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G.R. No.

101083 July 30, 1993


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

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of Filipinos to a balanced and healthful ecology which the petitioners
dramatically associate with the twin concepts of "inter-generational responsibility" and "inter-generational justice." Specifically,
it touches on the issue of whether the said petitioners have a cause of action to "prevent the misappropriation or impairment" of
Philippine rainforests and "arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life support systems and continued rape of
Mother Earth."
The controversy has its genesis in Civil Case No. 90-77 which was filed before Branch 66 (Makati, Metro Manila) of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital Judicial Region. The principal plaintiffs therein, now the principal petitioners, are
all minors duly represented and joined by their respective parents. Impleaded as an additional plaintiff is the Philippine
Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI), a domestic, non-stock and non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of, inter alia,
engaging in concerted action geared for the protection of our environment and natural resources. The original defendant was the
Honorable Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., then Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). His
substitution in this petition by the new Secretary, the Honorable Angel C. Alcala, was subsequently ordered upon proper motion
by the petitioners.1 The complaint2 was instituted as a taxpayers' class suit3 and alleges that the plaintiffs "are all citizens of the
Republic of the Philippines, taxpayers, and entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource treasure that is
the country's virgin tropical forests." The same was filed for themselves and others who are equally concerned about the
preservation of said resource but are "so numerous that it is impracticable to bring them all before the Court." The minors further
asseverate that they "represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn."4 Consequently, it is prayed for that judgment
be rendered:
. . . ordering defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to —
(1) Cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country;
(2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license
agreements.
and granting the plaintiffs ". . . such other reliefs just and equitable under the premises." 5
The complaint starts off with the general averments that the Philippine archipelago of 7,100 islands has a land area of thirty
million (30,000,000) hectares and is endowed with rich, lush and verdant rainforests in which varied, rare and unique species of
flora and fauna may be found; these rainforests contain a genetic, biological and chemical pool which is irreplaceable; they are
also the habitat of indigenous Philippine cultures which have existed, endured and flourished since time immemorial; scientific
evidence reveals that in order to maintain a balanced and healthful ecology, the country's land area should be utilized on the basis
of a ratio of fifty-four per cent (54%) for forest cover and forty-six per cent (46%) for agricultural, residential, industrial,
commercial and other uses; the distortion and disturbance of this balance as a consequence of deforestation have resulted in a
host of environmental tragedies, such as (a) water shortages resulting from drying up of the water table, otherwise known as the
"aquifer," as well as of rivers, brooks and streams, (b) salinization of the water table as a result of the intrusion therein of salt
water, incontrovertible examples of which may be found in the island of Cebu and the Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite, (c)
massive erosion and the consequential loss of soil fertility and agricultural productivity, with the volume of soil eroded estimated
at one billion (1,000,000,000) cubic meters per annum — approximately the size of the entire island of Catanduanes, (d) the
endangering and extinction of the country's unique, rare and varied flora and fauna, (e) the disturbance and dislocation of cultural
communities, including the disappearance of the Filipino's indigenous cultures, (f) the siltation of rivers and seabeds and
consequential destruction of corals and other aquatic life leading to a critical reduction in marine resource productivity, (g)
recurrent spells of drought as is presently experienced by the entire country, (h) increasing velocity of typhoon winds which
result from the absence of windbreakers, (i) the floodings of lowlands and agricultural plains arising from the absence of the
absorbent mechanism of forests, (j) the siltation and shortening of the lifespan of multi-billion peso dams constructed and
operated for the purpose of supplying water for domestic uses, irrigation and the generation of electric power, and (k) the
reduction of the earth's capacity to process carbon dioxide gases which has led to perplexing and catastrophic climatic changes
such as the phenomenon of global warming, otherwise known as the "greenhouse effect."
Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and detrimental consequences of continued and deforestation are so capable of
unquestionable demonstration that the same may be submitted as a matter of judicial notice. This notwithstanding, they expressed
their intention to present expert witnesses as well as documentary, photographic and film evidence in the course of the trial.
As their cause of action, they specifically allege that:
CAUSE OF ACTION
7. Plaintiffs replead by reference the foregoing allegations.
8. Twenty-five (25) years ago, the Philippines had some sixteen (16) million hectares of rainforests
constituting roughly 53% of the country's land mass.
9. Satellite images taken in 1987 reveal that there remained no more than 1.2 million hectares of said
rainforests or four per cent (4.0%) of the country's land area.
10. More recent surveys reveal that a mere 850,000 hectares of virgin old-growth rainforests are left, barely
2.8% of the entire land mass of the Philippine archipelago and about 3.0 million hectares of immature and
uneconomical secondary growth forests.
11. Public records reveal that the defendant's, predecessors have granted timber license agreements ('TLA's')
to various corporations to cut the aggregate area of 3.89 million hectares for commercial logging purposes.
A copy of the TLA holders and the corresponding areas covered is hereto attached as Annex "A".
12. At the present rate of deforestation, i.e. about 200,000 hectares per annum or 25 hectares per hour —
nighttime, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays included — the Philippines will be bereft of forest resources after
the end of this ensuing decade, if not earlier.
13. The adverse effects, disastrous consequences, serious injury and irreparable damage of this continued
trend of deforestation to the plaintiff minor's generation and to generations yet unborn are evident and
incontrovertible. As a matter of fact, the environmental damages enumerated in paragraph 6 hereof are
already being felt, experienced and suffered by the generation of plaintiff adults.
14. The continued allowance by defendant of TLA holders to cut and deforest the remaining forest stands will
work great damage and irreparable injury to plaintiffs — especially plaintiff minors and their successors —
who may never see, use, benefit from and enjoy this rare and unique natural resource treasure.
This act of defendant constitutes a misappropriation and/or impairment of the natural resource property he
holds in trust for the benefit of plaintiff minors and succeeding generations.
15. Plaintiffs have a clear and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and are entitled to
protection by the State in its capacity as the parens patriae.
16. Plaintiff have exhausted all administrative remedies with the defendant's office. On March 2, 1990,
plaintiffs served upon defendant a final demand to cancel all logging permits in the country.
A copy of the plaintiffs' letter dated March 1, 1990 is hereto attached as Annex "B".
17. Defendant, however, fails and refuses to cancel the existing TLA's to the continuing serious damage and
extreme prejudice of plaintiffs.
18. The continued failure and refusal by defendant to cancel the TLA's is an act violative of the rights of
plaintiffs, especially plaintiff minors who may be left with a country that is desertified (sic), bare, barren and
devoid of the wonderful flora, fauna and indigenous cultures which the Philippines had been abundantly
blessed with.
19. Defendant's refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is manifestly contrary to the public policy
enunciated in the Philippine Environmental Policy which, in pertinent part, states that it is the policy of the
State —
(a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in productive
and enjoyable harmony with each other;
(b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos and;
(c) to ensure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conductive to a life of dignity and well-being.
(P.D. 1151, 6 June 1977)
20. Furthermore, defendant's continued refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is contradictory to the
Constitutional policy of the State to —
a. effect "a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income and wealth" and "make full and efficient use
of natural resources (sic)." (Section 1, Article XII of the Constitution);
b. "protect the nation's marine wealth." (Section 2, ibid);
c. "conserve and promote the nation's cultural heritage and resources (sic)" (Section 14, Article XIV, id.);
d. "protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm
and harmony of nature." (Section 16, Article II, id.)
21. Finally, defendant's act is contrary to the highest law of humankind — the natural law — and violative of
plaintiffs' right to self-preservation and perpetuation.
22. There is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in law other than the instant action to arrest the
unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life support systems and continued rape of Mother Earth. 6
On 22 June 1990, the original defendant, Secretary Factoran, Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint based on two (2)
grounds, namely: (1) the plaintiffs have no cause of action against him and (2) the issue raised by the plaintiffs is a political
question which properly pertains to the legislative or executive branches of Government. In their 12 July 1990 Opposition to the
Motion, the petitioners maintain that (1) the complaint shows a clear and unmistakable cause of action, (2) the motion is dilatory
and (3) the action presents a justiciable question as it involves the defendant's abuse of discretion.
On 18 July 1991, respondent Judge issued an order granting the aforementioned motion to dismiss. 7 In the said order, not only
was the defendant's claim — that the complaint states no cause of action against him and that it raises a political question —
sustained, the respondent Judge further ruled that the granting of the relief prayed for would result in the impairment of contracts
which is prohibited by the fundamental law of the land.
Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court and ask this Court to
rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the ground that the respondent Judge gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the
action. Again, the parents of the plaintiffs-minors not only represent their children, but have also joined the latter in this case. 8
On 14 May 1992, We resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective Memoranda
after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Comment in behalf of the respondents and the petitioners filed a reply
thereto.
Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly and unmistakably states a cause of action as it contains sufficient allegations
concerning their right to a sound environment based on Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code (Human Relations), Section 4 of
Executive Order (E.O.) No. 192 creating the DENR, Section 3 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental
Policy), Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution recognizing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology,
the concept of generational genocide in Criminal Law and the concept of man's inalienable right to self-preservation and self-
perpetuation embodied in natural law. Petitioners likewise rely on the respondent's correlative obligation per Section 4 of E.O.
No. 192, to safeguard the people's right to a healthful environment.
It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent Secretary's alleged grave abuse of discretion in granting Timber License
Agreements (TLAs) to cover more areas for logging than what is available involves a judicial question.
Anent the invocation by the respondent Judge of the Constitution's non-impairment clause, petitioners maintain that the same
does not apply in this case because TLAs are not contracts. They likewise submit that even if TLAs may be considered protected
by the said clause, it is well settled that they may still be revoked by the State when the public interest so requires.
On the other hand, the respondents aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a specific legal right violated by the
respondent Secretary for which any relief is provided by law. They see nothing in the complaint but vague and nebulous
allegations concerning an "environmental right" which supposedly entitles the petitioners to the "protection by the state in its
capacity as parens patriae." Such allegations, according to them, do not reveal a valid cause of action. They then reiterate the
theory that the question of whether logging should be permitted in the country is a political question which should be properly
addressed to the executive or legislative branches of Government. They therefore assert that the petitioners' resources is not to file
an action to court, but to lobby before Congress for the passage of a bill that would ban logging totally.
As to the matter of the cancellation of the TLAs, respondents submit that the same cannot be done by the State without due
process of law. Once issued, a TLA remains effective for a certain period of time — usually for twenty-five (25) years. During its
effectivity, the same can neither be revised nor cancelled unless the holder has been found, after due notice and hearing, to have
violated the terms of the agreement or other forestry laws and regulations. Petitioners' proposition to have all the TLAs
indiscriminately cancelled without the requisite hearing would be violative of the requirements of due process.
Before going any further, We must first focus on some procedural matters. Petitioners instituted Civil Case No. 90-777 as a class
suit. The original defendant and the present respondents did not take issue with this matter. Nevertheless, We hereby rule that the
said civil case is indeed a class suit. The subject matter of the complaint is of common and general interest not just to several, but
to all citizens of the Philippines. Consequently, since the parties are so numerous, it, becomes impracticable, if not totally
impossible, to bring all of them before the court. We likewise declare that the plaintiffs therein are numerous and representative
enough to ensure the full protection of all concerned interests. Hence, all the requisites for the filing of a valid class suit under
Section 12, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court are present both in the said civil case and in the instant petition, the latter being
but an incident to the former.
This case, however, has a special and novel element. Petitioners minors assert that they represent their generation as well as
generations yet unborn. We find no difficulty in ruling that they can, for themselves, for others of their generation and for the
succeeding generations, file a class suit. Their personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding generations can only be based on the
concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. Such a right, as
hereinafter expounded, considers
the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature means the created world in its entirety. 9 Such rhythm and harmony indispensably
include, inter alia, the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the country's forest, mineral,
land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural resources to the end that their exploration, development and
utilization be equitably accessible to the present as well as future generations. 10Needless to say, every generation has a
responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. Put a
little differently, the minors' assertion of their right to a sound environment constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their
obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the generations to come.
The locus standi of the petitioners having thus been addressed, We shall now proceed to the merits of the petition.
After a careful perusal of the complaint in question and a meticulous consideration and evaluation of the issues raised and
arguments adduced by the parties, We do not hesitate to find for the petitioners and rule against the respondent Judge's
challenged order for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The pertinent portions
of the said order reads as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
After a careful and circumspect evaluation of the Complaint, the Court cannot help but agree with the
defendant. For although we believe that plaintiffs have but the noblest of all intentions, it (sic) fell short of
alleging, with sufficient definiteness, a specific legal right they are seeking to enforce and protect, or a
specific legal wrong they are seeking to prevent and redress (Sec. 1, Rule 2, RRC). Furthermore, the Court
notes that the Complaint is replete with vague assumptions and vague conclusions based on unverified data.
In fine, plaintiffs fail to state a cause of action in its Complaint against the herein defendant.
Furthermore, the Court firmly believes that the matter before it, being impressed with political color and
involving a matter of public policy, may not be taken cognizance of by this Court without doing violence to
the sacred principle of "Separation of Powers" of the three (3) co-equal branches of the Government.
The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction, grant the
reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country and to
cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license
agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of contracts" abhored (sic) by the fundamental
law. 11
We do not agree with the trial court's conclusions that the plaintiffs failed to allege with sufficient definiteness a specific legal
right involved or a specific legal wrong committed, and that the complaint is replete with vague assumptions and conclusions
based on unverified data. A reading of the complaint itself belies these conclusions.
The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right — the right to a balanced and healthful ecology which, for the first
time in our nation's constitutional history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law. Section 16, Article II of the 1987
Constitution explicitly provides:
Sec. 16. The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in
accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.
This right unites with the right to health which is provided for in the preceding section of the same article:
Sec. 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness
among them.
While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles and State Policies and not
under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and political rights enumerated in the
latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-
perpetuation — aptly and fittingly stressed by the petitioners — the advancement of which may even be said to predate all
governments and constitutions. As a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for they are
assumed to exist from the inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the fundamental charter, it is because
of the well-founded fear of its framers that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health are mandated as
state policies by the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting their continuing importance and imposing upon the state a solemn
obligation to preserve the first and protect and advance the second, the day would not be too far when all else would be lost not
only for the present generation, but also for those to come — generations which stand to inherit nothing but parched earth
incapable of sustaining life.
The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment.
During the debates on this right in one of the plenary sessions of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, the following exchange
transpired between Commissioner Wilfrido Villacorta and Commissioner Adolfo Azcuna who sponsored the section in question:
MR. VILLACORTA:
Does this section mandate the State to provide sanctions against all forms of pollution —
air, water and noise pollution?
MR. AZCUNA:
Yes, Madam President. The right to healthful (sic) environment necessarily carries with it
the correlative duty of not impairing the same and, therefore, sanctions may be provided
for impairment of environmental balance. 12
The said right implies, among many other things, the judicious management and conservation of the country's forests.
Without such forests, the ecological or environmental balance would be irreversiby disrupted.
Conformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and healthful ecology and the right to health, as well as the other related
provisions of the Constitution concerning the conservation, development and utilization of the country's natural resources, 13 then
President Corazon C. Aquino promulgated on 10 June 1987 E.O. No. 192, 14 Section 4 of which expressly mandates that the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources "shall be the primary government agency responsible for the conservation,
management, development and proper use of the country's environment and natural resources, specifically forest and grazing
lands, mineral, resources, including those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of the public domain, as well as the
licensing and regulation of all natural resources as may be provided for by law in order to ensure equitable sharing of the benefits
derived therefrom for the welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos." Section 3 thereof makes the following
statement of policy:
Sec. 3. Declaration of Policy. — It is hereby declared the policy of the State to ensure the sustainable use,
development, management, renewal, and conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, off-shore areas
and other natural resources, including the protection and enhancement of the quality of the environment, and
equitable access of the different segments of the population to the development and the use of the country's
natural resources, not only for the present generation but for future generations as well. It is also the policy of
the state to recognize and apply a true value system including social and environmental cost implications
relative to their utilization, development and conservation of our natural resources.
This policy declaration is substantially re-stated it Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, 15 specifically in
Section 1 thereof which reads:
Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. — (1) The State shall ensure, for the benefit of the Filipino people, the full
exploration and development as well as the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and
conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural
resources, consistent with the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting and
enhancing the quality of the environment and the objective of making the exploration, development and
utilization of such natural resources equitably accessible to the different segments of the present as well as
future generations.
(2) The State shall likewise recognize and apply a true value system that takes into account social and
environmental cost implications relative to the utilization, development and conservation of our natural
resources.
The above provision stresses "the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting and enhancing the quality
of the environment." Section 2 of the same Title, on the other hand, specifically speaks of the mandate of the DENR; however, it
makes particular reference to the fact of the agency's being subject to law and higher authority. Said section provides:
Sec. 2. Mandate. — (1) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources shall be primarily
responsible for the implementation of the foregoing policy.
(2) It shall, subject to law and higher authority, be in charge of carrying out the State's constitutional mandate
to control and supervise the exploration, development, utilization, and conservation of the country's natural
resources.
Both E.O. NO. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 have set the objectives which will serve as the bases for policy
formulation, and have defined the powers and functions of the DENR.
It may, however, be recalled that even before the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, specific statutes already paid special
attention to the "environmental right" of the present and future generations. On 6 June 1977, P.D. No. 1151 (Philippine
Environmental Policy) and P.D. No. 1152 (Philippine Environment Code) were issued. The former "declared a continuing policy
of the State (a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in productive and
enjoyable harmony with each other, (b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of
Filipinos, and (c) to insure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conducive to a life of dignity and well-being." 16 As
its goal, it speaks of the "responsibilities of each generation as trustee and guardian of the environment for succeeding
generations." 17 The latter statute, on the other hand, gave flesh to the said policy.
Thus, the right of the petitioners (and all those they represent) to a balanced and healthful ecology is as clear as the DENR's duty
— under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and functions under E.O. No. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 — to
protect and advance the said right.
A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the corelative duty or obligation to respect or protect the same gives rise
to a cause of action. Petitioners maintain that the granting of the TLAs, which they claim was done with grave abuse of
discretion, violated their right to a balanced and healthful ecology; hence, the full protection thereof requires that no further TLAs
should be renewed or granted.
A cause of action is defined as:
. . . an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal right or rights of the other; and its essential
elements are legal right of the plaintiff, correlative obligation of the defendant, and act or omission of the
defendant in violation of said legal right. 18
It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the complaint fails to state a cause of
action, 19 the question submitted to the court for resolution involves the sufficiency of the facts alleged in the complaint itself. No
other matter should be considered; furthermore, the truth of falsity of the said allegations is beside the point for the truth thereof
is deemed hypothetically admitted. The only issue to be resolved in such a case is: admitting such alleged facts to be true, may
the court render a valid judgment in accordance with the prayer in the complaint? 20 In Militante vs. Edrosolano, 21 this Court laid
down the rule that the judiciary should "exercise the utmost care and circumspection in passing upon a motion to dismiss on the
ground of the absence thereof [cause of action] lest, by its failure to manifest a correct appreciation of the facts alleged and
deemed hypothetically admitted, what the law grants or recognizes is effectively nullified. If that happens, there is a blot on the
legal order. The law itself stands in disrepute."
After careful examination of the petitioners' complaint, We find the statements under the introductory affirmative allegations, as
well as the specific averments under the sub-heading CAUSE OF ACTION, to be adequate enough to show, prima facie, the
claimed violation of their rights. On the basis thereof, they may thus be granted, wholly or partly, the reliefs prayed for. It bears
stressing, however, that insofar as the cancellation of the TLAs is concerned, there is the need to implead, as party defendants, the
grantees thereof for they are indispensable parties.
The foregoing considered, Civil Case No. 90-777 be said to raise a political question. Policy formulation or determination by the
executive or legislative branches of Government is not squarely put in issue. What is principally involved is the enforcement of a
right vis-a-vis policies already formulated and expressed in legislation. It must, nonetheless, be emphasized that the political
question doctrine is no longer, the insurmountable obstacle to the exercise of judicial power or the impenetrable shield that
protects executive and legislative actions from judicial inquiry or review. The second paragraph of section 1, Article VIII of the
Constitution states that:
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which
are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
Government.
Commenting on this provision in his book, Philippine Political Law, 22 Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, a distinguished member of
this Court, says:
The first part of the authority represents the traditional concept of judicial power, involving the settlement of
conflicting rights as conferred as law. The second part of the authority represents a broadening of judicial
power to enable the courts of justice to review what was before forbidden territory, to wit, the discretion of
the political departments of the government.
As worded, the new provision vests in the judiciary, and particularly the Supreme Court, the power to rule
upon even the wisdom of the decisions of the executive and the legislature and to declare their acts invalid for
lack or excess of jurisdiction because tainted with grave abuse of discretion. The catch, of course, is the
meaning of "grave abuse of discretion," which is a very elastic phrase that can expand or contract according
to the disposition of the judiciary.
In Daza vs. Singson, 23 Mr. Justice Cruz, now speaking for this Court, noted:
In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection becomes even less tenable and decisive. The reason is
that, even if we were to assume that the issue presented before us was political in nature, we would still not
be precluded from revolving it under the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon us that now covers, in proper
cases, even the political question. Article VII, Section 1, of the Constitution clearly provides: . . .
The last ground invoked by the trial court in dismissing the complaint is the non-impairment of contracts clause found in the
Constitution. The court a quo declared that:
The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction, grant the
reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country and to
cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license
agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of contracts" abhored (sic) by the fundamental
law. 24
We are not persuaded at all; on the contrary, We are amazed, if not shocked, by such a sweeping pronouncement. In the first
place, the respondent Secretary did not, for obvious reasons, even invoke in his motion to dismiss the non-impairment clause. If
he had done so, he would have acted with utmost infidelity to the Government by providing undue and unwarranted benefits and
advantages to the timber license holders because he would have forever bound the Government to strictly respect the said
licenses according to their terms and conditions regardless of changes in policy and the demands of public interest and welfare.
He was aware that as correctly pointed out by the petitioners, into every timber license must be read Section 20 of the Forestry
Reform Code (P.D. No. 705) which provides:
. . . Provided, That when the national interest so requires, the President may amend, modify, replace or
rescind any contract, concession, permit, licenses or any other form of privilege granted herein . . .
Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is not a contract, property or a
property right protested by the due process clause of the Constitution. In Tan vs. Director of Forestry, 25 this Court
held:
. . . A timber license is an instrument by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest
resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. A timber license is not a contract within the purview of
the due process clause; it is only a license or privilege, which can be validly withdrawn whenever dictated by
public interest or public welfare as in this case.
A license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and is not a contract
between the authority, federal, state, or municipal, granting it and the person to whom it is granted; neither is
it property or a property right, nor does it create a vested right; nor is it taxation (37 C.J. 168). Thus, this
Court held that the granting of license does not create irrevocable rights, neither is it property or property
rights (People vs. Ong Tin, 54 O.G. 7576).
We reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe Ysmael, Jr. & Co., Inc. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary: 26
. . . Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal instruments by which the State
regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. And it
can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the State to qualified entities, and do
not vest in the latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the forest products
therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief Executive when national
interests so require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law clause
[See Sections 3(ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry, G.R. No.
L-24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302].
Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which reads:
Sec. 10. No law impairing, the obligation of contracts shall be passed. 27
cannot be invoked.
In the second place, even if it is to be assumed that the same are contracts, the instant case does not involve a law or even an
executive issuance declaring the cancellation or modification of existing timber licenses. Hence, the non-impairment clause
cannot as yet be invoked. Nevertheless, granting further that a law has actually been passed mandating cancellations or
modifications, the same cannot still be stigmatized as a violation of the non-impairment clause. This is because by its very nature
and purpose, such as law could have only been passed in the exercise of the police power of the state for the purpose of
advancing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, promoting their health and enhancing the general welfare.
In Abe vs. Foster Wheeler
Corp. 28 this Court stated:
The freedom of contract, under our system of government, is not meant to be absolute. The same is
understood to be subject to reasonable legislative regulation aimed at the promotion of public health, moral,
safety and welfare. In other words, the constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of obligations of contract is
limited by the exercise of the police power of the State, in the interest of public health, safety, moral and
general welfare.
The reason for this is emphatically set forth in Nebia vs. New York, 29 quoted in Philippine American Life Insurance Co. vs.
Auditor General,30 to wit:
Under our form of government the use of property and the making of contracts are normally matters of
private and not of public concern. The general rule is that both shall be free of governmental interference. But
neither property rights nor contract rights are absolute; for government cannot exist if the citizen may at will
use his property to the detriment of his fellows, or exercise his freedom of contract to work them harm.
Equally fundamental with the private right is that of the public to regulate it in the common interest.
In short, the non-impairment clause must yield to the police power of the state. 31
Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court did, how the non-impairment clause could apply with respect to the prayer to
enjoin the respondent Secretary from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber licenses for, save in
cases of renewal, no contract would have as of yet existed in the other instances. Moreover, with respect to renewal, the holder is
not entitled to it as a matter of right.
WHEREFORE, being impressed with merit, the instant Petition is hereby GRANTED, and the challenged Order of respondent
Judge of 18 July 1991 dismissing Civil Case No. 90-777 is hereby set aside. The petitioners may therefore amend their complaint
to implead as defendants the holders or grantees of the questioned timber license agreements.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. Nos. 171947-48 December 18, 2008
METROPOLITAN MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND
NATURAL RESOURCES, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, CULTURE AND SPORTS,1 DEPARTMENT OF
HEALTH, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS,
DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD, PHILIPPINE NATIONAL
POLICE MARITIME GROUP, and DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, petitioners,
vs.
CONCERNED RESIDENTS OF MANILA BAY, represented and joined by DIVINA V. ILAS, SABINIANO
ALBARRACIN, MANUEL SANTOS, JR., DINAH DELA PEÑA, PAUL DENNIS QUINTERO, MA. VICTORIA
LLENOS, DONNA CALOZA, FATIMA QUITAIN, VENICE SEGARRA, FRITZIE TANGKIA, SARAH JOELLE
LINTAG, HANNIBAL AUGUSTUS BOBIS, FELIMON SANTIAGUEL, and JAIME AGUSTIN R. OPOSA, respondents.
DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J.:
The need to address environmental pollution, as a cause of climate change, has of late gained the attention of the international
community. Media have finally trained their sights on the ill effects of pollution, the destruction of forests and other critical
habitats, oil spills, and the unabated improper disposal of garbage. And rightly so, for the magnitude of environmental destruction
is now on a scale few ever foresaw and the wound no longer simply heals by itself. 2 But amidst hard evidence and clear signs of a
climate crisis that need bold action, the voice of cynicism, naysayers, and procrastinators can still be heard.
This case turns on government agencies and their officers who, by the nature of their respective offices or by direct statutory
command, are tasked to protect and preserve, at the first instance, our internal waters, rivers, shores, and seas polluted by human
activities. To most of these agencies and their official complement, the pollution menace does not seem to carry the high national
priority it deserves, if their track records are to be the norm. Their cavalier attitude towards solving, if not mitigating, the
environmental pollution problem, is a sad commentary on bureaucratic efficiency and commitment.
At the core of the case is the Manila Bay, a place with a proud historic past, once brimming with marine life and, for so many
decades in the past, a spot for different contact recreation activities, but now a dirty and slowly dying expanse mainly because of
the abject official indifference of people and institutions that could have otherwise made a difference.
This case started when, on January 29, 1999, respondents Concerned Residents of Manila Bay filed a complaint before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Imus, Cavite against several government agencies, among them the petitioners, for the cleanup,
rehabilitation, and protection of the Manila Bay. Raffled to Branch 20 and docketed as Civil Case No. 1851-99 of the RTC, the
complaint alleged that the water quality of the Manila Bay had fallen way below the allowable standards set by law, specifically
Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1152 or the Philippine Environment Code. This environmental aberration, the complaint stated,
stemmed from:
x x x [The] reckless, wholesale, accumulated and ongoing acts of omission or commission [of the defendants] resulting
in the clear and present danger to public health and in the depletion and contamination of the marine life of Manila Bay,
[for which reason] ALL defendants must be held jointly and/or solidarily liable and be collectively ordered to clean up
Manila Bay and to restore its water quality to class B waters fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact
recreation.3
In their individual causes of action, respondents alleged that the continued neglect of petitioners in abating the pollution of the
Manila Bay constitutes a violation of, among others:
(1) Respondents’ constitutional right to life, health, and a balanced ecology;
(2) The Environment Code (PD 1152);
(3) The Pollution Control Law (PD 984);
(4) The Water Code (PD 1067);
(5) The Sanitation Code (PD 856);
(6) The Illegal Disposal of Wastes Decree (PD 825);
(7) The Marine Pollution Law (PD 979);
(8) Executive Order No. 192;
(9) The Toxic and Hazardous Wastes Law (Republic Act No. 6969);
(10) Civil Code provisions on nuisance and human relations;
(11) The Trust Doctrine and the Principle of Guardianship; and
(12) International Law
Inter alia, respondents, as plaintiffs a quo, prayed that petitioners be ordered to clean the Manila Bay and submit to the RTC a
concerted concrete plan of action for the purpose.
The trial of the case started off with a hearing at the Manila Yacht Club followed by an ocular inspection of the Manila Bay.
Renato T. Cruz, the Chief of the Water Quality Management Section, Environmental Management Bureau, Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), testifying for petitioners, stated that water samples collected from different
beaches around the Manila Bay showed that the amount of fecal coliform content ranged from 50,000 to 80,000 most probable
number (MPN)/ml when what DENR Administrative Order No. 34-90 prescribed as a safe level for bathing and other forms of
contact recreational activities, or the "SB" level, is one not exceeding 200 MPN/100 ml. 4
Rebecca de Vera, for Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and in behalf of other petitioners, testified about
the MWSS’ efforts to reduce pollution along the Manila Bay through the Manila Second Sewerage Project. For its part, the
Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) presented, as part of its evidence, its memorandum circulars on the study being conducted on
ship-generated waste treatment and disposal, and its Linis Dagat (Clean the Ocean) project for the cleaning of wastes
accumulated or washed to shore.
The RTC Ordered Petitioners to Clean Up and Rehabilitate Manila Bay
On September 13, 2002, the RTC rendered a Decision 5 in favor of respondents. The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, finding merit in the complaint, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the abovenamed defendant-
government agencies, jointly and solidarily, to clean up and rehabilitate Manila Bay and restore its waters to SB
classification to make it fit for swimming, skin-diving and other forms of contact recreation. To attain this, defendant-
agencies, with defendant DENR as the lead agency, are directed, within six (6) months from receipt hereof, to act and
perform their respective duties by devising a consolidated, coordinated and concerted scheme of action for the
rehabilitation and restoration of the bay.
In particular:
Defendant MWSS is directed to install, operate and maintain adequate [sewerage] treatment facilities in strategic places
under its jurisdiction and increase their capacities.
Defendant LWUA, to see to it that the water districts under its wings, provide, construct and operate sewage facilities
for the proper disposal of waste.
Defendant DENR, which is the lead agency in cleaning up Manila Bay, to install, operate and maintain waste facilities
to rid the bay of toxic and hazardous substances.
Defendant PPA, to prevent and also to treat the discharge not only of ship-generated wastes but also of other solid and
liquid wastes from docking vessels that contribute to the pollution of the bay.
Defendant MMDA, to establish, operate and maintain an adequate and appropriate sanitary landfill and/or adequate
solid waste and liquid disposal as well as other alternative garbage disposal system such as re-use or recycling of
wastes.
Defendant DA, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, to revitalize the marine life in Manila Bay and
restock its waters with indigenous fish and other aquatic animals.
Defendant DBM, to provide and set aside an adequate budget solely for the purpose of cleaning up and rehabilitation of
Manila Bay.
Defendant DPWH, to remove and demolish structures and other nuisances that obstruct the free flow of waters to the
bay. These nuisances discharge solid and liquid wastes which eventually end up in Manila Bay. As the construction and
engineering arm of the government, DPWH is ordered to actively participate in removing debris, such as carcass of
sunken vessels, and other non-biodegradable garbage in the bay.
Defendant DOH, to closely supervise and monitor the operations of septic and sludge companies and require them to
have proper facilities for the treatment and disposal of fecal sludge and sewage coming from septic tanks.
Defendant DECS, to inculcate in the minds and hearts of the people through education the importance of preserving
and protecting the environment.
Defendant Philippine Coast Guard and the PNP Maritime Group, to protect at all costs the Manila Bay from all forms
of illegal fishing.
No pronouncement as to damages and costs.
SO ORDERED.
The MWSS, Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), and PPA filed before the Court of Appeals (CA) individual Notices
of Appeal which were eventually consolidated and docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 76528.
On the other hand, the DENR, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Metropolitan Manila Development
Authority (MMDA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime Group, and five other executive
departments and agencies filed directly with this Court a petition for review under Rule 45. The Court, in a Resolution of
December 9, 2002, sent the said petition to the CA for consolidation with the consolidated appeals of MWSS, LWUA, and PPA,
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 74944.
Petitioners, before the CA, were one in arguing in the main that the pertinent provisions of the Environment Code (PD 1152)
relate only to the cleaning of specific pollution incidents and do not cover cleaning in general. And apart from raising concerns
about the lack of funds appropriated for cleaning purposes, petitioners also asserted that the cleaning of the Manila Bay is not a
ministerial act which can be compelled by mandamus.
The CA Sustained the RTC
By a Decision6 of September 28, 2005, the CA denied petitioners’ appeal and affirmed the Decision of the RTC in toto, stressing
that the trial court’s decision did not require petitioners to do tasks outside of their usual basic functions under existing laws.7
Petitioners are now before this Court praying for the allowance of their Rule 45 petition on the following ground and supporting
arguments:
THE [CA] DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE NOT HERETOFORE PASSED UPON BY THE
HONORABLE COURT, I.E., IT AFFIRMED THE TRIAL COURT’S DECISION DECLARING THAT SECTION 20
OF [PD] 1152 REQUIRES CONCERNED GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO REMOVE ALL POLLUTANTS
SPILLED AND DISCHARGED IN THE WATER SUCH AS FECAL COLIFORMS.
ARGUMENTS
I
[SECTIONS] 17 AND 20 OF [PD] 1152 RELATE ONLY TO THE CLEANING OF SPECIFIC POLLUTION
INCIDENTS AND [DO] NOT COVER CLEANING IN GENERAL
II
THE CLEANING OR REHABILITATION OF THE MANILA BAY IS NOT A MINISTERIAL ACT OF
PETITIONERS THAT CAN BE COMPELLED BY MANDAMUS.
The issues before us are two-fold. First, do Sections 17 and 20 of PD 1152 under the headings, Upgrading of Water
Quality and Clean-up Operations, envisage a cleanup in general or are they limited only to the cleanup of specific pollution
incidents? And second, can petitioners be compelled by mandamus to clean up and rehabilitate the Manila Bay?
On August 12, 2008, the Court conducted and heard the parties on oral arguments.
Our Ruling
We shall first dwell on the propriety of the issuance of mandamus under the premises.
The Cleaning or Rehabilitation of Manila Bay
Can be Compelled by Mandamus
Generally, the writ of mandamus lies to require the execution of a ministerial duty.8 A ministerial duty is one that "requires
neither the exercise of official discretion nor judgment."9 It connotes an act in which nothing is left to the discretion of the person
executing it. It is a "simple, definite duty arising under conditions admitted or proved to exist and imposed by law." 10 Mandamus
