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G.R. No. L-41958 July 20, 1982

DONALD MEAD, petitioner,


vs.
HON. MANUEL A. ARGEL in his capacity as Presiding Judge in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XXXV and the PEOPLE
OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

Ozaeta, Romulo, De Leon & Reyes & Associates for petitioner.

Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Acting Solicitor General Hugo Gutierrez, Jr., Asst. Solicitor General Octavio R. Ramirez and
Solicitor Mariano M. Martinez for respondents.

VASQUEZ, J.:

The issue posed for determination in this case is whether or not a Provincial Fiscal has the authority to file an information for a
violation of Republic Act No. 3931, entitled "An Act Creating a National Water and Air Pollution Control Commission."

On March 11, 1975, petitioner Donald Mead and a certain Isaac Arivas were charged by the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal with a
violation of Section 9, in relation to Section 10 of Republic Act No. 3931, under an information reading as follows:

That on or about the 23rd day of August, 1972, and for some time prior and subsequent thereto, in the
municipality of Malabon, province of Rizal, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, being then the president and the general manager, respectively, of the Insular Oil
Refinery Co. (INSOIL) a corporation duly organized in accordance with existing laws, conspiring and
confederating together and mutually helping and aiding one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously drain or otherwise dispose into the highway canal and/or cause, permit, suffer to be drained
or allow to seep into such waterway the industrial and other waste matters discharged due to the operation
of the said Insular Oil Refinery Co. so managed and operated by them, thereby causing pollution of such
waterway with the resulting damage and/or destruction to the living plants in the vicinity and providing
hazard to health and property in the same vicinity.

The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. C-5984-75 and it was subsequently assigned to Branch XXXV of the Court of First
Instance of Rizal (Caloocan City) presided over by the respondent Judge.

On August 11, 1975, petitioner Donald Mead, one of the accused in the criminal case, filed a motion to quash on the grounds
that the trial court has no jurisdiction and that the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal has no legal personality to file the above-quoted
information. The motion to quash was denied by the respondent Judge in an Order dated September 5, 1975. A Motion For
Reconsideration filed by the petitioner was also denied by the respondent Judge in his Order of November 10, 1965. Hence,
this petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction to annul the said orders of the respondent Judge who allegedly acted in
excess of or without jurisdiction in issuing the same.

In Our Resolution dated November 28, 1975, the respondents were required to comment on the petition and a temporary
restraining order was issued to enjoin the respondent Judge from enforcing his questioned orders until otherwise directed by
this Court.

It is the principal contention of the petitioner that the National Water and Air Pollution Control Commission (hereinafter
referred to as the "Commission") as created under Republic Act No. 3931 has the exclusive authority to determine the
existence of "pollution" before a criminal case can be filed for a violation of the said law; and that it has the exclusive authority
to prosecute violations of the same. Petitioner further avers that the Commission not having finally ruled that the petitioner
has violated Republic Act No. 3931, the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal lacks the authority to prosecute the petitioner for a violation
of said law.

The respondents, on the other hand, maintain that while Republic Act No. 3931 grants the power and duty to the Commission
to investigate and prosecute violations of Republic Act No. 3931, such grant of power and authority is not exclusive, and does
not deprive fiscals and other public prosecutors of their authority to investigate and prosecute violations of the said law
committed within their respective jurisdictions.

Before discussing the main issue on its merits, We deem it necessary to resolve a procedural question raised by the
respondents in support of their prayer that the instant petition should not be entertained. Respondents advert to the rule that
when a motion to quash filed by an accused in a criminal case shall be denied, the remedy of the accused- movant is not to file
a petition for certiorari or mandamus or prohibition, the proper recourse being to go to trial, without prejudice to his right to
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reiterate the grounds invoked in his motion to quash if an adverse judgment is rendered against him, in the appeal that he may
take therefrom in the manner authorized by law. (Mill vs. People, et al., 101 Phil. 599; Echarol us. Purisima, et al, 13 SCRA 309.)

There is no disputing the validity and wisdom of the rule invoked by the respondents. However, it is also recognized that,
under certain situations, recourse to the extraordinary legal remedies of certiorari, prohibition or mandamus to question the
denial of a motion to quash is considered proper in the interest of "more enlightened and substantial justice", as was so
declared in "Yap vs. Lutero", G.R. No. L-12669, April 30, 1969, 105 Phil. 3007:

However, were we to require adherence to this pretense, the case at bar would have to be dismissed and
petitioner required to go through the inconvenience, not to say the mental agony and torture, of submitting
himself to trial on the merits in Case No. 16443, apart from the expenses incidental thereto, despite the fact
that his trial and conviction therein would violate one of this constitutional rights, and that, an appeal to this
Court, we would, therefore, have to set aside the judgment of conviction of the lower court. This would,
obviously, be most unfair and unjust. Under the circumstances obtaining in the present case, the flaw in the
procedure followed by petitioner herein may be overlooked, in the interest of a more enlightened and
substantial justice.

To the same effect is the pronouncement in "Pineda and Ampil Manufacturing Co., vs. Bartolome, et al.," 95 Phil., 930938,
expressed as follows:

While a denial of a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction was held not to be a proper basis for a petition
for certiorari [Nico vs. Blanco, 46 Off. Gaz., Supp. (1) 88; 81 Phil., 2131, or an appeal not certiorari is the
proper remedy for correcting an error which a lower court may commit in denying a motion to set aside a
judgment, or in setting aside an order of dismissal, [Rios vs. Ros et al., 45 Off. Gaz. (No. 3), 1265; 79 Phil. 243;
Santos vs. Pecson, 45 Off. Gaz. (No. 3), 1278; 79 Phil.754] however, in some instances, the Supreme Court
has departed from the general rule and has entertained the writ notwithstanding the existence of an appeal.
Thus, in one case the Supreme Court took cognizance of a petition for certiorari notwithstanding the fact
that the accused could have appealed in due time when it found that the action was necessary to promote
public welfare and public policy (People vs. Zulueta, 89 Phil. 880). In another case, a petition for certiorari to
annul an order of the trial judge admitting an amended information was entertained although the accused
had an adequate remedy by appeal "inasmuch as the Surplus Property cases have attracted nationwide
attention, making it essential to proceed with dispatch in the consideration thereof. (People vs, Zulueta,
supra. Citing Arevalo vs. Nepomuceno, 63 Phil., 627.) And still in another case, the writ was entertained
where the appeal was found not to be adequate remedy, as where the order which is sought to be reviewed
is merely of interlocutory or peremptory character, and the appeal therefrom can be interposed only after
final judgment and may therefore be of no avail. (Rocha vs. Crossfield, 6 Phil., 355; Leung Ben vs. O'Brien, 38
Phil., 182. See also Mendoza vs. Parungao, 49 Phil., 271; Dais vs. Court of First Instance, 51 Phil., 36).

For analogous reasons it may be said that the petition for certiorari interposed by the accused against the
order of the court a quo denying the motion to quash may be entertained, not only because it was rendered
in a criminal case, but because it was rendered, as claimed, with grave abuse of discretion, as found by the
Court of Appeals, it would be indeed unfair and unjust, if not derogatory of their constitutional right, to force
the accused to go to trial under an information which, in their opinion, as was found, accuses them of
multiple offenses in contravention of law. And so, in our opinion, the respondent court did not err in
entertaining the petition for certiorari instead of dismissing it, as claimed.

The motion to quash filed by the accused in Yap vs. Lutero was on the ground of double jeopardy. In Pineda vs. Bartolome, the
ground invoked was duplicity of offenses charged in the information. In the case at bar, the petitioner assails the very
jurisdiction of the court wherein the criminal case was filed, Certainly, there is a more compelling reason that such issue be
resolved soonest, in order to avoid the court's spending precious time and energy unnecessarily in trying and deciding the
case, and to spare the accused from the inconvenience, anxiety and embarrassment, let alone the expenditure of effort and
money, in undergoing trial for a case the proceedings in which could possibly be annuled for want of jurisdiction. Even in civil
actions, We have counselled that when the court's jurisdiction is attacked in a motion to dismiss, it is the duty of the court to
resolve the same as soon as possible in order to avoid the unwholesome consequences mentioned above.

It is also advanced that the present petition is premature, since respondent court has not definitely ruled on
the motion to dismiss, nor held that it has jurisdiction, but only argument is untenable. The motion to
dismiss was predicated on the respondent court's lack of jurisdiction to entertain the action, and the rulings
of this Court are that writs of certiorari or prohibition, or both, may issue in case of a denial or deferment of
action on such a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

If the question of jurisdiction were not the main ground for this petition for review by certiorari, it would be
premature because it seeks to have a review of an interlocutory order. But as it would be useless and futile
to go ahead with the proceedings if the court below had no jurisdiction this petition was given due course.'
(San Beda vs. CIA 51 O.G. 6636, 5638).
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While it is true that action on a motion to dismiss may be deferred until the trial and an order to that effect
is interlocutory, still where it clearly appears that the trial judge or court is proceeding in excess or outside of
its jurisdiction, the remedy of prohibition would lie since it would be useless and a waste of time to go ahead
with the proceedings. (Philippine International Fair, Inc., et al., vs. Ibanez, et al, 50 Off. Gaz. 1036; Enrique vs.
Macadaeg, et all 47 Off. Gaz. 1207; see also San Beda College vs. CIR, 51 Off. Gaz. 5636.) (University of Sto.
Tomas vs. Villanueva, L-13748, 30 October 1959.) (Time, Inc. vs. Reyes, 39 SCRA, pp. 315-316.)

An additional factor that induced Us to entertain the instant petition is the obvious merit We find in the same. Our reading of
the provisions of Republic Act No. 3931 has convinced Us that the clear legislative intention is to vest in the Commission the
exclusive authority to determine the existence of "pollution" penalized thereunder and to prosecute violations of said law.

The information filed against the herein petitioner charges him with a violation of Section 9, in relation to Section 10 of
Republic Act No. 3931. More specifically, it alleges that the petitioner, with his co-accused Isaac Arivas, "willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously drain or otherwise dispose into the highway canal and/or cause, permit, suffer to be drained or allow to seep
into such waterway the industrial and other waste matters discharged due to the operation of the said Insular Oil Refinery Co.
so managed and operated by them, thereby causing pollution of such waterway with the resulting damage and/or destruction
to the arriving plants in the vicinity and providing hazard to health and property in the same vicinity."

Section 9 in its first paragraph, supposedly the criminal act being imputed to the petitioner, reads as follows:

SEC. 9. Prohibitions. — No person shall throw, run, drain, or otherwise dispose into any of the water and/or
atmospheric air of the Philippines, or cause, permit, suffer to be thrown, run, drain, allow to see or
otherwise dispose into such waters or atmospheric air, any organic or inorganic matter or any substance in
gaseous or liquid form that shall cause pollution of such waters or atmospheric air.

