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Oposa vs. Factoran Case Digest (G.R. No.

101083, July 30, 1993)


FACTS:

those they represent) to a balanced and healthful ecology is as


clear as DENR's duty to protect and advance the said right.

The plaintiffs in this case are all minors duly represented and
joined by their parents. The first complaint was filed as a
taxpayer's class suit at the Branch 66 (Makati, Metro Manila), of
the Regional Trial Court, National capital Judicial Region against
defendant (respondent) Secretary of the Department of
Environment and Natural Reasources (DENR). Plaintiffs alleged
that they are entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the
natural resource treasure that is the country's virgin tropical
forests. They further asseverate that they represent their
generation as well as generations yet unborn and asserted that
continued deforestation have caused a distortion and disturbance
of the ecological balance and have resulted in a host of
environmental tragedies.

A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the


correlative duty or obligation to respect or protect or respect the
same gives rise to a cause of action. Petitioners maintain that the
granting of the TLA, which they claim was done with grave abuse
of discretion, violated their right to a balance and healthful
ecology. Hence, the full protection thereof requires that no further
TLAs should be renewed or granted.
After careful examination of the petitioners' complaint, the Court
finds it to be adequate enough to show, prima facie, the claimed
violation of their rights.

Second Issue: Political Issue.


Plaintiffs prayed that judgement be rendered ordering the
respondent, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in
his behalf to cancel all existing Timber License Agreement (TLA)
in the country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting,
processing, renewing or approving new TLAs.
Defendant, on the other hand, filed a motion to dismiss on the
ground that the complaint had no cause of action against him and
that it raises a political question.

Second paragraph, Section 1 of Article VIII of the constitution


provides for the expanded jurisdiction vested upon the Supreme
Court. It allows the Court to rule upon even on the wisdom of the
decision of the Executive and Legislature and to declare their acts
as invalid for lack or excess of jurisdiction because it is tainted
with grave abuse of discretion.

Third Issue: Violation of the non-impairment clause.


The RTC Judge sustained the motion to dismiss, further ruling
that granting of the relief prayed for would result in the
impairment of contracts which is prohibited by the Constitution.
Plaintiffs (petitioners) thus filed the instant special civil action for
certiorari and asked the court to rescind and set aside the
dismissal order on the ground that the respondent RTC Judge
gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the action.
ISSUES:
(1) Whether or not the plaintiffs have a cause of action.
(2) Whether or not the complaint raises a political issue.
(3) Whether or not the original prayer of the plaintiffs result in the
impairment of contracts.

The Court held that the Timber License Agreement is an


instrument by which the state regulates the utilization and
disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is
promoted. It is not a contract within the purview of the due
process clause thus, the non-impairment clause cannot be
invoked. It can be validly withdraw whenever dictated by public
interest or public welfare as in this case. The granting of license
does not create irrevocable rights, neither is it property or
property rights.
Moreover, the constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of
obligations of contract is limit by the exercise by the police power
of the State, in the interest of public health, safety, moral and
general welfare. In short, the non-impairment clause must yield to
the police power of the State.

RULING:
First Issue: Cause of Action.
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. The Court did
not agree with this. The complaint focuses on one fundamental
legal right -- the right to a balanced and healthful ecology which
is incorporated in Section 16 Article II of the Constitution. The
said right carries with it the duty to refrain from impairing the
environment and implies, among many other things, the judicious
management and conservation of the country's forests. Section 4
of E.O. 192 expressly mandates the DENR to be the primary
government agency responsible for the governing and supervising
the exploration, utilization, development and conservation of the
country's natural resources. The policy declaration of E.O. 192 is
also substantially re-stated in Title XIV Book IV of the
Administrative Code of 1987. Both E.O. 192 and Administrative
Code of 1987 have set the objectives which will serve as the
bases for policy formation, and have defined the powers and
functions of the DENR. Thus, right of the petitioners (and all

The instant petition, being impressed with merit, is hereby


GRANTED and the RTC decision is SET ASIDE.