is available to compel action, when refused, on matters involving discretion, but not to direct the exercise of judgment or
discretion one way or the other.
Petitioners maintain that the MMDA’s duty to take measures and maintain adequate solid waste and liquid disposal systems
necessarily involves policy evaluation and the exercise of judgment on the part of the agency concerned. They argue that the
MMDA, in carrying out its mandate, has to make decisions, including choosing where a landfill should be located by undertaking
feasibility studies and cost estimates, all of which entail the exercise of discretion.
Respondents, on the other hand, counter that the statutory command is clear and that petitioners’ duty to comply with and act
according to the clear mandate of the law does not require the exercise of discretion. According to respondents, petitioners, the
MMDA in particular, are without discretion, for example, to choose which bodies of water they are to clean up, or which
discharge or spill they are to contain. By the same token, respondents maintain that petitioners are bereft of discretion on whether
or not to alleviate the problem of solid and liquid waste disposal; in other words, it is the MMDA’s ministerial duty to attend to
such services.
We agree with respondents.
First off, we wish to state that petitioners’ obligation to perform their duties as defined by law, on one hand, and how they are to
carry out such duties, on the other, are two different concepts. While the implementation of the MMDA’s mandated tasks may
entail a decision-making process, the enforcement of the law or the very act of doing what the law exacts to be done is ministerial
in nature and may be compelled by mandamus. We said so in Social Justice Society v. Atienza11 in which the Court directed the
City of Manila to enforce, as a matter of ministerial duty, its Ordinance No. 8027 directing the three big local oil players to cease
and desist from operating their business in the so-called "Pandacan Terminals" within six months from the effectivity of the
ordinance. But to illustrate with respect to the instant case, the MMDA’s duty to put up an adequate and appropriate sanitary
landfill and solid waste and liquid disposal as well as other alternative garbage disposal systems is ministerial, its duty being a
statutory imposition. The MMDA’s duty in this regard is spelled out in Sec. 3(c) of Republic Act No. (RA) 7924 creating the
MMDA. This section defines and delineates the scope of the MMDA’s waste disposal services to include:
Solid waste disposal and management which include formulation and implementation of policies, standards, programs
and projects for proper and sanitary waste disposal. It shall likewise include the establishment and operation of
sanitary land fill and related facilities and the implementation of other alternative programs intended to reduce, reuse
and recycle solid waste. (Emphasis added.)
The MMDA is duty-bound to comply with Sec. 41 of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003) which prescribes
the minimum criteria for the establishment of sanitary landfills and Sec. 42 which provides the minimum operating requirements
that each site operator shall maintain in the operation of a sanitary landfill. Complementing Sec. 41 are Secs. 36 and 37 of RA
9003,12 enjoining the MMDA and local government units, among others, after the effectivity of the law on February 15, 2001,
from using and operating open dumps for solid waste and disallowing, five years after such effectivity, the use of controlled
dumps.
The MMDA’s duty in the area of solid waste disposal, as may be noted, is set forth not only in the Environment Code (PD 1152)
and RA 9003, but in its charter as well. This duty of putting up a proper waste disposal system cannot be characterized as
discretionary, for, as earlier stated, discretion presupposes the power or right given by law to public functionaries to act officially
according to their judgment or conscience.13 A discretionary duty is one that "allows a person to exercise judgment and choose to
perform or not to perform."14 Any suggestion that the MMDA has the option whether or not to perform its solid waste disposal-
related duties ought to be dismissed for want of legal basis.
A perusal of other petitioners’ respective charters or like enabling statutes and pertinent laws would yield this conclusion: these
government agencies are enjoined, as a matter of statutory obligation, to perform certain functions relating directly or indirectly
to the cleanup, rehabilitation, protection, and preservation of the Manila Bay. They are precluded from choosing not to perform
these duties. Consider:
(1) The DENR, under Executive Order No. (EO) 192,15 is the primary agency responsible for the conservation, management,
development, and proper use of the country’s environment and natural resources. Sec. 19 of the Philippine Clean Water Act of
2004 (RA 9275), on the other hand, designates the DENR as the primary government agency responsible for its enforcement and
implementation, more particularly over all aspects of water quality management. On water pollution, the DENR, under the Act’s
Sec. 19(k), exercises jurisdiction "over all aspects of water pollution, determine[s] its location, magnitude, extent, severity, causes
and effects and other pertinent information on pollution, and [takes] measures, using available methods and technologies, to
prevent and abate such pollution."
The DENR, under RA 9275, is also tasked to prepare a National Water Quality Status Report, an Integrated Water Quality
Management Framework, and a 10-year Water Quality Management Area Action Plan which is nationwide in scope covering the
Manila Bay and adjoining areas. Sec. 19 of RA 9275 provides:
Sec. 19 Lead Agency.––The [DENR] shall be the primary government agency responsible for the implementation and
enforcement of this Act x x x unless otherwise provided herein. As such, it shall have the following functions, powers
and responsibilities:
a) Prepare a National Water Quality Status report within twenty-four (24) months from the effectivity of this Act:
Provided, That the Department shall thereafter review or revise and publish annually, or as the need arises, said report;
b) Prepare an Integrated Water Quality Management Framework within twelve (12) months following the completion
of the status report;
c) Prepare a ten (10) year Water Quality Management Area Action Plan within 12 months following the completion of
the framework for each designated water management area. Such action plan shall be reviewed by the water quality
management area governing board every five (5) years or as need arises.
The DENR has prepared the status report for the period 2001 to 2005 and is in the process of completing the preparation of the
Integrated Water Quality Management Framework.16 Within twelve (12) months thereafter, it has to submit a final Water Quality
Management Area Action Plan.17 Again, like the MMDA, the DENR should be made to accomplish the tasks assigned to it under
RA 9275.
Parenthetically, during the oral arguments, the DENR Secretary manifested that the DENR, with the assistance of and in
partnership with various government agencies and non-government organizations, has completed, as of December 2005, the final
draft of a comprehensive action plan with estimated budget and time frame, denominated as Operation Plan for the Manila Bay
Coastal Strategy, for the rehabilitation, restoration, and rehabilitation of the Manila Bay.
The completion of the said action plan and even the implementation of some of its phases should more than ever prod the
concerned agencies to fast track what are assigned them under existing laws.
(2) The MWSS, under Sec. 3 of RA 6234,18 is vested with jurisdiction, supervision, and control over all waterworks and
sewerage systems in the territory comprising what is now the cities of Metro Manila and several towns of the provinces of Rizal
and Cavite, and charged with the duty:
(g) To construct, maintain, and operate such sanitary sewerages as may be necessary for the proper sanitation and other
uses of the cities and towns comprising the System; x x x
(3) The LWUA under PD 198 has the power of supervision and control over local water districts. It can prescribe the minimum
standards and regulations for the operations of these districts and shall monitor and evaluate local water standards. The LWUA
can direct these districts to construct, operate, and furnish facilities and services for the collection, treatment, and disposal of
sewerage, waste, and storm water. Additionally, under RA 9275, the LWUA, as attached agency of the DPWH, is tasked with
providing sewerage and sanitation facilities, inclusive of the setting up of efficient and safe collection, treatment, and sewage
disposal system in the different parts of the country.19 In relation to the instant petition, the LWUA is mandated to provide
sewerage and sanitation facilities in Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan to prevent pollution in the Manila Bay.
(4) The Department of Agriculture (DA), pursuant to the Administrative Code of 1987 (EO 292), 20 is designated as the agency
tasked to promulgate and enforce all laws and issuances respecting the conservation and proper utilization of agricultural and
fishery resources. Furthermore, the DA, under the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 (RA 8550), is, in coordination with local
government units (LGUs) and other concerned sectors, in charge of establishing a monitoring, control, and surveillance system to
ensure that fisheries and aquatic resources in Philippine waters are judiciously utilized and managed on a sustainable
basis.21 Likewise under RA 9275, the DA is charged with coordinating with the PCG and DENR for the enforcement of water
quality standards in marine waters.22 More specifically, its Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) under Sec. 22(c)
of RA 9275 shall primarily be responsible for the prevention and control of water pollution for the development, management,
and conservation of the fisheries and aquatic resources.
(5) The DPWH, as the engineering and construction arm of the national government, is tasked under EO 29223 to provide
integrated planning, design, and construction services for, among others, flood control and water resource development systems
in accordance with national development objectives and approved government plans and specifications.
In Metro Manila, however, the MMDA is authorized by Sec. 3(d), RA 7924 to perform metro-wide services relating to "flood
control and sewerage management which include the formulation and implementation of policies, standards, programs and
projects for an integrated flood control, drainage and sewerage system."
On July 9, 2002, a Memorandum of Agreement was entered into between the DPWH and MMDA, whereby MMDA was made
the agency primarily responsible for flood control in Metro Manila. For the rest of the country, DPWH shall remain as the
implementing agency for flood control services. The mandate of the MMDA and DPWH on flood control and drainage services
shall include the removal of structures, constructions, and encroachments built along rivers, waterways, and esteros (drainages) in
violation of RA 7279, PD 1067, and other pertinent laws.
(6) The PCG, in accordance with Sec. 5(p) of PD 601, or the Revised Coast Guard Law of 1974, and Sec. 6 of PD 979,24 or the
Marine Pollution Decree of 1976, shall have the primary responsibility of enforcing laws, rules, and regulations governing marine
pollution within the territorial waters of the Philippines. It shall promulgate its own rules and regulations in accordance with the
national rules and policies set by the National Pollution Control Commission upon consultation with the latter for the effective
implementation and enforcement of PD 979. It shall, under Sec. 4 of the law, apprehend violators who:
a. discharge, dump x x x harmful substances from or out of any ship, vessel, barge, or any other floating craft, or other
man-made structures at sea, by any method, means or manner, into or upon the territorial and inland navigable waters
of the Philippines;
b. throw, discharge or deposit, dump, or cause, suffer or procure to be thrown, discharged, or deposited either from or
out of any ship, barge, or other floating craft or vessel of any kind, or from the shore, wharf, manufacturing
establishment, or mill of any kind, any refuse matter of any kind or description whatever other than that flowing from
streets and sewers and passing therefrom in a liquid state into tributary of any navigable water from which the same
shall float or be washed into such navigable water; and
c. deposit x x x material of any kind in any place on the bank of any navigable water or on the bank of any tributary of
any navigable water, where the same shall be liable to be washed into such navigable water, either by ordinary or high
tides, or by storms or floods, or otherwise, whereby navigation shall or may be impeded or obstructed or increase the
level of pollution of such water.
(7) When RA 6975 or the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Act of 1990 was signed into law on
December 13, 1990, the PNP Maritime Group was tasked to "perform all police functions over the Philippine territorial waters
and rivers." Under Sec. 86, RA 6975, the police functions of the PCG shall be taken over by the PNP when the latter acquires the
capability to perform such functions. Since the PNP Maritime Group has not yet attained the capability to assume and perform
the police functions of PCG over marine pollution, the PCG and PNP Maritime Group shall coordinate with regard to the
enforcement of laws, rules, and regulations governing marine pollution within the territorial waters of the Philippines. This was
made clear in Sec. 124, RA 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, in which both the PCG and PNP Maritime Group
were authorized to enforce said law and other fishery laws, rules, and regulations.25
(8) In accordance with Sec. 2 of EO 513, the PPA is mandated "to establish, develop, regulate, manage and operate a rationalized
national port system in support of trade and national development." 26 Moreover, Sec. 6-c of EO 513 states that the PPA has
police authority within the ports administered by it as may be necessary to carry out its powers and functions and attain its
purposes and objectives, without prejudice to the exercise of the functions of the Bureau of Customs and other law enforcement
bodies within the area. Such police authority shall include the following:
xxxx
b) To regulate the entry to, exit from, and movement within the port, of persons and vehicles, as well as movement
within the port of watercraft.27
Lastly, as a member of the International Marine Organization and a signatory to the International Convention for the Prevention
of Pollution from Ships, as amended by MARPOL 73/78, 28 the Philippines, through the PPA, must ensure the provision of
adequate reception facilities at ports and terminals for the reception of sewage from the ships docking in Philippine ports. Thus,
the PPA is tasked to adopt such measures as are necessary to prevent the discharge and dumping of solid and liquid wastes and
other ship-generated wastes into the Manila Bay waters from vessels docked at ports and apprehend the violators. When the
vessels are not docked at ports but within Philippine territorial waters, it is the PCG and PNP Maritime Group that have
jurisdiction over said vessels.
(9) The MMDA, as earlier indicated, is duty-bound to put up and maintain adequate sanitary landfill and solid waste and liquid
disposal system as well as other alternative garbage disposal systems. It is primarily responsible for the implementation and
enforcement of the provisions of RA 9003, which would necessary include its penal provisions, within its area of jurisdiction.29
Among the prohibited acts under Sec. 48, Chapter VI of RA 9003 that are frequently violated are dumping of waste matters in
public places, such as roads, canals or esteros, open burning of solid waste, squatting in open dumps and landfills, open dumping,
burying of biodegradable or non- biodegradable materials in flood-prone areas, establishment or operation of open dumps as
enjoined in RA 9003, and operation of waste management facilities without an environmental compliance certificate.
Under Sec. 28 of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (RA 7279), eviction or demolition may be allowed "when
persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and
other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks and playgrounds." The MMDA, as lead agency, in coordination with the
DPWH, LGUs, and concerned agencies, can dismantle and remove all structures, constructions, and other encroachments built in
breach of RA 7279 and other pertinent laws along the rivers, waterways, and esteros in Metro Manila. With respect to rivers,
waterways, and esteros in Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, and Laguna that discharge wastewater directly or eventually into
the Manila Bay, the DILG shall direct the concerned LGUs to implement the demolition and removal of such structures,
constructions, and other encroachments built in violation of RA 7279 and other applicable laws in coordination with the DPWH
and concerned agencies.
(10) The Department of Health (DOH), under Article 76 of PD 1067 (the Water Code), is tasked to promulgate rules and
regulations for the establishment of waste disposal areas that affect the source of a water supply or a reservoir for domestic or
municipal use. And under Sec. 8 of RA 9275, the DOH, in coordination with the DENR, DPWH, and other concerned agencies,
shall formulate guidelines and standards for the collection, treatment, and disposal of sewage and the establishment and operation
of a centralized sewage treatment system. In areas not considered as highly urbanized cities, septage or a mix sewerage-septage
management system shall be employed.
In accordance with Sec. 7230 of PD 856, the Code of Sanitation of the Philippines, and Sec. 5.1.1 31 of Chapter XVII of its
implementing rules, the DOH is also ordered to ensure the regulation and monitoring of the proper disposal of wastes by private
sludge companies through the strict enforcement of the requirement to obtain an environmental sanitation clearance of sludge
collection treatment and disposal before these companies are issued their environmental sanitation permit.
(11) The Department of Education (DepEd), under the Philippine Environment Code (PD 1152), is mandated to integrate subjects
on environmental education in its school curricula at all levels.32 Under Sec. 118 of RA 8550, the DepEd, in collaboration with
the DA, Commission on Higher Education, and Philippine Information Agency, shall launch and pursue a nationwide educational
campaign to promote the development, management, conservation, and proper use of the environment. Under the Ecological
Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003), on the other hand, it is directed to strengthen the integration of environmental concerns
in school curricula at all levels, with an emphasis on waste management principles. 33
(12) The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is tasked under Sec. 2, Title XVII of the Administrative Code of 1987
to ensure the efficient and sound utilization of government funds and revenues so as to effectively achieve the country’s
development objectives.34
One of the country’s development objectives is enshrined in RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004. This law
stresses that the State shall pursue a policy of economic growth in a manner consistent with the protection, preservation, and
revival of the quality of our fresh, brackish, and marine waters. It also provides that it is the policy of the government, among
others, to streamline processes and procedures in the prevention, control, and abatement of pollution mechanisms for the
protection of water resources; to promote environmental strategies and use of appropriate economic instruments and of control
mechanisms for the protection of water resources; to formulate a holistic national program of water quality management that
recognizes that issues related to this management cannot be separated from concerns about water sources and ecological
protection, water supply, public health, and quality of life; and to provide a comprehensive management program for water
pollution focusing on pollution prevention.
Thus, the DBM shall then endeavor to provide an adequate budget to attain the noble objectives of RA 9275 in line with the
country’s development objectives.
All told, the aforementioned enabling laws and issuances are in themselves clear, categorical, and complete as to what are the
obligations and mandate of each agency/petitioner under the law. We need not belabor the issue that their tasks include the
cleanup of the Manila Bay.
Now, as to the crux of the petition. Do Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment Code encompass the cleanup of water pollution in
general, not just specific pollution incidents?
Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment Code
Include Cleaning in General
The disputed sections are quoted as follows:
Section 17. Upgrading of Water Quality.––Where the quality of water has deteriorated to a degree where its state will
adversely affect its best usage, the government agencies concerned shall take such measures as may be necessary to
upgrade the quality of such water to meet the prescribed water quality standards.
Section 20. Clean-up Operations.––It shall be the responsibility of the polluter to contain, remove and clean-up water
pollution incidents at his own expense. In case of his failure to do so, the government agencies concerned shall
undertake containment, removal and clean-up operations and expenses incurred in said operations shall be charged
against the persons and/or entities responsible for such pollution.
When the Clean Water Act (RA 9275) took effect, its Sec. 16 on the subject, o, amended the counterpart provision (Sec. 20) of
the Environment Code (PD 1152). Sec. 17 of PD 1152 continues, however, to be operational.
The amendatory Sec. 16 of RA 9275 reads:
SEC. 16. Cleanup Operations.––Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 15 and 26 hereof, any person who causes
pollution in or pollutes water bodies in excess of the applicable and prevailing standards shall be responsible to contain,
remove and clean up any pollution incident at his own expense to the extent that the same water bodies have been
rendered unfit for utilization and beneficial use: Provided, That in the event emergency cleanup operations are
necessary and the polluter fails to immediately undertake the same, the [DENR] in coordination with other government
agencies concerned, shall undertake containment, removal and cleanup operations. Expenses incurred in said operations
shall be reimbursed by the persons found to have caused such pollution under proper administrative determination x x
x. Reimbursements of the cost incurred shall be made to the Water Quality Management Fund or to such other funds
where said disbursements were sourced.
As may be noted, the amendment to Sec. 20 of the Environment Code is more apparent than real since the amendment, insofar as
it is relevant to this case, merely consists in the designation of the DENR as lead agency in the cleanup operations.
Petitioners contend at every turn that Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment Code concern themselves only with the matter of
cleaning up in specific pollution incidents, as opposed to cleanup in general. They aver that the twin provisions would have to be
read alongside the succeeding Sec. 62(g) and (h), which defines the terms "cleanup operations" and "accidental spills," as
follows:
g. Clean-up Operations [refer] to activities conducted in removing the pollutants discharged or spilled in water to
restore it to pre-spill condition.
h. Accidental Spills [refer] to spills of oil or other hazardous substances in water that result from accidents such as
collisions and groundings.
Petitioners proffer the argument that Secs. 17 and 20 of PD 1152 merely direct the government agencies concerned to undertake
containment, removal, and cleaning operations of a specific polluted portion or portions of the body of water concerned. They
maintain that the application of said Sec. 20 is limited only to "water pollution incidents," which are situations that presuppose
the occurrence of specific, isolated pollution events requiring the corresponding containment, removal, and cleaning operations.
Pushing the point further, they argue that the aforequoted Sec. 62(g) requires "cleanup operations" to restore the body of water to
pre-spill condition, which means that there must have been a specific incident of either intentional or accidental spillage of oil or
other hazardous substances, as mentioned in Sec. 62(h).
As a counterpoint, respondents argue that petitioners erroneously read Sec. 62(g) as delimiting the application of Sec. 20 to the
containment, removal, and cleanup operations for accidental spills only. Contrary to petitioners’ posture, respondents assert that
Sec. 62(g), in fact, even expanded the coverage of Sec. 20. Respondents explain that without its Sec. 62(g), PD 1152 may have
indeed covered only pollution accumulating from the day-to-day operations of businesses around the Manila Bay and other
sources of pollution that slowly accumulated in the bay. Respondents, however, emphasize that Sec. 62(g), far from being a
delimiting provision, in fact even enlarged the operational scope of Sec. 20, by including accidental spills as among the water
pollution incidents contemplated in Sec. 17 in relation to Sec. 20 of PD 1152.
To respondents, petitioners’ parochial view on environmental issues, coupled with their narrow reading of their respective
mandated roles, has contributed to the worsening water quality of the Manila Bay. Assuming, respondents assert, that petitioners
are correct in saying that the cleanup coverage of Sec. 20 of PD 1152 is constricted by the definition of the phrase "cleanup
operations" embodied in Sec. 62(g), Sec. 17 is not hobbled by such limiting definition. As pointed out, the phrases "cleanup
operations" and "accidental spills" do not appear in said Sec. 17, not even in the chapter where said section is found.
Respondents are correct. For one thing, said Sec. 17 does not in any way state that the government agencies concerned ought to
confine themselves to the containment, removal, and cleaning operations when a specific pollution incident occurs. On the
contrary, Sec. 17 requires them to act even in the absence of a specific pollution incident, as long as water quality "has
deteriorated to a degree where its state will adversely affect its best usage." This section, to stress, commands concerned
government agencies, when appropriate, "to take such measures as may be necessary to meet the prescribed water quality
standards." In fine, the underlying duty to upgrade the quality of water is not conditional on the occurrence of any pollution
incident.
For another, a perusal of Sec. 20 of the Environment Code, as couched, indicates that it is properly applicable to a specific
situation in which the pollution is caused by polluters who fail to clean up the mess they left behind. In such instance, the
concerned government agencies shall undertake the cleanup work for the polluters’ account. Petitioners’ assertion, that they have
to perform cleanup operations in the Manila Bay only when there is a water pollution incident and the erring polluters do not
undertake the containment, removal, and cleanup operations, is quite off mark. As earlier discussed, the complementary Sec. 17
of the Environment Code comes into play and the specific duties of the agencies to clean up come in even if there are no
pollution incidents staring at them. Petitioners, thus, cannot plausibly invoke and hide behind Sec. 20 of PD 1152 or Sec. 16 of
RA 9275 on the pretext that their cleanup mandate depends on the happening of a specific pollution incident. In this regard, what
the CA said with respect to the impasse over Secs. 17 and 20 of PD 1152 is at once valid as it is practical. The appellate court
wrote: "PD 1152 aims to introduce a comprehensive program of environmental protection and management. This is better served
by making Secs. 17 & 20 of general application rather than limiting them to specific pollution incidents." 35
Granting arguendo that petitioners’ position thus described vis-à-vis the implementation of Sec. 20 is correct, they seem to have
overlooked the fact that the pollution of the Manila Bay is of such magnitude and scope that it is well-nigh impossible to draw the
line between a specific and a general pollution incident. And such impossibility extends to pinpointing with reasonable certainty
who the polluters are. We note that Sec. 20 of PD 1152 mentions "water pollution incidents" which may be caused by polluters in
the waters of the Manila Bay itself or by polluters in adjoining lands and in water bodies or waterways that empty into the bay.
Sec. 16 of RA 9275, on the other hand, specifically adverts to "any person who causes pollution in or pollutes water bodies,"
which may refer to an individual or an establishment that pollutes the land mass near the Manila Bay or the waterways, such that
the contaminants eventually end up in the bay. In this situation, the water pollution incidents are so numerous and involve
nameless and faceless polluters that they can validly be categorized as beyond the specific pollution incident level.
Not to be ignored of course is the reality that the government agencies concerned are so undermanned that it would be almost
impossible to apprehend the numerous polluters of the Manila Bay. It may perhaps not be amiss to say that the apprehension, if
any, of the Manila Bay polluters has been few and far between. Hence, practically nobody has been required to contain, remove,
or clean up a given water pollution incident. In this kind of setting, it behooves the Government to step in and undertake cleanup
operations. Thus, Sec. 16 of RA 9275, previously Sec. 20 of PD 1152, covers for all intents and purposes a general cleanup
situation.
The cleanup and/or restoration of the Manila Bay is only an aspect and the initial stage of the long-term solution. The
preservation of the water quality of the bay after the rehabilitation process is as important as the cleaning phase. It is imperative
then that the wastes and contaminants found in the rivers, inland bays, and other bodies of water be stopped from reaching the
Manila Bay. Otherwise, any cleanup effort would just be a futile, cosmetic exercise, for, in no time at all, the Manila Bay water
quality would again deteriorate below the ideal minimum standards set by PD 1152, RA 9275, and other relevant laws. It thus
behooves the Court to put the heads of the petitioner-department-agencies and the bureaus and offices under them on continuing
notice about, and to enjoin them to perform, their mandates and duties towards cleaning up the Manila Bay and preserving the
quality of its water to the ideal level. Under what other judicial discipline describes as "continuing mandamus,"36 the Court may,
under extraordinary circumstances, issue directives with the end in view of ensuring that its decision would not be set to naught
by administrative inaction or indifference. In India, the doctrine of continuing mandamus was used to enforce directives of the
court to clean up the length of the Ganges River from industrial and municipal pollution.37
The Court can take judicial notice of the presence of shanties and other unauthorized structures which do not have septic tanks
along the Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the National Capital Region (NCR) (Parañaque-Zapote, Las Piñas) Rivers, the
Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, the Meycuayan-Marilao-Obando (Bulacan) Rivers, the Talisay (Bataan) River, the
Imus (Cavite) River, the Laguna De Bay, and other minor rivers and connecting waterways, river banks, and esteros which
discharge their waters, with all the accompanying filth, dirt, and garbage, into the major rivers and eventually the Manila Bay. If
there is one factor responsible for the pollution of the major river systems and the Manila Bay, these unauthorized structures
would be on top of the list. And if the issue of illegal or unauthorized structures is not seriously addressed with sustained resolve,
then practically all efforts to cleanse these important bodies of water would be for naught. The DENR Secretary said as much. 38
Giving urgent dimension to the necessity of removing these illegal structures is Art. 51 of PD 1067 or the Water Code,39 which
prohibits the building of structures within a given length along banks of rivers and other waterways. Art. 51 reads:
The banks of rivers and streams and the shores of the seas and lakes throughout their entire length and within a
zone of three (3) meters in urban areas, twenty (20) meters in agricultural areas and forty (40) meters in forest areas,
along their margins, are subject to the easement of public use in the interest of recreation, navigation, floatage,
fishing and salvage. No person shall be allowed to stay in this zonelonger than what is necessary for recreation,
navigation, floatage, fishing or salvage or to build structures of any kind. (Emphasis added.)
Judicial notice may likewise be taken of factories and other industrial establishments standing along or near the banks of the
Pasig River, other major rivers, and connecting waterways. But while they may not be treated as unauthorized constructions,
some of these establishments undoubtedly contribute to the pollution of the Pasig River and waterways. The DILG and the
concerned LGUs, have, accordingly, the duty to see to it that non-complying industrial establishments set up, within a reasonable
period, the necessary waste water treatment facilities and infrastructure to prevent their industrial discharge, including their
sewage waters, from flowing into the Pasig River, other major rivers, and connecting waterways. After such period, non-
complying establishments shall be shut down or asked to transfer their operations.
At this juncture, and if only to dramatize the urgency of the need for petitioners-agencies to comply with their statutory tasks, we
cite the Asian Development Bank-commissioned study on the garbage problem in Metro Manila, the results of which are
embodied in the The Garbage Book. As there reported, the garbage crisis in the metropolitan area is as alarming as it is shocking.
Some highlights of the report:
1. As early as 2003, three land-filled dumpsites in Metro Manila - the Payatas, Catmon and Rodriquez dumpsites -
generate an alarming quantity of lead and leachate or liquid run-off. Leachate are toxic liquids that flow along the
surface and seep into the earth and poison the surface and groundwater that are used for drinking, aquatic life, and the
environment.
2. The high level of fecal coliform confirms the presence of a large amount of human waste in the dump sites and
surrounding areas, which is presumably generated by households that lack alternatives to sanitation. To say that Manila
Bay needs rehabilitation is an understatement.
3. Most of the deadly leachate, lead and other dangerous contaminants and possibly strains of pathogens seeps
untreated into ground water and runs into the Marikina and Pasig River systems and Manila Bay. 40
Given the above perspective, sufficient sanitary landfills should now more than ever be established as prescribed by the
Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003). Particular note should be taken of the blatant violations by some LGUs and
possibly the MMDA of Sec. 37, reproduced below:
Sec. 37. Prohibition against the Use of Open Dumps for Solid Waste.––No open dumps shall be established and
operated, nor any practice or disposal of solid waste by any person, including LGUs which [constitute] the use of open
dumps for solid waste, be allowed after the effectivity of this Act: Provided, further that no controlled dumps shall be
allowed (5) years following the effectivity of this Act. (Emphasis added.)
RA 9003 took effect on February 15, 2001 and the adverted grace period of five (5) years which ended on February 21, 2006 has
come and gone, but no single sanitary landfill which strictly complies with the prescribed standards under RA 9003 has yet been
set up.
In addition, there are rampant and repeated violations of Sec. 48 of RA 9003, like littering, dumping of waste matters in roads,
canals, esteros, and other public places, operation of open dumps, open burning of solid waste, and the like. Some sludge
companies which do not have proper disposal facilities simply discharge sludge into the Metro Manila sewerage system that ends
up in the Manila Bay. Equally unabated are violations of Sec. 27 of RA 9275, which enjoins the pollution of water bodies,
groundwater pollution, disposal of infectious wastes from vessels, and unauthorized transport or dumping into sea waters of
sewage or solid waste and of Secs. 4 and 102 of RA 8550 which proscribes the introduction by human or machine of substances
to the aquatic environment including "dumping/disposal of waste and other marine litters, discharge of petroleum or residual
products of petroleum of carbonaceous materials/substances [and other] radioactive, noxious or harmful liquid, gaseous or solid
substances, from any water, land or air transport or other human-made structure."
In the light of the ongoing environmental degradation, the Court wishes to emphasize the extreme necessity for all concerned
executive departments and agencies to immediately act and discharge their respective official duties and obligations. Indeed, time
is of the essence; hence, there is a need to set timetables for the performance and completion of the tasks, some of them as
defined for them by law and the nature of their respective offices and mandates.
The importance of the Manila Bay as a sea resource, playground, and as a historical landmark cannot be over-emphasized. It is
not yet too late in the day to restore the Manila Bay to its former splendor and bring back the plants and sea life that once thrived
in its blue waters. But the tasks ahead, daunting as they may be, could only be accomplished if those mandated, with the help and
cooperation of all civic-minded individuals, would put their minds to these tasks and take responsibility. This means that the
State, through petitioners, has to take the lead in the preservation and protection of the Manila Bay.
The era of delays, procrastination, and ad hoc measures is over. Petitioners must transcend their limitations, real or imaginary,
and buckle down to work before the problem at hand becomes unmanageable. Thus, we must reiterate that different government
agencies and instrumentalities cannot shirk from their mandates; they must perform their basic functions in cleaning up and
rehabilitating the Manila Bay. We are disturbed by petitioners’ hiding behind two untenable claims: (1) that there ought to be a
specific pollution incident before they are required to act; and (2) that the cleanup of the bay is a discretionary duty.
RA 9003 is a sweeping piece of legislation enacted to radically transform and improve waste management. It implements Sec. 16,
Art. II of the 1987 Constitution, which explicitly provides that the State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a
balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.
So it was that in Oposa v. Factoran, Jr. the Court stated that the right to a balanced and healthful ecology need not even be
written in the Constitution for it is assumed, like other civil and political rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, to exist from the
inception of mankind and it is an issue of transcendental importance with intergenerational implications. 41 Even assuming the
absence of a categorical legal provision specifically prodding petitioners to clean up the bay, they and the men and women
representing them cannot escape their obligation to future generations of Filipinos to keep the waters of the Manila Bay clean and
clear as humanly as possible. Anything less would be a betrayal of the trust reposed in them.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The September 28, 2005 Decision of the CA in CA-G.R. CV No. 76528 and SP No.
74944 and the September 13, 2002 Decision of the RTC in Civil Case No. 1851-99 are AFFIRMED but
with MODIFICATIONS in view of subsequent developments or supervening events in the case. The fallo of the RTC Decision
shall now read:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the abovenamed defendant-government agencies to clean up,
rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to SB level (Class B sea waters per Water
Classification Tables under DENR Administrative Order No. 34 [1990]) to make them fit for swimming, skin-diving,
and other forms of contact recreation.
In particular:
(1) Pursuant to Sec. 4 of EO 192, assigning the DENR as the primary agency responsible for the conservation, management,
development, and proper use of the country’s environment and natural resources, and Sec. 19 of RA 9275, designating the DENR
as the primary government agency responsible for its enforcement and implementation, the DENR is directed to fully implement
its Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy for the rehabilitation, restoration, and conservation of the Manila Bay
at the earliest possible time. It is ordered to call regular coordination meetings with concerned government departments and
agencies to ensure the successful implementation of the aforesaid plan of action in accordance with its indicated completion
schedules.
(2) Pursuant to Title XII (Local Government) of the Administrative Code of 1987 and Sec. 25 of the Local Government Code of
1991,42 the DILG, in exercising the President’s power of general supervision and its duty to promulgate guidelines in establishing
waste management programs under Sec. 43 of the Philippine Environment Code (PD 1152), shall direct all LGUs in Metro
Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan to inspect all factories, commercial establishments, and private
homes along the banks of the major river systems in their respective areas of jurisdiction, such as but not limited to the Pasig-
Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the NCR (Parañaque-Zapote, Las Piñas) Rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, the
Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando (Bulacan) Rivers, the Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, the Laguna De Bay, and
other minor rivers and waterways that eventually discharge water into the Manila Bay; and the lands abutting the bay, to
determine whether they have wastewater treatment facilities or hygienic septic tanks as prescribed by existing laws, ordinances,
and rules and regulations. If none be found, these LGUs shall be ordered to require non-complying establishments and homes to
set up said facilities or septic tanks within a reasonable time to prevent industrial wastes, sewage water, and human wastes from
flowing into these rivers, waterways, esteros, and the Manila Bay, under pain of closure or imposition of fines and other
sanctions.
(3) As mandated by Sec. 8 of RA 9275,43 the MWSS is directed to provide, install, operate, and maintain the necessary adequate
waste water treatment facilities in Metro Manila, Rizal, and Cavite where needed at the earliest possible time.
(4) Pursuant to RA 9275,44 the LWUA, through the local water districts and in coordination with the DENR, is ordered to
provide, install, operate, and maintain sewerage and sanitation facilities and the efficient and safe collection, treatment, and
disposal of sewage in the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan where needed at the earliest possible
time.
(5) Pursuant to Sec. 65 of RA 8550,45 the DA, through the BFAR, is ordered to improve and restore the marine life of the Manila
Bay. It is also directed to assist the LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan in developing,
using recognized methods, the fisheries and aquatic resources in the Manila Bay.
(6) The PCG, pursuant to Secs. 4 and 6 of PD 979, and the PNP Maritime Group, in accordance with Sec. 124 of RA 8550, in
coordination with each other, shall apprehend violators of PD 979, RA 8550, and other existing laws and regulations designed to
prevent marine pollution in the Manila Bay.
(7) Pursuant to Secs. 2 and 6-c of EO 51346 and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, the PPA
is ordered to immediately adopt such measures to prevent the discharge and dumping of solid and liquid wastes and other ship-
generated wastes into the Manila Bay waters from vessels docked at ports and apprehend the violators.
(8) The MMDA, as the lead agency and implementor of programs and projects for flood control projects and drainage services in
Metro Manila, in coordination with the DPWH, DILG, affected LGUs, PNP Maritime Group, Housing and Urban Development
Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and other agencies, shall dismantle and remove all structures, constructions, and other
encroachments established or built in violation of RA 7279, and other applicable laws along the Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers,
the NCR (Parañaque-Zapote, Las Piñas) Rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, and connecting waterways and
esteros in Metro Manila. The DPWH, as the principal implementor of programs and projects for flood control services in the rest
of the country more particularly in Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, and Laguna, in coordination with the DILG, affected
LGUs, PNP Maritime Group, HUDCC, and other concerned government agencies, shall remove and demolish all structures,
constructions, and other encroachments built in breach of RA 7279 and other applicable laws along the Meycauayan-Marilao-
Obando (Bulacan) Rivers, the Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, the Laguna De Bay, and other rivers, connecting
waterways, and esteros that discharge wastewater into the Manila Bay.
In addition, the MMDA is ordered to establish, operate, and maintain a sanitary landfill, as prescribed by RA 9003, within a
period of one (1) year from finality of this Decision. On matters within its territorial jurisdiction and in connection with the
discharge of its duties on the maintenance of sanitary landfills and like undertakings, it is also ordered to cause the apprehension
and filing of the appropriate criminal cases against violators of the respective penal provisions of RA 9003,47 Sec. 27 of RA 9275
(the Clean Water Act), and other existing laws on pollution.
(9) The DOH shall, as directed by Art. 76 of PD 1067 and Sec. 8 of RA 9275, within one (1) year from finality of this Decision,
determine if all licensed septic and sludge companies have the proper facilities for the treatment and disposal of fecal sludge and
sewage coming from septic tanks. The DOH shall give the companies, if found to be non-complying, a reasonable time within
which to set up the necessary facilities under pain of cancellation of its environmental sanitation clearance.
(10) Pursuant to Sec. 53 of PD 1152,48 Sec. 118 of RA 8550, and Sec. 56 of RA 9003, 49 the DepEd shall integrate lessons on
pollution prevention, waste management, environmental protection, and like subjects in the school curricula of all levels to
inculcate in the minds and hearts of students and, through them, their parents and friends, the importance of their duty toward
achieving and maintaining a balanced and healthful ecosystem in the Manila Bay and the entire Philippine archipelago.
(11) The DBM shall consider incorporating an adequate budget in the General Appropriations Act of 2010 and succeeding years
to cover the expenses relating to the cleanup, restoration, and preservation of the water quality of the Manila Bay, in line with the
country’s development objective to attain economic growth in a manner consistent with the protection, preservation, and revival
of our marine waters.
(12) The heads of petitioners-agencies MMDA, DENR, DepEd, DOH, DA, DPWH, DBM, PCG, PNP Maritime Group, DILG,
and also of MWSS, LWUA, and PPA, in line with the principle of "continuing mandamus," shall, from finality of this Decision,
each submit to the Court a quarterly progressive report of the activities undertaken in accordance with this Decision.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
METROPOLITAN MANILA DEVELOPMENT G.R. Nos. 171947-48
AUTHORITY, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND
NATURAL RESOURCES,DEPARTMENT OF
EDUCATION, CULTURE AND Present:
SPORTS,[1]DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH,DEPARTMENT
OF AGRICULTURE,DEPARTMENT OF
PUBLICWORKS AND HIGHWAYS,DEPARTMENT OF CORONA, C.J.,
BUDGET ANDMANAGEMENT, PHILIPPINECOAST CARPIO,
GUARD, PHILIPPINENATIONAL POLICE CARPIO MORALES,
MARITIMEGROUP, and DEPARTMENT OFTHE VELASCO, JR.,
INTERIOR AND LOCALGOVERNMENT, NACHURA,
Petitioners, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
- versus - PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
CONCERNED RESIDENTS OFMANILA BAY, DEL CASTILLO,
represented and joined by DIVINA V. ILAS, ABAD,
SABINIANO ALBARRACIN, MANUEL SANTOS, JR., VILLARAMA, JR.,
DINAH PEREZ,
DELA PEA, PAUL DENNIS MENDOZA, and
QUINTERO, MA. VICTORIA SERENO, JJ.
LLENOS, DONNA CALOZA, FATIMA
QUITAIN, VENICE
SEGARRA, FRITZIE TANGKIA,
SARAH JOELLE LINTAG,
HANNIBAL AUGUSTUS BOBIS,
FELIMON SANTIAGUEL, and
JAIME AGUSTIN R. OPOSA,
Respondents.