It will be noted from the above-quoted provision that the prohibited act is to throw, run, drain or otherwise dispose into any
of the water and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines, any organic or inorganic matter or substance "that shall cause pollution
of such waters or atmospheric air." Stated in simpler terms, the offense allegedly committed by the petitioner was the act of
causing pollution of a waterway (highway canal).

The term "pollution" as used in the law is not to be taken in its ordinary signification. In Section 2, paragraph (a), of Republic
Act No. 3931, "pollution" is defined in these words:

(a) Pollution' means such alteration of the physical, chemical and/or biological properties of any water
and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines, or any such discharge of any liquid, gaseous or solid substance
into any of the waters and/or atmospheric air of the country as will or is likely to create or render such
waters and/or atmospheric air harmful or detrimental or injurious to public health, safety or welfare, or to
domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational or other legitimate uses, or to livestock, wild
animals, birds, fish or of her aquatic life.

The power to determine the existence of pollution is vested by the law in the Commission. Section 6, among others, gives the
Commission the authority to "determine whether a pollution exists in any of the waters and/or atmospheric air of the
Philippines." (Section 6(a), No. 1); to "hold public hearings, ... make findings of facts and determinations all with respect to the
violations of this Act or orders issued by the Commission." (Ibid., No. 3); to "institute or cause to be instituted in the court of
competent jurisdiction legal proceedings to compel compliance with the provisions of this Act" ( Ibid, No. 5); and, "after due
notice and hearing, revoke, suspend or modify any permit issued under this Act whenever modifications are necessary to
prevent or abate pollution of any water and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines." ( Ibid., No. 7.) Section 8 contains explicit
provisions as to the authority of the Commission to determine the existence of pollution and to take appropriate court actions
to abate or prevent the same. It provides:

SEC. 8. Proceedings before the Commission . — The Commission may, on its own motion, or upon the
request of any person, investigate or may inquire, in a manner to be determined by it, as to any alleged act
of pollution or the omission or failure to comply with any provisions of this Act or any order of this
Commission.

Whenever it appears to the Commission, after investigation, that there has been a violation of any of the
provisions of this Act or any order of the Commission, it may order whoever causes such violation to show
cause before said Commission why such discharge of industrial wastes or any waste should not be
discontinued. A notice shall be served on the offending party directing him or it to show cause before the
Commission, on a date specified in such notice, why an order should not be made directing the
discontinuance of such violation. Such notice shall specify the time and the place where a public hearing will
be held by the Commission or its authorized representatives, and notice of such hearing shall be served
personally or by registered mail, at least ten days before said hearing; and in the case of a municipality or
corporation such notice shall be served upon the major or president thereof. The Commission shall take
evidence with reference to said matter and may issue an order to the party responsible for such violation,
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directing that within a specified period of time thereafter, such violation be discontinued unless adequate
sewage works or industrial wastes disposal system be properly operated to prevent further damage or
pollution.

No investigation being conducted or ruling made by the Commission shall prejudice any action which may be
filed in court by any person in accordance with the provisions of the New Civil Code on nuisance. On matters,
however, not related to nuisance, no court action shall be initiated until the Commission shall have finally
ruled thereon and no order of the Commission discontinuing the discharge of waste shall be stayed by the
filing of said court action, unless the court issues an injunction as provided for in the Rules of Court.

The last paragraph of the above-quoted provision delineates the authority to be exercised by the Commission and by the
ordinary courts in respect of preventing or remedying the pollution of the waters or atmospheric air of the Philippines. The
provision excludes from the authority of the Commission only the determination of and the filing of court actions involving
violations of the New Civil Code on nuisance. It is expressly directed that on matters not related to nuisance "no court action
shall be initiated until the Commission shall have finally ruled thereon." This provision leaves little room for doubt that a court
action involving the determination of the existence of pollution may not be initiated until and unless the Commission has so
determined the existence of what in the law is considered pollution.

It may not be argued that the above-cited provision refers only to the filing of civil actions, and not to criminal cases as is the
one herein involved, there being no basis either in the context in law nor from a consideration of the purpose behind the
enactment of the same upon which such a distinction may be made. Indeed, respondents do not seriously question that the
court action contemplated in the last paragraph of Section 8 includes criminal proceedings. Respondents merely aver that the
aforementioned grant of authority to the Commission is not exclusive of the power of Fiscals to file criminal actions for a
violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 3931.

We are likewise not in accord with the view that the law intended to give concurrent authority to the Commission and Fiscals
to prosecute violations of Republic Act No. 3931. It is true that there is no provision expressly declaring that the authority
vested in the Commission to prosecute violations of Republic Act No. 3931 is exclusive. Using the same logic, there is neither a
provision declaring such authority to be concurrent or may be exercised jointly with Fiscals. The absence of an explicit
declaration as to the exclusive authority of the Commission to prosecute violations of the subject law does not detract from
the clear intention to make it so, as gathered from the philosophy of the law itself and as gleaned from several provisions of
the same. It is clearly deducible from the provision of Section 8 expressly declaring that no court action shall be initiated,
except those related to nuisance, until the Commission shall have finally ruled on the alleged act of pollution; and also from
Section 6(a), No. 5, which authorizes the Commission to "initiate or cause to be instituted in a court of competent jurisdiction
legal proceedings to compel compliance with the provisions of this Act."

As may be seen from the law, the determination of the existence of pollution requires investigation, public hearings and the
collection of various information relating to water and atmospheric pollution. (Sections 6, 7, and 8.) The definition of the term
"pollution" in itself connotes that the determination of its existence requires specialized knowledge of technical and scientific
matters which are not ordinarily within the competence of Fiscals or of those sitting in a court of justice. It is undoubtedly in
recognition of this fact that in Section 4 of the law, it is provided that "the basic personnel necessary to carry out the
provisions of this Act shall be engineers, chemists, biochemists, physicists, and other technicians"; and required in Section 3
that the Chairman of the Commission shall be the Chairman of the National Science Development Board, one of the part-time
commissioners shall be a recommendee of the Philippine Council of Science and Technology, and one of the two full-time
commissioner shall be a sanitary engineer.

The vesting of authority in an administrative body to determine when to institute a criminal action for a violation of the law
entrusted to it for administration or enforcement, to the exclusion of the regular prosecution service of the government, is not
new in this jurisdiction. It is recognized in Yao Lit vs. Geraldez et al., 106 Phil. 545 which upheld the exclusive authority of the
Commissioner of Immigration' to investigate and impose administrative fines upon violators of the provisions of Republic Act
No. 751 for the reason that said official "has better facilities than the prosecuting officials to carry out the provisions of the
said Act, the former official being the keeper of the records pertaining to aliens." The same principle has been recognized with
respect to the prosecutions of violations of the Anti-Dummy Law (Republic Act No. 1131.) In holding that the City Fiscal of
Manila has no authority to prosecute such violations independently of the Anti-Dummy Board, it was said:

Were the city fiscal or the provincial fiscals who have the power or right to prosecute violations of all laws
and ordinances allowed to prosecute violations of the Anti- Dummy Board, there would be no order, concert,
cooperation, and coordination between the said agencies of the government. The function of coordination
which is entrusted to the Anti-Dummy Board is evident from all the above-quoted provisions of Republic Act
No. 1130. There can be no coordination as envisioned in the law unless the Anti-Dummy Board be given the
power to direct and control the city fiscal in the prosecutions of the violations of the Anti-Dummy Law.
(Rollo, p. 118; 5 SCRA 428,433.)

In R. B. Industrial Development Co., Ltd. vs. Enage (24 SCRA 365) involving the authority of the Bureau of Forestry over the
management and use of public forests and the transfer of licenses for the taking of forest products, this Court has made this
pronouncement:
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A doctrine long recognized is that where the law confines in an administrative office the power to determine
particular questions or matters, upon the facts to be presented, the jurisdiction of such office shall prevail
over the courts. (p. 124, Rollo.)

It is our considered view that the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal lacked the authority to file the information charging the petitioner
with a violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 3931 there being no prior finding or determination by the Commission
that the act of the petitioner had caused pollution in any water or atmospheric air of the Philippines. It is not to be
understood, however, that a fiscal or public prosecutor may not file an information for a violation of the said law at all. He may
do so if the Commission had made a finding or determination that the law or any of its orders had been violated. In the
criminal case presently considered, there had been no prior determination by the Commission that the supposed acts of the
petitioner had caused pollution to any water of the Philippines. The filing of the information for the violation of Section 9 of
the law is, therefore, premature and unauthorized. Concommittantly, the respondent Judge is without jurisdiction to take
cognizance of the offense charged therein.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted and the questioned Orders of the respondent Judge are hereby annuled and set
aside. The respondent Judge is ordered to dismiss Criminal Case No. 5984-75 for lack of jurisdiction. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 93891 March 11, 1991

POLLUTION ADJUDICATION BOARD, petitioner


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and SOLAR TEXTILE FINISHING CORPORATION, respondents.

Oscar A. Pascua and Charemon Clio L. Borre for petitioner.


Leonardo A. Aurelio for respondent Solar Textile Finishing Corp.

RESOLUTION

FELICIANO, J.:

Petitioner Pollution Adjudication Board ("Board") asks us to review the Decision and Resolution promulgated on 7 February
1990 and 10 May 1990, respectively, by the Court of Appeals in C.A.-G R. No. SP 18821 entitled "Solar Textile Finishing
Corporation v. Pollution Adjudication Board." In that Decision and Resolution, the Court of Appeals reversed an order of the
Regional Trial Court, Quezon City, Branch 77, in Civil Case No. Q-89-2287 dismissing private respondent Solar Textile Finishing
Corporation's ("Solar") petition for certiorari and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

On 22 September 1988, petitioner Board issued an ex parte Order directing Solar immediately to cease and desist from
utilizing its wastewater pollution source installations which were discharging untreated wastewater directly into a canal
leading to the adjacent Tullahan-Tinejeros River. The Order signed by Hon. Fulgencio Factoran, Jr., as Board Chairman, reads in
full as follows:

Respondent, Solar Textile Finishing Corporation with plant and place of business at 999 General Pascual Avenue,
Malabon, Metro Manila is involved in bleaching, rinsing and dyeing textiles with wastewater of about 30 gpm. being
directly discharged untreated into the sewer. Based on findings in the Inspections conducted on 05 November 1986
and 15 November 1986, the volume of untreated wastewater discharged in the final out fall outside of the plant's
compound was even greater. The result of inspection conducted on 06 September 1988 showed that respondent's
Wastewater Treatment Plant was noted unoperational and the combined wastewater generated from its operation
was about 30 gallons per minute and 80% of the wastewater was being directly discharged into a drainage canal
leading to the Tullahan-Tinejeros River by means of a by-pass and the remaining 20% was channelled into the plant's
existing Wastewater Treatment Plant (WTP). Result of the analyses of the sample taken from the by-pass showed that
the wastewater is highly pollutive in terms of Color units, BOD and Suspended Solids, among others. These acts of
respondent in spite of directives to comply with the requirements are clearly in violation of Section 8 of Presidential
Decree No. 984 and Section 103 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations and the 1982 Effluent Regulations.

