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Oposa v. Factoran, Jr. (1993) Davide, Jr., J.

question which properly pertains to the legislative

Plaintiff: Juan Antonio, Anna Rosario, Jose Alfonso or executive branches.
Oposa, all minors and represented by their parents 3. Judge Rosario issued an order granting the Motion
Antonio and Rizalina, et al., Philippine Ecological to Dismiss. In said order, the Judge ruled that the
Network, Inc. complaint states no cause of action and that it
Respondent: Honorable Fulgencio Factoran in his raises a political question AND that the granting of
capacity as the Secretary of the Department of the reliefs would result in the impairment of
Environment and Natural Resources, and the Honorable contracts.
Eriberto Rosario, presiding Judge of the RTC Makati 4. Plaintiffs filed the instant special civil action for
Concept: Standing to Challenge certiorari under Rule 65.
5. Defendants allege:
Brief facts: Complaint was instituted as a taxpayers o Plaintiffs fail to allege a specific legal right
class suit and alleged that the plaintiffs are all citizens violated by the Secretary for which any
of the Philippines. The minors asservate that they relief is provided by law.
represent their generation as well as generations yet o The question of WON the logging should be
unborn. They prayed Prayed for a judgment to be permitted in the country is a political
rendered, cancelling all the timber license agreements question. Their recourse is to lobby before
in the Philippines. They claim that they have a clear Congress for the passage of a bill that
and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful would totally ban logging.
ecology and are entitled to protection by the State in o The Timber License Agreements remain
its capacity as parens patriae. Secretary of DENR filed effective for 25 years and it can neither be
a Motion to Dismiss, claiming that the complaint has no revised nor cancelled unless the holder was
cause of action. Judge Soriano granted. Petitioners filed found to have violated its terms.
present petition for certiorari under Rule 65.
Doctrine: Petitioner minors assert that they 1. WON plaintiffs have standing to file the instant
represent their generation as well as petition (YES)
generations yet unborn. The court finds no difficulty 2. WON their complaint states a cause of action (YES)
in ruling that they can, for themselves, for others of 3. WON Judge Soriano committed grave abuse of
their generation and for the succeeding generations, discretion in granting the Motion to Dismiss (YES)
file a class suit. Their personality to sue in behalf of the 4. WON it raises a political question (NO)
succeeding generations can only be based on the 5. WON it violates the non-impairment of contracts
concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as (NO)
the right to a balanced and healthy ecology is
concerned. Every generation has a responsibility to the RATIO:
next to preserve the rhythm and harmony of nature for 1. The plaintiffs have standing to file the instant
the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. petition.
- Civil Case No. 90-777 was instituted as a class suit.
Defendants did not raise this matter, but the court
ruled that it is a valid class suit for it has complied
FACTS: with the requisites for it to be considered a class
1. The controversy started in Civil Case No. 90-777 suit namely:
whereby the principal plaintiffs therein were minors o The subject matter of the complaint is of
who were duly represented by their parents and common and general interest not just to
the defendants were Fulgencio Factoran as the several, but to all citizens of the
Secretary of DENR and Angel Alcala who Philippines.
subsequently held the office. o The parties are so numerous that it
o Complaint was instituted as a taxpayers becomes impracticable to bring all of them
class suit and alleged that the plaintiffs are before the court.
all citizens of the Philippines. The minors o Plaintiffs therein are numerous and
asservate that they represent their representative enough to ensure the full
generation as well as generations yet protection of all concerned interests.
unborn. - Petitioner minors assert that they represent their
o Prayed for a judgment to be rendered, generation as well as generations yet
cancelling all the timber license unborn. The court finds no difficulty in ruling that
agreements in the Philippines. they can, for themselves, for others of their
o They claim that they have a clear and generation and for the succeeding generations, file
constitutional right to a balanced and a class suit.
healthful ecology and are entitled to - Their personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding
protection by the State in its capacity as generations can only be based on the concept of
parens patriae. intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right
2. Secretary Factoran filed a Motion to Dismiss based to a balanced and healthy ecology is concerned.
on the following grounds: (1) plaintiffs have no
cause of action; (2) the issue raised is a political
- Every generation has a responsibility to the next to - The petitioners claim that the granting of the
preserve the rhythm and harmony of nature for the Timber License Agreements, violated their right to
full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. a balanced and healthful ecology, hence full
- The minors assertion of their right to a sound protection thereof requires that no further TLAs
environment constitutes at the same time the should be renewed or granted.
performance of their obligation to ensure the - Thus, the specific averments are adequate enough
protection of that right for generations to come. to show, prima facie, the claimed violation of their
- Petitioners have locus standi (legal interest which a rights.
plaintiff must have in the subject matter of the - Insofar as the cancellation of the TLAs is
suit). concerned, there is the need to implead the
grantees thereof for they are indispensible parties.