Promulgated:
February 15, 2011

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
RESOLUTION

VELASCO, JR., J.:


On December 18, 2008, this Court rendered a Decision in G.R. Nos. 171947-48 ordering petitioners to clean up, rehabilitate and

preserve Manila Bay in their different capacities. The fallo reads:

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The September 28, 2005 Decision of the CA in CA-G.R. CV No.
76528 and SP No. 74944 and the September 13, 2002 Decision of the RTC in Civil Case No. 1851-99 are
AFFIRMED but with MODIFICATIONS in view of subsequent developments or supervening events in the
case. The fallo of the RTC Decision shall now read:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the abovenamed defendant-government


agencies to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to SB level
(Class B sea waters per Water Classification Tables under DENR Administrative Order No. 34 [1990]) to
make them fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.

In particular:

(1) Pursuant to Sec. 4 of EO 192, assigning the DENR as the primary agency responsible for the
conservation, management, development, and proper use of the countrys environment and natural resources,
and Sec. 19 of RA 9275, designating the DENR as the primary government agency responsible for its
enforcement and implementation, the DENR is directed to fully implement its Operational Plan for the
Manila Bay Coastal Strategy for the rehabilitation, restoration, and conservation of the Manila Bay at the
earliest possible time. It is ordered to call regular coordination meetings with concerned government
departments and agencies to ensure the successful implementation of the aforesaid plan of action in
accordance with its indicated completion schedules.

(2) Pursuant to Title XII (Local Government) of the Administrative Code of 1987 and Sec. 25 of
the Local Government Code of 1991, the DILG, in exercising the Presidents power of general supervision
and its duty to promulgate guidelines in establishing waste management programs under Sec. 43 of the
Philippine Environment Code (PD 1152), shall direct all LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite,
Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan to inspect all factories, commercial establishments, and private homes along
the banks of the major river systems in their respective areas of jurisdiction, such as but not limited to the
Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the NCR (Paraaque-Zapote, Las Pias) Rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-
Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando (Bulacan) Rivers, the Talisay (Bataan) River,
the Imus (Cavite) River, the Laguna De Bay, and other minor rivers and waterways that eventually discharge
water into the Manila Bay; and the lands abutting the bay, to determine whether they have wastewater
treatment facilities or hygienic septic tanks as prescribed by existing laws, ordinances, and rules and
regulations. If none be found, these LGUs shall be ordered to require non-complying establishments and
homes to set up said facilities or septic tanks within a reasonable time to prevent industrial wastes, sewage
water, and human wastes from flowing into these rivers, waterways, esteros, and the Manila Bay, under pain
of closure or imposition of fines and other sanctions.

(3) As mandated by Sec. 8 of RA 9275, the MWSS is directed to provide, install, operate, and
maintain the necessary adequate waste water treatment facilities in Metro Manila, Rizal, and Cavite where
needed at the earliest possible time.

(4) Pursuant to RA 9275, the LWUA, through the local water districts and in coordination with the
DENR, is ordered to provide, install, operate, and maintain sewerage and sanitation facilities and the efficient
and safe collection, treatment, and disposal of sewage in the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan,
Pampanga, and Bataan where needed at the earliest possible time.

(5) Pursuant to Sec. 65 of RA 8550, the DA, through the BFAR, is ordered to improve and restore
the marine life of the Manila Bay. It is also directed to assist the LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite,
Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan in developing, using recognized methods, the fisheries and aquatic
resources in the Manila Bay.

(6) The PCG, pursuant to Secs. 4 and 6 of PD 979, and the PNP Maritime Group, in accordance
with Sec. 124 of RA 8550, in coordination with each other, shall apprehend violators of PD 979, RA 8550,
and other existing laws and regulations designed to prevent marine pollution in the Manila Bay.
(7) Pursuant to Secs. 2 and 6-c of EO 513 and the International Convention for the Prevention of
Pollution from Ships, the PPA is ordered to immediately adopt such measures to prevent the discharge and
dumping of solid and liquid wastes and other ship-generated wastes into the Manila Bay waters from vessels
docked at ports and apprehend the violators.

(8) The MMDA, as the lead agency and implementor of programs and projects for flood control
projects and drainage services in Metro Manila, in coordination with the DPWH, DILG, affected LGUs, PNP
Maritime Group, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and other agencies,
shall dismantle and remove all structures, constructions, and other encroachments established or built in
violation of RA 7279, and other applicable laws along the Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the NCR
(Paraaque-Zapote, Las Pias) Rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, and connecting
waterways and esteros in Metro Manila. The DPWH, as the principal implementor of programs and projects
for flood control services in the rest of the country more particularly in Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite,
and Laguna, in coordination with the DILG, affected LGUs, PNP Maritime Group, HUDCC, and other
concerned government agencies, shall remove and demolish all structures, constructions, and other
encroachments built in breach of RA 7279 and other applicable laws along the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando
(Bulacan) Rivers, the Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, the Laguna De Bay, and other rivers,
connecting waterways, and esteros that discharge wastewater into the Manila Bay.

In addition, the MMDA is ordered to establish, operate, and maintain a sanitary landfill, as
prescribed by RA 9003, within a period of one (1) year from finality of this Decision. On matters within its
territorial jurisdiction and in connection with the discharge of its duties on the maintenance of sanitary
landfills and like undertakings, it is also ordered to cause the apprehension and filing of the appropriate
criminal cases against violators of the respective penal provisions of RA 9003, Sec. 27 of RA 9275 (the Clean
Water Act), and other existing laws on pollution.

(9) The DOH shall, as directed by Art. 76 of PD 1067 and Sec. 8 of RA 9275, within one (1) year
from finality of this Decision, determine if all licensed septic and sludge companies have the proper facilities
for the treatment and disposal of fecal sludge and sewage coming from septic tanks. The DOH shall give the
companies, if found to be non-complying, a reasonable time within which to set up the necessary facilities
under pain of cancellation of its environmental sanitation clearance.

(10) Pursuant to Sec. 53 of PD 1152, Sec. 118 of RA 8550, and Sec. 56 of RA 9003, the DepEd
shall integrate lessons on pollution prevention, waste management, environmental protection, and like
subjects in the school curricula of all levels to inculcate in the minds and hearts of students and, through
them, their parents and friends, the importance of their duty toward achieving and maintaining a balanced and
healthful ecosystem in the Manila Bay and the entire Philippine archipelago.

(11) The DBM shall consider incorporating an adequate budget in the General Appropriations Act
of 2010 and succeeding years to cover the expenses relating to the cleanup, restoration, and preservation of
the water quality of the Manila Bay, in line with the countrys development objective to attain economic
growth in a manner consistent with the protection, preservation, and revival of our marine waters.

(12) The heads of petitioners-agencies MMDA, DENR, DepEd, DOH, DA, DPWH, DBM, PCG,
PNP Maritime Group, DILG, and also of MWSS, LWUA, and PPA, in line with the principle of continuing
mandamus, shall, from finality of this Decision, each submit to the Court a quarterly progressive report of the
activities undertaken in accordance with this Decision.

SO ORDERED.

The government agencies did not file any motion for reconsideration and the Decision became final in January 2009.

The case is now in the execution phase of the final and executory December 18, 2008 Decision. The Manila Bay

Advisory Committee was created to receive and evaluate the quarterly progressive reports on the activities undertaken by the
agencies in accordance with said decision and to monitor the execution phase.
In the absence of specific completion periods, the Committee recommended that time frames be set for the agencies to

perform their assigned tasks. This may be viewed as an encroachment over the powers and functions of the Executive Branch

headed by the President of the Philippines.

This view is misplaced.

The issuance of subsequent resolutions by the Court is simply an exercise of judicial power under Art. VIII of the

Constitution, because the execution of the Decision is but an integral part of the adjudicative function of the Court. None of the

agencies ever questioned the power of the Court to implement the December 18, 2008 Decision nor has any of them raised the

alleged encroachment by the Court over executive functions.

While additional activities are required of the agencies like submission of plans of action, data or status reports, these

directives are but part and parcel of the execution stage of a final decision under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. Section 47 of

Rule 39 reads:

Section 47. Effect of judgments or final orders.The effect of a judgment or final order rendered by a
court of the Philippines, having jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment or final order, may be as follows:
xxxx

(c) In any other litigation between the same parties of their successors in interest, that only is
deemed to have been adjudged in a former judgment or final order which appears upon its face to have
been so adjudged, or which was actually and necessarily included therein or necessary thereto.
(Emphasis supplied.)

It is clear that the final judgment includes not only what appears upon its face to have been so adjudged but also those matters

actually and necessarily included therein or necessary thereto. Certainly, any activity that is needed to fully implement a final

judgment is necessarily encompassed by said judgment.

Moreover, the submission of periodic reports is sanctioned by Secs. 7 and 8, Rule 8 of the Rules of Procedure for

Environmental cases:
Sec. 7. Judgment.If warranted, the court shall grant the privilege of the writ of continuing
mandamus requiring respondent to perform an act or series of acts until the judgment is fully satisfied and to
grant such other reliefs as may be warranted resulting from the wrongful or illegal acts of the
respondent. The court shall require the respondent to submit periodic reports detailing the progress
and execution of the judgment, and the court may, by itself or through a commissioner or the
appropriate government agency, evaluate and monitor compliance. The petitioner may submit its
comments or observations on the execution of the judgment.

Sec. 8. Return of the writ.The periodic reports submitted by the respondent detailing compliance with the
judgment shall be contained in partial returns of the writ. Upon full satisfaction of the judgment, a final return
of the writ shall be made to the court by the respondent. If the court finds that the judgment has been fully
implemented, the satisfaction of judgment shall be entered in the court docket. (Emphasis supplied.)
With the final and executory judgment in MMDA, the writ of continuing mandamus issued in MMDA means that until petitioner-

agencies have shown full compliance with the Courts orders, the Court exercises continuing jurisdiction over them until full

execution of the judgment.

There being no encroachment over executive functions to speak of, We shall now proceed to the recommendation of the Manila

Bay Advisory Committee.

Several problems were encountered by the Manila Bay Advisory Committee. [2] An evaluation of the quarterly progressive reports

has shown that (1) there are voluminous quarterly progressive reports that are being submitted; (2) petitioner-agencies do not

have a uniform manner of reporting their cleanup, rehabilitation and preservation activities; (3) as yet no definite deadlines have

been set by petitioner DENR as to petitioner-agencies timeframe for their respective duties; (4) as of June 2010 there has been a

change in leadership in both the national and local levels; and (5) some agencies have encountered difficulties in complying with

the Courts directives.

In order to implement the afore-quoted Decision, certain directives have to be issued by the Court to address the said concerns.

Acting on the recommendation of the Manila Bay Advisory Committee, the Court hereby resolves to ORDER the

following:

(1) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), as lead agency in the Philippine Clean Water Act

of 2004, shall submit to the Court on or before June 30, 2011 the updated Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy.

The DENR is ordered to submit summarized data on the overall quality of Manila Bay waters for all four quarters of

2010 on or before June 30, 2011.

The DENR is further ordered to submit the names and addresses of persons and companies in Metro Manila, Rizal,

Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan that generate toxic and hazardous waste on or before September 30, 2011.

(2) On or before June 30, 2011, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) shall order the Mayors of

all cities in Metro Manila; the Governors of Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan; and the Mayors of all the

cities and towns in said provinces to inspect all factories, commercial establishments and private homes along the banks of the

major river systemssuch as but not limited to the Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the National Capital Region (Paranaque-

Zapote, Las Pinas) Rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando (Bulacan) Rivers,
the Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, and the Laguna De Bayand other minor rivers and waterways within their

jurisdiction that eventually discharge water into the Manila Bay and the lands abutting it, to determine if they have wastewater

treatment facilities and/or hygienic septic tanks, as prescribed by existing laws, ordinances, rules and regulations. Said local

government unit (LGU) officials are given up to September 30, 2011 to finish the inspection of said establishments and houses.

In case of non-compliance, the LGU officials shall take appropriate action to ensure compliance by non-complying

factories, commercial establishments and private homes with said law, rules and regulations requiring the construction or

installment of wastewater treatment facilities or hygienic septic tanks.

The aforementioned governors and mayors shall submit to the DILG on or before December 31, 2011 their respective

compliance reports which will contain the names and addresses or offices of the owners of all the non-complying factories,

commercial establishments and private homes, copy furnished the concerned environmental agency, be it the local DENR office

or the Laguna Lake Development Authority.

The DILG is required to submit a five-year plan of action that will contain measures intended to ensure compliance of

all non-complying factories, commercial establishments, and private homes.

On or before June 30, 2011, the DILG and the mayors of all cities in Metro Manila shall consider providing land for the

wastewater facilities of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) or its concessionaires (Maynilad and

Manila Water, Inc.) within their respective jurisdictions.

(3) The MWSS shall submit to the Court on or before June 30, 2011 the list of areas in Metro Manila, Rizal

and Cavite that do not have the necessary wastewater treatment facilities. Within the same period, the concessionaires of the

MWSS shall submit their plans and projects for the construction of wastewater treatment facilities in all the aforesaid areas and

the completion period for said facilities, which shall not go beyond 2037.

On or before June 30, 2011, the MWSS is further required to have its two concessionaires submit a report on the

amount collected as sewerage fees in their respective areas of operation as of December 31, 2010.

(4) The Local Water Utilities Administration is ordered to submit on or before September 30, 2011 its plan to provide,
install, operate and maintain sewerage and sanitation facilities in said cities and towns and the completion period for said works,

which shall be fully implemented by December 31, 2020.