WHEREFORE, pursuant to Section 7 of P.D. 984 and Section 38 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations, respondent
is hereby ordered to cease and desist from utilizing its wastewater pollution source installation and discharging its
untreated wastewater directly into the canal leading to the Tullahan-Tinejeros River effective immediately upon
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receipt hereof and until such time when it has fully complied with all the requirements and until further orders from
this Board.

SO ORDERED.1

We note that the above Order was based on findings of several inspections of Solar's plant:

a. inspections conducted on 5 November 1986 and 12 November 1986 by the National Pollution Control Commission
("NPCC"), the predecessor of the Board ;2 and

b. the inspection conducted on 6 September 1988 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
("DENR").

The findings of these two (2) inspections were that Solar's wastewater treatment plant was non-operational and that its plant
generated about 30 gallons per minute of wastewater, 80% of which was being directly discharged into a drainage canal
leading to the Tullahan-Tinejeros River. The remaining 20% of the wastewater was being channeled through Solar's non-
operational wastewater treatment plant. Chemical analysis of samples of Solar's effluents showed the presence of pollutants
on a level in excess of what was permissible under P.D. No. 984 and its Implementing Regulations.

A copy of the above Order was received by Solar on 26 September 1988. A Writ of Execution issued by the Board was received
by Solar on 31 March 1989.

Meantime, Solar filed a motion for reconsideration/appeal with prayer for stay of execution of the Order dated 22 September
1988. Acting on this motion, the Board issued an Order dated 24 April 1989 allowing Solar to operate temporarily, to enable
the Board to conduct another inspection and evaluation of Solar's wastewater treatment facilities. In the same Order, the
Board directed the Regional Executive Director of the DENR/ NCR to conduct the inspection and evaluation within thirty (30)
days.

On 21 April 1989, however, Solar went to the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 77, on petition for certiorari with
preliminary injunction against the Board, the petition being docketed as Civil Case No. Q-89-2287.

On 21 July 1989, the Regional Trial Court dismissed Solar's petition upon two (2) grounds, i.e., that appeal and not certiorari
from the questioned Order of the Board as well as the Writ of Execution was the proper remedy, and that the Board's
subsequent Order allowing Solar to operate temporarily had rendered Solar's petition moot and academic.

Dissatisfied, Solar went on appeal to the Court of Appeals which, in the Decision here assailed, reversed the Order of dismissal
of the trial court and remanded the case to that court for further proceedings. In addition, the Court of Appeals declared the
Writ of Execution null and void. At the same time, the Court of Appeals said in the dispositive portion of its Decision that:

. . .. Still and all, this decision is without prejudice to whatever action the appellee [Board] may take relative to the
projected 'inspection and evaluation' of appellant's [Solar's] water treatment facilities. 3

The Court of Appeals, in so ruling, held that certiorari was a proper remedy since the Orders of petitioner Board may result in
great and irreparable injury to Solar; and that while the case might be moot and academic, "larger issues" demanded that the
question of due process be settled. Petitioner Board moved for reconsideration, without success.

The Board is now before us on a Petition for Review basically arguing that:

1. its ex parte Order dated 22 September 1988 and the Writ of Execution were issued in accordance with law and
were not violative of the requirements of due process; and

2. the ex parte Order and the Writ of Execution are not the proper subjects of a petition for certiorari.

The only issue before us at this time is whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the trial court on the ground
that Solar had been denied due process by the Board.

Petitioner Board claims that under P.D. No. 984, Section 7(a), it has legal authority to issue ex parte orders to suspend the
operations of an establishment when there is prima facie evidence that such establishment is discharging effluents or
wastewater, the pollution level of which exceeds the maximum permissible standards set by the NPCC (now, the Board).
Petitioner Board contends that the reports before it concerning the effluent discharges of Solar into the Tullahan-Tinejeros
River provided prima facie evidence of violation by Solar of Section 5 of the 1982 Effluent Code.

Solar, on the other hand, contends that under the Board's own rules and regulations, an ex parte order may issue only if the
effluents discharged pose an "immediate threat to life, public health, safety or welfare, or to animal and plant life." In the
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instant case, according to Solar, the inspection reports before the Board made no finding that Solar's wastewater discharged
posed such a threat.

The Court is not persuaded by Solar's contention. Section 7(a) of P.D. No. 984 authorized petitioner Board to issue ex
parte cease and desist orders under the following circumstances:

P.D. 984, Section 7, paragraph (a), provides:

(a) Public Hearing. . . . Provided, That whenever the Commission finds prima facie evidence that the discharged
sewage or wastes are of immediate threat to life, public health, safety or welfare, or to animal or plant life, or exceeds
the allowable standards set by the Commission, the Commissioner may issue an ex-parte order directing the
discontinuance of the same or the temporary suspension or cessation of operation of the establishment or person
generating such sewage or wastes without the necessity of a prior public hearing. The said ex-parte order shall be
immediately executory and shall remain in force until said establishment or person prevents or abates the said
pollution within the allowable standards or modified or nullified by a competent court. (Emphasis supplied)

We note that under the above-quoted portion of Section 7(a) of P.D. No. 984, an ex parte cease and desist order may be issued
by the Board (a) whenever the wastes discharged by an establishment pose an "immediate threat to life, public health, safety
or welfare, or to animal or plant life," or (b) whenever such discharges or wastes exceed "the allowable standards set by the
[NPCC]." On the one hand, it is not essential that the Board prove that an "immediate threat to life, public health, safety or
welfare, or to animal or plant life" exists before an ex parte cease and desist order may be issued. It is enough if the Board
finds that the wastes discharged do exceed "the allowable standards set by the [NPCC]." In respect of discharges of wastes as
to which allowable standards have been set by the Commission, the Board may issue an ex parte cease and desist order when
there is prima facie evidence of an establishment exceeding such allowable standards. Where, however, the effluents or
discharges have not yet been the subject matter of allowable standards set by the Commission, then the Board may act on
an ex parte basis when it finds at least prima facie proof that the wastewater or material involved presents an "immediate
threat to life, public health, safety or welfare or to animal or plant life." Since the applicable standards set by the Commission
existing at any given time may well not cover every possible or imaginable kind of effluent or waste discharge, the general
standard of an "immediate threat to life, public health, safety or welfare, or to animal and plant life" remains necessary.

Upon the other hand, the Court must assume that the extant allowable standards have been set by the Commission or Board
precisely in order to avoid or neutralize an "immediate threat to life, public health, safety or welfare, or to animal or plant
life.''

Section 5 of the Effluent Regulations of 1982 4 sets out the maximum permissible levels of physical and chemical substances
which effluents from domestic wastewater treatment plants and industrial plants" must not exceed "when discharged into
bodies of water classified as Class A, B, C, D, SB and SC in accordance with the 1978 NPCC Rules and Regulations." The waters
of Tullahan-Tinejeros River are classified as inland waters Class D under Section 68 of the 1978 NPCC Rules and
Regulations5 which in part provides that:

Sec. 68. Water Usage and Classification. — The quality of Philippine waters shall be maintained in a safe and
satisfactory condition according to their best usages. For this purpose, all water shall be classified according to the
following beneficial usages:

(a) Fresh Surface Water

Classification Best usage

xxx xxx xxx

Class D
For agriculture, irrigation, livestock watering
and industrial cooling and processing.

xxx xxx xxx

(Emphases supplied)

The reports on the inspections carried on Solar's wastewater treatment facilities on 5 and 12 November 1986 and 6
September 1988 set forth the following Identical finding:
Page 8 of 30

a. For legal action in [view of] implementing rules and regulations of P.D. No. 984 and Section 5 of the Effluent
Regulations of 1982.6

Placing the maximum allowable standards set in Section 5 of the Effluent Regulations of 1982 alongside the findings of the
November 1986 and September 1988 inspection reports, we get the following results:

"Inland November September


Waters 1986 1988
(Class C & D7 Report8 Report9
Station 1 Station 1

a) Color in 100 a) Color units 250 125


platinum (Apparent
cobalt Color)
units

b) pH 6-8.5 b) pH 9.3 8.7

c) Tempera- 40 c) Temperature
ture in °C (°C)

d) Phenols in 0.1 d) Phenols in


mg.1 mg./1.

e) Suspended 75 e) Suspended 340 80


solids in solids in
mg./1. mg./1.

f) BOD in 80 f) BOD (5-day) 1,100 152


mg./1. mg./1

g) oil/Grease 10 g) Oil/Grease
in mg./1. mg./1.

h) Detergents 5 h) Detergents 2.93


mg./1." mg./1. MBAS

i) Dissolved 0
oxygen, mg./1.

j) Settleable 0.4 1.5


Matter, mg./1.

k) Total Dis 800 610


solved Solids
mg./1.

l) Total Solids 1,400 690

m) Turbidity NTU / ppm, SiO3 70

The November 1986 inspections report concluded that:

Records of the Commission show that the plant under its previous owner, Fine Touch Finishing Corporation, was
issued a Notice of Violation on 20 December 1985 directing same to cease and desist from conducting dyeing
operation until such time the waste treatment plant is already completed and operational. The new owner Solar
Textile Corporation informed the Commission of the plant acquisition thru its letter dated March 1986 (sic).

The new owner was summoned to a hearing held on 13 October 1986 based on the adverse findings during the
inspection/water sampling test conducted on 08 August 1986. As per instruction of the Legal Division a re-
Page 9 of 30

inspection/sampling text should be conducted first before an appropriate legal action is instituted; hence, this
inspection.

Based on the above findings, it is clear that the new owner continuously violates the directive of the Commission by
undertaking dyeing operation without completing first and operating its existing WTP. The analysis of results on water
samples taken showed that the untreated wastewater from the firm pollutes our water resources. In this connection,
it is recommended that appropriate legal action be instituted immediately against the firm. . . . 10

The September 1988 inspection report's conclusions were:

1. The plant was undertaking dyeing, bleaching and rinsing operations during the inspection. The combined
wastewater generated from the said operations was estimated at about 30 gallons per minute. About 80% of the
wastewater was traced directly discharged into a drainage canal leading to the Tullahan-Tinejeros river by means of a
bypass. The remaining 20% was channeled into the plant's existing wastewater treatment plant (WTP).

