Moreover, their mandated protection,
development and conservation as necessarily What must likewise be borne in mind is the state
recognized by the framers of the Constitution, policy enshrined in the Constitution regarding the
imply certain restrictions on whatever right of duty of the State to protect and advance the right
enjoyment there may be in favor of anyone. Thus, of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology
as to the curtailment of the preferential treatment in accord with the rhythm and harmony of
of marginal fishermen, the following exchange nature. 22 On this score, in Oposa
between Commissioner Francisco Rodrigo and v. Factoran, 23 this Court declared:
Commissioner Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr., took place
at the plenary session of the Constitutional
While the right to a balanced and healthful
ecology is to be found under the
Declaration of Principles the State Policies
MR. RODRIGO: and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not
follow that it is less important than any of
Let us discuss the the civil and political rights enumerated in
implementation of this the latter. Such a right belongs to a
because I would not raise different category of rights altogether for it
the hopes of our people, concerns nothing less than self-
and afterwards fail in the preservation and self-perpetuation aptly
implementation. How will and fittingly stressed by the petitioners
this be implemented? Will the advancement of which may even be
there be a licensing or said to predate all governments and
giving of permits so that constitutions. As a matter of fact, these
government officials will basic rights need not even be written in the
know that one is really a Constitution for they are assumed to exist
marginal fisherman? Or if from the inception of humankind. If they
policeman say that a are now explicitly mentioned in the
person is not a marginal fundamental charter, it is because of the
fisherman, he can show his well-founded fear of its framers that unless
permit, to prove that indeed the rights to a balanced and healthful
he is one. ecology and to health are mandated as
state policies by the Constitution itself,
MR. BENGZON: thereby highlighting their continuing
importance and imposing upon the state a
Certainly, there will be solemn obligation to preserve the first and
some mode of licensing protect and advance the second, the day
insofar as this is concerned would not be too far when all else would
and this particular question be lost not only for the present generation,
could be tackled when we but also for those to come generations
discuss the Article on Local which stand to inherit nothing but parched
Governments whether earth incapable of sustaining life.
we will leave to the local
governments or to The right to a balanced and healthful
Congress on how these ecology carries with it a correlative duty to
things will be implemented. refrain from impairing the environment. . . .
But certainly, I think our
congressmen and our local The LGC provisions invoked by private
officials will not be bereft of respondents merely seek to give flesh and blood
ideas on how to implement to the right of the people to a balanced and
this mandate. healthful ecology. In fact, the General Welfare
Clause, expressly mentions this right:
xxx xxx xxx
Sec. 16. General Welfare. Every local
MR. RODRIGO: government unit shall exercise the powers
expressly granted, those necessarily
So, once one is licensed as implied therefrom, as well as powers
a marginal fisherman, he necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its
can go anywhere in the efficient and effective governance, and
those which are essential to the promotion
of the general welfare. Within their to effectively carry out such fishery laws within the
respective territorial jurisdictions, local municipal waters.
government units shall ensure and
support, among other things, the The term "municipal waters," in turn, includes not
preservation and enrichment of culture, only streams, lakes, and tidal waters within the
promote health and safety, enhance the municipality, not being the subject of private
right of the people to a balanced ecology, ownership and not comprised within the national
encourage and support the development of parks, public forest, timber lands, forest reserves,
appropriate and self-reliant scientific and or fishery reserves, but also marine waters
technological capabilities, improve public included between two lines drawn perpendicularly
morals, enhance economic prosperity and to the general coastline from points where the
social justice, promote full employment boundary lines of the municipality or city touch the
among their residents, maintain peace and sea at low tide and a third line parallel with the
order, and preserve the comfort and general coastline and fifteen kilometers from
convenience of their inhabitants. it. 31 Under P.D. No. 704, the marine waters
(emphasis supplied). included in municipal waters is limited to three
nautical miles from the general coastline using the
Moreover, Section 5(c) of the LGC explicitly above perpendicular lines and a third parallel line.
mandates that the general welfare provisions of
the LGC "shall be liberally interpreted to give more These "fishery laws" which local government units
powers to the local government units in may enforce under Section 17(b)(2)(i) in municipal
accelerating economic development and waters include: (1) P.D. No. 704; (2) P.D. No.
upgrading the quality of life for the people of the 1015 which, inter alia, authorizes the
community." establishment of a "closed season" in any
Philippine water if necessary for conservation or
The LGC vests municipalities with the power to ecological purposes; (3) P.D. No. 1219 which
grant fishery privileges in municipal waters and provides for the exploration, exploitation, utilization
impose rentals, fees or charges therefor; to and conservation of coral resources; (4) R.A. No.
penalize, by appropriate ordinances, the use of 5474, as amended by B.P. Blg. 58, which makes it
explosives, noxious or poisonous substances, unlawful for any person, association or corporation
electricity, muro-ami, and other deleterious to catch or cause to be caught, sell, offer to sell,
methods of fishing; and to prosecute any violation purchase, or have in possession any of the fish
of the provisions of applicable fishery specie called gobiidae or "ipon" during closed
laws. 24 Further, the sangguniang bayan, the season; and (5) R.A. No. 6451 which prohibits and
sangguniang panlungsod and the sangguniang punishes electrofishing, as well as various
panlalawigan are directed to enact ordinances for issuances of the BFAR.
the general welfare of the municipality and its
inhabitants, which shall include, inter alia, To those specifically devolved insofar as the
ordinances that "[p]rotect the environment and control and regulation of fishing in municipal
impose appropriate penalties for acts which waters and the protection of its marine
endanger the environment such as dynamite environment are concerned, must be added the
fishing and other forms of destructive fishing . . . following:
and such other activities which result in pollution,
acceleration of eutrophication of rivers and lakes, 1. Issuance of permits to
or of ecological construct fish cages within
imbalance." 25 municipal waters;

Finally, the centerpiece of LGC is the system of 2. Issuance of permits to

decentralization 26 as expressly mandated by the gather aquarium fishes
Constitution.27 Indispensable to decentralization within municipal waters;
is devolution and the LGC expressly provides that
"[a]ny provision on a power of a local government
3. Issuance of permits to
unit shall be liberally interpreted in its favor, and in
gather kapis shells within
case of doubt, any question thereon shall be
municipal waters;
resolved in favor of devolution of powers and of
the lower local government unit. Any fair and
reasonable doubt as to the existence of the power 4. Issuance of permits to
shall be interpreted in favor of the local gather/culture shelled
government unit concerned." 28 Devolution refers mollusks within municipal
to the act by which the National Government waters;
confers power and authority upon the various local
government units to perform specific functions and 5. Issuance of licenses to
responsibilities. 29 establish seaweed farms
within municipal waters;
One of the devolved powers enumerated in the
section of the LGC on devolution is the 6. Issuance of licenses to
enforcement of fishery laws in municipal waters establish culture pearls
including the conservation of mangroves. 30 This within municipal waters;
necessarily includes the enactment of ordinances
7. Issuance of auxiliary appropriate penalties for acts which endanger the
invoice to transport fish environment. 33
and fishery products; and
The destruction of coral reefs results in serious, if
8. Establishment of "closed not irreparable, ecological imbalance, for coral
season" in municipal reefs are among nature's life-support
waters. systems. 34 They collect, retain and recycle
nutrients for adjacent nearshore areas such as
These functions are covered in the Memorandum mangroves, seagrass beds, and reef flats; provide
of Agreement of 5 April 1994 between the food for marine plants and animals; and serve as a
Department of Agriculture and the Department of protective shelter for aquatic organisms. 35 It is
Interior and Local Government. said that "[e]cologically, the reefs are to the
oceans what forests are to continents: they are
In light then of the principles of decentralization shelter and breeding grounds for fish and plant
and devolution enshrined in the LGC and the species that will disappear without them." 36
powers granted therein to local government units
under Section 16 (the General Welfare Clause), The prohibition against catching live fish stems, in
and under Sections 149, 447(a) (1) (vi), 458 (a) (1) part, from the modern phenomenon of live-fish
(vi) and 468 (a) (1) (vi), which unquestionably trade which entails the catching of so-called exotic
involve the exercise of police power, the validity of species of tropical fish, not only for aquarium use
the questioned Ordinances cannot be doubted. in the West, but also for "the market for live
banquet fish [which] is virtually insatiable in ever
Parenthetically, we wish to add that these more affluent Asia. 37These exotic species are
Ordinances find full support under R.A. No. 7611, coral-dwellers, and fishermen catch them by
otherwise known as the Strategic Environmental "diving in shallow water with corraline habitats and
Plan (SEP) for Palawan Act, approved on 19 June squirting sodium cyanide poison at passing fish
1992. This statute adopts a "comprehensive directly or onto coral crevices; once affected the
framework for the sustainable development of fish are immobilized [merely stunned] and then
Palawan compatible with protecting and scooped by hand." 38 The diver then surfaces and
enhancing the natural resources and endangered dumps his catch into a submerged net attached to
environment of the province," which "shall serve to the skiff. Twenty minutes later, the fish can swim
guide the local government of Palawan and the normally. Back on shore, they are placed in
government agencies concerned in the formulation holding pens, and within a few weeks, they expel
and implementation of plans, programs and the cyanide from their system and are ready to be
projects affecting said province." 32 hauled. They are then placed in saltwater tanks or
packaged in plastic bags filled with seawater for
shipment by air freight to major markets for live
At this time then, it would be appropriate to
food fish. 39 While the fish are meant to survive,
determine the relation between the assailed
the opposite holds true for their former home as
Ordinances and the aforesaid powers of the
"[a]fter the fisherman squirts the cyanide, the first
Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Puerto
thing to perish is the reef algae, on which fish
Princesa and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of
feed. Days later, the living coral starts to expire.
the Province of Palawan to protect the
Soon the reef loses its function as habitat for the
environment. To begin, we ascertain the purpose
fish, which eat both the algae and invertebrates
of the Ordinances as set forth in the statement of
that cling to the coral. The reef becomes an
purposes or declaration of policies quoted earlier.
underwater graveyard, its skeletal remains brittle,
bleached of all color and vulnerable to erosion
It is clear to the Court that both Ordinances have from the pounding of the waves." 40 It has been
two principal objectives or purposes: (1) to found that cyanide fishing kills most hard and soft
establish a "closed season" for the species of fish corals within three months of repeated
or aquatic animals covered therein for a period of application. 41
five years; and (2) to protect the coral in the
marine waters of the City of Puerto Princesa and
The nexus then between the activities barred by
the Province of Palawan from further destruction
Ordinance No. 15-92 of the City of Puerto
due to illegal fishing activities.
Princesa and the prohibited acts provided in
Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993 of the Province of
The accomplishment of the first objective is well Palawan, on one hand, and the use of sodium
within the devolved power to enforce fishery laws cyanide, on the other, is painfully obvious. In sum,
in municipal waters, such as P.D. No. 1015, which the public purpose and reasonableness of the
allows the establishment of "closed seasons." The Ordinances may not then be controverted.
devolution of such power has been expressly
confirmed in the Memorandum of Agreement of 5
As to Office Order No. 23, Series of 1993, issued
April 1994 between the Department of Agriculture
by Acting City Mayor Amado L. Lucero of the City
and the Department of Interior and Local
of Puerto Princesa, we find nothing therein
violative of any constitutional or statutory
provision. The Order refers to the implementation
The realization of the second objective clearly falls of the challenged ordinance and is not the Mayor's
within both the general welfare clause of the LGC Permit.
and the express mandate thereunder to cities and
provinces to protect the environment and impose
The dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Josue N. the power, inter alia, to enact ordinances to
Bellosillo relies upon the lack of authority on the enhance the right of the people to a balanced
part of the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Puerto ecology. It likewise specifically vests municipalities
Princesa to enact Ordinance No. 15, Series of with the power to grant fishery privileges in
1992, on the theory that the subject thereof is municipal waters, and impose rentals, fees or
within the jurisdiction and responsibility of the charges therefor; to penalize, by appropriate
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ordinances, the use of explosives, noxious or
(BFAR) under P.D. No. 704, otherwise known as poisonous substances, electricity, muro-ami, and
the Fisheries Decree of 1975; and that, in any other deleterious methods of fishing; and to
event, the Ordinance is unenforceable for lack of prosecute any violation of the provisions of
approval by the Secretary of the Department of applicable fishery laws. 46 Finally, it imposes upon
Natural Resources (DNR), likewise in accordance the sangguniang bayan, the sangguniang
with P.D. No. 704. panlungsod, and the sangguniang panlalawigan
the duty to enact ordinances to "[p]rotect the
The majority is unable to accommodate this view. environment and impose appropriate penalties for
The jurisdiction and responsibility of the BFAR acts which endanger the environment such as
under P.D. No. 704, over the management, dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive
conservation, development, protection, utilization fishing . . . and such other activities which result in
and disposition of all fishery and aquatic resources pollution, acceleration of eutrophication of rivers
of the country is not all-encompassing. First, and lakes or of ecological imbalance." 47
Section 4 thereof excludes from such jurisdiction
and responsibility municipal waters, which shall be In closing, we commend the Sangguniang
under the municipal or city government concerned, Panlungsod of the City of Puerto Princesa and
except insofar as fishpens and seaweed culture in Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of
municipal centers are concerned. This section Palawan for exercising the requisite political will to
provides, however, that all municipal or city enact urgently needed legislation to protect and
ordinances and resolutions affecting fishing and enhance the marine environment, thereby sharing
fisheries and any disposition thereunder shall be in the herculean task of arresting the tide of
submitted to the Secretary of the Department of ecological destruction. We hope that other local
Natural Resources for appropriate action and shall government units shall now be roused from their
have full force and effect only upon his approval. 42 lethargy and adopt a more vigilant stand in the
battle against the decimation of our legacy to
Second, it must at once be pointed out that the future generations. At this time, the repercussions
BFAR is no longer under the Department of of any further delay in their response may prove
Natural Resources (now Department of disastrous, if not, irreversible.
Environment and Natural Resources). Executive
Order No. 967 of 30 June 1984 transferred the WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED
BFAR from the control and supervision of the for lack of merit and the temporary restraining
Minister (formerly Secretary) Of Natural order issued on 11 November 1993 is LIFTED.
Resources to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food
(MAF) and converted it into a mere staff agency No pronouncement as to costs.SO ORDERED.
thereof, integrating its functions with the regional
offices of the MAF.