(5) The Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, shall submit to the

Court on or before June 30, 2011 a report on areas in Manila Bay where marine life has to be restored or improved and the

assistance it has extended to the LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan in developing the

fisheries and aquatic resources in Manila Bay. The report shall contain monitoring data on the marine life in said areas. Within

the same period, it shall submit its five-year plan to restore and improve the marine life in Manila Bay, its future activities to

assist the aforementioned LGUs for that purpose, and the completion period for said undertakings.

The DA shall submit to the Court on or before September 30, 2011 the baseline data as of September 30, 2010 on the

pollution loading into the Manila Baysystem from agricultural and livestock sources.

(6) The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) shall incorporate in its quarterly reports the list of violators it has

apprehended and the status of their cases. The PPA is further ordered to include in its report the names, make and capacity of the

ships that dock in PPA ports. The PPA shall submit to the Court on or before June 30, 2011 the measures it intends to undertake

to implement its compliance with paragraph 7 of the dispositive portion of the MMDA Decision and the completion dates of such

measures.

The PPA should include in its report the activities of its concessionaire that collects and disposes of the solid and liquid

wastes and other ship-generated wastes, which shall state the names, make and capacity of the ships serviced by it since August

2003 up to the present date, the dates the ships docked at PPA ports, the number of days the ship was at sea with the

corresponding number of passengers and crew per trip, the volume of solid, liquid and other wastes collected from said ships, the

treatment undertaken and the disposal site for said wastes.

(7) The Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime Group shall submit on or before June 30, 2011 its five-year plan of

action on the measures and activities it intends to undertake to apprehend the violators of Republic Act No. (RA) 8550 or

the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 and other pertinent laws, ordinances and regulations to prevent marine pollution
in Manila Bay and to ensure the successful prosecution of violators.

The Philippine Coast Guard shall likewise submit on or before June 30, 2011 its five-year plan of action on the

measures and activities they intend to undertake to apprehend the violators of Presidential Decree No. 979 or the Marine

Pollution Decree of 1976 and RA 9993 or the Philippine Coast Guard Law of 2009 and other pertinent laws and regulations to

prevent marine pollution in Manila Bay and to ensure the successful prosecution of violators.

(8) The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) shall submit to the Court on or before June 30, 2011

the names and addresses of the informal settlers in Metro Manila who, as of December 31, 2010, own and occupy houses,
structures, constructions and other encroachments established or built along the Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the NCR

(Paraaque-Zapote, Las Pias) Rivers, the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, and connecting waterways and esteros, in
violation of RA 7279 and other applicable laws. On or before June 30, 2011, the MMDA shall submit its plan for the removal of

said informal settlers and the demolition of the aforesaid houses, structures, constructions and encroachments, as well as the

completion dates for said activities, which shall be fully implemented not later than December 31, 2015.

The MMDA is ordered to submit a status report, within thirty (30) days from receipt of this Resolution, on the

establishment of a sanitary landfill facility for Metro Manila in compliance with the standards under RA 9003 or the Ecological

Solid Waste Management Act.

On or before June 30, 2011, the MMDA shall submit a report of the location of open and controlled dumps in Metro

Manila whose operations are illegal after February 21, 2006,[3] pursuant to Secs. 36 and 37 of RA 9003, and its plan for the

closure of these open and controlled dumps to be accomplished not later than December 31, 2012. Also, on or before June 30,

2011, the DENR Secretary, as Chairperson of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), shall submit a

report on the location of all open and controlled dumps in Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan.

On or before June 30, 2011, the DENR Secretary, in his capacity as NSWMC Chairperson, shall submit a report on

whether or not the following landfills strictly comply with Secs. 41 and 42 of RA 9003 on the establishment and operation of

sanitary landfills, to wit:

National Capital Region

1. Navotas SLF (PhilEco), Brgy. Tanza (New Site), Navotas City


2. Payatas Controlled Dumpsite, Barangay Payatas, Quezon City

Region III

3. Sitio Coral, Brgy. Matictic, Norzagaray, Bulacan


4. Sitio Tiakad, Brgy. San Mateo, Norzagaray, Bulacan
5. Brgy. Minuyan, San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan
6. Brgy. Mapalad, Santa Rosa, Nueva Ecija
7. Sub-zone Kalangitan, Clark Capas, Tarlac Special
Economic Zone

Region IV-A

8. Kalayaan (Longos), Laguna


9. Brgy. Sto. Nino, San Pablo City, Laguna
10. Brgy. San Antonio (Pilotage SLF), San Pedro, Laguna
11. Morong, Rizal
12. Sitio Lukutan, Brgy. San Isidro, Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal (ISWIMS)
13. Brgy. Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo, Rizal (SMSLFDC)

On or before June 30, 2011, the MMDA and the seventeen (17) LGUs in Metro Manila are ordered to jointly submit a

report on the average amount of garbage collected monthly per district in all the cities in Metro Manila from January 2009 up to

December 31, 2010 vis--vis the average amount of garbage disposed monthly in landfills and dumpsites. In its quarterly report

for the last quarter of 2010 and thereafter, MMDA shall report on the apprehensions for violations of the penal provisions of RA
9003, RA 9275 and other laws on pollution for the said period.
On or before June 30, 2011, the DPWH and the LGUs in Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan shall

submit the names and addresses of the informal settlers in their respective areas who, as of September 30, 2010, own or occupy

houses, structures, constructions, and other encroachments built along the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando (Bulacan) Rivers, the

Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, the Laguna de Bay, and other rivers, connecting waterways and esteros that

discharge wastewater into the Manila Bay, in breach of RA 7279 and other applicable laws. On or before June 30, 2011, the

DPWH and the aforesaid LGUs shall jointly submit their plan for the removal of said informal settlers and the demolition of the

aforesaid structures, constructions and encroachments, as well as the completion dates for such activities which shall be

implemented not later than December 31, 2012.

(9) The Department of Health (DOH) shall submit to the Court on or before June 30, 2011 the names and addresses of

the owners of septic and sludge companies including those that do not have the proper facilities for the treatment and disposal of

fecal sludge and sewage coming from septic tanks.

The DOH shall implement rules and regulations on Environmental Sanitation Clearances and shall require companies

to procure a license to operate from the DOH.

The DOH and DENR-Environmental Management Bureau shall develop a toxic and hazardous waste management

system by June 30, 2011 which will implement segregation of hospital/toxic/hazardous wastes and prevent mixing with

municipal solid waste.

On or before June 30, 2011, the DOH shall submit a plan of action to ensure that the said companies have proper

disposal facilities and the completion dates of compliance.

(10) The Department of Education (DepEd) shall submit to the Court on or before May 31, 2011 a report on the

specific subjects on pollution prevention, waste management, environmental protection, environmental laws and the like that it

has integrated into the school curricula in all levels for the school year 2011-2012.

On or before June 30, 2011, the DepEd shall also submit its plan of action to ensure compliance of all the schools under

its supervision with respect to the integration of the aforementioned subjects in the school curricula which shall be fully

implemented by June 30, 2012.

(11) All the agencies are required to submit their quarterly reports electronically using the forms below. The agencies

may add other key performance indicators that they have identified.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 2869 March 25, 1907
MATEO CARIÑO, petitioner-appellant,
vs.
THE INSULAR GOVERNMENT, respondent-appellee.
Coudert Brothers for appellant.
Office of the Solicitor-General Araneta for appellee.
ARELLANO, C.J.:
Mateo Cariño, the appellant herein, on the 23d of February, 1904, filed his petition in the Court of Land Registration praying that
there be granted to him title to a parcel of land consisting of 40 hectares, 1 are, and 13 centares, and situated in the town of
Baguio, Province of Benguet, together with a house erected thereon and constructed of wood and roofed with rimo, and bounded
as follows: On the north, in lines running 1,048 metes and 20 decimeters with the lands of Sepa Cariño, H. Phelps Whitmarsh,
and Calsi; on the east, in lines running 991 meters and 50 decimeters with the land of Kuidno, Esteban Gonzales, and of the Civil
Government; on the south, in lines of 115 meters and 60 decimeters, with the lands of Talaca; and on the west, in lines running
982 meters and 20 decimeters, with the lands of Sisco Cariño and Mayengmeng.
By order of the court the hearing of this petition, No. 561, and that of Antonio Rebollo and Vicente Valpiedad filed under No.
834, were heard together for the reason that the latter petition claimed a small portion of land included in the parcel set out in the
former petition.
The Insular Government opposed the granting of these petitions, alleging that the whole parcel of land is public property of the
Government and that the same was never acquired in any manner or through any title of egresionfrom the State.
After trial, and the hearing of documentary and oral proof, the court of Land Registration rendered its judgment in these terms:
Therefore the court finds that Cariño and his predecessors have not possessed exclusively and adversely any part of the
said property prior to the date on which Cariño constructed the house now there — that is to say, for the years 1897 and
1898, and Cariño held possession for some years afterwards of but a part of the property to which he claims title. Both
petitions are dismissed and the property in question is adjudged to be public land. (Bill of exceptions, p. 15.)
The conclusions arrived at the set forth in definite terms in the decision of the court below are the following:
From the testimony given by Cariño as well as from that of several of the witnesses for the Government it is deduced,
that in or about the year 1884 Cariño erected and utilized as a domicile a house on the property situated to the north of
that property now in question, property which, according to the plan attached to expediente No. 561, appears to be
property belonging to Donaldson Sim; that during the year 1893 Cariño sold said house to one Cristobal Ramos, who in
turn sold the same to Donaldson Sim, moving to and living on the adjoining property, which appears on the plan
aforesaid to be the property of H. Phelps Whitmarsh, a place where the father and the grandfather of his wife, that is to
say, Ortega and Minse, had lived . . ..
In or about the years 1898 Cariño abandoned the property of Whitmarsh and located on the property described in the
plan attached to expediente No. 561, having constructed a house thereon in which he now lives, and which house is
situated in the center of the property, as is indicated on the plan; and since which time he has undoubtedly occupied
some portion of the property now claimed by him. (Bill of exceptions, pp. 11 and 12.)
1. Therefore it is evident that this court can not decree the registration of all of the superficial extension of the land described in
the petition and as appears on the plan filed herein, such extension containing 40 hectares, 1 are, and 13 centares, inasmuch as the
documentary evidence accompanying the petition is conclusive proof against the petitioners; this documentary proof consists of a
possessory information under date of March 7, 1901, and registered on the 11th day of the same month and year; and, according
to such possessory information, the land therein described contains an extension of only 28 hectares limited by "the country road
to the barrio of Pias," a road appearing on the plan now presented and cutting the land, as might be said, in half, or running
through its center from north to south, a considerable extension of land remaining on the other side of the said road, the west side,
and which could not have been included in the possessory information mentioned.
2. As has been shown during the trial of this case, this land, of which mention is made in said possessory information, and upon
which is situated the house now actually occupied by the petitioner, all of which is set forth as argument as to the possession in
the judgment, is "used for pasture and sowing," and belongs to the class called public lands.
3. Under the express provisions of law, a parcel of land, being of common origin, presumptively belonged to the State during its
sovereignty, and, in order to perfect the legitimate acquisition of such land by private persons, it was necessary that the
possession of the same pass from the State. And there is no evidence or proof of title of egresionof this land from the domain of
the Spanish Government, nor is there any possessory information equivalent to title by composicion or under agreement. 4, The
possessory information filed herein is not the title to property authorized in substitution for that of adjustment by the royal decree
of February 13, 1894, this being the last law or legal disposition of the former sovereignty applicable to the present subject-matter
of common lands: First, for the reason that the land referred to herein is not covered nor does it come within any one of the three
conditions required by article 19 of the said royal decree, to wit, that the land has been in an uninterrupted state of cultivation
during a period of six years last past; or that the same has been possessed without interruption during a period of twelve years and
has been in a state of cultivation up to the date of the information and during the three years immediately preceding such
information; or that such land had been possessed openly without interruption during a period of thirty or more years,
notwithstanding the land had not been cultivated; nor is it necessary to refer to the testimony given by the two witnesses to the
possessory information for the following reason: Second, because the possessory information authorized by said royal decree or
last legal disposition of the Spanish Government, as title or for the purpose of acquiring actual proprietary right, equivalent to that
of adjustment with the Spanish Government and required and necessary at all times until the publication of said royal decree was
limited in time to one year, in accordance with article 21, which is as follows: " A period of one year, not to be extended, is
allowed to verify the possessory informations which are referred to in articles 19 and 20. After the expiration of this period of the
right of the cultivators and persons in possession to obtain gratuitous title thereto lapses and the land together with full possession
reverts to the state, or, as the case may be, to the community, and the said possessors and cultivators or their assigns would
simply have rights under universal or general title of average in the event that the land is sold within a period of five years
immediately following the cancellation. The possessors not included under this chapter can only acquire by time the ownership
and title to unappropriated or royal lands in accordance with common law."
5. In accordance with the preceding provisions, the right that remained to Cariño, if it be certain that he was the true possessor of
the land in question, was the right of average in case the Government or State could have sold the same within the period of five
years immediately following for example, if the denouncement of purchase had been carried out by Felipe Zafra or any other
person, as appears from the record of the trial of the case. Aside from this right, in such event, his possession as attested in the
possessory information herein could not, in accordance with common law, go to show any right of ownership until after the
expiration of twenty years from the expiration of twenty years from the verification and registry of the same in conformity with
the provisions of article 393 of the Mortgage Law and other conditions prescribe by this law.
6. The right of possession in accordance with common law — that is to say, civil law — remains at all times subordinate to the
Spanish administrative law, inasmuch as it could only be of force when pertaining to royal transferable or alienable lands, which
condition and the determination thereof is reversed to the government, which classified and designated the royal alienable lands
for the purpose of distinguishing them from those lands strictly public, and from forestry lands which could at no time pass to
private ownership nor be acquired through time even after the said royal decree of February 13, 1894.
7. The advent of the new sovereignty necessarily brought a new method of dealing with lands and particularly as to the
classification and manner of transfer and acquisition of royal or common lands then appropriated, which were thenceforth merely
called public lands, the alienation of which was reserved to the Government, in accordance with section 12 and 13 of the act of
Congress of July 1, 1902,1 and in conformity with other laws enacted under this act of Congress by the Philippine Commission
prescribing rules for the execution thereof, one of which is Act No. 648, 2herein mentioned by the petitioner, in connection with
Act No. 627,3 which appears to be the law upon which the petition herein is founded.
8. Section 6 of Act No. 627 admits prescription, in accordance with the provisions contained in Act No. 190, as a basis for
obtaining the right of ownership. "The petitioners claims title under the period of prescription of ten years established by that act,
as well as by reason of his occupancy and use thereof from time immemorial." (Allegation 1.) But said act admits such
prescription for the purpose of obtaining title and ownership to lands "not exceeding more that sixteen hectares in extent." (Sec. 6
of said act.) The land claimed by Cariño is 40 hectares in extent, if we take into consideration his petition, or an extension of 28
hectares, according to the possessory information, the only thing that can be considered. Therefore, it follows that the judgment
denying the petition herein and now appealed from was strictly in accordance with the law invoked herein.
9. And of the 28 hectares of land as set out in the possessory information, one part of same, according to the testimony of Cariño,
belongs to Vicente Valpiedad, the extent of which is not determined. From all of which it follows that the precise extent has not
been determined in the trial of this case on which judgment might be based in the event that the judgment and title be declared in
favor of the petitioner, Mateo Cariño. And we should not lose sight of the fact that, considering the intention of Congress in
granting ownership and title to 16 hectares, that Mateo Cariño and his children have already exceeded such amount in various
acquirements of lands, all of which is shown in different cases decided by the said Court of Land Registration, donations or gifts
of land that could only have been made efficacious as to the conveyance thereof with the assistance of these new laws.
By reason of the findings set forth it is clearly seen that the court below did not err:
1. In finding that Mateo Cariño and those from whom he claims his right had not possessed and claimed as owners the
lands in question since time immemorial;
2. In finding that the land in question did not belong to the petitioner, but that, on the contrary, it was the property of
the Government. (Allegation 21.)
Wherefore, the judgment appealed from is affirmed with the costs of this instance against the appellant. After the expiration of
twenty days from the notification of this decision let judgment be entered in accordance herewith, and ten days thereafter let the
case be remanded to the court from whence it came for proper action. So ordered.
CARINO v. INSULAR GOVERNMENT OF PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, (1909)
No. 72
Argued: January 13, 1909 Decided: February 23, 1909
[212 U.S. 449, 450] Messrs. Frederic R. Coudert, Howard Thayer Kingsbury, Charles C. Cohn, D. R. Williams, and Paul Fuller
for plaintiff in error.
[212 U.S. 449, 453] Solicitor General Hoyt and Paul Charlton for defendant in error.
[212 U.S. 449, 455]
Mr. Justice Holmes delivered the opinion of the court:
This was an application to the Philippine court of land registration for the registration of certain land. The application was
granted by the court on March 4, 1904. An appeal was taken to the court of first instance of the province of Benguet, on behalf of
the government of the Philippines, and also on behalf of the United States, those governments having taken possession of the
property for public and military purposes. The court of first instance found the facts and dismissed the application upon grounds
of law. This judgment was affirmed by the supreme court (7 Philippine, 132 ), and the case then was brought here by writ of
error.
The material facts found are very few. The applicant and plaintiff in error is an Igorot of the province of Benguet, where the land
lies. For more than fifty years before the treaty of [212 U.S. 449, 456] Paris, April 11, 1899 [30 Stat. at L. 1754], as far back as
the findings go, the plaintiff and his ancestors had held the land as owners. His grandfather had lived upon it, and had maintained
fences sufficient for the holding of cattle, according to the custom of the country, some of the fences, it seems, having been of
much earlier date. His father had cultivated parts and had used parts for pasturing cattle, and he had used it for pasture in his turn.
They all had been recognized as owners by the Igorots, and he had inherited or received the land from his father, in accordance
with Igorot custom. No document of title, however, had issued from the Spanish Crown, and although, in 1893-1894, and again
in 1896-1897, he made application for one under the royal decrees then in force, nothing seems to have come of it, unless,
perhaps, information that lands in Benguet could not be conceded until those to be occupied for a sanatorium, etc., had been
designated,-a purpose that has been carried out by the Philippine government and the United States. In 1901 the plaintiff filed a
petition, alleging ownership, under the mortgage law, and the lands were registered to him, that process, however, establishing
only a possessory title, it is said.
Before we deal with the merits, we must dispose of a technical point. The government has spent some energy in maintaining that
this case should have been brought up by appeal, and not by writ of error. We are of opinion, however, that the mode adopted
was right. The proceeding for registration is likened to bills in equity to quiet title, but it is different in principle. It is a
proceeding in rem under a statute of the type of the Torrens act, such as was discussed in Tyler v. Registration Ct. Judges, 175
Mass. 71, 51 L.R.A. 433, 55 N. E. 812. It is nearer to law than to equity, and is an assertion of legal title; but we think it
unnecessary to put it into either pigeon hole. A writ of error is the general method of bringing cases to this court, an appeal the
exception, confined to equity in the main. There is no reason for not applying the general rule to this case. Ormsby v. Webb, 134
U.S. 47, 65 , 33 S. L. ed. 805, 812, 10 Sup. Ct. Rep. 478; Campbell v. Porter, 162 U.S. 478 , 40 L. ed. 1044, 16 Sup. Ct. Rep.
871; Metropolitan R. Co. v. District of Columbia ( Metropolitan R. Co. v. Macfarland) 195 U.S. 322 , 49 L. ed. 219, 25 Sup. Ct.
Rep. 28. [212 U.S. 449, 457] Another preliminary matter may as well be disposed of here. It is suggested that, even if the
applicant have title, he cannot have it registered, because the Philippine Commission's act No. 926, of 1903, excepts the province
of Benguet among others from its operation. But that act deals with the acquisition of new titles by homestead entries, purchase,
etc., and the perfecting of titles begun under the Spanish law. The applicant's claim is that he now owns the land, and is entitled to
registration under the Philippine Commission's act No. 496, of 1902, which established a court for that purpose with jurisdiction
'throughout the Philippine archipelago,' 2, and authorized in general terms applications to be made by persons claiming to own
the legal estate in fee simple, as the applicant does. He is entitled to registration if his claim of ownership can be maintained.
We come, then, to the question on which the case was decided below,- namely, whether the plaintiff owns the land. The position
of the government, shortly stated, is that Spain assumed, asserted, and had title to all the land in the Philippines except so far as it
saw fit to permit private titles to be acquired; that there was no prescription against the Crown, and that, if there was, a decree of
June 25, 1880, required registration within a limited time to make the title good; that the plaintiff's land was not registered, and
therefore became, if it was not always, public land; that the United States succeeded to the title of Spain, and so that the plaintiff
has no rights that the Philippine government is bound to respect.
If we suppose for the moment that the government's contention is so far correct that the Crown of Spain in form asserted a title to
this land at the date of the treaty of Paris, to which the United States succeeded, it is not to be assumed without argument that the
plaintiff's case is at an end. It is true that Spain, in its earlier decrees, embodied the universal feudal theory that all lands were
held from the Crown, and perhaps the general attitude of conquering nations toward people not recognized as entitled to the
treatment accorded to those[212 U.S. 449, 458] in the same zone of civilization with themselves. It is true, also, that, in legal
theory, sovereignty is absolute, and that, as against foreign nations, the United States may assert, as Spain asserted, absolute
power. But it does not follow that, as against the inhabitants of the Philippines, the United States asserts that Spain had such
power. When theory is left on one side, sovereignty is a question of strength, and may vary in degree. How far a new sovereign
shall insist upon the theoretical relation of the subjects to the head in the past, and how far it shall recognize actual facts, are
matters for it to decide.
The province of Benguet was inhabited by a tribe that the Solicitor General, in his argument, characterized as a savage tribe that
never was brought under the civil or military government of the Spanish Crown. It seems probable, if not certain, that the Spanish
officials would not have granted to anyone in that province the registration to which formerly the plaintiff was entitled by the
Spanish laws, and which would have made his title beyond question good. Whatever may have been the technical position of
Spain, it does not follow that, in the view of the United States, he had lost all rights and was a mere trespasser when the present
government seized his land. The argument to that effect seems to amount to a denial of native titles throughout an important part
of the island of Luzon, at least, for the want of ceremonies which the Spaniards would not have permitted and had not the power
to enforce.
The acquisition of the Philippines was not like the settlement of the white race in the United States. Whatever consideration may
have been shown to the North American Indians, the dominant purpose of the whites in America was to occupy the land. It is
obvious that, however stated, the reason for our taking over the Philippines was different. No one, we suppose, would deny that,
so far as consistent with paramount necessities, our first object in the internal administration of the islands is to do justice to the
natives, not to exploit their country for private gain. By the organic act of July 1, 1902, chap. 1369, 12, 32 Stat. at L. 691, all the
property and rights acquired there by the [212 U.S. 449, 459] United States are to be administered 'for the benefit of the
inhabitants thereof.' It is reasonable to suppose that the attitude thus assumed by the United States with regard to what was
unquestionably its own is also its attitude in deciding what it will claim for its own. The same statute made a bill of rights,
embodying the safeguards of the Constitution, and, like the Constitution, extends those safeguards to all. It provides that 'no law
shall be enacted in said islands which shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or deny to
any person therein the equal protection of the laws.' 5. In the light of the declaration that we have quoted from 12, it is hard to
believe that the United States was ready to declare in the next breath that 'any person' did not embrace the inhabitants of Benguet,
or that it meant by 'property' only that which had become such by ceremonies of which presumably a large part of the inhabitants
never had heard, and that it proposed to treat as public land what they, by native custom and by long association,-one of the
profoundest factors in human thought,-regarded as their own.
It is true that, by 14, the government of the Philippines is empowered to enact rules and prescribe terms for perfecting titles to
public lands where some, but not all, Spanish conditions had been fulfilled, and to issue patents to natives for not more than 16
hectares of public lands actually occupied by the native or his ancestors before August 13, 1898. But this section perhaps might
be satisfied if confined to cases where the occupation was of land admitted to be public land, and had not continued for such a
length of time and under such circumstances as to give rise to the understanding that the occupants were owners at that date. We
hesitate to suppose that it was intended to declare every native who had not a paper title a trespasser, and to set the claims of all
the wilder tribes afloat. It is true again that there is excepted from the provision that we have quoted as to the administration of
the property and rights acquired by the United States, such land and property as shall be designated by the President for military
or other reser- [212 U.S. 449, 460] vations, as this land since has been. But there still remains the question what property and
rights the United States asserted itself to have acquired.
Whatever the law upon these points may be, and we mean to go no further than the necessities of decision demand, every
presumption is and ought to be against the government in a case like the present. It might, perhaps, be proper and sufficient to say
that when, as far back as testimony or memory goes, the land has been held by individuals under a claim of private ownership, it
will be presumed to have been held in the same way from before the Spanish conquest, and never to have been public land.
Certainly in a case like this, if there is doubt or ambiguity in the Spanish law, we ought to give the applicant the benefit of the
doubt. Whether justice to the natives and the import of the organic act ought not to carry us beyond a subtle examination of
ancient texts, or perhaps even beyond the attitude of Spanish law, humane though it was, it is unnecessary to decide. If, in a tacit
way, it was assumed that the wild tribes of the Philippines were to be dealt with as the power and inclination of the conqueror
might dictate, Congress has not yet sanctioned the same course as the proper one 'for the benefit of the inhabitants thereof.'
If the applicant's case is to be tried by the law of Spain, we do not discover such clear proof that it was bad by that law as to
satisfy us that he does not own the land. To begin with, the older decrees and laws cited by the counsel for the plaintiff in error
seem to indicate pretty clearly that the natives were recognized as owning some lands, irrespective of any royal grant. In other
words, Spain did not assume to convert all the native inhabitants of the Philippines into trespassers or even into tenants at will.
For instance, Book 4, title 12, Law 14 of the Recopilacion de Leyes de las Indias, cited for a contrary conclusion in Valenton v.
Murciano, 3 Philippine, 537, while it commands viceroys and others, when it seems proper, to call for the exhibition of grants,
directs them to confirm those who hold by good grants or justa prescripcion. It is true that it [212 U.S. 449, 461] begins by the
characteristic assertion of feudal overlordship and the origin of all titles in the King or his predecessors. That was theory and
discourse. The fact was that titles were admitted to exist that owed nothing to the powers of Spain beyond this recognition in their
books.
Prescription is mentioned again in the royal cedula of October 15, 1754, cited in 3 Philippine, 546: 'Where such possessors shall
not be able to produce title deeds, it shall be sufficient if they shall show that ancient possession, as a valid title by prescription.'
It may be that this means possession from before 1700; but, at all events, the principle is admitted. As prescription, even against
Crown lands, was recognized by the laws of Spain, we see no sufficient reason for hesitating to admit that it was recognized in
the Philippines in regard to lands over which Spain had only a paper sovereignty.
The question comes, however, on the decree of June 25, 1880, for the adjustment of royal lands wrongfully occupied by private
individuals in the Philippine Islands. This begins with the usual theoretic assertion that, for private ownership, there must have
been a grant by competent authority; but instantly descends to fact by providing that, for all legal effects, those who have been in
possession for certain times shall be deemed owners. For cultivated land, twenty years, uninterrupted, is enough. For
uncultivated, thirty. Art. 5. So that, when this decree went into effect, the applicant's father was owner of the land by the very
terms of the decree. But, it is said, the object of this law was to require the adjustment or registration proceedings that it
described, and in that way to require every one to get a document of title or lose his land. That purpose may have been
entertained, but it does not appear clearly to have been applicable to all. The regulations purport to have been made 'for the
adjustment of royal lands wrongfully occupied by private individuals.' (We follow the translation in the government's brief.) It
does not appear that this land ever was royal land or wrongfully occupied. In Article 6 it is provided that 'interested parties not
included within the two preceding [212 U.S. 449, 462] articles [the articles recognizing prescription of twenty and thirty years]
may legalize their possession, and thereby acquire the full ownership of the said lands, by means of adjustment proceedings, to be
conducted in the following manner.' This seems, by its very terms, not to apply to those declared already to be owners by lapse of
time. Article 8 provides for the case of parties not asking an adjustment of the lands of which they are unlawfully enjoying the
possession, within one year, and threatens that the treasury 'will reassert the ownership of the state over the lands,' and will sell at
auction such part as it does not reserve. The applicant's possession was not unlawful, and no attempt at any such proceedings
against him or his father ever was made. Finally, it should be noted that the natural construction of the decree is confirmed by the
report of the council of state. That report puts forward as a reason for the regulations that, in view of the condition of almost all
property in the Philippines, it is important to fix its status by general rules, on the principle that the lapse of a fixed period
legalizes completely all possession; recommends in two articles twenty and thirty years, as adopted in the decree; and then
suggests that interested parties not included in those articles may legalize their possession and acquire ownership by adjustment
at a certain price.
It is true that the language of arts. 4 and 5 attributes title to those 'who may prove' possession for the necessary time, and we do
not overlook the argument that this means may prove in registration proceedings. It may be that an English conveyancer would
have recommended an application under the foregoing decree, but certainly it was not calculated to convey to the mind of an
Igorot chief the notion that ancient family possessions were in danger, if he had read every word of it. The words 'may prove'
(acrediten), as well, or better, in view of the other provisions, might be taken to mean when called upon to do so in any litigation.
There are indications that registration was expected from all, but none sufficient to show that, for want of it, ownership actually
gained would be lost. [212 U.S. 449, 463] The effect of the proof, wherever made, was not to confer title, but simply to establish
it, as already conferred by the decree, if not by earlier law. The royal decree of February 13, 1894, declaring forfeited titles that
were capable of adjustment under the decree of 1880, for which adjustment had not been sought, should not be construed as a
confiscation, but as the withdrawal of a privilege. As a matter of fact, the applicant never was disturbed. This same decree is
quoted by the court of land registration for another recognition of the common-law prescription of thirty years as still running
against alienable Crown land.
It will be perceived that the rights of the applicant under the Spanish law present a problem not without difficulties for courts of a
different legal tradition. We have deemed it proper on that account to notice the possible effect of the change of sovereignty and
the act of Congress establishing the fundamental principles now to be observed. Upon a consideration of the whole case we are of
opinion that law and justice require that the applicant should be granted what he seeks, and should not be deprived of what, by
the practice and belief of those among whom he lived, was his property, through a refined interpretation of an almost forgotten
law of Spain.
Judgment reversed.
[G.R. No. 135385. December 6, 2000]
ISAGANI CRUZ and CESAR EUROPA, petitioners, vs. SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL
RESOURCES, SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT and CHAIRMAN and COMMISSIONERS
OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, respondents.
HON. JUAN M .FLAVIER, HON. PONCIANO BENNAGEN, BAYANI ASCARRAGA, EDTAMI MANSAYANGAN,
BASILIO WANDAG, EVELYN DUNUAN, YAOM TUGAS, ALFREMO CARPIANO, LIBERATO A. GABIN,
MATERNIDAD M. COLAS, NARCISA M. DALUPINES, BAI KIRAM-CONNIE SATURNO, BAE MLOMO-
BEATRIZ T. ABASALA, DATU BALITUNGTUNG-ANTONIO D. LUMANDONG, DATU MANTUMUKAW
TEOFISTO SABASALES, DATU EDUAARDO BANDA, DATU JOEL UNAD, DATU RAMON BAYAAN,
TIMUAY JOSE ANOY, TIMUAY MACARIO D. SALACAO, TIMUAY EDWIN B. ENDING, DATU
SAHAMPONG MALANAW VI, DATU BEN PENDAO CABIGON, BAI NANAPNAY-LIZA SAWAY, BAY
INAY DAYA-MELINDA S. REYMUNDO, BAI TINANGHAGA HELINITA T. PANGAN, DATU
MAKAPUKAW ADOLINO L. SAWAY, DATU MAUDAYAW-CRISPEN SAWAY, VICKY MAKAY,
LOURDES D. AMOS, GILBERT P. HOGGANG, TERESA GASPAR, MANUEL S. ONALAN, MIA GRACE
L. GIRON, ROSEMARIE G. PE, BENITO CARINO, JOSEPH JUDE CARANTES, LYNETTE CARANTES-
VIVAL, LANGLEY SEGUNDO, SATUR S. BUGNAY, CARLING DOMULOT, ANDRES MENDIOGRIN,
LEOPOLDO ABUGAN, VIRGILIO CAYETANO, CONCHITA G. DESCAGA, LEVY ESTEVES, ODETTE G.
ESTEVEZ, RODOLFO C. AGUILAR, MAURO VALONES, PEPE H. ATONG, OFELIA T. DAVI,
PERFECTO B. GUINOSAO, WALTER N. TIMOL, MANUEL T. SELEN, OSCAR DALUNHAY, RICO O.
SULATAN, RAFFY MALINDA, ALFREDO ABILLANOS, JESSIE ANDILAB, MIRLANDO H.
MANGKULINTAS, SAMIE SATURNO, ROMEO A. LINDAHAY, ROEL S. MANSANG-CAGAN, PAQUITO
S. LIESES, FILIPE G. SAWAY, HERMINIA S. SAWAY, JULIUS S. SAWAY, LEONARDA SAWAY, JIMMY
UGYUB, SALVADOR TIONGSON, VENANCIO APANG, MADION MALID, SUKIM MALID, NENENG
MALID, MANGKATADONG AUGUSTO DIANO, JOSEPHINE M. ALBESO, MORENO MALID, MARIO
MANGCAL, FELAY DIAMILING, SALOME P. SARZA, FELIPE P. BAGON, SAMMY SALNUNGAN,
ANTONIO D. EMBA, NORMA MAPANSAGONOS, ROMEO SALIGA, SR., JERSON P. GERADA, RENATO
T. BAGON, JR., SARING MASALONG, SOLEDAD M. GERARDA, ELIZABETH L. MENDI, MORANTE S.
TIWAN, DANILO M. MALUDAO, MINORS MARICEL MALID, represented by her father CORNELIO
MALID, MARCELINO M. LADRA, represented by her father MONICO D. LADRA, JENNYLYN MALID,
represented by her father TONY MALID, ARIEL M. EVANGELISTA, represented by her mother LINAY
BALBUENA, EDWARD M. EMUY, SR., SUSAN BOLANIO, OND, PULA BATO BLAAN TRIBAL
FARMERS ASSOCIATION, INTER-PEOPLES EXCHANGE, INC. and GREEN FORUM-WESTERN
VISAYAS, intervenors.
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, intervenor.
IKALAHAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE and HARIBON FOUNDATION FOR THE CONSERVATION OF NATURAL
RESOURCES, INC., intervenor.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa brought this suit for prohibition and mandamus as citizens and taxpayers,
assailing the constitutionality of certain provisions of Republic Act No. 8371 (R.A. 8371), otherwise known as the Indigenous
Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (Implementing Rules).
In its resolution of September 29, 1998, the Court required respondents to comment. [1] In compliance, respondents
Chairperson and Commissioners of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the government agency created
under the IPRA to implement its provisions, filed on October 13, 1998 their Comment to the Petition, in which they defend the
constitutionality of the IPRA and pray that the petition be dismissed for lack of merit.
On October 19, 1998, respondents Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and
Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) filed through the Solicitor General a consolidated
Comment. The Solicitor General is of the view that the IPRA is partly unconstitutional on the ground that it grants ownership
over natural resources to indigenous peoples and prays that the petition be granted in part.
On November 10, 1998, a group of intervenors, composed of Sen. Juan Flavier, one of the authors of the IPRA, Mr.
Ponciano Bennagen, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, and the leaders and members of 112 groups of
indigenous peoples (Flavier, et. al), filed their Motion for Leave to Intervene. They join the NCIP in defending the
constitutionality of IPRA and praying for the dismissal of the petition.
On March 22, 1999, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) likewise filed a Motion to Intervene and/or to Appear as
Amicus Curiae. The CHR asserts that IPRA is an expression of the principle of parens patriae and that the State has the
responsibility to protect and guarantee the rights of those who are at a serious disadvantage like indigenous peoples. For this
reason it prays that the petition be dismissed.
On March 23, 1999, another group, composed of the Ikalahan Indigenous People and the Haribon Foundation for the
Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc. (Haribon, et al.), filed a motion to Intervene with attached Comment-in-
Intervention. They agree with the NCIP and Flavier, et al. that IPRA is consistent with the Constitution and pray that the petition
for prohibition and mandamus be dismissed.
The motions for intervention of the aforesaid groups and organizations were granted.
Oral arguments were heard on April 13, 1999. Thereafter, the parties and intervenors filed their respective memoranda in
which they reiterate the arguments adduced in their earlier pleadings and during the hearing.
Petitioners assail the constitutionality of the following provisions of the IPRA and its Implementing Rules on the ground
that they amount to an unlawful deprivation of the States ownership over lands of the public domain as well as minerals and other
natural resources therein, in violation of the regalian doctrine embodied in Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution:
(1) Section 3(a) which defines the extent and coverage of ancestral domains, and Section 3(b) which, in turn, defines
ancestral lands;
(2) Section 5, in relation to section 3(a), which provides that ancestral domains including inalienable public lands,
bodies of water, mineral and other resources found within ancestral domains are private but community property
of the indigenous peoples;
(3) Section 6 in relation to section 3(a) and 3(b) which defines the composition of ancestral domains and ancestral
lands;
(4) Section 7 which recognizes and enumerates the rights of the indigenous peoples over the ancestral domains;
(5) Section 8 which recognizes and enumerates the rights of the indigenous peoples over the ancestral lands;
(6) Section 57 which provides for priority rights of the indigenous peoples in the harvesting, extraction, development
or exploration of minerals and other natural resources within the areas claimed to be their ancestral domains, and
the right to enter into agreements with nonindigenous peoples for the development and utilization of natural
resources therein for a period not exceeding 25 years, renewable for not more than 25 years; and
(7) Section 58 which gives the indigenous peoples the responsibility to maintain, develop, protect and conserve the
ancestral domains and portions thereof which are found to be necessary for critical watersheds, mangroves,
wildlife sanctuaries, wilderness, protected areas, forest cover or reforestation.[2]
Petitioners also content that, by providing for an all-encompassing definition of ancestral domains and ancestral lands
which might even include private lands found within said areas, Sections 3(a) and 3(b) violate the rights of private landowners.[3]
In addition, petitioners question the provisions of the IPRA defining the powers and jurisdiction of the NCIP and making
customary law applicable to the settlement of disputes involving ancestral domains and ancestral lands on the ground that these
provisions violate the due process clause of the Constitution.[4]
These provisions are:
(1) sections 51 to 53 and 59 which detail the process of delineation and recognition of ancestral domains and which
vest on the NCIP the sole authority to delineate ancestral domains and ancestral lands;
(2) Section 52[i] which provides that upon certification by the NCIP that a particular area is an ancestral domain and
upon notification to the following officials, namely, the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources,
Secretary of Interior and Local Governments, Secretary of Justice and Commissioner of the National
Development Corporation, the jurisdiction of said officials over said area terminates;
(3) Section 63 which provides the customary law, traditions and practices of indigenous peoples shall be applied first
with respect to property rights, claims of ownership, hereditary succession and settlement of land disputes, and
that any doubt or ambiguity in the interpretation thereof shall be resolved in favor of the indigenous peoples;
(4) Section 65 which states that customary laws and practices shall be used to resolve disputes involving indigenous
peoples; and
(5) Section 66 which vests on the NCIP the jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of the
indigenous peoples.[5]
Finally, petitioners assail the validity of Rule VII, Part II, Section 1 of the NCIP Administrative Order No. 1, series of
1998, which provides that the administrative relationship of the NCIP to the Office of the President is characterized as a lateral
but autonomous relationship for purposes of policy and program coordination. They contend that said Rule infringes upon the
Presidents power of control over executive departments under Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution. [6]
Petitioners pray for the following:
(1) A declaration that Sections 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 52[I], 57, 58, 59, 63, 65 and 66 and other related provisions of R.A. 8371
are unconstitutional and invalid;
(2) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Chairperson and Commissioners of the NCIP to cease and
desist from implementing the assailed provisions of R.A. 8371 and its Implementing Rules;
(3) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources to cease and desist from implementing Department of Environment and Natural Resources Circular
No. 2, series of 1998;
(4) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Secretary of Budget and Management to cease and desist from
disbursing public funds for the implementation of the assailed provisions of R.A. 8371; and
(5) The issuance of a writ of mandamus commanding the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources to comply
with his duty of carrying out the States constitutional mandate to control and supervise the exploration,
development, utilization and conservation of Philippine natural resources. [7]
After due deliberation on the petition, the members of the Court voted as follows:
Seven (7) voted to dismiss the petition. Justice Kapunan filed an opinion, which the Chief Justice and Justices Bellosillo,
Quisumbing, and Santiago join, sustaining the validity of the challenged provisions of R.A. 8371. Justice Puno also filed a
separate opinion sustaining all challenged provisions of the law with the exception of Section 1, Part II, Rule III of NCIP
Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998, the Rules and Regulations Implementing the IPRA, and Section 57 of the IPRA
which he contends should be interpreted as dealing with the large-scale exploitation of natural resources and should be read in
conjunction with Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. On the other hand, Justice Mendoza voted to dismiss the
petition solely on the ground that it does not raise a justiciable controversy and petitioners do not have standing to question the
constitutionality of R.A. 8371.
Seven (7) other members of the Court voted to grant the petition. Justice Panganiban filed a separate opinion expressing the
view that Sections 3 (a)(b), 5, 6, 7 (a)(b), 8, and related provisions of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. He reserves judgment on
the constitutionality of Sections 58, 59, 65, and 66 of the law, which he believes must await the filing of specific cases by those
whose rights may have been violated by the IPRA. Justice Vitug also filed a separate opinion expressing the view that Sections
3(a), 7, and 57 of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. Justices Melo, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and De Leon join in the separate
opinions of Justices Panganiban and Vitug.
As the votes were equally divided (7 to 7) and the necessary majority was not obtained, the case was redeliberated
upon. However, after redeliberation, the voting remained the same. Accordingly, pursuant to Rule 56, Section 7 of the Rules of
Civil Procedure, the petition is DISMISSED.
Attached hereto and made integral parts thereof are the separate opinions of Justices Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, and
Panganiban.
SO ORDERED.
THE SECRETARY OF THE G.R. No. 167707
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT
AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE
REGIONAL EXECUTIVE Present:
DIRECTOR, DENR-REGION VI,
REGIONAL TECHNICAL PUNO, C.J.,
DIRECTOR FOR LANDS, QUISUMBING,
LANDS MANAGEMENT BUREAU, YNARES-SANTIAGO,
REGION VI PROVINCIAL CARPIO,
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
RESOURCES OFFICER OF KALIBO, CORONA,*
AKLAN, REGISTER OF DEEDS, CARPIO MORALES,
DIRECTOR OF LAND AZCUNA,
REGISTRATION AUTHORITY, TINGA,
DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM CHICO-NAZARIO,
SECRETARY, DIRECTOR OF VELASCO, JR.,
PHILIPPINE TOURISM NACHURA,**
AUTHORITY, REYES,
Petitioners, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
BRION, JJ.
- versus -