Facts
This case is unique in that it is a class suit brought by 44 children,
through their parents, claiming that they bring the case in the
name of their generation as well as those generations yet
unborn. Aiming to stop deforestation, it was filed against the
Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources, seeking to have him cancel all the timber license
agreements (TLAs) in the country and to cease and desist from
accepting and approving more timber license agreements. The
children invoked their right to a balanced and healthful ecology
and to protection by the State in its capacity as parens patriae.
The petitioners claimed that the DENR Secretary's refusal to
cancel the TLAs and to stop issuing them was "contrary to the
highest law of humankind-- the natural law-- and violative of
plaintiffs' right to self-preservation and perpetuation." The case

was dismissed in the lower court, invoking the law on nonimpairment of contracts, so it was brought to the Supreme Court
on certiorari.

health (Sections 16 and 15, Article II of the Constitution). The


petitioners asserted that they represented others of their
generation as well as generations yet unborn.

Issue

Finding for the petitioners, the Court stated that even though the
right to a balanced and healthful ecology is under the Declaration
of Principles and State Policies of the Constitution and not under
the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than
any of the rights enumerated in the latter: [it] concerns nothing
less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation, the
advancement of which may even be said to predate all
governments and constitutions. The right is linked to the
constitutional right to health, is fundamental,
constitutionalised, self-executing and judicially
enforceable. It imposes the correlative duty to refrain from
impairing the environment.

Did the children have the legal standing to file the case?
Ruling
Yes. The Supreme Court in granting the petition ruled that the
children had the legal standing to file the case based on the
concept of intergenerational responsibility. Their right to a
healthy environment carried with it an obligation to preserve that
environment for the succeeding generations. In this, the Court
recognized legal standing to sue on behalf of future generations.
Also, the Court said, the law on non-impairment of contracts must
give way to the exercise of the police power of the state in the
interest of public welfare.
Relevance
The case of Oposa vs. Factoran has been widely cited worldwide
for its concept of intergenerational responsibility, particularly in
cases related to ecology and the environment. For example:

Oposa vs. Factoran's concept of "intergenerational


responsibility" was cited in a case in Bangladesh.[1]
The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)
considers Oposa vs. Factoran a landmark case in
judicial thinking for environmental governance.[2]
In the book Public Health Law and Ethics by Larry O.
Gostin, Oposa vs. Factoran is cited as a significant
example of the justiciability of the right to health. [3]
In the book The Law of Energy for Sustainable
Development by the IUCN Academy of Environmental
Law Research Studies, a study cites Oposa vs.
Factoran as basis for asserting that the right to breathe
is part of the right to life as an acknowledged human
right.[4]

Oposa et al. v. Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. et al (G.R. No.


101083)
Nature of the case
Class action seeking the cancellation and non-issuance of timber
licence agreements which allegedly infringed the constitutional
right to a balanced and healthful ecology (Section 16); nonimpairment of contracts; Environmental law; judicial review and
the political question doctrine; inter-generational responsibility;
Remedial law: cause of action and standing; Directive principles;
Negative obligation on State
Summary
An action was filed by several minors represented by their parents
against the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to
cancel existing timber license agreements in the country and to
stop issuance of new ones. It was claimed that the resultant
deforestation and damage to the environment violated their
constitutional rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to

The court stated that the petitioners were able to file a class suit
both for others of their generation and for succeeding generations
as 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.
Significance of the case
This case has been widely-cited in jurisprudence worldwide,
particularly in cases relating to forest/timber licensing. However,
the approach of the Philippino Supreme Court to economic, social
and cultural rights has proved somewhat inconsistent, with some
judgments resulting in the enforcement of such rights (e.g., Del
Rosario v Bangzon, 180 SCRA 521 (1989); Manila Prince Hotel
v Government Service Insurance System, G. R. No. 122156 (3
February, 1997) but at least one instance in which the Court
made a statement that economic, social and cultural rights are not
real rights (see, Brigido Simon v Commission on Human Rights,
G. R. No. 100150, 5 January 1994).

