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TOPIC d.

Promotion of health and ecology


Article II, Sections 15-16
Article XIII, Sections 11-13
CASE NAME MMDA v. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay
CASE NUMBER G.R. No. 171947-48
DATE December 18, 2008
PONENTE Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr.

CASE PROPER

PARTIES Petitioners:
MMDA, DENR, DECS (DepEd), DOH, DA, DPWH, DBM, PCG, PNP-MG, DILG

Respondents:
Concerned Residents of Manila Bay (CRMB), represented and joined by 14 individuals

NATURE Petition for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals

DISPUTE ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION OF THE MANILA BAY

FACTS I. CASE FILED IN THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF IMUS, CAVITE


- On January 29, 1999 respondents CRMB filed complaint against several government
agencies, among them the petitioners, for the cleanup, rehabilitation, and protection
of the Manila Bay and alleged the following:
o Water quality of Manila Bay had fallen way below the allowable standards
set by PD 1152 (Philippine Environment Code)
o Continued neglect of the petitioners in abating the pollution of the Manila
Bay constitutes violation of pertinent environmental laws
- Respondents CRMB prayed that petitioners be ordered to clean the Manila Bay and
submit to the RTC a concrete plan of action
- Hearing and ocular inspection were conducted, and testimonies gathered (DENR,
MWSS, PPA) during the trial of the case.

RTC DECISION: (September 13, 2002) Decision is made IN FAVOR of the respondents
ordering the petitioners to clean up and rehabilitate Manila Bay

- MWSS, LWUA and PPA appealed before the CA, the rest filed a petition for review on
certiorari directly to the SC
- SC sent the petition for review to the CA for consolidation with the appeals of the
other petitioners.

II. CONSOLIDATED APPEALS IN THE CA


- Petitioners argued the following:
o Pertinent provisions of PD 1152 relate only to the cleaning of specific
pollution incidents and do not cover cleaning in general
o Lack of funds appropriated for cleaning purposes

MMDA v. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay, G.R. No. 171947-48, December 18, 2008
o Cleaning of the Manila Bay is not a ministerial act which can be compelled by
mandamus.

CA DECISION: (September 28, 2005) DENIED petitioners’ appeal and AFFIRMED the RTC’s
decision in toto, stressing that the RTC’s decision did not require
petitioners to do task out of their usual basic functions under existing laws.

- Thus, the petition was brought before the SC (present case).

ISSUE (s) Following are the issues identified by the SC for resolution:

1. Do Sections 17 and 20 of PD 1152 under the headings, Upgrading and Cleanup


Operations, envisage a cleanup in general or are they limited only to the cleanup
of specific pollution incidents?
2. Can petitioners be compelled by mandamus to clean up and rehabilitate the
Manila Bay?

HELD On issue No. 1:


 Section 17 of PD 1152 does not in any way state that the government agencies
concerned, the petitioners, ought to confine themselves to the containment,
removal, and cleaning operations when a specific pollution incident occurs. Section
17 requires them to act even in the absence of a specific pollution incident, as long
as the water quality “has deteriorated to a degree where its state will adversely
affect its best usage”.
 Section 20 of PD 1152 indicates that it is properly applicable to a specific situation
in which the pollution is caused by polluters who fail to clean up the mess they left
behind.
 Petitioners’ assertion that they have to perform clean up operations in the Manila
Bay only when there is a water pollution incident and the erring polluters do not
undertake the containment, removal and cleanup operations cannot be sustained,
thus PETITIONERS CANNOT HIDE BEHIND SECTION 20 OF PD 1152 OR OF SECTION
16 OF RA 9275 AMENDING IT ON THE PRETEXT THAT THEIR CLEANUP MANDATE
DEPENDS ON THE HAPPENING OF A SPECIFIC POLLUTION INCIDENT.
 Even in the absence of a categorical legal provision specifically prodding petitioners
to clean up Manila Bay, they and the men and women representing them cannot
escape their obligation to future generations of Filipinos to keep the waters of the
Manila Bay clean and clear as humanly as possible (ISSUE OF TRANSCENDENTAL
IMPORTANCE WITH INTERGENERATIONAL IMPLICATIONS).

On issue No. 2:
 YES, THE PETITIONERS CAN BE COMPELLED BY MANDAMUS TO CLEAN UP AND
REHABILITATE THE MANILA BAY.
 Generally, the writ of mandamus lies to require the execution of ministerial duty.
A ministerial duty is one that “requires neither the exercise of official discretion
nor judgment”. It is a “simple definite duty arising under conditions admitted or
proved to exist and imposed by law”.

MMDA v. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay, G.R. No. 171947-48, December 18, 2008
 Differentiate between:
a. Petitioners’ obligation to perform their duties (MINISTERIAL DUTY, therefore
can be compelled by mandamus); and
b. How they carry out such duties.
 Differentiate between:
a. Ministerial Duty (see second bullet of Held on Issue No. 2)
b. Discretionary Duty (is one that allows a person to exercise judgment and
choose to perform or not to perform).
 A review of MMDA and other petitioners’ respective charters or like enabling
statutes yielded the conclusion that these government agencies are enjoined, as a
matter of statutory obligation, to perform functions relating directly or indirectly
to the cleanup, rehabilitation, protection, and preservation of the Manila Bay. They
are precluded from choosing not to perform these ministerial duties and therefore
in case of refusal, can be compelled by mandamus to act.

SC DECISION: Petition is DENIED, the CA and RTC’s decision are AFFIRMED WITH
MODIFICATIONS in view of subsequent developments or supervening
events in the case.

Prepared by: Arnel A. Manalastas (Use at your own risk)

MMDA v. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay, G.R. No. 171947-48, December 18, 2008