MAYOR JOSE S. YAP, LIBERTAD


TALAPIAN, MILA Y. SUMNDAD, and
ANICETO YAP, in their behalf and Promulgated:
in behalf of all those similarly situated,
Respondents. October 8, 2008

x--------------------------------------------------x

DR. ORLANDO SACAY and G.R. No. 173775


WILFREDO GELITO, joined by
THE LANDOWNERS OF
BORACAY SIMILARLY
SITUATED NAMED IN A LIST,
ANNEX A OF THIS PETITION,
Petitioners,

- versus -

THE SECRETARY OF THE


DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT
AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE
REGIONAL TECHNICAL
DIRECTOR FOR LANDS, LANDS
MANAGEMENT BUREAU,
REGION VI, PROVINCIAL
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL
RESOURCES OFFICER, KALIBO,
AKLAN,
Respondents.

x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

REYES, R.T., J.:


AT stake in these consolidated cases is the right of the present occupants of Boracay Island to secure titles over their

occupied lands.

There are two consolidated petitions. The first is G.R. No. 167707, a petition for review on certiorari of the

Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) affirming that[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Kalibo, Aklan, which granted the

petition for declaratory relief filed by respondents-claimants Mayor Jose Yap, et al. and ordered the survey of Boracay for titling

purposes. The second is G.R. No. 173775, a petition for prohibition, mandamus, and nullification of Proclamation No.

1064[3] issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo classifying Boracay into reserved forest and agricultural land.

The Antecedents

G.R. No. 167707

Boracay Island in the Municipality of Malay, Aklan, with its powdery white sand beaches and warm crystalline waters,

is reputedly a premier Philippine tourist destination. The island is also home to 12,003 inhabitants[4] who live in the bone-shaped

islands three barangays.[5]

On April 14, 1976, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) approved the National

Reservation Survey of Boracay

Island,[6] which identified several lots as being occupied or claimed by named persons. [7]

On November 10, 1978, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued Proclamation No. 1801[8] declaring Boracay Island,

among other islands, caves and peninsulas in the Philippines, as tourist zones and marine reserves under the administration of

the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA). President Marcos later approved the issuance of PTA Circular 3-82[9] dated September

3, 1982, to implement Proclamation No. 1801.

Claiming that Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No 3-82 precluded them from filing an application for judicial

confirmation of imperfect title or survey of land for titling purposes, respondents-claimants

Mayor Jose S. Yap, Jr., Libertad Talapian, Mila Y. Sumndad, and Aniceto Yap filed a petition for declaratory relief with

the RTC in Kalibo, Aklan.

In their petition, respondents-claimants alleged that Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 raised doubts

on their right to secure titles over their occupied lands. They declared that they themselves, or through their predecessors-in-

interest, had been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation in Boracay since June 12, 1945, or
earlier since time immemorial. They declared their lands for tax purposes and paid realty taxes on them. [10]
Respondents-claimants posited that Proclamation No. 1801 and its implementing Circular did not place Boracay

beyond the commerce of man. Since the Islandwas classified as a tourist zone, it was susceptible of private ownership. Under

Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 141, otherwise known as the Public Land Act, they had the right to have the lots

registered in their names through judicial confirmation of imperfect titles.

The Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), opposed the petition for declaratory

relief. The OSG countered that Boracay Island was an unclassified land of the public domain. It formed part of the mass of lands

classified as public forest, which was not available for disposition pursuant to Section 3(a) of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 705

or the Revised Forestry Code,[11] as amended.

The OSG maintained that respondents-claimants reliance on PD No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 was

misplaced. Their right to judicial confirmation of title was governed by CA No. 141 and PD No. 705. Since Boracay Island had

not been classified as alienable and disposable, whatever possession they had cannot ripen into ownership.

During pre-trial, respondents-claimants and the OSG stipulated on the following facts: (1) respondents-claimants were

presently in possession of parcels of land in Boracay Island; (2) these parcels of land were planted with coconut trees and other

natural growing trees; (3) the coconut trees had heights of more or less twenty (20) meters and were planted more or less fifty

(50) years ago; and (4) respondents-claimants declared the land they were occupying for tax purposes.[12]

The parties also agreed that the principal issue for resolution was purely legal: whether Proclamation No. 1801 posed

any legal hindrance or impediment to the titling of the lands in Boracay. They decided to forego with the trial and to submit the

case for resolution upon submission of their respective memoranda. [13]

The RTC took judicial notice[14] that certain parcels of land in Boracay Island, more particularly Lots 1 and 30,

Plan PSU-5344, were covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 19502 (RO 2222) in the name of the Heirs of Ciriaco S.
Tirol. These lots were involved in Civil Case Nos. 5222 and 5262 filed before

the RTCof Kalibo, Aklan.[15] The titles were issued on

August 7, 1933.[16]

RTC and CA Dispositions

On July 14, 1999, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of respondents-claimants, with a fallo reading:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court declares that Proclamation No. 1801
and PTA Circular No. 3-82 pose no legal obstacle to the petitioners and those similarly situated to acquire
title to their lands in Boracay, in accordance with the applicable laws and in the manner prescribed therein;
and to have their lands surveyed and approved by respondent Regional Technical Director of Lands as the
approved survey does not in itself constitute a title to the land.
SO ORDERED.[17]

The RTC upheld respondents-claimants right to have their occupied lands titled in their name. It ruled that neither

Proclamation No. 1801 nor PTA Circular No. 3-82 mentioned that lands in Boracay were inalienable or could not be the subject

of disposition.[18] The Circular itself recognized private ownership of lands.[19]The trial court cited Sections 87[20] and 53[21] of the

Public Land Act as basis for acknowledging private ownership of lands in Boracay and that only those forested areas in public

lands were declared as part of the forest reserve.[22]

The OSG moved for reconsideration but its motion was denied.[23] The Republic then appealed to the CA.

On December 9, 2004, the appellate court affirmed in toto the RTC decision, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, judgment is hereby rendered by us DENYING


the appeal filed in this case and AFFIRMING the decision of the lower court. [24]

The CA held that respondents-claimants could not be prejudiced by a declaration that the lands they occupied since

time immemorial were part of a forest reserve.

Again, the OSG sought reconsideration but it was similarly denied.[25] Hence, the present petition under Rule 45.

G.R. No. 173775

On May 22, 2006, during the pendency of G.R. No. 167707, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation No.

1064[26] classifying Boracay Island into four hundred (400) hectares of reserved forest land (protection purposes) and six hundred
twenty-eight and 96/100 (628.96) hectares of agricultural land (alienable and disposable). The Proclamation likewise provided

for a fifteen-meter buffer zone on each side of the centerline of roads and trails, reserved for right-of-way and which shall form

part of the area reserved for forest land protection purposes.

On August 10, 2006, petitioners-claimants Dr. Orlando Sacay,[27] Wilfredo Gelito,[28] and other landowners[29] in

Boracay filed with this Court an original petition for prohibition, mandamus, and nullification of Proclamation No. 1064. [30] They

allege that the Proclamation infringed on their prior vested rights over portions of Boracay. They have been in continued

possession of their respective lots in Boracay since time immemorial. They have also invested billions of pesos in developing

their lands and building internationally renowned first class resorts on their lots.[31]
Petitioners-claimants contended that there is no need for a proclamation reclassifying Boracay into agricultural

land. Being classified as neither mineral nor timber land, the island is deemed agricultural pursuant to the Philippine Bill of 1902

and Act No. 926, known as the first Public Land Act.[32] Thus, their possession in the concept of owner for the required period

entitled them to judicial confirmation of imperfect title.

Opposing the petition, the OSG argued that petitioners-claimants do not have a vested right over their occupied

portions in the island. Boracay is an unclassified public forest land pursuant to Section 3(a) of PD No. 705. Being public forest,

the claimed portions of the island are inalienable and cannot be the subject of judicial confirmation of imperfect title. It is only

the executive department, not the courts, which has authority to reclassify lands of the public domain into alienable and

disposable lands. There is a need for a positive government act in order to release the lots for disposition.

On November 21, 2006, this Court ordered the consolidation of the two petitions as they principally involve the same

issues on the land classification of Boracay Island.[33]

Issues

G.R. No. 167707

The OSG raises the lone issue of whether Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 pose any legal obstacle

for respondents, and all those similarly situated, to acquire title to their occupied lands in Boracay Island.[34]

G.R. No. 173775

Petitioners-claimants hoist five (5) issues, namely:

I.
AT THE TIME OF THE ESTABLISHED POSSESSION OF PETITIONERS IN CONCEPT OF OWNER
OVER THEIR RESPECTIVE AREAS IN BORACAY, SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL OR AT THE
LATEST SINCE 30 YRS. PRIOR TO THE FILING OF THE PETITION FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF
ON NOV. 19, 1997, WERE THE AREAS OCCUPIED BY THEM PUBLIC AGRICULTURAL LANDS AS
DEFINED BY LAWS THEN ON JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION OF IMPERFECT TITLES OR PUBLIC
FOREST AS DEFINED BY SEC. 3a, PD 705?

II.
HAVE PETITIONERS OCCUPANTS ACQUIRED PRIOR VESTED RIGHT OF PRIVATE
OWNERSHIP OVER THEIR OCCUPIED PORTIONS OF BORACAY LAND, DESPITE
THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE NOT APPLIED YET FOR JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION OF
IMPERFECT TITLE?

III.
IS THE EXECUTIVE DECLARATION OF THEIR AREAS AS
ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE UNDER SEC 6, CA 141 [AN] INDISPENSABLE PRE-REQUISITE
FOR PETITIONERS TO OBTAIN TITLE UNDER THE TORRENS SYSTEM?

IV.
IS THE ISSUANCE OF PROCLAMATION 1064 ON MAY 22, 2006, VIOLATIVE OF THE PRIOR
VESTED RIGHTS TO PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OF PETITIONERS OVER THEIR LANDS IN
BORACAY, PROTECTED BY THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION OR IS
PROCLAMATION 1064 CONTRARY TO SEC. 8, CA 141, OR SEC. 4(a) OF RA 6657.

V.
CAN RESPONDENTS BE COMPELLED BY MANDAMUS TO ALLOW THE SURVEY AND TO
APPROVE THE SURVEY PLANS FOR PURPOSES OF THE APPLICATION FOR TITLING OF THE
LANDS OF PETITIONERS IN BORACAY?[35] (Underscoring supplied)

In capsule, the main issue is whether private claimants (respondents-claimants in G.R. No. 167707 and petitioners-

claimants in G.R. No. 173775) have a right to secure titles over their occupied portions in Boracay. The twin petitions pertain to

their right, if any, to judicial confirmation of imperfect title under CA No. 141, as amended. They do not involve their right to

secure title under other pertinent laws.

Our Ruling

Regalian Doctrine and power of the executive


to reclassify lands of the public domain

Private claimants rely on three (3) laws and executive acts in their bid for judicial confirmation of imperfect title,

namely: (a) Philippine Bill of 1902[36] in relation to Act No. 926, later amended and/or superseded by Act No. 2874 and CA No.

141;[37] (b) Proclamation No. 1801[38] issued by then President Marcos; and (c) Proclamation No. 1064[39] issued by President

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. We shall proceed to determine their rights to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under

these laws and executive acts.

But first, a peek at the Regalian principle and the power of the executive to reclassify lands of the public domain.

The 1935 Constitution classified lands of the public domain into agricultural, forest or timber.[40] Meanwhile, the 1973

Constitution provided the following divisions: agricultural, industrial or commercial, residential, resettlement, mineral, timber or

forest and grazing lands, and such other classes as may be provided by law, [41] giving the government great leeway for

classification.[42] Then the 1987 Constitution reverted to the 1935 Constitution classification with one addition: national

parks.[43] Of these, only agricultural lands may be alienated.[44] Prior to Proclamation No. 1064 of May 22,

2006, Boracay Island had never been expressly and administratively classified under any of these grand divisions. Boracay was

an unclassified land of the public domain.


The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the public domain belong to the State, that the State is the source of any

asserted right to ownership of land and charged with the conservation of such patrimony. [45] The doctrine has been consistently

adopted under the 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions.[46]

All lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. [47] Thus,

all lands that have not been acquired from the government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the State as part of the

inalienable public domain.[48] Necessarily, it is up to the State to determine if lands of the public domain will be disposed of for

private ownership. The government, as the agent of the state, is possessed of the plenary power as the persona in law to determine

who shall be the favored recipients of public lands, as well as under what terms they may be granted such privilege, not excluding

the placing of obstacles in the way of their exercise of what otherwise would be ordinary acts of ownership. [49]

Our present land law traces its roots to the Regalian Doctrine. Upon the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, ownership

of all lands, territories and possessions in the Philippines passed to the Spanish Crown.[50] The Regalian doctrine was first

introduced in the Philippines through the Laws of the Indies and the Royal Cedulas, which laid the foundation that all lands that

were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain. [51]

The Laws of the Indies was followed by the Ley Hipotecaria or the Mortgage Law of 1893. The Spanish Mortgage Law

provided for the systematic registration of titles and deeds as well as possessory claims. [52]

The Royal Decree of 1894 or the Maura Law[53] partly amended the Spanish Mortgage Law and the Laws of the

Indies. It established possessory information as the method of legalizing possession of vacant Crown land, under certain

conditions which were set forth in said decree.[54] Under Section 393 of the Maura Law, an informacion posesoria or possessory

information title,[55] when duly inscribed in the Registry of Property, is converted into a title of ownership only after the lapse of

twenty (20) years of uninterrupted possession which must be actual, public, and adverse, [56] from the date of its

inscription.[57] However, possessory information title had to be perfected one year after the promulgation of the Maura Law, or
until April 17, 1895. Otherwise, the lands would revert to the State.[58]

In sum, private ownership of land under the Spanish regime could only be founded on royal concessions which took

various forms, namely: (1) titulo real or royal grant; (2) concesion especial or special grant; (3) composicion con el estado or

adjustment title; (4) titulo de compra or title by purchase; and (5) informacion posesoria or possessory information title.[59]

The first law governing the disposition of public lands in the Philippines under American rule was embodied in the

Philippine Bill of 1902.[60] By this law, lands of the public domain in the Philippine Islands were classified into three (3) grand

divisions, to wit: agricultural, mineral, and timber or forest lands.[61] The act provided for, among others, the disposal of mineral
lands by means of absolute grant (freehold system) and by lease (leasehold system).[62] It also provided the definition by
exclusion of agricultural public lands.[63] Interpreting the meaning of agricultural lands under the Philippine Bill of 1902, the

Court declared in Mapa v. Insular Government:[64]

x x x In other words, that the phrase agricultural land as used in Act No. 926 means those public
lands acquired from Spain which are not timber or mineral lands. x x x[65] (Emphasis Ours)

On February 1, 1903, the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 496, otherwise known as the Land Registration

Act. The act established a system of registration by which recorded title becomes absolute, indefeasible, and imprescriptible. This

is known as the Torrens system.[66]

Concurrently, on October 7, 1903, the Philippine Commission passed Act No. 926, which was the first Public Land

Act. The Act introduced the homestead system and made provisions for judicial and administrative confirmation of imperfect

titles and for the sale or lease of public lands. It permitted corporations regardless of the nationality of persons owning the

controlling stock to lease or purchase lands of the public domain. [67] Under the Act, open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious

possession and occupation of agricultural lands for the next ten (10) years preceding July 26, 1904 was sufficient for judicial

confirmation of imperfect title.[68]

On November 29, 1919, Act No. 926 was superseded by Act No. 2874, otherwise known as the second Public Land

Act. This new, more comprehensive law limited the exploitation of agricultural lands to Filipinos and Americans and citizens of

other countries which gave Filipinos the same privileges. For judicial confirmation of title, possession and occupation en

concepto dueo since time immemorial, or since July 26, 1894, was required.[69]

After the passage of the 1935 Constitution, CA No. 141 amended Act No. 2874 on December 1, 1936. To this day, CA

No. 141, as amended, remains as the existing general law governing the classification and disposition of lands of the public
domain other than timber and mineral lands,[70] and privately owned lands which reverted to the State.[71]

Section 48(b) of CA No. 141 retained the requirement under Act No. 2874 of possession and occupation of lands of the

public domain since time immemorial or since July 26, 1894. However, this provision was superseded by Republic Act (RA) No.