2. The complaint of plaintiffs alleged a sufficient
and definite legal rightthe right to a balanced 3. Since the petitioners complaint sufficiently
and healthful ecology. states a cause of action, Judge Soriano
- The right to a balanced and healthful ecology is committed grave abuse of discretion in granted
incorporated in the Constitution, specifically Sec. the motion to dismiss the same.
16, Art. II which is related to the right to health in
Sec. 15: 4. What is principally involved is the
Sec. 16. The State shall protect and advance the enforcement of a right vis--vis policies already
right of the people to a balanced and healthful formulated and expressed in legislation.
ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of Nonetheless, the political question doctrine is no
nature. longer the insurmountable obstacle to the
exercise of judicial power.
Sec. 15. The State shall protect and promote the - Sec. 1, Art VIII of the Constitution: "Judicial power
right to health of the people and instill health includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle
consciousness among them. actual controversies involving rights which are
- While said right is found under the Declaration of legally demandable and enforceable, and to
Principles and not the Bill of Rights, it doesnt determine whether or not there has been a grave
follow that it is less important than any of the civil abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
and political rights enumerated in the latter. jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
- It belongs to a different category for it concerns instrumentality of the Government."
nothing less than self-preservation and self-
perpetuation, the advancement of which may even 5. All licenses may be revoked or rescinded by
be said to predate all government and executive action. It is not a contract, property or
constitutions. a property right protected by the due process
- The right to a balanced and healthy ecology carries clause of the Constitution. Hence, the policy of
with it the correlative duty to refrain from non-impairment of contracts does not apply.
impairing the environment. The right implies the - Since TLAs arent contracts, the non-impairment
judicious management and conservation of the clause cannot be invoked.
countrys forests. - Even if it is to be assumed that they are contracts,
- Sec. 4 of EO 192 expressly mandates that the the instant case doesnt involve a law or even an
DENR shall be the primary government agency executive issuance declaring the cancellation or
responsible for the conservation, management, modification of existing timber licences.
development and proper use of the countrys - Granting that a law has actually been passed, the
environment and natural resources. same cannot be stigmatized as a violation of the
- Section 1, Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative non-impairment clause. This is because by its very
Code: The State shall ensure, for the benefit of the nature and purpose, such a law could have only
Filipino people with the necessity of protecting been passed in the exercise of the police power of
and enhancing the quality of the environment and the state for the purpose of advancing the right of
the objective of making the exploration, the people to a balanced and healthful ecology,
development and utilization of such resources promoting their health and enhancing the general
equitably accessible to different segments of the welfare.
present as well as future generations. - Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court
- There provisions stress the necessity of did, how the non-impairment clause could apply
maintaining a sound ecological balance and with respect to the prayer to enjoin the respondent
protecting and enhancing the quality of the Secretary from receiving, accepting, processing,
environment. renewing or approving new timber licenses for,
- The right of the petitioners is as clear as save in cases of renewal , no contract would have
DENRs duty to protect and advance said as of yet existed in the other instances. Moreover,
right. with respect to renewal, the holder is not entitled
- A denial or violation of that right by the other who to it as a matter of right.
has a correlative duty or obligation to respect or
protect the same give rise to a cause of action. DISPOSITIVE: Petition GRANTED.


Feliciano, J Concurring in result: - My suggestion is simply that petitioners must,
- The Court explicitly states that petitioners have the before the trial court, show a more specific legal
locus standi necessary to sustain the bringing and right.
maintenance of this suit. Locus standi is not a - It seems to me important that the legal right which
function of petitioners' claim that their suit is is an essential component of a cause of action be a
properly regarded as a class suit . I understand specific, operable legal right, rather than a
locus standi to refer to the legal interest which a constitutional or statutory policy, for at least two
plaintiff must have in the subject matter of the suit. (2) reasons: One is that unless the legal right
Because of the very broadness of the concept of claimed to have been violated or disregarded is
"class" here involved membership in this "class" given specification in operational terms,
appears to embrace everyone living in the country defendants may well be unable to defend
whether now or in the future it appears to me themselves intelligently and effectively; in other
that everyone who may be expected to benefit words, there are due process dimensions to this
from the course of action petitioners seek to matter. The second is a broader-gauge
require public respondents to take, is vested with consideration where a specific violation of law or
the necessary locus standi. applicable regulation is not alleged or proved,
- The Court may be seen therefore to be recognizing petitioners can be expected to fall back on the
a beneficiaries' right of action in the field of expanded conception of judicial power in the
environmental protection, as against both the second paragraph of Section 1 of Article VIII.