OPOSA VS FACTORAN, JR.


224 SCRA 792
Date of Promulgation: July 30, 1993
Ponente: Davide, Jr., J.

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.

Keywords:taxpayers class suit; intergenerational responsibility;


right to a balanced and healthful ecology; timber license
agreements

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.

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.

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.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 asked the Court to rescind and set aside the
dismissal order on the ground that the respondent Judge
gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the action.

Petitioners:
o Contend that the complaint clearly and
unmistakably states a cause of action as it
contains sufficient allegations concerning their
right to a sound environment, the right of the
people to a balanced and healthful ecology, the
concept of generational genocide and the
concept of man's inalienable right to selfpreservation and self-perpetuation.
o 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.
o It is further claimed that the issue of the
respondent Secretary's alleged grave abuse of

QuickGuide: Petitioners personality to sue in behalf of the


succeeding generations is based on the concept of
intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced
and healthful environment is concerned.
Facts:
-

The controversy begunas Civil Case No. 90-77 which


was filed before the RTC of Makati City Branch 66.
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 nonprofit 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.
The complaintwas instituted as a taxpayers' class suitand
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."

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
(TLAs) in the country;
(2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting,
processing, renewing or approving new TLAs.
and
(3) granting the plaintiffs such other reliefs just and
equitable under the premises.

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.

o
o

discretion in granting Timber License


Agreements (TLAs) to cover more areas for
logging than what is available involves a
judicial question.
Non-impairment clause does not apply in this
case because TLAs are not contracts.
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.

Respondents:
o 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.
o 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.
o 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.

Issue/s:
Whether or not the 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.
(YES.)
Ruling:
The instant Petition is granted, and the challenged Order
of respondent Judge is set aside. The petitioners may
therefore amend their complaint to implead as
defendants the holders or grantees of the questioned
timber license agreements.
Ratio:
LOCUS STANDI:

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. The SC likewise
declares 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. The SC
finds 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 considers the "rhythm and harmony of nature."

Nature means the created world in its entirety.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.
Needless to say, every generation has a responsibility to
the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the
full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology.

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.

RIGHT TO A BALANCED AND HEALTHFUL ECOLOGY:


The complaint focuses on 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).
-

This right unites with the right to health which is


provided for in the Section 15 of the same article.

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 selfpreservation and self-perpetuation 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 "responsibilities of each generation as trustee and


guardian of the environment for succeeding
generations." 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 correlative duty or obligation to respect or protect
the same gives rise to a cause of action.

CAUSE OF ACTION:
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.

The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries


with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the
environment.

The said right implies, among many other things, the


judicious management and conservation of the country's
forests.

The question submitted to the court for resolution


involves the sufficiency of the facts alleged in the
complaint itself.

Without such forests, the ecological or environmental


balance would be irreversiby disrupted.

Falsity of the said allegations is beside the point for the


truth thereof is deemed hypothetically admitted.

Conformably with the enunciated right to a balanced


and healthful ecology and the right to health,then
President Corazon C. Aquino promulgated on 10 June
1987 E.O. No. 192, 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."

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.

This policy declaration is substantially re-stated it Title


XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987. It
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.

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.

On 6 June 1977, P.D. No. 1151 (Philippine


Environmental Policy) and P.D. No. 1152 (Philippine
Environment Code) were issued. As its goal, it speaks of

POLITICAL QUESTION:
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-avis 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.

NON-IMPAIRMENT OF CONTRACTS:
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 declared thatto 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 amount to
impairment of contracts abhorred by the fundamental
law.

The respondent Secretary did not 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.
-

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 . . .

Tan vs. Director of Forestry:. . .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.

Since timber licenses are not contracts, the nonimpairment clausecannot be invoked.

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.

Abe vs. Foster Wheeler Corp.: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 nonimpairment 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.

In short, the non-impairment clause must yield to the police


power of the state.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority v Concerned


Residents of Manila Bay
GR No. 171947-48
December 18, 2008
FACTS:
The complaint by the residents 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 and that ALL
defendants (public officials) must be jointly and/or solidarily
liable and collectively ordered to clean up Manila Bay and to
restore its water quality to class B, waters fit for swimming,
diving, and other forms of contact recreation.
ISSUES:
(1) WON 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;
(2) WON petitioners be compel led by mandamus to clean up and
rehabilitate the Manila Bay.
APPLICABLE LAWS:
PD 1152 Philippine Environmental Code Section 17. Upgrading
of Water Quality. Where the quality of water has
deteriorated t o a degree where it s state will adversely affect
its best u sage, 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 operation shall be charged against
the persons and/ or entities responsible for such pollution.
HELD:
(1) 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. Section 17
& 20 are of general application and are not for specific pollution
incidents only. 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.
(2) The Cleaning or Rehabilitation of Manila Bay Can be
Compelled by Mandamus. 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. Under what other judicial
discipline describes as continuing mandamus , 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.
NOTE: This continuing mandamus is no longer applicable, since
this is institutionalized in the rules of procedure for environmental
cases.

EN BANC
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. 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.
Facts:
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, for the
cleanup, rehabilitation, and protection of the Manila Bay.
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.
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;

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.

(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.

Defendant DPWH, to remove and demolish structures and other


nuisances that obstruct the free flow of waters to the bay. These
nuisances discharge solid and liquid wastes which eventually end
up in Manila Bay. As the construction and engineering arm of the
government, DPWH is ordered to actively participate in removing
debris, such as carcass of sunken vessels, and other nonbiodegradable garbage in the bay.

Issues:
a) Whether or not pertinent provisions of the Environment Code
(PD 1152) relate only to the cleaning of specific pollution
incidents and do not cover cleaning in general.
b) Whether or not the cleaning of the Manila Bay is not a
ministerial act which can be compelled by mandamus.

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.

Held:
Regional Trial Courts Order to Clean Up and Rehabilitate
Manila Bay
On September 13, 2002, the RTC rendered a Decision in favor of
respondents. Finding merit in the complaint, the Court ordered
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 Philippine Coast Guard and the PNP Maritime Group,


to protect at all costs the Manila Bay from all forms of illegal
fishing.
The Court of Appeals Sustained the RTCs Decision
The MWSS, Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), and
PPA filed before the Court of Appeals (CA) individual Notices of
Appeal. 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.
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.

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. 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.
By a Decision of September 28, 2005, the CA denied petitioners
appeal and affirmed the Decision of the RTC in toto, stressing
that the trial courts decision did not require petitioners to do
tasks outside of their usual basic functions under existing laws.

Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS GR 122156, 3 February 1997


WHETHER OR NOT THE COSNTITUTIONAL
PROVISIONS ARE SELF-EXECUTING
FACTS:
The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), pursuant to
the privatization program of the Philippine Government under
Proclamation 50 dated 8 December 1986, decided to sell through
public bidding 30% to 51% of the issued and outstanding shares
of the Manila Hotel (MHC). In a close bidding held on 18
September 1995 only two bidders participated: Manila Prince
Hotel Corporation, a Filipino corporation, which offered to buy
51% of the MHC or 15,300,000 shares at P41.58 per share, and
Renong Berhad, a Malaysian firm, with ITT-Sheraton as its hotel
operator, which bid for the same number of shares at P44.00 per
share, or P2.42 more than the bid of petitioner. Pending the
declaration of Renong Berhard as the winning bidder/strategic
partner and the execution of the necessary contracts, the Manila
Prince Hotel matched the bid price of P44.00 per share tendered
by Renong Berhad in a letter to GSIS dated 28 September 1995.
Manila Prince Hotel sent a managers check to the GSIS in a
subsequent letter, but which GSIS refused to accept. On 17
October 1995, perhaps apprehensive that GSIS has disregarded
the tender of the matching bid and that the sale of 51% of the
MHC may be hastened by GSIS and consummated with Renong
Berhad, Manila Prince Hotel came to the Court on prohibition and
mandamus.
FACTS
The Respondent Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) in
pursuant to the privatization program of the Philippine
Government under Proclamation No. 50 dated 8 December 1986,
decided to sell through public bidding 30% to 51% of the issued.
In a close bidding held on 18 September 1995 only two (2)
bidders participated: petitioner Manila Prince Hotel Corporation,
a Filipino corporation, which offered to buy 51% of the MHC or
15,300,000 shares at P41.58 per share, and Renong Berhad, a
Malaysian firm, with ITT-Sheraton as its hotel operator, which
bid for the same number of shares at P44.00 per share, or P2.42
more than the bid of petitioner.
Pending the declaration of Renong Berhad as the winning
bidder/strategic partner of MHC, petitioner matched the formers
bid prize also with Php 44.00 per share followed by a managers