1942,[72] which provided for a simple thirty-year prescriptive period for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The provision

was last amended by PD No. 1073,[73] which now provides for possession and occupation of the land applied for since June 12,

1945, or earlier.[74]

The issuance of PD No. 892[75] on February 16, 1976 discontinued the use of Spanish titles as evidence in land

registration proceedings.[76] Under the decree, all holders of Spanish titles or grants should apply for registration of their lands
under Act No. 496 within six (6) months from the effectivity of the decree on February 16, 1976. Thereafter, the recording of

all unregistered lands[77] shall be governed by Section 194 of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended by Act No. 3344.

On June 11, 1978, Act No. 496 was amended and updated by PD No. 1529, known as the Property Registration

Decree. It was enacted to codify the various laws relative to registration of property.[78] It governs registration of lands under

the Torrens system as well as unregistered lands, including chattel mortgages.[79]

A positive act declaring land as alienable and disposable is required. In keeping with the presumption of State

ownership, the Court has time and again emphasized that there must be a positive act of the government, such as an official

proclamation,[80] declassifying inalienable public land into disposable land for agricultural or other purposes.[81] In fact, Section 8

of CA No. 141 limits alienable or disposable lands only to those lands which have been officially delimited and classified.[82]

The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of State ownership of the lands of the public domain is on the

person applying for registration (or claiming ownership), who must prove that the land subject of the application is alienable or

disposable.[83] To overcome this presumption, incontrovertible evidence must be established that the land subject of the

application (or claim) is alienable or disposable.[84] There must still be a positive act declaring land of the public domain as

alienable and disposable. To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable, the applicant must establish

the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an administrative

action; investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act or a statute. [85] The applicant may also secure

a certification from the government that the land claimed to have been possessed for the required number of years is alienable

and disposable.[86]

In the case at bar, no such proclamation, executive order, administrative action, report, statute, or certification was

presented to the Court. The records are bereft of evidence showing that, prior to 2006, the portions of Boracay occupied by

private claimants were subject of a government proclamation that the land is alienable and disposable. Absent such well-nigh
incontrovertible evidence, the Court cannot accept the submission that lands occupied by private claimants were already open to

disposition before 2006. Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. They call for proof.[87]

Ankron and De Aldecoa did not make the whole of Boracay Island, or portions of it, agricultural lands. Private

claimants posit that Boracay was already an agricultural land pursuant to the old cases Ankron v. Government of the

Philippine Islands (1919)[88] and De Aldecoa v. The Insular Government (1909).[89] These cases were decided under the

provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Act No. 926. There is a statement in these old cases that in the absence of evidence

to the contrary, that in each case the lands are agricultural lands until the contrary is shown. [90]

Private claimants reliance on Ankron and De Aldecoa is misplaced. These cases did not have the effect of converting

the whole of Boracay Island or portions of it into agricultural lands. It should be stressed that the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Act
No. 926 merely provided the manner through which land registration courts would classify lands of the public domain. Whether

the land would be classified as timber, mineral, or agricultural depended on proof presented in each case.

Ankron and De Aldecoa were decided at a time when the President of the Philippines had no power to classify lands of

the public domain into mineral, timber, and agricultural. At that time, the courts were free to make corresponding classifications

in justiciable cases, or were vested with implicit power to do so, depending upon the preponderance of the evidence.[91] This was

the Courts ruling in Heirs of the Late Spouses Pedro S. Palanca and Soterranea Rafols Vda. De Palanca v. Republic,[92] in which

it stated, through Justice Adolfo Azcuna, viz.:

x x x Petitioners furthermore insist that a particular land need not be formally released by an act of
the Executive before it can be deemed open to private ownership, citing the cases of Ramos v. Director of
Lands and Ankron v. Government of the Philippine Islands.

xxxx

Petitioners reliance upon Ramos v. Director of Lands and Ankron v. Government is misplaced.
These cases were decided under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and the first Public Land Act No. 926 enacted by
the Philippine Commission on October 7, 1926, under which there was no legal provision vesting in the Chief
Executive or President of the Philippines the power to classify lands of the public domain into mineral,
timber and agricultural so that the courts then were free to make corresponding classifications in justiciable
cases, or were vested with implicit power to do so, depending upon the preponderance of the evidence. [93]

To aid the courts in resolving land registration cases under Act No. 926, it was then necessary to devise a presumption

on land classification. Thus evolved the dictum in Ankron that the courts have a right to presume, in the absence of evidence to

the contrary, that in each case the lands are agricultural lands until the contrary is shown.[94]

But We cannot unduly expand the presumption in Ankron and De Aldecoa to an argument that all lands of the public

domain had been automatically reclassified as disposable and alienable agricultural lands. By no stretch of imagination did the

presumption convert all lands of the public domain into agricultural lands.

If We accept the position of private claimants, the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Act No. 926 would have automatically

made all lands in the Philippines, except those already classified as timber or mineral land, alienable and disposable lands. That

would take these lands out of State ownership and worse, would be utterly inconsistent with and totally repugnant to the long-

entrenched Regalian doctrine.

The presumption in Ankron and De Aldecoa attaches only to land registration cases brought under the provisions of Act

No. 926, or more specifically those cases dealing with judicial and administrative confirmation of imperfect titles. The
presumption applies to an applicant for judicial or administrative conformation of imperfect title under Act No. 926. It certainly

cannot apply to landowners, such as private claimants or their predecessors-in-interest, who failed to avail themselves of the
benefits of Act No. 926. As to them, their land remained unclassified and, by virtue of the Regalian doctrine, continued to be

owned by the State.

In any case, the assumption in Ankron and De Aldecoa was not absolute. Land classification was, in the end, dependent

on proof. If there was proof that the land was better suited for non-agricultural uses, the courts could adjudge it as a mineral or

timber land despite the presumption. In Ankron, this Court stated:

In the case of Jocson vs. Director of Forestry (supra), the Attorney-General admitted in effect that
whether the particular land in question belongs to one class or another is a question of fact. The mere fact that
a tract of land has trees upon it or has mineral within it is not of itself sufficient to declare that one is forestry
land and the other, mineral land. There must be some proof of the extent and present or future value of the
forestry and of the minerals. While, as we have just said, many definitions have been given for agriculture,
forestry, and mineral lands, and that in each case it is a question of fact, we think it is safe to say that in order
to be forestry or mineral land the proof must show that it is more valuable for the forestry or the mineral
which it contains than it is for agricultural purposes. (Sec. 7, Act No. 1148.) It is not sufficient to show that
there exists some trees upon the land or that it bears some mineral. Land may be classified as forestry or
mineral today, and, by reason of the exhaustion of the timber or mineral, be classified as agricultural land
tomorrow. And vice-versa, by reason of the rapid growth of timber or the discovery of valuable minerals,
lands classified as agricultural today may be differently classified tomorrow. Each case must be decided
upon the proof in that particular case, having regard for its present or future value for one or the other
purposes. We believe, however, considering the fact that it is a matter of public knowledge that a majority of
the lands in the Philippine Islands are agricultural lands that the courts have a right to presume, in the absence
of evidence to the contrary, that in each case the lands are agricultural lands until the contrary is
shown. Whatever the land involved in a particular land registration case is forestry or mineral land
must, therefore, be a matter of proof. Its superior value for one purpose or the other is a question of
fact to be settled by the proof in each particular case. The fact that the land is a manglar [mangrove
swamp] is not sufficient for the courts to decide whether it is agricultural, forestry, or mineral land. It may
perchance belong to one or the other of said classes of land. The Government, in the first instance, under the
provisions of Act No. 1148, may, by reservation, decide for itself what portions of public land shall be
considered forestry land, unless private interests have intervened before such reservation is made. In the latter
case, whether the land is agricultural, forestry, or mineral, is a question of proof. Until private interests have
intervened, the Government, by virtue of the terms of said Act (No. 1148), may decide for itself what
portions of the public domain shall be set aside and reserved as forestry or mineral land. (Ramos vs. Director
of Lands, 39 Phil. 175; Jocson vs. Director of Forestry,supra)[95] (Emphasis ours)

Since 1919, courts were no longer free to determine the classification of lands from the facts of each case, except those

that have already became private lands.[96] Act No. 2874, promulgated in 1919 and reproduced in Section 6 of CA No. 141, gave

the Executive Department, through the President, the exclusive prerogative to classify or reclassify public lands into alienable or

disposable, mineral or forest.96-a Since then, courts no longer had the authority, whether express or implied, to determine the

classification of lands of the public domain.[97]

Here, private claimants, unlike the Heirs of Ciriaco Tirol who were issued their title in 1933,[98] did not present a

justiciable case for determination by the land registration court of the propertys land classification. Simply put, there was no

opportunity for the courts then to resolve if the land the Boracay occupants are now claiming were agricultural lands. When Act

No. 926 was supplanted by Act No. 2874 in 1919, without an application for judicial confirmation having been filed by private

claimants or their predecessors-in-interest, the courts were no longer authorized to determine the propertys land
classification. Hence, private claimants cannot bank on Act No. 926.
We note that the RTC decision[99] in G.R. No. 167707 mentioned Krivenko v. Register of Deeds of Manila,[100] which

was decided in 1947 when CA No. 141, vesting the Executive with the sole power to classify lands of the public domain was

already in effect. Krivenko cited the old cases Mapa v. Insular Government,[101]De Aldecoa v. The Insular

Government,[102] and Ankron v. Government of the Philippine Islands.[103]

Krivenko, however, is not controlling here because it involved a totally different issue. The pertinent issue

in Krivenko was whether residential lots were included in the general classification of agricultural lands; and if so, whether an

alien could acquire a residential lot. This Court ruled that as an alien, Krivenko was prohibited by the 1935 Constitution[104] from

acquiring agricultural land, which included residential lots. Here, the issue is whether unclassified lands of the public domain are

automatically deemed agricultural.

Notably, the definition of agricultural public lands mentioned in Krivenko relied on the old cases decided prior to the

enactment of Act No. 2874, including Ankron and De Aldecoa.[105] As We have already stated, those cases cannot apply here,

since they were decided when the Executive did not have the authority to classify lands as agricultural, timber, or mineral.

Private claimants continued possession under Act No. 926 does not create a presumption that the land is
alienable. Private claimants also contend that their continued possession of portions of Boracay Island for the requisite period of

ten (10) years under Act No. 926[106] ipso facto converted the island into private ownership. Hence, they may apply for a title in

their name.

A similar argument was squarely rejected by the Court in Collado v. Court of Appeals.[107] Collado, citing the separate

opinion of now Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno in Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources,107-a ruled:

Act No. 926, the first Public Land Act, was passed in pursuance of the
provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902. The law governed the disposition of lands of the
public domain. It prescribed rules and regulations for the homesteading, selling and
leasing of portions of the public domain of the Philippine Islands, and prescribed the
terms and conditions to enable persons to perfect their titles to public lands in the Islands.
It also provided for the issuance of patents to certain native settlers upon public lands, for
the establishment of town sites and sale of lots therein, for the completion of imperfect
titles, and for the cancellation or confirmation of Spanish concessions and grants in
the Islands. In short, the Public Land Act operated on the assumption that title to public
lands in the Philippine Islands remained in the government; and that the governments
title to public land sprung from the Treaty of Paris and other subsequent treaties between
Spain and the United States. The term public land referred to all lands of the public
domain whose title still remained in the government and are thrown open to private
appropriation and settlement, and excluded the patrimonial property of the government
and the friar lands.

Thus, it is plain error for petitioners to argue that under the Philippine Bill of 1902
and Public Land Act No. 926, mere possession by private individuals of lands creates the legal
presumption that the lands are alienable and disposable.[108] (Emphasis Ours)
Except for lands already covered by existing titles, Boracay was an unclassified land of the public domain prior to
Proclamation No. 1064. Such unclassified lands are considered public forest under PD No. 705. The DENR[109] and the

National Mapping and Resource Information Authority[110] certify that Boracay Island is an unclassified land of the public

domain.

PD No. 705 issued by President Marcos categorized all unclassified lands of the public domain as public forest. Section

3(a) of PD No. 705 defines a public forest as a mass of lands of the public domain which has not been the subject of the present

system of classification for the determination of which lands are needed for forest purpose and which are not. Applying PD No.

705, all unclassified lands, including those in Boracay Island, are ipso facto considered public forests. PD No. 705, however,

respects titles already existing prior to its effectivity.

The Court notes that the classification of Boracay as a forest land under PD No. 705 may seem to be out of touch with

the present realities in the island. Boracay, no doubt, has been partly stripped of its forest cover to pave the way for commercial

developments. As a premier tourist destination for local and foreign tourists, Boracay appears more of a commercial island resort,

rather than a forest land.

Nevertheless, that the occupants of Boracay have built multi-million peso beach resorts on the island;[111] that the island

has already been stripped of its forest cover; or that the implementation of Proclamation No. 1064 will destroy the islands tourism

industry, do not negate its character as public forest.

Forests, in the context of both the Public Land Act and the Constitution [112] classifying lands of the public domain

into agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands, and national parks, do not necessarily refer to large tracts of wooded land or

expanses covered by dense growths of trees and underbrushes.[113] The discussion in Heirs of Amunategui v. Director of

Forestry[114] is particularly instructive:

A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose such classification
simply because loggers or settlers may have stripped it of its forest cover. Parcels of land classified as forest
land may actually be covered with grass or planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other
farmers. Forest lands do not have to be on mountains or in out of the way places. Swampy areas covered by
mangrove trees, nipa palms, and other trees growing in brackish or sea water may also be classified as forest
land. The classification is descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of
what the land actually looks like. Unless and until the land classified as forest is released in an official
proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain,
the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply. [115] (Emphasis supplied)

There is a big difference between forest as defined in a dictionary and forest or timber land as a classification of lands of the

public domain as appearing in our statutes. One is descriptive of what appears on the land while the other is a legal status, a
classification for legal purposes.[116] At any rate, the Court is tasked to determine the legal status of Boracay Island, and not look
into its physical layout. Hence, even if its forest cover has been replaced by beach resorts, restaurants and other commercial

establishments, it has not been automatically converted from public forest to alienable agricultural land.

Private claimants cannot rely on Proclamation No. 1801 as basis for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The
proclamation did not convert Boracay into an agricultural land. However, private claimants argue that Proclamation No. 1801

issued by then President Marcos in 1978 entitles them to judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The Proclamation classified

Boracay, among other islands, as a tourist zone. Private claimants assert that, as a tourist spot, the island is susceptible of private

ownership.

Proclamation No. 1801 or PTA Circular No. 3-82 did not convert the whole of Boracay into an agricultural land. There

is nothing in the law or the Circular which made Boracay Island an agricultural land. The reference in Circular No. 3-82 to

private lands[117] and areas declared as alienable and disposable[118] does not by itself classify the entire island as

agricultural. Notably, Circular No. 3-82 makes reference not only to private lands and areas but also to public forested

lands. Rule VIII, Section 3 provides:

No trees in forested private lands may be cut without prior authority from the PTA. All forested
areas in public lands are declared forest reserves. (Emphasis supplied)

Clearly, the reference in the Circular to both private and public lands merely recognizes that the island can be classified

by the Executive department pursuant to its powers under CA No. 141. In fact, Section 5 of the Circular recognizes the then

Bureau of Forest Developments authority to declare areas in the island as alienable and disposable when it provides:

Subsistence farming, in areas declared as alienable and disposable by the Bureau of Forest
Development.

Therefore, Proclamation No. 1801 cannot be deemed the positive act needed to classify Boracay Island as alienable and
disposable land. If President Marcos intended to classify the island as alienable and disposable or forest, or both, he would have

identified the specific limits of each, as President Arroyo did in Proclamation No. 1064. This was not done in Proclamation No.

1801.

The Whereas clauses of Proclamation No. 1801 also explain the rationale behind the declaration of Boracay Island,

together with other islands, caves and peninsulas in the Philippines, as a tourist zone and marine reserve to be administered by

the PTA to ensure the concentrated efforts of the public and private sectors in the development of the areas tourism potential with

due regard for ecological balance in the marine environment. Simply put, the proclamation is aimed at administering the islands

for tourism and ecological purposes. It does not address the areas alienability.[119]
More importantly, Proclamation No. 1801 covers not only Boracay Island, but sixty-four (64) other islands, coves, and

peninsulas in the Philippines, such as Fortune and Verde Islands in Batangas, Port Galera in Oriental Mindoro, Panglao and

Balicasag Islands in Bohol, Coron Island, Puerto Princesa and surrounding areas in Palawan, Camiguin Island in Cagayan de

Oro, and Misamis Oriental, to name a few. If the designation of Boracay Island as tourist zone makes it alienable and disposable

by virtue of Proclamation No. 1801, all the other areas mentioned would likewise be declared wide open for private

disposition. That could not have been, and is clearly beyond, the intent of the proclamation.

It was Proclamation No. 1064 of 2006 which positively declared part of Boracay as alienable and opened the same to
private ownership. Sections 6 and 7 of CA No. 141[120] provide that it is only the President, upon the recommendation of the

proper department head, who has the authority to classify the lands of the public domain into alienable or disposable, timber and

mineral lands.[121]

In issuing Proclamation No. 1064, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo merely exercised the authority granted to her to

classify lands of the public domain, presumably subject to existing vested rights. Classification of public lands is the exclusive

prerogative of the Executive Department, through the Office of the President. Courts have no authority to do so.[122] Absent such

classification, the land remains unclassified until released and rendered open to disposition. [123]

Proclamation No. 1064 classifies Boracay into 400 hectares of reserved forest land and 628.96 hectares of agricultural

land. The Proclamation likewise provides for a 15-meter buffer zone on each side of the center line of roads and trails, which are

reserved for right of way and which shall form part of the area reserved for forest land protection purposes.

Contrary to private claimants argument, there was nothing invalid or irregular, much less unconstitutional, about the

classification of Boracay Island made by the President through Proclamation No. 1064. It was within her authority to make such

classification, subject to existing vested rights.

Proclamation No. 1064 does not violate the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. Private claimants further assert

that Proclamation No. 1064 violates the provision of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) or RA No. 6657 barring

conversion of public forests into agricultural lands. They claim that since Boracay is a public forest under PD No. 705, President

Arroyo can no longer convert it into an agricultural land without running afoul of Section 4(a) of RA No. 6657, thus:

SEC. 4. Scope. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 shall cover, regardless of
tenurial arrangement and commodity produced, all public and private agricultural lands as provided in
Proclamation No. 131 and Executive Order No. 229, including other lands of the public domain suitable for
agriculture.

More specifically, the following lands are covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
Program:

(a) All alienable and disposable lands of the public domain devoted to or suitable for
agriculture. No reclassification of forest or mineral lands to agricultural lands shall
be undertaken after the approval of this Act until Congress, taking into account
ecological, developmental and equity considerations, shall have determined by law,
the specific limits of the public domain.

That Boracay Island was classified as a public forest under PD No. 705 did not bar the Executive from later converting

it into agricultural land. Boracay Islandstill remained an unclassified land of the public domain despite PD No. 705.

In Heirs of the Late Spouses Pedro S. Palanca and Soterranea Rafols v. Republic,[124] the Court stated that unclassified

lands are public forests.

While it is true that the land classification map does not categorically state that the islands
are public forests, the fact that they were unclassified lands leads to the same result. In the absence of
the classification as mineral or timber land, the land remains unclassified land until released and rendered
open to disposition.[125] (Emphasis supplied)

Moreover, the prohibition under the CARL applies only to a reclassification of land. If the land had never been

previously classified, as in the case of Boracay, there can be no prohibited reclassification under the agrarian law. We agree with

the opinion of the Department of Justice[126] on this point:

Indeed, the key word to the correct application of the prohibition in Section 4(a) is the word
reclassification. Where there has been no previous classification of public forest [referring, we repeat, to the
mass of the public domain which has not been the subject of the present system of classification for purposes
of determining which are needed for forest purposes and which are not] into permanent forest or forest
reserves or some other forest uses under the Revised Forestry Code, there can be no reclassification of forest
lands to speak of within the meaning of Section 4(a).

Thus, obviously, the prohibition in Section 4(a) of the CARL against the reclassification of forest
lands to agricultural lands without a prior law delimiting the limits of the public domain, does not, and
cannot, apply to those lands of the public domain, denominated as public forest under the Revised Forestry
Code, which have not been previously determined, or classified, as needed for forest purposes in accordance
with the provisions of the Revised Forestry Code.[127]

Private claimants are not entitled to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under CA No. 141. Neither do
they have vested rights over the occupied lands under the said law. There are two requisites for judicial confirmation of

imperfect or incomplete title under CA No. 141, namely: (1) open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and

occupation of the subject land by himself or through his predecessors-in-interest under a bona fide claim of ownership since time

immemorial or from June 12, 1945; and (2) the classification of the land as alienable and disposable land of the public

domain.[128]

As discussed, the Philippine Bill of 1902, Act No. 926, and Proclamation No. 1801 did not convert portions

of Boracay Island into an agricultural land. The island remained an unclassified land of the public domain and, applying the

Regalian doctrine, is considered State property.


Private claimants bid for judicial confirmation of imperfect title, relying on the Philippine Bill of 1902, Act No. 926,

and Proclamation No. 1801, must fail because of the absence of the second element of alienable and disposable land. Their

entitlement to a government grant under our present Public Land Act presupposes that the land possessed and applied for is

already alienable and disposable. This is clear from the wording of the law itself.[129] Where the land is not alienable and

disposable, possession of the land, no matter how long, cannot confer ownership or possessory rights.[130]

Neither may private claimants apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under Proclamation No. 1064, with

respect to those lands which were classified as agricultural lands. Private claimants failed to prove the first element of open,

continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession of their lands in Boracay since June 12, 1945.

We cannot sustain the CA and RTC conclusion in the petition for declaratory relief that private claimants complied

with the requisite period of possession.

The tax declarations in the name of private claimants are insufficient to prove the first element of possession. We note

that the earliest of the tax declarations in the name of private claimants were issued in 1993. Being of recent dates, the tax

declarations are not sufficient to convince this Court that the period of possession and occupation commenced on June 12, 1945.

Private claimants insist that they have a vested right in Boracay, having been in possession of the island for a long

time. They have invested millions of pesos in developing the island into a tourist spot. They say their continued possession and

investments give them a vested right which cannot be unilaterally rescinded by Proclamation No. 1064.

The continued possession and considerable investment of private claimants do not automatically give them a vested

right in Boracay. Nor do these give them a right to apply for a title to the land they are presently occupying. This Court is

constitutionally bound to decide cases based on the evidence presented and the laws applicable. As the law and jurisprudence

stand, private claimants are ineligible to apply for a judicial confirmation of title over their occupied portions in Boracay even
with their continued possession and considerable investment in the island.

One Last Note

The Court is aware that millions of pesos have been invested for the development of Boracay Island, making it a by-

word in the local and international tourism industry. The Court also notes that for a number of years, thousands of people have

called the island their home. While the Court commiserates with private claimants plight, We are bound to apply the law strictly

and judiciously. This is the law and it should prevail. Ito ang batas at ito ang dapat umiral.

All is not lost, however, for private claimants. While they may not be eligible to apply for judicial confirmation of

imperfect title under Section 48(b) of CA No. 141, as amended, this does not denote their automatic ouster from the residential,
commercial, and other areas they possess now classified as agricultural. Neither will this mean the loss of their substantial

investments on their occupied alienable lands. Lack of title does not necessarily mean lack of right to possess.

For one thing, those with lawful possession may claim good faith as builders of improvements. They can take steps to

preserve or protect their possession. For another, they may look into other modes of applying for original registration of title,

such as by homestead[131] or sales patent,[132] subject to the conditions imposed by law.

More realistically, Congress may enact a law to entitle private claimants to acquire title to their occupied lots or to

exempt them from certain requirements under the present land laws. There is one such bill[133] now pending in the House of

Representatives. Whether that bill or a similar bill will become a law is for Congress to decide.

In issuing Proclamation No. 1064, the government has taken the step necessary to open up the island to private

ownership. This gesture may not be sufficient to appease some sectors which view the classification of the island partially into a

forest reserve as absurd. That the island is no longer overrun by trees, however, does not becloud the vision to protect its

remaining forest cover and to strike a healthy balance between progress and ecology. Ecological conservation is as important as

economic progress.

To be sure, forest lands are fundamental to our nations survival. Their promotion and protection are not just fancy

rhetoric for politicians and activists. These are needs that become more urgent as destruction of our environment gets prevalent

and difficult to control. As aptly observed by Justice Conrado Sanchez in 1968 in Director of Forestry v. Munoz:[134]

The view this Court takes of the cases at bar is but in adherence to public policy that should be
followed with respect to forest lands. Many have written much, and many more have spoken, and quite often,
about the pressing need for forest preservation, conservation, protection, development and reforestation. Not
without justification. For, forests constitute a vital segment of any country's natural resources. It is of
common knowledge by now that absence of the necessary green cover on our lands produces a number of
adverse or ill effects of serious proportions. Without the trees, watersheds dry up; rivers and lakes which they
supply are emptied of their contents. The fish disappear. Denuded areas become dust bowls. As waterfalls
cease to function, so will hydroelectric plants. With the rains, the fertile topsoil is washed away; geological
erosion results. With erosion come the dreaded floods that wreak havoc and destruction to property crops,
livestock, houses, and highways not to mention precious human lives. Indeed, the foregoing observations
should be written down in a lumbermans decalogue.[135]

WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:

1. The petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 167707 is GRANTED and the Court of Appeals Decision in CA-G.R. CV

No. 71118 REVERSED AND SET ASIDE.

2. The petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 173775 is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 180771, April 21, 2015
RESIDENT MARINE MAMMALS OF THE PROTECTED SEASCAPE TANON STRAIT, E.G., TOOTHED WHALES,
DOLPHINS, PORPOISES, AND OTHER CETACEAN SPECIES, JOINED IN AND REPRESENTED HEREIN BY
HUMAN BEINGS GLORIA ESTENZO RAMOS AND ROSE-LIZA EISMA-OSORIO, IN THEIR CAPACITY AS
LEGAL GUARDIANS OF THE LESSER LIFE-FORMS AND AS RESPONSIBLE STEWARDS OF GOD'S
CREATIONS, Petitioners, v. SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE), SECRETARY JOSE L. ATIENZA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF
THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA,
DENR REGIONAL DIRECTOR-REGION VII AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS CHAIRPERSON OF THE TANON
STRAIT PROTECTED SEASCAPE MANAGEMENT BOARD, BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC
RESOURCES (BFAR), DIRECTOR MALCOLM I. SARMIENTO, JR., BFAR REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR REGION
VII ANDRES M. BOJOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION CO., LTD. (JAPEX), AS REPRESENTED BY ITS
PHILIPPINE AGENT, SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, INC., Respondents.

G.R. No. 181527

CENTRAL VISAYAS FISHERFOLK DEVELOPMENT CENTER (FIDEC), CERILO D. ENGARCIAL, RAMON


YANONG, FRANCISCO LABID, IN THEIR PERSONAL CAPACITY AND AS REPRESENTATIVES OF THE
SUBSISTENCE FISHERFOLKS OF THE MUNICIPALITIES OF ALOGUINSAN AND PINAMUNGAJAN, CEBU,
AND THEIR FAMILIES, AND THE PRESENT AND FUTURE GENERATIONS OF FILIPINOS WHOSE RIGHTS
ARE SIMILARLY AFFECTED, Petitioners, v. SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY
OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE), JOSE L. ATIENZA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, IN HIS
CAPACITY AS DENR REGIONAL DIRECTOR-REGION VII AND AS CHAIRPERSON OF THE TA�ON STRAIT
PROTECTED SEASCAPE MANAGEMENT BOARD, ALAN ARRANGUEZ, IN HIS CAPACITY AS DIRECTOR
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT BUREAU-REGION VII, DOE REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR REGION
VIII1 ANTONIO LABIOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION CO., LTD. (JAPEX), AS REPRESENTED BY ITS
PHILIPPINE AGENT, SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, INC., Respondent.
DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
Before Us are two consolidated Petitions filed under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Court, concerning Service Contract No. 46
(SC-46), which allowed the exploration, development, and exploitation of petroleum resources within Ta�on Strait, a narrow
passage of water situated between the islands of Negros and Cebu.2

The Petition docketed as G.R. No. 180771 is an original Petition for Certiorari, Mandamus, and Injunction, which seeks to
enjoin respondents from implementing SC-46 and to have it nullified for willful and gross violation of the 1987 Constitution and
certain international and municipal laws.3

Likewise, the Petition docketed as G.R. No. 181527 is an original Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus, which
seeks to nullify the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of
the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Region VII in connection with SC-46; to prohibit respondents
from implementing SC-46; and to compel public respondents to provide petitioners access to the pertinent documents involving
the Ta�on Strait Oil Exploration Project.4
ANTECEDENT FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Petitioners in G.R. No. 180771, collectively referred to as the "Resident Marine Mammals" in the petition, are the toothed
whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other cetacean species, which inhabit the waters in and around the Ta�on Strait. They are
joined by Gloria Estenzo Ramos (Ramos) and Rose-Liza Eisma-Osorio (Eisma-Osorio) as their legal guardians and as friends (to
be collectively known as "the Stewards") who allegedly empathize with, and seek the protection of, the aforementioned marine
species. Also impleaded as an unwilling co-petitioner is former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for her express declaration
and undertaking in the ASEAN Charter to protect the Ta�on Strait, among others.5

Petitioners in G.R. No. 181527 are the Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (FIDEC), a non-stock, non-profit, non-
governmental organization, established for the welfare of the marginal fisherfolk in Region VII; and Cerilo D. Engarcial
(Engarcial), Ramon Yanong (Yanong) and Francisco Labid (Labid), in their personal capacities and as representatives of the
subsistence fisherfolk of the municipalities of Aloguinsan and Pinamungajan, Cebu.