2. The WTP was noted not yet fully operational- some accessories were not yet installed. 1âwphi1 Only the sump pit
and the holding/collecting tank are functional but appeared seldom used. The wastewater mentioned channeled was
noted held indefinitely into the collection tank for primary treatment. There was no effluent discharge [from such
collection tank].

3. A sample from the bypass wastewater was collected for laboratory analyses. Result of the analyses show that the
bypass wastewater is polluted in terms of color units, BOD and suspended solids, among others . (Please see attached
laboratory resul .)11

From the foregoing reports, it is clear to this Court that there was at least prima facie evidence before the Board that the
effluents emanating from Solar's plant exceeded the maximum allowable levels of physical and chemical substances set by the
NPCC and that accordingly there was adequate basis supporting the ex parte cease and desist order issued by the Board. It is
also well to note that the previous owner of the plant facility Fine Touch Finishing Corporation had been issued a Notice of
Violation on 20 December 1985 directing it to cease and refrain from carrying out dyeing operations until the water treatment
plant was completed and operational. Solar, the new owner, informed the NPCC of the acquisition of the plant on March 1986.
Solar was summoned by the NPCC to a hearing on 13 October 1986 based on the results of the sampling test conducted by the
NPCC on 8 August 1986. Petitioner Board refrained from issuing an ex parte cease and desist order until after the November
1986 and September 1988 re-inspections were conducted and the violation of applicable standards was confirmed. In other
words, petitioner Board appears to have been remarkably forbearing in its efforts to enforce the applicable standards vis-a-vis
Solar. Solar, on the other hand, seemed very casual about its continued discharge of untreated, pollutive effluents into the
Tullahan- Tinerejos River, presumably loath to spend the money necessary to put its Wastewater Treatment Plant ("WTP") in
an operating condition.

In this connection, we note that in Technology Developers, Inc. v. Court of appeals, et al., 12 the Court very recently upheld the
summary closure ordered by the Acting Mayor of Sta. Maria, Bulacan, of a pollution-causing establishment, after finding that
the records showed that:

1. No mayor's permit had been secured. While it is true that the matter of determining whether there is a pollution of
the environment that requires control if not prohibition of the operation of a business is essentially addressed to the
then National Pollution Control Commission of the Ministry of Human Settlements, now the Environmental
Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, it must be recognized that the mayor
of a town has as much responsibility to protect its inhabitants from pollution, and by virtue of his police power, he
may deny the application for a permit to operate a business or otherwise close the same unless appropriate
measures are taken to control and/or avoid injury to the health of the residents of the community from the emission
in the operation of the business.

2. The Acting Mayor, in a letter of February l6, 1989, called the attention of petitioner to the pollution emitted by the
fumes of its plant whose offensive odor "not only pollute the air in the locality but also affect the health of the
residents in the area," so that petitioner was ordered to stop its operation until further orders and it was required to
bring the following:

xxx xxx xxx

(3) Region III-Department of Environment and Natural Resources Anti-Pollution permit. (Annex A-2, petition)

3. This action of the Acting Mayor was in response to the complaint of the residents of Barangay Guyong, Sta. Maria,
Bulacan, directed to the Provincial Governor through channels (Annex A-B, petition).. . .
Page 10 of 30

4. The closure order of the Acting Mayor was issued only after an investigation was made by Marivic Guina who in her
report of December 8, 1988 observed that the fumes emitted by the plant of petitioner goes directly to the
surrounding houses and that no proper air pollution device has been installed. (Annex A-9, petition)

xxx xxx xxx

6. While petitioner was able to present a temporary permit to operate by the then National Pollution Control
Commission on December 15,1987, the permit was good only up to May 25,1988 (Annex A-12, petition). Petitioner
had not exerted any effort to extend or validate its permit much less to install any device to control the pollution and
prevent any hazard to the health of the residents of the community."

In the instant case, the ex parte cease and desist Order was issued not by a local government official but by the Pollution
Adjudication Board, the very agency of the Government charged with the task of determining whether the effluents of a
particular industrial establishment comply with or violate applicable anti-pollution statutory and regulatory provisions.

Ex parte cease and desist orders are permitted by law and regulations in situations like that here presented precisely because
stopping the continuous discharge of pollutive and untreated effluents into the rivers and other inland waters of the
Philippines cannot be made to wait until protracted litigation over the ultimate correctness or propriety of such orders has run
its full course, including multiple and sequential appeals such as those which Solar has taken, which of course may take several
years. The relevant pollution control statute and implementing regulations were enacted and promulgated in the exercise of
that pervasive, sovereign power to protect the safety, health, and general welfare and comfort of the public, as well as the
protection of plant and animal life, commonly designated as the police power. It is a constitutional commonplace that the
ordinary requirements of procedural due process yield to the necessities of protecting vital public interests like those here
involved, through the exercise of police power. The Board's ex parte Order and Writ of Execution would, of course, have
compelled Solar temporarily to stop its plant operations, a state of affairs Solar could in any case have avoided by simply
absorbing the bother and burden of putting its WTP on an operational basis. Industrial establishments are not constitutionally
entitled to reduce their capitals costs and operating expenses and to increase their profits by imposing upon the public threats
and risks to its safety, health, general welfare and comfort, by disregarding the requirements of anti- pollution statutes and
their implementing regulations.

It should perhaps be made clear the Court is not here saying that the correctness of the ex parte Order and Writ of Execution
may not be contested by Solar in a hearing before the Board itself. Where the establishment affected by an ex parte cease and
desist order contests the correctness of the prima facie findings of the Board, the Board must hold a public hearing where
such establishment would have an opportunity to controvert the basis of such ex parte order. That such an opportunity is
subsequently available is really all that is required by the due process clause of the Constitution in situations like that we have
here. The Board's decision rendered after the public hearing may then be tested judicially by an appeal to the Court of Appeals
in accordance with Section 7(c) of P.D. No. 984 and Section 42 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations. A subsequent
public hearing is precisely what Solar should have sought instead of going to court to seek nullification of the Board's Order
and Writ of Execution and instead of appealing to the Court of Appeals. It will be recalled the at the Board in fact gave Solar
authority temporarily to continue operations until still another inspection of its wastewater treatment facilities and then
another analysis of effluent samples could be taken and evaluated.

Solar claims finally that the petition for certiorari was the proper remedy as the questioned Order and Writ of Execution issued
by the Board were patent nullities. Since we have concluded that the Order and Writ of Execution were entirely within the
lawful authority of petitioner Board, the trial court did not err when it dismissed Solar's petition for certiorari. It follows that
the proper remedy was an appeal from the trial court to the Court of Appeals, as Solar did in fact appeal.

ACCORDINGLY, the Petition for Review is given DUE COURSE and the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 7 February 1990
and its Resolution dated 10 May 1990 in A.C.-G.R. No. SP 18821 are hereby SET ASIDE. The Order of petitioner Board dated 22
September 1988 and the Writ of Execution, as well as the decision of the trial court dated 21 July 1989, are hereby
REINSTATED, without prejudice to the right of Solar to contest the correctness of the basis of the Board's Order and Writ of
Execution at a public hearing before the Board.

G.R. No. 94759 January 21, 1991

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPERS, INC., petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. NARCISO T. ATIENZA as Presiding Judge, Bulacan, RTC, and HON. VICENTE CRUZ, Acting Mayor and
the MUNICIPALITY OF STA. MARIA, BULACAN, respondents.

Diosdado P. Peralta for petitioner.


Page 11 of 30

GANCAYCO, J.:

The authority of the local executive to protect the community from pollution is the center of this controversy.

The antecedent facts are related in the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals as follows:

Petitioner, a domestic private corporation engaged in the manufacture and export of charcoal briquette, received a
letter dated February 16, 1989 from private respondent acting mayor Pablo N. Cruz, ordering the full cessation of the
operation of the petitioner's plant located at Guyong, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, until further order. The letter likewise
requested Plant Manager Mr. Armando Manese to bring with him to the office of the mayor on February 20, 1989 the
following: a) Building permit; b) Mayor's permit; c) Region III-Pollution of Environment and Natural Resources Anti-
Pollution Permit; and of other document.

At the requested conference on February 20, 1989, petitioner, through its representative, undertook to comply with
respondent's request for the production of the required documents. In compliance with said undertaking, petitioner
commenced to secure "Region III-Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Anti-Pollution Permit,"
although among the permits previously secured prior to the operation of petitioner's plant was a "Temporary Permit
to Operate Air Pollution Installation" issued by the then National Pollution Control Commission (now Environmental
Management Bureau) and is now at a stage where the Environmental Management Bureau is trying to determine the
correct kind of anti-pollution devise to be installed as part of petitioner's request for the renewal of its permit.

Petitioner's attention having been called to its lack of mayor's permit, it sent its representatives to the office of the
mayor to secure the same but were not entertained.

On April 6, 1989, without previous and reasonable notice upon petitioner, respondent acting mayor ordered the
Municipality's station commander to padlock the premises of petitioner's plant, thus effectively causing the stoppage
of its operation.

Left with no recourse, petitioner instituted an action for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus with preliminary
injunction against private respondent with the court a quo which is presided by the respondent judge. In its prayer for
the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction, it alleged therein that the closure order was issued in
grave abuse of discretion.

During the hearing of the application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction on April 14, 1989, herein
parties adduced their respective evidences. The respondent judge, April 19, 1989, found that petitioner is entitled to
the issuance of the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction, hence, it ordered as follows:

In view of the foregoing, upon petitioner's posting of a bond in the amount of P50,000.00 to answer for such
damages that respondents may sustain should petitioner eventually be found not entitled to the injunctive
relief hereby issued, let a PRELIMINARY MANDATORY INJUNCTION issue ordering the respondent Hon. Pablo
N. Cruz, and other person acting in his behalf and stead to immediately revoke his closure order dated April
6, 1989, and allow petitioner to resume its normal business operations until after the instant case shall have
been adjudicated on the merits without prejudice to the inherent power of the court to alter, modify or even
revoke this order at any given time.

SO ORDERED.

The writ of preliminary mandatory injunction was issued on April 28, 1989, upon petitioner's posting a bond in the
amount of P50,000.00.

Private respondent filed his motion for reconsideration dated May 3, 1989. Said motion for reconsideration was heard
on May 30, 1989. Petitioner's counsel failed to appear and the hearing proceeded with the Provincial Prosecutor
presenting his evidence. The following documents were submitted:

a) Exhibit "A", Investigation report on the Technology Developers Inc., prepared by one Marivic Guina, and her
conclusion and recommendation read:

Due to the manufacturing process and nature of raw materials used, the fumes coming from the factory may
contain particulate matters which are hazardous to the health of the people. As such, the company should
cease operating until such a time that the proper air pollution device is installed and operational.

b) Exhibits "B", "B-1", "B-2", three (3) sheets of coupon bond containing signatures of residents of Barangay Guyong,
Sta. Maria, Bulacan;
Page 12 of 30

c) Exhibit "B-3", a letter addressed to Hon. Roberto Pagdanganan Governor of the Province of Bulacan, dated
November 22, 1988, complaining about the smoke coming out of the chimney of the company while in operation.

