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This case arose when DOE and Japan Petroleum trees, swampland, or even air that feels the

r that feels the destructive

Exploration Co. Ltd. (JAPEX) entered into an pressures of modern technology and modem life. The
agreement for the exploration, development and river, for example, is the living symbol of all the life it
production of petroleum resources at the offshore of sustains or nourishesfish, aquatic insects, water
Tanon Strait. ouzels, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other
animals, including man, who are dependent on it or
The Resident Marine Mammals, through the Stewards, who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river
claimed that they have the legal standing to file this as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is
action since they stand to be benefited or injured by the part of it. Those people who have a meaningful relation
judgment in this suit. Citing Oposa v. Factoran, Jr., they to that body of waterwhether it be a fisherman, a
also asserted their right to sue for the faithful canoeist, a zoologist, or a loggermust be able to
performance of international and municipal speak for the values which the river represents and
environmental laws created in their favor and for their which are threatened with destruction.
benefit. In this regard, they propounded that they have
the right to demand that they be accorded the benefits The primary reason animal rights advocates and
granted to them in multilateral international instruments environmentalists seek to give animals and inanimate
that the Philippine Government had signed, under the objects standing is due to the need to comply with the
concept of stipulation pour autrui. strict requirements in bringing a suit to court. Our own
1997 Rules of Court demand that parties to a suit be
The Stewards contended that there should be no either natural or juridical persons, or entities authorized
question of their right to represent the Resident Marine by law. It further necessitates the action to be brought
Mammals as they have stakes in the case as in the name of the real party-in-interest, even if filed by
forerunners of a campaign to build awareness among a representative, viz.:
the affected residents of Taon Strait and as stewards
of the environment since the primary steward, the Although this petition was filed in 2007, years before
Government, had failed in its duty to protect the the effectivity of the Rules of Procedure for
environment pursuant to the public trust doctrine. (See: Environmental Cases, it has been consistently held
Oposa case). that rules of procedure may be retroactively applied to
actions pending and undetermined at the time of their
They also contended that the Court may lower the passage and will not violate any right of a person who
benchmark in locus standi as an exercise of epistolary may feel that he is adversely affected, inasmuch as
jurisdiction. (See: Oposa case). there is no vested rights in rules of procedure.
Public respondents argued that the Resident Marine Elucidating on this doctrine, the Court, in Systems
Mammals have no standing because Section 1, Rule 3 Factors Corporation v. National Labor Relations
of the Rules of Court requires parties to an action to be Commission (399 Phil. 721 (2000) held that:
either natural or juridical persons.
Remedial statutes or statutes relating to remedies or
They also contested the applicability of Oposa, pointing modes of procedure, which do not create new or take
out that the petitioners therein were all natural persons, away vested rights, but only operate in furtherance of
albeit some of them were still unborn. the remedy or confirmation of rights already existing,
As regards the Stewards, the public respondents do not come within the legal conception of a retroactive
likewise challenged their claim of legal standing on the law, or the general rule against retroactive operation of
ground that they are representing animals, which statutes. Statutes regulating the procedure of the
cannot be parties to an action. Moreover, the public courts will be construed as applicable to actions
respondents argued that the Stewards are not the real pending and undetermined at the time of their passage.
parties-in-interest for their failure to show how they Procedural laws are retroactive in that sense and to
stand to be benefited or injured by the decision in this that extent, x x x.
case. Moreover, even before the Rules of Procedure for
Since the petition was not brought in the name of a real Environmental Cases became effective, the Court had
party-in-interest, it should be dismissed for failure to already taken a permissive position on the issue of
state a cause of action. locus standi in environmental cases. In Oposa, the
Court allowed the suit to be brought in the name of
Ruling in favor of the petitioners, the Supreme Court generations yet unborn based on the concept of
intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a
balanced and healthful ecology is concerned.
Inanimate objects are sometimes parties in litigation. A Furthermore, the right to a balanced and healthful
ship has a legal personality, a fiction found useful for ecology, a right that does not even need to be stated in
maritime purposes. The corporation sole - a creature of our Constitution as it is assumed to exist from the
ecclesiastical law - is an acceptable adversary and inception of humankind, carries with it the correlative
large fortunes ride on its cases. The ordinary duty to refrain from impairing the environment.
corporation is a person for purposes of the
In light of the foregoing, the need to give the Resident
adjudicatory processes, whether it represents
Marine Mammals legal standing has been eliminated
proprietary, spiritual, aesthetic, or charitable causes.
by our Rules, which allow any Filipino citizen, as a
So it should be as respects valleys, alpine meadows, steward of nature, to bring a suit to enforce our
rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, ridges, groves of environmental laws. It is worth noting here that the
Stewards are joined as real parties in the Petition and the service contract violated the Philippine Constitution
not just in representation of the named cetacean or other domestic laws. Id., p. 11.
species. The Stewards, Ramos and Eisma-Osorio,
having shown in their petition that there may be As to standing, the Court declined to extend the
possible violations of laws concerning the habitat of the principle of standing beyond natural and juridical
Resident Marine Mammals, are therefore declared to persons, even though it recognized that the current
possess the legal standing to file this petition. (Resident trend in Philippine jurisprudence moves towards
Marine Mammals of the Protected Seascape Tanon simplification of procedures and facilitating court
Strait, E.G. Toothed Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises and access in environmental cases. Id., p. 15. Instead,
Other Cetacean Species, Joined in and Represented the Court explained, the need to give the Resident
by Human Beings Gloria Ramos & Rose Liza Eismia- Marine Mammals legal standing has been eliminated
Osorio, etc. v. Sec. Angelo Reyes, et al., G.R. No. by our Rules, which allow any Filipino citizen, as a
180771, April 21, 2015 & companion cases, Leonardo- steward of nature, to bring a suit to enforce our
De Castro, J). environmental laws. Id., p. 16-17.

