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Castroverde, Krizel Mary B.

OPOSA et. al. vs FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR. as Sec. of DENR & Hon. Eriberto Rosario
GR No. 101083, July 30, 1993
J. Davide
FACTS
A civil case was filed before RTC Branch 66, National Capital Judicial Region praying for the
Cancellation of all existing timber license agreements in the country; to cease and desist from
receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license agreements; and such
other reliefs as my be just and equitable under the premises. Petitioners are minors duly represented
and joined by their respective parents. Complaint was instituted as a taxpayers class suit and
alleged that plaintiffs are all citizens of the Republic of the Philippines taxpayers and are entitled to
the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource treasure that is the countrys tropical
forests. The minors (Plaintiff as represented by their parents) further alleged that they represent their
generation as well as generations yet unborn. It was alleged in the said complaint that there was a
distortion and disturbance in the balanced and healthy ecology as a consequence of deforestation
causing several environmental tragedies. In one of the allegations contained in said complaint,
Plaintiffs stated that they had clear and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and
are entitled to protection by the State in its capacity as parens patriae. Defendants likewise refused
to cancel the TLAs which are manifestly contrary to public policy enunciated in the Philippine
Encironmental Policy. Original defendant- Secretary Factoran then filed a Motion to dismiss the
complaint on the following grounds: 1. Plaintiffs had no cause of action, 2. the issue raised by
plaintiffs is a political question which properly pertains to the legislative or executive branches. In
opposition to the said motion, petitioners that the complaint shows a clear and unmistakable cause
of action, the motion is dilatory and that the action represents a justiciable question as it involves the
defendants abuse of discretion. The motion to dismiss filed by original defendant was granted by
herein respondent judge ruling that granting the relief prayed for in the complaint would impair
contracts which is prohibited by the fundamental laws of the land. Plaintiffs then filed a special civil
action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court asking the court to set aside the said
dismissal order on the ground that said judge gravely abused his discretion in doing the same.
ISSUE
(1)Whether or not petitioners have a cause of action to prevent the misappropriation or
impairment of the Philippine rainforests and arrest the unabated haemorrhage of the countrys vital
life support systems and continued rape of Mother earth.
(2)Whether or not the question of whether logging should be permitted in the country is a
political question.
RULING
Though the original defendant and the present respondents did not take issue regarding the
case being a class suit, the court ruled that the said civil case is 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. Since the parties are so numerous, it becomes impracticable to bring all of them before
the court. It was likewise declared by the court that the plaintiffs are numerous and representative
enough to ensure the full protection of interests. Thus fulfilling the requisites for filing a valid class
suit as provided in Section 12, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court. It was also decided that
petitioner minors can file a class suit for themselves, for others of their generation and for future
ones-the same being based on the concept of Intergenerational Responsibility insofar as the
right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. Said right being expounded to provide that
every generation has a responsibility to the next to preserve the rhythm and harmony of
nature for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology.
(1) Plaintiffs alleged 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). The trial court erred in concluding that the complaint is replete with vague assumptions
and vague conclusions based on unverified data thereby failing to state a cause of action in
their complaint against the defendant. The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental
legal rightthe right to a balanced and healthful ecology which is solemnly incorporated in
Section 16, Art. II of the 1987 Constitution:
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.
Said right unites with the right to health 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.
The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from
impairing the environment. Furthermore, even before the ratification of the 1987 Constitution,
specific statutes already paid special attention to the environmental right of the present and
future generations (PD 1151-Philippine Environmental Policy, and PD 1152 Philippine
Environmental Code). Thus the right of the petitioners to a balanced and healthful ecology is a
s clear as the DENRs duty under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and functions under
EO 192 and the administrative code of 1987 to protect and advance the said right . A denial or
violation of that right by other who has the correlative duty or obligation to respect and
protect the same gives rise to a cause of action. However, insofar as the cancellation of the
TLAs is concerned, there is the need to implead as a party defendants, the grantees thereof
for they are indispensable parties
(2) Policy formulation or determination by the executive or legislative branches of government is
not squarely put in issue. What is involved is the enforcement of a right and policies already
formulated and expressed in legislation. It must be emphasized that the political question
doctrine is no longer the insurmountable obstacle to the exercise of judicial power or the
impenetrable shied that protects executive and legislative actions from judicial inquiry or
review. Sec 1 Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution provides for the scope of judicial power. The
said 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 due to grave abuse of discretion.
With regard to the matter involving the non-impairment of contracts clause found in the
Constitution, all licenses may be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is nor a contract,
property, or a property right protested by due process clause of the Constitution in the case of Tan vs
Director of Forestry the court held that: 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. Thus the court held that the granting of license does not create irrevocable
rights. Furthermore, 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 license. Hence, the non-impairment cannot as yet be invoked. Nevertheless, granting that a
law has actually been passed mandating cancellations of modification, the same cannot still be
stigmatized as a violation of the non-impairment clause. The constitutional guaranty of nonimpairment of obligations of contract is limited by the exercise of the police power of the State, in the
interest of public health, safety, moral and general welfare.
WHEREFORE, Petition is GRANTED being impressed with merit and the order of respondent
dismissing the case is set aside. Petitioners allowed to amend their complaint to implead as
defendants the holders or grantees of the questioned license agreements.