In Executive Order No. 116 of 30 January 1987, Separate Opinions

which reorganized the MAF, the BFAR was
retained as an attached agency of the MAF. And
MENDOZA, J., concurring:
under the Administrative Code of 1987, 43 the
BFAR is placed under the Title concerning the
Department of Agriculture. 44 I fully concur in the opinion of the Court written by
Justice Davide. I write separately to emphasize
two points which I believe are important. The first
Therefore, it is incorrect to say that the challenged
is the need to uphold the presumption of validity of
Ordinance of the City of Puerto Princesa is invalid
the ordinances in this case in view of the total
or unenforceable because it was not approved by
absence of evidence to undermine their factual
the Secretary of the DENR. If at all, the approval
basis. The second is the need not to allow a
that should be sought would be that of the
shortcircuiting of the normal process of
Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.
adjudication on the mere plea that unless we take
However, the requirement of approval by the
cognizance of petitions like this, by-passing the
Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (not
trial courts, alleged violations of constitutional
DENR) of municipal ordinances affecting fishing
rights will be left unprotected, when the matter can
and fisheries in municipal waters has been
very well be looked into by trial courts and in fact
dispensed with in view of the following reasons:
should be brought there.
(1) Section 534 (Repealing Clause) of the LGC
The ordinances in question in this case are
expressly repeals or amends Sections 16 and 29
conservation measures which the local
of P.D. No. 704 45 insofar as they are inconsistent
governments of Palawan have adopted in view of
with the provisions of the LGC.
the widespread destruction caused by cyanide
fishing of corals within their territorial waters. At
(2) As discussed earlier, under the general welfare the very least, these ordinances must be
clause of the LGC, local government units have presumed valid in the absence of evidence to
show that the necessary factual foundation for and cause them to die and cease as fish
their enactment does not exist. Their invalidation habitats. 6
at this point can result in the untimely exoneration
of otherwise guilty parties on the basis of doubtful Concern over the use of cyanide in fishing and its
constitutional claims. ill effect on the marine environment also prompted
the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Puerto Princesa
Ordinance No. 2-93, which the Sangguniang to pass Ordinance No. 15-92, which makes it
Panlalawigan of Palawan adopted in 1993, unlawful for any person or business enterprise or
prohibits, for a period of five years, the "catching, company "to ship out from Puerto Princesa City to
gathering, possessing, buying, selling and any point of destinations either via aircraft or
shipment" of five fish and lobsters. As originally seacraft of any live fish and lobster except SEA
enacted, the prohibition applied to eight species of BASS, CATFISH, MUDFISH and MILKFISH
fish and lobsters caught in the waters of Palawan, FRIES." 7 The ban is for five years, from January
namely, "1. Family: Scaridae (Mameng), 2. 1, 1993 to January 1, 1998. The penalty for
Epinephelus Fasciatus (Suno), 3. Cromileptes violation of the ordinance is a fine of not more than
altivelis (Panther or Seorita), lobster (below 200 P5,000.00 or imprisonment of not more than 12
grams and spawning), 4. Tridacna Gigas (Giant months. 8
Clams or Taklobo and other species), 5. Pinctada
Margaritifera (Mother Pearl Oysters), 6. Penaeus To enforce the ordinance, the mayor of Puerto
Monodon (Tiger Prawn breeder size or mother), Princesa ordered the inspection of cargoes of live
7. Epinephelus Suillus (Loba or Green Grouper) fish and lobsters leaving the city by air or sea.
and 8. Family: Balistidae (Tropical Aquarium Inspectors are to ascertain if the shipper has a
Fishes)." 1 Later, however, the ordinance was permit issued by the office of the city mayor. Any
amended to limit the ban to three species only, cargo of live fish and lobster without a permit from
namely: mameng (scaridae), panther or seorita the mayor's office will be "held for proper
(cromileptes altivelis) and ornamental or aquarium disposition." 9
fishes (balistidae). Violation of the ordinance is
punishable by a fine of P5,000.00 and/or The ordinances in question are police power
imprisonment of not less than 6 nor more than 12 measures, enacted by the Province of Palawan
months and confiscation of the paraphernalia and and the City of Puerto Princesa, pursuant to the
equipment used in the commission of the Local Government Code of 1991 which makes it in
offense. 2 fact their duty to enact measures to "protect the
environment and impose appropriate penalties for
Ordinance No. 2-93 was adopted by the acts which endanger the environment, such as
Sangguniang Panlalawigan on the basis of a 1992 dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive
study submitted by the Department of fishing. . . ." 10 There is no basis for the claim in the
Agriculture, 3 showing that, as a result of the use dissenting opinion that the subject of these
of cyanide and other noxious substances for ordinances lies within the competence of the
fishing, only 5% of the coral reefs in the Province national government. For the matter concerns a
of Palawan remained in excellent condition as fish local problem, namely, the destruction of aquatic
sanctuaries and habitats, while 75% was heavily resources in the Province of Palawan. For this
damaged. reason the Solicitor General asked for leave to
withdraw from this case. On the other hand, the
The rampant use of cyanide has been encouraged Department of Agriculture submitted its report on
by the lucrative trade in live fishes which are the extent of the devastation of coral reefs caused
shipped not only to Manila but also abroad, by illegal fishing to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan
principally to Hongkong, Taiwan and Malaysia. of Palawan and thereby left the solution of the
The fishes are sold to gourmet restaurants problem to be worked out by the local authorities.
because of the great demand for exotic food, to It would therefore set back the policy of
aquariums and to pet shops. In its issue of July 19, decentralization were this Court to sustain such a
1993. Time Magazine 4 reported that the illicit claim.
trade in live animals is the third biggest
contraband business in the world, after drugs and Indeed, petitioners' challenge to the validity of the
arms, and identified the Philippines as a major ordinances does not rest on the claim that the
source of tropical fishes for the global traffic in live ordinances are beyond the power of local
fishes. governments to enact but on the ground that they
deprive petitioners of their means of livelihood and
The use of cyanide enables fishermen to catch occupation and for that reason violate the
fish alive and in commercial quantity in a way not Constitution of the Philippines. For support,
possible with the use of such traditional methods petitioners invoke the following constitutional
as hook and line, fish traps, baklad and the like, provisions:
which allows only limited catch and often results in
injuries to fishes and the loss of their scales, Art. XII, 2 . . . . .
thereby reducing their survival for transportation
abroad. 5 Cyanide does not kill fish but only stuns The State shall protect the nation's marine
them. The stunned creatures are then scooped up wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial
and placed in containers ready for shipment sea and exclusive economic zone, and
across borders, national and transnational. What reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively
cyanide does, however, is poison the fragile reefs to Filipino citizens.
The Congress may, by law, allow small- passed are seen to have a reasonable relation to
scale utilization of natural resources by a proper legislative purpose, and are neither
Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish arbitrary nor discriminatory, the requirements of
farming, with priority to subsistence due process are satisfied, and judicial
fishermen and fishworkers in rivers, lakes, determination to that effect renders a court functus
bays and lagoons. officio. . . . With the wisdom of the policy adopted,
with the adequacy or practicability of the law
Art. XIII, 1: The Congress shall give enacted to forward it, the courts are both
highest priority to the enactment of incompetent and unauthorized to deal. . . ." 12
measures that protect and enhance the
right of all the people to human dignity, It is contended that neither Provincial Ordinance
reduce social, economic, and political No. 2-93 nor City Ordinance No. 15-92 prohibits
inequalities, and remove cultural inequities cyanide fishing and therefore the prohibition
by equitably diffusing wealth and political against catching certain species of fish and their
power for the common good. transportation is "excessive and irrational." It is
further argued that the ban is unreasonable
Id., 7: The State shall protect the rights of because it is not limited to cyanide fishing but
subsistence fishermen, especially of local includes even legitimate fishing.
communities, to the preferential use of the
communal marine and fishing resources, The ban on the use of cyanide and other noxious
both inland and offshore. It shall provide substances is already provided for in other
support to such fishermen through legislation. P.D. No. 534, 2 punishes fishing by
appropriate technology and research, means of "explosives, obnoxious or poisonous
adequate financial, production, and substances or by the use of electricity."
marketing assistance, and other services. Consequently, the ordinances in question can be
The State shall also protect, develop, and seen as a necessary corollary of the prohibition
conserve such resources. The protection against illegal fishing contained in this Decree. By
shall extend to offshore fishing grounds of prohibiting the catching of certain fishes and
subsistence fishermen against foreign lobsters, Ordinance No. 2-93 in effect discourages
intrusion. Fishworkers shall receive a just cyanide fishing because, as already stated,
share from their labor in the utilization of cyanide is preferred in catching fishes because it
marine and fishing resources. does not kill but only stuns them and thus
preserves them for export to the world market.
I cannot see how these provisions can, in any
way, lend support to petitioners' contention that On the other hand, the claim that the ordinance
the ordinances violate the Constitution. These sweeps overbroadly by "absolutely prohibit[ing] the
provisions refer to the duty of the State to protect catching, gathering, buying and shipment of live
the nation's marine resources for the exclusive use fishes and marine coral resources by any and all
and enjoyment of Filipino citizens, to the means including those lawfully executed or done
preferential right of subsistence fishermen in the in the pursuit of legitimate occupation"
use of such communal marine resources, and to misconceives the principal purpose of the
their right to be protected, even in offshore fishing ordinance, which is not so much to prohibit the use
grounds, against foreign intrusion. There is no of cyanide for fishing as to rebuild corals because
question here of Filipino preference over aliens in of their destruction by cyanide fishing. This is clear
the use of marine resources. What is in issue is from the "whereas" clauses of Resolution No. 33,
the protection of marine resources in the Province accompanying Ordinance No. 2-93:
of Palawan. It was precisely to implement Art. XII,
2 that the ordinances in question were enacted. WHEREAS, scientific and factual
For, without these marine resources, it would be researches and studies disclose that only
idle to talk of the rights of subsistence fishermen to five (5) percent of the corals of our
be preferred in the use of these resources. province remain to be in excellent
condition as habitat of marine coral
It has been held that "as underlying questions of dwelling aquatic organisms;
fact may condition the constitutionality of
legislation of this character, the presumption of WHEREAS, it cannot be gainsaid that the
constitutionality must prevail in the absence of destruction and devastation of the corals of
some factual foundation of record for overthrowing our province were principally due to illegal
the statute." 11 No evidence has been presented fishing activities like dynamite fishing,
by petitioners to overthrow the factual basis of the sodium cyanide fishing, use of other
ordinances that, as a result of the use of obnoxious substances and other related
cyanide and other noxious substances for fishing, activities;
only 5% of the coral reefs in Palawan was in
excellent condition, that 75% had been heavily WHEREAS, there is an imperative and
destroyed, and that because of the thriving market urgent need to protect and preserve the
for live fish and lobster here and abroad there was existence of the remaining excellent corals
rampant illicit trade in live fish. and allow the devastated ones to
reinvigorate and regenerate themselves
Nor has it been shown by petitioners that the local into vitality within the span of five (5) years;
legislation here involved is arbitrary or
unreasonable. It has been held: "If the laws
WHEREAS, Sec. 468, Par. 1, Sub-Par. VI when to grant and when to deny a permit. The
of R.A. 7160 otherwise known as the Local questioned paragraph of the order states:
Government Code of 1991 empowers the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan to protect the The purpose of the inspection is to
environment and impose appropriate ascertain whether the shipper possessed
penalties [for] acts which endanger the the required Mayor's Permit issued by this
environment such as dynamite fishing and Office and the shipment is covered by
other forms of destructive fishing, among invoice or clearance issued by the local
others; office of the Bureau of Fisheries and
Aquatic Resources and as to compliance
The principal aim of the ordinance is thus the with all other existing rules and regulations
preservation and rehabilitation of the corals. Only on the matter.
indirectly is it also concerned with prohibiting the
use of cyanide. That this is the aim of the This contention is untenable. As the office order is
ordinance can also be inferred from the fact that intended to implement City Ordinance No. 15-92,
the ban imposed by it on the catching and resort must be made to the ordinance in order to
gathering of fishes is for a limited period (5 years) determine the scope of such office order. As
calculated to be the time needed for the growth already noted, the ordinance prohibits the
and regeneration of the corals. Were the purpose shipment out of Puerto Princesa of live fish and
of the ordinance the prohibition of the use of lobsters, with the exception of catfish, mudfish and
cyanide for fishing, the ban would not be for a milkfish fries. Consequently, a permit may be
limited period only but for all time. denied if it is for the transportation of fishes which
are covered by the ban, but not for those not
I am not much moved by the plea that the covered by it. This is the common sense meaning
ordinances deprive small fishermen of their means of the office order in question. Criminal laws must
of livelihood and occupation. The ban imposed by be precisely drawn, but, as Justice Holmes once
Ordinance No. 2-93, as amended, covers only said, "We agree to all the generalities about not
three species, i.e., mameng (scaridae), panther or supplying criminal laws with what they omit, but
seorita (cromilepres altivelis) and ornamental there is no canon against using common sense in
aquarium fishes (balistiedae), which are prized in construing laws as saying what they obviously
the black market. With respect to other species, it mean." 14
is open season for legitimate fishermen. On the
other hand, the ban imposed by Ordinance No. One final point. This case was brought to this
15-92 allows the transportation and shipment of Court on the bare bones of the ordinances, on the
sea bass, catfish, mudfish and milkfish fries. The mere claim of petitioner Alfredo Tano and his 83
ban imposed by the two ordinances is limited to copetitioners that they are subsistence fishermen.
five years. It is thus limited both as to scope and The constitutional protection refers to small
as to period of effectivity. There is, on the other fishermen who depend on the sea for their
hand, the imperative necessity for measures to existence. Ten of the petitioners, led by Alfredo
prevent the extinction of certain species of fish. Tano, are accused in the Municipal Circuit Trial
Court of possession of the species covered by
Indeed, the burden of showing that there is no Provincial Ordinance No. 2-93, while two, Roberto
reasonable relation between the end and the Lim and Virginia Lim, are charged with violation of
means adopted in this case is not on the local the two ordinances in the City Prosecutor's Office.
governments but on petitioners because of the There is no telling from the records of this case
presumption that a regulatory statute is valid in the whether petitioners are subsistence fishermen or
absence of factual evidence to the contrary. As simply impecunious individuals selling their catch
held in United States v.Salaveria. 13 "The to the big businessmen. The other petitioners are
presumption is all in favor of validity. . . The admittedly fish traders, members of an association
councilors must, in the very nature of things, be of airline shippers, to whom the constitutional
familiar with the necessities of their particular provisions obviously do not apply.
municipality and with all the facts and
circumstances which surround the subject, and The judicial invalidation of the ordinances in this
necessitate action. The local legislative body, by case could undermine the on-going trial of some of
enacting the ordinance, has in effect given notice petitioners. Instead of leaving the determination of
that the regulations are essential to the well being the validity of the ordinances to the trial court,
of the people. . . . The Judiciary should not lightly where some of petitioners are facing charges, this
set aside legislative action when there is not a Court will be shortcircuiting the criminal process by
clear invasion of personal or property rights under prematurely passing upon the constitutional
the guise of police regulation." questions and indirectly on the criminal liability of
some of the petitioners. This is a task which
Finally, petitioners question Office Order No. 23, s. should await the development of evidence of
of 1993, of the city mayor of Puerto Princesa, for record.
being allegedly vague. This order prohibits the
transportation of fish outside the city without Indeed because of the unsatisfactory abstractness
permit from the mayor's office. Petitioners contend of the record, this case should not have been
that the order does not state under what condition brought here. The mere fact that some of
a permit may be granted and, consequently, petitioners are facing prosecution for violation of
leaves it to the absolute discretion of the mayor the ordinances is no reason for entertaining their
suit. Our jurisdiction is limited to cases and
controversies. Who are petitioners? What is the involved, the same may be raised at any stage of
impact of the ordinance on their economic the proceedings. It can also be considered by the
situation? Are the factual bases of the two appellate court at any time if it involves the
ordinances supported by evidence? These jurisdiction of the lower Court. 2 Further, under
questions must be raised in the criminal trial or in Sec. 8, Rule 117, of the Rules on Criminal
a suit brought in the trial court so that facts Procedure, the failure of the accused to assert any
necessary to adjudicate the constitutional ground of a motion to quash before he pleads to
questions can be presented. Nothing can take the the Complaint or Information either because he did
place of the flesh and blood of litigation to assess not file a motion to quash or failed to allege the
the actual operation of a statute and thus ground same in the motion shall be deemed a waiver of
the judicial power more firmly. the grounds of a motion to quash, except the
grounds of no offense charged, lack of jurisdiction
Petitioners justify the filing of the present action in over the offense charged, extinction of the offense
this Court on the ground that constitutional or penalty, and jeopardy.
questions must be raised at the earliest time. That
is true, but it does not mean that the questions Petitioners are proper parties to set aside the
should be presented to the Supreme Court first proceedings in the trial court. A proper party is one
hand. Moreover, the rule is not absolute. who has sustained or is in immediate danger of
Constitutional questions like those invoked by sustaining an injury as a result of the act
petitioners can be raised anytime, even in a complained of. Petitioners have been criminally
motion for reconsideration, if their resolution is charged and arrested for alleged violation of the
necessary to the decision of an actual case or ordinances in question. Consequently, unless the
controversy, as our recent resolution 15 of the trial court is enjoined from continuing with the
constitutionality of R.A. No. 7659, reimposing the proceedings, petitioners are in danger of being
death penalty, amply demonstrates. convicted and punished under ordinances which
they allege to be invalid and ineffective. In fact this
Romero, Melo, Puno and Francisco, JJ., concur. Court initially recognized the real interest of
petitioners in instituting the action when it issued a
BELLOSILLO, J., dissenting: restraining order directing Judge Angel R. Miclat to
cease and desist until further orders from
proceeding with the arraignment and pre-trial
It is settled rule that where the provisions of the
of People v. Alfredo Tano, et al., Crim. Case No.
law are clear and unambiguous there is no room
11223, for violation of Resolution No. 2-93 of the
for interpretation. The duty of the court is only to
Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan, and
apply the law. The exception to such rule cannot
Ordinance No. 15-92 of the Sangguniang
be justified on the sole basis of good motives or
Panlungsod of Puerto Princesa City.
noble objectives. For it is also basic that the end
does not justify the means.
The question to be resolved is whether Resolution
No. 2-93, Office Order No. 23 and Ordinance No.
The petition raises significant constitutional
15-92 are constitutional, valid and enforceable. By
questions. While petitioners apparently instituted
considering the purpose and objective of the
the action to enjoin their criminal prosecution, the
ordinances as laudable, the majority adopts the
issue boils down to whether the subject
affirmative view in consonance with the general
ordinances of Palawan and Puerto Princesa are
welfare clause and principle of devolution well-
valid and enforceable as to authorize the criminal
rooted in the Local Government Code of 1991.
prosecution of those charged with violation
While I agree with the majority that the local
leaders of Palawan and Puerto Princesa City be
Notwithstanding the procedural limitations strictly
commended for their efforts to uplift and protect
applied in the majority opinion to render the
the environment and natural resources within their
petition dismissible on grounds of prematurity and
areas, the general welfare clause is not the sole
lack of real interest in the controversy, the case
criterion to determine the validity or
clearly falls under the exceptions allowed by law.
constitutionality of the ordinances. InMagtajas
The petition, I submit, can be properly treated as a
v. Pryce Properties Corporation, 3 we reiterated
special civil action for certiorari and prohibition
that the well-established tests of a valid ordinance
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to correct
are: (a) It must not contravene the Constitution
errors of jurisdiction committed by the lower court
or any statute; (b) It must not be unfair or
arising from the implementation of a void
oppressive; (c) It must not be partial or
ordinance. Even if the purpose of the petition is for
discriminatory; (d) It must not prohibit but may
declaratory relief, if the petition has far-reaching
regulate trade; (e) It must be general and
implications and raises questions that should be
consistent with public policy; and, (f) It must not be
resolved as they involve national interest, it may
be treated as a special civil action under Rule
65. 1 The mere absence of a prior motion to quash
the Information in the trial court should not prevent As admitted by the majority, among our existing
the accused, petitioners herein, from seeking to statutes on fishing and fishery or aquatic
render null and void the criminal proceedings resources are P.D. Nos. 704, 1015 and 1219. P.D.
below. No. 704 is titled "Revising and Consolidating All
Laws and Decrees Affecting Fishing and
Fisheries." With the enactment of the Local
In criminal cases, when the constitutionality or
Government Code of 1991, only Secs. 16 and 29
validity of a law or ordinance is essentially
of P.D. No. 704 were expressly repealed. All the latter statute must be such as to render it
rest of the provisions of P.D. No. 704 remain valid irreconcilable with what has been formerly
and effective, Sec. 4 of which is enlightening enacted. An inconsistency that falls short of that
standard does not suffice. In fact, there is no
Sec. 4. Jurisdiction of the Bureau (of inconsistency between the Local Government
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources). The Code and P.D. No. 704 as amended. While the
Bureau shall have jurisdiction and Local Government Code vests power upon the
responsibility in the management, local government to enact ordinances for the
conservation, development, protection, general welfare of its inhabitants, such power is
utilization and disposition of all fishery and subject to certain limitations imposed by the Code
aquatic resources of the country except itself and by other statutes. When the legislature
municipal waters which shall be under the failed to repeal Sec. 4 of P.D. No. 704 it accepted
municipal or city government and recognized a limitation on the power of the
concerned: Provided, That fishpens and local government to enact ordinances relative to
seaweed culture in municipal centers shall matters affecting fishery and aquatic resources. A
be under the jurisdiction of the reading of particular provisions of the Local
Bureau: Provided, further, That all Government Code itself will reveal that devolution
municipal or city ordinances and on the powers of the local government pertaining
resolutions affecting fishing and fisheries to the protection of environment is limited and not
and any disposition thereunder shall be all-encompassing, as will be discussed in the
submitted to the Secretary for appropriate succeeding paragraphs.
action and shall have full force and effect
only upon his approval. The Bureau shall Further, while the Local Government Code is a
also have authority to regulate and general law on the powers, responsibilities and
supervise the production, capture and composition of different local government units,
gathering of fish and fishery/aquatic P.D. No. 704 is a special law dealing with the
products. protection and conservation of fishing and aquatic
resources including those in the municipal waters.
There is no doubt that under P.D. No. 704 fishing, Hence, the special law should prevail over the
fishery and aquatic resources in municipal waters general law.
are under the jurisdiction of the municipal or city
government concerned. However, the same There is also P.D. No. 1015 which vests upon the
decree imposes a mandatory requirement Secretary of Agriculture the authority to establish
directing municipal or city governments to submit closed seasons. Another existing law on fisheries
ordinances enacted pertinent to fishing and fishery which has not been repealed by the Local
resources to the Secretary of Agriculture who now Government Code is P.D. No. 1219, which
has control and supervision over the Bureau of provides for the exploration, exploitation, utilization
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). The and conservation of coral resources. Section 4
ordinances will attain full force and effect only thereof provides that the decree shall be
upon the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture. implemented by the Secretary of Environment and
Natural Resources who shall have jurisdiction and
Ordinance 15-92 of Puerto Princesa City, responsibility in the exploration, exploitation,
admittedly, was not submitted to the Secretary of utilization and conservation of coral resources.
Agriculture through the BFAR for approval. Such Section 6 authorizes the Secretary to issue special
failure of compliance with the law prevented it from permit to any person or institution to gather in
becoming valid and effective. Consequently, Office limited quantities any coral for scientific or
Order No. 23 of the Mayor of Puerto Princesa City educational purposes. Section 10 empowers the
which seeks to implement and enforce Ordinance Secretary to promulgate rules and regulations for
No. 15-92 is also ineffective as there is nothing to the implementation of this law.
It is true that police power can be exercised
To say that Sec. 4 of P.D. No. 704 was impliedly through the general welfare clause. But, while
repealed by the Local Government Code is police power is inherent in a state, it is not so in
gratuitous. For, if it was the intention of the municipal corporations or local governments. In
legislature to dispense with the requirement of order that a local government may exercise police
prior approval by the Secretary of Agriculture of power, there must be a legislative grant which
ordinances pertinent to fishery resources, it would. necessarily sets the limits for the exercise of the
have expressly repealed Sec. 4 when, in fact, it power. 5 In this case, Congress has enacted the
did so with Secs. 16 and 29 of P.D. No. 704. Local Government Code which provides the
Cases abound holding that a repeal by implication standards as well as the limitations in the exercise
is not presumed or favored considering that the of the police power by the local government unit.
legislature is presumed to be aware of existing
laws; ordinarily, if it intends to revoke a statute it Section 2 of the Local Government Code provides
would manifest such intention in express for a system of decentralization whereby local
terms. 4 Before such a repeal is deemed to exist it government units are given more powers,
should be shown that the statutes or statutory authority, responsibilities and resources, and the
provisions deal with the same subject matter and process shall proceed from the national
that the latter be inconsistent with the former. government to the local government units.
There must be a showing of repugnancy clear and However, under Sec 3, par. (i), of the Local
convincing in character. The language used in the Government Code, the operative principles of
decentralization upon the environment and natural measure that does not encompass too wide a
resources are not absolute when it is provided field. The purpose can be achieved by reasonable
therein that "local government units shall share restrictions rather than by absolute prohibition.
with the national government the responsibility in Local governments are not possessed with
the management and maintenance of ecological prohibitory powers but only regulatory powers
balance within their territorial jurisdiction, subject under the general welfare clause. 9 They cannot
to the provisions of this Code and national therefore exceed the powers granted to them by
policies." The national policies mentioned here the Code by altogether prohibiting fishing and
refer to existing policies which the DENR and selling for five (5) years all live fishes through
other government agencies concerned with the Ordinance No. 15-92 and coral organisms through
environment may implement at any given moment. Ordinance No. 2-93 involving even lawful methods
The national policies are embodied in existing of fishing.
laws, rules and regulations pertaining to
environment and natural resources, such as P.D. These prohibitions are tantamount to the
Nos. 704 and 1219 relating to fishery resources. establishment of a closed season for fish and
The above provision was crafted to make sure that aquatic resources which authority is not among
local government enactments do not supplant or those powers vested by the Local Government
negate national government policies on Code to the local government units. For the
environment. 6 This is precisely the reason why authority to establish a closed season for fisheries
the Local Government Code did not repeal Sec. 4 is vested upon the Secretary of Agriculture by
of P.D. NO. 704 requiring prior submission to and virtue of P.D. Nos. 704 and 1015 and in the
approval by the Secretary of Agriculture of Secretary of Environment and Natural resources
ordinances relative to fishery and aquatic pursuant to P.D. No. 1219 in relation to coral
resources. Needless to stress, the approval of the resources. The power of the local governments is
Secretary is necessary in order to ensure that confined and limited to ensuring that these
these ordinances are in accordance with the laws national fishery laws are implemented and
on fisheries and national policies. Likewise, the enforced within their territorial jurisdictions. Hence,
jurisdiction of the Secretary of Environment and any memorandum of agreement which might have
Natural Resources over coral resources under been executed by the Department of Agriculture or
P.D. No. 1219 remains. Department of Environment and Natural
Resources granting additional powers and
The core of the devolution adopted by the Local functions to the local governments which are not
Government Code is found in Sec. 17 thereof vested upon the latter by the Local Government
which reiterates the basic services and facilities to Code because such powers are covered by
be rendered by the local governments. With existing statutes, is an undue delegation of power
respect to the protection and conservation of and, consequently, null and void.
fisheries, Sec. 17, par. 2 (i), specifically provides
that the municipality shall conduct "extension and The majority also cites R.A. No. 7611, otherwise
on-site research services and facilities related to known as the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP)
agriculture and fishery activities which include for Palawan Act, as proof of the power of the local
dispersal of livestock and poultry, fingerlings and governments of Palawan and Puerto Princesa City
other seeding materials for aquaculture to issue the assailed ordinances. Although the
. . . . and enforcement of fishery laws in municipal objectives of R.A. No. 7611 and of the ordinances
waters including the conservation of mangroves . . are one and the same, i.e., the protection,
. ." The power devolved upon the municipality conservation and development of natural
under the Local Government Code is the resources, the former does not grant additional
enforcement of existing fishery laws of the State powers to the local governments pertaining to the
and not the enactment thereof. While a local environment. In fact, the law adopts a
government unit may adopt ordinances upon comprehensive framework which shall serve to
subjects covered by law or statute, such direct and guide local governments and national
ordinances should be in accordance with and not government agencies in the implementation of
repugnant to the law. 7 In view thereof, ordinances programs and projects affecting Palawan. With the
which may be enacted by the municipality or city enactment of this Act, the local governments are
should be pursuant to the provisions of P.D. Nos. mandated to coordinate and align their
704, 1015 and 1219. Thus, under the provisions of developmental plans, projects and budgets in
Secs. 447, par. 1 (vi), 458, par. 1 (vi) and 468, par. accord with the framework of the SEP. It can be
1 (vi), the municipality, city and province said that this is another limitation on the exercise
respectively may approve ordinances protecting of police power by the local governments of
the environment by specifically penalizing only Palawan and Puerto Princesa City because the
those acts which endanger the environment such governance, implementation and policy direction
as dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive of the SEP shall be exercised by the Palawan
fishing which are already prohibited under P.D. Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD)
Nos. 704 and 1219, and other laws on illegal which is under the Office of the President.
fishing. 8
Finally, I find unreasonable Resolution No. 2-93 of
The questioned ordinances may also be struck Palawan and Ordinance No. 15-92 of Puerto
down for being not only a prohibitory legislation Princesa City. The prohibitions set forth are not
but also an unauthorized exercise of delegation of germane to the accomplishment of their goals.
powers. An objective, however worthy or desirable Ordinance No. 15-92 is aimed to free effectively
it may be, such as the protection and conservation the marine resources of Puerto Princesa from
of our fisheries in this case, can be attained by a cyanide and other obnoxious substances. But the
means to achieve this objective borders on the This is a petition for review1 of the Order2 dated 7
excessive and irrational, for the edict would November 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
absolutely ban the shipment of live fishes and Branch 7 ("Manila RTC"), dismissing petitioners' complaint
lobsters out of the city for a period of five (5) years for lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction.
without prohibiting cyanide fishing itself which is
the professed goal of the ordinance. The purpose The Facts
of Resolution No. 2-93, on the other hand, is to
protect and preserve all marine coral-dwelling On 30 June 1997, Regional Executive Director Antonio G.
organisms from devastation and destruction by Principe ("RED Principe") of Region IV, Department of
illegal fishing activities, e.g., dynamite fishing, Environment and Natural Resources ("DENR"), issued an
sodium cyanide fishing, and the use of other Environmental Clearance Certificate ("ECC") in favor of
obnoxious substances. But in absolutely respondent National Power Corporation ("NAPOCOR").
prohibiting the catching, gathering, buying and The ECC authorized NAPOCOR to construct a temporary
shipment of live fishes and marine coral resources mooring facility in Minolo Cove, Sitio Minolo, Barangay
by any means including those lawfully executed or San Isidro, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. The
done in the pursuit of legitimate occupation, the Sangguniang Bayan of Puerto Galera has declared Minolo
ordinance overstepped the reasonable limits and Cove, a mangrove area and breeding ground for bangus
boundaries of its raison d'etre. This I cannot help fry, an eco-tourist zone.3
viewing as plain arbitrariness masquerading as
police power. For the consequent deprivation of
The mooring facility would serve as the temporary docking
the main source of livelihood of the people of
site of NAPOCOR's power barge, which, due to turbulent
Palawan can only be regarded as utter
waters at its former mooring site in Calapan, Oriental
depravation of this awesome power of the State.
Mindoro, required relocation to a safer site like Minolo
For all the foregoing, I vote to grant the petition.
Cove. The 14.4 megawatts power barge would provide the
main source of power for the entire province of Oriental
G.R. No. 131442 July 10, 2003 Mindoro pending the construction of a land-based power
plant in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. The ECC for the
BANGUS FRY FISHERFOLK, DIWATA MAGBUHOS, mooring facility was valid for two years counted from its
ANGELITA BINAY, ELMA GARCIA, VIRGILIO date of issuance or until 30 June 1999.4
ANTONIO PANGUIO, ANTONIO BUNQUIN, Petitioners, claiming to be fisherfolks from Minolo, San
GENEROSO BUNQUIN, CHARLIE DIMAYACYAC, Isidro, Puerto Galera,5 sought reconsideration of the ECC
RENATO PANGUIO, ATILANO BUNQUIN, CARLOS issuance. RED Principe, however, denied petitioners' plea
CHAVEZ, JUAN DIMAYACYAC, FILEMON BUNQUIN, on 15 July 1997. On 21 July 1997, petitioners filed a
MARIO MAGBUHOS, MAURO MAGBUHOS, NORA complaint with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch
MAGBUHOS, JEOVILYN, GENALYN and JORVAN 7, for the cancellation of the ECC and for the issuance of a
QUIMUEL, minors, represented by their parents writ of injunction to stop the construction of the mooring
FELICIANA and SABINO QUIMUEL, MARICAR facility. Impleaded as defendants were the following: (1)
MAGBUHOS, minor, represented by her parents NAPOCOR, (2) RED Principe, (3) DENR Region IV
CARMELITA and ANTONIO MAGBUHOS, MARLO Technical Director for Environment Oscar Dominguez, (4)
BINAY, minor, represented by his parents EFRENITA Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative ("ORMECO"), which
and CHARLITO BINAY, and the BANGUS, BANGUS is engaged in the distribution of electricity in Oriental
FRY and other MARINE LIFE OF MINOLO Mindoro, and (5) certain officials of Puerto
COVE, petitioners, Galera.6 Petitioners subsequently amended their
vs. complaint to include as additional defendants the elective
THE HONORABLE ENRICO LANZANAS as Judge of officials of Oriental Mindoro represented by then Governor
the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch VII, THE Rodolfo G. Valencia. Petitioners further prayed for the
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL demolition of mooring structures that respondents had
RESOURCES Region IV, represented by its already built.
Regional Executive Director and its Regional Director
for Environment, THE NATIONAL POWER
On 28 July 1997, prior to the filing of the amended
complaint, the trial court issued a 20-day temporary
restraining order enjoining the construction of the mooring
ORIENTAL MINDORO, herein represented by
facility. However, the trial court lifted the same on 6
August 1997 on NAPOCOR's manifestation that the
provincial government of Oriental Mindoro was the one
undertaking the construction of the mooring facility.7
JERRY DALISAY, SIMON BALITAAN, RENATO On 28 August 1997, before filing their answers,
CATAQUIS, MARCELINO BANAAG, DANIEL respondents ORMECO and the provincial officials of
ENRIQUEZ, AMELYN MARCO, GABRIEL ILAGAN, Oriental Mindoro moved to dismiss the complaint. These
MUNICIPAL ENGINEER RODEL RUBIO, and respondents claimed that petitioners failed to exhaust
MUNICIPAL PLANNING and DEVELOPMENT administrative remedies, rendering the complaint without
COORDINATOR WILHELMINA LINESES, respondents. cause of action. They also asserted that the Manila RTC
has no jurisdiction to enjoin the construction of the
mooring facility in Oriental Mindoro, which lies outside the
Manila RTC's territorial jurisdiction.
The Case
Petitioners opposed the motion on the ground that there
was no need to exhaust administrative remedies. They
argued that the issuance of the ECC was in patent This Court is likewise aware and cognizant of its
violation of Presidential Decree No. 1605, 8 Sections 26 territorial jurisdiction in the enforcement of Writ of
and 27 of Republic Act No. 7160,9 and the provisions of Injunction. That truly, [a] writ of injunction can only
DENR Department Administrative Order No. 96-37 ("DAO be enforced within [the] territorial jurisdiction of this
96-37") on the documentation of ECC applications. Court but not for acts which are being or about to
Petitioners also claimed that the implementation of the be committed outside its territorial jurisdiction.
ECC was in patent violation of its terms. Thus, inPhilippine National Bank vs. Pineda, 197
SCRA 1, the Honorable Supreme Court ruled:
In its order of 7 November 1997, the trial court granted the "Regional Trial Courts can only enforce their writs
motion and dismissed petitioners' complaint. of injunction within their respective designated
territories. Furthermore, we find the issuance of
Hence, this petition. the preliminary injunction directed against the
Provincial Sheriff of Negros Occidental a
jurisdictional paux [sic] pas (from Black Dictionary
The Ruling of the Trial Court
means jurisdictional falsity) as the Courts of First
Instance now Regional Trial Court[s], can only
The trial court's order dismissing the complaint reads in enforce their writs of injunction within their
part: respective designated territories.