Reassessing all the evidence adduced, the lower court, on June 14, 1989, issued an order (a) setting aside the order
dated April 28, 1989, which granted a Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction, and (b) dissolving the writ
consequently issued.

A motion for reconsideration dated July 6, 1989 was filed by petitioner. Said motion drew an opposition dated July 19,
1989 from private respondent.

Resolving the petitioner's motion for reconsideration, the respondent judge issued an order dated August 9, 1989,
denying said motion for reconsideration.1

Hence a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction was filed by petitioner in the Court of Appeals
seeking to annul and set aside (a) the order issued by the trial court on June 14, 1989, setting aside the order dated April 28,
1989, and (b) the order of August 9, 1989, denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the order of June 14, 1989. In
due course the petition was denied for lack of merit by the appellate court in a decision dated January 26, 1990. 2 A motion for
reconsideration thereof filed by petitioner was denied on August 10, 1990.

Thus, the herein petition for review on certiorari filed with this Court. Six errors are alleged to have been committed by the
appellate court which may be synthesized into the singular issue of whether or not the appellate court committed a grave
abuse of discretion in rendering its question decision and resolution.

The petition is devoid of merit.

The well-known rule is that the matter of issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction is addressed to the sound judicial
discretion of the trial court and its action shall not be disturbed on appeal unless it is demonstrated that it acted without
jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction or otherwise, in grave abuse of its discretion. By the same token the court that issued
such a preliminary relief may recall or dissolve the writ as the circumstances may warrant.

To the mind of the Court the following circumstances militate against the maintenance of the writ of preliminary injunction
sought by petitioner:

1. No mayor's permit had been secured. While it is true that the matter of determining whether there is a pollution of
the environment that requires control if not prohibition of the operation of a business is essentially addressed to the
then National Pollution Control Commission of the Ministry of Human Settlements, now the Environmental
Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, it must be recognized that the mayor
of a town has as much responsibility to protect its inhabitants from pollution, and by virture of his police power, he
may deny the application for a permit to operate a business or otherwise close the same unless appropriate
measures are taken to control and/or avoid injury to the health of the residents of the community from the emissions
in the operation of the business.

2. The Acting Mayor, in a letter of February 16, 1989, called the attention of petitioner to the pollution emitted by the
fumes of its plant whose offensive odor "not only pollute the air in the locality but also affect the health of the
residents in the area," so that petitioner was ordered to stop its operation until further orders and it was required to
bring the following:

(1) Building permit;

(2) Mayor's permit; and

(3) Region III-Department of Environment and Natural Resources Anti-Pollution permit. 3

3. This action of the Acting Mayor was in response to the complaint of the residents of Barangay Guyong, Sta. Maria,
Bulacan, directed to the Provincial Governor through channels. 4 The alleged NBI finding that some of the signatures in
the four-page petition were written by one person, 5 appears to be true in some instances, (particularly as among
members of the same family), but on the whole the many signatures appear to be written by different persons. The
certification of the barrio captain of said barrio that he has not received any complaint on the matter 6 must be
because the complaint was sent directly to the Governor through the Acting Mayor.

4. The closure order of the Acting Mayor was issued only after an investigation was made by Marivic Guina who in her
report of December 8, 1988 observed that the fumes emitted by the plant of petitioner goes directly to the
surrounding houses and that no proper air pollution device has been installed. 7
Page 13 of 30

5. Petitioner failed to produce a building permit from the municipality of Sta. Maria, but instead presented a building
permit issued by an official of Makati on March 6,1987.8

6. While petitioner was able to present a temporary permit to operate by the then National Pollution Control
Commission on December 15, 1987, the permit was good only up to May 25, 1988. 9 Petitioner had not exerted any
effort to extend or validate its permit much less to install any device to control the pollution and prevent any hazard
to the health of the residents of the community.

All these factors justify the dissolution of the writ of preliminary injunction by the trial court and the appellate court correctly
upheld the action of the lower court.

Petitioner takes note of the plea of petitioner focusing on its huge investment in this dollar-earning industry. 1âwphi1 It must
be stressed however, that concomitant with the need to promote investment and contribute to the growth of the economy is
the equally essential imperative of protecting the health, nay the very lives of the people, from the deleterious effect of the
pollution of the environment.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, with costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 74816 March 17, 1987

ERNESTO R. RODRIGUEZ, JR., ERNESTO LL. RODRIGUEZ III, SACHA DEL ROSARIO, JOSE P. GENITO, ZENAIDA Z. RODRIGUEZ, and
ENECERIO MONDIA, petitioners,
vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and DAYTONA CONSTRUCTION & DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, respondents.

Pelaez, Adriano & Gregorio Law Office for petitioners.

Balgos & Perez Law Office for respondents.

PARAS, J.:

Before Us is a petition to review by certiorari 1) respondent court's decision which sets aside the order of default rendered by
the trial court and 2) respondent court's resolution dated April 18, 1986 denying petitioners' (plaintiffs-appellees' therein)
motion for extension of time to file motion for reconsideration of its decision. 1

The antecedent facts of the case are as follows:

Plaintiffs (petitioners herein) filed on December 16, 1980, an action for abatement of a public nuisance with damages against
defendant (private respondent herein). After being granted four (4) extensions of time to file an answer, defendant moved to
dismiss the complaint on February 27, 1981 upon the ground that the lower court has no jurisdiction to hear the instant case
and for lack of cause of action. However, the motion was denied by the court on April 3, 1981, a copy of which decision was
received by the defendant on April 23, 1981. On May 5, 1981 defendant filed a motion for reconsideration which motion was
denied on July 7, 1981.

Instead of filing an answer, petitioner filed with Us in G.R. No. 57593, Daytona Construction & Development Corporation vs.
Rodriguez, et al. a motion for extension of time to file a petition for review, but it never filed one, prompting Us to issue a
resolution dated October 5, 1981 informing the parties and the trial court that no petition for review was filed within the
period that expired on August 15, 1981.

Upon motion of plaintiffs, the court declared the defendant in default on November 4, 1981, and authorized the plaintiffs to
present evidence ex-parte. Upon learning of the said order, the defendant on November 9, 1981 filed a motion to set aside the
order of default and a motion to admit answer with counterclaim which motions were denied by the lower court in an order
dated November 23, 1981.

On June 30, 1982, the court a quo rendered judgment for the plaintiffs and against defendant, its dispositive portion reading
as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:


Page 14 of 30

1. Declaring the operation of the cement hatching plant of the defendant corporation as a nuisance and
ordering its permanent closure;

2. Ordering the defendant to pay plaintiff Ernesto Rodriguez, Jr. the amount of P250,000.00 as moral
damages and the amount of P5,000.00 as nominal damages;

3. Ordering the defendant to pay plaintiff Ernesto LL. Rodriguez III the amount of P200,000.00 as actual
damages, the amount of P500,000.00 as moral damages and the amount of P5,000.00 as nominal damages;

4. Ordering the defendant to pay plaintiff SACHA del Rosario the amount of P20,000.00 as actual damages,
the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages and the amount of P5,000.00 as nominal damages;

5. Ordering the defendant to pay plaintiff Zenaida Z. Rodriguez the amount of P100,000.00 as actual
damages, the amount of P100,000.00 as moral damages and the amount of P5,000.00 as nominal damages;
and

6. Ordering the defendant to pay the plaintiffs the amount of P50,000.00 as attorney's fees, plus the costs of
suit.

SO ORDERED. (pp. 63-64, Record on Appeal)

In an order dated July 9, 1982, the trial court upon motion of plaintiffs granted execution pending appeal it indeed appearing
as alleged in the motion that the continued operation of the cement batching plant of the defendant poses a "great menace to
the neighborhood, both in point of health and property."

On July 23, 1982, defendant filed a petition for relief which was however denied by the lower court. On July 29, 1982,
defendant filed a petition for injunction with the Intermediate Appellate Court which found the petition unmeritorious. 2 The
appellate court promulgated on October 5, 1983, a decision denying due course to defendant's petition.

Its motion for reconsideration having been denied by the Appellate Court, defendant went on appeal by certiorari to the
Supreme Court (G.R. No. 66097) which, after the submission of plaintiffs' comment and defendant's reply thereto, denied its
petition for lack of merit.

The petition for injunction having been denied by both the IAC and this Court, defendant pursued the remedy of appeal in
respondent IAC, assigning the following errors.

I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT DECLARED APPELLANT IN DEFAULT DESPITE THE FACT THAT ITS FAILURE
TO FILE ITS ANSWER ON TIME WAS DUE SOLELY TO THE NEGLIGENCE OF ITS COUNSEL AND DESPITE THE
FACT THAT THE MOTION TO DISMISS THAT IT HAD FILED COULD HAVE VERY WELL STOOD AS THE ANSWER
OF THE APPELLANT.

II. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT ASSUMED JURISDICTION OVER THE CASE AND WHEN IT RENDERED
JUDGMENT BY DEFAULT AGAINST THE APPELLANT ON GROUNDS AND/OR BASIS NOT ALLEGED IN THE
COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST THE APPELLANT.

III. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT DID NOT ALLOW RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT IN THE FACE OF THE
REASONS PRESENTED TO IT AS BASIS FOR SUCH RELIEF.

IV. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN DESPITE THE APPEAL HAVING BEEN DULY PERFECTED, IT DETAINED THE
CASE WITH IT AND THEREAFTER, ISSUED AN ALIAS WRIT OF EXECUTION PENDING APPEAL WITHOUT
APPROPRIATE PRIOR NOTICE TO THE APPELLANT. (pp. 1-2, Appellant's Brief)

On March 21, 1986, respondent court promulgated its decision, the decretal portion of which is as follows:

WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is hereby reversed and set aside and another one entered,
remanding the case to the court of origin for further proceedings and thereafter, to render judgment
accordingly.

No pronouncement as to costs.

Notice of respondent Court's decision was received by plaintiffs-appellees thru counsel on April 3, 1986. Plaintiffs filed on April
15, 1986 a motion for extension of 30 days from April 18, 1986 or up to May 18, 1986 to file a motion for reconsideration.
However, on May 10, 1986, they filed a 24-page motion for reconsideration.
Page 15 of 30

Meanwhile, on April 23, 1986, defendant's opposition to the motion for extension and counter-motion to enter final judgment
were received by plaintiffs. Plaintiffs countered with a reply filed April 29, 1986. (Annex "C-2") Plaintiffs' counsel was surprised
to receive on April 24, 1986, respondent Court's resolution dated April 18, 1986, denying the motion for extension. Plaintiffs
requested respondent Court to treat their aforesaid reply filed on April 29, 1986 as a motion for reconsideration of the said
resolution of April 18, 1986, received by them on April 21, 1986, the request being contained in their opposition dated May
22, 1986, to defendant-appellant's motion to strike out the said opposition attached thereto as Annex C-3 " Neither the
motion for reconsideration (converted from the reply filed on April 29, 1986) nor the motion for reconsideration of the
decision itself was acted upon by respondent court.