check worth Php 33 million as Bid Security, but the GSIS refused
to accept both the bid match and the managers check.
The petitioner invokes Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987
Constitution Filipino first policy and submits that the Manila
Hotel has been identified with the Filipino nation and has
practically become a historical monument which reflects the
vibrancy of Philippine heritage and culture. To all intents and
purposes, it has become a part of the national patrimony.
Petitioner also argues that since 51% of the shares of the MHC
carries with it the ownership of the business of the hotel which is
owned by respondent GSIS, a government-owned and controlled
corporation, the hotel business of respondent GSIS being a part of
the tourism industry is unquestionably a part of the national
economy.
ISSUE
Whether or not the provisions of Section 10, second paragraph,
Article 11 of the 1987 Constitution is self executing or non self
executing
If self executing: the sale of Manila Hotel to Renong Berhad is
violative of the Constitutional provision of Filipino First policy
(Section 10, second paragraph, Article 11 of the 1987
Constitution) and is therefore null and void.
HELD
As the Filipino first policy was deemed self executing, the court
ruled that the qualified Filipino entity must be given preference
by granting it the option to match the winning bid because the
provision. The Supreme Court, therefore, directed the GSIS and
other respondents to cease and desist from selling the 51% shares
of the MHC to the Malaysian firm Renong Berhad, and instead to
accept the matching bid of the petitioner Manila Prince Hotel.
The rule is that (from Agpalo) in the case of doubt, the
constitution should be considered self executing rather than non
self executing. Such is the case with Section 10, second
paragraph, Article 11 of the 1987 Constitution which states that
in grant of rights and privileges and concessions covering the
national economy and patrimony, the state shall give preference
to qualified Filipino. According to Justice Bellosillo, ponente of
the case at bar, Section 10, second paragraph, Article 11 of the
1987 Constitution is a mandatory provision, a positive command
which is complete in itself and needs no further guidelines or
implementing laws to enforce it. The Court En Banc emphasized
that qualified Filipinos shall be preferred over foreigners, as
mandated by the provision in question.
Furthermore, (agpalo) in its plain ordinary meaning the term
patrimony pertains to heritage . the constitution speaks of national
patrimony , it refers not only to the natural resources of the
Philippines, as the constitution could have very well used the term
natural resources but also to the cultural heritage of the Filipinos
and therefore an example the Manila hotel which has become a
landmark a living testimonial of Philippine heritage
The Court also reiterated how much of national pride will vanish
if the nations cultural heritage will fall on the hands of
foreigners, and this is not to be taken lightly as Nationalism is
inherent in the concept of the Philippines being a democratic and
republican state. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Puno said that
the provision in question should be interpreted as pro-Filipino
and, at the same time, not anti-alien in itself because it does not
prohibit the State from granting rights, privileges and concessions
to foreigners in the absence of qualified Filipinos. He also argued
that the petitioner is estopped from assailing the winning bid of
Renong Berhad because the former knew the rules of the bidding
and that the foreigners are qualified, too.