Resident Marine Mammals of the Protected The Court then held that while SC-46 was authorized
Seascape Taon Strait v. Secretary Angelo Reyes Presidential Decree No. 87 on oil extraction, the
contract did not fulfill two additional constitutional
The Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines requirements. Section 2 Article XII of the 1987
ruled that a service contract for oil exploration, Constitution requires a service contract for oil
development, and production issued by the exploration and extraction to be signed by the president
government of the Philippines in the protected area of and reported to congress. Because the JAPEX
the Taon Strait was unconstitutional. contract was executed solely by the Energy Secretary,
and not reported to the Philippine congress, the Court
Case Note: held that it was unconstitutional. Id., pp. 24-25.
Resident Marine Mammals of the Protected Seascape In addition, the Court also ruled that the contract
Taon Strait v. Secretary Angelo Reyes, G.R. No. violated the National Integrated Protected Areas
180771 (April 21, 2015) System Act of 1992 (NIPAS Act), which generally
Supreme Court of the Philippines prohibits exploitation of natural resources in protected
areas. In order to explore for resources in a protected
Two sets of petitioners filed separate cases challenging area, the exploration must be performed in accordance
the legality of Service Contract No. 46 (SC-46) with an environmental impact assessment (EIA). The
awarded to Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. (JAPEX). Court noted that JAPEX started the seismic surveys
The service contract allowed JAPEX to conduct oil before any EIA was performed; therefore its activity
exploration in the Taon Strait during which it was unlawful. Id., pp. 33-34. Furthermore, the Tanon
performed seismic surveys and drilled one exploration Strait is a NIPAS area, and exploration and utilization
well. The first petition was brought on behalf of resident of energy resources can only be authorized through a
marine mammals in the Taon Strait by two individuals law passed by the Philippine Congress. Because
acting as legal guardians and stewards of the marine Congress had not specifically authorized the activity in
mammals. The second petition was filed by a non- Taon Strait, the Court declared that no energy
governmental organization representing the interests exploration should be permitted in that area. Id., p. 34.
of fisherfolk, along with individual representatives from
fishing communities impacted by the oil exploration
activities. The petitioners filed their cases in 2007,
shortly after JAPEX began drilling in the strait. In 2008,
JAPEX and the government of the Philippines mutually
terminated the service contract and oil exploration
activities ceased. The Supreme Court consolidated the
cases for the purpose of review.

In its decision, the Supreme Court first addressed the

important procedural point of whether the case was
moot because the service contract had been
terminated. The Court declared that mootness is not
a magical formula that can automatically dissuade the
courts in resolving a case. Id., p. 12. Due to the
alleged grave constitutional violations and paramount
public interest in the case, not to mention the fact that
the actions complained of could be repeated, the Court
found it necessary to reach the merits of the case even
though the particular service contract had been
terminated. Id.

Reviewing the numerous claims filed by the petitioners,

the Supreme Court narrowed them down to two: 1)
whether marine mammals, through their stewards,
have legal standing to pursue the case; and 2) whether