Named as respondents in both petitions are the late Angelo T. Reyes, as then Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE); Jose
L. Atienza, as then Secretary of the DENR; Leonardo R. Sibbaluca, as then DENR-Regional Director for Region VII and
Chairman of the Ta�on Strait Protected Seascape Management Board; Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd. (JAPEX), a
company organized and existing under the laws of Japan with a Philippine branch office; and Supply Oilfield Services, Inc.
(SOS), as the alleged Philippine agent of JAPEX.
In G.R. No. 181527, the following were impleaded as additional public respondents: Alan C. Arranguez (Arranguez) and Antonio
Labios (Labios), in their capacities as then Director of the EMB, Region VII and then Regional Director of the DOE, Region VII,
respectively.6

On June 13, 2002, the Government of the Philippines, acting through the DOE, entered into a Geophysical Survey and
Exploration Contract-102 (GSEC-102) with JAPEX. This contract involved geological and geophysical studies of the Ta�on
Strait. The studies included surface geology, sample analysis, and reprocessing of seismic and magnetic data. JAPEX, assisted by
DOE, also conducted geophysical and satellite surveys, as well as oil and gas sampling in Ta�on Strait.7

On December 21, 2004, DOE and JAPEX formally converted GSEC-102 into SC-46 for the exploration, development, and
production of petroleum resources in a block covering approximately 2,850 square kilometers offshore the Ta�on Strait.8

From May 9 to 18, 2005, JAPEX conducted seismic surveys in and around the Ta�on Strait. A multi-channel sub-bottom
profiling covering approximately 751 kilometers was also done to determine the area's underwater composition.9

JAPEX committed to drill one exploration well during the second sub-phase of the project. Since the well was to be drilled in the
marine waters of Aloguinsan and Pinamungajan, where the Ta�on Strait was declared a protected seascape in 1988,10 JAPEX
agreed to comply with the Environmental Impact Assessment requirements pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1586, entitled
"Establishing An Environmental Impact Statement System, Including Other Environmental Management Related Measures And
For Other Purposes."11

On January 31, 2007, the Protected Area Management Board 12 of the Ta�on Strait (PAMB-Ta�on Strait) issued Resolution No.
2007-001,13 wherein it adopted the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) commissioned by JAPEX, and favorably
recommended the approval of JAPEX's application for an ECC.

On March 6, 2007, the EMB of DENR Region VII granted an ECC to the DOE and JAPEX for the offshore oil and gas
exploration project in Ta�on Strait.14 Months later, on November 16, 2007, JAPEX began to drill an exploratory well, with a
depth of 3,150 meters, near Pinamungajan town in the western Cebu Province. 15 This drilling lasted until February 8, 2008.16

It was in view of the foregoing state of affairs that petitioners applied to this Court for redress, via two separate original petitions
both dated December 17, 2007, wherein they commonly seek that respondents be enjoined from implementing SC-46 for, among
others, violation of the 1987 Constitution.

On March 31, 2008, SOS filed a Motion to Strike17 its name as a respondent on the ground that it is not the Philippine agent of
JAPEX. In support of its motion, it submitted the branch office application of JAPEX, 18 wherein the latter's resident agent was
clearly identified. SOS claimed that it had acted as a mere logistics contractor for JAPEX in its oil and gas exploration activities
in the Philippines.

Petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards opposed SOS's motion on the ground that it was premature, it was pro-
forma, and it was patently dilatory. They claimed that SOS admitted that "it is in law a (sic) privy to JAPEX" since it did the
drilling and other exploration activities in Ta�on Strait under the instructions of its principal, JAPEX. They argued that it would
be premature to drop SOS as a party as JAPEX had not yet been joined in the case; and that it was "convenient" for SOS to ask
the Court to simply drop its name from the parties when what it should have done was to either notify or ask JAPEX to join it in
its motion to enable proper substitution. At this juncture, petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards also asked the
Court to implead JAPEX Philippines as a co�respondent or as a substitute for its parent company, JAPEX.19

On April 8, 2008, the Court resolved to consolidate G.R. No. 180771 and G.R. No. 181527.

On May 26, 2008, the FIDEC manifested20 that they were adopting in toto the Opposition to Strike with Motion to Implead filed
by petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards in G.R. No. 180771.

On June 19, 2008, public respondents filed their Manifestation 21 that they were not objecting to SOS's Motion to Strike as it was
not JAPEX's resident agent. JAPEX during all this time, did not file any comment at all.

Thus, on February 7, 2012, this Court, in an effort to ensure that all the parties were given ample chance and opportunity to
answer the issues herein, issued a Resolution directing the Court's process servicing unit to again serve the parties with a copy of
the September 23, 2008 Resolution of the Court, which gave due course to the petitions in G.R. Nos. 180771 and 181527, and
which required the parties to submit their respective memoranda. The February 7, 2012 Resolution22 reads as
follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
G.R. No. 180771 (Resident Marine Mammals of the Protected Seascape Ta�on Strait, e.g., Toothed Whales, Dolphins,
Porpoises and Other Cetacean Species, et al. vs. Hon. Angelo Reyes, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Energy, et
al.) and G.R. No. 181527 (Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center, et al. vs. Hon. Angelo Reyes, et al.). - The Court
Resolved to direct the Process Servicing Unit to RE-SEND the resolution dated September 23, 2008 to the following parties and
counsel, together with this resolution:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Atty. Aristeo O.
20th Floor Pearlbank Centre
Cari�o
Counsel for Respondent
146 Valero Street
Supply
Oilfield Services, Inc. Salcedo Village, Makati City
� �
JAPEX Philippines Ltd. 20th Floor Pearlbank Centre
� 146 Valero Street
� Salcedo Village, Makati City
� �
JAPEX Philippines Ltd. 19th Floor Pearlbank Centre
c/o Atty. Maria Farah
146 Valero Street
Z.G.
Nicolas-Suchianco Salcedo Village, Makati City
� �
Atty. Maria Farah Z.G. Suite 2404 Discovery Centre
Nicolas-Suchianco 25 ADB Avenue
Resident Agent of
Ortigas Center, Pasig City
JAPEX
Philippines Ltd. �
This Resolution was personally served to the above parties, at the above addresses on February 23, 2012. On March 20, 2012,
JAPEX Philippines, Ltd. (JAPEX PH), by way of special appearance, filed a Motion to Admit 23 its Motion for
Clarification,24 wherein JAPEX PH requested to be clarified as to whether or not it should deem the February 7, 2012 Resolution
as this Court's Order of its inclusion in the case, as it has not been impleaded. It also alleged that JAPEX PH had already stopped
exploration activities in the Ta�on Strait way back in 2008, rendering this case moot.

On March 22, 2012, JAPEX PH, also by special appearance, filed a Motion for Extension of Time 25 to file its Memorandum. It
stated that since it received the February 7, 2012 Resolution on February 23, 2012, it had until March 22, 2012 to file its
Memorandum. JAPEX PH then asked for an additional thirty days, supposedly to give this Court some time to consider its
Motion for Clarification.

On April 24, 2012, this Court issued a Resolution 26 granting JAPEX PH's Motion to Admit its Motion for Clarification. This
Court, addressing JAPEX PH's Motion for Clarification, held:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
With regard to its Motion for Clarification (By Special Appearance) dated March 19, 2012, this Court considers JAPEX
Philippines. Ltd. as a real party-in-interest in these cases. Under Section 2, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Court, a real party-in-
interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.
Contrary to JAPEX Philippines, Ltd.'s allegation that it is a completely distinct corporation, which should not be confused with
JAPEX Company, Ltd., JAPEX Philippines, Ltd. is a mere branch office, established by JAPEX Company, Ltd. for the purpose
of carrying out the latter's business transactions here in the Philippines. Thus, JAPEX Philippines, Ltd., has no separate
personality from its mother foreign corporation, the party impleaded in this case.

Moreover, Section 128 of the Corporation Code provides for the responsibilities and duties of a resident agent of a foreign
corporation:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
SECTION 128. Resident agent; service of process. � The Securities and Exchange Commission shall require as a condition
precedent to the issuance of the license to transact business in the Philippines by any foreign corporation that such corporation
file with the Securities and Exchange Commission a written power of attorney designating some person who must be a resident
of the Philippines, on whom any summons and other legal processes may be served in all actions or other legal proceedings
against such corporation, and consenting that service upon such resident agent shall be admitted and held as valid as if served
upon the duly authorized officers of the foreign corporation at its home office. Any such foreign corporation shall likewise
execute and file with the Securities and Exchange Commission an agreement or stipulation, executed by the proper authorities of
said corporation, in form and substance as follows:

"The (name of foreign corporation) does hereby stipulate and agree, in consideration of its being granted by the Securities and
Exchange Commission a license to transact business in the Philippines, that if at any time said corporation shall cease to transact
business in the Philippines, or shall be without any resident agent in the Philippines on whom any summons or other legal
processes may be served, then in any action or proceeding arising out of any business or transaction which occurred in the
Philippines, service of any summons or other legal process may be made upon the Securities and Exchange Commission and that
such service shall have the same force and effect as if made upon the duly-authorized officers of the corporation at its home
office."
Whenever such service of summons or other process shall be made upon the Securities and Exchange Commission, the
Commission shall, within ten (10) days thereafter, transmit by mail a copy of such summons or other legal process to the
corporation at its home or principal office. The sending of such copy by the Commission shall be a necessary part of and shall
complete such service. All expenses incurred by the Commission for such service shall be paid in advance by the party at whose
instance the service is made.

In case of a change of address of the resident agent, it shall be his or its duty to immediately notify in writing the Securities and
Exchange Commission of the new address.
It is clear from the foregoing provision that the function of a resident agent is to receive summons or legal processes that may be
served in all actions or other legal proceedings against the foreign corporation. These cases have been prosecuted in the name of
JAPEX Company, Ltd., and JAPEX Philippines Ltd., as its branch office and resident agent, had been receiving the various
resolutions from this Court, as evidenced by Registry Return Cards signed by its representatives.
And in the interest of justice, this Court resolved to grant JAPEX PH's motion for extension of time to file its memorandum, and
was given until April 21, 2012, as prayed for, within which to comply with the submission. 27

Without filing its Memorandum, JAPEX PH, on May 14, 2012, filed a motion, asking this Court for an additional thirty days to
file its Memorandum, to be counted from May 8, 2012. It justified its request by claiming that this Court's April 24, 2012
Resolution was issued past its requested deadline for filing, which was on April 21, 2012.28

On June 19, 2012, this Court denied JAPEX PH's second request for additional time to file its Memorandum and dispensed with
such filing.

Since petitioners had already filed their respective memoranda, 29 and public respondents had earlier filed a Manifestation 30 that
they were adopting their Comment dated March 31, 2008 as their memorandum, this Court submitted the case for
decision.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Petitioners' Allegations

Protesting the adverse ecological impact of JAPEX's oil exploration activities in the Ta�on Strait, petitioners Resident Marine
Mammals and Stewards aver that a study made after the seismic survey showed that the fish catch was reduced drastically by 50
to 70 percent. They claim that before the seismic survey, the average harvest per day would be from 15 to 20 kilos; but after the
activity, the fisherfolk could only catch an average of 1 to 2 kilos a day. They attribute this "reduced fish catch" to the destruction
of the "payao" also known as the "fish aggregating device" or "artificial reef."31 Petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and
Stewards also impute the incidences of "fish kill"32 observed by some of the local fisherfolk to the seismic survey. And they
further allege that the ECC obtained by private respondent JAPEX is invalid because public consultations and discussions with
the affected stakeholders, a pre-requisite to the issuance of the ECC, were not held prior to the ECC's issuance.

In its separate petition, petitioner FIDEC confirms petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards' allegations of reduced
fish catch and lack of public consultations or discussions with the fisherfolk and other stakeholders prior to the issuance of the
ECC. Moreover, it alleges that during the seismic surveys and drilling, it was barred from entering and fishing within a 7-
kilometer radius from the point where the oilrig was located, an area greater than the 1.5-kilometer radius "exclusion zone" stated
in the IEE.33 It also agrees in the allegation that public respondents DENR and EMB abused their discretion when they issued an
ECC to public respondent DOE and private respondent JAPEX without ensuring the strict compliance with the procedural and
substantive requirements under the Environmental Impact Assessment system, the Fisheries Code, and their implementing rules
and regulations.34 It further claims that despite several requests for copies of all the documents pertaining to the project in Taflon
Strait, only copies of the PAMB-Ta�on Strait Resolution and the ECC were given to the fisherfolk.35
Public Respondents' Counter-Allegations

Public respondents, through the Solicitor General, contend that petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards have no legal
standing to file the present petition; that SC-46 does not violate the 1987 Constitution and the various laws cited in the petitions;
that the ECC was issued in accordance with existing laws and regulations; that public respondents may not be compelled
by mandamus to furnish petitioners copies of all documents relating to SC-46; and that all the petitioners failed to show that they
are entitled to injunctive relief. They further contend that the issues raised in these petitions have been rendered moot and
academic by the fact that SC-46 had been mutually terminated by the parties thereto effective June 21, 2008. 36
ISSUES

The following are the issues posited by petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards in G.R. No.
180771:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
I. WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONERS HAVE LOCUS STANDI TO FILE THE INSTANT PETITION;
II. WHETHER OR NOT SERVICE CONTRACT NO. 46 IS VIOLAT[IVE] OF THE 1987 PHILIPPINE
CONSTITUTION AND STATUTES;
III. WHETHER OR NOT THE ON-GOING EXPLORATION AND PROPOSED EXPLOITATION FOR OIL AND
NATURAL GAS AT, AROUND, AND UNDERNEATH THE MARINE WATERS OF THE TANON STRAIT
PROTECTED SEASCAPE IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE PHILIPPINE COMMITMENTS TO INTERNATIONAL
ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS AND INSTRUMENTS; AND
IV. WHETHER OR NOT THE ISSUANCE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE (ECC) IN
ENVIRONMENTALLY CRITICAL AREAS AND HABITATS OF MARINE WILDLIFE AND ENDANGERED
SPECIES IS LEGAL AND PROPER.37
Meanwhile, in G.R. No. 181527, petitioner FIDEC presented the following issues for our
consideration:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
I. WHETHER OR NOT SERVICE CONTRACT NO. 46 EXECUTED BETWEEN RESPONDENTS DOE AND JAPEX
SHOULD BE NULLIFIED AND SET ASIDE FOR BEING IN DIRECT VIOLATION OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS
OF THE 1987 PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION AND APPLICABLE LAWS;
II. WHETHER OR NOT THE OFF-SHORE OIL EXPLORATION CONTEMPLATED UNDER SERVICE CONTRACT
NO. 46 IS LEGALLY PERMISSIBLE WITHOUT A LAW BEING DULY PASSED EXPRESSLY FOR THE
PURPOSE;
III. WHETHER OR NOT THE OIL EXPLORATION BEING CONDUCTED WITHIN THE TANON STRAIT
PROTECTED SEASCAPE VIOLATES THE RIGHTS AND LEGAL PROTECTION GRANTED TO PETITIONERS
UNDER THE CONSTITUTION AND APPLICABLE LAWS.
IV. WHETHER OR NOT THE ISSUANCE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE (ECC) FOR
SUCH AN ENVIRONMENTALLY CRITICAL PROJECT INSIDE AN ENVIRONMENTALLY CRITICAL AREA
SUCH AS THE TANON STRAIT PROTECTED SEASCAPE CONFORMED TO LAW AND EXISTING RULES
AND REGULATIONS ON THE MATTER.
V. WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENTS MAY BE COMPELLED BY MANDAMUS TO FURNISH
PETITIONERS WITH COPIES OF THE DOCUMENTS PERTAINING TO THE TANON STRAIT OIL
EXPLORATION PROJECT.38
In these consolidated petitions, this Court has determined that the various issues raised by the petitioners may be condensed into
two primary issues:
I. Procedural Issue: Locus Standi of the Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards, petitioners in G.R. No. 180771; and
II. Main Issue: Legality of Sendee Contract No. 46.
DISCUSSION

At the outset, this Court makes clear that the '"moot and academic principle' is not a magical formula that can automatically
dissuade the courts in resolving a case." Courts have decided cases otherwise moot and academic under the following exceptions:

1) There is a grave violation of the Constitution;

2) The exceptional character of the situation and the paramount public interest is involved;

3) The constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and

4) The case is capable of repetition yet evading review.39

In this case, despite the termination of SC-46, this Court deems it necessary to resolve these consolidated petitions as almost all
of the foregoing exceptions are present in this case. Both petitioners allege that SC-46 is violative of the Constitution, the
environmental and livelihood issues raised undoubtedly affect the public's interest, and the respondents' contested actions are
capable of repetition.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Procedural Issues

Locus Standi of Petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards

The Resident Marine Mammals, through the Stewards, "claim" that they have the legal standing to file this action since they
stand to be benefited or injured by the judgment in this suit.40 Citing Oposa v. Factoran, Jr.,41 they also assert their right to sue
for the faithful performance of international and municipal environmental laws created in their favor and for their benefit. In this
regard, they propound that they have the right to demand that they be accorded the benefits granted to them in multilateral
international instruments that the Philippine Government had signed, under the concept of stipulation pour autrui.42

For their part, the Stewards contend that there should be no question of their right to represent the Resident Marine Mammals as
they have stakes in the case as forerunners of a campaign to build awareness among the affected residents of Ta�on Strait and as
stewards of the environment since the primary steward, the Government, had failed in its duty to protect the environment
pursuant to the public trust doctrine.43

Petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards also aver that this Court may lower the benchmark in locus standi as an
exercise of epistolary jurisdiction.44

In opposition, public respondents argue that the Resident Marine Mammals have no standing because Section 1, Rule 3 of the
Rules of Court requires parties to an action to be either natural or juridical persons, viz.:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Section 1. Who may be parties; plaintiff and defendant. - Only natural or juridical persons, or entities authorized by law may be
parties in a civil action. The term "plaintiff may refer to the claiming party, the counter-claimant, the cross-claimant, or the third
(fourth, etc.)-party plaintiff. The term "defendant" may refer to the original defending party, the defendant in a counterclaim, the
cross-defendant, or the third (fourth, etc.)-party defendant.
The public respondents also contest the applicability of Oposa, pointing out that the petitioners therein were all natural persons,
albeit some of them were still unborn.45

As regards the Stewards, the public respondents likewise challenge their claim of legal standing on the ground that they are
representing animals, which cannot be parties to an action. Moreover, the public respondents argue that the Stewards are not the
real parties-in-interest for their failure to show how they stand to be benefited or injured by the decision in this case. 46

Invoking the alter ego principle in political law, the public respondents claim that absent any proof that former President Arroyo
had disapproved of their acts in entering into and implementing SC-46, such acts remain to be her own.47

The public respondents contend that since petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards' petition was not brought in the
name of a real party-in-interest, it should be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action.48

The issue of whether or not animals or even inanimate objects should be given legal standing in actions before courts of law is
not new in the field of animal rights and environmental law. Petitioners Resident Marine Mammals and Stewards cited the 1972
United States case Sierra Club v. Rogers C.B. Morton,49wherein Justice William O. Douglas, dissenting to the conventional
thought on legal standing, opined:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The critical question of "standing" would be simplified and also put neatly in focus if we fashioned a federal rule that allowed
environmental issues to be litigated before federal agencies or federal courts in the name of the inanimate object about to be
despoiled, defaced, or invaded by roads and bulldozers and where injury is the subject of public outrage, x x x.

Inanimate objects are sometimes parties in litigation. A ship has a legal personality, a fiction found useful for maritime purposes.
The corporation sole - a creature of ecclesiastical law - is an acceptable adversary and large fortunes ride on its cases. The
ordinary corporation is a "person" for purposes of the adjudicatory processes, whether it represents proprietary, spiritual,
aesthetic, or charitable causes.

So it should be as respects valleys, alpine meadows, rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, ridges, groves of trees, swampland, or even
air that feels the destructive pressures of modern technology and modem life. The river, for example, is the living symbol of all
the life it sustains or nourishes�fish, aquatic insects, water ouzels, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other animals, including
man, who are dependent on it or who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit
of life that is part of it. Those people who have a meaningful relation to that body of water�whether it be a fisherman, a canoeist,
a zoologist, or a logger�must be able to speak for the values which the river represents and which are threatened with
destruction.50 (Citations omitted.)
The primary reason animal rights advocates and environmentalists seek to give animals and inanimate objects standing is due to
the need to comply with the strict requirements in bringing a suit to court. Our own 1997 Rules of Court demand that parties to a
suit be either natural or juridical persons, or entities authorized by law. It further necessitates the action to be brought in the name
of the real party-in-interest, even if filed by a representative, viz.:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Rule 3
Parties to Civil Actions

Section 1. Who may be parties; plaintiff and defendant. - Only natural or juridical persons, or entities authorized by law may be
parties in a civil action. The term "plaintiff may refer to the claiming party, the counter-claimant, the cross-claimant, or the third
(fourth, etc.)-party plaintiff. The term "defendant" may refer to the original defending party, the defendant in a counterclaim, the
cross-defendant, or the third (fourth, etc.)-party defendant.

Sec. 2. Parties in interest. - A real party in interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit,
or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law or these Rules, every action must be prosecuted
or defended in the name of the real party in interest.

Sec. 3. Representatives as parties. - Where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or defended by a representative or someone
acting in a fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title of the case and shall be deemed to be the real party in
interest. A representative may be a trustee of an express trust, a guardian, an executor or administrator, or a party authorized by
law or these Rules. An agent acting in his own name and for the benefit of an undisclosed principal may sue or be sued without
joining the principal except when the contract involves things belonging to the principal.
It had been suggested by animal rights advocates and environmentalists that not only natural and juridical persons should be
given legal standing because of the difficulty for persons, who cannot show that they by themselves are real parties-in-interests,
to bring actions in representation of these animals or inanimate objects. For this reason, many environmental cases have been
dismissed for failure of the petitioner to show that he/she would be directly injured or affected by the outcome of the case.
However, in our jurisdiction, locus standi in environmental cases has been given a more liberalized approach. While
developments in Philippine legal theory and jurisprudence have not progressed as far as Justice Douglas's paradigm of legal
standing for inanimate objects, the current trend moves towards simplification of procedures and facilitating court access in
environmental cases.

Recently, the Court passed the landmark Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases,51 which allow for a "citizen suit," and
permit any Filipino citizen to file an action before our courts for violations of our environmental laws:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
SEC. 5. Citizen suit. - Any Filipino citizen in representation of others, including minors or generations yet unborn, may file
an action to enforce rights or obligations under environmental laws. Upon the filing of a citizen suit, the court shall issue an
order which shall contain a brief description of the cause of action and the reliefs prayed for, requiring all interested parties to
manifest their interest to intervene in the case within fifteen (15) days from notice thereof. The plaintiff may publish the order
once in a newspaper of a general circulation in the Philippines or furnish all affected barangays copies of said order.

Citizen suits filed under R.A. No. 8749 and R.A. No. 9003 shall be governed by their respective provisions.52 (Emphasis ours.)
Explaining the rationale for this rule, the Court, in the Annotations to the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases,
commented:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Citizen suit. To further encourage the protection of the environment, the Rules enable litigants enforcing environmental rights to
file their cases as citizen suits. This provision liberalizes standing for all cases filed enforcing environmental laws and collapses
the traditional rule on personal and direct interest, on the principle that humans are stewards of nature. The terminology of
the text reflects the doctrine first enunciated in Oposa v. Factoran, insofar as it refers to minors and generations yet
unborn.53 (Emphasis supplied, citation omitted.)
Although this petition was filed in 2007, years before the effectivity of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, it has
been consistently held that rules of procedure "may be retroactively applied to actions pending and undetermined at the time of
their passage and will not violate any right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected, inasmuch as there is no vested
rights in rules of procedure."54

Elucidating on this doctrine, the Court, in Systems Factors Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission55 held
that:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Remedial statutes or statutes relating to remedies or modes of procedure, which do not create new or take away vested rights, but
only operate in furtherance of the remedy or confirmation of rights already existing, do not come within the legal conception of a
retroactive law, or the general rule against retroactive operation of statutes. Statutes regulating the procedure of the courts will be
construed as applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage. Procedural laws are retroactive in that
sense and to that extent, x x x.
Moreover, even before the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases became effective, this Court had already taken a
permissive position on the issue of locus standi in environmental cases. In Oposa, we allowed the suit to be brought in the name
of generations yet unborn "based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful
ecology is concerned."56Furthermore, we said that the right to a balanced and healthful ecology, a right that does not even need to
be stated in our Constitution as it is assumed to exist from the inception of humankind, carries with it the correlative duty to
refrain from impairing the environment.57

In light of the foregoing, the need to give the Resident Marine Mammals legal standing has been eliminated by our Rules, which
allow any Filipino citizen, as a steward of nature, to bring a suit to enforce our environmental laws. It is worth noting here that
the Stewards are joined as real parties in the Petition and not just in representation of the named cetacean species. The Stewards,
Ramos and Eisma-Osorio, having shown in their petition that there may be possible violations of laws concerning the habitat of
the Resident Marine Mammals, are therefore declared to possess the legal standing to file this
petition.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Impleading Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as an Unwilling Co-Petitioner

Petitioners Stewards in G.R. No. 180771 impleaded as an unwilling co-petitioner former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for
the following reasons, which we quote:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, also of legal age, Filipino and resident of Malaca�ang Palace, Manila Philippines.
Steward Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo happens to be the incumbent President of the Philippine Islands. She is personally impleaded
in this suit as an unwilling co-petitioner by reason of her express declaration and undertaking under the recently signed ASEAN
Charter to protect Your Petitioners' habitat, among others. She is meantime dominated as an unwilling co-petitioner due to lack of
material time in seeking her signature and imprimatur hereof and due to possible legal complications that may hereafter arise by
reason of her official relations with public respondents under the alter ego principle in political law. 58cralawlawlibrary
This is incorrect.

Section 10, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court provides:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary


Sec. 10. Unwilling co-plaintiff. - If the consent of any party who should be joined as plaintiff can not be obtained, he may be
made a defendant and the reason therefor shall be stated in the complaint.
Under the foregoing rule, when the consent of a party who should be joined as a plaintiff cannot be obtained, he or she may be
made a party defendant to the case. This will put the unwilling party under the jurisdiction of the Court, which can properly
implead him or her through its processes. The unwilling party's name cannot be simply included in a petition, without his or her
knowledge and consent, as such would be a denial of due process.

Moreover, the reason cited by the petitioners Stewards for including former President Macapagal-Arroyo in their petition, is not
sufficient to implead her as an unwilling co-petitioner. Impleading the former President as an unwilling co-petitioner, for an act
she made in the performance of the functions of her office, is contrary to the public policy against embroiling the President in
suits, "to assure the exercise of Presidential duties and functions free from any hindrance or distraction, considering that being the
Chief Executive of the Government is a job that, aside from requiring all of the office holder's time, also demands undivided
attention."59

Therefore, former President Macapagal-Arroyo cannot be impleaded as one of the petitioners in this suit. Thus, her name is
stricken off the title of this case.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Main Issue:
Legality of Service Contract No. 46

Service Contract No. 46 vis-a-vis


Section 2, Article XII of the
1987 Constitution

Petitioners maintain that SC-46 transgresses the Jura Regalia Provision or paragraph 1, Section 2, Article XII of the 1987
Constitution because JAPEX is 100% Japanese-owned.60 Furthermore, the FIDEC asserts that SC-46 cannot be considered as a
technical and financial assistance agreement validly executed under paragraph 4 of the same provision. 61 The petitioners claim
that La Bugal-B'laan Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos62 laid down the guidelines for a valid service contract, one of which is
that there must exist a general law for oil exploration before a service contract may be entered into by the Government. The
petitioners posit that the service contract in La Bugal is presumed to have complied with the requisites of (a) legislative
enactment of a general law after the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution (such as Republic Act No. 7942, or the Philippine
Mining Law of 1995, governing mining contracts) and (b) presidential notification. The petitioners thus allege that the ruling
in La Bugal, which involved mining contracts under Republic Act No. 7942, does not apply in this case. 63 The petitioners also
argue that Presidential Decree No. 87 or the Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972 cannot legally justify SC-46 as it is
deemed to have been repealed by the 1987 Constitution and subsequent laws, which enunciate new policies concerning the
environment.64 In addition, petitioners in G.R. No. 180771 claim that paragraphs 2 and 3 of Section 2, Article XII of the 1987
Constitution mandate the exclusive use and enjoyment by the Filipinos of our natural resources, 65 and paragraph 4 does not speak
of service contracts but of FTAAs or Financial Technical Assistance Agreements.66

The public respondents again controvert the petitioners' claims and asseverate that SC-46 does not violate Section 2, Article XII
of the 1987 Constitution. They hold that SC-46 does not fall under the coverage of paragraph 1 but instead, under paragraph 4 of
Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution on FTAAs. They also insist that paragraphs 2 and 3, which refer to the grant of
exclusive fishing right to Filipinos, are not applicable to SC-46 as the contract does not grant exclusive fishing rights to JAPEX
nor does it otherwise impinge on the FIDEC's right to preferential use of communal marine and fishing resources. 67
Ruling of the Court
On the legality of Service Contract No. 46
vis-a-vis Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution

The petitioners insist that SC-46 is null and void for having violated Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, which reads
as follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy,
fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of
agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural
resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may
enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at
least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-
five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In
cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power,
beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant.
The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and
reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.