Hence this petition to review, petitioners alleging that "Respondent court's challenged resolution purporting to deny
appellees' motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration is a nullity because the decision in Habaluyas v.
Japson case, 3 solely relied on by the said resolution has been made by the Supreme Court to operate prospectively and
thereby rendered inapplicable to parties situated as petitioners are, in order precisely to spare them from unfair and unjust
deprivation of their right to appeal."

In Our resolution, promulgated May 30, 1986 in the Habaluyas case itself (G.R. No. 70895), We set aside the original judgment
therein, thus:

However, the law and the Rules of Court do not expressly prohibit the filing of a motion for extension of time
to file a motion for reconsideration of a final order or judgment.

In the case of Gibbs vs. Court of First Instance (80 Phil. 160), the Court dismissed the petition for certiorari
and ruled that the failure of defendant's attorney to file the petition to set aside the judgment within the
reglementary period was due to excusable neglect, and, consequently, the record on appeal was
allowed. The Court did not rule that the motion for extension of time to file a motion for new trial or
reconsideration could not be granted.

In the case of Roque vs. Gunigundo (Administrative Case No. 1684, March 30, 1979, 89 SCRA 178), a division
of the Court cited the Gibbs decision to support a statement that a motion to extend the reglementary
period for filing the motion for reconsideration is not authorized or is not in order.

The Intermediate Appellate Court 4 is sharply divided on this issue. Appeals have been dismissed on the basis
of the original decision in this case.

After considering the able arguments of counsels for petitioners and respondents, the Court resolved that
the interest of justice would be better served if the ruling in the original decision were applied prospectively
from the time herein stated The reason is that it would be unfair to deprive parties of their fight to appeal
simply because they availed themselves of a procedure which was not expressly prohibited or allowed by the
law or the Rules. ... (pp. 3-4; Resolution dated May 30, 1986 in G.R. No. 70895; emphasis supplied)

This Court further elucidated:

1). Beginning one month after the promulgation of this Resolution, the rule shall be strictly enforced that no
motion for extension of time to file a motion petition for new trial or reconsideration may be filed with the
Metropolitan or Municipal Trial Courts, the Regional Trial Courts, and the Intermediate Appellate Court. Such
a motion may be filed only in cases pending with the Supreme Court as the court of last resort, which may in
its sound discretion either grant or deny the extension requested. (p. 4, emphasis supplied)

The above new rules are made effective no earlier than June 30, 1986. In the instant case, respondent Court's decision was
received by plaintiffs on April 3, 1986. Plaintiffs or petitioners herein filed on April 15, 1986 a motion for extension of 30 days
from April 18, 1986 or up to May 18, 1986 to file a motion for reconsideration. On May 10, 1986, plaintiffs filed their motion
for reconsideration. Plaintiffs' motion for extension of time was not intended for delay but upon showing of good cause, to
wit: "for lack of material time due to heavy pressure of work on the part of petitioners' counsel presently taking charge
thereof, what is more the counsel handling this case was doing so for the first time in substitution of Atty. Emmanuel Pelaez,
who was recently appointed Philippine Ambassador to the U.S"

It is clear therefore that petitioners' motion was based on good cause and was filed opportunely making the act of respondent
Court unwarranted in denying petitioners' motion for extension of time to file its motion for reconsideration.

Another important issue raised by the petitioners is that the "subject decision which purports to set aside the order of default
rendered by the trial court is a nullity because respondent court arbitrarily ignored in grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction 1) the conclusive effect of the trial court's final and unappealed order denying defendant's motion to set
aside the default order," and 2) the res judicata effect of the appellate court's final judgment in the injunction case
aforementioned upholding the trial court's order granting execution of its Judgment pending appeal and, necessarily, the
Page 16 of 30

default order as well 3) the law of the case effect of the appellate court's express ruling in the said injunction case sustaining
the default order.

Petitioners' contentions merit our consideration.

It has been Our consistent ruling that a default order, being interlocutory, is not appealable but an order denying a motion or
petition to set aside an order of default is not merely interlocutory but final and therefore immediately appealable. 5

Since the trial court's order of November 13, 1981, denying defendant's motion to set aside the order of default was
appealable but was not appealed by defendant, the necessary conclusion is that the default order became final. Clearly
therefore, respondent Court committed a grave abuse of discretion in disregarding the finality of the default order.

The validity and finality of the default order was upheld by the judgment of the Appellate Court in the injunction case (which
passed upon the merits of the issuance of an order of execution pending appeal) by virtue of the principle of res judicata and
the doctrine re the law of the case.

There is no question that there were good reasons for the trial court to issue the order of execution pending appeal. The order
categorically stated that there was a need for the closure and stoppage of the operation of defendant's (Daytona Construction)
cement batching plant because it posed "a great menace to the neighborhood both in point of health and property." The trial
court thus stated:

From the uncontroverted evidence presented by the plaintiffs, there is hardly any question that the cement
dust coming from the batching plant of the defendant corporation is injurious to the health of the plaintiffs
and other residents in the area. The noise, the vibration, the smoke and the odor generated by the day and
night operation of the plant must indeed be causing them serious discomfort and untold miseries. Its
operation therefore violates certain rights of the plaintiffs and causes them damage. It is thus a nuisance and
its abatement justified. (Decision, p. 5; p. 90, Rollo)

after taking into consideration evidence presented by plaintiffs (petitioners herein) as follows:

The evidence shows that the defendant is a domestic corporation duly organized and existing under the laws
of the Philippines with business address of 252 Don Mariano Marcos Avenue (actually South Zuzuarregui
Avenue), Quezon City. It was issued by the Quezon City government a business permit (Exhibit B) for the
manufacture of road and building concrete materials such as concrete aggregates, with cement batching
plant. Among the conditions set forth in the permit are that the said batching plant shall (1) institute
measures to prevent dust emission during the manual charging of cement from bags to the receiving hopper
of the bucket elevator of the batching plant; (2) remove all sediment deposit in the settling of tank for
process water and proper maintenance should be observed at all times. While the original permit issued to
the defendant stated that its operation at the place shall "not (be) beyond Dec. 31, 1979" (Exhibit B-2), it
was somehow allowed to operate way beyond said period.

Plaintiff Ernesto LL. Rodriguez Ill testified that he has three parcels of residential lots adjacent to the Daytona
compound. He informed the Court that his property, with an area of 8,892 square meters has been over-run
by effluence from the cement batching plant of the defendant. The sediment settled on the lots and all
forms of vegetation have died as a result, and the land tremendously diminished in value. His three lots are
located in a prime residential zone and each square meter in the area is easily valued at P500.00. While he
would like to sell at least a part of his property, he finds no buyer because of its condition. It would cost him
no less than P250,000.00 to be able to repair the damage done to his property, and since its present
condition has been existing during the five years, he claimed that the interest on his loss would be about
P5,000.00. He has agreed to his counsel's fee of P200,000.00. Zenaida Rodriguez testified that she owns a lot
with an area of 1,500 square meters. Two thirds of this area has been damaged by the cement dust,
emanating from the defendant's cement batching plant. The continous flow of cement dust into her
property affected her deep well, their source of drinking water, and most of their fruit-bearing and
ornamental trees dried up. She also said that she has had sleepless nights and became nervous as a result of
the batching plant operation. Even her previous pedigreed poodles have been afflicted by all sorts of
illnesses, many of them dying in the process. She claimed to have sustained damages amounting to
P370,000.00.

SACHA del Rosario testified that her house has to close its windows most of the time because of the dust
pollution and her precious plants have been destroyed by the cement powder coming from the constant
traffic of trucks and other vehicles carrying the product of the batching plant passing through her area. She
claims damages amounting to more than P100,000.00.

A chemical engineer, Alexander Cruz, said that the effluence deposited on the properties of Ernesto LL.
Rodriguez III and Zenaida Rodriguez has a very high PH 11.8, and the soil is highly alkaline and cannot
Page 17 of 30

support plant life; that pollution coming from the batching plant can cause stomach disorder and skin
problems; that the place of Ernesto LL. Rodriguez III is bare of grass and the trees are dying, (Exhibits J, J-1
and J-2 and that there is also a high degree of calcium on the property in question.

Witness Guido L. Quiban a civil engineer, testified that on the basis of his examination of the property of
Rodriguez I I I affected by the pollution, it would cost at least P250,000.00 for the excavation filling,
concreting of canal and rental of equipment to repair it or restore it to its status quo ante.

Lawyer Ernesto R. Rodriguez, Jr., the 70-year old father of both Ernesto Ill and Zenaida Z. Rodriguez,
submitted a medical certificate that he had recently been taken ill with acute bronchial asthma,
hypertension and atherosclerotic heart disease. (Exhibits L, L-1 to L-4). His physician, a specialist graduate
from the University of London and connected with various hospitals in Manila, advised him against exposure
to environmental allegens, specifically cement dust and pollution. He also submitted as exhibits various
newspaper clippings (Exhibit M and excerpts from a book (Exhibits N and N-1 showing that pollution can
irritate the eye, sear lungs and destroy vegetation, raise blood pressure, increase cholesterol levels, interfere
with sleep, cause ulcer, trigger heart attacks and the like; that it is the common denominator of respiratory
diseases, especially asthma chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma and emphysema and that polluted air can
develop abnormalities in lung function.

Dr. Raul I. del Rosario, a neighboring physician, testified that he had treated several patients who traced their
sickness to the pollution caused by defendant Daytona batching plant. He said that cement dust produces
broncho-pulmonary obstructive diseases, broncho fibriotic lesions which may produce cardio pulmonary
complications, and the people living in the neighborhood of the batching plant are the most susceptible to
these diseases. He reported many cases of bronchial asthma in both children and adult who live in the
vicinity of the cement batching plant and these cases have been intermittently admitted and discharged
from the Quirino Labor Hospital where he presently works as a resident physician. He had intended to open
a medical clinic at his residence but he could not do so because the washings from the cement mixers are
dumped on the access road in front of his house and when these washings are dried up they pollute the
neighborhood, rendering his intended medical clinic unfit and impractical for the treatment of patients,
particularly those suffering from respiratory ailments.

Another lawyer, Eliseo Alampay, Jr., who likewise resides a few meters away from the site of the Daytona
batching plant, testified that the said plant is certainly injurious to the health; that the cement dust are
agents of lung ailments, impair the growth of plants and even kill the birds in their cages; that it is a
demonstrable nuisance because its uncontrolled engine noise and night long pounding prevent the
neighborhood from being able to sleep soundly and peacefully. He told the court that there was a time when
he felt like organizing the whole neighborhood into a demolition team to forcibly dismantle the entire
Daytona plant because "the authorities concerned apparently have chosen to close their eyes and leave us
to our miserable plight." He said that the homes in the community all look dirty and dusty because of the
pollution that the batching plant of the defendant causes. (Decision in Injunction Case, AC-G.R. No. 14602-
SP, pp. 10-14)

Anent the default order, the appellate court in the injunction case said:

From the foregoing, it appears that petitioner was recreant in failing to file an answer after respondent judge
denied its motion to dismiss the complaint. The motion to dismiss was denied in the order of the lower court
under date of April 3, 1981, a copy of which was received by petitioner on April 23, 1981. A motion for
reconsideration of the order of denial filed by petitioner on May 7, 1981 was denied by said court on July 7,
1981. Instead of filing an answer promptly, petitioner filed with the Supreme Court a motion for extension of
time to file a petition for review, but it never filed one, prompting the Supreme Court to issue
a resolution dated October 5, 1981 informing the parties that no petition for review was filed within the
period that expired on August 15, 1981. Inspite of the Supreme Court's resolution, petitioner still failed to
file any answer or pleading to arrest the running of the prescriptive period. It was only on July 23, 1982,
when petitioner filed its Petition for Relief which was nine (9) months after the Supreme Court's resolution
was issued. Petitioner's assertion in its Petition for Relief that the failure to file the answer was caused by
"the unforseen sickness of its corporate secretary who has custody of the records necessary for the
preparation of its defense" cannot be taken without much doubt and hesitation. Petitioner did not even
point out who was the supposed corporate secretary or explain why the records were in the possession of
the corporate secretary instead of the counsel handling the case. (Decision in Injunction case, p. 16;
emphasis supplied)

With reference to defendant's allegation that it thought that the period within which to answer (after its motion to dismiss
had been denied) had been suspended by its having filed a petition for review before the Supreme Court, same is without
merit. The circumstances of the case point to a deliberate desire to delay: the corporation, governed as it is by knowledgeable
business executives, should have taken steps to prevent its being declared in default. The corporation waited six (6) months
Page 18 of 30

before verifying the status of the case: in the meantime it had been declared in default, a judgment by default had been
rendered against it, execution was already pending before it woke up to file the case at hand.

We agree with Justice Luis A. Javellana in his concurring opinion in the injunction case before the appellate court, thus:

Petitioner's conduct here appears to me to be tainted with fraud and intended simply to delay the
disposition of the case. When its motion to dismiss the complaint was denied, and its motion for
reconsideration of that denial was, Unwise denied, it manifested its intention to elevate these orders to the
Supreme Court on a petition for review. Yet, it did nothing to this end. The purpose of the ploy is obvious.
Once it had announced its intention to go to the Supreme Court, it effectively suspended the proceedings in
the trial court, or, at least, that was the effect. This enabled it to continue with its operations and it would
have done so indefinitely if it had not been declared in-default and private respondents allowed to present
their evidence. It is quite apparent that petitioner really had no intention of elevating the case to the
Supreme Court otherwise, it would not have allowed the extended period given to it by the Supreme Court to
lapse without filing the petition. Or, if it was in good faith, there it should have informed the trial court that it
was no longer pursuing its remedy in the Supreme Court after it had decided that it is no longer availing of
such remedy. Instead, it concealed this fact from the trial court and the adverse party, and allowed matters
to take their course. It was not until it received the adverse decision that it frantically sought to set things
right I do not think that petitioner deserves any consideration for trifling with the administration of
justice. (pp. 3-4; emphasis supplied)

WHEREFORE, the assailed decision and resolution are hereby SET ASIDE, and a new judgment is hereby rendered REINSTATING
the decision of the trial court with the modification that all awards for nominal damages are hereby eliminated. Costs against
private respondent.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 79538 October 18, 1990

FELIPE YSMAEL, JR. & CO., INC., petitioner,


vs.
THE DEPUTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE DIRECTOR OF THE
BUREAU OF FOREST DEVELOPMENT and TWIN PEAKS DEVELOPMENT AND REALTY CORPORATION, respondents.

Tañada, Vivo & Tan for petitioner.

Antonio E. Escober and Jurado Law Office for respondent Twin Peaks Development Corporation.

COURTS, J.:

Soon after the change of government in February 1986, petitioner sent a letter dated March 17, 1986 to the Office of the
President, and another letter dated April 2, 1986 to Minister Ernesto Maceda of the Ministry of Natural Resources [MNR],
seeking: (1) the reinstatement of its timber license agreement which was cancelled in August 1983 during the Marcos
administration; (2) the revocation of TLA No. 356 which was issued to Twin Peaks Development and Realty Corporation
without public bidding and in violation of forestry laws, rules and regulations; and, (3) the issuance of an order allowing
petitioner to take possession of all logs found in the concession area [Annexes "6" and "7" of the Petition; Rollo, pp. 54-63].

Petitioner made the following allegations:

(a) That on October 12, 1965, it entered into a timber license agreement designated as TLA No. 87 with the Department of
Agriculture and Natural Resources, represented by then Secretary Jose Feliciano, wherein it was issued an exclusive license to
cut, collect and remove timber except prohibited species within a specified portion of public forest land with an area of 54,920
hectares located in the municipality of Maddela, province of Nueva Vizcaya * from October 12, 1965 until June 30, 1990;

(b) That on August 18, 1983, the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development [hereinafter referred to as "Bureau"], Director
Edmundo Cortes, issued a memorandum order stopping all logging operations in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces, and
cancelling the logging concession of petitioner and nine other forest concessionaires, pursuant to presidential instructions and
a memorandum order of the Minister of Natural Resources Teodoro Pena [Annex "5" of the Petition; Rollo, p. 49];

(c) that on August 25, 1983, petitioner received a telegram from the Bureau, the contents of which were as follows:

PURSUANT TO THE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE PRESIDENT YOU ARE REQUESTED TO STOP ALL LOGGING
OPERATIONS TO CONSERVE REMAINING FORESTS PLEASE CONDUCT THE ORDERLY PULL-OUT OF LOGGING
Page 19 of 30

MACHINERIES AND EQUIPMENT AND COORDINATE WITH THE RESPECTIVE DISTRICT FORESTERS FOR THE
INVENTORY OF LOGS CUT PRIOR TO THIS ORDER THE SUBMISSION OF A COMPLIANCE REPORT WITHIN
THIRTY DAYS SHALL BE APPRECIATED — [Annex "4" of the Petition; Rollo, p. 48];

(d) That after the cancellation of its timber license agreement, it immediately sent a letter addressed to then President
Ferdinand Marcos which sought reconsideration of the Bureau's directive, citing in support thereof its contributions to alleging
that it was not given the forest conservation and opportunity to be heard prior to the cancellation of its logging 531, but no
operations (Annex "6" of the Petition; Rollo, pp. 50 favorable action was taken on this letter;

(e) That barely one year thereafter, approximately one-half or 26,000 hectares of the area formerly covered by TLA No. 87 was
re-awarded to Twin Peaks Development and Reality Corporation under TLA No. 356 which was set to expire on July 31, 2009,
while the other half was allowed to be logged by Filipinas Loggers, Inc. without the benefit of a formal award or license; and,

(f) That the latter entities were controlled or owned by relatives or cronies of deposed President Ferdinand Marcos. Acting on
petitioner's letter, the MNR through then Minister Ernesto Maceda issued an order dated July 22, 1986 denying petitioner's
request. The Ministry ruled that a timber license was not a contract within the due process clause of the Constitution, but only
a privilege which could be withdrawn whenever public interest or welfare so demands, and that petitioner was not
discriminated against in view of the fact that it was among ten concessionaires whose licenses were revoked in 1983.
Moreover, emphasis was made of the total ban of logging operations in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino
and Ifugao imposed on April 2, 1986, thus:

xxx xxx xxx

It should be recalled that [petitioner's] earlier request for reinstatement has been denied in view of the total
ban of all logging operations in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Ifugao which was
imposed for reasons of conservation and national security.

The Ministry imposed the ban because it realizes the great responsibility it bear [sic] in respect to forest t
considers itself the trustee thereof. This being the case, it has to ensure the availability of forest resources
not only for the present, but also for the future generations of Filipinos.

On the other hand, the activities of the insurgents in these parts of the country are well documented. Their
financial demands on logging concessionaires are well known. The government, therefore, is well within its
right to deprive its enemy of sources of funds in order to preserve itself, its established institutions and the
liberty and democratic way of life of its people.

xxx xxx xxx

[Annex "9" of the Petition, pp. 2-4; Rollo, pp. 65-67.]

Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the aforestated order reiterating, among others. its request that TLA No. 356 issued to
private respondent be declared null and void. The MNR however denied this motion in an order dated September 15, 1986.
stating in part:

xxx xxx xxx

Regarding [petitioner's] request that the award of a 26,000 hectare portion of TLA No. 87 to Twin Peaks
Realty Development Corporation under TLA No. 356 be declared null and void, suffice it to say that the
Ministry is now in the process of reviewing all contracts, permits or other form of privileges for the
exploration, development, exploitation, or utilization of natural resources entered into, granted, issued or
acquired before the issuance of Proclamation No. 3, otherwise known as the Freedom Constitution for the
purpose of amending, modifying or revoking them when the national interest so requires.

xxx xxx xxx

The Ministry, through the Bureau of Forest Development, has jurisdiction and authority over all forest lands.
On the basis of this authority, the Ministry issued the order banning all logging operations/activities in
Quirino province, among others, where movant's former concession area is located. Therefore, the issuance
of an order disallowing any person or entity from removing cut or uncut logs from the portion of TLA No. 87,
now under TLA No. 356, would constitute an unnecessary or superfluous act on the part of the Ministry.

xxx xxx xxx

[Annex "11" of the Petition, pp. 3-4; Rollo, pp. 77-78.]


Page 20 of 30

On November 26, 1986, petitioner's supplemental motion for reconsideration was likewise denied. Meanwhile, per MNR
Administrative Order No. 54, series of 1986, issued on November 26, 1986, the logging ban in the province of Quirino was
lifted.

Petitioner subsequently appealed from the orders of the MNR to the Office of the President. In a resolution dated July 6, 1987,
the Office of the President, acting through then Deputy Executive Secretary Catalino Macaraig, denied petitioner's appeal for
lack of merit. The Office of the President ruled that the appeal of petitioner was prematurely filed, the matter not having been
terminated in the MNR. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied on August 14, 1987.