After careful evaluation and analysis, this Court And finally, this Court is not unmindful of the
finds the Motion to Dismiss tenable and relevant and square application in the case at bar
meritorious. of Presidential Decree No. 1818, Executive Order
No. 380 dated November 27, 1989, and Circular
Petitioners have clearly failed to exhaust all No. 2-91 of the Supreme Court that the National
administrative remedies before taking this legal Power Corporation (NPC) is a public utility,
action in Court x x x. created under special legislation, engaged in the
generation and distribution of electric power and
It is x x x worth mentioning that the decision of the energy. The mooring site of NPC in Puerto Galera,
Regional Director may still be x x x elevated to the Oriental Mindoro is one of its infrastructure
Office of the Secretary of the DENR to fully comply projects falling within the mantle of Executive
with the process of exhaustion of administrative Order No. 380, November 27, 1989 x x x.
remedies. And well settled is the rule in our
jurisdiction that before bringing an action in or And as held by the Supreme Court in the case
resorting to the Courts of Justice, all remedies of of National Power Corporation vs. Honorable
administrative character affecting or determinative Abraham P. Vera, et al., 170 SCRA 721, courts
of the controversy at that level should first be are without jurisdiction to issue injunctive writs
exhausted by the aggrieved party (Pestanas vs. against [the] National Power Corporation. The
Dyogi, L-25786, February 27, 1978). And latter enjoys the protective mantle of P.D. 1818,
petitioners' failure to exhaust administrative (Circular No. 2-91).
remedies renders his [sic] petition dismissible
(Chia vs. Acting Collector of Customs, 177 SCRA xxx xxx xxx
755). And a dismissal on the ground of failure to
exhaust administrative remedies is tantamount to
Injunction in this case is not a mere ancillary [sic]
a dismissal based on lack of cause of action
writ but the main action itself together with the
(Baguiro vs. Basa, Jr., 214 SCRA 437; Pineda vs.
Annulment of the Environmental Clearance
CFI of Davao, 111 Phil. 643; Sarabia vs. Secretary
Certificate (ECC). Even assuming arguendo that
of Agriculture & Natural Resources, L-16002, May
the court [can] annul the ECC how can the latter
23, 1961; Gone, et al. vs. District Engineer, et. al.,
enforce the same against the Provincial
L-22782, August 29, 1975; Abe-Abe, et al. vs.
Government of Oriental Mindoro which was
Manta, et. al., L-4827, May 31, 1979) although it
impleaded by the petitioners as a necessary party
does not affect the jurisdiction of the court over the
together with the Oriental Mindoro Electric
subject matter (Mun. of La Trinidad, et al. vs. CFI
Cooperative and the government officials of
of Baguio-Benguet, et al., L-33889, June 28,
Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, whose acts and
functions are being performed outside the
territorial jurisdiction of this court? x x x
Moreover, this Court finds the Opposition of the Indisputably, the injunction and annulment of ECC
Petitioners highly untenable and bereft of merits as prayed for in the petition are inseparable x x x.
that the controverted act in question is patently
illegal and there was an immediate need for
The conclusion, therefore, is inescapable that
judicial intervention.
petitioners have failed to exhaust all the available
administrative remedies and this Court has no
The ECC in question was issued by the Regional jurisdiction to issue the injunctive writ prayed for in
Office of the DENR which has jurisdiction and the Amended [Complaint].10
authority over the same . . .. And corollary to this,
the issue as to whether or not the Minolo Cove is
The Issue
within the enclosed coves and waters embraced
by Puerto Galera bay and protected by Medio
island is a clear question of fact which the DENR The issue is whether the trial court erred in dismissing
may appropriately resolve before resorting to [the] petitioners' complaint for lack of cause action and lack of
Court[s]. jurisdiction.
The Ruling of the Court However, since the construction of the mooring facility
could not proceed without a valid ECC, the validity of the
The petition has no merit. ECC remains the determinative issue in resolving
petitioners' complaint.
Jurisdiction of the Manila RTC over the Case
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred
by law. Such jurisdiction is determined by the allegations The settled rule is before a party may seek the
in the complaint, irrespective of whether the plaintiff is intervention of the courts, he should first avail of all the
entitled to all or some of the reliefs sought.11 means afforded by administrative processes. Hence, if a
remedy within the administrative machinery is still
A perusal of the allegations in the complaint shows that available, with a procedure prescribed pursuant to law for
petitioners' principal cause of action is the alleged illegality an administrative officer to decide the controversy, a party
of the issuance of the ECC. The violation of laws on should first exhaust such remedy before resorting to the
environmental protection and on local government courts. The premature invocation of a court's intervention
participation in the implementation of environmentally renders the complaint without cause of action and
critical projects is an issue that involves the validity of dismissible on such ground.16
NAPOCOR's ECC. If the ECC is void, then as a necessary
consequence, NAPOCOR or the provincial government of RED Principe of the DENR Region IV Office issued the
Oriental Mindoro could not construct the mooring facility. ECC based on (1) Presidential Decree No. 1586 ("PD No.
The subsidiary issue of non-compliance with pertinent 1586") and its implementing rules establishing the
local ordinances in the construction of the mooring facility Environmental Impact Statement System, (2) DAO 96-
becomes immaterial for purposes of granting petitioners' 3717 and (3) the Procedural Manual of DAO 96-37. Section
main prayer, which is the annulment of the ECC. Thus, if 418 of PD No. 1586 requires a proponent of an
the court has jurisdiction to determine the validity of the environmentally critical project, or a project located within
issuance of the ECC, then it has jurisdiction to hear and an environmentally critical area as declared by the
decide petitioners' complaint. President, to secure an ECC prior to the project's
operation.19 NAPOCOR thus secured the ECC because
Petitioners' complaint is one that is not capable of the mooring facility in Minolo Cove, while not an
pecuniary estimation. It falls within the exclusive and environmentally critical project, is located within an
original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts under environmentally critical area under Presidential
Section 19(1) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended Proclamation No. 2146, issued on 14 December 1981.20
by Republic Act No. 7691. The question of whether
petitioners should file their complaint in the Regional Trial The rules on administrative appeals from rulings of the
Court of Manila or Oriental Mindoro then becomes a DENR Regional Directors on the implementation of PD
matter of venue, to be determined by the residence of the No. 1586 are found in Article VI of DAO 96-37, which
parties.12 provides:

Petitioners' main prayer is the annulment of the ECC. The SECTION 1.0. Appeal to the Office of the
principal respondent, DENR Region IV, has its main office Secretary. Any party aggrieved by the final
at the L & S Building, Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Regional decision of the RED may, within 15 days from
Executive Director Principe of the DENR Region IV, who receipt of such decision, file an appeal with the
issued the ECC, holds office there. Plainly, the principal Office of the Secretary. The decision of the
respondent resides in Manila, which is within the territorial Secretary shall be immediately executory.
jurisdiction of the Manila RTC. Thus, petitioners filed their
complaint in the proper venue. SECTION 2.0. Grounds for Appeal. The
grounds for appeal shall be limited to grave abuse
On the other hand, the jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts of discretion and serious errors in the findings of
to issue injunctive writs is limited to acts committed or fact which would cause grave or irreparable injury
about to be committed within their judicial to the aggrieved party. Frivolous appeals shall not
region.13 Moreover, Presidential Decree No. 1818 ("PD be countenanced.
No. 1818") prohibited14 courts from issuing injunctive writs
against government infrastructure projects like the SECTION 3.0. Who May Appeal. The
mooring facility in the present case. Republic Act No. 8975 proponent or any stakeholder, including but not
("RA No. 8975"), which took effect on 26 November 2000, limited to, the LGUs concerned and affected
superseded PD No. 1818 and delineates more clearly the communities, may file an appeal.
coverage of the prohibition, reserves the power to issue
such writs exclusively with this Court, and provides The DENR Procedural Manual for DAO 96-37 explains
penalties for its violation.15 Obviously, neither the Manila these provisions thus:
RTC nor the Oriental Mindoro RTC can issue an injunctive
writ to stop the construction of the mooring facility. Only Final decisions of the RED may be
this Court can do so under PD No. 1818 and later under appealed. These decisions include those relating
RA No. 8975. Thus, the question of whether the Manila to the issuance or non-issuance of an ECC, and
RTC has jurisdiction over the complaint considering that the imposition of fines and penalties. By inference,
its injunctive writ is not enforceable in Oriental Mindoro is the decision of the Secretary on the issuance or
academic. non-issuance of the ECC may also be appealed
based on this provision.Resort to courts prior to
Clearly, the Manila RTC has jurisdiction to determine the availing of this remedy would make the appellant's
validity of the issuance of the ECC, although it could not action dismissible on the ground of non-
issue an injunctive writ against the DENR or NAPOCOR. exhaustion of administrative remedies.
The right to appeal must be exercised within 15 prior approval of the Office of the President upon
days from receipt by the aggrieved party of such the recommendation of the Philippine Tourism
decision. Failure to file such appeal within the Authority. (Emphasis supplied)
requisite period will result in the finality of the
RED's or Secretary's decision(s), which can no NAPOCOR claims that since Minolo Cove lies outside of
longer be disturbed. "Puerto Galera Bay as protected by Medio Island",24 PD
No. 1605 does not apply to this case. However, petitioners
An appeal shall not stay the effectivity of the assert that Minolo Cove is one of the "enclosed coves of
RED's decision, unless the Secretary directs Puerto Galera"25 and thus protected under PD No. 1605.
otherwise. This is a question of fact that the DENR Secretary should
have first resolved. In any event, there is no dispute that
The right to appeal does not prevent the aggrieved NAPOCOR will use the mooring facility for its power barge
party from first resorting to the filing of a motion for that will supply 14.4 megawatts of electricity to the entire
reconsideration with the RED, to give the RED an province of Oriental Mindoro, including Puerto Galera. The
opportunity to re-evaluate his decision. (Emphasis mooring facility is obviously a government-owned public
added) infrastructure intended to serve a basic need of the people
of Oriental Mindoro. The mooring facility is not a
Instead of following the foregoing procedure, petitioners "commercial structure; commercial or semi-commercial
bypassed the DENR Secretary and immediately filed their wharf or commercial docking" as contemplated in Section
complaint with the Manila RTC, depriving the DENR 1 of PD No. 1605. Therefore, the issuance of the ECC
Secretary the opportunity to review the decision of his does not violate PD No. 1605 which applies only to
subordinate, RED Principe. Under the Procedural Manual commercial structures like wharves, marinas, hotels and
for DAO 96-37 and applicable jurisprudence, petitioners' restaurants.
omission renders their complaint dismissible for lack of
cause of action.21 Consequently, the Manila RTC did not Sections 26 and 27 of RA No. 7160
err in dismissing petitioners' complaint for lack of cause of
action. Congress introduced Sections 26 and 27 in the Local
Government Code to emphasize the legislative concern
On the Alleged Patent Illegality of the ECC "for the maintenance of a sound ecology and clean
environment."26 These provisions require every national
Petitioners nevertheless contend that they are exempt government agency or government-owned and controlled
from filing an appeal with the DENR Secretary because corporation to hold prior consultations with the local
the issuance of the ECC was in patent violation of existing government unit concerned and to secure the prior
laws and regulations. These are (1) Section 1 of approval of its sanggunian before implementing "any
Presidential Decree No. 1605, as amended, (2) Sections project or program that may cause pollution, climatic
26 and 27 of Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of
Code of 1991), and (3) the provisions of DAO 96-37 on cropland, rangeland, or forest cover and extinction of
the documentary requirements for the zoning permit and animal or plant species." Sections 26 and 27 respectively
social acceptability of the mooring facility. provide:

Petitioners' contention is without merit. While the patent Section 26. Duty of National Government
illegality of an act exempts a party from complying with the Agencies in the Maintenance of Ecological
rule on exhaustion Of administrative remedies,22 this does Balance. It shall be the duty of every national
not apply in the present case. agency or government-owned or controlled
corporation authorized or involved in the planning
and implementation of any project or program that
Presidential Decree No. 1605
may cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of
non-renewable resources, loss of crop land,
Presidential Decree No. 1605 ("PD No. 1605"),23 as rangeland, or forest cover and extinction of animal
amended by Presidential Decrees Nos. 1605-A and 1805, or plant species, to consult with the local
declares as ecologically threatened zone "the coves and government units, non-governmental
waters embraced by Puerto Galera Bay as protected by organizations, and other sectors concerned and
Medio Island." This decree provides in part: explain the goals and objectives of the project or
program, its impact upon the people and the
Section 1. Any provision of law to the contrary community in terms of environmental or ecological
notwithstanding, the construction of marinas, balance, and the measures that will be undertaken
hotels, restaurants, other commercial structures; to prevent or minimize the adverse effects thereof.
commercial or semi-commercial wharfs [sic];
commercial docking within the enclosed coves of Section 27. Prior Consultations Required. No
Puerto Galera; the destruction of its mangrove project or program shall be implemented by
stands; the devastation of its corals and coastline government authorities unless the consultations
by large barges, motorboats, tugboat propellers, mentioned in Section . . . 26 hereof are complied
and any form of destruction by other human with, and prior approval of the sanggunian
activities are hereby prohibited. concerned is obtained: Provided, That occupants
in areas where such projects are to be
Section 2. x x x implemented shall not be evicted unless
appropriate relocation sites have been provided, in
No permit for the construction of any wharf, accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
marina, hotel, restaurants and other commercial
structures in Puerto Galera shall be issued without
In Lina, Jr. v. Pao,27 the Court interpreted these Amelia Supetran, the Director of the Environmental
provisions in this manner: Management Bureau. Thus, RED Principe acted with full
authority pursuant to DENR regulations. Moreover, the
Section 27 of the Code should be read in legal presumption is that he acted with the requisite
conjunction with Section 26 thereof x x x. authority.32 This clothes RED Principe's acts with
presumptive validity and negates any claim that his
Thus, the projects and programs mentioned in actions are patently illegal or that he gravely abused his
Section 27 should be interpreted to mean projects discretion. While petitioners may present proof to the
and programs whose effects are among those contrary, they must do so before the proper administrative
enumerated in Sections 26 and 27, to wit, those forum before resorting to judicial remedies.
that: (1) may cause pollution; (2) may bring about
climatic change; (3) may cause the depletion of On the Alleged Non-Compliance with the Terms of the
non-renewable resources; (4) may result in loss of ECC
crop land, rangeland, or forest cover; (5) may
eradicate certain animal or plant species; and (6) Lastly, petitioners claim that they are justified in
other projects or programs that may call for the immediately seeking judicial recourse because
eviction of a particular group of people residing in NAPOCOR is guilty of violating the conditions of the ECC,
the locality where these will be implemented. which requires it to secure a separate ECC for the
operation of the power barge. The ECC also mandates
Again, Sections 26 and 27 do not apply to this case NAPOCOR to secure the usual local government permits,
because as petitioners admit,28 the mooring facility itself is like zoning and building permits, from the municipal
not environmentally critical and hence does not belong to government of Puerto Galera.
any of the six types of projects mentioned in the law.
There is no statutory requirement for the The contention is similarly without merit. The fact that
concerned sanggunian to approve the construction of the NAPOCOR's ECC is subject to cancellation for non-
mooring facility. It is another matter if the operation of the compliance with its conditions does not justify petitioners'
power barge is at issue. As an environmentally critical conduct in ignoring the procedure prescribed in DAO 96-
project that causes pollution, the operation of the power 37 on appeals from the decision of the DENR Executive
barge needs the prior approval of the Director. Petitioners vigorously insist that NAPOCOR
concerned sanggunian. However, what is before this should comply with the requirements of consultation and
Court is only the construction of the mooring facility, not locational clearance prescribed in DAO 96-37. Ironically,
the operation of the power barge. Thus, the issuance of petitioners themselves refuse to abide with the procedure
the ECC does not violate Sections 26 and 27 of RA No. for filing complaints and appealing decisions laid down in
7160. DAO 96-37.

Documentary Requirements for ECC Applications DAO 96-37 provides for a separate administrative
proceeding to address complaints for the cancellation of
Under DAO 96-37, an ECC applicant for a project located an ECC. Under Article IX of DAO 96-37, complaints to
within an environmentally critical area is required to submit nullify an ECC must undergo an administrative
an Initial Environment Examination, which must contain a investigation, after which the hearing officer will submit his
brief description of the environmental setting and a report to the EMB Director or the Regional Executive
documentation of the consultative process undertaken, Director, who will then render his decision. The aggrieved
when appropriate.29 As part of the description of the party may file an appeal to the DENR Secretary, who has
environmental setting, the ECC applicant must submit a authority to issue cease and desist orders. Article IX also
certificate of locational clearance or zoning certificate. classifies the types of violations covered under DAO 96-
37, including projects operating without an ECC or
Petitioners further contend that NAPOCOR, in applying for violating the conditions of the ECC. This is the applicable
the ECC, did not submit to the DENR Region IV Office the procedure to address petitioners' complaint on
documents proving the holding of consultations and the NAPOCOR's alleged violations and not the filing of the
issuance of a locational clearance or zoning certificate. instant case in court.
Petitioners assert that this omission renders the issuance
of the ECC patently illegal. A Final Word

The contention is also without merit. While such The Court commends petitioners for their courageous
documents are part of the submissions required from a efforts to safeguard and maintain the ecological balance of
project proponent, their mere absence does not render the Minolo Cove. This Court recognizes the utmost
issuance of the ECC patently illegal. To justify non- importance of protecting the environment.33 Indeed, we
exhaustion of administrative remedies due to the patent have called for the vigorous prosecution of violators of
illegality of the ECC, the public officer must have issued environmental laws.34 Legal actions to achieve this end,
the ECC "[without any] semblance of compliance, or even however, must be done in accordance with established
an attempt to comply, with the pertinent laws; when rules of procedure that were intended, in the first place, to
manifestly, the officer has acted without jurisdiction or has achieve orderly and efficient administration of justice.
exceeded his jurisdiction, or has committed a grave abuse WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition for lack of merit. SO
of discretion; or when his act is clearly and obviously ORDERED.
devoid of any color of authority."30
G.R. No. L-41958 July 20, 1982
RED Principe, as chief of DENR Region IV, is the officer
duly authorized under DAO 96-3731 to issue ECCs for DONALD MEAD, petitioner,
projects located within environmentally critical areas. RED vs.
Principe issued the ECC on the recommendation of HON. MANUEL A. ARGEL in his capacity as Presiding
Judge in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch orders of the respondent Judge who allegedly acted in
XXXV and the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, excess of or without jurisdiction in issuing the same.
In Our Resolution dated November 28, 1975, the
Ozaeta, Romulo, De Leon & Reyes & Associates for respondents were required to comment on the petition and
petitioner. a temporary restraining order was issued to enjoin the
respondent Judge from enforcing his questioned orders
Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Acting Solicitor until otherwise directed by this Court.
General Hugo Gutierrez, Jr., Asst. Solicitor General
Octavio R. Ramirez and Solicitor Mariano M. Martinez for It is the principal contention of the petitioner that the
respondents. National Water and Air Pollution Control Commission
(hereinafter referred to as the "Commission") as created
under Republic Act No. 3931 has the exclusive authority
to determine the existence of "pollution" before a criminal
VASQUEZ, J.: case can be filed for a violation of the said law; and that it
has the exclusive authority to prosecute violations of the
same. Petitioner further avers that the Commission not
The issue posed for determination in this case is whether
having finally ruled that the petitioner has violated
or not a Provincial Fiscal has the authority to file an
Republic Act No. 3931, the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal lacks
information for a violation of Republic Act No. 3931,
the authority to prosecute the petitioner for a violation of
entitled "An Act Creating a National Water and Air
said law.
Pollution Control Commission."
The respondents, on the other hand, maintain that while
On March 11, 1975, petitioner Donald Mead and a certain
Republic Act No. 3931 grants the power and duty to the
Isaac Arivas were charged by the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal
Commission to investigate and prosecute violations of
with a violation of Section 9, in relation to Section 10 of
Republic Act No. 3931, such grant of power and authority
Republic Act No. 3931, under an information reading as
is not exclusive, and does not deprive fiscals and other
public prosecutors of their authority to investigate and
prosecute violations of the said law committed within their
That on or about the 23rd day of August, respective jurisdictions.
1972, and for some time prior and
subsequent thereto, in the municipality of
Before discussing the main issue on its merits, We deem it
Malabon, province of Rizal, Philippines
necessary to resolve a procedural question raised by the
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
respondents in support of their prayer that the instant
Court, the above-named accused, being
petition should not be entertained. Respondents advert to
then the president and the general
the rule that when a motion to quash filed by an accused
manager, respectively, of the Insular Oil
in a criminal case shall be denied, the remedy of the
Refinery Co. (INSOIL) a corporation duly
accused- movant is not to file a petition for certiorari or
organized in accordance with existing
mandamus or prohibition, the proper recourse being to go
laws, conspiring and confederating
to trial, without prejudice to his right to reiterate the
together and mutually helping and aiding
grounds invoked in his motion to quash if an adverse
one another, did then and there willfully,
judgment is rendered against him, in the appeal that he
unlawfully and feloniously drain or
may take therefrom in the manner authorized by law. (Mill
otherwise dispose into the highway canal
vs. People, et al., 101 Phil. 599; Echarol us. Purisima, et
and/or cause, permit, suffer to be drained
al, 13 SCRA 309.)
or allow to seep into such waterway the
industrial and other waste matters
discharged due to the operation of the said There is no disputing the validity and wisdom of the rule
Insular Oil Refinery Co. so managed and invoked by the respondents. However, it is also
operated by them, thereby causing recognized that, under certain situations, recourse to the
pollution of such waterway with the extraordinary legal remedies of certiorari, prohibition or
resulting damage and/or destruction to the mandamus to question the denial of a motion to quash is
living plants in the vicinity and providing considered proper in the interest of "more enlightened and
hazard to health and property in the same substantial justice", as was so declared in "Yap vs.
vicinity. Lutero", G.R. No. L-12669, April 30, 1969, 105 Phil. 3007:

The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. C-5984-75 However, were we to require adherence to
and it was subsequently assigned to Branch XXXV of the this pretense, the case at bar would have
Court of First Instance of Rizal (Caloocan City) presided to be dismissed and petitioner required to
over by the respondent Judge. go through the inconvenience, not to say
the mental agony and torture, of submitting
himself to trial on the merits in Case No.
On August 11, 1975, petitioner Donald Mead, one of the
16443, apart from the expenses incidental
accused in the criminal case, filed a motion to quash on
thereto, despite the fact that his trial and
the grounds that the trial court has no jurisdiction and that
conviction therein would violate one of this
the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal has no legal personality to
constitutional rights, and that, an appeal to
file the above-quoted information. The motion to quash
this Court, we would, therefore, have to set
was denied by the respondent Judge in an Order dated
aside the judgment of conviction of the
September 5, 1975. A Motion For Reconsideration filed by
lower court. This would, obviously, be most
the petitioner was also denied by the respondent Judge in
unfair and unjust. Under the circumstances
his Order of November 10, 1965. Hence, this petition for
obtaining in the present case, the flaw in
certiorari with preliminary injunction to annul the said
the procedure followed by petitioner herein for certiorari instead of dismissing it, as
may be overlooked, in the interest of a claimed.
more enlightened and substantial justice.
The motion to quash filed by the accused in Yap vs.
To the same effect is the pronouncement in "Pineda and Lutero was on the ground of double jeopardy. In Pineda
Ampil Manufacturing Co., vs. Bartolome, et al.," 95 Phil., vs. Bartolome, the ground invoked was duplicity of
930938, expressed as follows: offenses charged in the information. In the case at bar, the
petitioner assails the very jurisdiction of the court wherein
While a denial of a motion to dismiss for the criminal case was filed, Certainly, there is a more
lack of jurisdiction was held not to be a compelling reason that such issue be resolved soonest, in
proper basis for a petition for certiorari order to avoid the court's spending precious time and
[Nico vs. Blanco, 46 Off. Gaz., Supp. (1) energy unnecessarily in trying and deciding the case, and
88; 81 Phil., 2131, or an appeal not to spare the accused from the inconvenience, anxiety and
certiorari is the proper remedy for embarrassment, let alone the expenditure of effort and
correcting an error which a lower court money, in undergoing trial for a case the proceedings in
may commit in denying a motion to set which could possibly be annuled for want of jurisdiction.
aside a judgment, or in setting aside an Even in civil actions, We have counselled that when the
order of dismissal, [Rios vs. Ros et al., 45 court's jurisdiction is attacked in a motion to dismiss, it is
Off. Gaz. (No. 3), 1265; 79 Phil. 243; the duty of the court to resolve the same as soon as
Santos vs. Pecson, 45 Off. Gaz. (No. 3), possible in order to avoid the unwholesome
1278; 79 Phil.754] however, in some consequences mentioned above.
instances, the Supreme Court has
departed from the general rule and has It is also advanced that the present petition
entertained the writ notwithstanding the is premature, since respondent court has
existence of an appeal. Thus, in one case not definitely ruled on the motion to
the Supreme Court took cognizance of a dismiss, nor held that it has jurisdiction, but
petition for certiorari notwithstanding the only argument is untenable. The motion to
fact that the accused could have appealed dismiss was predicated on the respondent
in due time when it found that the action court's lack of jurisdiction to entertain the
was necessary to promote public welfare action, and the rulings of this Court are
and public policy (People vs. Zulueta, 89 that writs of certiorari or prohibition, or
Phil. 880). In another case, a petition for both, may issue in case of a denial or
certiorari to annul an order of the trial deferment of action on such a motion to
judge admitting an amended information dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.
was entertained although the accused had
an adequate remedy by appeal "inasmuch If the question of jurisdiction were not the
as the Surplus Property cases have main ground for this petition for review by
attracted nationwide attention, making it certiorari, it would be premature because it
essential to proceed with dispatch in the seeks to have a review of an interlocutory
consideration thereof. (People vs, Zulueta, order. But as it would be useless and futile
supra. Citing Arevalo vs. Nepomuceno, 63 to go ahead with the proceedings if the
Phil., 627.) And still in another case, the court below had no jurisdiction this petition
writ was entertained where the appeal was was given due course.' (San Beda vs. CIA
found not to be adequate remedy, as 51 O.G. 6636, 5638).
where the order which is sought to be
reviewed is merely of interlocutory or While it is true that action on a motion to
peremptory character, and the appeal dismiss may be deferred until the trial and
therefrom can be interposed only after final an order to that effect is interlocutory, still
judgment and may therefore be of no avail. where it clearly appears that the trial judge
(Rocha vs. Crossfield, 6 Phil., 355; Leung or court is proceeding in excess or outside
Ben vs. O'Brien, 38 Phil., 182. See also of its jurisdiction, the remedy of prohibition
Mendoza vs. Parungao, 49 Phil., 271; Dais would lie since it would be useless and a
vs. Court of First Instance, 51 Phil., 36). waste of time to go ahead with the
proceedings. (Philippine International Fair,
For analogous reasons it may be said that Inc., et al., vs. Ibanez, et al,50 Off. Gaz.
the petition for certiorari interposed by the 1036; Enrique vs. Macadaeg, et all 47 Off.
accused against the order of the court a Gaz. 1207; see also San Beda College vs.
quo denying the motion to quash may be CIR, 51 Off. Gaz. 5636.) (University of Sto.
entertained, not only because it was Tomas vs. Villanueva, L-13748, 30
rendered in a criminal case, but because it October 1959.) (Time, Inc. vs. Reyes, 39
was rendered, as claimed, with grave SCRA, pp. 315-316.)
abuse of discretion, as found by the Court
of Appeals, it would be indeed unfair and An additional factor that induced Us to entertain the
unjust, if not derogatory of their instant petition is the obvious merit We find in the same.
constitutional right, to force the accused to Our reading of the provisions of Republic Act No. 3931
go to trial under an information which, in has convinced Us that the clear legislative intention is to
their opinion, as was found, accuses them vest in the Commission the exclusive authority to
of multiple offenses in contravention of determine the existence of "pollution" penalized
law. And so, in our opinion, the respondent thereunder and to prosecute violations of said law.
court did not err in entertaining the petition
The information filed against the herein petitioner charges modify any permit issued under this Act whenever
him with a violation of Section 9, in relation to Section 10 modifications are necessary to prevent or abate pollution
of Republic Act No. 3931. More specifically, it alleges that of any water and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines."
the petitioner, with his co-accused Isaac Arivas, "willfully, (Ibid., No. 7.) Section 8 contains explicit provisions as to
unlawfully and feloniously drain or otherwise dispose into the authority of the Commission to determine the
the highway canal and/or cause, permit, suffer to be existence of pollution and to take appropriate court actions
drained or allow to seep into such waterway the industrial to abate or prevent the same. It provides:
and other waste matters discharged due to the operation
of the said Insular Oil Refinery Co. so managed and SEC. 8. Proceedings before the
operated by them, thereby causing pollution of such Commission . The Commission may, on
waterway with the resulting damage and/or destruction to its own motion, or upon the request of any
the arriving plants in the vicinity and providing hazard to person, investigate or may inquire, in a
health and property in the same vicinity." manner to be determined by it, as to any
alleged act of pollution or the omission or
Section 9 in its first paragraph, supposedly the criminal act failure to comply with any provisions of this
being imputed to the petitioner, reads as follows: Act or any order of this Commission.