public administrative agency directly concerned - I VOTE TO GRANT THE PETITION.
and the private persons or entities operating in the
field or sector of activity involved. Joya v. Presidential Commission on Good Governance
- The Court has also declared that the complaint has (1993) Bellosillo, J.
alleged and focused upon "one specific Plaintiff: Dean Jose Joya, Carmen Guerrero Nakpil,
fundamental legal right the right to a balanced Armida Siguion Reyna, Prof Ricarte Puruganan, Irma
and healthful ecology. There is no question that Potenciano, Adrian Cristobal, Ingrid Santamaria,
"the right to a balanced and healthful ecology" is Corazon Fiel, Ambassador Aguilar Cruz, Florencio
"fundamental" and that, accordingly, it has been Jacela, Mauro Malang, et al.
"constitutionalized." But although it is fundamental Respondent: Presidential Commission on Good
in character, I suggest, with very great respect, Governance, Catalino Macaraig Jr. in his official
that it cannot be characterized as "specific," capacity and/or Executive Secretary, and Chairman
without doing excessive violence to language. Mateo Caparas
- It is in fact very difficult to fashion language more Concept: Standing to Challenge
comprehensive in scope and generalized in
character than a right to "a balanced and healthful Brief Facts: PCGG sought authorization from
ecology. President Aquino to sell 82 Old Master Paintings and
- Two (2) points are worth making in this connection. antique silverware which were confiscated from
Firstly, neither petitioners nor the Court has Malacanang. Petitioners seek to enjoin the sale,
identified the particular provision of the Philippine claiming that the public has a right to these items since
Environment Code which give rise to a specific they belong to the public as national cultural treasures.
legal right which petitioners are seeking to enforce. The sale pushed through but they seek the relaxation
Secondly, the Philippine Environment Code of the rule on moot and academic cases. The court
identifies with notable care the particular denied their petition on the premise that they do not
government agency charged with the formulation have the legal standing to question the sale since they
and implementation of guidelines and programs are not the real parties-in-interest.
dealing with each of the headings and sub-
headings mentioned above. Doctrine: Legal standing means a personal and
- The Philippine Environment Code does not, in other substantial interest in the case such that the party has
words, appear to contemplate action on the part of sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the
private persons who are beneficiaries of governmental act that is being challenged. Having
implementation of that Code. failed to show that they are the legal owners of the
- As a matter of logic, by finding petitioners' cause of artworks or that the valued pieces have become
action as anchored on a legal right comprised in publicly owned, petitioners do not possess any clear
the constitutional statements above noted, the legal right whatsoever to question their disposition.
Court is in effect saying that Section 15 (and
Section 16) of Article II of the Constitution are self- FACTS:
executing and judicially enforceable even in their 1. Mateo Caparas, then Chairman of PCGG, wrote
present form. President Corazon Aquino, requesting her for
- The implications of this doctrine will have to be authority to sign the proposed Consignment
explored in future cases; those implications are too Agreement between the Philippines (through
large and far-reaching in nature even to be hinted PCGG) and Christie Manson and Woods
at here. International, Inc. concerning the scheduled sale on
January 11, 1991 of 82 Old Masters Paintings
and antique silverware contained in 71
cartons which were seized from Malacanang and 1. The petitioners do not possess any clear legal
Metropolitan Museum of Manila. The items right to question the alleged unauthorized
scheduled for sale were alleged to be part of the ill- disposition.
gotten wealth of President Marcos. - Under Sec.2, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, every
2. On August 14, 1990, President Aquino, through action must be prosecuted and defended in the
former Executive Secretary Macaraig, authorized name of the real party-in-interest, and that all
Chairman Caparas to sign the Consignment persons having interest in the subject of the action
Agreement in obtaining the relief demanded shall be joined as
3. On August 15, 1990, PCGG signed the plaintiffs. The court will exercise its power of
Consignment Agreement with Christies of New judicial review only if the case is brought before it
York. by a party who has legal standing to raise the
4. On October 26, 1990, the Commission on Audit, constitutional or legal question.
through Chairman Domingo, submitted to President - Legal standing means a personal and substantial
Aquino audit findings of COA on the Consignment interest in the case such that the party has
Agreement to the effect that: sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of
o The authority of PCGG Chairman Caparas the governmental act that is being challenged.
to enter into the agreement was of - Interest is material interest, an interest in issue
doubtful legality. and to be affected by the decree, as distinguished
o The contract was highly disadvantageous from mere interest in the question involved, or a
to the government. mere incidental interest.
o PCGG had a poor track record in asset - The interest of the party must be personal and
disposal by auction in the US. not one based on a desire to vindicate the
o The assets subject of the auction were constitutional right of some 3rd and unrelated party.