Hence, petitioner filed directly with this Court a petition for certiorari, with prayer for the issuance of a restraining order or
writ of preliminary injunction, on August 27, 1987. On October 13, 1987, it filed a supplement to its petition for certiorari.
Thereafter, public and private respondents submitted their respective comments, and petitioner filed its consolidated reply
thereto. In a resolution dated May 22, 1989, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition.

After a careful study of the circumstances in the case at bar, the Court finds several factors which militate against the issuance
of a writ of certiorari in favor of petitioner.

1. Firstly, the refusal of public respondents herein to reverse final and executory administrative orders does not constitute
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

It is an established doctrine in this jurisdiction that the decisions and orders of administrative agencies have upon their finality,
the force and binding effect of a final judgment within the purview of the doctrine of res judicata. These decisions and orders
are as conclusive upon the rights of the affected parties as though the same had been rendered by a court of general
jurisdiction. The rule of res judicata thus forbids the reopening of a matter once determined by competent authority acting
within their exclusive jurisdiction [See Brillantes v. Castro, 99 Phil. 497 (1956); Ipekdjian Merchandising Co., Inc. v. Court of Tax
Appeals, G.R. No. L-15430, September 30, 1963, 9 SCRA 72; San Luis v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 80160, June 26, 1989].

In the case at bar, petitioner's letters to the Office of the President and the MNR [now the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR) dated March 17, 1986 and April 2, 1986, respectively, sought the reconsideration of a memorandum
order issued by the Bureau of Forest Development which cancelled its timber license agreement in 1983, as well as the
revocation of TLA No. 356 subsequently issued by the Bureau to private respondents in 1984.

But as gleaned from the record, petitioner did not avail of its remedies under the law, i.e. Section 8 of Pres. Dec. No. 705 as
amended, for attacking the validity of these administrative actions until after 1986. By the time petitioner sent its letter dated
April 2, 1986 to the newly appointed Minister of the MNR requesting reconsideration of the above Bureau actions, these were
already settled matters as far as petitioner was concerned [See Rueda v. Court of Agrarian Relations, 106 Phil. 300 (1959);
Danan v. Aspillera G.R. No. L-17305, November 28, 1962, 6 SCRA 609; Ocampo v. Arboleda G.R. No. L-48190, August 31, 1987,
153 SCRA 374].

No particular significance can be attached to petitioner's letter dated September 19, 1983 which petitioner claimed to have
sent to then President Marcos [Annex "6" of Petition, Rollo, pp. 50-53], seeking the reconsideration of the 1983 order issued
by Director Cortes of the Bureau. It must be pointed out that the averments in this letter are entirely different from the
charges of fraud against officials under the previous regime made by petitioner in its letters to public respondents herein. In
the letter to then President Marcos, petitioner simply contested its inclusion in the list of concessionaires, whose licenses were
cancelled, by defending its record of selective logging and reforestation practices in the subject concession area. Yet, no other
administrative steps appear to have been taken by petitioner until 1986, despite the fact that the alleged fraudulent scheme
became apparent in 1984 as evidenced by the awarding of the subject timber concession area to other entities in that year.

2. Moreover, petitioner is precluded from availing of the benefits of a writ of certiorari in the present case because he failed to
file his petition within a reasonable period.

The principal issue ostensibly presented for resolution in the instant petition is whether or not public respondents herein
acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in refusing to overturn administrative orders
issued by their predecessors in the past regime. Yet, what the petition ultimately seeks is the nullification of the Bureau orders
cancelling TLA No. 87 and granting TLA No. 356 to private respondent, which were issued way back in 1983 and 1984,
respectively.

Once again, the fact that petitioner failed to seasonably take judicial recourse to have the earlier administrative actions
reviewed by the courts through a petition for certiorari is prejudicial to its cause. For although no specific time frame is fixed
for the institution of a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, the same must
nevertheless be done within a "reasonable time". The yardstick to measure the timeliness of a petition for certiorari is the
"reasonableness of the length of time that had expired from the commission of the acts complained of up to the institution of
the proceeding to annul the same" [Toledo v. Pardo, G.R. No. 56761, November 19, 1982, 118 SCRA 566, 571]. And failure to
file the petition for certiorari within a reasonable period of time renders the petitioner susceptible to the adverse legal
Page 21 of 30

consequences of laches [Municipality of Carcar v. Court of First Instance of Cebu, G.R. No. L-31628, December 27, 1982, 119
SCRA 392).

Laches is defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to do that which by exercising
due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, or to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption
that the party entitled thereto has either abandoned it or declined to assert it [Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, G.R. No. L-21450, April
15, 1968, 23 SCRA 29; Seno v. Mangubat, G.R. No. L-44339, December 2, 1987, 156 SCRA 113]. The rule is that unreasonable
delay on the part of a plaintiff in seeking to enforce an alleged right may, depending upon the circumstances, be destructive of
the right itself. Verily, the laws aid those who are vigilant, not those who sleep upon their rights ( Vigilantibus et non
dormientibus jura subveniunt) [See Buenaventura v. David, 37 Phil. 435 (1918)].

In the case at bar, petitioner waited for at least three years before it finally filed a petition for certiorari with the Court
attacking the validity of the assailed Bureau actions in 1983 and 1984. Considering that petitioner, throughout the period of its
inaction, was not deprived of the opportunity to seek relief from the courts which were normally operating at the time, its
delay constitutes unreasonable and inexcusable neglect, tantamount to laches. Accordingly, the writ of certiorari requiring the
reversal of these orders will not lie.

3. Finally, there is a more significant factor which bars the issuance of a writ of certiorari in favor of petitioner and against
public respondents herein. It is precisely this for which prevents the Court from departing from the general application of the
rules enunciated above.

A cursory reading of the assailed orders issued by public respondent Minister Maceda of the MNR which were ed by the Office
of the President, will disclose public policy consideration which effectively forestall judicial interference in the case at bar,

Public respondents herein, upon whose shoulders rests the task of implementing the policy to develop and conserve the
country's natural resources, have indicated an ongoing department evaluation of all timber license agreements entered into,
and permits or licenses issued, under the previous dispensation. In fact, both the executive and legislative departments of the
incumbent administration are presently taking stock of its environmental policies with regard to the utilization of timber lands
and developing an agenda for future programs for their conservation and rehabilitation.

The ongoing administrative reassessment is apparently in response to the renewed and growing global concern over the
despoliation of forest lands and the utter disregard of their crucial role in sustaining a balanced ecological system. The
legitimacy of such concern can hardly be disputed, most especially in this country. The Court takes judicial notice of the
profligate waste of the country's forest resources which has not only resulted in the irreversible loss of flora and fauna peculiar
to the region, but has produced even more disastrous and lasting economic and social effects. The delicate balance of nature
having been upset, a vicious cycle of floods and droughts has been triggered and the supply of food and energy resources
required by the people seriously depleted.

While there is a desire to harness natural resources to amass profit and to meet the country's immediate financial
requirements, the more essential need to ensure future generations of Filipinos of their survival in a viable environment
demands effective and circumspect action from the government to check further denudation of whatever remains of the
forest lands. Nothing less is expected of the government, in view of the clear constitutional command to maintain a balanced
and healthful ecology. Section 16 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution provides:

SEC. 16. The State shall protect and promote the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in
accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.

Thus, while the administration grapples with the complex and multifarious problems caused by unbridled exploitation of these
resources, the judiciary will stand clear. A long line of cases establish the basic rule that the courts will not interfere in matters
which are addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under
the special technical knowledge and training of such agencies [See Espinosa v. Makalintal, 79 Phil. 134 (1947); Coloso v. Board
of Accountancy, 92 Phil. 938 (1953); Pajo v. Ago, 108 Phil. 905 (1960); Suarez v. Reyes, G.R. No. L-19828, February 28, 1963, 7
SCRA 461; Ganitano v. Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, G. R. No. L-21167, March 31, 1966, 16 SCRA 543;
Villegas v. Auditor General, G.R. No. L-21352, November 29, 1966, 18 SCRA 877; Manuel v. Villena, G.R. No. L-28218, February
27, 1971, 37 SCRA 745; Lacuesta v. Herrera, G.R. No. L-33646, January 28, 1975, 62 SCRA 115; Lianga Bay Logging Co., Inc. v.
Enage, G.R. No. L-30637, July 16, 1987, 152 SCRA 80]. More so where, as in the present case, the interests of a private logging
company are pitted against that of the public at large on the pressing public policy issue of forest conservation. For this Court
recognizes the wide latitude of discretion possessed by the government in determining the appropriate actions to be taken to
preserve and manage natural resources, and the proper parties who should enjoy the privilege of utilizing these resources
[Director of Forestry v. Munoz, G.R. No. L-24796, June 28, 1968, 23 SCRA 1183; Lim, Sr. v. The Secretary of Agriculture and
Natural Resources, G.R. No. L-26990, August 31, 1970, 34 SCRA 751]. 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
Page 22 of 30

(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].

In fine, the legal precepts highlighted in the foregoing discussion more than suffice to justify the Court's refusal to interfere in
the DENR evaluation of timber licenses and permits issued under the previous regime, or to pre-empt the adoption of
appropriate corrective measures by the department.

Nevertheless, the Court cannot help but express its concern regarding alleged irregularities in the issuance of timber license
agreements to a number of logging concessionaires.

The grant of licenses or permits to exploit the country's timber resources, if done in contravention of the procedure outlined
in the law, or as a result of fraud and undue influence exerted on department officials, is indicative of an arbitrary and
whimsical exercise of the State's power to regulate the use and exploitation of forest resources. The alleged practice of
bestowing "special favors" to preferred individuals, regardless of merit, would be an abuse of this power. And this Court will
not be a party to a flagrant mockery of the avowed public policy of conservation enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.
Therefore, should the appropriate case be brought showing a clear grave abuse of discretion on the part of officials in the
DENR and related bureaus with respect to the implementation of this public policy, the Court win not hesitate to step in and
wield its authority, when invoked, in the exercise of judicial powers under the Constitution [Section 1, Article VIII].

However, petitioner having failed to make out a case showing grave abuse of discretion on the part of public respondents
herein, the Court finds no basis to issue a writ of certiorari and to grant any of the affirmative reliefs sought.

WHEREFORE, the present petition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

OPOSA vs FACTORAN

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 suit 3 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
Page 23 of 30

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.
Page 24 of 30

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.
Page 25 of 30

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. 10 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. 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
Page 26 of 30

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, 14Section 4 of which expressly
mandates that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources "shall be the primary government agency responsible
Page 27 of 30

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, 15specifically 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." 17The 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:


Page 28 of 30

. . . 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
Page 29 of 30

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
Page 30 of 30

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.