SEC. 9. Prohibitions. No person shall Whenever it appears to the Commission,

throw, run, drain, or otherwise dispose into after investigation, that there has been a
any of the water and/or atmospheric air of violation of any of the provisions of this Act
the Philippines, or cause, permit, suffer to or any order of the Commission, it may
be thrown, run, drain, allow to see or order whoever causes such violation to
otherwise dispose into such waters or show cause before said Commission why
atmospheric air, any organic or inorganic such discharge of industrial wastes or any
matter or any substance in gaseous or waste should not be discontinued. A notice
liquid form that shall cause pollution of shall be served on the offending party
such waters or atmospheric air. directing him or it to show cause before the
Commission, on a date specified in such
It will be noted from the above-quoted provision that the notice, why an order should not be made
prohibited act is to throw, run, drain or otherwise dispose directing the discontinuance of such
into any of the water and/or atmospheric air of the violation. Such notice shall specify the time
Philippines, any organic or inorganic matter or substance and the place where a public hearing will
"that shall cause pollution of such waters or atmospheric be held by the Commission or its
air." Stated in simpler terms, the offense allegedly authorized representatives, and notice of
committed by the petitioner was the act of causing such hearing shall be served personally or
pollution of a waterway (highway canal). by registered mail, at least ten days before
said hearing; and in the case of a
The term "pollution" as used in the law is not to be taken municipality or corporation such notice
in its ordinary signification. In Section 2, paragraph (a), of shall be served upon the major or
Republic Act No. 3931, "pollution" is defined in these president thereof. The Commission shall
words: take evidence with reference to said matter
and may issue an order to the party
responsible for such violation, directing
(a) Pollution' means such alteration of the
that within a specified period of time
physical, chemical and/or biological
thereafter, such violation be discontinued
properties of any water and/or atmospheric
unless adequate sewage works or
air of the Philippines, or any such
industrial wastes disposal system be
discharge of any liquid, gaseous or solid
properly operated to prevent further
substance into any of the waters and/or
damage or pollution.
atmospheric air of the country as will or is
likely to create or render such waters
and/or atmospheric air harmful or No investigation being conducted or ruling
detrimental or injurious to public health, made by the Commission shall prejudice
safety or welfare, or to domestic, any action which may be filed in court by
commercial, industrial, agricultural, any person in accordance with the
recreational or other legitimate uses, or to provisions of the New Civil Code on
livestock, wild animals, birds, fish or of her nuisance. On matters, however, not
aquatic life. related to nuisance, no court action shall
be initiated until the Commission shall
have finally ruled thereon and no order of
The power to determine the existence of pollution is
the Commission discontinuing the
vested by the law in the Commission. Section 6, among
discharge of waste shall be stayed by the
others, gives the Commission the authority to "determine
filing of said court action, unless the court
whether a pollution exists in any of the waters and/or
issues an injunction as provided for in the
atmospheric air of the Philippines." (Section 6(a), No. 1);
Rules of Court.
to "hold public hearings, ... make findings of facts and
determinations all with respect to the violations of this Act
or orders issued by the Commission." (Ibid., No. 3); to The last paragraph of the above-quoted provision
"institute or cause to be instituted in the court of delineates the authority to be exercised by the
competent jurisdiction legal proceedings to compel Commission and by the ordinary courts in respect of
compliance with the provisions of this Act" (Ibid, No. 5); preventing or remedying the pollution of the waters or
and, "after due notice and hearing, revoke, suspend or atmospheric air of the Philippines. The provision excludes
from the authority of the Commission only the of the law entrusted to it for administration or enforcement,
determination of and the filing of court actions involving to the exclusion of the regular prosecution service of the
violations of the New Civil Code on nuisance. It is government, is not new in this jurisdiction. It is recognized
expressly directed that on matters not related to nuisance in Yao Lit vs. Geraldez et al., 106 Phil. 545 which upheld
"no court action shall be initiated until the Commission the exclusive authority of the Commissioner of
shall have finally ruled thereon." This provision leaves little Immigration' to investigate and impose administrative fines
room for doubt that a court action involving the upon violators of the provisions of Republic Act No. 751
determination of the existence of pollution may not be for the reason that said official "has better facilities than
initiated until and unless the Commission has so the prosecuting officials to carry out the provisions of the
determined the existence of what in the law is considered said Act, the former official being the keeper of the records
pollution. pertaining to aliens." The same principle has been
recognized with respect to the prosecutions of violations of
It may not be argued that the above-cited provision refers the Anti-Dummy Law (Republic Act No. 1131.) In holding
only to the filing of civil actions, and not to criminal cases that the City Fiscal of Manila has no authority to prosecute
as is the one herein involved, there being no basis either such violations independently of the Anti-Dummy Board, it
in the context in law nor from a consideration of the was said:
purpose behind the enactment of the same upon which
such a distinction may be made. Indeed, respondents do Were the city fiscal or the provincial fiscals
not seriously question that the court action contemplated who have the power or right to prosecute
in the last paragraph of Section 8 includes criminal violations of all laws and ordinances
proceedings. Respondents merely aver that the allowed to prosecute violations of the Anti-
aforementioned grant of authority to the Commission is Dummy Board, there would be no order,
not exclusive of the power of Fiscals to file criminal actions concert, cooperation, and coordination
for a violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 3931. between the said agencies of the
government. The function of coordination
We are likewise not in accord with the view that the law which is entrusted to the Anti-Dummy
intended to give concurrent authority to the Commission Board is evident from all the above-quoted
and Fiscals to prosecute violations of Republic Act No. provisions of Republic Act No. 1130. There
3931. It is true that there is no provision expressly can be no coordination as envisioned in
declaring that the authority vested in the Commission to the law unless the Anti-Dummy Board be
prosecute violations of Republic Act No. 3931 is exclusive. given the power to direct and control the
Using the same logic, there is neither a provision declaring city fiscal in the prosecutions of the
such authority to be concurrent or may be exercised jointly violations of the Anti-Dummy Law. (Rollo,
with Fiscals. The absence of an explicit declaration as to p. 118; 5 SCRA 428,433.)
the exclusive authority of the Commission to prosecute
violations of the subject law does not detract from the In R. B. Industrial Development Co., Ltd. vs. Enage (24
clear intention to make it so, as gathered from the SCRA 365) involving the authority of the Bureau of
philosophy of the law itself and as gleaned from several Forestry over the management and use of public forests
provisions of the same. It is clearly deducible from the and the transfer of licenses for the taking of forest
provision of Section 8 expressly declaring that no court products, this Court has made this pronouncement:
action shall be initiated, except those related to nuisance,
until the Commission shall have finally ruled on the A doctrine long recognized is that where
alleged act of pollution; and also from Section 6(a), No. 5, the law confines in an administrative office
which authorizes the Commission to "initiate or cause to the power to determine particular
be instituted in a court of competent jurisdiction legal questions or matters, upon the facts to be
proceedings to compel compliance with the provisions of presented, the jurisdiction of such office
this Act." shall prevail over the courts. (p. 124,
As may be seen from the law, the determination of the
existence of pollution requires investigation, public It is our considered view that the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal
hearings and the collection of various information relating lacked the authority to file the information charging the
to water and atmospheric pollution. (Sections 6, 7, and 8.) petitioner with a violation of the provisions of Republic Act
The definition of the term "pollution" in itself connotes that No. 3931 there being no prior finding or determination by
the determination of its existence requires specialized the Commission that the act of the petitioner had caused
knowledge of technical and scientific matters which are pollution in any water or atmospheric air of the Philippines.
not ordinarily within the competence of Fiscals or of those It is not to be understood, however, that a fiscal or public
sitting in a court of justice. It is undoubtedly in recognition prosecutor may not file an information for a violation of the
of this fact that in Section 4 of the law, it is provided that said law at all. He may do so if the Commission had made
"the basic personnel necessary to carry out the provisions a finding or determination that the law or any of its orders
of this Act shall be engineers, chemists, biochemists, had been violated. In the criminal case presently
physicists, and other technicians"; and required in Section considered, there had been no prior determination by the
3 that the Chairman of the Commission shall be the Commission that the supposed acts of the petitioner had
Chairman of the National Science Development Board, caused pollution to any water of the Philippines. The filing
one of the part-time commissioners shall be a of the information for the violation of Section 9 of the law
recommendee of the Philippine Council of Science and is, therefore, premature and unauthorized.
Technology, and one of the two full-time commissioner Concommittantly, the respondent Judge is without
shall be a sanitary engineer. jurisdiction to take cognizance of the offense charged
The vesting of authority in an administrative body to
determine when to institute a criminal action for a violation
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted and the
questioned Orders of the respondent Judge are hereby SO ORDERED."[1]
annuled and set aside. The respondent Judge is ordered
to dismiss Criminal Case No. 5984-75 for lack of We note that the above Order was based on findings of
jurisdiction. No costs. SO ORDERED. several inspections of Solar's plant:

[ GR No. 93891, Mar 11, 1991 ]

a. inspections conducted on 5 November 1986 and 12
November 1986 by the National Pollution Control
POLLUTION ADJUDICATION BOARD v. CA + Commission ("NPCC"), the predecessor of the
Board;[2] and
FELICIANO, J.: b. the inspection conducted on 6 September 1988 by
the Department of Environment and Natural
Petitioner Pollution Adjudication Board ("Board") asks us Resources ("DENR").
to review the Decision and Resolution promulgated on 7
February 1990 and 10 May 1990, respectively, by the The findings of these two (2) inspections were that Solar's
Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. No. SP 18821 entitled "Solar wastewater treatment plant was non-operational and that
Textile Finishing Corporation v. Pollution Adjudication its plant generated about 30 gallons per minute of
Board." In that Decision and Resolution, the Court of wastewater, 80% of which was being directly discharged
Appeals reversed an order of the Regional Trial Court, into a drainage canal leading to the Tullahan-Tinejeros
Quezon City, Branch 77, in Civil Case No. Q-89-2287 River. The remaining 20% of the wastewater was being
dismissing private respondent Solar Textile Finishing channeled through Solar's non-operational wastewater
Corporation's ("Solar") petition for certiorari and treatment plant. Chemical analysis of samples of Solar's
remanded the case to the trial court for further effluents showed the presence of pollutants on a level in
proceedings. excess of what was permissible under P.D. No. 984 and its
Implementing Regulations.
On 22 September 1988, petitioner Board issued an ex
parte Order directing Solar immediately to cease and A copy of the above Order was received by Solar on 26
desist from utilizing its wastewater pollution source September 1988. A Writ of Execution issued by the Board
installations which were discharging untreated wastewater was received by Solar on 31 March 1989.
directly into a canal leading to the adjacent Tullahan-
Tinejeros River. The Order signed by Hon. Fulgencio Meantime, Solar filed a motion for reconsideration/appeal
Factoran, Jr., as Board Chairman, reads in full as follows: with prayer for stay of execution of the Order dated 22
September 1988. Acting on this motion, the Board issued
"Respondent, Solar Textile Finishing Corporation with an Order dated 24 April 1989 allowing Solar to operate
plant and place of business at 999 General Pascual temporarily, to enable the Board to conduct another
Avenue, Malabon, Metro Manila is involved in bleaching, inspection and evaluation of Solar's wastewater treatment
rinsing and dyeing textiles with wastewater of about 30 facilities. In the same Order, the Board directed the
gpm. being directly discharged untreated into the sewer. Regional Executive Director of the DENR/NCR to conduct
Based on findings in the Inspections conducted on 05 the inspection and evaluation within thirty (30) days.
November 1986 and 15 November 1986, the volume of
untreated wastewater discharged in the final outfall On 21 April 1989, however, Solar went to the Regional
outside of the plant's compound was even greater. The Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 77, on petition for
result of inspection conducted on 06 September 1988 certiorari with preliminary injunction against the Board,
showed that respondent's WasteWater Treatment Plant the petition being docketed as Civil Case No. Q-89-2287.
was noted unoperational and the combined wastewater
generated from its operation was about 30 gallons per On 21 July 1989, the Regional Trial Court dismissed
minute and 80% of the wastewater was being directly Solar's petition upon two (2) grounds, i.e., that appeal and
discharged into a drainage canal leading to the Tullahan- not certiorari from the questioned Order of the Board as
Tinejeros River by means of a by-pass and the remaining well as the Writ of Execution was the proper remedy, and
20% was channelled into the plant's existing Wastewater that the Board's subsequent Order allowing Solar to
Treatment Plant (WTP). Result of the analyses of the operate temporarily had rendered Solar's petition moot
sample taken from the by-pass showed that the and academic.
wastewater is highly pollutive in terms of Color units, BOD
and Suspended Solids, among others. These acts of Dissatisfied, Solar went on appeal to the Court of Appeals
respondent in spite of directives to comply with the which in the Decision here assailed, reversed the Order of
requirements are clearly in violation of Section 8 of dismissal of the trial court and remanded the case to that
Presidential Decree No. 984 and Section 103 of its court for further proceedings. In addition, the Court of
Implementing Rules and Regulations and the 1982 Appeals declared the Writ of Execution null and void. At
Effluent Regulations. the same time, the Court of Appeals said in the dispositive
portion of its Decision that:
WHEREFORE, pursuant to Section 7 of P.D. 984 and
Section 38 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations "x x x. Still and all, this decision is without prejudice to
respondent is hereby ordered to cease and desist from whatever action the appellee [Board] may take relative to
utilizing its wastewater pollution source installations and the projected 'inspection and evaluation' of appellant's
discharging its untreated wastewater directly into the [Solar's] water treatment facilities."[3]
canal leading to the Tullahan-Tinejeros River effective
immediately upon receipt hereof and until such time when The Court of Appeals, in so ruling, held that certiorari was
it has fully complied with all the requirements and until a proper remedy since the Orders of petitioner Board may
further orders from this Board. result in great and irreparable injury to Solar; and that
while the case might be moot and academic, "larger
issues" demanded that the question of due process be an "immediate threat to life, public health, safety or
settled. Petitioner Board moved for reconsideration welfare, or to animal or plant life" exists before an ex parte
without success. cease and desist order may be issued. It is enough if the
Board finds that the waste discharged do exceed "the
The Board is now before us on a Petition for Review allowable standards set by the [NPCC]." In respect of
basically arguing that: discharges of wastes as to which allowable standards have
been set by the Commission, the Board may issue an ex
parte cease and desist order when there is prima
1. its ex parte Order dated 22 September 1988 and facie evidence of an establishment exceeding such
the Writ of Execution were issued in accordance allowable standards. Where, however the effluents or
with law and were not violative of the discharges have not yet been the subject matter of
requirements of due process; and allowable standards set by the Commission, then the
Board may act on an ex parte basis when it finds at
2. the ex parte Order and the Writ of Execution are least prima facie proof that the wastewater or material
not the proper subjects of a petition for certiorari. involved presents an "immediate threat to life, public
health, safety or welfare, or to animal or plant life." Since
The only issue before us at this time is whether or not the the applicable standards set by the Commission existing at
Court of Appeals erred in reversing the trial court on the any given time may well not cover every possible or
ground that Solar had been denied due process by the imaginable kind of effluent or waste discharge, the general
Board. standard of an "immediate threat to life, public health,
safety or welfare, or to animal and plant life" remains
Petitioner Board claims that under P.D. No. 984, Section necessary.
7(a), it has legal authority to issue ex parte orders to
suspend the operations of an establishment when there Upon the other hand, the Court must assume that the
is prima facie evidence that such establishment is extant allowable standards have been set by the
discharging effluents or wastewater, the pollution level of Commission or Board precisely in order to avoid or
which exceeds the maximum permissible standards set by neutralize an "immediate threat to life, public health,
the NPCC (now, the Board). Petitioner Board contends safety or welfare, or to animal or plant life."
that the reports before it concerning the effluent
discharges of Solar into the Tullahan-Tinejeros River Section 5 of the Effluent Regulations of 1982[4] sets out the
provided prima facie evidence of violation by Solar of maximum permissible levels of physical and chemical
Section 5 of the 1982 Effluent Code. substances which "effluents from domestic wastewater
treatment plants and industrial plants" must not exceed
Solar, on the other hand, contends that under the Board's "when discharged into bodies of water classified as Class
own rules and regulations, an ex parte order may issue A, B, C, D, SB and SC in accordance with the 1978 NPCC
only if the effluents discharged pose an "immediate threat Rules and Regulations." The waters of Tullahan-Tinejeros
to life, public health, safety or welfare, or to animal and River are classified as inland waters Class D under Section
plant life." In the instant case, according to Solar, the 68 of the 1978 NPCC Rules and Regulations,[5] which in
inspection reports before the Board made no finding that part provides that:
Solar's wastewater discharged posed such a threat.
"Section 68. Water Usage and Classification. The quality of
The Court is not persuaded by Solar's contention. Section Philippine waters shall be maintained in a safe and
7(a) of P.D. No. 984 authorized petitioner Board to satisfactory condition according to their best usages. For
issue ex parte cease and desist orders under the following this purpose, all water shall be classified according to the
circumstances: following beneficial usages:

"P.D. 984, Section 7, paragraph (a), provides: (a) Fresh Surface Water
(a) Public Hearing. x x x Provided, That whenever the Classification Best usage
Commission finds prima facie evidence that the
discharged sewage or wastes are of immediate threat to xxx xxx xxx
life, public health, safety or welfare, or to animal or plant
life, or exceeds the allowable standards set by the For agriculture, irrigation,
Commission, the Commissioner may issue an ex-parte Class D livestock watering and industrial
order directing the discontinuance of the same or cooling and processing.
the temporary suspension or cessation of operation of the
establishment or person generating such sewage or xxx xxx x x x"
wastes without the necessity of a prior public hearing. The (Emphases
said ex-parte order shall be immediately executory and supplied)
shall remain in force until said establishment or person The reports on the inspections carried on Solar's
prevents or abates the said pollution within the allowable wastewater treatment facilities on 5 and 12 November
standards, or modified or nullified by a competent court." 1986 and 6 September 1988 set forth the following
(Underscoring supplied) identical finding:
We note that under the above-quoted portion of Section
7(a) of P.D. No. 984, an ex parte cease and desist order "a. For legal action in [view of] violation of Section 103 of
may be issued by the Board (a) whenever the wastes the implementing rules and regulations of P.D. No. 984
discharged by an establishment pose an "immediate threat and Section 5 of the Effluent Regulations of 1982."[6]
to life, public health, safety or welfare, or to animal or Placing the maximum allowable standards set in Section 5
plant life," or (b) whenever such discharges or wastes of the Effluent Regulations of 1982 alongside the findings
exceed "the allowable standards set by the [NPCC]." On of the November 1986 and September 1988 inspection
the one hand, it is not essential that the Board prove that
reports, we get the following results: The plant was undertaking dyeing, bleaching and
rinsing operations during the inspection. The combined
"In wastewater generated from the said operations was
Novembe Septembe
lands estimated at about 30 gallons per minute. About 80%
r r
Water "1. of the wastewater was traced directly discharged into a
1986 1988
s drainage canal leading to the Tullahan-Tinejeros river
Report[8] Report[9]
(Class by means of a bypass. The remaining 20% was
Station l Station 1
C&D[7] channeled into the plant's existing wastewater
Color in Color units treatment plant (WTP).
a) platinum 100 a) (Apparent 250 125
cobalt units Color) The WTP was noted not yet fully operational - some
b)pH 6-8.5 b) pH 9.3 8.7 accessories were not yet installed. Only the sump pit
Temperatur and the holding/collecting tank are functional but
e in (C) Temperatur 2. appeared seldom used. The wastewater mentioned
c) 40 c)
e (C) channeled was noted held indefinitely into the
collection tank for primary treatment. There was no
d Phenols in Phenols in effluent discharge [from such collection tank].
0.1 d)
) mg./l. mg.l.
Suspended Suspended A sample from the bypass wastewater was collected for
e) solids in 75 e) solid in 340 80 laboratory analyses. Result of the analyses show that
mg./l. mg./l 3. the bypass wastewater is polluted in terms of color
BOD in BOD (5-day) units, BOD and suspended solids, among others.
f) 80 f) 1,100 152
mg./l. mg./l. (Please see attached laboratory result)."[11]
oil/Grease Oil/Grease From the foregoing reports, it is clear to this Court that
g) 10 g)
in mg./1. mg./l. there was at least prima facie evidence before the Board
Detergents that the effluents emanating from Solar's plant exceeded
h Detergents
5 h) mg./l. 2.93 the maximum allowable levels of physical and chemical
) in mg./l.
MBAS substances set by the NPCC and that accordingly there was
Dissolved adequate basis supporting the ex parte cease and desist
i) Oxygen, 0 order issued by the Board. It is also well to note that the
mg./l. previous owner of the plant facility -- Fine Touch
Settleable Finishing Corporation -- had been issued a Notice of
j) Matter 0.4 1.5 Violation on 20 December 1985 directing it to cease and
mg./l. refrain from carrying out dyeing operations until the water
Total treatment plant was completed and operational. Solar, the
k) Dissolved 800 610 new owner, informed the NPCC of the acquisition of the
Solids mg./l. plant on March 1986. Solar was summoned by the NPCC
Total Solids to a hearing on 13 October 1986 based on the results of the
l) 1,140 690
mg./l. sampling test conducted by the NPCC on 8 August 1986.
Turbidity Petitioner Board refrained from issuing an ex parte cease
NTU/ppm 70 and desist order until after the November 1986 and
Si03 September 1988 re-inspections were conducted and the
The November 1986 inspections report concluded that: violation of applicable standards was confirmed. In other
words, petitioner Board appears to have been remarkably
"Records of the Commission show that the plant under its forbearing in its efforts to enforce the applicable standards
previous owner, Fine Touch Finishing Corporation, was vis-a-vis Solar. Solar, on the other hand, seemed very
issued a Notice of Violation on 20 December 1985 casual about its continued discharge of untreated,
directing same to cease and desist from conducting dyeing pollutive effluents into the Tullahan-Tinejeros River,
operation until such time the waste treatment plant is presumably loath to spend the money necessary to put its
already completed and operational. The new owner Solar Wastewater Treatment Plant ("WTP") in an operating
Textile Corporation informed the Commission of the plant condition.
acquisition thru its letter dated March 1986 (sic).
In this connection, we note that in Technology Developers,
The new owner was summoned to a hearing held on 13 Inc. v. Court of Appeals, et al.,[12] the Court very recently
October 1986 based on the adverse findings during the upheld the summary closure ordered by the Acting Mayor
inspection/water sampling test conducted on 08 August of Sta. Maria, Bulacan, of a pollution-causing
1986. As per instruction of the Legal Division a re- establishment, after finding that the records showed that:
inspection/sampling text should be conducted first before
an appropriate legal action is instituted; hence, this "1. No mayor's permit had been secured. While it is true
inspection. that the matter of determining whether there is a pollution
of the environment that requires control if not prohibition
Based on the above findings, it is clear that the new owner of the operation of a business is essentially addressed to
continuously violates the directive of the Commission by the then National Pollution Control Commission of the
undertaking dyeing operation without completing first and Ministry of Human Settlements, now the Environmental
operating its existing WTP. The analysis of results on Management Bureau of the Department of Environment
water samples taken showed that the untreated and Natural Resources, it must be recognized that the
wastewater from the firm pollutes our water resources. In mayor of a town has as much responsibility to protect its
this connection, it is recommended that appropriate legal inhabitants from pollution, and by virtue of his police
action be instituted immediately against the firm x x x."[10] power, he may deny the application for a permit to operate
a business or otherwise close the same unless appropriate
The September 1988 inspection report's conclusions were: measures are taken to control and/or avoid injury to the
health of the residents of the community from the
emissions in the operation of the business. are not constitutionally entitled to reduce their capital
costs and operating expenses and to increase their profits
2. The Acting Mayor, in a letter of February 16, 1989, by imposing upon the public threats and risks to its safety,
called the attention of petitioner to the pollution emitted health, general welfare and comfort, by disregarding the
by the fumes of its plant whose offensive odor "not only requirements of anti-pollution statutes and their
pollute the air in the locality but also affect the health of implementing regulations.
the residents in the area," so that petitioner was ordered to
stop its operation until further orders and it was required It should perhaps be made clear the Court is not here
to bring the following: saying that the correctness of the ex parte Order and Writ
of Execution may not be contested by Solar in a hearing
xxx xx before the Board itself. Where the establishment affected
x xxx by an ex parte cease and desist order contests the
correctness of the prima facie findings of the Board, the
Board must hold a public hearing where such
establishment would have an opportunity to controvert
Region III-Department of Environment and Natural the basis of such ex parte order. That such an opportunity
Resources Anti-Pollution permit. (Annex A-2, petition) is subsequently available is really all that is required by the
3. This action of the Acting Mayor was in response to the due process clause of the Constitution in situations like
complaint of the residents of Barangay Guyong, Sta. that we have here. The Board's decision rendered after the
Maria, Bulacan, directed to the Provincial Governor public hearing may then be tested judicially by an appeal
through channels (Annex A-B, petition). x x x. to the Court of Appeals in accordance with Section 7(c) of
P.D. No. 984 and Section 42 of the Implementing Rules
4. The closure order of the Acting Mayor was issued only and Regulations. A subsequent public hearing is precisely
after an investigation was made by Marivic Guina who in what Solar should have sought instead of going to court to
her report of December 8, 1988 observed that, the fumes seek nullification of the Board's Order and Writ of
emitted by the plant of petitioner goes directly to the Execution, and instead of appealing to the Court of
surrounding houses and that no proper air pollution Appeals. It will be recalled that the Board in fact gave
device has been installed. (Annex A-9, petition) Solar authority temporarily to continue operations until
still another inspection of its wastewater treatment
xxx xx facilities and then another analysis of effluent samples
x xxx could be taken and evaluated.
6. While petitioner was able to present a temporary permit Solar claims finally that the petition for certiorari was the
to operate by the then National Pollution Control proper remedy as the questioned Order and Writ of
Commission on December 15, 1987, the permit was good Execution issued by the Board were patent nullities. Since
only up to May 25, 1988 (Annex A-12, petition). Petitioner we have concluded that that Order and Writ of Execution
had not exerted any effort to extend or validate its permit were entirely within the lawful authority of petitioner
much less to install any device to control the pollution and Board, the trial court did not err when it dismissed Solar's
prevent any hazard to the health of the residents of the petition for certiorari. It follows that the proper remedy
community." was an appeal from the trial court to the Court of Appeals,
In the instant case, the ex parte cease and desist Order was as Solar did in fact appeal.
issued not by a local government official but by the
Pollution Adjudication Board, the very agency of the ACCORDINGLY, the Petition for Review is given DUE
Government charged with the task of determining whether COURSE and the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated
the effluents of a particular industrial establishment 7 February 1990 and its Resolution dated 10 May 1990 in
comply with or violate applicable anti-pollution statutory A.C.-G.R. No. SP 18821 are hereby SET ASIDE. The
and regulatory provisions. Order of petitioner Board dated 22 September 1988 and
the Writ of Execution, as well as the decision of the trial
Ex parte cease and desist orders are permitted by law and court dated 21 July 1989, are hereby REINSTATED,
regulations in situations like that here presented precisely without prejudice to the right of Solar to contest the
because stopping the continuous discharge of pollutive correctness of the basis of the Board's Order and Writ of
and untreated effluents into the rivers and other inland Execution at a public hearing before the Board.
waters of the Philippines cannot be made to wait until
protracted litigation over the ultimate correctness or
propriety of such orders has run its full course, including
multiple and sequential appeals such as those which Solar [G.R. No. 148622. September 12, 2002]
has taken, which of course may take several years. The
relevant pollution control statute and implementing REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by HON.
regulations were enacted and promulgated in the exercise HEHERSON T. ALVAREZ, in his capacity as
of that pervasive, sovereign power to protect the safety, Secretary of the DEPARTMENT OF
health, and general welfare and comfort of the public, as ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES
well as the protection of plant and animal life, commonly (DENR), CLARENCE L. BAGUILAT, in his
designated as the police power. It is a constitutional capacity as the Regional Executive Director of
commonplace that the ordinary requirements of DENR-Region XI and ENGR. BIENVENIDO L.
procedural due process yield to the necessities of LIPAYON, in his capacity as the Regional
protecting vital public interests like those here involved, Director of the DENR-ENVIRONMENTAL
through the exercise of police power. The Board's ex MANAGEMENT BUREAU (DENR-EMB), Region
parte Order and Writ of Execution would, of course, have XI, petitioners, vs. THE CITY OF DAVAO,
compelled Solar temporarily to stop its plant operations, a represented by BENJAMIN C. DE GUZMAN, City
state of affairs Solar could in any case have avoided by Mayor, respondent.
simply absorbing the bother and burden of putting its
WTP on an operational basis. Industrial establishments
DECISION 1179 (prescribing guidelines for compliance with the EIA
system), which requires local government units (LGUs) to
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: comply with the EIS law. Only agencies and
instrumentalities of the national government, including
Before us is a petition for review[1] on certiorari government owned or controlled corporations, as well as
assailing the decision[2] dated May 28, 2001 of the Regional private corporations, firms and entities are mandated to go
Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 33, which granted the writ through the EIA process for their proposed projects which
of mandamus and injunction in favor of respondent, the City have significant effect on the quality of the environment. A
of Davao, and against petitioner, the Republic, represented local government unit, not being an agency or
by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources instrumentality of the National Government, is deemed
(DENR). The trial court also directed petitioner to issue a excluded under the principle of expressio unius est exclusio
Certificate of Non-Coverage in favor of respondent. alterius.
The antecedent facts of the case are as follows: The trial court also declared, based on the
On August 11, 2000, respondent filed an application certifications of the DENR-Community Environment and
for a Certificate of Non-Coverage (CNC) for its proposed Natural Resources Office (CENRO)-West, and the data
project, the Davao City Artica Sports Dome, with the gathered from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and
Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Region Seismology (PHIVOLCS), that the site for the Artica Sports
XI. Attached to the application were the required Dome was not within an environmentally critical
documents for its issuance, namely, a) detailed location area. Neither was the project an environmentally critical
map of the project site; b) brief project description; and c) a one. It therefore becomes mandatory for the DENR,
certification from the City Planning and Development Office through the EMB Region XI, to approve respondents
that the project is not located in an environmentally critical application for CNC after it has satisfied all the
area (ECA). The EMB Region XI denied the application requirements for its issuance. Accordingly, petitioner can
after finding that the proposed project was within an be compelled by a writ of mandamus to issue the CNC, if it
environmentally critical area and ruled that, pursuant to refuses to do so.
Section 2, Presidential Decree No. 1586, otherwise known Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, however,
as the Environmental Impact Statement System, in relation the same was denied. Hence, the instant petition for review.
to Section 4 of Presidential Decree No, 1151, also known
as the Philippine Environment Policy, the City of Davao With the supervening change of administration,
must undergo the environmental impact assessment (EIA) respondent, in lieu of a comment, filed a manifestation
process to secure an Environmental Compliance Certificate expressing its agreement with petitioner that, indeed, it
(ECC), before it can proceed with the construction of its needs to secure an ECC for its proposed project. It thus
project. rendered the instant petition moot and academic. However,
for the guidance of the implementors of the EIS law and
Believing that it was entitled to a Certificate of Non- pursuant to our symbolic function to educate the bench and
Coverage, respondent filed a petition for mandamus and bar,[4] we are inclined to address the issue raised in this
injunction with the Regional Trial Court of Davao, docketed petition.
as Civil Case No. 28,133-2000. It alleged that its proposed
project was neither an environmentally critical project nor Section 15 of Republic Act 7160,[5] otherwise known as
within an environmentally critical area; thus it was outside the Local Government Code, defines a local government
the scope of the EIS system. Hence, it was the ministerial unit as a body politic and corporate endowed with powers
duty of the DENR, through the EMB-Region XI, to issue a to be exercised by it in conformity with law. As such, it
CNC in favor of respondent upon submission of the performs dual functions, governmental and proprietary.
required documents. Governmental functions are those that concern the health,
safety and the advancement of the public good or welfare
The Regional Trial Court rendered judgment in favor of as affecting the public generally.[6] Proprietary functions are
respondent, the dispositive portion of which reads as those that seek to obtain special corporate benefits or earn
follows: pecuniary profit and intended for private advantage and
benefit.[7] When exercising governmental powers and
WHEREFORE, finding the petition to be meritorious, judgment performing governmental duties, an LGU is an agency of
granting the writ of mandamus and injunction is hereby the national government.[8] When engaged in corporate
rendered in favor of the petitioner City of Davao and against activities, it acts as an agent of the community in the
respondents Department of Environment and Natural Resources administration of local affairs.[9]
and the other respondents by:
Found in Section 16 of the Local Government Code is
the duty of the LGUs to promote the peoples right to a
1) directing the respondents to issue in favor of the petitioner
balanced ecology.[10] Pursuant to this, an LGU, like the City
City of Davao a Certificate of Non-Coverage, pursuant to
of Davao, can not claim exemption from the coverage of PD
Presidential Decree No. 1586 and related laws, in connection
1586. As a body politic endowed with governmental
with the construction by the City of Davao of the Artica Sports
functions, an LGU has the duty to ensure the quality of the
environment, which is the very same objective of PD 1586.
2) making the preliminary injunction issued on December 12, Further, it is a rule of statutory construction that every
2000 permanent. part of a statute must be interpreted with reference to the
context, i.e., that every part must be considered with other
Costs de oficio. parts, and kept subservient to the general intent of the
enactment.[11] The trial court, in declaring local government
SO ORDERED.[3] units as exempt from the coverage of the EIS law, failed to
relate Section 2 of PD 1586[12] to the following provisions of
the same law:
The trial court ratiocinated that there is nothing in PD
1586, in relation to PD 1151 and Letter of Instruction No.
WHEREAS, the pursuit of a comprehensive and integrated 3. Certification from PHILVOCS that the project site is thirty-
environmental protection program necessitates the establishment seven (37) kilometers southeast of the southernmost extension
and institutionalization of a system whereby the exigencies of of the Davao River Fault and forty-five (45) kilometers west of
socio-economic undertakings can be reconciled with the the Eastern Mindanao Fault; and is outside the required
requirements of environmental quality; x x x. minimum buffer zone of five (5) meters from a fault zone.

Section 1. Policy. It is hereby declared the policy of the State to The trial court, after a consideration of the evidence,
attain and maintain a rational and orderly balance between found that the Artica Sports Dome is not within an
socio-economic growth and environmental protection. environmentally critical area. Neither is it an
environmentally critical project. It is axiomatic that factual
xxxxxxxxx findings of the trial court, when fully supported by the
evidence on record, are binding upon this Court and will not
Section 4. Presidential Proclamation of Environmentally be disturbed on appeal.[17] This Court is not a trier of
Critical Areas and Projects. The President of the Philippines facts.[18]
may, on his own initiative or upon recommendation of the There are exceptional instances when this Court may
National Environmental Protection Council, by proclamation disregard factual findings of the trial court, namely: a) when
declare certain projects, undertakings or areas in the country as the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on
environmentally critical. No person, partnership or corporation speculations, surmises, or conjectures; b) when the
shall undertake or operate any such declared environmentally inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or
critical project or area without first securing an Environmental impossible; c) where there is a grave abuse of discretion;
Compliance Certificate issued by the President or his duly d) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of
authorized representative. For the proper management of said facts; e) when the findings of fact are conflicting; f) when
critical project or area, the President may by his proclamation the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond
reorganize such government offices, agencies, institutions, the issues of the case and the same are contrary to the
corporations or instrumentalities including the realignment of admissions of both appellant and appellee; g) when the
government personnel, and their specific functions and findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the
responsibilities. trial court; h) when the findings of fact are conclusions
without citation of specific evidence on which they are
Section 4 of PD 1586 clearly states that no person, based; i) when the finding of fact of the Court of Appeals is
partnership or corporation shall undertake or operate any premised on the supposed absence of evidence but is
such declared environmentally critical project or area contradicted by the evidence on record; and j) when the
without first securing an Environmental Compliance Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant
Certificate issued by the President or his duly authorized facts not disputed by the parties and which, if properly
representative.[13] The Civil Code defines a person as either considered, would justify a different conclusion.[19] None of
natural or juridical. The state and its political subdivisions, these exceptions, however, obtain in this case.
i.e., the local government units[14] are juridical
persons.[15] Undoubtedly therefore, local government units The Environmental Impact Statement System, which
are not excluded from the coverage of PD 1586. ensures environmental protection and regulates certain
government activities affecting the environment, was
Lastly, very clear in Section 1 of PD 1586 that said law established by Presidential Decree No. 1586. Section 2
intends to implement the policy of the state to achieve a thereof states:
balance between socio-economic development and
environmental protection, which are the twin goals of There is hereby established an Environmental Impact Statement
sustainable development. The above-quoted first System founded and based on the environmental impact
paragraph of the Whereas clause stresses that this can statement required under Section 4 of Presidential Decree No.
only be possible if we adopt a comprehensive 1151, of all agencies and instrumentalities of the national
and integrated environmental protection program where all government, including government-owned or controlled
the sectors of the community are involved, i.e., the corporations, as well as private corporations, firms and entities,
government and the private sectors. The local government for every proposed project and undertaking which significantly
units, as part of the machinery of the government, cannot affect the quality of the environment.
therefore be deemed as outside the scope of the EIS
Section 4 of PD 1151, on the other hand, provides:
The foregoing arguments, however, presuppose that a
project, for which an Environmental Compliance Certificate Environmental Impact Statements. Pursuant to the above
is necessary, is environmentally critical or within an enunciated policies and goals, all agencies and instrumentalities
environmentally critical area. In the case at bar, respondent of the national government, including government-owned or
has sufficiently shown that the Artica Sports Dome will not controlled corporations, as well as private corporations, firms
have a significant negative environmental impact because and entities shall prepare, file and include in every action,
it is not an environmentally critical project and it is not project or undertaking which significantly affects the quality of
located in an environmentally critical area. In support of this the environment a detailed statement on
contention, respondent submitted the following:
(a) the environmental impact of the proposed action, project or
1. Certification from the City Planning and Development Office undertaking
that the project is not located in an environmentally critical area;
(b) any adverse environmental effect which cannot be avoided
2. Certification from the Community Environment and Natural should the proposal be implemented
Resources Office (CENRO-West) that the project area is within
the 18-30% slope, is outside the scope of the NIPAS (R.A. (c) alternative to the proposed action
7586), and not within a declared watershed area; and
(d) a determination that the short-term uses of the resources of 1. All areas declared by law as national parks,
the environment are consistent with the maintenance and watershed reserves, wildlife preserves and
enhancement of the long-term productivity of the same; and sanctuaries;
2. Areas set aside as aesthetic potential tourist spots;
(e) whenever a proposal involves the use of depletable or 3. Areas which constitute the habitat for any
nonrenewable resources, a finding must be made that such use endangered or threatened species of
and commitment are warranted. indigenous Philippine Wildlife (flora and
Before an environmental impact statement is issued by a lead 4. Areas of unique historic, archaeological, or
agency, all agencies having jurisdiction over, or special scientific interests;
expertise on, the subject matter involved shall comment on the 5. Areas which are traditionally occupied by cultural
draft environmental impact statement made by the lead agency communities or tribes;
within thirty (30) days from receipt of the same. 6. Areas frequently visited and/or hard-hit by
natural calamities (geologic hazards,
floods, typhoons, volcanic activity, etc.);
Under Article II, Section 1, of the Rules and
7. Areas with critical slopes;
Regulations Implementing PD 1586, the declaration of
8. Areas classified as prime agricultural lands;
certain projects or areas as environmentally critical, and
9. Recharged areas of aquifers;
which shall fall within the scope of the Environmental
10. Water bodies characterized by one or any combination of the
Impact Statement System, shall be by Presidential
following conditions;
Proclamation, in accordance with Section 4 of PD 1586
quoted above.
a. tapped for domestic purposes
Pursuant thereto, Proclamation No. 2146 was issued b. within the controlled and/or
on December 14, 1981, proclaiming the following areas and protected areas declared by
types of projects as environmentally critical and within the appropriate authorities
scope of the Environmental Impact Statement System c. which support wildlife and fishery activities
established under PD 1586:
11. Mangrove areas characterized by one or any combination of
A. Environmentally Critical Projects the following conditions:

I. Heavy Industries a. with primary pristine and dense young

a. Non-ferrous metal industries b. adjoining mouth of major river systems;
b. Iron and steel mills c. near or adjacent to traditional productive
c. Petroleum and petro-chemical industries fry or fishing grounds;
including oil and gas d. which act as natural buffers against
d. Smelting plants shore erosion, strong winds
and storm floods;
II. Resource Extractive Industries e. on which people are dependent for their
a. Major mining and quarrying projects
b. Forestry projects 12. Coral reefs, characterized by one or any combinations of the
following conditions:
1. Logging
2. Major wood processing a. with 50% and above live coralline cover;
projects b. spawning and nursery grounds for fish;
3. Introduction of fauna (exotic- c. which act as natural breakwater of coastlines.
animals) in public/private forests
4. Forest occupancy In this connection, Section 5 of PD 1586 expressly
5. Extraction of mangrove states:
6. Grazing Environmentally Non-Critical Projects. All other projects,
undertakings and areas not declared by the President as
c. Fishery Projects environmentally critical shall be considered as non-critical and
shall not be required to submit an environmental impact
1. Dikes for/and fishpond development projects statement. The National Environmental Protection Council, thru
the Ministry of Human Settlements may however require non-
III. Infrastructure Projects critical projects and undertakings to provide additional
environmental safeguards as it may deem necessary.
a. Major dams
b. Major power plants (fossil-fueled, The Artica Sports Dome in Langub does not come
nuclear fueled, hydroelectric close to any of the projects or areas enumerated
or geothermal) above. Neither is it analogous to any of them. It is clear,
c. Major reclamation projects therefore, that the said project is not classified as
d. Major roads and bridges environmentally critical, or within an environmentally critical
area. Consequently, the DENR has no choice but to issue
the Certificate of Non-Coverage. It becomes its ministerial
B. Environmentally Critical Areas duty, the performance of which can be compelled by writ of
mandamus, such as that issued by the trial court in the case
at bar.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant powers and functions were integrated into the
petition is DENIED. The decision of the Regional Trial Court Environmental Management Bureau and into the Pollution
of Davao City, Branch 33, in Civil Case No. 28,133-2000, Adjudication Board (PAB).[8]
granting the writ of mandamus and directing the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources to On April 11, 1988, the Secretary of Environment and
issue in favor of the City of Davao a Certificate of Non- Natural Resources, in his capacity as Chairman of the PAB,
Coverage, pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1586 and issued an Order directing MMC to cease and desist from
related laws, in connection with the construction of the discharging mine tailings into Calancan Bay. The order
Artica Sports Dome, is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. reads:

[G.R. No. 137174. July 10, 2000] The Temporary Permit to Operate issued to Marcopper
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Represented by the Mining Corporation expired on February 10, 1987.
(DENR), petitioner, vs. MARCOPPER MINING Section 96 of the National Pollution Control Commission
CORPORATION, respondent. (NPCC) Rules and Regulations, which were adopted by
the Board, provides that in no case can a permit be valid
DECISION for more than one (1) year.
Records show that Marcopper Mining Corporation has not
filed any application for renewal of the permit.
In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioner
Adjudication Board of the Department of Environment and Marcopper Mining Corporation is hereby ordered to cease
Natural Resources seeks to annul the Decision[1] of the and desist from discharging mine tailings into Calancan
Court of Appeals[2] in CA-G.R. SP No. 44656 setting aside Bay immediately upon receipt of this Order.
the Order[3] of the Pollution Adjudication Board[4] in DENR-
PAB Case No. 04-00597-96; as well as the SO ORDERED.[9]
Resolution[5] denying reconsideration of said Decision.
Immediately thereafter, the DENR Undersecretary for
The following antecedent facts are undisputed: Environment and Research issued a telegraphic order
Respondent Marcopper Mining Corporation (MMC) dated April 15, 1988, enjoining immediate compliance by
was issued a temporary permit to operate a tailings[6] sea MMC of the cease and desist order of April 11, 1988.
disposal system under TPO No. POW-85-454-EJ for the MMC appealed the above orders of April 11, 1988 and
period October 31, 1985 to October 21, 1986. Before it April 15, 1988 to the Office of the President, docketed as
expired, MMC filed an application for the renewal thereof O.P. Case No. 3802. In an Order dated May 2, 1988, the
with the National Pollution Control Commission Office of the President denied MMCs requests for issuance
(NPCC). On September 20, 1986, MMC received a of restraining orders against the orders of the
telegraphic order from the NPCC directing the former to PAB. Consequently, MMC filed an Urgent Ex-Parte Partial
(i)mmediately cease and desist from discharging mine Motion for Reconsideration dated May 6, 1988, seeking the
tailings into Calancan Bay. The directive was brought about reconsideration of the above Order. In an Order dated May
through the efforts of certain religious groups which had 13, 1988, the Office of the President granted the above
been protesting MMCs tailings sea disposal system. MMC partial motion for reconsideration, thus:
requested the NPCC to refrain from implementing the
aforesaid directive until its adoption of an alternative tailings
WHEREFORE, the instant Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for
disposal system. The NPCC granted MMCs request and
Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED, and the Order of
called a conference to discuss possible alternative disposal
this Office, dated May 2, 1988, is hereby set aside insofar
systems. Consequently, an Environmental Technical
as it denies respondent-appellants requests for issuance
Committee, composed of representatives from the NPCC,
of restraining orders.
the Bureau of Mines and Geo-Sciences, and MMC was
created to study the feasibility of various tailings disposal
systems that may be appropriate for utilization by MMC and Accordingly, the Pollution Adjudication Board, its agents,
to submit its findings and recommendations thereon. deputies or representatives are hereby enjoined from
enforcing its cease and desist order of April 15, 1988
Meanwhile, after the expiration of MMCs TPO No. pending resolution by this Office of respondent-appellants
POW-85-454-EJ on October 21, 1986, the NPCC issued to appeal from said orders.
MMC a new temporary permit, TPO No. POW-86-454-EJ
dated November 11, 1986, to expire on February 10, 1987, It is further directed that the status quo obtaining prior to
with the condition that [t]he tailings disposal system shall be the issuance of said cease and desist order be maintained
transferred to San Antonio Pond within two (2) months from until further orders from this Office.
the date of this permit. MMC moved for the deletion of the
condition stating that it needed to develop and mine It is understood, however, that during the efficacy of this
the ore deposits underneath the San Antonio pond for it to restraining order, respondent-appellant shall immediately
continue its mining operations. In a letter-manifestation undertake, at a cost of not less than P30,000.00 a day, the
dated February 5, 1987, MMC requested the NPCC for an building of artificial reefs and planting of sea grass,
extension of TPO No. POW-86-454-EJ and the indefinite mangroves and vegetation on the causeway of Calancan
suspension of the condition in said permit until such time Bay under the supervision of the Pollution Adjudication
that the NPCC shall have finally resolved the NPCC case Board and subject to such guidelines as the Board may
entitled Msgr. Rolly Oliverio, et al. vs. Marcopper Mining impose.
In the meantime, the NPCC was abolished by SO ORDERED.[10]
Executive Order No. 192[7] dated June 10, 1987, and its
In line with the directive from the Office of the facie evidence of an imminent threat to life, public health,
President, the Calancan Bay Rehabilitation Project (CBRP) safety or welfare, to animal or plant life or exceeds the
was created, and MMC remitted the amount of P30,000.00 allowable standards set by the Commission.[11]
a day, starting from May 13, 1988 to the Ecology Trust
Fund (ETF) thereof. However, on June 30, 1991, MMC In a letter dated January 22, 1997[12], Municipal Mayor
stopped discharging its tailings in the Bay, hence, it likewise Wilfredo A. Red of Sta. Cruz, Marinduque informed the PAB
ceased from making further deposits to the ETF. that MMC stopped remitting the amount of 30,000.00 per
From the issuance of the Order on May 13, 1988 until day as of July 1, 1991 to the ETF of the CBRP. This letter-
the cessation of the tailings disposal on June 30, 1991, complaint of Mayor Red was docketed as DENR-PAB Case
No. 04-00597-96, for violation of P.D. 984[13] and its
MMC made its contribution to the ETF in the total amount
implementing Rules and Regulations.
of Thirty-Two Million Nine Hundred and Seventy-Five
Thousand Pesos (P32,975,000.00). Thereafter, MMC filed In an order dated April 23, 1997, the PAB ruled that the
a Motion dated July 9, 1991 manifesting that it would obligation of MMC to deposit P30,000.00 per day to the
discontinue its contributions/deposits to the ETF since it ETF of the CBRP subsists, as provided for in the Order of
had stopped dumping tailings in the Bay. MMC prayed that the Office of the President dated May 13, 1988, during the
the Order issued by the Office of the President on May 13, efficacy of said order restraining the PAB from enforcing its
1988 be lifted. cease and desist order against MMC. Since the Order was
On February 5, 1993, the Office of the President lifted only on February 5, 1993, the obligation of MMC to
rendered a decision in O.P. Case No. 3802 dismissing the remit was likewise extinguished only on said date and not
earlier as contended by MMC from the time it ceased
appeal; affirming the cease and desist Order issued by the
dumping tailings into the Bay on July 1, 1991. We quote in
PAB; and lifting the TRO dated May 13, 1988. The Office of
the President resolved the appeal in this wise:

This brings to the fore the primordial issue of whether or The issue before this Board is whether Marcopper Mining
not the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Corporation is still obliged to remit the amount of
gravely erred in declaring the TPO No. POW-86-454-EJ P30,000.00 to the CBRP. The answer by the Order from
issued to respondent-appellant MMC expired on February the Office of the President dated 13 May 1988, which
states that the obligation on the part of Marcopper Mining
10, 1987, and in ordering the latter to cease and desist
to pay the amount of P30,000.00 per day for the
from discharging mine tailings into Calancan Bay.
rehabilitation of Calancan Bay is binding only during the
efficacy of the said Order.
Respondent-appellant argues that the cease and desist
orders were issued by the PAB ex-parte, in violation of its
procedural and substantive rights provided for under The record further shows that on 05 February 1993, the
Section 7 (a) of P.D. No. 984 requiring a public hearing Office of the President lifted its Order dated 13 May
1988. This means that as of the date of the lifting,
before any order or decision for the discontinuance of
discharge of a sewage or industrial wastes into the water, Marcopper Mining Corporation no longer had any
air or land could be issued by the PAB. obligation to remit the amount of P30,000.00 to the
CBRP. Thus, Marcoppers obligation only runs from 13
May 1988 to 05 February 1993. Beyond the cut-off date of
We are not persuaded. 05 February 1993, Marcopper is no longer obligated to
remit the amount of P30,000.00 per day to the CBRP.
Section 7(a) of P.D. No. 984, reads in part:
It does not matter whether Marcopper was no longer
Sec. 7(a) Public Hearing. Public hearing shall be dumping its tail minings into the sea even before the cut-
conducted by the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner or off date of 05 February 1993. The obligation of Marcopper
any senior official duly designated by the Commissioner to pay the amount of P30,000.00 to the CBRP arises from
prior to issuance or promulgation of any order or decision the Office of the President Order dated 13 May 1988, not
by the Commissioner requiring the discontinuance of from it dumping of mine tailings.
discharge of sewage, industrial wastes and other wastes
into the water, air or land resources of the Philippines as WHEREFORE, Marcopper Mining Corporation is hereby
provided in the Decree: provided, that whenever the ordered to pay the CBRP the amount of P30,000.00 per
Commission finds a prima facie evidence that the day, computed from the date Marcopper Mining
discharged sewage or wastes are of immediate threat to Corporation stopped paying on 01 July 1991, up to the
life, public health, safety or welfare, or to animal or plant formal lifting of the subject Order from the Office of the
life, or exceeds the allowable standards set by the President on 05 February 1993.
Commission, the Commissioner may issue an ex-
parte order directing the discontinuance of the same or the
temporary suspension or cessation of operation of the SO ORDERED.[14]
establishment or person generating such sewage or
wastes without the necessity of a prior public hearing. x x MMC assailed the aforequoted Order dated April 23,
x . (underscoring supplied). 1997 of the PAB as null and void for having been issued
without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in a
petition for Certiorari and Prohibition (with prayer for
Clearly then, it is self-indulgent nonsense to assume that
the DENR Secretary, acting as PAB Chairman, is temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction)
absolutely without authority to issue an ex-parte order before the Court of Appeals which was docketed as CA-
requiring the discontinuance of discharge of sewage or G.R. No. SP-44656. In a Resolution dated July 15, 1997,
the Court of Appeals required the PAB and its members to
other industrial wastes without public hearing. As can be
gleaned from the afroequoted proviso, this authority to comment on said petition.
issue an ex-parte order suspending the discharge of
industrial wastes is postulated upon his finding of prima-
On November 19, 1997, the Office of the Solicitor Chapter XI of the Mining Act contains a series of
General, on behalf of the PAB and its members, filed with provisions relating to safety and environmental protection
the Court of Appeals the required comment. on mining and quarrying operations. More
specifically, Section 67 of the Mining Act in essence,
On September 15, 1997, for purposes of determining grants the mines regional director the power to issue
whether or not to grant MMCs prayer for a temporary orders or to take appropriate measures to remedy any
restraining order and preliminary injunction, the Court of practice connected with mining or quarrying operations
Appeals conducted a hearing where counsel for the parties which is not in accordance with safety and anti-pollution
were heard on oral arguments. laws and regulations.
In a Resolution dated September 19, 1997, the Court
of Appeals issued a writ of preliminary injunction, From a reading of that provision, it would appear therefore
conditioned upon the filing of a bond by MMC in the amount that prior to the passage of the Mining Act, the Pollution
of P500,000.00 enjoining the PAB and its members to Adjudication Board had jurisdiction to act on pollution-
cease and desist from enforcing the assailed Order dated related matters in the mining business. With the effectivity
April 23, 1997, until it had made a full determination on the of the Mining Act and in congruence with its Sec. 115 (i.e.,
merits of the case. Repealing and Amending Clause), the power to impose
measures against violations of environmental policies by
On January 7, 1998, the Court of Appeals promulgated mining operators is now vested on the mines regional
a Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 44656, the dispositive portion director. Be that as it may, we are constrained to
of which reads: enunciate that the PAB had no authority to issue the
challenged Order dated 23 April 1997. More so,
In view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby respondent PAB as petitioner argued and We note, had
GRANTED and, accordingly, the questioned Order of remained perplexingly silent on the matter for almost six
respondent Pollution Adjudication Board dated 23 April (6) years from July 1991 when MMC ceased to make its
1997 is hereby SET ASIDE. Respondents are ordered to deposits up to April 1997 when respondent PAB
REFRAIN and DESIST from enforcing aforesaid precipitately issued the Order requiring MMC to pay its
Order. The injunctive bond filed by the petitioner in the arrears in deposits to the ETF. And PAB, apparently
amount of Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) is oblivious to MMCs economic quandary had issued said
hereby RELEASED. Order ex-parte without hearing or notice.

The motion for reconsideration of the above decision xxx

was denied in a Resolution dated January 13, 1999 of the
Court of Appeals. As a general rule, the adjudication of pollution cases
Hence, the instant petition on the following grounds: pertains to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB), except
in cases where the special law, expressly or impliedly,
I provides for another forum, as in the instant petition.

The Court of Appeals erred in ruling that Republic Act No. Thus under Republic Act No. 7942 and its implementing
7942 (otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of rules and regulations, the mines regional director, in
1995) repealed the provisions of Republic Act No. 3931, consultation with the Environmental Management
as amended by Presidential Decree No. 984, (otherwise Bureau (italics ours), is specifically mandated to carry out
known as the National Pollution Control Decree of 1976), and make effective the declared national policy that the
with respect to the power and function of petitioner State shall promote the rational exploration, development,
Pollution Adjudication Board to issue, renew or deny utilization and conservation of all mineral resources in
permits for the discharge of the mine tailings. public and private lands within the territory and exclusive
economic zone of the Republic of the Philippines, through
II the combined efforts of government and the private sector
in order to enhance national growth and protect the rights
Respondent Marcopper Mining Corporation bound itself to of affected communities. (Sec. 2, R.A. 7942).
pay the amount of P30,000.00 a day for the duration of the
period starting May 13, 1988 up to February 5, 1993. Under this expansive authority, the Mines Regional
Director, by virtue of this special law, has the primary
III responsibility to protect the communities surrounding a
mining site from the deleterious effects of pollutants
Respondent Marcopper Mining Corporation was not emanating from the dumping of tailing wastes from the
deprived of due process of law when petitioner Pollution surrounding areas. Thus, in the exercise of its express
Adjudication Board directed it to comply with its long- powers under this special law, the authority of the Mines
existing P30,000.00 per day obligation under the Order of Regional Director to impose appropriate protective and/or
the Office of the President dated May 13, 1988.[15] preventive measures with respect to pollution cases within
mining operations is perforce, implied. Otherwise, the
special law granting this authority may well be relegated to
In setting aside the Order of the PAB dated April 23,
a mere paper tiger talking protection but allowing pollution.
1997, requiring MMC to pay its arrears in deposits, the
Court of Appeals ruled that the PAB exceeded its power
and authority in issuing the subject Order for the following It bears mention that the Pollution Adjudication Board has
reasons: the power to issue an ex-parte order when there is prima
facie evidence of an establishment exceeding the
allowable standards set by the anti-pollution laws of the
The applicable and governing law in this petition is
country. (Pollution Adjudication Board v. Court of Appeals,
Republic Act No. 7942 otherwise known as the Philippine
et al., 195 SCRA 112). However, with the passage of R.A.
Mining Act of 1995 (Mining Act, approved on March 3,
7942, insofar as the regulation, monitoring and
enforcement of anti-pollution laws are concerned with MMC cannot hide under cover of this new law. The OSG
respect to mining establishments, the Mines Regional further argues that theportion of the Order of May 13, 1988,
Director has a broad grant of power and authority. Clearly, setting the period of time within which MMC shall pay
pollution-related issues in mining operations are P30,000.00 per day, which is during the efficacy of the
addressed to the Mines Regional Director, not the restraining order was never questioned or appealed by
Pollution Adjudication Board. MMC. Finally, the OSG argues that PAB did not violate
MMCs right to due process by the issuance of the Order
This being the case, the questioned Order dated 23 April dated April 23, 1988 without notice and hearing as it was
1997 requiring MMC to pay its arrears in deposits was simply requiring MMC to comply with an obligation in an
beyond the power and authority of the Pollution Order which has long become final and executory.
Adjudication Board to issue and as such, petitioner may
In the context of the established facts, the issue that
seek appropriate injunctive relief from the court. Thus,
actually emerges is: Has the PAB under RA 3931 as
certiorari lies against public respondent PAB.[16]
amended by PD 984 (National Pollution Control Decree of
1976) been divested of its authority to try and hear pollution
The Court of Appeals likewise ruled that the obligation cases connected with mining operations by virtue of the
of MMC to contribute to the ETF of the CBRP ceased subsequent enactment of RA 7942 (Philippine Mining Act
inasmuch as the latter discontinued dumping tailings into of 1995)? As mentioned earlier, the PAB took cognizance
the Bay and the actual funds in the ETF are sufficient to and ruled on the letter-complaint (for violation of PD 984
rehabilitate the Bay. It ratiocinated thus: and its implementing rules and regulations) filed against
MMC by Marinduque Mayor Wilfredo Red. In the subject
In the instant case, it is of record that petitioner MMC Order dated April 23, 1997, the PAB ruled that MMC should
undertakes its obligation to provide for the rehabilitation of pay its arrears in deposits to the ETF of the CBRP
the Bay waters. This obligation, through its monetary computed from the day it stopped dumping and paying on
contribution to the ETF, is however anchored on its July 1, 1991 up to the lifting of the Order of the Office of the
continuing disposal of the mines tailings waste into the President dated May 13, 1988 on February 5, 1993.
Bay. Hence, since it ceased its mining operations in the
affected area as of July 1991 and had not been The answer is in the negative. We agree with the
discharging any tailings wastes since then, its consequent Solicitor General that the Court of Appeals committed
duty to rehabilitate the polluted waters, if any, no longer reversible error in ruling that the PAB had no authority to
exists. issue the Order dated April 23, 1997.
Republic Act No. 3931 (An Act Creating The National
xxx Water And Air Pollution Control Commission) was passed
in June 18, 1964 to maintain reasonable standards of purity
Be that as it may, this Court observes that out of the for the waters and air of the country with their utilization for
approximate sum of thirty-two (32) million pesos domestic, agricultural, industrial and other legitimate
contributed by the petitioner to the ETF there is admittedly purposes. Said law was revised in 1976 by Presidential
an existing estimated balance of fourteen (14) million Decree No. 984 (Providing For The Revision Of Republic
pesos in the Fund. For its part, petitioner does not renege Act No. 3931, Commonly Known As The Pollution Control
on its obligation to rehabilitate and in fact undertakes to Law, And For Other Purposes) to strengthen the National
continue the rehabilitation process until its completion Pollution Control Commission to best protect the people
within two (2) years time and which would only cost six (6) from the growing menace of environmental
million pesos. Thus, as petitioner convincingly argued and pollution. Subsequently, Executive Order No. 192, s. 1987
which respondent unsatisfactorily rebuked, the existing (The Reorganization Act of the DENR) was passed. The
fourteen (14) million pesos in the ETF is more than internal structure, organization and description of the
enough to complete the rehabilitation project. (TSN, functions of the new DENR, particularly the Mines and
Hearing dated 15 September 1997, at pp. 56 to 62, Rollo). Geosciences Bureau, reveals no provision pertaining to the
resolution of cases involving violations of the pollution
xxx. Without much ado, the Court concurs with the finding laws.[18] The Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau was created
that to demand a daily deposit of thirty thousand (P30, under the said EO 192 to absorb the functions of the
000.00) pesos even if the root of the obligation, that is, the abolished Bureau of Mines and Geo-Sciences, Mineral
dumping of tailings waste, had ceased to exist, is Reservations Development Board and the Gold Mining
indubitably of a herculean and onerous burden on the part Industry Development Board to, among others, recommend
of petitioner amounting to a deprivation of its property and policies, regulations and programs pertaining to mineral
a denial of its right to due process.[17] resources development; assist in the monitoring and
evaluation of the Bureaus programs and projects; and to
Unsatisfied, the OSG argues that the Philippine Mining develop and promulgate standards and operating
Act of 1995 did not amend or repeal the provisions of procedures on mineral resources development.[19]
Republic Act No. 3931, as amended by Presidential Decree On the other hand, the PAB was created and granted
No. 984 (otherwise known as the National Pollution Control under the same EO 192 broad powers to adjudicate
Decree of 1976); that the Mines Regional Director has no pollution cases in general. Thus,
power over areas outside mining installations and over
areas which are not part of the mining or quarrying SEC. 19. Pollution Adjudication Board. There is hereby
operations such as Calancan Bay; that the powers of the created a Pollution Adjudication Board under the Office of
Mines Regional Director cannot be exercised to the the Secretary. The Board shall be composed of the
exclusion of other government agencies; that the Secretary as Chairman, two (2) Undersecretaries as may
jurisdiction of a Mines Regional Director with respect to be designated by the Secretary, the Director of
anti-pollution laws is limited to practices committed within Environmental management, and three (3) others to be
the confines of a mining or quarrying installation; that the designated by the Secretary as members. The Board shall
dumping of mine tailings into Calancan Bay occurred long assume the powers and functions of the
before the effectivity of the Philippine Mining Act and that Commission/Commissioners of the National Pollution
Control Commission with respect to the adjudication of Sec. 7(a) Public Hearing. Public hearing shall be
pollution cases under Republic Act 3931 and Presidential conducted by the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner or
Decree 984, particularly with respect to Section 6 letters e, any senior official duly designated by the Commissioner
f, g, j, k, and p of P.D. 984. The Environmental prior to issuance or promulgation of any order or decision
Management Bureau shall serve as the Secretariat of the by the Commissioner requiring the discontinuance of
Board. These powers and functions may be delegated to discharge of sewage, industrial wastes and other wastes
the regional offices of the Department in accordance with into the water, air or land resources of the Philippines as
rules and regulations to be promulgated by the Board.[20] provided in the Decree: provided, that whenever the
Commission finds a prima facie evidence that the
Section 6 letters e, f, g, j, k, and p of PD 984 referred discharged sewage or wastes are of immediate threat to
to above are quoted as follows: life, public health, safety or Welfare, or to animal or plant
life, or exceeds the allowable standards set by the
SEC. 6. Powers and Functions. The Commission shall Commission, the Commissioner may issue and ex-
have the following powers and functions: parte order directing the discontinuance of the same or the
(e) Issue orders or decision to compel compliance temporary suspension or cessation of operation of the
with the provisions of this Decree and its establishment or person generating such sewage or
implementing rules and regulations only after wastes without the necessity of a prior public hearing. x x
proper notice and hearing. x . (underscoring supplied).

(f) Make, alter or modify orders requiring the The ruling of the Court of Appeals that the PAB has
discontinuance of pollution specifying the been divested of authority to act on pollution-related
conditions and the time within which such matters in mining operations is anchored on the following
discontinuance must be accomplished. provisions of RA 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995):
(g) Issue, renew, or deny permits, under such
conditions as it may determine to be SEC. 67. Power to Issue Orders. The mines regional
reasonable, for the prevention and abatement director shall, in consultation with the Environmental
of pollution, for the discharge of sewage, Management Bureau, forthwith or within such time as
industrial waste, or for the installation or specified in his order, require the contractor to remedy any
operation of sewage works and industrial practice connected with mining or quarrying operations,
disposal system or parts thereof: Provided, which is not in accordance with safety and anti-pollution
however, That the Commission, by rules and laws and regulations. In case of imminent danger to life or
regulations, may require subdivisions, property, the mines regional director may summarily
condominium, hospitals, public buildings and suspend the mining or quarrying operations until the
other similar human settlements to put up danger is removed, or appropriate measures are taken by
appropriate central sewerage system and the contractor or permittee.
sewage treatment works, except that no
permits shall be required to any sewage works And
or changes to or extensions of existing works
that discharge only domestic or sanitary SEC. 115. Repealing and Amending Clause. All laws,
wastes from a singles residential building executive orders, presidential decrees, rules and
provided with septic tanks or their regulations, or parts thereof which are inconsistent with
equivalent. The Commission may impose any of the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or
reasonable fees and charges for the issuance amended accordingly.
or renewal of all permits required herein.
(h) The other provisions in Chapter XI on Safety and
Environmental Protection found in RA 7942 promote the
(i) safe and sanitary upkeep of mining areas to achieve waste-
free and efficient mine development with particular concern
(j) Serve as arbitrator for the determination of
for the physical and social rehabilitation of areas and
reparations, or restitution of the damages and
communities affected by mining activities[21], without
losses resulting from pollution.
however, arrogating unto the mines regional director any
(k) Deputize in writing or request assistance of adjudicative responsibility.
appropriate government agencies or
From a careful reading of the foregoing provisions of
instrumentalities for the purpose of enforcing
law, we hold that the provisions of RA 7942 do not
this Decree and its implementing rules and
necessarily repeal RA 3931, as amended by PD 984 and
regulations and the orders and decisions of the
EO 192. RA 7942 does not contain any provision which
categorically and expressly repeals the provisions of the
(l) Pollution Control Law. Neither could there be an implied
repeal. It is well-settled that repeals of laws by implication
(m) are not favored and that courts must generally assume their
(n) congruent application. Thus, it has been held:

(o) The two laws must be absolutely incompatible, and a clear

(p) Exercise such powers and perform such other finding thereof must surface, before the inference of
functions as may be necessary to carry out its implied repeal may be drawn. The rule is expressed in the
duties and responsibilities under this Decree. maxim, interpretare et concordare leqibus est optimus
interpretendi, i.e., every statute must be so interpreted and
brought into accord with other laws aas to form a uniform
Section 7(a) of P.D. No. 984 further provides in part:
system of jurisprudence.The fundament is that the
legislature should be presumed to have known the
existing laws on the subject and not have enacted Neither was such authority conferred upon the Panel
conflicting statutes. Hence, all doubts must be resolved of Arbitrators and the Mines Adjudication Board which were
against any implied repeal, and all efforts should be created by the said law. The provisions creating the Panel
exerted in order to harmonize and give effect to all laws on of Arbitrators for the settlement of conflicts refers to
the subject.[22] disputes involving rights to mining areas, mineral
agreements or permits and those involving surface owners,
There is no irreconcilable conflict between the two occupants and claim-holders/concessionaires.[24] The
laws. Section 19 of EO 192 vested the PAB with the specific scope of authority of the Panel of Arbitrators and the Mines
power to adjudicate pollution cases in general. Sec. 2, par. Adjudication Board conferred by RA 7942 clearly exclude
(a) of PD 984 defines the term pollution as referring to any adjudicative responsibility over pollution cases. Nowhere is
alteration of the physical, chemical and biological properties there vested any authority to adjudicate cases involving
of any water, air and/or land resources of the Philippines , violations of pollution laws and regulations in general.
or any discharge thereto of any liquid, gaseous or solid
Thus, there is no genuine conflict between RA 7942
wastes as will or is likely to create or to render such water, and RA 3931 as amended by PD 984 that precludes their
air and land resources harmful, detrimental or injurious to co-existence. Moreover, it has to be conceded that there
public health, safety or welfare or which will adversely affect was no intent on the part of the legislature to repeal the said
their utilization for domestic, commercial, industrial, law. There is nothing in the sponsorship speech[25] of the
agricultural, recreational or other legitimate purposes. laws proponent, Representative Renato Yap, and the
On the other hand, the authority of the mines regional deliberations that followed thereafter, to indicate a
director is complementary to that of the PAB. Section 66 of legislative intent to repeal the pollution law. Instead, it
RA 7942 gives the mines regional director exclusive appears that the legislature intended to maximize the
jurisdiction over the safety inspection of all installations, exploration, development and utilization of the countrys
surface or underground in mining operations. Section 67 mineral resources to contribute to the achievement of
thereof vests upon the regional director power to issue national economic and social development with due regard
orders requiring a contractor to remedy any practice to the social and environmental cost implications relative
connected with mining or quarrying operations which is not thereto. The law intends to increase the productivity of the
in accordance with safety and anti-pollution laws and countrys mineral resources while at the same time assuring
regulations; and to summarily suspend mining or quarrying its sustainability through judicious use and systematic
operations in case of imminent danger to life or rehabilitation. Henceforth, the Department of Environment
property. The law likewise requires every contractor to and Natural Resources as the primary government agency
undertake an environmental protection and enhancement responsible for the conservation, management,
program which shall be incorporated in the work program development, and proper use of the States mineral
which the contractor shall submit as an accompanying resources, through its Secretary, has the authority to enter
document to the application for a mineral agreement or into mineral agreements on behalf of the Government upon
permit. In addition, an environmental clearance certificate the recommendation of the Director, and to promulgate
is required based on an environment impact such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry
assessment. The law also requires contractors and out the provisions of RA 7942.[26] The PAB and the Mines
permittees to rehabilitate the mined-out areas, and set up a Regional Director, with their complementary functions and
mine rehabilitation fund. Significantly, the law allows and through their combined efforts, serve to accomplish the
encourages peoples organizations and non-governmental mandate of RA 3931 (National Pollution Control Decree of
organizations to participate in ensuring that 1976) as amended by PD 984 and EO 192 and that of RA
contractors/permittees shall observe all the requirements of 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995).
environmental protection. That matter settled, we now go to the issue of whether
From the foregoing, it readily appears that the power the appellate court erred in ruling that there is no basis for
of the mines regional director does not foreclose PABs further payments by MMC to the Ecology Trust Fund of the
authority to determine and act on complaints filed before Calancan Bay Rehabilitation Project considering that MMC
it. The power granted to the mines regional director to issue convincingly argued and which respondent unsatisfactorily
orders requiring the contractor to remedy any practice rebuked, the existing fourteen (14) million pesos in the ETF
connected with mining or quarrying operations or to is more than enough to complete the
summarily suspend the same in cases of violation of rehabilitation project. Indeed, the records reveal that
pollution laws is for purposes of effectively regulating and witness for PAB, Mr. Edel Genato, who is the Technical
monitoring activities within mining operations and Resource person of the PAB for the project admitted that
installations pursuant to the environmental protection and the funds in the ETF amounting to about Fourteen Million
enhancement program undertaken by contractors and Pesos are more than sufficient to cover the costs of
permittees in procuring their mining permit. While the mines rehabilitation. Hereunder are excerpts from the transcript of
regional director has express administrative and regulatory stenographic notes taken during the hearing held on
powers over mining operations and installations, it has no September 15, 1997:
adjudicative powers over complaints for violation of ATTY. HERNANDEZ:[27]
pollution control statutes and regulations.
I would like your Honor, if the court will allow, our witness
True, in Laguna Lake Development Authority vs. Court from the EBRB Your Honor would attest to that . . .
of Appeals,[23] this Court held that adjudication of pollution
cases generally pertains to the Pollution Adjudication Board JUSTICE JACINTO:
(PAB) except where the special law provides for another
forum. However, contrary to the ruling of the Court of Is it not being taken from the 14 million?
Appeals, RA 7942 does not provide for another forum ATTY. HERNANDEZ:
inasmuch as RA 7942 does not vest quasi-judicial powers
in the Mines Regional Director. The authority is vested and Yes, Your Honor.
remains with the PAB. JUSTICE RASUL:
What is his role? My question is, do you agree with him that the 14 million
fund will be enough to sustain the construction up
ATTY. HERNANDEZ: to the end?
He is our Technical Resource person Your Honor, of the MR. EDEL GENATO:
Two years?
In other words, he has participated in the . . (inaudible)?
Yes, Your Honor.
Your Honor. . .
Do you agree with him?
Categorical answer.
Yes, Your Honor, that the Calancan rehabilitation
program is being funded by Marcopper through the You just answer, is it enough, in your own honest way,
Ecology Trust Fund. on your honor?
Will the construction be finished in two years time? I think so Your Honor.[28]
MR. EDEL GENATO: We must sustain the appellate court on this point on
account of the testimony of Mr. Edel Genato. Further, we
Presently, under the Steering Committee of the note that the Office of the President never objected nor
Calancan Bay Rehabilitation, there is another ruled on themanifestation dated July 9, 1991 filed by MMC
phase that is being proposed. Actually the two that it would stop paying since it already ceased dumping
years time will definitely cover the other phase of mine tailings into the bay. Still further, the order of the OP
the . .(inaudible) directing MMC to rehabilitate at a cost of P30,000.00 a day
JUSTICE RASUL: during the efficacy of the restraining order had
become functus officio since MMC voluntarily stopped
Never mind that. Will the amount be sufficient to the end dumping mine tailings into the bay.
of the construction?
To sum up, PAB has jurisdiction to act and rule on the
MR. EDEL GENATO: letter-complaint of Mayor Wilfredo Red of Marinduque for
Yes, Sir. violation of PD 984 and its implementing rules and
regulations which jurisdiction was not lost upon the
JUSTICE RASUL: passage of RA 7942 (the Philippine Mining Act of
1995). Nevertheless, MMC must be declared not to have
Enough? arrears in deposits as admittedly, the ETF already has
MR. EDEL GENATO: more than sufficient funds to undertake the rehabilitation of
Calancan Bay.
Yes, Sir.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby partially
JUSTICE RASUL: GRANTED. The assailed Decision is REVERSED insofar
There is no more need for collecting the 30 thousand a as the jurisdiction of the PAB to act on the complaint is
day? . . . Do not . . . I will hold you for contempt . . . concerned; but AFFIRMED insofar as Marcopper Mining
Corporation has no arrears in deposits with the Ecology
ATTY. HERNANDEZ: Trust Fund of the Calancan Bay Rehabilitation Project. SO
Im sorry Your Honor.
Again. represented by its Managing
Director, Jeremy Cliff,
MR. EDEL GENATO: Petitioner, Present:
Well Your Honor, I cannot comment on the amount Your CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
Honor. - versus Jalos, PERALTA,
September 8, 2010
JUSTICE RASUL: x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------ x
You have already made your comment, but you received
some signal from your lawyer.
Your Honor . . . This case is about a question of jurisdiction over an action against

MR. EDEL GENATO: a petroleum contractor, whose pipeline operation has allegedly
driven the fish away from coastal areas, inflicting loss of earnings
No, no Your Honor. . .
among fishermen.
act or omission on Shells part that could have caused the alleged
The Facts and the Case injury to Jalos, et al. The complaint likewise failed to comply
with requirements of a valid class suit, verification and
On December 11, 1990 petitioner Shell Philippines Exploration certification against forum shopping, and the requisites for a suit
B.V. (Shell) and the Republic of the Philippines entered into brought by pauper litigants.[4]
Service Contract 38 for the exploration and extraction of
petroleum in northwestern Palawan. Two years later, Shell On March 24, 2004 the RTC dismissed the complaint. It ruled
discovered natural gas in the Camago-Malampaya area and that the action was actually pollution-related, although
pursued its development of the well under the Malampaya denominated as one for damages. The complaint should thus be
Natural Gas Project. This entailed the construction and brought first before the PAB, the government agency vested with
installation of a pipeline from Shells production platform to its jurisdiction over pollution-related cases.[5]
gas processing plant in Batangas. The pipeline spanned 504 Jalos, et al assailed the RTCs order through a petition
kilometers and crossed the Oriental Mindoro Sea. for certiorari[6] before the Court of Appeals (CA). In due course,
the latter court reversed such order and upheld the jurisdiction of
On May 19, 2003, respondents Efren Jalos, Joven Campang, the RTC over the action. It said that Shell was not being sued for
Arnaldo Mijares, and 75 other individuals (Jalos, et al) filed a committing pollution, but for constructing and operating a natural
complaint for damages[1] against Shell before the Regional Trial gas pipeline that caused fish decline and considerable reduction
Court (RTC), Branch 41, Pinamalayan, Oriental in the fishermens income. The claim for damages was thus based
Mindoro. Jalos, et al claimed that they were all subsistence on a quasi-delict over which the regular courts have jurisdiction.
fishermen from the coastal barangay of Bansud, Oriental The CA also rejected Shells assertion that the suit was actually
Mindoro whose livelihood was adversely affected by the against the State. It observed that the government was not even
construction and operation of Shells natural gas pipeline. impleaded as party defendant. It gave short shrift to Shells
insistence that, under the service contract, the government was
Jalos, et al claimed that their fish catch became few after the solidarily liable with Shell for damages caused to third
construction of the pipeline. As a result, their average net income persons. Besides, the State should be deemed to have given its
per month fell from a high of P4,848.00 to only P573.00. They consent to be sued when it entered into the contract with Shell.
said that the pipeline greatly affected biogenically hard-structured
communities such as coral reefs and led [to] stress to the marine The CA also held that the complaint sufficiently alleged an
life in the Mindoro Sea. They now have to stay longer and farther actionable wrong. Jalos, et al invoked their right to fish the sea
out at sea to catch fish, as the pipelines operation has driven the and earn a living, which Shell had the correlative obligation to
fish population out of coastal waters.[2] respect. Failure to observe such obligation resulted in a violation
of the fishermens rights and thus gave rise to a cause of action for
Instead of filing an answer, Shell moved for dismissal of the damages.[7]
complaint. It alleged that the trial court had no jurisdiction over
the action, as it is a pollution case under Republic Act (R.A.) Finally, the CA held that Jalos, et al substantially complied with
3931, as amended by Presidential Decree (P.D.) 984 or the the technical requirements for filing the action. But since they
Pollution Control Law. Under these statutes, the Pollution failed to prove the requisites of a class suit, only those who have
Adjudication Board (PAB) has primary jurisdiction over verified the complaint should be deemed party plaintiffs.[8]
pollution cases and actions for related damages.[3]
Shell moved for reconsideration of the CAs decision but the same
Shell also claimed that it could not be sued pursuant to the was denied.[9] Hence, it filed this petition for review under Rule
doctrine of state immunity without the States consent. Shell said 45.
that under Service Contract 38, it served merely as an agent of the
Philippine government in the development of the Malampaya gas The Issues Presented
reserves. The case presents the following issues:
1. Whether or not the complaint is a pollution case that falls
Moreover, said Shell, the complaint failed to state a cause of within the primary jurisdiction of the PAB;
action since it did not specify any actionable wrong or particular
2. Whether or not the complaint sufficiently alleges a decisions.[15] The PABs final decisions may be reviewed by the
cause of action against Shell; and CA under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court.[16]

3. Whether or not the suit is actually against the State and Jalos, et al had, therefore, an administrative recourse
is barred under the doctrine of state immunity. before filing their complaint with the regular courts.[17] The laws
creating the PAB and vesting it with powers are wise. The
The Courts Rulings definition of the term pollution itself connotes the need for
specialized knowledge and skills, technical and scientific, in
First. Although the complaint of Jalos, et al does not use determining the presence, the cause, and the effects of
the word pollution in describing the cause of the alleged fish pollution. These knowledge and skills are not within the
decline in the Mindoro Sea, it is unmistakable based on their competence of ordinary courts.[18] Consequently, resort must first
allegations that Shells pipeline produced some kind of poison or be made to the PAB, which is the agency possessed of expertise
emission that drove the fish away from the coastal areas. While in determining pollution-related matters.
the complaint did not specifically attribute to Shell any specific
act of pollution, it alleged that the pipeline greatly affected To this extent, the failure of Jalos, et al to allege in their
biogenically hard-structured communities such as coral reefs and complaint that they had first taken resort to PAB before going to
led [to] stress to the marine life in the Mindoro Sea.[10] This court means that they failed to state a cause of action that the RTC
constitutes pollution as defined by law. could act on. This warranted the dismissal of their action.[19]

Second. Still, Shell points out that the complaint also

Section 2(a) of P.D. 984 defines pollution as any alteration of
states no cause of action because it failed to specify any
the physical, chemical and biological properties of any
actionable wrong or particular act or omission on Shells part.The
water x x x as will or is likely to create or render such water x x
Court cannot agree.
x harmful, detrimental or injurious to public health, safety or
welfare or which will adversely affect their utilization for
As mentioned above, the complaint said that the natural
domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational or
gas pipelines construction and operation greatly affected the
other legitimate purposes.
marine environment, drove away the fish, and resulted in reduced
income for Jalos, et al. True, the complaint did not contain some
It is clear from this definition that the stress to marine
scientific explanation regarding how the construction and
life claimed by Jalos, et al is caused by some kind of pollution
operation of the pipeline disturbed the waters and drove away the
emanating from Shells natural gas pipeline. The pipeline, they
fish from their usual habitat as the fishermen claimed. But lack of
said, greatly affected or altered the natural habitat of fish and
particulars is not a ground for dismissing the complaint.
affected the coastal waters natural function as fishing
grounds. Inevitably, in resolving Jalos, et als claim for damages, A cause of action is the wrongful act or omission committed by
the proper tribunal must determine whether or not the operation the defendant in violation of the primary rights of the
of the pipeline adversely altered the coastal waters properties and plaintiff.[20] Its elements consist of: (1) a right existing in favor
negatively affected its life sustaining function. The power and of the plaintiff, (2) a duty on the part of the defendant to respect
expertise needed to determine such issue lies with the PAB. the plaintiffs right, and (3) an act or omission of the defendant in
violation of such right.[21] To sustain a motion to dismiss for lack
Executive Order 192 (1987) transferred to the PAB the of cause of action, however, the complaint must show that the
powers and functions of the National Pollution and Control claim for relief does not exist and not only that the claim was
Commission provided in R.A. 3931, as amended by P.D. defectively stated or is ambiguous, indefinite or uncertain.[22]
984.[11] These empowered the PAB to [d]etermine the location, Here, all the elements of a cause of action are present. First,
magnitude, extent, severity, causes and effects of water Jalos, et al undoubtedly had the right to the preferential use of
pollution.[12] Among its functions is to [s]erve as arbitrator for the marine and fishing resources which is guaranteed by no less than
determination of reparation, or restitution of the damages and the Constitution.[23] Second, Shell had the correlative duty to
losses resulting from pollution. In this regard, the PAB has the refrain from acts or omissions that could impair Jalos, et als use
power to conduct hearings,[13]impose penalties for violation of and enjoyment of the bounties of the seas. Lastly, Shells
P.D. 984,[14] and issue writs of execution to enforce its orders and
construction and operation of the pipeline, which is an act of contract is not to represent the Philippine government for the
physical intrusion into the marine environment, is said to have purpose of transacting business with third persons. Rather, its
disrupted and impaired the natural habitat of fish and resulted in contractual commitment is to develop and manage petroleum
considerable reduction of fish catch and income for Jalos, et al. operations on behalf of the State.
Thus, the construction and operation of the pipeline may, in itself,
be a wrongful act that could be the basis of Jalos, et als cause of Consequently, Shell is not an agent of the Philippine
action. The rules do not require that the complaint establish in government, but a provider of services, technology and
detail the causal link between the construction and operation of financing[31] for the Malampaya Natural Gas Project. It is not
the pipeline, on the one hand, and the fish decline and loss of immune from suit and may be sued for claims even without the
income, on the other hand, it being sufficient that the complaint States consent. Notably, the Philippine government itself
states the ultimate facts on which it bases its claim for relief. The recognized that Shell could be sued in relation to the project. This
test for determining the sufficiency of a cause of action rests on is evident in the stipulations agreed upon by the parties under
whether the complaint alleges facts which, if true, would justify Service Contract 38.
the relief demanded.[24] In this case, a valid judgment for damages
can be made in favor of Jalos, et al, if the construction and Article II, paragraph 8, Annex B of Service Contract
operation of the pipeline indeed caused fish decline and 38[32] states that legal expenses, including judgments obtained
eventually led to the fishermens loss of income, as alleged in the against the Parties or any of them on account of the Petroleum
complaint. Operations, can be recovered by Shell as part of operating
expenses to be deducted from gross proceeds. Article II,
Third. Shell claims that it cannot be sued without the paragraph 9B of the same document allows a similar recovery for
States consent under the doctrine of state immunity from [a]ll actual expenditures incurred and paid by CONTRACTOR
suit. But, to begin with, Shell is not an agent of the Republic of [Shell] in settlement of any and all losses, claims, damages,
the Philippines. It is but a service contractor for the exploration judgments, and any other expenses not covered by insurance,
and development of one of the countrys natural gas including legal services. This signifies that the State itself
reserves. While the Republic appointed Shell as the exclusive acknowledged the suability of Shell. Since payment of claims and
party to conduct petroleum operations in the Camago- damages pursuant to a judgment against Shell can be deducted
Malampayo area under the States full control and from gross proceeds, the State will not be required to perform any
supervision,[25] it does not follow that Shell has become the States additional affirmative act to satisfy such a judgment.
agent within the meaning of the law.
An agent is a person who binds himself to render some service or In sum, while the complaint in this case sufficiently alleges a
to do something in representation or on behalf of another, with cause of action, the same must be filed with the PAB, which is
the consent or authority of the latter.[26] The essence of an agency the government agency tasked to adjudicate pollution-related
is the agents ability to represent his principal and bring about cases. Shell is not an agent of the State and may thus be sued
business relations between the latter and third persons.[27] An before that body for any damages caused by its operations. The
agents ultimate undertaking is to execute juridical acts that would parties may appeal the PABs decision to the CA. But pending
create, modify or extinguish relations between his principal and prior determination by the PAB, courts cannot take cognizance of
third persons.[28] It is this power to affect the principals the complaint.
contractual relations with third persons that differentiates the
agent from a service contractor. WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition
and REVERSES the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
Shells main undertaking under Service Contract 38 is to G.R. CV 82404 dated November 20, 2006. Respondent Efren
[p]erform all petroleum operations and provide all necessary Jalos, et als complaint for damages against Shell Philippines
technology and finance as well as other connected services[29] to Exploration B.V. in Civil Case P-1818-03 of the Regional Trial
the Philippine government. As defined under the contract, Court, Branch 41, Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro is
petroleum operation means the searching for and obtaining ordered DISMISSED without prejudice to its refiling with the
Petroleum within the Philippines, including the transportation, Pollution Adjudication Board or PAB. SO ORDERED.
storage, handling and sale of petroleum whether for export or
domestic consumption.[30] Shells primary obligation under the