historical relics and had cultural - There are instances when the court has allowed
significance, hence, their disposal was exceptions to this rule, as when a citizen brings a
prohibited by law. case for mandamus to procure the enforcement of
5. New Chairman of PCGG, David Castro, wrote a public duty, and when a taxpayer questions the
President Aquino, defending the Consignment validity of a governmental act authorizing the
Agreement and refuting the allegations of COA. The disbursement of public funds,
Director of National Museum on the same date - Petitioners claim that as Filipino citizens,
issued a certification that the items didnt fall taxpayers, and artists deeply concerned with
within the classification the preservation and protection of the countrys
6. Petitioners, as Filipino taxpayers, concerned with artistic wealth, they have the legal personality to
the preservation and protection of the countrys restrain respondents from acting contrary to their
wealth, file the instant petition for Prohibition and public duty to conserve the artistic creations as
Mandamus with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction mandated by Art. XIV, Secs. 14-18 of the
and Restraining Order, seeking to enjoin the PCGG Constitution and RA 4846 known as The Cultural
from proceeding with the sale. Properties Preservation and Protection Act.
o Court denied the preliminary injunction on - They also anchor their claim on the premise that
the ground that petitioners had not the paintings and silverware are public
presented a clear legal right to a properties collectively owned by them and by the
restraining order and that proper parties people in general to view and enjoy as great works
had not been impleaded (in this case, the of art. They allege that PCGG deprived them of
Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos). their right to public property without due process.
7. On January 11, 1991, the sale at public auction - Their arguments are devoid of merit. They
proceeded as scheduled and the proceeds of $13, themselves allege that the paintings were donated
302, 604.86. by private persons from different parts of the world
to the Metropolitan Museum of Manila Foundation
ISSUES: which is a non-stock, non-profit corporation
1. WON the petitioners have legal standing to file the established to promote Philippine arts. The
instant petition (NO) foundations chairman was Imelda Marcos while its
2. WON the action fulfills the criteria for mandamus President was Bienvenido Tantoco.
(NO) - The ownership of these paintings legally belongs to
3. WON the petition can be allowed as a taxpayers suit the foundation or the members thereof, although
(NO) the public has been given the opportunity to view
4. WON the case falls under the exception to the rule and appreciate these paintings when they were
on moot and academic cases (NO) placed on exhibit.
5. WON the properties fall under the definition of either - The pieces of antique silverware were given to the
important cultural properties or national cultural Marcos couple as gifts from friends and dignitaries
treasures (NO) from foreign countries on their silver wedding
RATIO: - The confiscation of these properties by the Aquino
administration shouldnt be understood to mean


that the ownership of these paintings has
automatically passed on to the government 4. The case is already moot and academic since
without complying with constitutional and statutory the sale has already pushed through.
requirements of due process and just - Petitioners claim that the novelty and importance
compensation. of the issues raised by them will establish future
- If these properties were already acquired by the guiding principles and doctrines on the
government, any constitutional defect and preservation of the nations priceless artistic and
subsequent disposition must be raised only by the cultural possessions for the benefit of the public as
proper partiesthe true owners thereofwhose a whole.
authority to recover emanates from their - There is no justification in the petition at bar to
proprietary rights. warrant the relaxation of the rule that there must
- Having failed to show that they are the legal be an actual case or controversy which involves a
owners of the artworks or that the valued pieces conflict of legal rights.
have become publicly owned, petitioners do not
possess any clear legal right whatsoever to 5. The properties involved do not constitute
question their disposition. protected cultural properties and are not among
those listed in the Cultural Properties Register of
2. A writ of mandamus may be issued to a citizen the National Museum.
only when the public right to be enforced and - Important cultural properties are cultural properties
the concomitant duty of the state are which have been singled out from among the
unequivocally set forth in the Constitution. innumerable cultural properties as having
- In this case, petitioners arent after the fulfillment exceptional historical and cultural significance to
of a positive duty required of the respondents. the Philippines but arent sufficiently outstanding
What they seek is the enjoinment of an official act to merit the classification of national cultural
because it is constitutionally infirm. Also, they treasures.
claim for a continued enjoyment by the public of - Natural cultural treasures possess outstanding
the artworks which is at most a privilege and is historical, cultural, artistic, and/or scientific value
unenforceable as a constitutional right. which is highly significant and important to this
country and nation.
3. Not every action filed by a taxpayer can - The certification from the Director of national
qualify to challenge the legality of the official Museum states that these properties do not belong
acts done by the government. It can only prosper to the above-stated categories.
when the governmental acts being questioned
involve the disbursement of public funds. DISPOSITIVE: Petition DISMISSED
- Obviously, petitioners arent challenging any
expenditure of public funds but the disposition of
what they allege to be public properties.