The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish
farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fishworkers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons.

The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or financial
assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils
according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and
general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and
technical resources.

The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this provision, within thirty
days from its execution. (Emphases ours.)
This Court has previously settled the issue of whether service contracts are still allowed under the 1987 Constitution. In La
Bugal, we held that the deletion of the words "service contracts" in the 1987 Constitution did not amount to a ban on them per se.
In fact, in that decision, we quoted in length, portions of the deliberations of the members of the Constitutional Commission
(ConCom) to show that in deliberating on paragraph 4, Section 2, Article XII, they were actually referring to service contracts as
understood in the 1973 Constitution, albeit with safety measures to eliminate or minimize the abuses prevalent during the martial
law regime, to wit:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Summation of the ConCom Deliberations

At this point, we sum up the matters established, based on a careful reading of the ConCom deliberations, as follows:

In their deliberations on what was to become paragraph 4, the framers used the term service contracts in referring to agreements
x x x involving either technical or financial assistance.

They spoke of service contracts as the concept was understood in the 1973 Constitution.

It was obvious from their discussions that they were not about to ban or eradicate service contracts.

Instead, they were plainly crafting provisions to put in place safeguards that would eliminate or minimize the abuses prevalent
during the marital law regime. In brief, they were going to permit service contracts with foreign corporations as contractors, but
with safety measures to prevent abuses, as an exception to the general norm established in the first paragraph of Section 2 of
Article XII. This provision reserves or limits to Filipino citizens and corporations at least 60 percent of which is owned by such
citizens � the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources.

This provision was prompted by the perceived insufficiency of Filipino capital and the felt need for foreign investments in the
EDU of minerals and petroleum resources.

The framers for the most part debated about the sort of safeguards that would be considered adequate and reasonable. But some
of them, having more "radical" leanings, wanted to ban service contracts altogether; for them, the provision would permit aliens
to exploit and benefit from the nation's natural resources, which they felt should be reserved only for Filipinos.

In the explanation of their votes, the individual commissioners were heard by the entire body. They sounded off their individual
opinions, openly enunciated their philosophies, and supported or attacked the provisions with fervor. Everyone's viewpoint was
heard.

In the final voting, the Article on the National Economy and Patrimony � including paragraph 4 allowing service contracts with
foreign corporations as an exception to the general norm in paragraph 1 of Section 2 of the same article � was resoundingly
approved by a vote of 32 to 7, with 2 abstentions.

Agreements Involving Technical Or Financial Assistance Are Service Contracts with Safeguards

From the foregoing, we are impelled to conclude that the phrase agreements involving either technical or financial assistance,
referred to in paragraph 4, are in fact service contracts. But unlike those of the 1973 variety, the new ones are between foreign
corporations acting as contractors on the one hand; and on the other, the government as principal or "owner" of the works. In the
new service contracts, the foreign contractors provide capital, technology and technical know-how, and managerial expertise in
the creation and operation of large-scale mining/extractive enterprises; and the government, through its agencies (DENR, MGB),
actively exercises control and supervision over the entire operation.68cralawlawlibrary
In summarizing the matters discussed in the ConCom, we established that paragraph 4, with the safeguards in place, is the
exception to paragraph 1, Section 2 of Article XII. The following are the safeguards this Court enumerated in La
Bugal:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Such service contracts may be entered into only with respect to minerals, petroleum and other mineral oils. The grant thereof is
subject to several safeguards, among which are these requirements:

(1) The service contract shall be crafted in accordance with a general law that will set standard or uniform terms, conditions and
requirements, presumably to attain a certain uniformity in provisions and avoid the possible insertion of terms disadvantageous to
the country.

(2) The President shall be the signatory for the government because, supposedly before an agreement is presented to the President
for signature, it will have been vetted several times over at different levels to ensure that it conforms to law and can withstand
public scrutiny.

(3) Within thirty days of the executed agreement, the President shall report it to Congress to give that branch of government an
opportunity to look over the agreement and interpose timely objections, if any. 69cralawlawlibrary
Adhering to the aforementioned guidelines, this Court finds that SC-46 is indeed null and void for noncompliance with the
requirements of the 1987 Constitution.

1. The General Law on Oil Exploration

The disposition, exploration, development, exploitation, and utilization of indigenous petroleum in the Philippines are governed
by Presidential Decree No. 87 or the Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972. This was enacted by then President
Ferdinand Marcos to promote the discovery and production of indigenous petroleum through the utilization of government and/or
local or foreign private resources to yield the maximum benefit to the Filipino people and the revenues to the Philippine
Government.70

Contrary to the petitioners' argument, Presidential Decree No. 87, although enacted in 1972, before the adoption of the 1987
Constitution, remains to be a valid law unless otherwise repealed, to wit:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
ARTICLE XVIII - TRANSITORY PROVISIONS

Section 3. All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions, and other executive issuances not
inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed, or revoked.
If there were any intention to repeal Presidential Decree No. 87, it would have been done expressly by Congress. For instance,
Republic Act No. 7160, more popularly known as the Local Government Code of 1991, expressly repealed a number of laws,
including a specific provision in Presidential Decree No. 87, viz.:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
SECTION 534. Repealing Clause. � (a) Batas Pambansa Blg. 337, otherwise known as the "Local Government Code,"
Executive Order No. 112 (1987), and Executive Order No. 319 (1988) are hereby repealed.

(b) Presidential Decree Nos. 684, 1191, 1508 and such other decrees, orders, instructions, memoranda and issuances related to or
concerning the barangay are hereby repealed.

(c) The provisions of Sections 2, 3, and 4 of Republic Act No. 1939 regarding hospital fund; Section 3, a (3) and b (2) of
Republic Act No. 5447 regarding the Special Education Fund; Presidential Decree No. 144 as amended by Presidential Decree
Nos. 559 and 1741; Presidential Decree No. 231 as amended; Presidential Decree No. 436 as amended by Presidential Decree
No. 558; and Presidential Decree Nos. 381, 436, 464, 477, 526, 632, 752, and 1136 are hereby repealed and rendered of no force
and effect.

(d) Presidential Decree No. 1594 is hereby repealed insofar as it governs locally-funded projects.

(e) The following provisions are hereby repealed or amended insofar as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this Code:
Sections 2, 16 and 29 of Presidential Decree No. 704; Section 12 of Presidential Decree No. 87, as amended; Sections 52, 53,
66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, and 74 of Presidential Decree No. 463, as amended; and Section 16 of Presidential Decree No. 972,
as amended, and

(f) All general and special laws, acts, city charters, decrees, executive orders, proclamations and administrative regulations, or
part or parts thereof which are inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Code are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
(Emphasis supplied.)
This Court could not simply assume that while Presidential Decree No. 87 had not yet been expressly repealed, it had been
impliedly repealed. As we held in Villare�a v. The Commission on Audit,71 "[i]mplied repeals are not lightly presumed." It is a
settled rule that when laws are in conflict with one another, every effort must be exerted to reconcile them. In Republic of the
Philippines v. Marcopper Mining Corporation,72 we said:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The two laws must be absolutely incompatible, and a clear finding thereof must surface, before the inference of implied repeal
may be drawn. The rule is expressed in the maxim, interpretare et concordare leqibus est optimus interpretendi, i.e., every
statute must be so interpreted and brought into accord with other laws as to form a uniform 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
conflicting statutes. Hence, all doubts must be resolved against any implied repeal, and all efforts should be exerted in order to
harmonize and give effect to all laws on the subject. (Citation omitted.)
Moreover, in cases where the statute seems to be in conflict with the Constitution, but a construction that it is in harmony with
the Constitution is also possible, that construction should be preferred. 73 This Court, in Pangandaman v. Commission on
Elections74 expounding on this point, pronounced:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
It is a basic precept in statutory construction that a statute should be interpreted in harmony with the Constitution and that the
spirit, rather than the letter of the law determines its construction; for that reason, a statute must be read according to its spirit and
intent, x x x. (Citation omitted.)
Consequently, we find no merit in petitioners' contention that SC-46 is prohibited on the ground that there is no general law
prescribing the standard or uniform terms, conditions, and requirements for service contracts involving oil exploration and
extraction.

But note must be made at this point that while Presidential Decree No. 87 may serve as the general law upon which a service
contract for petroleum exploration and extraction may be authorized, as will be discussed below, the exploitation and utilization
of this energy resource in the present case may be allowed only through a law passed by Congress, since the Ta�on Strait is a
NIPAS75 area.

2. President was not the signatory to SC-46 and the same was not submitted to Congress

While the Court finds that Presidential Decree No. 87 is sufficient to satisfy the requirement of a general law, the absence of the
two other conditions, that the President be a signatory to SC-46, and that Congress be notified of such contract, renders it null and
void.

As SC-46 was executed in 2004, its terms should have conformed not only to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 87, but
also to those of the 1987 Constitution. The Civil Code provides:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
ARTICLE 1306. The contracting parties may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions as they may deem
convenient, provided they are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy. (Italics ours.)
In Heirs of San Miguel v. Court of Appeals,76 this Court held that:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
It is basic that the law is deemed written into every contract. Although a contract is the law between the parties, the provisions of
positive law which regulate contracts are deemed written therein and shall limit and govern the relations between the parties, x x
x. (Citations omitted.)
Paragraph 4, Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution requires that the President himself enter into any service contract for
the exploration of petroleum. SC-46 appeared to have been entered into and signed only by the DOE through its then Secretary,
Vicente S. Perez, Jr., contrary to the said constitutional requirement. Moreover, public respondents have neither shown nor
alleged that Congress was subsequently notified of the execution of such contract.

Public respondents' implied argument that based on the "alter ego principle," their acts are also that of then President Macapagal-
Arroyo's, cannot apply in this case. In Joson v. Torres,77 we explained the concept of the alter ego principle or the doctrine of
qualified political agency and its limit in this wise:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Under this doctrine, which recognizes the establishment of a single executive, all executive and administrative organizations are
adjuncts of the Executive Department, the heads of the various executive departments are assistants and agents of the Chief
Executive, and, except in cases where the Chief Executive is required by the Constitution or law to act in person or the
exigencies of the situation demand that he act personally, the multifarious executive and administrative functions of the Chief
Executive are performed by and through the executive departments, and the acts of the Secretaries of such departments,
performed and promulgated in the regular course of business, are, unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive
presumptively the acts of the Chief Executive. (Emphasis ours, citation omitted.)
While the requirements in executing service contracts in paragraph 4, Section 2 of Article XII of the 1987 Constitution seem like
mere formalities, they, in reality, take on a much bigger role. As we have explained in La Bugal, they are the safeguards put in
place by the framers of the Constitution to "eliminate or minimize the abuses prevalent during the martial law regime." 78 Thus,
they are not just mere formalities, which will only render a contract unenforceable but not void, if not complied with. They are
requirements placed, not just in an ordinary statute, but in the fundamental law, the non-observance of which will nullify the
contract. Elucidating on the concept of a "constitution," this Court, in Manila Prince Hotel v. Government Service Insurance
System,79 held:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
A constitution is a system of fundamental laws for the governance and administration of a nation. It is supreme, imperious,
absolute and unalterable except by the authority from which it emanates. It has been defined as the fundamental and paramount
law of the nation. It prescribes the permanent framework of a system of government, assigns to the different departments their
respective powers and duties, and establishes certain fixed principles on which government is founded. The fundamental
conception in other words is that it is a supreme law to which all other laws must conform and in accordance with which all
private rights must be determined and all public authority administered. Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a
law or contract violates any norm of the constitution that law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the
executive branch or entered into by private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any force and effect.
Thus, since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in every statute
and contract. (Emphasis ours.)
As this Court has held in La Bugal, our Constitution requires that the President himself be the signatory of service agreements
with foreign-owned corporations involving the exploration, development, and utilization of our minerals, petroleum, and other
mineral oils. This power cannot be taken lightly.

In this case, the public respondents have failed to show that the President had any participation in SC-46. Their argument that
their acts are actually the acts of then President Macapagal-Arroyo, absent proof of her disapproval, must fail as the requirement
that the President herself enter into these kinds of contracts is embodied not just in any ordinary statute, but in the Constitution
itself. These service contracts involving the exploitation, development, and utilization of our natural resources are of paramount
interest to the present and future generations. Hence, safeguards were put in place to insure that the guidelines set by law are
meticulously observed and likewise to eradicate the corruption that may easily penetrate departments and agencies by ensuring
that the President has authorized or approved of these service contracts herself.

Even under the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 87, it is required that the Petroleum Board, now the DOE, obtain the
President's approval for the execution of any contract under said statute, as shown in the following
provision:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
SECTION 5. Execution of contract authorized in this Act. - Every contract herein authorized shall, subject to the approval of the
President, be executed by the Petroleum Board created in this Act, after due public notice pre-qualification and public bidding or
concluded through negotiations. In case bids are requested or if requested no bid is submitted or the bids submitted are rejected
by the Petroleum Board for being disadvantageous to the Government, the contract may be concluded through negotiation.

In opening contract areas and in selecting the best offer for petroleum operations, any of the following alternative procedures may
be resorted to by the Petroleum Board, subject to prior approval of the President [.]
Even if we were inclined to relax the requirement in La Bugal to harmonize the 1987 Constitution with the aforementioned
provision of Presidential Decree No. 87, it must be shown that the government agency or subordinate official has been authorized
by the President to enter into such service contract for the government. Otherwise, it should be at least shown that the President
subsequently approved of such contract explicitly. None of these circumstances is evident in the case at
bar.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Service Contract No. 46 vis-a-vis Other Laws

Petitioners in G.R. No. 180771 claim that SC-46 violates Section 27 of Republic Act. No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources
Conservation and Protection Act, which bans all marine exploration and exploitation of oil and gas deposits. They also aver that
Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 (NIPAS Act), which allows
the exploration of protected areas for the purpose of information-gathering, has been repealed by Section 27 of Republic Act No.
9147. The said petitioners further claim that SC-46 is anathema to Republic Act No. 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of
1998, which protects the rights of the fisherfolk in the preferential use of municipal waters, with the exception being limited only
to research and survey activities.80

The FIDEC, for its part, argues that to avail of the exceptions under Section 14 of the NIPAS Act, the gathering of information
must be in accordance with a DENR-approved program, and the exploitation and utilization of energy resources must be pursuant
to a general law passed by Congress expressly for that purpose. Since there is neither a DENR-approved program nor a general
law passed by Congress, the seismic surveys and oil drilling operations were all done illegally. 81 The FIDEC likewise contends
that SC-46 infringes on its right to the preferential use of the communal fishing waters as it is denied free access within the
prohibited zone, in violation not only of the Fisheries Code but also of the 1987 Constitutional provisions on subsistence
fisherfolk and social justice.82 Furthermore, the FIDEC believes that the provisions in Presidential Decree No. 87, which allow
offshore drilling even in municipal waters, should be deemed to have been rendered inoperative by the provisions of Republic
Act No. 8550 and Republic Act No. 7160, which reiterate the social justice provisions of the Constitution. 83

The public respondents invoke the rules on statutory construction and argue that Section 14 of the NIPAS Act is a more particular
provision and cannot be deemed to have been repealed by the more general prohibition in Section 27 of Republic Act No. 9147.
They aver that Section 14, under which SC-46 falls, should instead be regarded as an exemption to Section 27. 84

Addressing the claim of petitioners in G.R. No. 180771 that there was a violation of Section 27 of Republic Act No. 9147, the
public respondents assert that what the section prohibits is the exploration of minerals, which as defined in the Philippine Mining
Act of 1995, exclude energy materials such as coal, petroleum, natural gas, radioactive materials and geothermal energy. Thus,
since SC-46 involves oil and gas exploration, Section 27 does not apply. 85

The public respondents defend the validity of SC-46 and insist that it does not grant exclusive fishing rights to JAPEX; hence, it
does not violate the rule on preferential use of municipal waters. Moreover, they allege that JAPEX has not banned fishing in the
project area, contrary to the FIDEC's claim. The public respondents also contest the attribution of the declining fish catch to the
seismic surveys and aver that the allegation is unfounded. They claim that according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic
Resources' fish catch data, the reduced fish catch started in the 1970s due to destructive fishing practices.86
Ruling of the Court
On the legality of Service Contract No. 46 vis-a-vis Other Laws

Although we have already established above that SC-46 is null and void for being violative of the 1987 Constitution, it is our
duty to still rule on the legality of SC-46 vis-a-vis other pertinent laws, to serve as a guide for the Government when executing
service contracts involving not only the Ta�on Strait, but also other similar areas. While the petitioners allege that SC-46 is in
violation of several laws, including international ones, their arguments focus primarily on the protected status of the Ta�on
Strait, thus this Court will concentrate on those laws that pertain particularly to the Ta�on Strait as a protected seascape.

The Ta�on Strait is a narrow passage of water bounded by the islands of Cebu in the East and Negros in the West. It harbors a
rich biodiversity of marine life, including endangered species of dolphins and whales. For this reason, former President Fidel V.
Ramos declared the Ta�on Strait as a protected seascape in 1998 by virtue of Proclamation No. 1234 - Declaring the Ta�on
Strait situated in the Provinces of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental as a Protected Area pursuant to the NIP AS Act
and shall be known as Ta�on Strait Protected Seascape. During former President Joseph E. Estrada's time, he also constituted
the Ta�on Strait Commission via Executive Order No. 76 to ensure the optimum and sustained use of the resources in that area
without threatening its marine life. He followed this with Executive Order No. 177, 87 wherein he included the mayor of Negros
Occidental Municipality/City as a member of the Ta�on Strait Commission, to represent the LGUs concerned. This
Commission, however, was subsequently abolished in 2002 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, via Executive Order
No. 72.88

True to the constitutional policy that the "State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful
ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature,"89 Congress enacted the NIPAS Act to secure the perpetual existence
of all native plants and animals through the establishment of a comprehensive system of integrated protected areas. These areas
possess common ecological values that were incorporated into a holistic plan representative of our natural heritage. The system
encompasses outstandingly remarkable areas and biologically important public lands that are habitats of rare and endangered
species of plants and animals, biogeographic zones and related ecosystems, whether terrestrial, wetland, or marine. 90 It classifies
and administers all the designated protected areas to maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems, to preserve
genetic diversity, to ensure sustainable use of resources found therein, and to maintain their natural conditions to the greatest
extent possible.91 The following categories of protected areas were established under the NIPAS Act:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
a. Strict nature reserve;
b. Natural park;
c. Natural monument;
d. Wildlife sanctuary;
e. Protected landscapes and seascapes;
f. Resource reserve;
g. Natural biotic areas; and
h. Other categories established by law, conventions or international agreements which the Philippine Government is a
signatory.92
Under Section 4 of the NIPAS Act, a protected area refers to portions of land and water, set aside due to their unique physical
and biological significance, managed to enhance biological diversity and protected against human exploitation.

The Ta�on Strait, pursuant to Proclamation No. 1234, was set aside and declared a protected area under the category of
Protected Seascape. The NIPAS Act defines a Protected Seascape to be an area of national significance characterized by the
harmonious interaction of man and land while providing opportunities for public enjoyment through recreation and tourism
within the normal lifestyle and economic activity of this areas;93 thus a management plan for each area must be designed to
protect and enhance the permanent preservation of its natural conditions. 94 Consistent with this endeavor is the requirement that
an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) be made prior to undertaking any activity outside the scope of the management plan.
Unless an ECC under the EIA system is obtained, no activity inconsistent with the goals of the NIPAS Act shall be
implemented.95

The Environmental Impact Statement System (EISS) was established in 1978 under Presidential Decree No. 1586. It prohibits
any person, partnership or corporation from undertaking or operating any declared environmentally critical project or areas
without first securing an ECC issued by the President or his duly authorized representative.96 Pursuant to the EISS, which called
for the proper management of environmentally critical areas,97 Proclamation No. 214698 was enacted, identifying the areas and
types of projects to be considered as environmentally critical and within the scope of the EISS, while DENR Administrative
Order No. 2003-30 provided for its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

DENR Administrative Order No. 2003-30 defines an environmentally critical area as "an area delineated as environmentally
sensitive such that significant environmental impacts are expected if certain types of proposed projects or programs are located,
developed, or implemented in it";99 thus, before a project, which is "any activity, regardless of scale or magnitude, which may
have significant impact on the environment,"100 is undertaken in it, such project must undergo an EIA to evaluate and predict the
likely impacts of all its stages on the environment.101 An EIA is described in detail as follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
h. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) - process that involves evaluating and predicting the likely impacts of a project
(including cumulative impacts) on the environment during construction, commissioning, operation and abandonment. It
also includes designing appropriate preventive, mitigating and enhancement measures addressing these consequences to
protect the environment and the community's welfare. The process is undertaken by, among others, the project proponent
and/or EIA Consultant, EMB, a Review Committee, affected communities and other stakeholders.102
Under Proclamation No. 2146, the Ta�on Strait is an environmentally critical area, having been declared as a protected
area in 1998; therefore, any activity outside the scope of its management plan may only be implemented pursuant to an
ECC secured after undergoing an EIA to determine the effects of such activity on its ecological system.

The public respondents argue that they had complied with the procedures in obtaining an ECC 103 and that SC-46 falls under the
exceptions in Section 14 of the NIPAS Act, due to the following reasons:

1) The Ta�on Strait is not a strict nature reserve or natural park;

2) Exploration is only for the purpose of gathering information on possible energy resources; and

3) Measures are undertaken to ensure that the exploration is being done with the least damage to surrounding areas.104

We do not agree with the arguments raised by the public respondents.

Sections 12 and 14 of the NIPAS Act read:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary


SECTION 12. Environmental Impact Assessment. - Proposals for activities which are outside the scope of the management plan
for protected areas shall be subject to an environmental impact assessment as required by law before they are adopted, and the
results thereof shall be taken into consideration in the decision-making process.

No actual implementation of such activities shall be allowed without the required Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC)
under the Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) system. In instances where such activities are allowed to be
undertaken, the proponent shall plan and carry them out in such manner as will minimize any adverse effects and take preventive
and remedial action when appropriate. The proponent shall be liable for any damage due to lack of caution or indiscretion.

SECTION 14. Survey for Energy Resources. - Consistent with the policies declared in Section 2 hereof, protected areas, except
strict nature reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration only for the purpose of gathering information on energy
resources and only if such activity is carried out with the least damage to surrounding areas. Surveys shall be conducted only in
accordance with a program approved by the DENR, and the result of such surveys shall be made available to the public and
submitted to the President for recommendation to Congress. Any exploitation and utilization of energy resources found within
NIPAS areas shall be allowed only through a law passed by Congress.
It is true that the restrictions found under the NIPAS Act are not without exceptions. However, while an exploration done for
the purpose of surveying for energy resources is allowed under Section 14 of the NIPAS Act, this does not mean that it is
exempt from the requirement to undergo an EIA under Section 12. In Sotto v. Sotto,105 this Court explained why a statute
should be construed as a whole:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
A statute is passed as a whole and not in parts or sections and is animated by one general purpose and intent. Consequently each
part or section should be construed in connection with every other part or section and so as to produce a harmonious whole. It is
not proper to confine the attention to the one section to be construed. It is always an unsafe way of construing a statute or contract
to divide it by a process of etymological dissection, into separate words, and then apply to each, thus separated from its context,
some particular definition given by lexicographers, and then reconstruct the instrument upon the basis of these definitions. An
instrument must always be construed as a whole, and the particular meaning to be attached to any word or phrase is usually to be
ascertained from the context, the nature of the subject treated of and the purpose or intention of the parties who executed the
contract, or of the body which enacted or framed the statute or constitution, x x x.
Surveying for energy resources under Section 14 is not an exemption from complying with the EIA requirement in
Section 12; instead, Section 14 provides for additional requisites before any exploration for energy resources may be done
in protected areas.

The rationale for such additional requirements are incorporated in Section 2 of the NIPAS Act, to wit:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
SECTION 2. Declaration of Policy - Cognizant of the profound impact of man's activities on all components of the natural
environment particularly the effect of increasing population, resource exploitation and industrial advancement amd recognizing
the critical importance of protecting and maintaining the natural biological and physical diversities of the environment notably on
areas with biologically unique features to sustain human life and development, as well as plant and animal life, it is hereby
declared the policy of the State to secure for the Filipino people of present and future generations the perpetual existence of all
native plants and animals through the establishment of a comprehensive system of integrated protected areas within the
classification of national park as provided for in the Constitution.

It is hereby recognized that these areas, although distinct in features, possess common ecological values that may be incorporated
into a holistic plan representative of our natural heritage; that effective administration of this area is possible only through
cooperation among national government, local government and concerned private organizations; that the use and enjoyment of
these protected areas must be consistent with the principles of biological diversity and sustainable development.

To this end, there is hereby established a National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), which shall encompass
outstandingly remarkable areas and biologically important public lands that are habitats of rare and endangered species of plants
and animals, biogeographic zones and related ecosystems, whether terrestrial, wetland or marine, all of which shall be designated
as "protected areas."
The public respondents themselves admitted that JAPEX only started to secure an ECC prior to the second sub-phase of SC-46,
which required the drilling of an oil exploration well. This means that when the seismic surveys were done in the Ta�on Strait,
no such environmental impact evaluation was done. Unless seismic surveys are part of the management plan of the Ta�on Strait,
such surveys were dona in violation of Section 12 of the NIPAS Act and Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 1586, which
provides:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Section 4. Presidential Proclamation of Environmentally Critical Areas and Projects. - The President of the Philippines may, on
his own initiative or upon recommendation of the National Environmental Protection Council, by proclamation declare certain
projects, undertakings or areas in the country as environmentally critical. No person, partnership or corporation shall undertake or
operate any such declared environmentally critical project or area without first securing an Environmental Compliance Certificate
issued by the President or his duly authorized representative. For the proper management of said critical project or area, the
President may by his proclamation reorganize such government offices, agencies, institutions, corporations or instrumentalities
including the re-alignment of government personnel, and their specific functions and responsibilities.

For the same purpose as above, the Ministry of Human Settlements shall: (a) prepare the proper land or water use pattern for said
critical project(s) or area(s); (b) establish ambient environmental quality standards; (c) develop a program of environmental
enhancement or protective measures against calamitous factors such as earthquakes, floods, water erosion and others, and (d)
perform such other functions as may be directed by the President from time to time.
The respondents' subsequent compliance with the EISS for the second sub-phase of SC-46 cannot and will not cure this violation.
The following penalties are provided for under Presidential Decree No. 1586 and the NIPAS Act.

Section 9 of Presidential Decree No. 1586 provides for the penalty involving violations of the ECC
requirement:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Section 9. Penalty for Violation. - Any person, corporation or partnership found violating Section 4 of this Decree, or the terms
and conditions in the issuance of the Environmental Compliance Certificate, or of the standards, rules and regulations issued by
the National Environmental Protection Council pursuant to this Decree shall be punished by the suspension or cancellation of
his/its certificates and/or a fine in an amount not to exceed Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) for every violation thereof,
at the discretion of the National Environmental Protection Council. (Emphasis supplied.)
Violations of the NIPAS Act entails the following fines and/or imprisonment under Section 21:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
SECTION 21. Penalties. - Whoever violates this Act or any rules and regulations issued by the Department pursuant to this Act
or whoever is found guilty by a competent court of justice of any of the offenses in the preceding section shall be fined in the
amount of not less than Five thousand pesos (P5,000) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000), exclusive of
the value of the thing damaged or imprisonment for not less than one (1) year but not more than six (6) years, or both, as
determined by the court: Provided, that, if the area requires rehabilitation or restoration as determined by the court, the
offender shall be required to restore or compensate for the restoration to the damages: Provided, further, that court shall
order the eviction of the offender from the land and the forfeiture in favor of the Government of all minerals, timber or
any species collected or removed including all equipment, devices and firearms used in connection therewith, and any
construction or improvement made thereon by the offender. If the offender is an association or corporation, the president or
manager shall be directly responsible for the act of his employees and laborers: Provided, finally, that the DENR may impose
administrative fines and penalties consistent with this Act. (Emphases supplied.)
Moreover, SC-46 was not executed for the mere purpose of gathering information on the possible energy resources in the Ta�on
Strait as it also provides for the parties' rights and obligations relating to extraction and petroleum production should oil in
commercial quantities be found to exist in the area. While Presidential Decree No. 87 may serve as the general law upon
which a service contract for petroleum exploration and extraction may be authorized, the exploitation and utilization of
this energy resource in the present case may be allowed only through a law passed by Congress, since the Ta�on Strait is
a NIPAS area.106Since there is no such law specifically allowing oil exploration and/or extraction in the Ta�on Strait, no
energy resource exploitation and utilization may be done in said protected seascape.

In view of the foregoing premises and conclusions, it is no longer necessary to discuss the other issues raised in these
consolidated petitions.cralawred
WHEREFORE, the Petitions in G.R. Nos. 180771 and 181527 are GRANTED, Service Contract No. 46 is hereby
declared NULL AND VOID for violating the 1987 Constitution, Republic Act No. 7586, and Presidential Decree No. 1586.

SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary