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Alfredo Estrada, Renato T. Canilang and Manuel C. Lim, petitioners, vs. CA and Bacnotan Cement Corporation (BCC), respondents.

(G.R. No. 137862 | November 11, 2004) AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 44324, promulgated on April 6, 1998, and the resolution[2] dated February 24, 1999 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration. The facts are as follows: Alfredo Estrada, Renato T. Canilang and Manuel C. Lim, as concerned citizens and taxpayers, filed on July 31, 1996, before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Olongapo City, a complaint for Injunction and Damages with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order against Bacnotan Cement Corp. (BCC), Wawandue Fishing Port, Inc. (WFPI), Jeffrey Khong Hun as President of WFPI, Manuel Molina as Mayor of Subic, Zambales, and Ricardo Serrano as Regional Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The complaint alleges that: WFPI and the Municipality of Subic entered into an illegal lease contract, which in turn became the basis of a sub-lease in favor of BCC; the sub-lease between WFPI and BCC is a violation of the first lease because the cement plant, which BCC intended to operate in Wawandue, Subic, Zambales, is not related to the fish port business of WFPI; and BCCs cement plant is a nuisance because it will cause pollution, endanger the health, life and limb of the residents and deprive them of the full use and enjoyment of their properties. The plaintiffs prayed that an order be issued: to restrain and prohibit BCC from opening, commissioning, or otherwise operating its cement plant; and to require the defendants to jointly and solidarily pay the plaintiffs P205,000.00 by way of actual, moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees.[3] Defendants WFPI/Khong Hun and BCC filed separate motions to dismiss, both alleging that the complaint states no cause of action. BCC, in its motion, added that: the plaintiffs failed to exhaust administrative remedies before going to court; that the complaint was premature; and that the RTC has no jurisdiction on the matter. Respondent Serrano of the DENR also filed a motion to dismiss stating that there was no cause of action insofar as he is concerned since there was nothing in the complaint that shows any dereliction of duty on his part.[4] On December 6, 1996, Judge Eliodoro G. Ubiadas of RTC Olongapo City, Branch 72, issued an order denying respondents motions to dismiss and granting the prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction.[5] Pertinent portions of the order read as follows: The Court notes that the powers vested by law under Executive Order 192, Republic Act 3931 and Presidential Decree 984 are regulatory merely and for the purpose of determining whether pollution exists. However, under the laws above-mentioned, the powers granted to the DENR thru the Pollution Adjudication Board did not expressly exclude the Courts which under the law are empowered to try both questions of facts and law to determine whether pollution which maybe nuisance per se or by accidents (sic) exist or likely to exist. Under the Constitution, the courts are imbued the inherent power of general jurisdiction to resolve these issues. While it maybe (sic) true that petitioners might have first to seek relief thru the DENRs Pollution Adjudication Board a resort to the remedy provided under the Pollution Adjudication Board is rendered useless and ineffective in the light of the urgency that the said pollution be restrained outright in lieu of the impending risk described in the petition. It will be noted that the DENR did not have the power either in Executive Order 192, Republic Act 3931 and Presidential Decree 984 to issue a writ of injunction. The argument therefore for the exhaustion of administrative remedy and lack of jurisdiction does not warrant the dismissal of this petition against Bacnotan Cement Corporation. [6] Respondents motions for reconsideration were likewise denied by the trial court in an order dated May 13, 1997.[7] Respondent BCC then went to the Court of Appeals on a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order seeking to reverse and set aside the orders dated December 6, 1996 and May 13, 1997 as well as to lift the writ of preliminary injunction dated December 11, 1996.

On April 6, 1998, the Court of Appeals rendered its decision, granting BCCs petition, thus: WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing disquisitions, the instant petition for certiorari is GRANTED. The assailed Orders dated December 6, 1996 and May 13, 1997 are hereby SET ASIDE. The writ of injunction issued by the public respondent under date of December 11, 1996 is forthwith, LIFTED and the Complaint insofar as petitioner BCC is concerned is ordered forthwith DISMISSED. No costs. SO ORDERED.[8] It reasoned that: FIRSTLY. We find that the denial of said Motion to Dismiss by the Court a quo, was a grave abuse of discretion because of the doctrine of Administrative Remedy which requires that where an administrative remedy is provided by statute, relief must be sought administratively first before the Court will take action thereon. As ruled by the Supreme Court in the case of Abe Abe, et al. vs. Manta (90 SCRA 524). When an adequate remedy may be had within the Executive Department of the government but nevertheless a litigant fails or refuses to avail himself of the same, the Judiciary shall decline to interfere. This traditional attitude of the Court is based not only on respect for party litigants but also on respect for a co-equal office in the government. In fine, our Supreme Court has categorically explained in Aquino vs. Mariano (129 SCRA 209) that whenever, there is an available Administrative Remedy provided by law, no judicial recourse can be made until such remedy has been availed of and exhausted for three (3) reasons that: (1) Resort to court maybe unnecessary if administrative remedy is available; (2) Administrative Agency may be given a chance to correct itself; and (3) The principle of Amity and Convenience requires that no court can act until administrative processes are completed. Commissioner of Customs vs. Navarro (77 SCRA 264). SECONDLY, it is a well-settled rule that the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court is general in character, referring to the existence of nuisance under the provision of Article 694 of the New Civil Code. On the other hand, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) under R.A. 3931 as amended by P.D. 984, prescribes the Abatement of Pollution. In fine, when it comes to nuisance, the Court has general jurisdiction under the New Civil Code. But when it comes to pollution which is specific, the administrative body like the DENR has jurisdiction. Clearly, nuisance is general or broader in concept while pollution is specific. Following the rule that the specific issue of pollution, which is under the jurisdiction of DENR prevails over the general issue of nuisance which is under the jurisdiction of the RTC (Lagman vs. City of Manila, 17 SCRA 579), there is no doubt that the DENR and not the Court should have jurisdiction. Hence, the motion to dismiss filed by petitioner should have been GRANTED by the Court a quo. Since it has no jurisdiction over the subject matter. Its denial by public respondent was therefore a grave abuse of discretion, which is correctible by certiorari. THIRDLY. We should not lose sight of the fact that the authority to construct in this case is necessarily required prior to the actual construction of petitioners cement bulk terminal while the permit to operate likewise is required before the petitioners cement bulk terminal commences its operation. In this case, the petitioner, at the time, had only the authority to construct, pursuant to a valid contract between the WFPI and the petitioner BCC, approved by the Sangguniang Bayan of Subic and Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Zambales and pursuant to the requisite of DENR. Again, it should be remembered that, at the time, petitioner did not yet have the permit to operate (which should properly be made only after a factual determination of the levels of pollution by the DENR). Hence, the injunction issued in this case is premature and should not have been issued at all by public respondent. FOURTHLY. The effect of the writ of injunction enjoining petitioner from operating the cement bulk terminal (Order of December 6, 1996) and the public respondents refusal to defer the proceedings below, virtually preempt the DENR from making such determination, nay even the authority to issue the permit to operate is likewise preempted. How can we therefore enjoin operation before the issuance of the permit to operate? It is also a settled rule that the remedy of injunction is not proper where an administrative remedy is available. The permit to operate may not even be issued, at all, by the DENR (Buayan Cattle Co. Inc., vs. Quintillan, 128 SCRA 276). Evidently, the writ of injunction issued in this case, as We view it, is premature. In fact, by issuing the Order of Dec. 6, 1996, the public respondent wrestled the authority from the DENR to determine whether the

cement bulk terminal will cause pollution or not, or whether the pollution may only be on acceptable level as to justify the issuance of the permit to operate. While conceding that prior resort should be made to the DENR, the respondent Judge proceeded to take the contrary stand, following the private respondents contention that the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies are [sic] inapplicable, since it would cause irreparable injury if private respondents should avail of administrative step before taking Court action. We do not agree. The respondents contention is clearly baseless and highly speculative because how can it possibly produce irreparable injury before the actual operation since petitioner has not yet been issued permit to operate. Besides, We find no evidence shown in the complaint or alleged therein that will support the presence of pollution and which could properly be the subject of injunction. Finally, it is interesting to note that the complaint filed by the private respondents has no prayer for preliminary injunction (it was not asked, why then should it be given?). Furthermore, the Sublease Agreement having been partly executed, it could no longer be enjoined. By and large, the lower courts denial of petitioners motion to dismiss is undoubtedly a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.[9] The Court of Appeals denied petitioners motion for reconsideration on February 24, 1999.[10] Hence the present petition alleging that: I . . . THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HAD CLEARLY DEPARTED FROM THE ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE ENUNCIATED BY THIS HONORABLE COURT WHEN IT RULED THAT THE HEREIN PETITIONERS FAILED TO EXHAUST ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO THEM BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES (DENR) POLLUTION ADJUDICATION BOARD (PAB); and that II THE COURT OF APPEALS ALSO GROSSLY ERRED IN RULING THAT THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF OLONGAPO CITY, BRANCH 72 HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE ISSUE OF POLLUTION.[11] Petitioners argue that: prior resort to an administrative agency is futile and unnecessary since great and irreparable injury would ensue if the cement repacking plant is allowed to operate in Wawandue, Subic, Zambales; only the court can grant them speedy, effective and immediate relief since the DENRPollution Adjudication Board (PAB) has no authority to issue the needed writ of injunction prayed for by petitioners; E.O. No. 192,[12] R.A. No. 3931[13] or P.D. No. 984[14] does not expressly exclude the power and authority of the RTC to try both questions of fact and of law relative to the determination of the existence of pollution arising from the operation of respondents cement repacking plant either as a nuisance per se or a nuisance per accidens; and the lower court under the Constitution is imbued with the inherent power and jurisdiction to resolve the issue of pollution.[15] In its Comment, BCC contends that: the instant petition should be dismissed because it is not accompanied by a copy of the petition in CA G.R. SP No. 44324, which violates Rule 45, Sec. 4 of the Rules of Court requiring that the petition be accompanied by relevant pleadings;[16] the Court of Appeals correctly held that the jurisdiction to determine the issue of pollution is lodged primarily with the DENR and not with the RTC; under P.D. No. 984, the task of determining the existence of pollution was bestowed on the National Pollution Control Commission (NPCC), the powers of which were assumed by the DENR under E.O. No. 192; the jurisdiction of the trial courts anent abatement of nuisance in general cannot prevail over the specific, specialized and technical jurisdiction of the DENR-PAB; under the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, where competence to determine the same issue is placed in the trial court and an administrative body and the issue involves a specialized and technical matter, relief should first be sought before the administrative body prior to instituting suit before the regular courts; the relief sought by the petitioners to prevent the supposedly injurious operation of BCCs cement bulk terminal can be effectively obtained from the DENR, which, under P.D. No. 984, has the authority to grant, modify and revoke permits, and to issue orders for the abatement of pollution and impose mandatory pollution control measures for compliance;[17] since the BCC only

has an authority to construct and not yet permit to operate at the time of the filing of the complaint, the writ of injunction issued by the trial court preempted the DENR from making the determination of whether or not BCC should be allowed to operate; the complaint was properly dismissed since petitioners have no legal capacity to bring a suit for abatement of nuisance; and the right invoked by petitioners is abstract and is not sufficient to confer locus standi.[18] In their Reply, petitioners reiterated their arguments and added that they have fully complied with the requirements of Rule 45.[19] The principal issue that needs to be resolved is whether or not the instant case falls under the exceptional cases where prior resort to administrative agencies need not be made before going to court. We answer in the negative. The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies requires that resort be first made with the administrative authorities in the resolution of a controversy falling under their jurisdiction before the same may be elevated to a court of justice for review.[20] If a remedy within the administrative machinery is still available, with a procedure pursuant to law for an administrative officer to decide the controversy, a party should first exhaust such remedy before going to court. A premature invocation of a courts intervention renders the complaint without cause of action and dismissible on such ground.[21] The reason for this is that prior availment of administrative remedy entails lesser expenses and provides for a speedier disposition of controversies. Comity and convenience also impel courts of justice to shy away from a dispute until the system of administrative redress has been completed and complied with.[22] As we explained in Gonzales vs. Court of Appeals,[23] The thrust of the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies is that the courts must allow the administrative agencies to carry out their functions and discharge their responsibilities within the specialized areas of their respective competence. It is presumed that an administrative agency, if afforded an opportunity to pass upon a matter, will decide the same correctly, or correct any previous error committed in its forum. Furthermore, reasons of law, comity and convenience prevent the courts from entertaining cases proper for determination by administrative agencies. Hence, premature resort to the courts necessarily becomes fatal to the cause of action of the petitioner.[24] While the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is flexible and may be disregarded in certain instances, such as: (1) when there is a violation of due process, (2) when the issue involved is purely a legal question, (3) when the administrative action is patently illegal amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, (4) when there is estoppel on the part of the administrative agency concerned, (5) when there is irreparable injury, (6) when the respondent is a department secretary whose acts as an alter ego of the President bears [sic] the implied and assumed approval of the latter, (7) when to require exhaustion of administrative remedies would be unreasonable, (8) when it would amount to a nullification of a claim, (9) when the subject matter is a private land in land case proceedings, (10) when the rule does not provide a plain, speedy and adequate remedy, (11) when there are circumstances indicating the urgency of judicial intervention, (12) when no administrative review is provided by law, (13) where the rule of qualified political agency applies, and (14) when the issue of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies has been rendered moot.[25] we find, however, that the instant case does not fall under any of the recognized exceptional circumstances. Petitioners claim that their action before the trial court, without going to the DENR first, is justified because they are in danger of suffering grave and irreparable injury from the operation of respondents cement repacking plant and the DENR does not have the power to grant them the relief they are praying for. We do not agree.

Republic Act No. 3931, An Act Creating the National Water and Air Pollution Control Commission, was passed on June 18, 1964 to maintain reasonable standards of purity for the waters and air of the country with their utilization for domestic, agricultural, industrial and other legitimate purposes. It created the NPCC which had the power, to issue, renew, or deny permits, for the prevention and abatement of pollution.[26] In 1976, Presidential Decree No. 984 was enacted to strengthen the NPCC giving it, among others, the following: Sec. 6. Powers and Functions . . . ... (e) Issue orders or decisions to compel compliance with the provisions of this Decree and its implementing rules and regulations only after proper notice and hearing. (f) Make, alter or modify orders requiring the discontinuance of pollution specifying the conditions and the time within which such discontinuance must be accomplished. (g) Issue, renew, or deny permits, under such conditions as it may determine to be reasonable, for the prevention and abatement of pollution, for the discharge of sewage, industrial waste, or for the installation or operation of sewage works and industrial disposal system or parts thereof (j) serve as arbitrator for the determination of reparations, or restitution of the damages and losses resulting from pollution. P.D. No. 984 also empowered the commission to issue ex parte orders directing the discontinuance or temporary suspension or cessation of operation of an establishment or person generating sewage or wastes without the necessity of prior public hearing whenever it finds a 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 exceed the allowable standards set by the commission.[27] In 1987, Executive Order No. 192 was passed, reorganizing the DENR. It transferred the power of the NPCC to the Environmental Management Bureau[28] and created the PAB, under the Office of the Secretary, which assumed the powers and functions of the NPCC with respect to the adjudication of pollution cases under R.A. No. 3931 and P.D. No. 984.[29] In Pollution Adjudication Board vs. Court of Appeals,[30] we stated that the PAB is the very agency of the government with the task of determining whether the effluents of a particular industrial establishment comply with or violate applicable anti-pollution statutory and regulatory provisions.[31] We also recognized its power to issue, ex parte, cease and desist orders, thus: . . . under . . . Section 7(a) of P.D. No. 984, an ex parte cease and desist order may be issued by the (PAB) (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]. . . . [I]t 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. . . . ... Ex parte cease and desist orders are permitted by law and regulations in situations like that here presented precisely because stopping 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. . . .[32] In Laguna Lake Development Authority vs. Court of Appeals,[33] we also pronounced that: The matter of determining whether there ispollution of the environment that requires control, if not prohibition, of the operation of a business establishment is essentially addressed to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the DENR which, by virtue of Section 16 of Executive Order No. 192, series of 1987 has assumed the powers and functions of the defunct National Pollution Control Commission created under Republic Act No. 3931. Under said Executive Order, a Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) under the Office of the DENR Secretary now assumes the powers and functions of the National Pollution Control Commission with respect to adjudication of pollution cases. As a general rule, the adjudication of pollution cases generally pertains to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB), except in cases where the special law provides for another forum.[34] Clearly, the claim of petitioners that their immediate recourse to the regular courts is justified because the DENR is powerless to grant them proper relief is without basis. The Court of Appeals correctly found that the petitioners failed to exhaust administrative remedies before going to court which renders their complaint dismissible on the ground of lack of cause of action. WHEREFORE, the petition is denied for lack of merit. SO ORDERED. Callejo, Sr., and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur. Puno, (Chairman), J., on official leave. Tinga, J., on leave.

Pollution Adjudication Board, petitioner vs. CA and Solar Textile Finishing Corporation, respondents. (G.R. No. 93891 | March 11, 1991) 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 TullahanTinejeros 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 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 nonoperational 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 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 Regulations 5 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

platinum cobalt b) c)

(Apparent Color) pH 6-8.5 b) c) pH 9.3 8.7

Tempera- 40

Temperature

ture in C (C) d) mg./1. e) solids in mg./1. f) mg./1. g) h) Phenols in 0.1 mg.1 Suspended 75 solids in mg./1. BOD in 152 mg./1 oil/Grease 10 Detergents 5 g) h) Oil/Grease Detergents 2.93 80 f) BOD (5-day) 1,100 e) Suspended 340 80 d) Phenols in

in 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. Classification xxx Class D xxx Best usage l) xxx mg./1. For agriculture, irrigation, livestock m) watering and industrial cooling and NTU / ppm, SiO 3 processing. The November 1986 inspections report concluded that: xxx xxx xxx 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 reinspection/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: a) Color in 100 a) Color units250 125 (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: 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: 70 Turbidity Total Solids 1,400 690

"Inland November September Waters 1986 1988 (Class C & D 7 Report 8 Report 9 Station 1 Station 1

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. 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

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.

(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).. . . 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)

Laguna Lake Development Authority, petitioner, vs. CA, Manuel Jn. Serapio, Presiding Judge, Caloocan City, Macario A. Asistio, Jr., and/or the City Government of Caloocan, respondents. (G.R. No. 110120 | March 16, 1994) ROMERO, J.: The clash between the responsibility of the City Government of Caloocan to dispose off the 350 tons of garbage it collects daily and the growing concern and sensitivity to a pollution-free environment of the residents of Barangay Camarin, Tala Estate, Caloocan City where these tons of garbage are dumped everyday is the hub of this controversy elevated by the protagonists to the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) for adjudication. The instant case stemmed from an earlier petition filed with this Court by Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA for short) docketed as G.R. No. 107542 against the City Government of Caloocan, et al. In the Resolution of November 10, 1992, this Court referred G.R. No. 107542 to the Court of Appeals for appropriate disposition. Docketed therein as CA-G.R. SP No. 29449, the Court of Appeals, in a decision 1 promulgated on January 29, 1993 ruled that the LLDA has no power and authority to issue a cease and desist order enjoining the dumping of garbage in Barangay Camarin, Tala Estate, Caloocan City. The LLDA now seeks, in this petition, a review of the decision of the Court of Appeals. The facts, as disclosed in the records, are undisputed. On March 8, 1991, the Task Force Camarin Dumpsite of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City, filed a letter-complaint 2 with the Laguna Lake Development Authority seeking to stop the operation of the 8.6hectare open garbage dumpsite in Tala Estate, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City due to its harmful effects on the health of the residents and the possibility of pollution of the water content of the surrounding area. On November 15, 1991, the LLDA conducted an on-site investigation, monitoring and test sampling of the leachate 3 that seeps from said dumpsite to the nearby creek which is a tributary of the Marilao River. The LLDA Legal and Technical personnel found that the City Government of Caloocan was maintaining an open dumpsite at the Camarin area without first securing an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, as required under Presidential Decree No. 1586, 4 and clearance from LLDA as required under Republic Act No. 4850, 5 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 813 and Executive Order No. 927, series of 1983. 6 After a public hearing conducted on December 4, 1991, the LLDA, acting on the complaint of Task Force Camarin Dumpsite, found that the water collected from the leachate and the receiving streams could considerably affect the quality, in turn, of the receiving waters since it indicates the presence of bacteria, other than coliform, which may have contaminated the sample during collection or handling. 7 On December 5, 1991, the LLDA issued a Cease and Desist Order 8 ordering the City Government of Caloocan, Metropolitan Manila Authority, their contractors, and other entities, to completely halt, stop and desist from dumping any form or kind of garbage and other waste matter at the Camarin dumpsite. The dumping operation was forthwith stopped by the City Government of Caloocan. However, sometime in August 1992 the dumping operation was resumed after a meeting held in July 1992 among the City Government of Caloocan, the representatives of Task Force Camarin Dumpsite and LLDA at the Office of Environmental Management Bureau Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes failed to settle the problem. After an investigation by its team of legal and technical personnel on August 14, 1992, the LLDA issued another order reiterating the December 5, 1991, order and issued an Alias Cease and Desist Order enjoining the City Government of Caloocan from continuing its dumping operations at the Camarin area. On September 25, 1992, the LLDA, with the assistance of the Philippine National Police, enforced its Alias Cease and Desist Order by prohibiting the entry of all garbage dump trucks into the Tala Estate, Camarin area being utilized as a dumpsite. Pending resolution of its motion for reconsideration earlier filed on September 17, 1992 with the LLDA, the City Government of Caloocan filed with the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City an action for the declaration of nullity of the cease and desist order with prayer for the issuance of writ of injunction,

docketed as Civil Case No. C-15598. In its complaint, the City Government of Caloocan sought to be declared as the sole authority empowered to promote the health and safety and enhance the right of the people in Caloocan City to a balanced ecology within its territorial jurisdiction. 9 On September 25, 1992, the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the LLDA from enforcing its cease and desist order. Subsequently, the case was raffled to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 126 of Caloocan which, at the time, was presided over by Judge Manuel Jn. Serapio of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 127, the pairing judge of the recently-retired presiding judge. The LLDA, for its part, filed on October 2, 1992 a motion to dismiss on the ground, among others, that under Republic Act No. 3931, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 984, otherwise known as the Pollution Control Law, the cease and desist order issued by it which is the subject matter of the complaint is reviewable both upon the law and the facts of the case by the Court of Appeals and not by the Regional Trial Court. 10 On October 12, 1992 Judge Manuel Jn. Serapio issued an order consolidating Civil Case No. C-15598 with Civil Case No. C-15580, an earlier case filed by the Task Force Camarin Dumpsite entitled "Fr. John Moran, et al. vs. Hon. Macario Asistio." The LLDA, however, maintained during the trial that the foregoing cases, being independent of each other, should have been treated separately. On October 16, 1992, Judge Manuel Jn. Serapio, after hearing the motion to dismiss, issued in the consolidated cases an order 11 denying LLDA's motion to dismiss and granting the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining the LLDA, its agent and all persons acting for and on its behalf, from enforcing or implementing its cease and desist order which prevents plaintiff City of Caloocan from dumping garbage at the Camarin dumpsite during the pendency of this case and/or until further orders of the court. On November 5, 1992, the LLDA filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction with prayer for restraining order with the Supreme Court, docketed as G.R. No. 107542, seeking to nullify the aforesaid order dated October 16, 1992 issued by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 127 of Caloocan City denying its motion to dismiss. The Court, acting on the petition, issued a Resolution 12 on November 10, 1992 referring the case to the Court of Appeals for proper disposition and at the same time, without giving due course to the petition, required the respondents to comment on the petition and file the same with the Court of Appeals within ten (10) days from notice. In the meantime, the Court issued a temporary restraining order, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from it, ordering the respondents: (1) Judge Manuel Jn. Serapio, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 127, Caloocan City to cease and desist from exercising jurisdiction over the case for declaration of nullity of the cease and desist order issued by the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA); and (2) City Mayor of Caloocan and/or the City Government of Caloocan to cease and desist from dumping its garbage at the Tala Estate, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City. Respondents City Government of Caloocan and Mayor Macario A. Asistio, Jr. filed on November 12, 1992 a motion for reconsideration and/or to quash/recall the temporary restraining order and an urgent motion for reconsideration alleging that ". . . in view of the calamitous situation that would arise if the respondent city government fails to collect 350 tons of garbage daily for lack of dumpsite (i)t is therefore, imperative that the issue be resolved with dispatch or with sufficient leeway to allow the respondents to find alternative solutions to this garbage problem." On November 17, 1992, the Court issued a Resolution 13 directing the Court of Appeals to immediately set the case for hearing for the purpose of determining whether or not the temporary restraining order issued by the Court should be lifted and what conditions, if any, may be required if it is to be so lifted or whether the restraining order should be maintained or converted into a preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals set the case for hearing on November 27, 1992, at 10:00 in the morning at the Hearing Room, 3rd Floor, New Building, Court of Appeals. 14 After the oral argument, a conference was set on December 8, 1992 at 10:00 o'clock in the morning where the Mayor of Caloocan City, the General Manager of LLDA, the Secretary of DENR or his duly authorized representative and the Secretary of DILG or his duly authorized representative were required to appear.

It was agreed at the conference that the LLDA had until December 15, 1992 to finish its study and review of respondent's technical plan with respect to the dumping of its garbage and in the event of a rejection of respondent's technical plan or a failure of settlement, the parties will submit within 10 days from notice their respective memoranda on the merits of the case, after which the petition shall be deemed submitted for resolution. 15 Notwithstanding such efforts, the parties failed to settle the dispute. On April 30, 1993, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision holding that: (1) the Regional Trial Court has no jurisdiction on appeal to try, hear and decide the action for annulment of LLDA's cease and desist order, including the issuance of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in relation thereto, since appeal therefrom is within the exclusive and appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals under Section 9, par. (3), of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129; and (2) the Laguna Lake Development Authority has no power and authority to issue a cease and desist order under its enabling law, Republic Act No. 4850, as amended by P.D. No. 813 and Executive Order No. 927, series of 1983. The Court of Appeals thus dismissed Civil Case No. 15598 and the preliminary injunction issued in the said case was set aside; the cease and desist order of LLDA was likewise set aside and the temporary restraining order enjoining the City Mayor of Caloocan and/or the City Government of Caloocan to cease and desist from dumping its garbage at the Tala Estate, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City was lifted, subject, however, to the condition that any future dumping of garbage in said area, shall be in conformity with the procedure and protective works contained in the proposal attached to the records of this case and found on pages 152-160 of the Rollo, which was thereby adopted by reference and made an integral part of the decision, until the corresponding restraining and/or injunctive relief is granted by the proper Court upon LLDA's institution of the necessary legal proceedings. Hence, the Laguna Lake Development Authority filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, now docketed as G.R. No. 110120, with prayer that the temporary restraining order lifted by the Court of Appeals be re-issued until after final determination by this Court of the issue on the proper interpretation of the powers and authority of the LLDA under its enabling law. On July, 19, 1993, the Court issued a temporary restraining order 16 enjoining the City Mayor of Caloocan and/or the City Government of Caloocan to cease and desist from dumping its garbage at the Tala Estate, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City, effective as of this date and containing until otherwise ordered by the Court. It is significant to note that while both parties in this case agree on the need to protect the environment and to maintain the ecological balance of the surrounding areas of the Camarin open dumpsite, the question as to which agency can lawfully exercise jurisdiction over the matter remains highly open to question. The City Government of Caloocan claims that it is within its power, as a local government unit, pursuant to the general welfare provision of the Local Government Code, 17 to determine the effects of the operation of the dumpsite on the ecological balance and to see that such balance is maintained. On the basis of said contention, it questioned, from the inception of the dispute before the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, the power and authority of the LLDA to issue a cease and desist order enjoining the dumping of garbage in the Barangay Camarin over which the City Government of Caloocan has territorial jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals sustained the position of the City of Caloocan on the theory that Section 7 of Presidential Decree No. 984, otherwise known as the Pollution Control law, authorizing the defunct National Pollution Control Commission to issue an ex-parte cease and desist order was not incorporated in Presidential Decree No. 813 nor in Executive Order No. 927, series of 1983. The Court of Appeals ruled that under Section 4, par. (d), of Republic Act No. 4850, as amended, the LLDA is instead required "to institute the necessary legal proceeding against any person who shall commence to implement or continue implementation of any project, plan or program within the Laguna de Bay region without previous clearance from the Authority." The LLDA now assails, in this partition for review, the abovementioned ruling of the Court of Appeals, contending that, as an administrative agency which was granted regulatory and adjudicatory powers and functions by Republic Act No. 4850 and its amendatory laws, Presidential Decree No. 813 and Executive Order No. 927, series of 1983, it is invested with the power and authority to issue a cease and desist order pursuant to Section 4 par. (c), (d),

(e), (f) and (g) of Executive Order No. 927 series of 1983 which provides, thus: Sec. 4. Additional Powers and Functions. The authority shall have the following powers and functions: xxx xxx xxx

(c) Issue orders or decisions to compel compliance with the provisions of this Executive Order and its implementing rules and regulations only after proper notice and hearing. (d) Make, alter or modify orders requiring the discontinuance of pollution specifying the conditions and the time within which such discontinuance must be accomplished. (e) Issue, renew, or deny permits, under such conditions as it may determine to be reasonable, for the prevention and abatement of pollution, for the discharge of sewage, industrial waste, or for the installation or operation of sewage works and industrial disposal system or parts thereof. (f) After due notice and hearing, the Authority may also revoke, suspend or modify any permit issued under this Order whenever the same is necessary to prevent or abate pollution. (g) Deputize in writing or request assistance of appropriate government agencies or instrumentalities for the purpose of enforcing this Executive Order and its implementing rules and regulations and the orders and decisions of the Authority. The LLDA claims that the appellate court deliberately suppressed and totally disregarded the above provisions of Executive Order No. 927, series of 1983, which granted administrative quasi-judicial functions to LLDA on pollution abatement cases. In light of the relevant environmental protection laws cited which are applicable in this case, and the corresponding overlapping jurisdiction of government agencies implementing these laws, the resolution of the issue of whether or not the LLDA has the authority and power to issue an order which, in its nature and effect was injunctive, necessarily requires a determination of the threshold question: Does the Laguna Lake Development Authority, under its Charter and its amendatory laws, have the authority to entertain the complaint against the dumping of garbage in the open dumpsite in Barangay Camarin authorized by the City Government of Caloocan which is allegedly endangering the health, safety, and welfare of the residents therein and the sanitation and quality of the water in the area brought about by exposure to pollution caused by such open garbage dumpsite? The matter of determining whether there is such pollution of the environment that requires control, if not prohibition, of the operation of a business establishment is essentially addressed to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the DENR which, by virtue of Section 16 of Executive Order No. 192, series of 1987, 18 has assumed the powers and functions of the defunct National Pollution Control Commission created under Republic Act No. 3931. Under said Executive Order, a Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) under the Office of the DENR Secretary now assumes the powers and functions of the National Pollution Control Commission with respect to adjudication of pollution cases. 19 As a general rule, the adjudication of pollution cases generally pertains to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB), except in cases where the special law provides for another forum. It must be recognized in this regard that the LLDA, as a specialized administrative agency, is specifically mandated under Republic Act No. 4850 and its amendatory laws to carry out and make effective the declared national policy 20 of promoting and accelerating the development and balanced growth of the Laguna Lake area and the surrounding provinces of Rizal and Laguna and the cities of San Pablo, Manila, Pasay, Quezon and Caloocan 21 with due regard and adequate provisions for environmental management and control, preservation of the quality of human life and ecological systems, and the prevention of undue ecological disturbances, deterioration and pollution. Under such a broad grant and power and authority, the LLDA, by virtue of its special charter, obviously has the responsibility to protect the inhabitants of the Laguna Lake region from the deleterious effects of pollutants emanating from the discharge of wastes from the surrounding areas. In carrying out the aforementioned declared policy, the LLDA is mandated, among others, to pass upon and approve or disapprove all plans, programs, and projects proposed by local government offices/agencies within the region, public corporations, and

private persons or enterprises where such plans, programs and/or projects are related to those of the LLDA for the development of the region. 22 In the instant case, when the complainant Task Force Camarin Dumpsite of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City, filed its letter-complaint before the LLDA, the latter's jurisdiction under its charter was validly invoked by complainant on the basis of its allegation that the open dumpsite project of the City Government of Caloocan in Barangay Camarin was undertaken without a clearance from the LLDA, as required under Section 4, par. (d), of Republic Act. No. 4850, as amended by P.D. No. 813 and Executive Order No. 927. While there is also an allegation that the said project was without an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the DENR, the primary jurisdiction of the LLDA over this case was recognized by the Environmental Management Bureau of the DENR when the latter acted as intermediary at the meeting among the representatives of the City Government of Caloocan, Task Force Camarin Dumpsite and LLDA sometime in July 1992 to discuss the possibility of re-opening the open dumpsite. Having thus resolved the threshold question, the inquiry then narrows down to the following issue: Does the LLDA have the power and authority to issue a "cease and desist" order under Republic Act No. 4850 and its amendatory laws, on the basis of the facts presented in this case, enjoining the dumping of garbage in Tala Estate, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City. The irresistible answer is in the affirmative. The cease and desist order issued by the LLDA requiring the City Government of Caloocan to stop dumping its garbage in the Camarin open dumpsite found by the LLDA to have been done in violation of Republic Act No. 4850, as amended, and other relevant environment laws, 23 cannot be stamped as an unauthorized exercise by the LLDA of injunctive powers. By its express terms, Republic Act No. 4850, as amended by P.D. No. 813 and Executive Order No. 927, series of 1983, authorizes the LLDA to "make, alter or modify order requiring the discontinuance or pollution." 24 (Emphasis supplied) Section 4, par. (d) explicitly authorizes the LLDA to make whatever order may be necessary in the exercise of its jurisdiction. To be sure, the LLDA was not expressly conferred the power "to issue and exparte cease and desist order" in a language, as suggested by the City Government of Caloocan, similar to the express grant to the defunct National Pollution Control Commission under Section 7 of P.D. No. 984 which, admittedly was not reproduced in P.D. No. 813 and E.O. No. 927, series of 1983. However, it would be a mistake to draw therefrom the conclusion that there is a denial of the power to issue the order in question when the power "to make, alter or modify orders requiring the discontinuance of pollution" is expressly and clearly bestowed upon the LLDA by Executive Order No. 927, series of 1983. Assuming arguendo that the authority to issue a "cease and desist order" were not expressly conferred by law, there is jurisprudence enough to the effect that the rule granting such authority need not necessarily be express. 25 While it is a fundamental rule that an administrative agency has only such powers as are expressly granted to it by law, it is likewise a settled rule that an administrative agency has also such powers as are necessarily implied in the exercise of its express powers. 26 In the exercise, therefore, of its express powers under its charter as a regulatory and quasi-judicial body with respect to pollution cases in the Laguna Lake region, the authority of the LLDA to issue a "cease and desist order" is, perforce, implied. Otherwise, it may well be reduced to a "toothless" paper agency. In this connection, it must be noted that in Pollution Adjudication Board v. Court of Appeals, et al., 27 the Court ruled that the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) has the power to issue an ex-parte cease and desist order when there is prima facie evidence of an establishment exceeding the allowable standards set by the anti-pollution laws of the country. The ponente, Associate Justice Florentino P. Feliciano, declared: 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 immediate response to the demands of "the necessities of protecting vital public interests" gives vitality to the statement on ecology embodied in the Declaration of Principles and State Policies or the 1987 Constitution. Article II, Section 16 which provides: 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. As a constitutionally guaranteed right of every person, it carries the correlative duty of non-impairment. This is but in consonance with the declared policy of the state "to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them." 28 It is to be borne in mind that the Philippines is party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Alma Conference Declaration of 1978 which recognize health as a fundamental human right. 29 The issuance, therefore, of the cease and desist order by the LLDA, as a practical matter of procedure under the circumstances of the case, is a proper exercise of its power and authority under its charter and its amendatory laws. Had the cease and desist order issued by the LLDA been complied with by the City Government of Caloocan as it did in the first instance, no further legal steps would have been necessary. The charter of LLDA, Republic Act No. 4850, as amended, instead of conferring upon the LLDA the means of directly enforcing such orders, has provided under its Section 4 (d) the power to institute "necessary legal proceeding against any person who shall commence to implement or continue implementation of any project, plan or program within the Laguna de Bay region without previous clearance from the LLDA." Clearly, said provision was designed to invest the LLDA with sufficiently broad powers in the regulation of all projects initiated in the Laguna Lake region, whether by the government or the private sector, insofar as the implementation of these projects is concerned. It was meant to deal with cases which might possibly arise where decisions or orders issued pursuant to the exercise of such broad powers may not be obeyed, resulting in the thwarting of its laudabe objective. To meet such contingencies, then the writs of mandamus and injunction which are beyond the power of the LLDA to issue, may be sought from the proper courts. Insofar as the implementation of relevant anti-pollution laws in the Laguna Lake region and its surrounding provinces, cities and towns are concerned, the Court will not dwell further on the related issues raised which are more appropriately addressed to an administrative agency with the special knowledge and expertise of the LLDA. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The temporary restraining order issued by the Court on July 19, 1993 enjoining the City Mayor of Caloocan and/or the City Government of Caloocan from dumping their garbage at the Tala Estate, Barangay Camarin, Caloocan City is hereby made permanent.

Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Pollution Adjudication Board, petitioner, vs. Marcopper Mining Corporation, respondent. (G.R. No. 137174 | July 10, 2000) GONZAGA-REYES, J.: In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioner REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES through the Pollution Adjudication Board of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources seeks to annul the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals[2] in CA-G.R. SP No. 44656 setting aside the Order[3] of the Pollution Adjudication Board[4] in DENR-PAB Case No. 04-00597-96; as well as the Resolution[5] denying reconsideration of said Decision. The following antecedent facts are undisputed: Respondent Marcopper Mining Corporation (MMC) was issued a temporary permit to operate a tailings[6] sea disposal system under TPO No. POW-85454-EJ for the period October 31, 1985 to October 21, 1986. Before it expired, MMC filed an application for the renewal thereof with the National Pollution Control Commission (NPCC). On September 20, 1986, MMC received a telegraphic order from the NPCC directing the former to (i)mmediately cease and desist from discharging mine tailings into Calancan Bay. The directive was brought about through the efforts of certain religious groups which had been protesting MMCs tailings sea disposal system. MMC requested the NPCC to refrain from implementing the aforesaid directive until its adoption of an alternative tailings disposal system. The NPCC granted MMCs request and called a conference to discuss possible alternative disposal systems. Consequently, an Environmental Technical Committee, composed of representatives from the NPCC, the Bureau of Mines and GeoSciences, and MMC was created to study the feasibility of various tailings disposal systems that may be appropriate for utilization by MMC and to submit its findings and recommendations thereon. Meanwhile, after the expiration of MMCs TPO No. POW-85-454-EJ on October 21, 1986, the NPCC issued to MMC a new temporary permit, TPO No. POW-86-454-EJ dated November 11, 1986, to expire on February 10, 1987, with the condition that [t]he tailings disposal system shall be transferred to San Antonio Pond within two (2) months from the date of this permit. MMC moved for the deletion of the condition stating that it needed to develop and mine the ore deposits underneath the San Antonio pond for it to continue its mining operations. In a letter-manifestation dated February 5, 1987, MMC requested the NPCC for an extension of TPO No. POW-86454-EJ and the indefinite suspension of the condition in said permit until such time that the NPCC shall have finally resolved the NPCC case entitled Msgr. Rolly Oliverio, et al. vs. Marcopper Mining Corporation. In the meantime, the NPCC was abolished by Executive Order No. 192[7] dated June 10, 1987, and its powers and functions were integrated into the Environmental Management Bureau and into the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB).[8] On April 11, 1988, the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, in his capacity as Chairman of the PAB, issued an Order directing MMC to cease and desist from discharging mine tailings into Calancan Bay. The order reads: The Temporary Permit to Operate issued to Marcopper Mining Corporation expired on February 10, 1987. Section 96 of the National Pollution Control Commission (NPCC) Rules and Regulations, which were adopted by the Board, provides that in no case can a permit be valid for more than one (1) year. Records show that Marcopper Mining Corporation has not filed any application for renewal of the permit. Marcopper Mining Corporation is hereby ordered to cease and desist from discharging mine tailings into Calancan Bay immediately upon receipt of this Order. SO ORDERED.[9] Immediately thereafter, the DENR Undersecretary for Environment and Research issued a telegraphic order dated April 15, 1988, enjoining immediate compliance by MMC of the cease and desist order of April 11, 1988. MMC appealed the above orders of April 11, 1988 and April 15, 1988 to the Office of the President, docketed as O.P. Case No. 3802. In an Order dated

May 2, 1988, the Office of the President denied MMCs requests for issuance of restraining orders against the orders of the PAB. Consequently, MMC filed an Urgent Ex-Parte Partial Motion for Reconsideration dated May 6, 1988, seeking the reconsideration of the above Order. In an Order dated May 13, 1988, the Office of the President granted the above partial motion for reconsideration, thus: WHEREFORE, the instant Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED, and the Order of this Office, dated May 2, 1988, is hereby set aside insofar as it denies respondent-appellants requests for issuance of restraining orders. Accordingly, the Pollution Adjudication Board, its agents, deputies or representatives are hereby enjoined from enforcing its cease and desist order of April 15, 1988 pending resolution by this Office of respondent-appellants appeal from said orders. It is further directed that the status quo obtaining prior to the issuance of said cease and desist order be maintained until further orders from this Office. It is understood, however, that during the efficacy of this restraining order, respondent-appellant shall immediately undertake, at a cost of not less than P30,000.00 a day, the building of artificial reefs and planting of sea grass, mangroves and vegetation on the causeway of Calancan Bay under the supervision of the Pollution Adjudication Board and subject to such guidelines as the Board may impose. SO ORDERED.[10] In line with the directive from the Office of the President, the Calancan Bay Rehabilitation Project (CBRP) was created, and MMC remitted the amount of P30,000.00 a day, starting from May 13, 1988 to the Ecology Trust Fund (ETF) thereof. However, on June 30, 1991, MMC stopped discharging its tailings in the Bay, hence, it likewise ceased from making further deposits to the ETF. From the issuance of the Order on May 13, 1988 until the cessation of the tailings disposal on June 30, 1991, MMC made its contribution to the ETF in the total amount of Thirty-Two Million Nine Hundred and Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (P32,975,000.00). Thereafter, MMC filed a Motion dated July 9, 1991 manifesting that it would discontinue its contributions/deposits to the ETF since it had stopped dumping tailings in the Bay. MMC prayed that the Order issued by the Office of the President on May 13, 1988 be lifted. On February 5, 1993, the Office of the President rendered a decision in O.P. Case No. 3802 dismissing the appeal; affirming the cease and desist Order issued by the PAB; and lifting the TRO dated May 13, 1988. The Office of the President resolved the appeal in this wise: This brings to the fore the primordial issue of whether or not the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources gravely erred in declaring the TPO No. POW-86-454-EJ issued to respondent-appellant MMC expired on February 10, 1987, and in ordering the latter to cease and desist from discharging mine tailings into Calancan Bay. Respondent-appellant argues that the cease and desist orders were issued by the PAB ex-parte, in violation of its procedural and substantive rights provided for under Section 7 (a) of P.D. No. 984 requiring a public hearing before any order or decision for the discontinuance of discharge of a sewage or industrial wastes into the water, air or land could be issued by the PAB. We are not persuaded. Section 7(a) of P.D. No. 984, reads in part: Sec. 7(a) Public Hearing. Public hearing shall be conducted by the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner or any senior official duly designated by the Commissioner prior to issuance or promulgation of any order or decision by the Commissioner requiring the discontinuance of discharge of sewage, industrial wastes and other wastes into the water, air or land resources of the Philippines as provided in the Decree: provided, that whenever the Commission finds a 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. x x x . (underscoring supplied). Clearly then, it is self-indulgent nonsense to assume that the DENR Secretary, acting as PAB Chairman, is absolutely without authority to issue an ex-parte order requiring the discontinuance of discharge of sewage or other industrial wastes without public hearing. As can be gleaned from the afroequoted proviso, this authority to issue an ex-parte order suspending the discharge of industrial wastes is postulated upon his finding of prima-facie evidence of an imminent threat to life, public health, safety or welfare, to animal or plant life or exceeds the allowable standards set by the Commission.[11] In a letter dated January 22, 1997[12], Municipal Mayor Wilfredo A. Red of Sta. Cruz, Marinduque informed the PAB that MMC stopped remitting the amount of 30,000.00 per day as of July 1, 1991 to the ETF of the CBRP. This letter-complaint of Mayor Red was docketed as DENR-PAB Case No. 04-00597-96, for violation of P.D. 984[13] and its implementing Rules and Regulations. In an order dated April 23, 1997, the PAB ruled that the obligation of MMC to deposit P30,000.00 per day to the ETF of the CBRP subsists, as provided for in the Order of the Office of the President dated May 13, 1988, during the efficacy of said order restraining the PAB from enforcing its cease and desist order against MMC. Since the Order was lifted only on February 5, 1993, the obligation of MMC to remit was likewise extinguished only on said date and not earlier as contended by MMC from the time it ceased dumping tailings into the Bay on July 1, 1991. We quote in part: The issue before this Board is whether Marcopper Mining Corporation is still obliged to remit the amount of P30,000.00 to the CBRP. The answer by the Order from the Office of the President dated 13 May 1988, which states that the obligation on the part of Marcopper Mining to pay the amount of P30,000.00 per day for the rehabilitation of Calancan Bay is binding only during the efficacy of the said Order. The record further shows that on 05 February 1993, the Office of the President lifted its Order dated 13 May 1988. This means that as of the date of the lifting, Marcopper Mining Corporation no longer had any obligation to remit the amount of P30,000.00 to the CBRP. Thus, Marcoppers obligation only runs from 13 May 1988 to 05 February 1993. Beyond the cut-off date of 05 February 1993, Marcopper is no longer obligated to remit the amount of P30,000.00 per day to the CBRP. It does not matter whether Marcopper was no longer dumping its tail minings into the sea even before the cut-off date of 05 February 1993. The obligation of Marcopper to pay the amount of P30,000.00 to the CBRP arises from the Office of the President Order dated 13 May 1988, not from it dumping of mine tailings. WHEREFORE, Marcopper Mining Corporation is hereby ordered to pay the CBRP the amount of P30,000.00 per day, computed from the date Marcopper Mining Corporation stopped paying on 01 July 1991, up to the formal lifting of the subject Order from the Office of the President on 05 February 1993. SO ORDERED.[14] MMC assailed the aforequoted Order dated April 23, 1997 of the PAB as null and void for having been issued without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in a petition for Certiorari and Prohibition (with prayer for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction) before the Court of Appeals which was docketed as CA-G.R. No. SP-44656. In a Resolution dated July 15, 1997, the Court of Appeals required the PAB and its members to comment on said petition. On November 19, 1997, the Office of the Solicitor General, on behalf of the PAB and its members, filed with the Court of Appeals the required comment. On September 15, 1997, for purposes of determining whether or not to grant MMCs prayer for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, the Court of Appeals conducted a hearing where counsel for the parties were heard on oral arguments. In a Resolution dated September 19, 1997, the Court of Appeals issued a writ of preliminary injunction, conditioned upon the filing of a bond by MMC in the amount of P500,000.00 enjoining the PAB and its members to cease and desist from enforcing the assailed Order dated April 23, 1997, until it had made a full determination on the merits of the case.

On January 7, 1998, the Court of Appeals promulgated a Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 44656, the dispositive portion of which reads: In view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED and, accordingly, the questioned Order of respondent Pollution Adjudication Board dated 23 April 1997 is hereby SET ASIDE. Respondents are ordered to REFRAIN and DESIST from enforcing aforesaid Order. The injunctive bond filed by the petitioner in the amount of Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) is hereby RELEASED. The motion for reconsideration of the above decision was denied in a Resolution dated January 13, 1999 of the Court of Appeals. Hence, the instant petition on the following grounds: I The Court of Appeals erred in ruling that Republic Act No. 7942 (otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995) repealed the provisions of Republic Act No. 3931, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 984, (otherwise known as the National Pollution Control Decree of 1976), with respect to the power and function of petitioner Pollution Adjudication Board to issue, renew or deny permits for the discharge of the mine tailings. II Respondent Marcopper Mining Corporation bound itself to pay the amount of P30,000.00 a day for the duration of the period starting May 13, 1988 up to February 5, 1993. III Respondent Marcopper Mining Corporation was not deprived of due process of law when petitioner Pollution Adjudication Board directed it to comply with its long-existing P30,000.00 per day obligation under the Order of the Office of the President dated May 13, 1988.[15] In setting aside the Order of the PAB dated April 23, 1997, requiring MMC to pay its arrears in deposits, the Court of Appeals ruled that the PAB exceeded its power and authority in issuing the subject Order for the following reasons: The applicable and governing law in this petition is Republic Act No. 7942 otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (Mining Act, approved on March 3, 1995). Chapter XI of the Mining Act contains a series of provisions relating to safety and environmental protection on mining and quarrying operations. More specifically, Section 67 of the Mining Act in essence, grants the mines regional director the power to issue orders or to take appropriate measures to remedy any practice connected with mining or quarrying operations which is not in accordance with safety and anti-pollution laws and regulations. From a reading of that provision, it would appear therefore that prior to the passage of the Mining Act, the Pollution Adjudication Board had jurisdiction to act on pollution-related matters in the mining business. With the effectivity of the Mining Act and in congruence with its Sec. 115 (i.e., Repealing and Amending Clause), the power to impose measures against violations of environmental policies by mining operators is now vested on the mines regional director. Be that as it may, we are constrained to enunciate that the PAB had no authority to issue the challenged Order dated 23 April 1997. More so, respondent PAB as petitioner argued and We note, had remained perplexingly silent on the matter for almost six (6) years from July 1991 when MMC ceased to make its deposits up to April 1997 when respondent PAB precipitately issued the Order requiring MMC to pay its arrears in deposits to the ETF. And PAB, apparently oblivious to MMCs economic quandary had issued said Order ex-parte without hearing or notice. x x x As a general rule, the adjudication of pollution cases pertains to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB), except in cases where the special law, expressly or impliedly, provides for another forum, as in the instant petition. Thus under Republic Act No. 7942 and its implementing rules and regulations, the mines regional director, in consultation with the Environmental Management Bureau (italics ours), is specifically mandated to carry out and make effective the declared national policy that the State shall promote the rational exploration, development, utilization and conservation of

all mineral resources in public and private lands within the territory and exclusive economic zone of the Republic of the Philippines, through the combined efforts of government and the private sector in order to enhance national growth and protect the rights of affected communities. (Sec. 2, R.A. 7942). Under this expansive authority, the Mines Regional Director, by virtue of this special law, has the primary responsibility to protect the communities surrounding a mining site from the deleterious effects of pollutants emanating from the dumping of tailing wastes from the surrounding areas. Thus, in the exercise of its express powers under this special law, the authority of the Mines Regional Director to impose appropriate protective and/or preventive measures with respect to pollution cases within mining operations is perforce, implied. Otherwise, the special law granting this authority may well be relegated to a mere paper tiger talking protection but allowing pollution. It bears mention that the Pollution Adjudication Board has the power to issue an ex-parte order when there is prima facie evidence of an establishment exceeding the allowable standards set by the anti-pollution laws of the country. (Pollution Adjudication Board v. Court of Appeals, et al., 195 SCRA 112). However, with the passage of R.A. 7942, insofar as the regulation, monitoring and enforcement of anti-pollution laws are concerned with respect to mining establishments, the Mines Regional Director has a broad grant of power and authority. Clearly, pollution-related issues in mining operations are addressed to the Mines Regional Director, not the Pollution Adjudication Board. This being the case, the questioned Order dated 23 April 1997 requiring MMC to pay its arrears in deposits was beyond the power and authority of the Pollution Adjudication Board to issue and as such, petitioner may seek appropriate injunctive relief from the court. Thus, certiorari lies against public respondent PAB.[16] The Court of Appeals likewise ruled that the obligation of MMC to contribute to the ETF of the CBRP ceased inasmuch as the latter discontinued dumping tailings into the Bay and the actual funds in the ETF are sufficient to rehabilitate the Bay. It ratiocinated thus: In the instant case, it is of record that petitioner MMC undertakes its obligation to provide for the rehabilitation of the Bay waters. This obligation, through its monetary contribution to the ETF, is however anchored on its continuing disposal of the mines tailings waste into the Bay. Hence, since it ceased its mining operations in the affected area as of July 1991 and had not been discharging any tailings wastes since then, its consequent duty to rehabilitate the polluted waters, if any, no longer exists. x x x Be that as it may, this Court observes that out of the approximate sum of thirty-two (32) million pesos contributed by the petitioner to the ETF there is admittedly an existing estimated balance of fourteen (14) million pesos in the Fund. For its part, petitioner does not renege on its obligation to rehabilitate and in fact undertakes to continue the rehabilitation process until its completion within two (2) years time and which would only cost six (6) million pesos. Thus, as petitioner convincingly argued and which respondent unsatisfactorily rebuked, the existing fourteen (14) million pesos in the ETF is more than enough to complete the rehabilitation project. (TSN, Hearing dated 15 September 1997, at pp. 56 to 62, Rollo). xxx. Without much ado, the Court concurs with the finding that to demand a daily deposit of thirty thousand (P30, 000.00) pesos even if the root of the obligation, that is, the dumping of tailings waste, had ceased to exist, is indubitably of a herculean and onerous burden on the part of petitioner amounting to a deprivation of its property and a denial of its right to due process.[17] Unsatisfied, the OSG argues that the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 did not amend or repeal the provisions of Republic Act No. 3931, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 984 (otherwise known as the National Pollution Control Decree of 1976); that the Mines Regional Director has no power over areas outside mining installations and over areas which are not part of the mining or quarrying operations such as Calancan Bay; that the powers of the Mines Regional Director cannot be exercised to the exclusion of other government agencies; that the jurisdiction of a Mines Regional Director with respect to anti-pollution laws is limited to practices committed within the confines of a mining or quarrying installation; that the dumping of mine tailings into Calancan Bay occurred long before the effectivity of the Philippine Mining Act and that MMC cannot hide under cover of this new

law. The OSG further argues that the portion of the Order of May 13, 1988, setting the period of time within which MMC shall pay P30,000.00 per day, which is during the efficacy of the restraining order was never questioned or appealed by MMC. Finally, the OSG argues that PAB did not violate MMCs right to due process by the issuance of the Order dated April 23, 1988 without notice and hearing as it was simply requiring MMC to comply with an obligation in an Order which has long become final and executory. In the context of the established facts, the issue that actually emerges is: Has the PAB under RA 3931 as amended by PD 984 (National Pollution Control Decree of 1976) been divested of its authority to try and hear pollution cases connected with mining operations by virtue of the subsequent enactment of RA 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995)? As mentioned earlier, the PAB took cognizance and ruled on the letter-complaint (for violation of PD 984 and its implementing rules and regulations) filed against MMC by Marinduque Mayor Wilfredo Red. In the subject Order dated April 23, 1997, the PAB ruled that MMC should pay its arrears in deposits to the ETF of the CBRP computed from the day it stopped dumping and paying on July 1, 1991 up to the lifting of the Order of the Office of the President dated May 13, 1988 on February 5, 1993. The answer is in the negative. We agree with the Solicitor General that the Court of Appeals committed reversible error in ruling that the PAB had no authority to issue the Order dated April 23, 1997. Republic Act No. 3931 (An Act Creating The National Water And Air Pollution Control Commission) was passed in June 18, 1964 to maintain reasonable standards of purity for the waters and air of the country with their utilization for domestic, agricultural, industrial and other legitimate purposes. Said law was revised in 1976 by Presidential Decree No. 984 (Providing For The Revision Of Republic Act No. 3931, Commonly Known As The Pollution Control Law, And For Other Purposes) to strengthen the National Pollution Control Commission to best protect the people from the growing menace of environmental pollution. Subsequently, Executive Order No. 192, s. 1987 (The Reorganization Act of the DENR) was passed. The internal structure, organization and description of the functions of the new DENR, particularly the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, reveals no provision pertaining to the resolution of cases involving violations of the pollution laws.[18] The Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau was created under the said EO 192 to absorb the functions of the abolished Bureau of Mines and Geo-Sciences, Mineral Reservations Development Board and the Gold Mining Industry Development Board to, among others, recommend policies, regulations and programs pertaining to mineral resources development; assist in the monitoring and evaluation of the Bureaus programs and projects; and to develop and promulgate standards and operating procedures on mineral resources development.[19] On the other hand, the PAB was created and granted under the same EO 192 broad powers to adjudicate pollution cases in general. Thus, SEC. 19. Pollution Adjudication Board. There is hereby created a Pollution Adjudication Board under the Office of the Secretary. The Board shall be composed of the Secretary as Chairman, two (2) Undersecretaries as may be designated by the Secretary, the Director of Environmental management, and three (3) others to be designated by the Secretary as members. The Board shall assume the powers and functions of the Commission/Commissioners of the National Pollution Control Commission with respect to the adjudication of pollution cases under Republic Act 3931 and Presidential Decree 984, particularly with respect to Section 6 letters e, f, g, j, k, and p of P.D. 984. The Environmental Management Bureau shall serve as the Secretariat of the Board. These powers and functions may be delegated to the regional offices of the Department in accordance with rules and regulations to be promulgated by the Board.[20] Section 6 letters e, f, g, j, k, and p of PD 984 referred to above are quoted as follows: SEC. 6. Powers and Functions. The Commission shall have the following powers and functions: (e) Issue orders or decision to compel compliance with the provisions of this Decree and its implementing rules and regulations only after proper notice and hearing. (f) Make, alter or modify orders requiring the discontinuance of pollution specifying the conditions and the time within which such discontinuance must be accomplished.

(g) Issue, renew, or deny permits, under such conditions as it may determine to be reasonable, for the prevention and abatement of pollution, for the discharge of sewage, industrial waste, or for the installation or operation of sewage works and industrial disposal system or parts thereof: Provided, however, That the Commission, by rules and regulations, may require subdivisions, condominium, hospitals, public buildings and other similar human settlements to put up appropriate central sewerage system and sewage treatment works, except that no permits shall be required to any sewage works or changes to or extensions of existing works that discharge only domestic or sanitary wastes from a singles residential building provided with septic tanks or their equivalent. The Commission may impose reasonable fees and charges for the issuance or renewal of all permits required herein. (h) (i) (j) Serve as arbitrator for the determination of reparations, or restitution of the damages and losses resulting from pollution. (k) Deputize in writing or request assistance of appropriate government agencies or instrumentalities for the purpose of enforcing this Decree and its implementing rules and regulations and the orders and decisions of the Commission. (l) (m) (n) (o) (p) Exercise such powers and perform such other functions as may be necessary to carry out its duties and responsibilities under this Decree. Section 7(a) of P.D. No. 984 further provides in part: Sec. 7(a) Public Hearing. Public hearing shall be conducted by the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner or any senior official duly designated by the Commissioner prior to issuance or promulgation of any order or decision by the Commissioner requiring the discontinuance of discharge of sewage, industrial wastes and other wastes into the water, air or land resources of the Philippines as provided in the Decree: provided, that whenever the Commission finds a 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 and 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. x x x . (underscoring supplied). The ruling of the Court of Appeals that the PAB has been divested of authority to act on pollution-related matters in mining operations is anchored on the following provisions of RA 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995): SEC. 67. Power to Issue Orders. The mines regional director shall, in consultation with the Environmental Management Bureau, forthwith or within such time as specified in his order, require the contractor to remedy any practice connected with mining or quarrying operations, which is not in accordance with safety and anti-pollution laws and regulations. In case of imminent danger to life or property, the mines regional director may summarily suspend the mining or quarrying operations until the danger is removed, or appropriate measures are taken by the contractor or permittee. And SEC. 115. Repealing and Amending Clause. All laws, executive orders, presidential decrees, rules and regulations, or parts thereof which are inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or amended accordingly. The other provisions in Chapter XI on Safety and Environmental Protection found in RA 7942 promote the safe and sanitary upkeep of mining areas to achieve waste-free and efficient mine development with particular concern for the physical and social rehabilitation of areas and communities affected by

mining activities[21], without however, arrogating unto the mines regional director any adjudicative responsibility. From a careful reading of the foregoing provisions of law, we hold that the provisions of RA 7942 do not necessarily repeal RA 3931, as amended by PD 984 and EO 192. RA 7942 does not contain any provision which categorically and expressly repeals the provisions of the Pollution Control Law. Neither could there be an implied repeal. It is well-settled that repeals of laws by implication are not favored and that courts must generally assume their congruent application. Thus, it has been held: The two laws must be absolutely incompatible, and a clear finding thereof must surface, before the inference of implied repeal may be drawn. The rule is expressed in the maxim, interpretare et concordare leqibus est optimus interpretendi, i.e., every statute must be so interpreted and brought into accord with other laws aas to form a uniform system of jurisprudence. The fundament is that the legislature should be presumed to have known the existing laws on the subject and not have enacted conflicting statutes. Hence, all doubts must be resolved against any implied repeal, and all efforts should be exerted in order to harmonize and give effect to all laws on the subject.[22] There is no irreconcilable conflict between the two laws. Section 19 of EO 192 vested the PAB with the specific power to adjudicate pollution cases in general. Sec. 2, par. (a) of PD 984 defines the term pollution as referring to any alteration of the physical, chemical and biological properties of any water, air and/or land resources of the Philippines , or any discharge thereto of any liquid, gaseous or solid wastes as will or is likely to create or to render such water, air and land resources harmful, detrimental or injurious to public health, safety or welfare or which will adversely affect their utilization for domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational or other legitimate purposes. On the other hand, the authority of the mines regional director is complementary to that of the PAB. Section 66 of RA 7942 gives the mines regional director exclusive jurisdiction over the safety inspection of all installations, surface or underground in mining operations. Section 67 thereof vests upon the regional director power to issue orders requiring a contractor to remedy any practice connected with mining or quarrying operations which is not in accordance with safety and anti-pollution laws and regulations; and to summarily suspend mining or quarrying operations in case of imminent danger to life or property. The law likewise requires every contractor to undertake an environmental protection and enhancement program which shall be incorporated in the work program which the contractor shall submit as an accompanying document to the application for a mineral agreement or permit. In addition, an environmental clearance certificate is required based on an environment impact assessment. The law also requires contractors and permittees to rehabilitate the mined-out areas, and set up a mine rehabilitation fund. Significantly, the law allows and encourages peoples organizations and non-governmental organizations to participate in ensuring that contractors/permittees shall observe all the requirements of environmental protection. From the foregoing, it readily appears that the power of the mines regional director does not foreclose PABs authority to determine and act on complaints filed before it. The power granted to the mines regional director to issue orders requiring the contractor to remedy any practice connected with mining or quarrying operations or to summarily suspend the same in cases of violation of pollution laws is for purposes of effectively regulating and monitoring activities within mining operations and installations pursuant to the environmental protection and enhancement program undertaken by contractors and permittees in procuring their mining permit. While the mines regional director has express administrative and regulatory powers over mining operations and installations, it has no adjudicative powers over complaints for violation of pollution control statutes and regulations. True, in Laguna Lake Development Authority vs. Court of Appeals,[23] this Court held that adjudication of pollution cases generally pertains to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) except where the special law provides for another forum. However, contrary to the ruling of the Court of Appeals, RA 7942 does not provide for another forum inasmuch as RA 7942 does not vest quasi-judicial powers in the Mines Regional Director. The authority is vested and remains with the PAB. Neither was such authority conferred upon the Panel of Arbitrators and the Mines Adjudication Board which were created by the said law. The provisions creating the Panel of Arbitrators for the settlement of conflicts refers to disputes involving rights to mining areas, mineral agreements or

permits and those involving surface owners, occupants and claimholders/concessionaires.[24] The scope of authority of the Panel of Arbitrators and the Mines Adjudication Board conferred by RA 7942 clearly exclude adjudicative responsibility over pollution cases. Nowhere is there vested any authority to adjudicate cases involving violations of pollution laws and regulations in general. Thus, there is no genuine conflict between RA 7942 and RA 3931 as amended by PD 984 that precludes their co-existence. Moreover, it has to be conceded that there was no intent on the part of the legislature to repeal the said law. There is nothing in the sponsorship speech[25] of the laws proponent, Representative Renato Yap, and the deliberations that followed thereafter, to indicate a legislative intent to repeal the pollution law. Instead, it appears that the legislature intended to maximize the exploration, development and utilization of the countrys mineral resources to contribute to the achievement of national economic and social development with due regard to the social and environmental cost implications relative thereto. The law intends to increase the productivity of the countrys mineral resources while at the same time assuring its sustainability through judicious use and systematic rehabilitation. Henceforth, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as the primary government agency responsible for the conservation, management, development, and proper use of the States mineral resources, through its Secretary, has the authority to enter into mineral agreements on behalf of the Government upon the recommendation of the Director, and to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of RA 7942.[26] The PAB and the Mines Regional Director, with their complementary functions and through their combined efforts, serve to accomplish the mandate of RA 3931 (National Pollution Control Decree of 1976) as amended by PD 984 and EO 192 and that of RA 7942 (Philippine Mining Act of 1995). That matter settled, we now go to the issue of whether the appellate court erred in ruling that there is no basis for further payments by MMC to the Ecology Trust Fund of the Calancan Bay Rehabilitation Project considering that MMC convincingly argued and which respondent unsatisfactorily rebuked, the existing fourteen (14) million pesos in the ETF is more than enough to complete the rehabilitation project. Indeed, the records reveal that witness for PAB, Mr. Edel Genato, who is the Technical Resource person of the PAB for the project admitted that the funds in the ETF amounting to about Fourteen Million Pesos are more than sufficient to cover the costs of rehabilitation. Hereunder are excerpts from the transcript of stenographic notes taken during the hearing held on September 15, 1997: ATTY. HERNANDEZ:[27] I would like your Honor, if the court will allow, our witness from the EBRB Your Honor would attest to that . . . JUSTICE JACINTO: Is it not being taken from the 14 million? ATTY. HERNANDEZ: Yes, Your Honor. JUSTICE RASUL: What is his role? ATTY. HERNANDEZ: He is our Technical Resource person Your Honor, of the project. JUSTICE RASUL:

Yes, Your Honor, that the Calancan rehabilitation program is being funded by Marcopper through the Ecology Trust Fund. JUSTICE RASUL: Will the construction be finished in two years time? MR. EDEL GENATO: Presently, under the Steering Committee of the Calancan Bay Rehabilitation, there is another phase that is being proposed. Actually the two years time will definitely cover the other phase of the . . (inaudible) JUSTICE RASUL: Never mind that. Will the amount be sufficient to the end of the construction? MR. EDEL GENATO: Yes, Sir. JUSTICE RASUL: Enough? MR. EDEL GENATO: Yes, Sir. JUSTICE RASUL: There is no more need for collecting the 30 thousand a day? . . . Do not . . . I will hold you for contempt . . . ATTY. HERNANDEZ: Im sorry Your Honor. JUSTICE RASUL: Again. MR. EDEL GENATO: Well Your Honor, I cannot comment on the amount Your Honor. JUSTICE RASUL: You have already made your comment, but you received some signal from your lawyer. ATTY. HERNANDEZ: Your Honor . . . MR. EDEL GENATO: No, no Your Honor. . . JUSTICE RASUL: My question is, do you agree with him that the 14 million fund will be enough to sustain the construction up to the end? MR. EDEL GENATO:

In other words, he has participated in the . . (inaudible)? Two years? ATTY. HERNANDEZ: JUSTICE RASUL: Yes, Your Honor. Yes. JUSTICE RASUL: MR. EDEL GENATO: Do you agree with him? Your Honor. . . MR. EDEL GENATO: JUSTICE AMIN:

Categorical answer. JUSTICE RASUL: You just answer, is it enough, in your own honest way, on your honor? MR. EDEL GENATO: I think so Your Honor.[28] We must sustain the appellate court on this point on account of the testimony of Mr. Edel Genato. Further, we note that the Office of the President never objected nor ruled on the manifestation dated July 9, 1991 filed by MMC that it would stop paying since it already ceased dumping mine tailings into the bay. Still further, the order of the OP directing MMC to rehabilitate at a cost of P30,000.00 a day during the efficacy of the restraining order had become functus officio since MMC voluntarily stopped dumping mine tailings into the bay. To sum up, PAB has jurisdiction to act and rule on the letter-complaint of Mayor Wilfredo Red of Marinduque for violation of PD 984 and its implementing rules and regulations which jurisdiction was not lost upon the passage of RA 7942 (the Philippine Mining Act of 1995). Nevertheless, MMC must be declared not to have arrears in deposits as admittedly, the ETF already has more than sufficient funds to undertake the rehabilitation of Calancan Bay. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby partially GRANTED. The assailed Decision is REVERSED insofar as the jurisdiction of the PAB to act on the complaint is concerned; but AFFIRMED insofar as Marcopper Mining Corporation has no arrears in deposits with the Ecology Trust Fund of the Calancan Bay Rehabilitation Project.

Celestino Tatel, petitioner, vs. Municipality of Virac, Salvador A. Surtida, Gavino V. Guerrero, Jose T. Buebos,Angeles Tablizo,Elpidio T. Zafe, Mariano Alberto, Julia A. Garcia, and Pedro A. Guerrero, respondents. (G.R. No. 40243 | March 11, 1992) NOCON, J.: This is a Petition for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction with the Court of First Instance of Catanduanes filed by appellant, Celestino Tatel, a businessman engaged in the import and export of abaca and other products against the Municipal Council of Virac, Catanduanes and its municipal officials enjoining them from enforcing Resolution No 29 1 of the Council, declaring the warehouse of petitioner in barrio Sta. Elena of the said municipality a public nuisance within the purview of Article 694 of the Civil Code of the Philippines and directing the petitioner to remove and transfer said warehouse to a more suitable place within two (2) months from receipt of the said resolution. It appears from the records that on the basis of complaints received from the residents of barrio Sta. Elena on March 18, 1966 against the disturbance caused by the operation of the abaca bailing machine inside the warehouse of petitioner which affected the peace and tranquility of the neighborhood due to the smoke, obnoxious odor and dust emitted by the machine, a committee was appointed by the municipal council of Virac to investigate the matter. The committee noted the crowded nature of the neighborhood with narrow roads and the surrounding residential houses, so much so that an accidental fire within the warehouse of the petitioner occasioned by the continuance of the activity inside the warehouse and the storing of inflammable materials created a danger to the lives and properties of the people within the neighborhood. Resultantly, Resolution No. 29 was passed by the Municipal Council of Virac on April 22, 1966 declaring the warehouse owned and operated by petitioner a public nuisance within the purview of Article 694 of the New Civil Code. 2 His motion for reconsideration having been denied by the Municipal Council of Virac, petitioner instituted the present petition for prohibition with preliminary injunction. Respondent municipal officials contend that petitioner's warehouse was constructed in violation of Ordinance No. 13, series of 1952, prohibiting the construction of warehouses near a block of houses either in the poblacion or barrios without maintaining the necessary distance of 200 meters from said block of houses to avoid loss of lives and properties by accidental fire. On the other hand, petitioner contends that said ordinance is unconstitutional, contrary to the due process and equal protection clause of the Constitution and null and void for not having been passed in accordance with law. The issue then boils down on whether petitioner's warehouse is a nuisance within the meaning of Article 694 of the Civil Code and whether Ordinance No. 13, S. 1952 of the Municipality of Virac is unconstitutional and void. In a decision dated September 18, 1969, the court a quo ruled as follows: 1. The warehouse in question was legally constructed under a valid permit issued by the municipality of Virac in accordance with existing regulations and may not be destroyed or removed from its present location; 2. Ordinance No. 13, series of 1952, is a legitimate and valid exercise of police power by the Municipal Council of Virac is not (sic) unconstitutional and void as claimed by the petitioner; 3. The storage by the petitioner of abaca and copra in the warehouse is not only in violation of the provisions of the ordinance but poses a grave danger to the safety of the lives and properties of the residents of the neighborhood due to accidental fire and constitutes a public nuisance under the provisions of Article 694 of the New Civil code of the Philippines and may be abated; 4. Accordingly, the petitioner is hereby directed to remove from the said warehouse all abaca and copra and other inflammable articles stored therein which are prohibited under the provisions of Ordinance No. 13, within a period of two (2) months from the time this decision becomes final and that henceforth, the petitioner is enjoined from storing such prohibited articles in the warehouse. With costs against petitioner. Seeking appellate review, petitioner raised as errors of the court a quo:

1. In holding that Ordinance No. 13, series of 1952, of the Municipality of Virac, Catanduanes, is a legitimate and valid exercise of police power of the Municipal Council, and therefore, constitutional; 2. In giving the ordinance a meaning other than and different from what it provided by declaring that petitioner violated the same by using the warehouse for storage of abaca and copra when what is prohibited and penalized by the ordinance is the construction of warehouses. 3. In refusing to take judicial notice of the fact that in the municipality, there are numerous establishments similarly situated as appellants' warehouses but which are not prosecuted. We find no merit in the Petition. Ordinance No. 13, series of 1952, was passed by the Municipal Council of Virac in the exercise of its police power. It is a settled principle of law that municipal corporations are agencies of the State for the promotion and maintenance of local self-government and as such are endowed with the police powers in order to effectively accomplish and carry out the declared objects of their creation. 3 Its authority emanates from the general welfare clause under the Administrative Code, which reads: The municipal council shall enact such ordinances and make such regulations, not repugnant to law, as may be necessary to carry into effect and discharge the powers and duties conferred upon it by law and such as shall seem necessary and proper to provide for the health and safety, promote the prosperity, improve the morals, peace, good order, comfort and convenience of the municipality and the inhabitants thereof, and for the protection of property therein. 4 For an ordinance to be valid, it must not only be within the corporate powers of the municipality to enact but must also be passed according to the procedure prescribed by law, and must be in consonance with certain well established and basic principles of a substantive nature. These principles require that a municipal ordinance (1) must not contravene the Constitution or any statute (2) must not be unfair or oppressive (3) must not be partial or discriminatory (4) must not prohibit but may regulate trade (5) must be general and consistent with public policy, and (6) must not be unreasonable. 5 Ordinance No. 13, Series of 1952, meets these criteria. As to the petitioner's second assignment of error, the trial court did not give the ordinance in question a meaning other than what it says. Ordinance No. 13 passed by the Municipal Council of Virac on December 29, 1952, 6 reads: AN ORDINANCE STRICTLY PROHIBITING THE CONSTRUCTION OF WAREHOUSE IN ANY FORM NEAR A BLOCK OF HOUSES EITHER IN POBLACION OR BARRIO WITH NECESSARY DISTANCE TO AVOID GREAT LOSSES OF PROPERTY AND LIVES BY FIRE ACCIDENT. Section 1 provides: It is strictly prohibited to construct warehouses in any form to any person, persons, entity, corporation or merchants, wherein to keep or store copra, hemp, gasoline, petroleum, alcohol, crude oil, oil of turpentine and the like products or materials if not within the distance of 200 meters from a block of houses either in the poblacion or barrios to avoid great losses of properties inclusive lives by fire accident. Section 2 provides: 7 Owners of warehouses in any form, are hereby given advice to remove their said warehouses this ordinance by the Municipal Council, provided however, that if those warehouses now in existence should no longer be utilized as such warehouse for the above-described products in Section 1 of this ordinance after a lapse of the time given for the removal of the said warehouses now in existence, same warehouses shall be exempted from the spirit of the provision of section 1 of this ordinance, provided further, that these warehouses now in existence, shall in the future be converted into non-inflammable products and materials warehouses. In spite of its fractured syntax, basically, what is regulated by the ordinance is the construction of warehouses wherein inflammable materials are stored where such warehouses are located at a distance of 200 meters from a block of houses and not the construction per se of a warehouse. The purpose is to avoid the loss of life and property in case of fire which is one of the primordial obligation of the government.

This was also the observation of the trial court: A casual glance of the ordinance at once reveals a manifest disregard of the elemental rules of syntax. Experience, however, will show that this is not uncommon in law making bodies in small towns where local authorities and in particular the persons charged with the drafting and preparation of municipal resolutions and ordinances lack sufficient education and training and are not well grounded even on the basic and fundamental elements of the English language commonly used throughout the country in such matters. Nevertheless, if one scrutinizes the terms of the ordinance, it is clear that what is prohibited is the construction of warehouses by any person, entity or corporation wherein copra, hemp, gasoline and other inflammable products mentioned in Section 1 may be stored unless at a distance of not less than 200 meters from a block of houses either in the poblacion or barrios in order to avoid loss of property and life due to fire. Under Section 2, existing warehouses for the storage of the prohibited articles were given one year after the approval of the ordinance within which to remove them but were allowed to remain in operation if they had ceased to store such prohibited articles. The ambiguity therefore is more apparent than real and springs from simple error in grammatical construction but otherwise, the meaning and intent is clear that what is prohibited is the construction or maintenance of warehouses for the storage of inflammable articles at a distance within 200 meters from a block of houses either in the poblacion or in the barrios. And the purpose of the ordinance is to avoid loss of life and property in case of accidental fire which is one of the primordial and basic obligation of any government. 8 Clearly, the lower court did NOT add meaning other than or differrent from what was provided in the ordinance in question. It merely stated the purpose of the ordinance and what it intends to prohibit to accomplish its purpose. As to the third assignment of error, that warehouses similarly situated as that of the petitioner were not prosecuted, suffice it to say that the mere fact that the municipal authorities of Virac have not proceeded against other warehouses in the municipality allegedly violating Ordinance No. 13 is no reason to claim that the ordinance is discriminatory. A distinction must be made between the law itself and the manner in which said law is implemented by the agencies in charge with its administration and enforcement. There is no valid reason for the petitioner to complain, in the absence of proof that the other bodegas mentioned by him are operating in violation of the ordinance and that the complaints have been lodged against the bodegas concerned without the municipal authorities doing anything about it. The objections interposed by the petitioner to the validity of the ordinance have not been substantiated. Its purpose is well within the objectives of sound government. No undue restraint is placed upon the petitioner or for anybody to engage in trade but merely a prohibition from storing inflammable products in the warehouse because of the danger of fire to the lives and properties of the people residing in the vicinity. As far as public policy is concerned, there can be no better policy than what has been conceived by the municipal government. As to petitioner's contention of want of jurisdiction by the lower court we find no merit in the same. The case is a simple civil suit for abatement of a nuisance, the original jurisdiction of which falls under the then Court of First Instance. WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. Costs against petitioner.

Laguna Lake Development Authority, petitioner, vs. CA; Judge Herculano Tech, RTC- Binangonan Rizal; Fleet Development, Inc. and Carlito Arroyo; The Municipality Of Binangonan and/or Mayor Isidro B. Pacis, respondents. Laguna Lake Development Authority, petitioner, vs. CA; Judge Aurelio C. Trampe, RTC- Pasig; Manila Marine Life Business Resources, Inc. represented by, Mr. Tobias Reynald M. Tiangco; Municipality Of Taguig, and/or Mayor Ricardo D. Papa, Jr., respondents. Laguna Lake Development Authority, petitioner, vs. CA; Judge Alejandro A. Marquez, RTC- Morong, Rizal; Greenfield Ventures Industrial Development Corporation and R. J. Orion Development Corporation; Municipality Of Jalajala and/or Mayor Walfredo M. De La Vega, respondents. Laguna Lake Development Authority, petitioner, vs. CA; Judge Manuel S. Padolina, RTC- Pasig; Irma Fishing & Trading Corp.; Artm Fishing Corp.; Bdr Corporation, Mirt Corporation and Trim Corporation; Municipality Of Binangonan and/or Mayor Isidro B. Pacis, respondents. Laguna Lake Development Authority, petitioner, vs. CA; Judge Arturo A. Marave, RTC- Morong, Rizal; Blue Lagoon Fishing Corp. and Alcris Chicken Growers, Inc.; Municipality Of Jala-jala and/or Mayor Walfredo M. De La Vega, respondents. Laguna Lake Development Authority, petitioner, vs. CA; Judge Arturo A. Marave, RTC- Morong, Rizal; Agp Fish Ventures, Inc., represented by its President Alfonso Puyat; Municipality Of Jala-jala and/or Mayor Walfredo M. De La Vega, respondents. Laguna Lake Development Authority, petitioner, vs.CA; Judge Eugenio S. Labitoria, RTC- Pasig ; Sea Mar Trading Co. Inc.; Eastern Lagoon Fishing Corp.; Minamar Fishing Corp.; Municipality Of Binangonan and/or Mayor Isidro B. Pacis, respondents. (G.R. Nos. 120865-71 | December 7, 1995) HERMOSISIMA, JR., J.: It is difficult for a man, scavenging on the garbage dump created by affluence and profligate consumption and extravagance of the rich or fishing in the murky waters of the Pasig River and the Laguna Lake or making a clearing in the forest so that he can produce food for his family, to understand why protecting birds, fish, and trees is more important than protecting him and keeping his family alive. How do we strike a balance between environmental protection, on the one hand, and the individual personal interests of people, on the other? Towards environmental protection and ecology, navigational safety, and sustainable development, Republic Act No. 4850 created the "Laguna Lake Development Authority." This Government Agency is supposed to carry out and effectuate the aforesaid declared policy, so as to accelerate the development and balanced growth of the Laguna Lake area and the surrounding provinces, cities and towns, in the act clearly named, within the context of the national and regional plans and policies for social and economic development. Presidential Decree No. 813 of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos amended certain sections of Republic Act No. 4850 because of the concern for the rapid expansion of Metropolitan Manila, the suburbs and the lakeshore towns of Laguna de Bay, combined with current and prospective uses of the lake for municipal-industrial water supply, irrigation, fisheries, and the like. Concern on the part of the Government and the general public over: the environment impact of development on the water quality and ecology of the lake and its related river systems; the inflow of polluted water from the Pasig River, industrial, domestic and agricultural wastes from developed areas around the lake; the increasing urbanization which induced the deterioration of the lake, since water quality studies have shown that the lake will deteriorate further if steps are not taken to check the same; and the floods in Metropolitan Manila area and the lakeshore towns which will influence the hydraulic system of Laguna de Bay, since any scheme of controlling the floods will necessarily involve the lake and its river systems, likewise gave impetus to the creation of the Authority. Section 1 of Republic Act No. 4850 was amended to read as follows: Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. It is hereby declared to be the national policy to promote, and accelerate the development and balanced growth of the

Laguna Lake area and the surrounding provinces, cities and towns hereinafter referred to as the region, within the context of the national and regional plans and policies for social and economic development and to carry out the development of the Laguna Lake region with due regard and adequate provisions for environmental management and control, preservation of the quality of human life and ecological systems, and the prevention of undue ecological disturbances, deterioration and pollution. 1 Special powers of the Authority, pertinent to the issues in this case, include: Sec. 3. Section 4 of the same Act is hereby further amended by adding thereto seven new paragraphs to be known as paragraphs (j), (k), (l), (m), (n), (o), and (p) which shall read as follows: xxx xxx xxx

(j) The provisions of existing laws to the contrary notwithstanding, to engage in fish production and other aqua-culture projects in Laguna de Bay and other bodies of water within its jurisdiction and in pursuance thereof to conduct studies and make experiments, whenever necessary, with the collaboration and assistance of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, with the end in view of improving present techniques and practices. Provided, that until modified, altered or amended by the procedure provided in the following sub-paragraph, the present laws, rules and permits or authorizations remain in force; (k) For the purpose of effectively regulating and monitoring activities in Laguna de Bay, the Authority shall have exclusive jurisdiction to issue new permit for the use of the lake waters for any projects or activities in or affecting the said lake including navigation, construction, and operation of fishpens, fish enclosures, fish corrals and the like, and to impose necessary safeguards for lake quality control and management and to collect necessary fees for said activities and projects: Provided, That the fees collected for fisheries may be shared between the Authority and other government agencies and political sub-divisions in such proportion as may be determined by the President of the Philippines upon recommendation of the Authority's Board: Provided, further, That the Authority's Board may determine new areas of fishery development or activities which it may place under the supervision of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources taking into account the overall development plans and programs for Laguna de Bay and related bodies of water: Provided, finally, That the Authority shall subject to the approval of the President of the Philippines promulgate such rules and regulations which shall govern fisheries development activities in Laguna de Bay which shall take into consideration among others the following: socio-economic amelioration of bonafide resident fishermen whether individually or collectively in the form of cooperatives, lakeshore town development, a master plan for fishpen construction and operation, communal fishing ground for lake shore town residents, and preference to lake shore town residents in hiring laborer for fishery projects; (l) To require the cities and municipalities embraced within the region to pass appropriate zoning ordinances and other regulatory measures necessary to carry out the objectives of the Authority and enforce the same with the assistance of the Authority; (m) The provisions of existing laws to the contrary notwithstanding, to exercise water rights over public waters within the Laguna de Bay region whenever necessary to carry out the Authority's projects; (n) To act in coordination with existing governmental agencies in establishing water quality standards for industrial, agricultural and municipal waste discharges into the lake and to cooperate with said existing agencies of the government of the Philippines in enforcing such standards, or to separately pursue enforcement and penalty actions as provided for in Section 4 (d) and Section 39-A of this Act: Provided, That in case of conflict on the appropriate water quality standard to be enforced such conflict shall be resolved thru the NEDA Board. 2 To more effectively perform the role of the Authority under Republic Act No. 4850, as though Presidential Decree No. 813 were not thought to be completely effective, the Chief Executive, feeling that the land and waters of the Laguna Lake Region are limited natural resources requiring judicious management to their optimal utilization to insure renewability and to preserve the ecological balance, the competing options for the use of such resources and conflicting jurisdictions over such uses having created undue constraints on the institutional capabilities of the Authority in the light of the limited powers vested in it by its charter, Executive Order No. 927 further defined and enlarged the functions and powers of the Authority and named and

enumerated the towns, cities and provinces encompassed by the term "Laguna de Bay Region". Also, pertinent to the issues in this case are the following provisions of Executive Order No. 927 which include in particular the sharing of fees: Sec 2. Water Rights Over Laguna de Bay and Other Bodies of Water within the Lake Region: To effectively regulate and monitor activities in the Laguna de Bay region, the Authority shall have exclusive jurisdiction to issue permit for the use of all surface water for any projects or activities in or affecting the said region including navigation, construction, and operation of fishpens, fish enclosures, fish corrals and the like. For the purpose of this Executive Order, the term "Laguna de Bay Region" shall refer to the Provinces of Rizal and Laguna; the Cities of San Pablo, Pasay, Caloocan, Quezon, Manila and Tagaytay; the towns of Tanauan, Sto. Tomas and Malvar in Batangas Province; the towns of Silang and Carmona in Cavite Province; the town of Lucban in Quezon Province; and the towns of Marikina, Pasig, Taguig, Muntinlupa, and Pateros in Metro Manila. Sec 3. Collection of Fees. The Authority is hereby empowered to collect fees for the use of the lake water and its tributaries for all beneficial purposes including but not limited to fisheries, recreation, municipal, industrial, agricultural, navigation, irrigation, and waste disposal purpose; Provided, that the rates of the fees to be collected, and the sharing with other government agencies and political subdivisions, if necessary, shall be subject to the approval of the President of the Philippines upon recommendation of the Authority's Board, except fishpen fee, which will be shared in the following manner; 20 percent of the fee shall go to the lakeshore local governments, 5 percent shall go to the Project Development Fund which shall be administered by a Council and the remaining 75 percent shall constitute the share of LLDA. However, after the implementation within the three-year period of the Laguna Lake Fishery Zoning and Management Plan, the sharing will be modified as follows: 35 percent of the fishpen fee goes to the lakeshore local governments, 5 percent goes to the Project Development Fund and the remaining 60 percent shall be retained by LLDA; Provided, however, that the share of LLDA shall form part of its corporate funds and shall not be remitted to the National Treasury as an exception to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1234. (Emphasis supplied) It is important to note that Section 29 of Presidential Decree No. 813 defined the term "Laguna Lake" in this manner: Sec 41. Definition of Terms.

xxx

xxx

xxx

(XI) Subject to the provisions of Book II of this Code, grant exclusive privileges of constructing fish corrals or fishpens, or the taking or catching of bangus fry, prawn fry or kawag-kawag or fry of any species or fish within the municipal waters. xxx xxx xxx

Municipal governments thereupon assumed the authority to issue fishing privileges and fishpen permits. Big fishpen operators took advantage of the occasion to establish fishpens and fishcages to the consternation of the Authority. Unregulated fishpens and fishcages, as of July, 1995, occupied almost one-third of the entire lake water surface area, increasing the occupation drastically from 7,000 hectares in 1990 to almost 21,000 hectares in 1995. The Mayor's permit to construct fishpens and fishcages were all undertaken in violation of the policies adopted by the Authority on fishpen zoning and the Laguna Lake carrying capacity. To be sure, the implementation by the lakeshore municipalities of separate independent policies in the operation of fishpens and fishcages within their claimed territorial municipal waters in the lake and their indiscriminate grant of fishpen permits have already saturated the lake area with fishpens, thereby aggravating the current environmental problems and ecological stress of Laguna Lake. In view of the foregoing circumstances, the Authority served notice to the general public that: In compliance with the instructions of His Excellency PRESIDENT FIDEL V. RAMOS given on June 23, 1993 at Pila, Laguna pursuant to Republic Act 4850 as amended by Presidential Decree 813 and Executive Order 927 series of 1983 and in line with the policies and programs of the Presidential Task Force on Illegal Fishpens and Illegal Fishing, the general public is hereby notified that: 1. All fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures in the Laguna de Bay Region, which were not registered or to which no application for registration and/or permit has been filed with Laguna Lake Development Authority as of March 31, 1993 are hereby declared outrightly as illegal. 2. All fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures so declared as illegal shall be subject to demolition which shall be undertaken by the Presidential Task Force for Illegal Fishpen and Illegal Fishing. 3. Owners of fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures declared as illegal shall, without prejudice to demolition of their structures be criminally charged in accordance with Section 39-A of Republic Act 4850 as amended by P.D. 813 for violation of the same laws. Violations of these laws carries a penalty of imprisonment of not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding Five Thousand Pesos or both at the discretion of the court. All operators of fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures declared as illegal in accordance with the foregoing Notice shall have one (1) month on or before 27 October 1993 to show cause before the LLDA why their said fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures should not be demolished/dismantled. One month, thereafter, the Authority sent notices to the concerned owners of the illegally constructed fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures advising them to dismantle their respective structures within 10 days from receipt thereof, otherwise, demolition shall be effected. Reacting thereto, the affected fishpen owners filed injunction cases against the Authority before various regional trial courts, to wit: (a) Civil Case No. 759B, for Prohibition, Injunction and Damages, Regional Trial Court, Branch 70, Binangonan, Rizal, filed by Fleet Development, Inc. and Carlito Arroyo; (b) Civil Case No. 64049, for Injunction, Regional Trial Court, Branch 162, Pasig, filed by IRMA Fishing and Trading Corp., ARTM Fishing Corp., BDR Corp., MIRT Corp. and TRIM Corp.; (c) Civil Case No. 566, for Declaratory Relief and Injunction, Regional Trial Court, Branch 163, Pasig, filed by Manila Marine Life Business Resources, Inc. and Tobias Reynaldo M. Tianco; (d) Civil Case No. 556-M, for Prohibition, Injunction and Damages, Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Morong, Rizal, filed by AGP Fishing Ventures, Inc.; (e) Civil Case No. 522-M, for Prohibition, Injunction and Damages, Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, Morong, Rizal, filed by Blue Lagoon and Alcris Chicken Growers, Inc.; (f) Civil Case No. 554-, for

(11) Laguna Lake or Lake. Whenever Laguna Lake or lake is used in this Act, the same shall refer to Laguna de Bay which is that area covered by the lake water when it is at the average annual maximum lake level of elevation 12.50 meters, as referred to a datum 10.00 meters below mean lower low water (M.L.L.W). Lands located at and below such elevation are public lands which form part of the bed of said lake. Then came Republic Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991. The municipalities in the Laguna Lake Region interpreted the provisions of this law to mean that the newly passed law gave municipal governments the exclusive jurisdiction to issue fishing privileges within their municipal waters because R.A. 7160 provides: Sec. 149. Fishery Rentals, Fees and Charges. (a) Municipalities shall have the exclusive authority to grant fishery privileges in the municipal waters and impose rental fees or charges therefor in accordance with the provisions of this Section. (b) The Sangguniang Bayan may:

(1) Grant fishing privileges to erect fish corrals, oyster, mussel or other aquatic beds or bangus fry areas, within a definite zone of the municipal waters, as determined by it; . . . . (2) Grant privilege to gather, take or catch bangus fry, prawn fry or kawag-kawag or fry of other species and fish from the municipal waters by nets, traps or other fishing gears to marginal fishermen free from any rental fee, charges or any other imposition whatsoever. xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 447. Power, Duties, Functions and Compensation. . . . .

Certiorari and Prohibition, Regional Trial Court, Branch 79, Morong, Rizal, filed by Greenfields Ventures Industrial Corp. and R.J. Orion Development Corp.; and (g) Civil Case No. 64124, for Injunction, Regional Trial Court, Branch 15, Pasig, filed by SEA-MAR Trading Co., Inc. and Eastern Lagoon Fishing Corp. and Minamar Fishing Corporation. The Authority filed motions to dismiss the cases against it on jurisdictional grounds. The motions to dismiss were invariably denied. Meanwhile, temporary restraining order/writs of preliminary mandatory injunction were issued in Civil Cases Nos. 64124, 759 and 566 enjoining the Authority from demolishing the fishpens and similar structures in question. Hence, the herein petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction, G.R. Nos. 120865-71, were filed by the Authority with this court. Impleaded as partiesrespondents are concerned regional trial courts and respective private parties, and the municipalities and/or respective Mayors of Binangonan, Taguig and Jala-jala, who issued permits for the construction and operation of fishpens in Laguna de Bay. The Authority sought the following reliefs, viz.: (A) Nullification of the temporary restraining order/writs preliminary injunction issued in Civil Cases Nos. 64125, 759 and 566; of

fishpens, fish enclosures, fish corrals and the like. On the other hand, Republic Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991, has granted to the municipalities the exclusive authority to grant fishery privileges in municipal waters. The Sangguniang Bayan may grant fishery privileges to erect fish corrals, oyster, mussels or other aquatic beds or bangus fry area within a definite zone of the municipal waters. We hold that the provisions of Republic Act No. 7160 do not necessarily repeal the aforementioned laws creating the Laguna Lake Development Authority and granting the latter water rights authority over Laguna de Bay and the lake region. The Local Government Code of 1991 does not contain any express provision which categorically expressly repeal the charter of the Authority. It has to be conceded that there was no intent on the part of the legislature to repeal Republic Act No. 4850 and its amendments. The repeal of laws should be made clear and expressed. It has to be conceded that the charter of the Laguna Lake Development Authority constitutes a special law. Republic Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991, is a general law. It is basic in statutory construction that the enactment of a later legislation which is a general law cannot be construed to have repealed a special law. It is a well-settled rule in this jurisdiction that "a special statute, provided for a particular case or class of cases, is not repealed by a subsequent statute, general in its terms, provisions and application, unless the intent to repeal or alter is manifest, although the terms of the general law are broad enough to include the cases embraced in the special law." 3 Where there is a conflict between a general law and a special statute, the special statute should prevail since it evinces the legislative intent more clearly than the general statute. The special law is to be taken as an exception to the general law in the absence of special circumstances forcing a contrary conclusion. This is because implied repeals are not favored and as much as possible, effect must be given to all enactments of the legislature. A special law cannot be repealed, amended or altered by a subsequent general law by mere implication. 4 Thus, it has to be concluded that the charter of the Authority should prevail over the Local Government Code of 1991. Considering the reasons behind the establishment of the Authority, which are environmental protection, navigational safety, and sustainable development, there is every indication that the legislative intent is for the Authority to proceed with its mission. We are on all fours with the manifestation of petitioner Laguna Lake Development Authority that "Laguna de Bay, like any other single body of water has its own unique natural ecosystem. The 900 km lake surface water, the eight (8) major river tributaries and several other smaller rivers that drain into the lake, the 2,920 km basin or watershed transcending the boundaries of Laguna and Rizal provinces, greater portion of Metro Manila, parts of Cavite, Batangas, and Quezon provinces, constitute one integrated delicate natural ecosystem that needs to be protected with uniform set of policies; if we are to be serious in our aims of attaining sustainable development. This is an exhaustible natural resource a very limited one which requires judicious management and optimal utilization to ensure renewability and preserve its ecological integrity and balance." "Managing the lake resources would mean the implementation of a national policy geared towards the protection, conservation, balanced growth and sustainable development of the region with due regard to the intergenerational use of its resources by the inhabitants in this part of the earth. The authors of Republic Act 4850 have foreseen this need when they passed this LLDA law the special law designed to govern the management of our Laguna de Bay lake resources." "Laguna de Bay therefore cannot be subjected to fragmented concepts of management policies where lakeshore local government units exercise exclusive dominion over specific portions of the lake water. The garbage thrown or sewage discharged into the lake, abstraction of water therefrom or construction of fishpens by enclosing its certain area, affect not only that specific portion but the entire 900 km of lake water. The implementation of a cohesive and integrated lake water resource management policy, therefore, is necessary to conserve, protect and sustainably develop Laguna de Bay." 5 The power of the local government units to issue fishing privileges was clearly granted for revenue purposes. This is evident from the fact that Section

(B) Permanent prohibition against the regional trial courts from exercising jurisdiction over cases involving the Authority which is a co-equal body; (C) Judicial pronouncement that R.A. 7610 (Local Government Code of 1991) did not repeal, alter or modify the provisions of R.A. 4850, as amended, empowering the Authority to issue permits for fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures in Laguna de Bay and that, the Authority the government agency vested with exclusive authority to issue said permits. By this Court's resolution of May 2, 1994, the Authority's consolidated petitions were referred to the Court of Appeals. In a Decision, dated June 29, 1995, the Court of Appeals dismissed the Authority's consolidated petitions, the Court of Appeals holding that: (A) LLDA is not among those quasi-judicial agencies of government whose decision or order are appealable only to the Court of Appeals; (B) the LLDA charter does vest LLDA with quasi-judicial functions insofar as fishpens are concerned; (C) the provisions of the LLDA charter insofar as fishing privileges in Laguna de Bay are concerned had been repealed by the Local Government Code of 1991; (D) in view of the aforesaid repeal, the power to grant permits devolved to and is now vested with their respective local government units concerned. Not satisfied with the Court of Appeals decision, the Authority has returned to this Court charging the following errors: 1. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS PROBABLY COMMITTED AN ERROR WHEN IT RULED THAT THE LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY IS NOT A QUASI-JUDICIAL AGENCY. 2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR WHEN IT RULED THAT R.A. 4850 AS AMENDED BY P.D. 813 AND E.O. 927 SERIES OF 1983 HAS BEEN REPEALED BY REPUBLIC ACT 7160. THE SAID RULING IS CONTRARY TO ESTABLISHED PRINCIPLES AND JURISPRUDENCE OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION. 3. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR WHEN IT RULED THAT THE POWER TO ISSUE FISHPEN PERMITS IN LAGUNA DE BAY HAS BEEN DEVOLVED TO CONCERNED (LAKESHORE) LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS. We take a simplistic view of the controversy. Actually, the main and only issue posed is: Which agency of the Government the Laguna Lake Development Authority or the towns and municipalities comprising the region should exercise jurisdiction over the Laguna Lake and its environs insofar as the issuance of permits for fishery privileges is concerned? Section 4 (k) of the charter of the Laguna Lake Development Authority, Republic Act No. 4850, the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 813, and Section 2 of Executive Order No. 927, cited above, specifically provide that the Laguna Lake Development Authority shall have exclusive jurisdiction to issue permits for the use of all surface water for any projects or activities in or affecting the said region, including navigation, construction, and operation of

149 of the New Local Government Code empowering local governments to issue fishing permits is embodied in Chapter 2, Book II, of Republic Act No. 7160 under the heading, "Specific Provisions On The Taxing And Other Revenue Raising Power Of Local Government Units." On the other hand, the power of the Authority to grant permits for fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures is for the purpose of effectively regulating and monitoring activities in the Laguna de Bay region (Section 2, Executive Order No. 927) and for lake quality control and management. 6 It does partake of the nature of police power which is the most pervasive, the least limitable and the most demanding of all State powers including the power of taxation. Accordingly, the charter of the Authority which embodies a valid exercise of police power should prevail over the Local Government Code of 1991 on matters affecting Laguna de Bay. There should be no quarrel over permit fees for fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures in the Laguna de Bay area. Section 3 of Executive Order No. 927 provides for the proper sharing of fees collected. In respect to the question as to whether the Authority is a quasi-judicial agency or not, it is our holding that, considering the provisions of Section 4 of Republic Act No. 4850 and Section 4 of Executive Order No. 927, series of 1983, and the ruling of this Court in Laguna Lake Development Authority vs. Court of Appeals, 231 SCRA 304, 306, which we quote: xxx xxx xxx

Removal from the Authority of the aforesaid licensing authority will render nugatory its avowed purpose of protecting and developing the Laguna Lake Region. Otherwise stated, the abrogation of this power would render useless its reason for being and will in effect denigrate, if not abolish, the Laguna Lake Development Authority. This, the Local Government Code of 1991 had never intended to do. WHEREFORE, the petitions for prohibition, certiorari and injunction are hereby granted, insofar as they relate to the authority of the Laguna Lake Development Authority to grant fishing privileges within the Laguna Lake Region. The restraining orders and/or writs of injunction issued by Judge Arturo Marave, RTC, Branch 78, Morong, Rizal; Judge Herculano Tech, RTC, Branch 70, Binangonan, Rizal; and Judge Aurelio Trampe, RTC, Branch 163, Pasig, Metro Manila, are hereby declared null and void and ordered set aside for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion. The Municipal Mayors of the Laguna Lake Region are hereby prohibited from issuing permits to construct and operate fishpens, fishcages and other aquaculture structures within the Laguna Lake Region, their previous issuances being declared null and void. Thus, the fishing permits issued by Mayors Isidro B. Pacis, Municipality of Binangonan; Ricardo D. Papa, Municipality of Taguig; and Walfredo M. de la Vega, Municipality of Jala-jala, specifically, are likewise declared null and void and ordered cancelled. The fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures put up by operators by virtue of permits issued by Municipal Mayors within the Laguna Lake Region, specifically, permits issued to Fleet Development, Inc. and Carlito Arroyo; Manila Marine Life Business Resources, Inc., represented by, Mr. Tobias Reynald M. Tiangco; Greenfield Ventures Industrial Development Corporation and R.J. Orion Development Corporation; IRMA Fishing And Trading Corporation, ARTM Fishing Corporation, BDR Corporation, Mirt Corporation and Trim Corporation; Blue Lagoon Fishing Corporation and ALCRIS Chicken Growers, Inc.; AGP Fish Ventures, Inc., represented by its President Alfonso Puyat; SEA MAR Trading Co., Inc., Eastern Lagoon Fishing Corporation, and MINAMAR Fishing Corporation, are hereby declared illegal structures subject to demolition by the Laguna Lake Development Authority. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., Bellosillo and Kapunan, JJ., concur.

As a general rule, the adjudication of pollution cases generally pertains to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB), except in cases where the special law provides for another forum. It must be recognized in this regard that the LLDA, as a specialized administrative agency, is specifically mandated under Republic Act No. 4850 and its amendatory laws to carry out and make effective the declared national policy of promoting and accelerating the development and balanced growth of the Laguna Lake area and the surrounding provinces of Rizal and Laguna and the cities of San Pablo, Manila, Pasay, Quezon and Caloocan with due regard and adequate provisions for environmental management and control, preservation of the quality of human life and ecological systems, and the prevention of undue ecological disturbances, deterioration and pollution. Under such a broad grant of power and authority, the LLDA, by virtue of its special charter, obviously has the responsibility to protect the inhabitants of the Laguna Lake region from the deleterious effects of pollutants emanating from the discharge of wastes from the surrounding areas. In carrying out the aforementioned declared policy, the LLDA is mandated, among others, to pass upon and approve or disapprove all plans, programs, and projects proposed by local government offices/agencies within the region, public corporations, and private persons or enterprises where such plans, programs and/or projects are related to those of the LLDA for the development of the region. xxx xxx xxx

. . . . While it is a fundamental rule that an administrative agency has only such powers as are expressly granted to it by law, it is likewise a settled rule that an administrative agency has also such powers as are necessarily implied in the exercise of its express powers. In the exercise, therefore, of its express powers under its charter, as a regulatory and quasi-judicial body with respect to pollution cases in the Laguna Lake region, the authority of the LLDA to issue a "cease and desist order" is, perforce, implied. Otherwise, it may well be reduced to a "toothless" paper agency. there is no question that the Authority has express powers as a regulatory and quasi-judicial body in respect to pollution cases with authority to issue a "cease and desist order" and on matters affecting the construction of illegal fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures in Laguna de Bay. The Authority's pretense, however, that it is co-equal to the Regional Trial Courts such that all actions against it may only be instituted before the Court of Appeals cannot be sustained. On actions necessitating the resolution of legal questions affecting the powers of the Authority as provided for in its charter, the Regional Trial Courts have jurisdiction. In view of the foregoing, this Court holds that Section 149 of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, has not repealed the provisions of the charter of the Laguna Lake Development Authority, Republic Act No. 4850, as amended. Thus, the Authority has the exclusive jurisdiction to issue permits for the enjoyment of fishery privileges in Laguna de Bay to the exclusion of municipalities situated therein and the authority to exercise such powers as are by its charter vested on it.

Separate Opinions

PADILLA, J., concurring: I fully concur with the decision written by Mr. Justice R. Hermosisima, Jr.. I would only like to stress what the decision already states, i.e., that the local government units in the Laguna Lake area are not precluded from imposing permits on fishery operations for revenue raising purposes of such local government units. In other words, while the exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether or not projects or activities in the lake area should be allowed, as well as their regulation, is with the Laguna Lake Development Authority, once the Authority grants a permit, the permittee may still be subjected to an additional local permit or license for revenue purposes of the local government units concerned. This approach would clearly harmonize the special law, Rep. Act No. 4850, as amended, with Rep. Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code. It will also enable small towns and municipalities in the lake area, like Jala-Jala, to rise to some level of economic viability. Separate Opinions PADILLA, J., concurring: I fully concur with the decision written by Mr. Justice R. Hermosisima, Jr.. I would only like to stress what the decision already states, i.e., that the local government units in the Laguna Lake area are not precluded from imposing

permits on fishery operations for revenue raising purposes of such local government units. In other words, while the exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether or not projects or activities in the lake area should be allowed, as well as their regulation, is with the Laguna Lake Development Authority, once the Authority grants a permit, the permittee may still be subjected to an additional local permit or license for revenue purposes of the local government units concerned. This approach would clearly harmonize the special law, Rep. Act No. 4850, as amended, with Rep. Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code. It will also enable small towns and municipalities in the lake area, like Jala-Jala, to rise to some level of economic viability.

Hilarion M. Henares, Jr., Victor C. Agustin, Alfredo L. Henares, Daniel L. Henares, Enrique Belo Henares, and Cristina Belo Henares, petitioners, vs. Land Transportation Franchising And Regulatory Board and Department Of Transportation and Communications (G.R. No. 158290 | October 23, 2006) QUISUMBING, J.: Petitioners challenge this Court to issue a writ of mandamus commanding respondents Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to require public utility vehicles (PUVs) to use compressed natural gas (CNG) as alternative fuel. Citing statistics from the Metro Manila Transportation and Traffic Situation Study of 1996,[1] the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the National Capital Region,[2] a study of the Asian Development Bank,[3] the Manila Observatory[4] and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources[5] (DENR) on the high growth and low turnover in vehicle ownership in the Philippines, including diesel-powered vehicles, two-stroke engine powered motorcycles and their concomitant emission of air pollutants, petitioners attempt to present a compelling case for judicial action against the bane of air pollution and related environmental hazards. Petitioners allege that the particulate matters (PM) complex mixtures of dust, dirt, smoke, and liquid droplets, varying in sizes and compositions emitted into the air from various engine combustions have caused detrimental effects on health, productivity, infrastructure and the overall quality of life. Petitioners particularly cite the effects of certain fuel emissions from engine combustion when these react to other pollutants. For instance, petitioners aver, with hydrocarbons, oxide of nitrogen (NOx) creates smog; with sulfur dioxide, it creates acid rain; and with ammonia, moisture and other compounds, it reacts to form nitric acid and harmful nitrates. Fuel emissions also cause retardation and leaf bleaching in plants. According to petitioner, another emission, carbon monoxide (CO), when not completely burned but emitted into the atmosphere and then inhaled can disrupt the necessary oxygen in blood. With prolonged exposure, CO affects the nervous system and can be lethal to people with weak hearts.[6] Petitioners add that although much of the new power generated in the country will use natural gas while a number of oil and coal-fired fuel stations are being phased-out, still with the projected doubling of power generation over the next 10 years, and with the continuing high demand for motor vehicles, the energy and transport sectors are likely to remain the major sources of harmful emissions. Petitioners refer us to the study of the Philippine Environment Monitor 2002[7], stating that in four of the countrys major cities, Metro Manila, Davao, Cebu and Baguio, the exposure to PM10, a finer PM which can penetrate deep into the lungs causing serious health problems, is estimated at over US$430 million.[8] The study also reports that the emissions of PMs have caused the following: Over 2,000 people die prematurely. This loss is valued at about US$140 million. Over 9,000 people suffer from chronic bronchitis, which is valued at about US$120 million. Nearly 51 million cases of respiratory symptom days in Metro Manila (averaging twice a year in Davao and Cebu, and five to six times in Metro Manila and Baguio), costs about US$170 million. This is a 70 percent increase, over a decade, when compared with the findings of a similar study done in 1992 for Metro Manila, which reported 33 million cases.[9] Petitioners likewise cite the University of the Philippines studies in 1990-91 and 1994 showing that vehicular emissions in Metro Manila have resulted to the prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD); that pulmonary tuberculosis is highest among jeepney drivers; and there is a 4.8 to 27.5 percent prevalence of respiratory symptoms among school children and 15.8 to 40.6 percent among child vendors. The studies also revealed that the children in Metro Manila showed more compromised pulmonary function than their rural counterparts. Petitioners infer that these are mostly due to the emissions of PUVs. To counter the aforementioned detrimental effects of emissions from PUVs, petitioners propose the use of CNG. According to petitioners, CNG is a natural gas comprised mostly of methane which although containing small amounts of propane and butane,[10] is colorless and odorless and considered the cleanest fossil fuel because it produces much less pollutants than coal and petroleum; produces up to 90 percent less CO compared to gasoline and diesel fuel; reduces NOx emissions by 50 percent and cuts hydrocarbon emissions by half; emits 60 percent less PMs; and releases virtually no sulfur dioxide. Although, according to petitioners, the only drawback of CNG is that it produces more methane, one of the gases blamed for global warming.[11]

Asserting their right to clean air, petitioners contend that the bases for their petition for a writ of mandamus to order the LTFRB to require PUVs to use CNG as an alternative fuel, lie in Section 16,[12] Article II of the 1987 Constitution, our ruling in Oposa v. Factoran, Jr.,[13] and Section 4[14] of Republic Act No. 8749 otherwise known as the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999. Meantime, following a subsequent motion, the Court granted petitioners motion to implead the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) as additional respondent. In his Comment for respondents LTFRB and DOTC, the Solicitor General, cites Section 3, Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court and explains that the writ of mandamus is not the correct remedy since the writ may be issued only to command a tribunal, corporation, board or person to do an act that is required to be done, when he or it unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled, there being no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.[15] Further citing existing jurisprudence, the Solicitor General explains that in contrast to a discretionary act, a ministerial act, which a mandamus is, is one in which an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to a mandate of legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of an act done. The Solicitor General also notes that nothing in Rep. Act No. 8749 that petitioners invoke, prohibits the use of gasoline and diesel by owners of motor vehicles. Sadly too, according to the Solicitor General, Rep. Act No. 8749 does not even mention the existence of CNG as alternative fuel and avers that unless this law is amended to provide CNG as alternative fuel for PUVs, the respondents cannot propose that PUVs use CNG as alternative fuel. The Solicitor General also adds that it is the DENR that is tasked to implement Rep. Act No. 8749 and not the LTFRB nor the DOTC. Moreover, he says, it is the Department of Energy (DOE), under Section 26[16] of Rep. Act No. 8749, that is required to set the specifications for all types of fuel and fuel-related products to improve fuel compositions for improved efficiency and reduced emissions. He adds that under Section 21[17] of the cited Republic Act, the DOTC is limited to implementing the emission standards for motor vehicles, and the herein respondents cannot alter, change or modify the emission standards. The Solicitor General opines that the Court should declare the instant petition for mandamus without merit. Petitioners, in their Reply, insist that the respondents possess the administrative and regulatory powers to implement measures in accordance with the policies and principles mandated by Rep. Act No. 8749, specifically Section 2[18] and Section 21.[19] Petitioners state that under these laws and with all the available information provided by the DOE on the benefits of CNG, respondents cannot ignore the existence of CNG, and their failure to recognize CNG and compel its use by PUVs as alternative fuel while air pollution brought about by the emissions of gasoline and diesel endanger the environment and the people, is tantamount to neglect in the performance of a duty which the law enjoins. Lastly, petitioners aver that other than the writ applied for, they have no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Petitioners insist that the writ in fact should be issued pursuant to the very same Section 3, Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court that the Solicitor General invokes. In their Memorandum, petitioners phrase the issues before us as follows: I. WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONERS HAVE THE PERSONALITY TO BRING THE PRESENT ACTION II. WHETHER OR NOT THE PRESENT ACTION IS SUPPORTED BY LAW III. WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT IS THE AGENCY RESPONSIBLE TO IMPLEMENT THE SUGGESTED ALTERNATIVE OF REQUIRING PUBLIC UTILITY VEHICLES TO USE COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS (CNG) IV. WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT CAN BE COMPELLED TO REQUIRE PUBLIC UTILITY VEHICLES TO USE COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS THROUGH A WRIT OF MANDAMUS[20]

Briefly put, the issues are two-fold. First, Do petitioners have legal personality to bring this petition before us? Second, Should mandamus issue against respondents to compel PUVs to use CNG as alternative fuel? According to petitioners, Section 16,[21] Article II of the 1987 Constitution is the policy statement that bestows on the people the right to breathe clean air in a healthy environment. This policy is enunciated in Oposa.[22] The implementation of this policy is articulated in Rep. Act No. 8749. These, according to petitioners, are the bases for their standing to file the instant petition. They aver that when there is an omission by the government to safeguard a right, in this case their right to clean air, then, the citizens can resort to and exhaust all remedies to challenge this omission by the government. This, they say, is embodied in Section 4[23] of Rep. Act No. 8749. Petitioners insist that since it is the LTFRB and the DOTC that are the government agencies clothed with power to regulate and control motor vehicles, particularly PUVs, and with the same agencies awareness and knowledge that the PUVs emit dangerous levels of air pollutants, then, the responsibility to see that these are curbed falls under respondents functions and a writ of mandamus should issue against them. The Solicitor General, for his part, reiterates his position that the respondent government agencies, the DOTC and the LTFRB, are not in a position to compel the PUVs to use CNG as alternative fuel. The Solicitor General explains that the function of the DOTC is limited to implementing the emission standards set forth in Rep. Act No. 8749 and the said law only goes as far as setting the maximum limit for the emission of vehicles, but it does not recognize CNG as alternative engine fuel. The Solicitor General avers that the petition should be addressed to Congress for it to come up with a policy that would compel the use of CNG as alternative fuel. Patently, this Court is being asked to resolve issues that are not only procedural. Petitioners challenge this Court to decide if what petitioners propose could be done through a less circuitous, speedy and unchartered course in an issue that Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. in his ponencia in the Oposa case,[24] describes as inter-generational responsibility and intergenerational justice. Now, as to petitioners standing. There is no dispute that petitioners have standing to bring their case before this Court. Even respondents do not question their standing. This petition focuses on one fundamental legal right of petitioners, their right to clean air. Moreover, as held previously, a partys standing before this Court is a procedural technicality which may, in the exercise of the Courts discretion, be set aside in view of the importance of the issue raised. We brush aside this issue of technicality under the principle of the transcendental importance to the public, especially so if these cases demand that they be settled promptly. Undeniably, the right to clean air not only is an issue of paramount importance to petitioners for it concerns the air they breathe, but it is also impressed with public interest. The consequences of the counter-productive and retrogressive effects of a neglected environment due to emissions of motor vehicles immeasurably affect the well-being of petitioners. On these considerations, the legal standing of the petitioners deserves recognition. Our next concern is whether the writ of mandamus is the proper remedy, and if the writ could issue against respondents. Under Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, mandamus lies under any of the following cases: (1) against any tribunal which unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty; (2) in case any corporation, board or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station; and (3) in case any tribunal, corporation, board or person unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is legally entitled; and there is no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. In University of San Agustin, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[25] we said, It is settled that mandamus is employed to compel the performance, when refused, of a ministerial duty, this being its main objective. It does not lie to require anyone to fulfill contractual obligations or to compel a course of conduct, nor to control or review the exercise of discretion. On the part of the petitioner, it is essential to the issuance of a writ of mandamus that he should have a clear legal right to the thing demanded and it must be the imperative duty of the respondent to perform the act required. It never issues in doubtful cases. While it may not be necessary that the duty be absolutely expressed, it must however, be clear. The writ will not issue to compel an official to do

anything which is not his duty to do or which is his duty not to do, or give to the applicant anything to which he is not entitled by law. The writ neither confers powers nor imposes duties. It is simply a command to exercise a power already possessed and to perform a duty already imposed. (Emphasis supplied.) In this petition the legal right which is sought to be recognized and enforced hinges on a constitutional and a statutory policy already articulated in operational terms, e.g. in Rep. Act No. 8749, the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999. Paragraph (a), Section 21 of the Act specifically provides that when PUVs are concerned, the responsibility of implementing the policy falls on respondent DOTC. It provides as follows: SEC 21. Pollution from Motor Vehicles. - a) The DOTC shall implement the emission standards for motor vehicles set pursuant to and as provided in this Act. To further improve the emission standards, the Department [DENR] shall review, revise and publish the standards every two (2) years, or as the need arises. It shall consider the maximum limits for all major pollutants to ensure substantial improvement in air quality for the health, safety and welfare of the general public. Paragraph (b) states: b) The Department [DENR] in collaboration with the DOTC, DTI and LGUs, shall develop an action plan for the control and management of air pollution from motor vehicles consistent with the Integrated Air Quality Framework . . . . (Emphasis supplied.) There is no dispute that under the Clean Air Act it is the DENR that is tasked to set the emission standards for fuel use and the task of developing an action plan. As far as motor vehicles are concerned, it devolves upon the DOTC and the line agency whose mandate is to oversee that motor vehicles prepare an action plan and implement the emission standards for motor vehicles, namely the LTFRB. In Oposa[26] we said, the right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment. We also said, it is clearly the duty of the responsible government agencies to advance the said right. Petitioners invoke the provisions of the Constitution and the Clean Air Act in their prayer for issuance of a writ of mandamus commanding the respondents to require PUVs to use CNG as an alternative fuel. Although both are general mandates that do not specifically enjoin the use of any kind of fuel, particularly the use of CNG, there is an executive order implementing a program on the use of CNG by public vehicles. Executive Order No. 290, entitled Implementing the Natural Gas Vehicle Program for Public Transport (NGVPPT), took effect on February 24, 2004. The program recognized, among others, natural gas as a clean burning alternative fuel for vehicle which has the potential to produce substantially lower pollutants; and the Malampaya Gas-to-Power Project as representing the beginning of the natural gas industry of the Philippines. Paragraph 1.2, Section 1 of E.O. No. 290 cites as one of its objectives, the use of CNG as a clean alternative fuel for transport. Furthermore, one of the components of the program is the development of CNG refueling stations and all related facilities in strategic locations in the country to serve the needs of CNG-powered PUVs. Section 3 of E.O. No. 290, consistent with E.O. No. 66, series of 2002, designated the DOE as the lead agency (a) in developing the natural gas industry of the country with the DENR, through the EMB and (b) in formulating emission standards for CNG. Most significantly, par. 4.5, Section 4 tasks the DOTC, working with the DOE, to develop an implementation plan for a gradual shift to CNG fuel utilization in PUVs and promote NGVs [natural gas vehicles] in Metro Manila and Luzon through the issuance of directives/orders providing preferential franchises in present day major routes and exclusive franchises to NGVs in newly opened routes A thorough reading of the executive order assures us that implementation for a cleaner environment is being addressed. To a certain extent, the instant petition had been mooted by the issuance of E.O. No. 290. Regrettably, however, the plain, speedy and adequate remedy herein sought by petitioners, i.e., a writ of mandamus commanding the respondents to require PUVs to use CNG, is unavailing. Mandamus is available only to compel the doing of an act specifically enjoined by law as a duty. Here, there is no law that mandates the respondents LTFRB and the DOTC to order owners of motor vehicles to use CNG. At most the LTFRB has been tasked by E.O. No. 290 in par. 4.5 (ii), Section 4 to grant preferential and exclusive Certificates of Public Convenience (CPC) or franchises to operators of NGVs based on the results of the DOTC surveys. Further, mandamus will not generally lie from one branch of government to a coordinate branch, for the obvious reason that neither is inferior to the other. [27] The need for future changes in both legislation and its implementation cannot be preempted by orders from this Court, especially when what is

prayed for is procedurally infirm. Besides, comity with and courtesy to a coequal branch dictate that we give sufficient time and leeway for the coequal branches to address by themselves the environmental problems raised in this petition. In the same manner that we have associated the fundamental right to a balanced and healthful ecology with the twin concepts of inter-generational responsibility and inter-generational justice in Oposa,[28] where we upheld the right of future Filipinos to prevent the destruction of the rainforests, so do we recognize, in this petition, the right of petitioners and the future generation to clean air. In Oposa we said that if the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is now explicitly found in the Constitution even if the right is assumed to exist from the inception of humankind, it is because of the well-founded fear of its framers [of the Constitution] 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. . .[29] It is the firm belief of this Court that in this case, it is timely to reaffirm the premium we have placed on the protection of the environment in the landmark case of Oposa. Yet, as serious as the statistics are on air pollution, with the present fuels deemed toxic as they are to the environment, as fatal as these pollutants are to the health of the citizens, and urgently requiring resort to drastic measures to reduce air pollutants emitted by motor vehicles, we must admit in particular that petitioners are unable to pinpoint the law that imposes an indubitable legal duty on respondents that will justify a grant of the writ of mandamus compelling the use of CNG for public utility vehicles. It appears to us that more properly, the legislature should provide first the specific statutory remedy to the complex environmental problems bared by herein petitioners before any judicial recourse by mandamus is taken. WHEREFORE, the petition for the issuance of a writ of mandamus is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

Province Of Rizal, Municipality Of San Mateo, Pintong Bocaue Multipurpose Cooperative, Concerned Citizens Of Rizal, Inc., Rolando E. Villacorte, Bernardo Hidalgo, Ananias Ebuenga, Vilma T. Montajes, Federico Munar, Jr., Rolando Beas, Sr., et al., and Kilosbayan, Inc., P e t i t i o n e r s, vs. Executive Secretary, Secretary Of Environment & Natural Resources, Laguna Lake Development Authority, Secretary Of Public Works & Highways, Secretary Of Budget & Management, Metro Manila Development Authority And The Honorable Court Of Appeals,R e s p o n d e n t s. (G.R. No. 129546 | December 13, 2005) CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: The earth belongs in usufruct to the living.[1] At the height of the garbage crisis plaguing Metro Manila and its environs, parts of the Marikina Watershed Reservation were set aside by the Office of the President, through Proclamation No. 635 dated 28 August 1995, for use as a sanitary landfill and similar waste disposal applications. In fact, this site, extending to more or less 18 hectares, had already been in operation since 19 February 1990[2] for the solid wastes of Quezon City, Marikina, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Pateros, Pasig, and Taguig.[3] This is a petition filed by the Province of Rizal, the municipality of San Mateo, and various concerned citizens for review on certiorari of the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 41330, denying, for lack of cause of action, the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with application for a temporary restraining order/writ of preliminary injunction assailing the legality and constitutionality of Proclamation No. 635. The facts are documented in painstaking detail. On 17 November 1988, the respondent Secretaries of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Governor of the Metropolitan Manila Commission (MMC) entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA),[4] which provides in part: 1. The DENR agrees to immediately allow the utilization by the Metropolitan Manila Commission of its land property located at Pintong Bocaue in San Mateo, Rizal as a sanitary landfill site, subject to whatever restrictions that the government impact assessment might require. 2. Upon signing of this Agreement, the DPWH shall commence the construction/development of said dumpsite. 3. The MMC shall: a) take charge of the relocation of the families within and around the site; b) oversee the development of the areas as a sanitary landfill; c) coordinate/monitor the construction of infrastructure facilities by the DPWH in the said site; and d) ensure that the necessary civil works are properly undertaken to safeguard against any negative environmental impact in the area.

... 3.5 Said Dumping Site is observed to be confined within the said Watershed Reservation, bearing in the northeastern part of Lungsod Silangan Townsite Reservation. Such illegal Dumping Site operation inside (the) Watershed Reservation is in violation of P.D. 705, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code, as amended. . . Recommendations: 5.1 The MMC Dumping Site Inside Marikina Watershed Reservation, particularly at Brgy. Pintong Bocaue, San Mateo, Rizal and at Bo. Pinugay, Baras/Antipolo, Rizal which are the present garbage zones must totally be stopped and discouraged without any political intervention and delay in order to save our healthy ecosystems found therein, to avoid much destruction, useless efforts and lost (sic) of millions of public funds over the land in question; (Emphasis ours)

On 19 June 1989, the CENRO submitted another Investigation Report[6] to the Regional Executive Director which states in part that: 1. About two (2) hectares had been excavated by bulldozers and garbage dumping operations are going on. 2. The dumping site is without the concurrence of the Provincial Governor, Rizal Province and without any permit from DENR who has functional jurisdiction over the Watershed Reservation; and 3. About 1,192 families residing and cultivating areas covered by four (4) Barangays surrounding the dumping site will adversely be affected by the dumping operations of MMC including their sources of domestic water supply. x x x x

On 22 January 1990, the CENRO submitted still another Investigation Report[7] to the Regional Executive Director which states that: Findings show that the areas used as Dumping Site of the MMC are found to be within the Marikina Watershed which are part of the Integrated Social Forestry Project (ISF) as per recorded inventory of Forest Occupancy of this office. It also appears that as per record, there was no permit issued to the MMC to utilize these portions of land for dumping purposes. It is further observed that the use of the areas as dumping site greatly affects the ecological balance and environmental factors in this community.

On 7, 8 and 10 February 1989, the Sangguniang Bayan of San Mateo wrote Gov. Elfren Cruz of the MMC, Sec. Fiorello Estuar of the DPWH, the Presidential Task Force on Solid Waste Management, Executive Secretary Catalino Macaraig, and Sec. Fulgencio Factoran, Jr., pointing out that it had recently passed a Resolution banning the creation of dumpsites for Metro Manila garbage within its jurisdiction, asking that their side be heard, and that the addressees suspend and temporarily hold in abeyance all and any part of your operations with respect to the San Mateo Landfill Dumpsite. No action was taken on these letters. It turns out that the land subject of the MOA of 17 November 1988 and owned by the DENR was part of the Marikina Watershed Reservation Area. Thus, on 31 May 1989, forest officers of the Forest Engineering and Infrastructure Unit of the Community Environment and Natural Resource Office, (CENRO) DENR-IV, Rizal Province, submitted a Memorandum[5] on the On-going Dumping Site Operation of the MMC inside (the) Upper Portion of Marikina Watershed Reservation, located at Barangay Pintong Bocaue, San Mateo, Rizal, and nearby localities. Said Memorandum reads in part: Observations: 3.1 The subject area is arable and agricultural in nature; 3.2 Soil type and its topography are favorable for agricultural and forestry productions;

On 19 February 1990, the DENR Environmental Management Bureau, through Undersecretary for Environment and Research Celso R. Roque, granted the Metro Manila Authority (MMA [formerly MMC]) an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for the operation of a two-anda-half-hectare garbage dumpsite. The ECC was sought and granted to comply with the requirement of Presidential Decree No. 1586 Establishing an Environmental Impact Statement System, Section 4 of which states in part that, No persons, partnership or corporation shall undertake or operate any such declared environmentally critical project or area without first securing an Environmental Compliance Certificate. Proclamation No. 2146, passed on 14 December 1981, designates all areas declared by law as national parks, watershed reserves, wildlife preserves, and sanctuaries as Environmentally Critical Areas. On 09 March 1990, respondent Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), through its Acting General Manager, sent a letter[8] to the MMA, which reads in part: Through this letter we would like to convey our reservation on the choice of the sites for solid waste disposal inside the watershed of Laguna Lake. As you may already know, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has scheduled the abstraction of water from the lake to serve the needs of about 1.2 million residents of Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Las Pinas and Bacoor, Cavite by 1992. Accordingly, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) is accelerating its environmental management program to upgrade the water quality of the lake in order to make it suitable as a source of

domestic water supply the whole year round. The said program regards dumpsites as incompatible within the watershed because of the heavy pollution, including the risk of diseases, generated by such activities which would negate the governments efforts to upgrade the water quality of the lake. Consequently, please consider our objection to the proposed location of the dumpsites within the watershed. (Emphasis supplied by petitioners)

the participants but will enhance the rehabilitation of the Watershed considering that fruit bearing trees are vigorously growing in the area. Some timber producing species are also planted like Mahogany and Gmelina Arboiea. There are also portions where dipterocarp residuals abound in the area. 3. The sanitary landfill should be relocated to some other area, in order to avoid any conflict with the local government of San Mateo and the nearby affected residents who have been in the area for almost 10-20 years.

On 31 July 1990, less than six months after the issuance of the ECC, Undersecretary Roque suspended the ECC in a letter[9] addressed to the respondent Secretary of DPWH, stating in part that: Upon site investigation conducted by Environmental Management Bureau staff on development activities at the San Mateo Landfill Site, it was ascertained that ground slumping and erosion have resulted from improper development of the site. We believe that this will adversely affect the environmental quality in the area if the proper remedial measures are not instituted in the design of the landfill site. This is therefore contradictory to statements made in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) submitted that above occurrences will be properly mitigated. In view of this, we are forced to suspend the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued until appropriate modified plans are submitted and approved by this Office for implementation. (Emphasis ours) On 21 June 1993, the Acting Mayor of San Mateo, Enrique Rodriguez, Jr., Barangay Captain Dominador Vergara, and petitioner Rolando E. Villacorte, Chairman of the Pintong Bocaue Multipurpose Cooperative (PBMC) wrote[10] then President Fidel V. Ramos expressing their objections to the continued operation of the MMA dumpsite for causing unabated pollution and degradation of the Marikina Watershed Reservation. On 14 July 1993, another Investigation Report[11] submitted by the Regional Technical Director to the DENR Undersecretary for Environment and Research contained the following findings and recommendations: Remarks and Findings: .... 5. Interview with Mr. Dayrit, whose lot is now being endangered because soil erosion have (sic) caused severe siltation and sedimentation of the Dayrit Creek which water is greatly polluted by the dumping of soil bulldozed to the creek; 6. Also interview with Mrs. Vilma Montajes, the multi-grade teacher of Pintong Bocaue Primary School which is located only about 100 meters from the landfill site. She disclosed that bad odor have (sic) greatly affected the pupils who are sometimes sick with respiratory illnesses. These odors show that MMA have (sic) not instituted/sprayed any disinfectant chemicals to prevent air pollution in the area. Besides large flies (Bangaw) are swarming all over the playground of the school. The teacher also informed the undersigned that plastic debris are being blown whenever the wind blows in their direction. 7. As per investigation report there are now 15 hectares being used as landfill disposal sites by the MMA. The MMA is intending to expand its operation within the 50 hectares. 8. Lots occupied within 50 hectares are fully planted with fruit bearing trees like Mangoes, Santol, Jackfruit, Kasoy, Guyabano, Kalamansi and Citrus which are now bearing fruits and being harvested and marketed to nearby San Mateo Market and Masinag Market in Antipolo. .... Recommendations: 1. As previously recommended, the undersigned also strongly recommend(s) that the MMA be made to relocate the landfill site because the area is within the Marikina Watershed Reservation and Lungsod Silangan. The leachate treatment plant ha(s) been eroded twice already and contaminated the nearby creeks which is the source of potable water of the residents. The contaminated water also flows to Wawa Dam and Boso-boso River which also flows to Laguna de Bay. 2. The proposed Integrated Social Forestry Project be pushed through or be approved. ISF project will not only uplift the socio-economic conditions of

On 16 November 1993, DENR Secretary Angel C. Alcala sent MMA Chairman Ismael A. Mathay, Jr. a letter[12] stating that after a series of investigations by field officials of the DENR, the agency realized that the MOA entered into on 17 November 1988 is a very costly error because the area agreed to be a garbage dumpsite is inside the Marikina Watershed Reservation. He then strongly recommended that all facilities and infrastructure in the garbage dumpsite in Pintong Bocaue be dismantled, and the garbage disposal operations be transferred to another area outside the Marikina Watershed Reservation to protect the health and general welfare of the residents of San Mateo in particular and the residents of Metro Manila in general. On 06 June 1995, petitioner Villacorte, Chairman of the PBMC, wrote[13] President Ramos, through the Executive Secretary, informing the President of the issues involved, that the dumpsite is located near three public elementary schools, the closest of which is only fifty meters away, and that its location violates the municipal zoning ordinance of San Mateo and, in truth, the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board had denied the then MMA chairmans application for a locational clearance on this ground. On 21 August 1995, the Sangguniang Bayan of San Mateo issued a Resolution[14] expressing a strong objection to the planned expansion of the landfill operation in Pintong Bocaue and requesting President Ramos to disapprove the draft Presidential Proclamation segregating 71.6 Hectares from Marikina Watershed Reservation for the landfill site in Pintong Bocaue, San Mateo, Rizal. Despite the various objections and recommendations raised by the government agencies aforementioned, the Office of the President, through Executive Secretary Ruben Torres, signed and issued Proclamation No. 635 on 28 August 1995, Excluding from the Marikina Watershed Reservation Certain Parcels of Land Embraced Therein for Use as Sanitary Landfill Sites and Similar Waste Disposal Under the Administration of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. The pertinent portions thereof state: WHEREAS, to cope with the requirements of the growing population in Metro Manila and the adjoining provinces and municipalities, certain developed and open portions of the Marikina Watershed Reservation, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should now be excluded form the scope of the reservation; WHEREAS, while the areas delineated as part of the Watershed Reservations are intended primarily for use in projects and/or activities designed to contain and preserve the underground water supply, other peripheral areas had been included within the scope of the reservation to provide for such space as may be needed for the construction of the necessary structures, other related facilities, as well as other priority projects of government as may be eventually determined; WHEREAS, there is now an urgent need to provide for, and develop, the necessary facilities for the disposal of the waste generated by the population of Metro Manila and the adjoining provinces and municipalities, to ensure their sanitary and /or hygienic disposal; WHEREAS, to cope with the requirements for the development of the waste disposal facilities that may be used, portions of the peripheral areas of the Marikina Watershed Reservation, after due consideration and study, have now been identified as suitable sites that may be used for the purpose; WHEREAS, the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has recommended the exclusion of these areas that have been so identified from the Marikina Watershed Reservation so that they may then be developed for the purpose; NOW, THEREFORE, for and in consideration of the aforecited premises, I, Fidel V. Ramos, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby ordain:

Section 1. General That certain parcels of land, embraced by the Marikina Watershed Reservation, were found needed for use in the solid waste disposal program of the government in Metropolitan Manila, are hereby excluded from that which is held in reserve and are now made available for use as sanitary landfill and such other related waste disposal applications. Section 2. Purpose The areas being excluded from the Marikina Watershed Reservation are hereby placed under the administration of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, for development as Sanitary Landfill, and/or for use in the development of such other related waste disposal facilities that may be used by the cities and municipalities of Metro Manila and the adjoining province of Rizal and its municipalities. Section 3. Technical Description Specifically, the areas being hereby excluded from the Marikina Watershed Reservation consist of two (2) parcels, with an aggregate area of approximately ONE MILLION SIXTY THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY NINE (1,060,529) square meters more or less, as follows: x x x x Section 4. Reservations The development, construction, use and/or operation of any facility that may be established within the parcel of land herein excluded from the Marikina Watershed Reservation shall be governed by existing laws, rules and regulations pertaining to environmental control and management. When no longer needed for sanitary landfill purposes or the related waste disposal activities, the parcels of land subject of this proclamation shall revert back as part of the Marikina Watershed Reservation, unless otherwise authorized.

4.21 The present site at San Mateo was selected because, at the time consideration was being made, and up to the present, it is found to have the attributes that positively respond to the criteria established: 4.21.1 The site was a government property and would not require any outlay for it to be acquired. 4.21.2 It is far from any sizeable community/settlements that could be affected by the development that would be introduced and yet, was within economic hauling distance from the areas they are designed to serve. 4.21.21 At the time it was originally decided to locate the landfills at the present site, there were not more that fifteen (15) settlers in the area and they had hardly established themselves. The community settlements were located far from the site. 4.21.22 The area was hardly accessible, especially to any public transport. The area was being served by a public utility jeep that usually made only two (2) trips daily. During the rainy season, it could only be reached by equipping the vehicle with tire chains to traverse the slippery muddy trail roads. 4.21.3 There was, at least, seventy-three (73) hectares available at the site. 4.3 While the site was within the Marikina Watershed Reservation under the administration of the DENR, the site was located at the lower periphery of the buffer zone; was evaluated to be least likely to affect the underground water supply; and could, in fact, be excluded from the reservation. 4.31 It was determined to be far from the main water containment area for it to pose any immediate danger of contaminating the underground water, in case of a failure in any of the mitigating measures that would be installed. 4.32 It was likewise too far from the nearest body of water, the Laguna Lake, and the distance, plus the increasing accumulation of water from other tributaries toward the lake, would serve to dilute and mitigate any contamination it may emit, in case one happened. 4.33 To resolve the recurring issue regarding its being located within the Marikina Watershed Reservation, the site had been recommended by the DENR, and approved by the President, to already be excluded from the Marikina Watershed reservation and placed under the administration of MMDA, since the site was deemed to form part of the land resource reserve then commonly referred to as buffer zone. 5. Contrary to the impression that you had been given, relocating the site at this point and time would not be easy, if not impracticable, because aside from the investments that had been made in locating the present site, further investments have been incurred in: 5.1 The conduct of the technical studies for the development being implemented. Through a grant-in-aid from the World Bank, US$600,000 was initially spent for the conduct of the necessary studies on the area and the design of the landfill. This was augmented by, at least, another P1.5 million from the government for the studies to be completed, or a total cost at the time (1990) of approximately P20 million. 5.2. Additionally, the government has spent approximately P33 million in improving on the roadway to make the site accessible from the main road/highway. 5.3 To achieve the necessary economies in the development of the site, the utilities had been planned so that their use could be maximized. These include the access roads, the drainage system, the leacheate collection system, the gas collection system, and the waste water treatment system. Their construction are designed so that instead of having to construct independent units for each area, the use of existing facilities can be maximized through a system of interconnection. On the average, the government is spending P14.8 million to develop a hectare of sanitary landfill area. 6. Despite the preparations and the investments that are now being made on the project, it is estimated that the total available area, at an accelerated rate of disposal, assuming that all open dump sites were to be closed, will only last for 39 months. 6.1 We are still hard pressed to achieve advanced development on the sites to assure against any possible crisis in garbage from again being experienced in

On 06 September 1995, Director Wilfrido S. Pollisco of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau wrote the DENR Secretary to express the bureaus stand against the dumpsite at Pintong Bocaue, and that it is our view . . . that the mere presence of a garbage dumpsite inside a watershed reservation is definitely not compatible with the very purpose and objectives for which the reservation was established. On 24 November 1995, the petitioners Municipality of San Mateo and the residents of Pintong Bocaue, represented by former Senator Jovito Salonga, sent a letter to President Ramos requesting him to reconsider Proclamation No. 635. Receiving no reply, they sent another letter on 02 January 1996 reiterating their previous request. On 04 March 1996, then chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA [formerly MMA]) Prospero I. Oreta addressed a letter to Senator Salonga, stating in part that: . 2. Considering the circumstances under which we are pursuing the project, we are certain you will agree that, unless we are prepared with a better alternative, the project simply has to be pursued in the best interest of the greater majority of the population, particularly their health and welfare. 2.1 The San Mateo Sanitary Landfill services, at least, 38% of the waste disposal site requirements of Metro Manila where an estimated 9 million population reside. 2.2 Metro Manila is presently estimated to be generating, at least, 15,700 cubic meters of household or municipal waste, a 1.57 hectare of land area will be filled in a months time with a pile 31 meters high of garbage, or in a year, the accumulated volume will require 18.2 hectares. .... 4. The sanitary landfill projects are now on their fifth year of implementation. The amount of effort and money already invested in the project by the government cannot easily be disregarded, much more set aside in favor of the few settlers/squatters who chose to ignore the earlier notice given to them that the area would be used precisely for the development of waste disposal sites, and are now attempting to arouse opposition to the project. 4.2 There is no place within the jurisdiction of Metro Manila, with an area big enough to accommodate at least 3 to 5 years of waste disposal requirements. x xxx

Metro Manila, aside from having to look for the additional sites that may be used after the capacities shall have been exhausted. 6.2 Faced with the prospects of having the 15,700 cubic meters of garbage generated daily strewn all over Metro Manila, we are certain you will agree that it would be futile to even as much as consider a suspension of the waste disposal operations at the sanitary landfills.

LOCATED IN THE BUFFER ZONE OF THE RESERVATION AND IS THEREFORE OUTSIDE OF ITS BOUNDARIES, AND EVEN DECLARED IN ITS DECISION THAT IT TOOK SERIOUS NOTE OF THIS PARTICULAR ARGUMENT. VI THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT ENCROACHED ON THE FUNCTION OF CONGRESS BY EXPRESSING ITS UNJUSTIFIED FEAR OF MINI-SMOKEY MOUNTAINS PROLIFERATING IN METRO MANILA AND JUSTIFYING ITS DECISION IN FAVOR OF AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM OF SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT LIKE THE SAN MATEO LANDFILL.

On 22 July 1996, the petitioners filed before the Court of Appeals a civil action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with application for a temporary restraining order/writ of preliminary injunction. The hearing on the prayer for preliminary injunction was held on 14 August 1996. On 13 June 1997, the court a quo rendered a Decision,[15] the dispositive part of which reads: WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with application for a temporary restraining order/writ of preliminary injunction for lack of cause of action, is hereby DENIED.[16]

Hence, this petition for review on certiorari of the above decision on the following grounds: I THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN DELIBERATELY IGNORING THE SIGNIFICANT FACT THAT PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION NO. 635 WAS BASED ON A BRAZEN FORGERY IT WAS SUPPOSEDLY ISSUED, AS STATED IN THE PROCLAMATION ITSELF AND REPEATEDLY ASSERTED BY RESPONDENTS IN THEIR COMMENT, ON THE BASIS OF THE ALLEGED RECOMMENDATION OF THE DENR SECRETARY DATED JUNE 26, 1995 BUT WHICH ASSERTION WAS DENOUNCED BY THE THEN SECRETARY ANGEL C. ALCALA HIMSELF IN A SWORN STATEMENT DATED SEPTEMBER 18, 1996 AND AGAIN DURING THE SPECIAL HEARING OF THE CASE IN THE COURT OF APPEALS ON NOVEMBER 13, 1996 AS A FORGERY SINCE HIS SIGNATURE ON THE ALLEGED RECOMMENDATION HAD BEEN FALSIFIED, AS NOW ADMITTED BY RESPONDENTS THEMSELVES IN THEIR COMMENT FILED WITH THE COURT OF APPEALS, THROUGH THE OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL. II THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN COMPLETELY IGNORING THE SIGNIFICANT FACT THAT THE RESPONDENTS ARE OPERATING THE LANDFILL BASED ON A SPURIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE. III THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE RESPONDENTS DID NOT VIOLATE R.A. 7586 WHEN THEY ISSUED AND IMPLEMENTED PROCLAMATION NO. 635 CONSIDERING THAT THE WITHDRAWAL OR DISESTABLISHMENT OF A PROTECTED AREA OR THE MODIFICATION OF THE MARIKINA WATERSHED CAN ONLY BE DONE BY AN ACT OF CONGRESS. IV THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT DELIBERATELY AND WILLFULLY BRUSHED ASIDE THE UNANIMOUS FINDINGS AND ADVERSE RECOMMENDATIONS OF RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND NON-PARTISAN OFFICIALS CONCERNED WITH ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION IN FAVOR OF THE SELF-SERVING, GRATUITOUS ASSERTIONS FOUND IN THE UNSOLICITED, PARTISAN LETTER OF FORMER MALABON MAYOR, NOW CHAIRMAN PROSPERO ORETA OF THE MMDA WHO IS AN INTERESTED PARTY IN THIS CASE. V THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT READILY SWALLOWED RESPONDENTS ASSERTION THAT THE SAN MATEO DUMPSITE IS

On 05 January 1998, while the appeal was pending, the petitioners filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order,[17] pointing out that the effects of the El Nio phenomenon would be aggravated by the relentless destruction of the Marikina Watershed Reservation. They noted that respondent MMDA had, in the meantime, continued to expand the area of the dumpsite inside the Marikina Watershed Reservation, cutting down thousands of mature fruit trees and forest trees, and leveling hills and mountains to clear the dumping area. Garbage disposal operations were also being conducted on a 24-hour basis, with hundreds of metric tons of wastes being dumped daily, including toxic and infectious hospital wastes, intensifying the air, ground and water pollution.[18] The petitioners reiterated their prayer that respondent MMDA be temporarily enjoined from further dumping waste into the site and from encroaching into the area beyond its existing perimeter fence so as not to render the case moot and academic. On 28 January 1999, the petitioners filed a Motion for Early Resolution,[19] calling attention to the continued expansion of the dumpsite by the MMDA that caused the people of Antipolo to stage a rally and barricade the Marcos Highway to stop the dump trucks from reaching the site for five successive days from 16 January 1999. On the second day of the barricade, all the municipal mayors of the province of Rizal openly declared their full support for the rally, and notified the MMDA that they would oppose any further attempt to dump garbage in their province.[20] As a result, MMDA officials, headed by then Chairman Jejomar Binay, agreed to abandon the dumpsite after six months. Thus, the municipal mayors of Rizal, particularly the mayors of Antipolo and San Mateo, agreed to the use of the dumpsite until that period, which would end on 20 July 1999.[21] On 13 July 1999, the petitioners filed an Urgent Second Motion for Early Resolution[22] in anticipation of violence between the conflicting parties as the date of the scheduled closure of the dumpsite neared. On 19 July 1999, then President Joseph E. Estrada, taking cognizance of the gravity of the problems in the affected areas and the likelihood that violence would erupt among the parties involved, issued a Memorandum ordering the closure of the dumpsite on 31 December 2000.[23] Accordingly, on 20 July 1999, the Presidential Committee on Flagship Programs and Projects and the MMDA entered into a MOA with the Provincial Government of Rizal, the Municipality of San Mateo, and the City of Antipolo, wherein the latter agreed to further extend the use of the dumpsite until its permanent closure on 31 December 2000.[24] On 11 January 2001, President Estrada directed Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Alfredo Lim and MMDA Chairman Binay to reopen the San Mateo dumpsite in view of the emergency situation of uncollected garbage in Metro Manila, resulting in a critical and imminent health and sanitation epidemic.[25] Claiming the above events constituted a clear and present danger of violence erupting in the affected areas, the petitioners filed an Urgent Petition for Restraining Order[26] on 19 January 2001. On 24 January 2001, this Court issued the Temporary Restraining Order prayed for, effective immediately and until further orders.[27] Meanwhile, on 26 January 2001, Republic Act No. 9003, otherwise known as The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, was signed into law by President Estrada.

Thus, the petitioners raised only two issues in their Memorandum[28] of 08 February 2005: 1) whether or not respondent MMDA agreed to the permanent closure of the San Mateo Landfill as of December 2000, and 2) whether or not the permanent closure of the San Mateo landfill is mandated by Rep. Act No. 9003. We hold that the San Mateo Landfill will remain permanently closed. Although the petitioners may be deemed to have waived or abandoned the issues raised in their previous pleadings but not included in the memorandum, [29] certain events we shall relate below have inclined us to address some of the more pertinent issues raised in the petition for the guidance of the herein respondents, and pursuant to our symbolic function to educate the bench and bar.[30] The law and the facts indicate that a mere MOA does not guarantee the dumpsites permanent closure. The rally and barricade staged by the people of Antipolo on 28 January 1999, with the full support of all the mayors of Rizal Province caused the MMDA to agree that it would abandon the dumpsite after six months. In return, the municipal mayors allowed the use of the dumpsite until 20 July 1999. On 20 July 1999, with much fanfare and rhetoric, the Presidential Committee on Flagship Programs and Projects and the MMDA entered into a MOA with the Provincial Government of Rizal, the Municipality of San Mateo, and the City of Antipolo, whereby the latter agreed to an extension for the use of the dumpsite until 31 December 2000, at which time it would be permanently closed. Despite this agreement, President Estrada directed Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Alfredo Lim and MMDA Chairman Binay to reopen the San Mateo dumpsite on 11 January 2001, in view of the emergency situation of uncollected garbage in Metro Manila, resulting in a critical and imminent health and sanitation epidemic; our issuance of a TRO on 24 January 2001 prevented the dumpsites reopening. Were it not for the TRO, then President Estradas instructions would have been lawfully carried out, for as we observed in Oposa v. Factoran, the freedom of contract is not absolute. Thus: .. In Abe vs. Foster Wheeler Corp., 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, quoted in Philippine American Life Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General, 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. (Citations omitted, emphasis supplied) We thus feel there is also the added need to reassure the residents of the Province of Rizal that this is indeed a final resolution of this controversy, for a brief review of the records of this case indicates two self-evident facts. First, the San Mateo site has adversely affected its environs, and second, sources of water should always be protected. As to the first point, the adverse effects of the site were reported as early as 19 June 1989, when the Investigation Report of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer of DENR-IV-1 stated that the sources of domestic water supply of over one thousand families would be adversely affected by the dumping operations.[31] The succeeding report included the observation that the use of the areas as dumping site greatly affected the ecological balance and environmental factors of the community.[32] Respondent LLDA in fact informed the MMA that the heavy pollution and risk of disease generated by dumpsites rendered the location of a dumpsite within the Marikina Watershed Reservation incompatible with its program of upgrading the water quality of the Laguna Lake. [33]

The DENR suspended the sites ECC after investigations revealed ground slumping and erosion had resulted from improper development of the site.[34] Another Investigation Report[35] submitted by the Regional Technical Director to the DENR reported respiratory illnesses among pupils of a primary school located approximately 100 meters from the site, as well as the constant presence of large flies and windblown debris all over the schools playground. It further reiterated reports that the leachate treatment plant had been eroded twice already, contaminating the nearby creeks that were sources of potable water for the residents. The contaminated water was also found to flow to the Wawa Dam and Boso-boso River, which in turn empties into Laguna de Bay. This brings us to the second self-evident point. Water is life, and must be saved at all costs. In Collado v. Court of Appeals,[36] we had occasion to reaffirm our previous discussion in Sta. Rosa Realty Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals,[37] on the primordial importance of watershed areas, thus: The most important product of a watershed is water, which is one of the most important human necessities. The protection of watersheds ensures an adequate supply of water for future generations and the control of flashfloods that not only damage property but also cause loss of lives. Protection of watersheds is an intergenerational responsibility that needs to be answered now.[38] Three short months before Proclamation No. 635 was passed to avert the garbage crisis, Congress had enacted the National Water Crisis Act[39] to adopt urgent and effective measures to address the nationwide water crisis which adversely affects the health and well-being of the population, food production, and industrialization process. One of the issues the law sought to address was the protection and conservation of watersheds.[40] In other words, while respondents were blandly declaring that the reason for the creation of the Marikina Watershed Reservation, i.e., to protect Marikina River as the source of water supply of the City of Manila, no longer exists, the rest of the country was gripped by a shortage of potable water so serious, it necessitated its own legislation. Respondents actions in the face of such grave environmental consequences defy all logic. The petitioners rightly noted that instead of providing solutions, they have, with unmitigated callousness, worsened the problem. It is this readiness to wreak irrevocable damage on our natural heritage in pursuit of what is expedient that has compelled us to rule at length on this issue. We ignore the unrelenting depletion of our natural heritage at our peril. I. THE REORGANIZATION ACT OF THE DENR DEFINES AND LIMITS ITS POWERS OVER THE COUNTRYS NATURAL RESOURCES

The respondents next point out that the Marikina Watershed Reservation, and thus the San Mateo Site, is located in the public domain. They allege that as such, neither the Province of Rizal nor the municipality of San Mateo has the power to control or regulate its use since properties of this nature belong to the national, and not to the local governments. It is ironic that the respondents should pursue this line of reasoning. In Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources,[41] we had occasion to observe that (o)ne of the fixed and dominating objectives of the 1935 Constitutional Convention was the nationalization and conservation of the natural resources of the country. There was an overwhelming sentiment in the convention in favor of the principle of state ownership of natural resources and the adoption of the Regalian doctrine. State ownership of natural resources was seen as a necessary starting point to secure recognition of the states power to control their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization.[42] The Regalian doctrine was embodied in the 1935 Constitution, in Section 1 of Article XIII on Conservation and Utilization of Natural Resources. This was reiterated in the 1973 Constitution under Article XIV on the National Economy and the Patrimony of the Nation, and reaffirmed in the 1987 Constitution in Section 2 of Article XII on National Economy and Patrimony, to wit: Sec. 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not

be alienated. The exploration, development and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant.[43]

policies of the state, and is subject to the law and higher authority. Section 2, Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, while specifically referring to the mandate of the DENR, makes particular reference to the agencys being subject to law and higher authority, thus: 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.

Clearly, the state is, and always has been, zealous in preserving as much of our natural and national heritage as it can, enshrining as it did the obligation to preserve and protect the same within the text of our fundamental law. It was with this objective in mind that the respondent DENR was mandated by then President Corazon C. Aquino, under Section 4 of Executive Order No. 192, [44] otherwise known as The Reorganization Act of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to be the primary government agency responsible for the conservation, management, development and proper use of the countrys environment and natural resources, specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral resources, including those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of the public domain. It is also responsible for 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. We expounded on this matter in the landmark case of Oposa v. Factoran,[45] where we held that the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is a fundamental legal right that carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment. This right implies, among other things, the judicious management and conservation of the countrys resources, which duty is reposed in the DENR under the aforequoted Section 4 of Executive Order No. 192. Moreover: Section 3 (of E. O. No. 192) 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 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. (Emphasis ours) This policy declaration is substantially re-stated in Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, specifically 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.[46] (Emphasis ours.)

With great power comes great responsibility. It is the height of irony that the public respondents have vigorously arrogated to themselves the power to control the San Mateo site, but have deftly ignored their corresponding responsibility as guardians and protectors of this tormented piece of land. II. THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE GIVES TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS ALL THE NECESSARY POWERS TO PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE OF THEIR INHABITANTS The circumstances under which Proclamation No. 635 was passed also violates Rep. Act No. 7160, or the Local Government Code. Contrary to the averment of the respondents, Proclamation No. 635, which was passed on 28 August 1995, is subject to the provisions of the Local Government Code, which was approved four years earlier, on 10 October 1991. Section 2(c) of the said law declares that it is the policy of the state to require all national agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate local government units, non-governmental and people's organizations, and other concerned sectors of the community before any project or program is implemented in their respective jurisdictions. Likewise, Section 27 requires prior consultations before a program shall be implemented by government authorities and the prior approval of the sanggunian is obtained. During the oral arguments at the hearing for the temporary restraining order, Director Uranza of the MMDA Solid Waste Management Task Force declared before the Court of Appeals that they had conducted the required consultations. However, he added that (t)his is the problem, sir, the officials we may have been talking with at the time this was established may no longer be incumbent and this is our difficulty now. That is what we are trying to do now, a continuing dialogue.[47] The ambivalent reply of Director Uranza was brought to the fore when, at the height of the protest rally and barricade along Marcos Highway to stop dump trucks from reaching the site, all the municipal mayors of the province of Rizal openly declared their full support for the rally and notified the MMDA that they would oppose any further attempt to dump garbage in their province. [48] The municipal mayors acted within the scope of their powers, and were in fact fulfilling their mandate, when they did this. Section 16 allows every local government unit to exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare, which involve, among other things, promot(ing) health and safety, enhance(ing) the right of the people to a balanced ecology, and preserv(ing) the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants. In Lina , Jr. v. Pao,[49] we held that Section 2 (c), requiring consultations with the appropriate local government units, should apply to national government projects affecting the environmental or ecological balance of the particular community implementing the project. Rejecting the petitioners contention that Sections 2(c) and 27 of the Local Government Code applied mandatorily in the setting up of lotto outlets around the country, we held that: From a careful reading of said provisions, we find that these apply only to national programs and/or projects which are to be implemented in a particular

In sum, the Administrative Code of 1987 and Executive Order No. 192 entrust the DENR with the guardianship and safekeeping of the Marikina Watershed Reservation and our other natural treasures. However, although the DENR, an agency of the government, owns the Marikina Reserve and has jurisdiction over the same, this power is not absolute, but is defined by the declared

local community. Lotto is neither a program nor a project of the national government, but of a charitable institution, the PCSO. Though sanctioned by the national government, it is far fetched to say that lotto falls within the contemplation of Sections 2 (c) and 27 of the Local Government Code. Section 27 of the Code should be read in conjunction with Section 26 thereof. Section 26 reads: SECTION 26. Duty of National Government Agencies in the Maintenance of Ecological Balance. It shall be the duty of every national agency or government-owned or controlled corporation authorizing or involved in the planning and implementation of any project or program that may cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of crop land, range-land, or forest cover, and extinction of animal or plant species, to consult with the local government units, nongovernmental organizations, and other sectors concerned and explain the goals and objectives of the project or program, its impact upon the people and the community in terms of environmental or ecological balance, and the measures that will be undertaken to prevent or minimize the adverse effects thereof. Thus, the projects and programs mentioned in Section 27 should be interpreted to mean projects and programs whose effects are among those enumerated in Section 26 and 27, to wit, those that: (1) may cause pollution; (2) may bring about climatic change; (3) may cause the depletion of nonrenewable resources; (4) may result in loss of crop land, range-land, or forest cover; (5) may eradicate certain animal or plant species from the face of the planet; and (6) other projects or programs that may call for the eviction of a particular group of people residing in the locality where these will be implemented. Obviously, none of these effects will be produced by the introduction of lotto in the province of Laguna. (emphasis supplied) We reiterated this doctrine in the recent case of Bangus Fry Fisherfolk v. Lanzanas,[50] where we held that there was no statutory requirement for the sangguniang bayan of Puerto Galera to approve the construction of a mooring facility, as Sections 26 and 27 are inapplicable to projects which are not environmentally critical. Moreover, Section 447, which enumerates the powers, duties and functions of the municipality, grants the sangguniang bayan the power to, among other things, enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate funds for the general welfare of the municipality and its inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of th(e) Code. These include: (1) Approving ordinances and passing resolutions to protect the environment and impose appropriate penalties for acts which endanger the environment, such as dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive fishing, illegal logging and smuggling of logs, smuggling of natural resources products and of endangered species of flora and fauna, slash and burn farming, and such other activities which result in pollution, acceleration of eutrophication of rivers and lakes, or of ecological imbalance; [Section 447 (1)(vi)] (2) Prescribing reasonable limits and restraints on the use of property within the jurisdiction of the municipality, adopting a comprehensive land use plan for the municipality, reclassifying land within the jurisdiction of the city, subject to the pertinent provisions of this Code, enacting integrated zoning ordinances in consonance with the approved comprehensive land use plan, subject to existing laws, rules and regulations; establishing fire limits or zones, particularly in populous centers; and regulating the construction, repair or modification of buildings within said fire limits or zones in accordance with the provisions of this Code; [Section 447 (2)(vi-ix)] (3) Approving ordinances which shall ensure the efficient and effective delivery of the basic services and facilities as provided for under Section 17 of this Code, and in addition to said services and facilities, providing for the establishment, maintenance, protection, and conservation of communal forests and watersheds, tree parks, greenbelts, mangroves, and other similar forest development projects .and, subject to existing laws, establishing and providing for the maintenance, repair and operation of an efficient waterworks system to supply water for the inhabitants and purifying the source of the water supply; regulating the construction, maintenance, repair and use of hydrants, pumps, cisterns and reservoirs; protecting the purity and quantity of the water supply of the municipality and, for this purpose, extending the coverage of appropriate ordinances over all territory within the drainage area of said water supply and within one hundred (100) meters of the reservoir, conduit, canal, aqueduct, pumping station, or watershed used in connection with the water service; and regulating the consumption, use or wastage of water. [Section 447 (5)(i) & (vii)]

Under the Local Government Code, therefore, two requisites must be met before a national project that affects the environmental and ecological balance of local communities can be implemented: prior consultation with the affected local communities, and prior approval of the project by the appropriate sanggunian. Absent either of these mandatory requirements, the projects implementation is illegal. III. WASTE DISPOSAL IS REGULATED BY THE ECOLOGICAL SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT ACT OF 2000

The respondents would have us overlook all the abovecited laws because the San Mateo site is a very expensive - and necessary - fait accompli. The respondents cite the millions of pesos and hundreds of thousands of dollars the government has already expended in its development and construction, and the lack of any viable alternative sites. The Court of Appeals agreed, thus: During the hearing on the injunction, questions were also asked. What will happen if the San Mateo Sanitary Landfill is closed? Where will the daily collections of garbage be disposed of and dumped? Atty. Mendoza, one of the lawyers of the petitioners, answered that each city/municipality must take care of its own. Reflecting on that answer, we are troubled: will not the proliferation of separate open dumpsites be a more serious health hazard (which ha(s) to be addressed) to the residents of the community? What with the galloping population growth and the constricting available land area in Metro Manila? There could be a mini-Smokey Mountain in each of the ten citiescomprising Metro Manila, placing in danger the health and safety of more people. Damage to the environment could be aggravated by the increase in number of open dumpsites. An integrated system of solid waste management, like the San Mateo Sanitary Landfill, appears advisable to a populous metropolis like the Greater Metro Manila Area absent access to better technology.[51] We acknowledge that these are valid concerns. Nevertheless, the lower court should have been mindful of the legal truism that it is the legislature, by its very nature, which is the primary judge of the necessity, adequacy, wisdom, reasonableness and expediency of any law.[52] Moreover, these concerns are addressed by Rep. Act No. 9003. Approved on 26 January 2001, The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 was enacted pursuant to the declared policy of the state to adopt a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management system which shall ensure the protection of public health and environment, and utilize environmentally sound methods that maximize the utilization of valuable resources and encourage resource conservation and recovery.[53] It requires the adherence to a Local Government Solid Waste Management Plan with regard to the collection and transfer, processing, source reduction, recycling, composting and final disposal of solid wastes, the handling and disposal of special wastes, education and public information, and the funding of solid waste management projects. The said law mandates the formulation of a National Solid Waste Management Framework, which should include, among other things, the method and procedure for the phaseout and the eventual closure within eighteen months from effectivity of the Act in case of existing open dumps and/or sanitary landfills located within an aquifer, groundwater reservoir or watershed area.[54] Any landfills subsequently developed must comply with the minimum requirements laid down in Section 40, specifically that the site selected must be consistent with the overall land use plan of the local government unit, and that the site must be located in an area where the landfills operation will not detrimentally affect environmentally sensitive resources such as aquifers, groundwater reservoirs or watershed areas.[55] This writes finis to any remaining aspirations respondents may have of reopening the San Mateo Site. Having declared Proclamation No. 635 illegal, we see no compelling need to tackle the remaining issues raised in the petition and the parties respective memoranda. A final word. Laws pertaining to the protection of the environment were not drafted in a vacuum. Congress passed these laws fully aware of the perilous state of both our economic and natural wealth. It was precisely to minimize the adverse impact humanitys actions on all aspects of the natural

world, at the same time maintaining and ensuring an environment under which man and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other, that these legal safeguards were put in place. They should thus not be so lightly cast aside in the face of what is easy and expedient. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 41330, dated 13 June 1997, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The temporary restraining order issued by the Court on 24 January 2001 is hereby made permanent. SO ORDERED.

Bangus Fry Fisherfolk Diwata Magbuhos, Angelita Binay, Elma Garcia, Virgilio Panguio, Arsenio Castillo, Ariel Panguio, Antonio Panguio, Antonio Bunquin, Generoso Bunquin, Charlie Dimayacyac, Renato Panguio, Atilano Bunquin, Carlos Chavez, Juan Dimayacyac, Filemon Bunquin, Mario Magbuhos, Mauro Magbuhos, Nora Magbuhos, Jeovilyn, Genalyn And Jorvan Quimuel, minors, represented by their parents Feliciana And Sabino Quimuel, Maricar Magbuhos, minor, represented by her parents Carmelita And Antonio Magbuhos, Marlo Binay, minor, represented by his parents Efrenita And Charlito Binay, and the Bangus, Bangus Fry and other Marine Life Of Minolo Cove, petitioners, vs. The Honorable Enrico Lanzanas as Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch VII, DENR Region IV, represented by its Regional Executive Director and its Regional Director for Environment, NAPOCOR, Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Provincial Government Of Oriental Mindoro, herein represented by Governor Rodolfo Valencia, Puerto Galera Mayor Gregorio Delgado, Vice Mayor Aristeo Atienza, and Members Of The Sangguniang Bayan Of Puerto Galera, Juan Ascan, Jr., Rafael Romey, Cenon Salcedo, Jerry Dalisay, Simon Balitaan, Renato Cataquis, Marcelino Banaag, Daniel Enriquez, Amelyn Marco, Gabriel Ilagan, Municipal Engineer Rodel Rubio, And Municipal Planning And Development Coordinator Wilhelmina Lineses, respondents. (G.R. No. 131442 | July 10, 2003) CARPIO, J.: The Case This is a petition for review[1] of the Order[2] dated 7 November 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 7 (Manila RTC), dismissing petitioners complaint for lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction. The Facts On 30 June 1997, Regional Executive Director Antonio G. Principe (RED Principe) of Region IV, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), issued an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) in favor of respondent National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR). The ECC authorized NAPOCOR to construct a temporary mooring facility in Minolo Cove, Sitio Minolo, Barangay San Isidro, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. The Sangguniang Bayan of Puerto Galera has declared Minolo Cove, a mangrove area and breeding ground for bangus fry, an eco-tourist zone.[3] The mooring facility would serve as the temporary docking site of NAPOCORs power barge, which, due to turbulent waters at its former mooring site in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, required relocation to a safer site like Minolo Cove. The 14.4 megawatts power barge would provide the main source of power for the entire province of Oriental Mindoro pending the construction of a land-based power plant in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. The ECC for the mooring facility was valid for two years counted from its date of issuance or until 30 June 1999.[4] Petitioners, claiming to be fisherfolks from Minolo, San Isidro, Puerto Galera, [5] sought reconsideration of the ECC issuance. RED Principe, however, denied petitioners plea on 15 July 1997. On 21 July 1997, petitioners filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 7, for the cancellation of the ECC and for the issuance of a writ of injunction to stop the construction of the mooring facility. Impleaded as defendants were the following: (1) NAPOCOR, (2) RED Principe, (3) DENR Region IV Technical Director for Environment Oscar Dominguez, (4) Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (ORMECO), which is engaged in the distribution of electricity in Oriental Mindoro, and (5) certain officials of Puerto Galera.[6] Petitioners subsequently amended their complaint to include as additional defendants the elective officials of Oriental Mindoro represented by then Governor Rodolfo G. Valencia. Petitioners further prayed for the demolition of mooring structures that respondents had already built. On 28 July 1997, prior to the filing of the amended complaint, the trial court issued a 20-day temporary restraining order enjoining the construction of the mooring facility. However, the trial court lifted the same on 6 August 1997 on NAPOCORs manifestation that the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro was the one undertaking the construction of the mooring facility.[7] On 28 August 1997, before filing their answers, respondents ORMECO and the provincial officials of Oriental Mindoro moved to dismiss the complaint. These respondents claimed that petitioners failed to exhaust administrative remedies, rendering the complaint without cause of action. They also asserted that the Manila RTC has no jurisdiction to enjoin the construction of the mooring facility in Oriental Mindoro, which lies outside the Manila RTCs territorial jurisdiction.

Petitioners opposed the motion on the ground that there was no need to exhaust administrative remedies. They argued that the issuance of the ECC was in patent violation of Presidential Decree No. 1605,[8] Sections 26 and 27 of Republic Act No. 7160,[9] and the provisions of DENR Department Administrative Order No. 96-37 (DAO 96-37) on the documentation of ECC applications. Petitioners also claimed that the implementation of the ECC was in patent violation of its terms. In its order of 7 November 1997, the trial court granted the motion and dismissed petitioners complaint. Hence, this petition. The Ruling of the Trial Court The trial courts order dismissing the complaint reads in part: After careful evaluation and analysis, this Court finds the Motion to Dismiss tenable and meritorious. Petitioners have clearly failed to exhaust all administrative remedies before taking this legal action in Court x x x. It is x x x worth mentioning that the decision of the Regional Director may still be x x x elevated to the Office of the Secretary of the DENR to fully comply with the process of exhaustion of administrative remedies. And well settled is the rule in our jurisdiction that before bringing an action in or resorting to the Courts of Justice, all remedies of administrative character affecting or determinative of the controversy at that level should first be exhausted by the aggrieved party (Pestanas vs. Dyogi, L-25786, February 27, 1978). And petitioners failure to exhaust administrative remedies renders his [sic] petition dismissible (Chia vs. Acting Collector of Customs, 177 SCRA 755). And a dismissal on the ground of failure to exhaust administrative remedies is tantamount to a dismissal based on lack of cause of action (Baguiro vs. Basa, Jr., 214 SCRA 437; Pineda vs. CFI of Davao, 111 Phil. 643; Sarabia vs. Secretary of Agriculture & Natural Resources, L-16002, May 23, 1961; Gone, et al. vs. District Engineer, et. al., L-22782, August 29, 1975; Abe-Abe, et al. vs. Manta, et. al., L-4827, May 31, 1979) although it does not affect the jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter (Mun. of La Trinidad, et al. vs. CFI of Baguio-Benguet, et al., L-33889, June 28, 1983). Moreover, this Court finds the Opposition of the Petitioners highly untenable and bereft of merits that the controverted act in question is patently illegal and there was an immediate need for judicial intervention. The ECC in question was issued by the Regional Office of the DENR which has jurisdiction and authority over the same x x x. And corollary to this, the issue as to whether or not the Minolo Cove is within the enclosed coves and waters embraced by Puerto Galera bay and protected by Medio island is a clear question of fact which the DENR may appropriately resolve before resorting to [the] Court[s]. This Court is likewise aware and cognizant of its territorial jurisdiction in the enforcement of Writ of Injunction. That truly, [a] writ of injunction can only be enforced within [the] territorial jurisdiction of this Court but not for acts which are being or about to be committed outside its territorial jurisdiction. Thus, in Philippine National Bank vs. Pineda, 197 SCRA 1, the Honorable Supreme Court ruled: Regional Trial Courts can only enforce their writs of injunction within their respective designated territories. Furthermore, we find the issuance of the preliminary injunction directed against the Provincial Sheriff of Negros Occidental a jurisdictional paux [sic] pas (from Black Dictionary means jurisdictional falsity) as the Courts of First Instance now Regional Trial Court[s], can only enforce their writs of injunction within their respective designated territories. And finally, this Court is not unmindful of the relevant and square application in the case at bar of Presidential Decree No. 1818, Executive Order No. 380 dated November 27, 1989, and Circular No. 2-91 of the Supreme Court that the National Power Corporation (NPC) is a public utility, created under special legislation, engaged in the generation and distribution of electric power and energy. The mooring site of NPC in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro is one of its infrastructure projects falling within the mantle of Executive Order No. 380, November 27, 1989 x x x. And as held by the Supreme Court in the case of National Power Corporation vs. Honorable Abraham P. Vera, et al., 170 SCRA 721, courts are without

jurisdiction to issue injunctive writs against [the] National Power Corporation. The latter enjoys the protective mantle of P.D. 1818, (Circular No. 2-91). xxx Injunction in this case is not a mere ancillary [sic] writ but the main action itself together with the Annulment of the Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC). Even assuming arguendo that the court [can] annul the ECC how can the latter enforce the same against the Provincial Government of Oriental Mindoro which was impleaded by the petitioners as a necessary party together with the Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative and the government officials of Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, whose acts and functions are being performed outside the territorial jurisdiction of this court? x x x Indisputably, the injunction and annulment of ECC as prayed for in the petition are inseparable x x x. The conclusion, therefore, is inescapable that petitioners have failed to exhaust all the available administrative remedies and this Court has no jurisdiction to issue the injunctive writ prayed for in the Amended [Complaint].[10] The Issue The issue is whether the trial court erred in dismissing petitioners complaint for lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction. The Ruling of the Court The petition has no merit. Jurisdiction of the Manila RTC over the Case Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law. Such jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint, irrespective of whether the plaintiff is entitled to all or some of the reliefs sought.[11] A perusal of the allegations in the complaint shows that petitioners principal cause of action is the alleged illegality of the issuance of the ECC. The violation of laws on environmental protection and on local government participation in the implementation of environmentally critical projects is an issue that involves the validity of NAPOCORs ECC. If the ECC is void, then as a necessary consequence, NAPOCOR or the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro could not construct the mooring facility. The subsidiary issue of non-compliance with pertinent local ordinances in the construction of the mooring facility becomes immaterial for purposes of granting petitioners main prayer, which is the annulment of the ECC. Thus, if the court has jurisdiction to determine the validity of the issuance of the ECC, then it has jurisdiction to hear and decide petitioners complaint. Petitioners complaint is one that is not capable of pecuniary estimation. It falls within the exclusive and original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts under Section 19(1) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended by Republic Act No. 7691. The question of whether petitioners should file their complaint in the Regional Trial Court of Manila or Oriental Mindoro then becomes a matter of venue, to be determined by the residence of the parties.[12] Petitioners main prayer is the annulment of the ECC. The principal respondent, DENR Region IV, has its main office at the L & S Building, Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Regional Executive Director Principe of the DENR Region IV, who issued the ECC, holds office there. Plainly, the principal respondent resides in Manila, which is within the territorial jurisdiction of the Manila RTC. Thus, petitioners filed their complaint in the proper venue. On the other hand, the jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts to issue injunctive writs is limited to acts committed or about to be committed within their judicial region.[13] Moreover, Presidential Decree No. 1818 (PD No. 1818) prohibited[14] courts from issuing injunctive writs against government infrastructure projects like the mooring facility in the present case. Republic Act No. 8975 (RA No. 8975), which took effect on 26 November 2000, superseded PD No. 1818 and delineates more clearly the coverage of the prohibition, reserves the power to issue such writs exclusively with this Court, and provides penalties for its violation.[15] Obviously, neither the Manila RTC nor the Oriental Mindoro RTC can issue an injunctive writ to stop the construction of the mooring facility. Only this Court can do so under PD No. 1818 and later under RA No. 8975. Thus, the question of whether the Manila RTC has jurisdiction over the complaint considering that its injunctive writ is not enforceable in Oriental Mindoro is academic.

Clearly, the Manila RTC has jurisdiction to determine the validity of the issuance of the ECC, although it could not issue an injunctive writ against the DENR or NAPOCOR. However, since the construction of the mooring facility could not proceed without a valid ECC, the validity of the ECC remains the determinative issue in resolving petitioners complaint. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies The settled rule is before a party may seek the intervention of the courts, he should first avail of all the means afforded by administrative processes. Hence, if a remedy within the administrative machinery is still available, with a procedure prescribed pursuant to law for an administrative officer to decide the controversy, a party should first exhaust such remedy before resorting to the courts. The premature invocation of a courts intervention renders the complaint without cause of action and dismissible on such ground.[16] RED Principe of the DENR Region IV Office issued the ECC based on (1) Presidential Decree No. 1586 (PD No. 1586) and its implementing rules establishing the Environmental Impact Statement System, (2) DAO 96-37[17] and (3) the Procedural Manual of DAO 96-37. Section 4[18] of PD No. 1586 requires a proponent of an environmentally critical project, or a project located within an environmentally critical area as declared by the President, to secure an ECC prior to the projects operation.[19] NAPOCOR thus secured the ECC because the mooring facility in Minolo Cove, while not an environmentally critical project, is located within an environmentally critical area under Presidential Proclamation No. 2146, issued on 14 December 1981. [20] The rules on administrative appeals from rulings of the DENR Regional Directors on the implementation of PD No. 1586 are found in Article VI of DAO 96-37, which provides: SECTION 1.0. Appeal to the Office of the Secretary. Any party aggrieved by the final decision of the RED may, within 15 days from receipt of such decision, file an appeal with the Office of the Secretary. The decision of the Secretary shall be immediately executory. SECTION 2.0. Grounds for Appeal. The grounds for appeal shall be limited to grave abuse of discretion and serious errors in the findings of fact which would cause grave or irreparable injury to the aggrieved party. Frivolous appeals shall not be countenanced. SECTION 3.0. Who May Appeal. The proponent or any stakeholder, including but not limited to, the LGUs concerned and affected communities, may file an appeal. The DENR Procedural Manual for DAO 96-37 explains these provisions thus: Final decisions of the RED may be appealed. These decisions include those relating to the issuance or non-issuance of an ECC, and the imposition of fines and penalties. By inference, the decision of the Secretary on the issuance or non-issuance of the ECC may also be appealed based on this provision. Resort to courts prior to availing of this remedy would make the appellants action dismissible on the ground of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies. The right to appeal must be exercised within 15 days from receipt by the aggrieved party of such decision. Failure to file such appeal within the requisite period will result in the finality of the REDs or Secretarys decision(s), which can no longer be disturbed. An appeal shall not stay the effectivity of the REDs decision, unless the Secretary directs otherwise. The right to appeal does not prevent the aggrieved party from first resorting to the filing of a motion for reconsideration with the RED, to give the RED an opportunity to re-evaluate his decision. (Emphasis added) Instead of following the foregoing procedure, petitioners bypassed the DENR Secretary and immediately filed their complaint with the Manila RTC, depriving the DENR Secretary the opportunity to review the decision of his subordinate, RED Principe. Under the Procedural Manual for DAO 96-37 and applicable jurisprudence, petitioners omission renders their complaint dismissible for lack of cause of action.[21] Consequently, the Manila RTC did not err in dismissing petitioners complaint for lack of cause of action. On the Alleged Patent Illegality of the ECC

Petitioners nevertheless contend that they are exempt from filing an appeal with the DENR Secretary because the issuance of the ECC was in patent violation of existing laws and regulations. These are (1) Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1605, as amended, (2) Sections 26 and 27 of Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991), and (3) the provisions of DAO 96-37 on the documentary requirements for the zoning permit and social acceptability of the mooring facility. Petitioners contention is without merit. While the patent illegality of an act exempts a party from complying with the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies,[22] this does not apply in the present case. Presidential Decree No. 1605 Presidential Decree No. 1605 (PD No. 1605),[23] as amended by Presidential Decrees Nos. 1605-A and 1805, declares as ecologically threatened zone the coves and waters embraced by Puerto Galera Bay as protected by Medio Island. This decree provides in part: Section 1. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the construction of marinas, hotels, restaurants, other commercial structures; commercial or semi-commercial wharfs [sic]; commercial docking within the enclosed coves of Puerto Galera; the destruction of its mangrove stands; the devastation of its corals and coastline by large barges, motorboats, tugboat propellers, and any form of destruction by other human activities are hereby prohibited. Section 2. x x x No permit for the construction of any wharf, marina, hotel, restaurants and other commercial structures in Puerto Galera shall be issued without prior approval of the Office of the President upon the recommendation of the Philippine Tourism Authority. (Emphasis supplied) NAPOCOR claims that since Minolo Cove lies outside of Puerto Galera Bay as protected by Medio Island,[24] PD No. 1605 does not apply to this case. However, petitioners assert that Minolo Cove is one of the enclosed coves of Puerto Galera[25] and thus protected under PD No. 1605. This is a question of fact that the DENR Secretary should have first resolved. In any event, there is no dispute that NAPOCOR will use the mooring facility for its power barge that will supply 14.4 megawatts of electricity to the entire province of Oriental Mindoro, including Puerto Galera. The mooring facility is obviously a government-owned public infrastructure intended to serve a basic need of the people of Oriental Mindoro. The mooring facility is not a commercial structure; commercial or semi-commercial wharf or commercial docking as contemplated in Section 1 of PD No. 1605. Therefore, the issuance of the ECC does not violate PD No. 1605 which applies only to commercial structures like wharves, marinas, hotels and restaurants. Sections 26 and 27 of RA No. 7160 Congress introduced Sections 26 and 27 in the Local Government Code to emphasize the legislative concern for the maintenance of a sound ecology and clean environment.[26] These provisions require every national government agency or government-owned and controlled corporation to hold prior consultations with the local government unit concerned and to secure the prior approval of its sanggunian before implementing any project or program that may cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of cropland, rangeland, or forest cover and extinction of animal or plant species. Sections 26 and 27 respectively provide: Section 26. Duty of National Government Agencies in the Maintenance of Ecological Balance. - It shall be the duty of every national agency or government-owned or controlled corporation authorized or involved in the planning and implementation of any project or program that may cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of crop land, rangeland, or forest cover and extinction of animal or plant species, to consult with the local government units, non-governmental organizations, and other sectors concerned and explain the goals and objectives of the project or program, its impact upon the people and the community in terms of environmental or ecological balance, and the measures that will be undertaken to prevent or minimize the adverse effects thereof. Section 27. Prior Consultations Required. - No project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless the consultations mentioned in Section x x x 26 hereof are complied with, and prior approval of the sanggunian concerned is obtained: Provided, That occupants in areas where

such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate relocation sites have been provided, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. In Lina, Jr. v. Pao,[27] the Court interpreted these provisions in this manner: Section 27 of the Code should be read in conjunction with Section 26 thereof x x x. Thus, the projects and programs mentioned in Section 27 should be interpreted to mean projects and programs whose effects are among those enumerated in Sections 26 and 27, to wit, those that: (1) may cause pollution; (2) may bring about climatic change; (3) may cause the depletion of nonrenewable resources; (4) may result in loss of crop land, rangeland, or forest cover; (5) may eradicate certain animal or plant species; and (6) other projects or programs that may call for the eviction of a particular group of people residing in the locality where these will be implemented. Again, Sections 26 and 27 do not apply to this case because as petitioners admit,[28] the mooring facility itself is not environmentally critical and hence does not belong to any of the six types of projects mentioned in the law. There is no statutory requirement for the concerned sanggunian to approve the construction of the mooring facility. It is another matter if the operation of the power barge is at issue. As an environmentally critical project that causes pollution, the operation of the power barge needs the prior approval of the concerned sanggunian. However, what is before this Court is only the construction of the mooring facility, not the operation of the power barge. Thus, the issuance of the ECC does not violate Sections 26 and 27 of RA No. 7160. Documentary Requirements for ECC Applications Under DAO 96-37, an ECC applicant for a project located within an environmentally critical area is required to submit an Initial Environment Examination, which must contain a brief description of the environmental setting and a documentation of the consultative process undertaken, when appropriate.[29] As part of the description of the environmental setting, the ECC applicant must submit a certificate of locational clearance or zoning certificate. Petitioners further contend that NAPOCOR, in applying for the ECC, did not submit to the DENR Region IV Office the documents proving the holding of consultations and the issuance of a locational clearance or zoning certificate. Petitioners assert that this omission renders the issuance of the ECC patently illegal. The contention is also without merit. While such documents are part of the submissions required from a project proponent, their mere absence does not render the issuance of the ECC patently illegal. To justify non-exhaustion of administrative remedies due to the patent illegality of the ECC, the public officer must have issued the ECC [without any] semblance of compliance, or even an attempt to comply, with the pertinent laws; when manifestly, the officer has acted without jurisdiction or has exceeded his jurisdiction, or has committed a grave abuse of discretion; or when his act is clearly and obviously devoid of any color of authority.[30] RED Principe, as chief of DENR Region IV, is the officer duly authorized under DAO 96-37[31] to issue ECCs for projects located within environmentally critical areas. RED Principe issued the ECC on the recommendation of Amelia Supetran, the Director of the Environmental Management Bureau. Thus, RED Principe acted with full authority pursuant to DENR regulations. Moreover, the legal presumption is that he acted with the requisite authority.[32] This clothes RED Principes acts with presumptive validity and negates any claim that his actions are patently illegal or that he gravely abused his discretion. While petitioners may present proof to the contrary, they must do so before the proper administrative forum before resorting to judicial remedies. On the Alleged Non-Compliance with the Terms of the ECC Lastly, petitioners claim that they are justified in immediately seeking judicial recourse because NAPOCOR is guilty of violating the conditions of the ECC, which requires it to secure a separate ECC for the operation of the power barge. The ECC also mandates NAPOCOR to secure the usual local government permits, like zoning and building permits, from the municipal government of Puerto Galera.

The contention is similarly without merit. The fact that NAPOCORs ECC is subject to cancellation for non-compliance with its conditions does not justify petitioners conduct in ignoring the procedure prescribed in DAO 96-37 on appeals from the decision of the DENR Executive Director. Petitioners vigorously insist that NAPOCOR should comply with the requirements of consultation and locational clearance prescribed in DAO 96-37. Ironically, petitioners themselves refuse to abide with the procedure for filing complaints and appealing decisions laid down in DAO 96-37. DAO 96-37 provides for a separate administrative proceeding to address complaints for the cancellation of an ECC. Under Article IX of DAO 96-37, complaints to nullify an ECC must undergo an administrative investigation, after which the hearing officer will submit his report to the EMB Director or the Regional Executive Director, who will then render his decision. The aggrieved party may file an appeal to the DENR Secretary, who has authority to issue cease and desist orders. Article IX also classifies the types of violations covered under DAO 96-37, including projects operating without an ECC or violating the conditions of the ECC. This is the applicable procedure to address petitioners complaint on NAPOCORs alleged violations and not the filing of the instant case in court. A Final Word The Court commends petitioners for their courageous efforts to safeguard and maintain the ecological balance of Minolo Cove. This Court recognizes the utmost importance of protecting the environment.[33] Indeed, we have called for the vigorous prosecution of violators of environmental laws.[34] Legal actions to achieve this end, however, must be done in accordance with established rules of procedure that were intended, in the first place, to achieve orderly and efficient administration of justice. WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition for lack of merit.

Jose D. Lina, Jr., Sangguniang Panlalawigan Of Laguna, and Calixto Cataquiz, petitioners, vs. Hon. Francisco Dizon Pao and Tony Calvento, respondents. (G.R. No. 129093 | August 30, 2001) DECISION QUISUMBING, J.: For our resolution is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the decision[1] dated February 10, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of San Pedro, Laguna, Branch 93, enjoining petitioners from implementing or enforcing Kapasiyahan Bilang 508, Taon 1995, of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna and its subsequent Order[2] dated April 21, 1997 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration. On December 29, 1995, respondent Tony Calvento was appointed agent by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to install Terminal OM 20 for the operation of lotto. He asked Mayor Calixto Cataquiz, Mayor of San Pedro, Laguna, for a mayors permit to open the lotto outlet. This was denied by Mayor Cataquiz in a letter dated February 19, 1996. The ground for said denial was an ordinance passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna entitled Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995 which was issued on September 18, 1995. The ordinance reads: ISANG KAPASIYAHAN TINUTUTULAN ANG MGA ILLEGAL GAMBLING LALO NA ANG LOTTO SA LALAWIGAN NG LAGUNA SAPAGKAT, ang sugal dito sa lalawigan ng Laguna ay talamak na; SAPAGKAT, ang sugal ay nagdudulot ng masasamang impluwensiya lalot higit sa mga kabataan; KUNG KAYAT DAHIL DITO, at sa mungkahi nina Kgg. Kgd. Juan M. Unico at Kgg. Kgd. Gat-Ala A. Alatiit, pinangalawahan ni Kgg. Kgd. Meliton C. Larano at buong pagkakaisang sinangayunan ng lahat ng dumalo sa pulong; IPINASIYA, na tutulan gaya ng dito ay mahigpit na TINUTUTULAN ang ano mang uri ng sugal dito sa lalawigan ng Laguna lalot higit ang Lotto; IPINASIYA PA RIN na hilingin tulad ng dito ay hinihiling sa Panlalawigang pinuno ng Philippine National Police (PNP) Col. [illegible] na mahigpit na pag-ibayuhin ang pagsugpo sa lahat ng uri ng illegal na sugal sa buong lalawigan ng Laguna lalo na ang Jueteng.[3] As a result of this resolution of denial, respondent Calvento filed a complaint for declaratory relief with prayer for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order. In the said complaint, respondent Calvento asked the Regional Trial Court of San Pedro Laguna, Branch 93, for the following reliefs: (1) a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order, ordering the defendants to refrain from implementing or enforcing Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995; (2) an order requiring Hon. Municipal Mayor Calixto R. Cataquiz to issue a business permit for the operation of a lotto outlet; and (3) an order annulling or declaring as invalid Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995. On February 10, 1997, the respondent judge, Francisco Dizon Pao, promulgated his decision enjoining the petitioners from implementing or enforcing resolution or Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995. The dispositive portion of said decision reads: WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendants, their agents and representatives are hereby enjoined from implementing or enforcing resolution or kapasiyahan blg. 508, T. 1995 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Laguna prohibiting the operation of the lotto in the province of Laguna. SO ORDERED.[4] Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration which was subsequently denied in an Order dated April 21, 1997, which reads: Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by defendants Jose D. Lina, Jr. and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna, thru counsel, with the opposition filed by plaintiffs counsel and the comment thereto filed by counsel for the defendants which were duly noted, the Court hereby denies the motion for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.[5]

On May 23, 1997, petitioners filed this petition alleging that the following errors were committed by the respondent trial court: I THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ENJOINING THE PETITIONERS FROM IMPLEMENTING KAPASIYAHAN BLG. 508, T. 1995 OF THE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN OF LAGUNA PROHIBITING THE OPERATION OF THE LOTTO IN THE PROVINCE OF LAGUNA. II THE TRIAL COURT FAILED TO APPRECIATE THE ARGUMENT POSITED BY THE PETITIONERS THAT BEFORE ANY GOVERNMENT PROJECT OR PROGRAM MAY BE IMPLEMENTED BY THE NATIONAL AGENCIES OR OFFICES, PRIOR CONSULTATION AND APPROVAL BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS CONCERNED AND OTHER CONCERNED SECTORS IS REQUIRED. Petitioners contend that the assailed resolution is a valid policy declaration of the Provincial Government of Laguna of its vehement objection to the operation of lotto and all forms of gambling. It is likewise a valid exercise of the provincial governments police power under the General Welfare Clause of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991.[6] They also maintain that respondents lotto operation is illegal because no prior consultations and approval by the local government were sought before it was implemented contrary to the express provisions of Sections 2 (c) and 27 of R.A. 7160.[7] For his part, respondent Calvento argues that the questioned resolution is, in effect, a curtailment of the power of the state since in this case the national legislature itself had already declared lotto as legal and permitted its operations around the country.[8] As for the allegation that no prior consultations and approval were sought from the sangguniang panlalawigan of Laguna, respondent Calvento contends this is not mandatory since such a requirement is merely stated as a declaration of policy and not a self-executing provision of the Local Government Code of 1991.[9] He also states that his operation of the lotto system is legal because of the authority given to him by the PCSO, which in turn had been granted a franchise to operate the lotto by Congress.[10] The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), for the State, contends that the Provincial Government of Laguna has no power to prohibit a form of gambling which has been authorized by the national government.[11] He argues that this is based on the principle that ordinances should not contravene statutes as municipal governments are merely agents of the national government. The local councils exercise only delegated legislative powers which have been conferred on them by Congress. This being the case, these councils, as delegates, cannot be superior to the principal or exercise powers higher than those of the latter. The OSG also adds that the question of whether gambling should be permitted is for Congress to determine, taking into account national and local interests. Since Congress has allowed the PCSO to operate lotteries which PCSO seeks to conduct in Laguna, pursuant to its legislative grant of authority, the provinces Sangguniang Panlalawigan cannot nullify the exercise of said authority by preventing something already allowed by Congress. The issues to be resolved now are the following: (1) whether Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna and the denial of a mayors permit based thereon are valid; and (2) whether prior consultations and approval by the concerned Sanggunian are needed before a lotto system can be operated in a given local government unit. The entire controversy stemmed from the refusal of Mayor Cataquiz to issue a mayors permit for the operation of a lotto outlet in favor of private respondent. According to the mayor, he based his decision on an existing ordinance prohibiting the operation of lotto in the province of Laguna. The ordinance, however, merely states the objection of the council to the said game. It is but a mere policy statement on the part of the local council, which is not self-executing. Nor could it serve as a valid ground to prohibit the operation of the lotto system in the province of Laguna. Even petitioners admit as much when they stated in their petition that: 5.7. The terms of the Resolution and the validity thereof are express and clear. The Resolution is a policy declaration of the Provincial Government of Laguna of its vehement opposition and/or objection to the operation of and/or all forms of gambling including the Lotto operation in the Province of Laguna.[12]

As a policy statement expressing the local governments objection to the lotto, such resolution is valid. This is part of the local governments autonomy to air its views which may be contrary to that of the national governments. However, this freedom to exercise contrary views does not mean that local governments may actually enact ordinances that go against laws duly enacted by Congress. Given this premise, the assailed resolution in this case could not and should not be interpreted as a measure or ordinance prohibiting the operation of lotto. The game of lotto is a game of chance duly authorized by the national government through an Act of Congress. Republic Act 1169, as amended by Batas Pambansa Blg. 42, is the law which grants a franchise to the PCSO and allows it to operate the lotteries. The pertinent provision reads: Section 1. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.- The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, hereinafter designated the Office, shall be the principal government agency for raising and providing for funds for health programs, medical assistance and services and charities of national character, and as such shall have the general powers conferred in section thirteen of Act Numbered One thousand four hundred fifty-nine, as amended, and shall have the authority: A. To hold and conduct charity sweepstakes races, lotteries, and other similar activities, in such frequency and manner, as shall be determined, and subject to such rules and regulations as shall be promulgated by the Board of Directors. This statute remains valid today. While lotto is clearly a game of chance, the national government deems it wise and proper to permit it. Hence, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna, a local government unit, cannot issue a resolution or an ordinance that would seek to prohibit permits. Stated otherwise, what the national legislature expressly allows by law, such as lotto, a provincial board may not disallow by ordinance or resolution. In our system of government, the power of local government units to legislate and enact ordinances and resolutions is merely a delegated power coming from Congress. As held in Tatel vs. Virac,[13] ordinances should not contravene an existing statute enacted by Congress. The reasons for this is obvious, as elucidated in Magtajas v. Pryce Properties Corp.[14] Municipal governments are only agents of the national government. Local councils exercise only delegated legislative powers conferred upon them by Congress as the national lawmaking body. The delegate cannot be superior to the principal or exercise powers higher than those of the latter. It is a heresy to suggest that the local government units can undo the acts of Congress, from which they have derived their power in the first place, and negate by mere ordinance the mandate of the statute. Municipal corporations owe their origin to, and derive their powers and rights wholly from the legislature. It breathes into them the breath of life, without which they cannot exist. As it creates, so it may destroy. As it may destroy, it may abridge and control. Unless there is some constitutional limitation on the right, the legislature might, by a single act, and if we can suppose it capable of so great a folly and so great a wrong, sweep from existence all of the municipal corporations in the state, and the corporation could not prevent it. We know of no limitation on the right so far as the corporation themselves are concerned. They are, so to phrase it, the mere tenants at will of the legislature (citing Clinton vs. Ceder Rapids, etc. Railroad Co., 24 Iowa 455). Nothing in the present constitutional provision enhancing local autonomy dictates a different conclusion. The basic relationship between the national legislature and the local government units has not been enfeebled by the new provisions in the Constitution strengthening the policy of local autonomy. Without meaning to detract from that policy, we here confirm that Congress retains control of the local government units although in significantly reduced degree now than under our previous Constitutions. The power to create still includes the power to destroy. The power to grant still includes the power to withhold or recall. True, there are certain notable innovations in the Constitution, like the direct conferment on the local government units of the power to tax (citing Art. X, Sec. 5, Constitution), which cannot now be withdrawn by mere statute. By and large, however, the national legislature is still the principal of the local government units, which cannot defy its will or modify or violate it.[15] Ours is still a unitary form of government, not a federal state. Being so, any form of autonomy granted to local governments will necessarily be limited

and confined within the extent allowed by the central authority. Besides, the principle of local autonomy under the 1987 Constitution simply means decentralization. It does not make local governments sovereign within the state or an imperium in imperio.[16] To conclude our resolution of the first issue, respondent mayor of San Pedro, cannot avail of Kapasiyahan Bilang 508, Taon 1995, of the Provincial Board of Laguna as justification to prohibit lotto in his municipality. For said resolution is nothing but an expression of the local legislative unit concerned. The Boards enactment, like spring water, could not rise above its source of power, the national legislature. As for the second issue, we hold that petitioners erred in declaring that Sections 2 (c) and 27 of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, apply mandatorily in the setting up of lotto outlets around the country. These provisions state: Section 2. Declaration of Policy. x x x (c) It is likewise the policy of the State to require all national agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate local government units, non-governmental and peoples organizations, and other concerned sectors of the community before any project or program is implemented in their respective jurisdictions. Section 27. Prior Consultations Required. No project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless the consultations mentioned in Section 2 (c) and 26 hereof are complied with, and prior approval of the sanggunian concerned is obtained; Provided, that occupants in areas where such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate relocation sites have been provided, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. From a careful reading of said provisions, we find that these apply only to national programs and/or projects which are to be implemented in a particular local community. Lotto is neither a program nor a project of the national government, but of a charitable institution, the PCSO. Though sanctioned by the national government, it is far fetched to say that lotto falls within the contemplation of Sections 2 (c) and 27 of the Local Government Code. Section 27 of the Code should be read in conjunction with Section 26 thereof. [17] Section 26 reads: Section 26. Duty of National Government Agencies in the Maintenance of Ecological Balance. It shall be the duty of every national agency or government-owned or controlled corporation authorizing or involved in the planning and implementation of any project or program that may cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of crop land, range-land, or forest cover, and extinction of animal or plant species, to consult with the local government units, nongovernmental organizations, and other sectors concerned and explain the goals and objectives of the project or program, its impact upon the people and the community in terms of environmental or ecological balance, and the measures that will be undertaken to prevent or minimize the adverse effects thereof. Thus, the projects and programs mentioned in Section 27 should be interpreted to mean projects and programs whose effects are among those enumerated in Section 26 and 27, to wit, those that: (1) may cause pollution; (2) may bring about climatic change; (3) may cause the depletion of nonrenewable resources; (4) may result in loss of crop land, range-land, or forest cover; (5) may eradicate certain animal or plant species from the face of the planet; and (6) other projects or programs that may call for the eviction of a particular group of people residing in the locality where these will be implemented. Obviously, none of these effects will be produced by the introduction of lotto in the province of Laguna. Moreover, the argument regarding lack of consultation raised by petitioners is clearly an afterthought on their part. There is no indication in the letter of Mayor Cataquiz that this was one of the reasons for his refusal to issue a permit. That refusal was predicated solely but erroneously on the provisions of Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, Taon 1995, of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna. In sum, we find no reversible error in the RTC decision enjoining Mayor Cataquiz from enforcing or implementing the Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995, of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna. That resolution expresses merely a policy statement of the Laguna provincial board. It possesses no binding legal force nor requires any act of implementation. It provides no

sufficient legal basis for respondent mayors refusal to issue the permit sought by private respondent in connection with a legitimate business activity authorized by a law passed by Congress. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Order of the Regional Trial Court of San Pedro, Laguna enjoining the petitioners from implementing or enforcing Resolution or Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995, of the Provincial Board of Laguna is hereby AFFIRMED. No costs. SO ORDERED.

Republic Of The Philippines, represented by Heherson T. Alvarez, in his capacity as Secretary of the DENR, Clarence L. Baguilat, in his capacity as the Regional Executive Director of DENR-Region XI and ENGR. BIENVENIDO L. LIPAYON, in his capacity as the Regional Director of the DENR-ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT BUREAU (DENR-EMB), Region XI, petitioners, vs. The City Of Davao, represented by Benjamin C. De Guzman, City Mayor, respondent. [G.R. No. 148622. September 12, 2002] YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: Before us is a petition for review[1] on certiorari assailing the decision[2] dated May 28, 2001 of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 33, which granted the writ of mandamus and injunction in favor of respondent, the City of Davao, and against petitioner, the Republic, represented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The trial court also directed petitioner to issue a Certificate of Non-Coverage in favor of respondent. The antecedent facts of the case are as follows: On August 11, 2000, respondent filed an application for a Certificate of NonCoverage (CNC) for its proposed project, the Davao City Artica Sports Dome, with the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Region XI. Attached to the application were the required documents for its issuance, namely, a) detailed location map of the project site; b) brief project description; and c) a certification from the City Planning and Development Office that the project is not located in an environmentally critical area (ECA). The EMB Region XI denied the application after finding that the proposed project was within an environmentally critical area and ruled that, pursuant to Section 2, Presidential Decree No. 1586, otherwise known as the Environmental Impact Statement System, in relation to Section 4 of Presidential Decree No, 1151, also known as the Philippine Environment Policy, the City of Davao must undergo the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process to secure an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), before it can proceed with the construction of its project. Believing that it was entitled to a Certificate of Non-Coverage, respondent filed a petition for mandamus and injunction with the Regional Trial Court of Davao, docketed as Civil Case No. 28,133-2000. It alleged that its proposed project was neither an environmentally critical project nor within an environmentally critical area; thus it was outside the scope of the EIS system. Hence, it was the ministerial duty of the DENR, through the EMB-Region XI, to issue a CNC in favor of respondent upon submission of the required documents. The Regional Trial Court rendered judgment in favor of respondent, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: WHEREFORE, finding the petition to be meritorious, judgment granting the writ of mandamus and injunction is hereby rendered in favor of the petitioner City of Davao and against respondents Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the other respondents by: 1) directing the respondents to issue in favor of the petitioner City of Davao a Certificate of Non-Coverage, pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1586 and related laws, in connection with the construction by the City of Davao of the Artica Sports Dome; 2) making the preliminary injunction issued on December 12, 2000 permanent. Costs de oficio. SO ORDERED.[3] The trial court ratiocinated that there is nothing in PD 1586, in relation to PD 1151 and Letter of Instruction No. 1179 (prescribing guidelines for compliance with the EIA system), which requires local government units (LGUs) to comply with the EIS law. Only agencies and instrumentalities of the national government, including government owned or controlled corporations, as well as private corporations, firms and entities are mandated to go through the EIA process for their proposed projects which have significant effect on the quality of the environment. A local government unit, not being an agency or instrumentality of the National Government, is deemed excluded under the principle of expressio unius est exclusio alterius.

The trial court also declared, based on the certifications of the DENRCommunity Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO)-West, and the data gathered from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), that the site for the Artica Sports Dome was not within an environmentally critical area. Neither was the project an environmentally critical one. It therefore becomes mandatory for the DENR, through the EMB Region XI, to approve respondents application for CNC after it has satisfied all the requirements for its issuance. Accordingly, petitioner can be compelled by a writ of mandamus to issue the CNC, if it refuses to do so. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, however, the same was denied. Hence, the instant petition for review. With the supervening change of administration, respondent, in lieu of a comment, filed a manifestation expressing its agreement with petitioner that, indeed, it needs to secure an ECC for its proposed project. It thus rendered the instant petition moot and academic. However, for the guidance of the implementors of the EIS law and pursuant to our symbolic function to educate the bench and bar,[4] we are inclined to address the issue raised in this petition. Section 15 of Republic Act 7160,[5] otherwise known as the Local Government Code, defines a local government unit as a body politic and corporate endowed with powers to be exercised by it in conformity with law. As such, it performs dual functions, governmental and proprietary. Governmental functions are those that concern the health, safety and the advancement of the public good or welfare as affecting the public generally. [6] Proprietary functions are those that seek to obtain special corporate benefits or earn pecuniary profit and intended for private advantage and benefit.[7] When exercising governmental powers and performing governmental duties, an LGU is an agency of the national government.[8] When engaged in corporate activities, it acts as an agent of the community in the administration of local affairs.[9] Found in Section 16 of the Local Government Code is the duty of the LGUs to promote the peoples right to a balanced ecology.[10] Pursuant to this, an LGU, like the City of Davao, can not claim exemption from the coverage of PD 1586. As a body politic endowed with governmental functions, an LGU has the duty to ensure the quality of the environment, which is the very same objective of PD 1586. Further, it is a rule of statutory construction that every part of a statute must be interpreted with reference to the context, i.e., that every part must be considered with other parts, and kept subservient to the general intent of the enactment.[11] The trial court, in declaring local government units as exempt from the coverage of the EIS law, failed to relate Section 2 of PD 1586[12] to the following provisions of the same law: WHEREAS, the pursuit of a comprehensive and integrated environmental protection program necessitates the establishment and institutionalization of a system whereby the exigencies of socio-economic undertakings can be reconciled with the requirements of environmental quality; x x x. Section 1. Policy. It is hereby declared the policy of the State to attain and maintain a rational and orderly balance between socio-economic growth and environmental protection. xxx xxx xxx

Section 4. Presidential Proclamation of Environmentally Critical Areas and Projects. The President of the Philippines may, on his own initiative or upon recommendation of the National Environmental Protection Council, by proclamation declare certain projects, undertakings or areas in the country as environmentally critical. No person, partnership or corporation shall undertake or operate any such declared environmentally critical project or area without first securing an Environmental Compliance Certificate issued by the President or his duly authorized representative. For the proper management of said critical project or area, the President may by his proclamation reorganize such government offices, agencies, institutions, corporations or instrumentalities including the realignment of government personnel, and their specific functions and responsibilities. Section 4 of PD 1586 clearly states that no person, partnership or corporation shall undertake or operate any such declared environmentally critical project or area without first securing an Environmental Compliance Certificate issued by the President or his duly authorized representative.[13] The Civil Code defines a person as either natural or juridical. The state and its political

subdivisions, i.e., the local government units[14] are juridical persons.[15] Undoubtedly therefore, local government units are not excluded from the coverage of PD 1586. Lastly, very clear in Section 1 of PD 1586 that said law intends to implement the policy of the state to achieve a balance between socio-economic development and environmental protection, which are the twin goals of sustainable development. The above-quoted first paragraph of the Whereas clause stresses that this can only be possible if we adopt a comprehensive and integrated environmental protection program where all the sectors of the community are involved, i.e., the government and the private sectors. The local government units, as part of the machinery of the government, cannot therefore be deemed as outside the scope of the EIS system.[16] The foregoing arguments, however, presuppose that a project, for which an Environmental Compliance Certificate is necessary, is environmentally critical or within an environmentally critical area. In the case at bar, respondent has sufficiently shown that the Artica Sports Dome will not have a significant negative environmental impact because it is not an environmentally critical project and it is not located in an environmentally critical area. In support of this contention, respondent submitted the following: 1. Certification from the City Planning and Development Office that the project is not located in an environmentally critical area; 2. Certification from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO-West) that the project area is within the 18-30% slope, is outside the scope of the NIPAS (R.A. 7586), and not within a declared watershed area; and 3. Certification from PHILVOCS that the project site is thirty-seven (37) kilometers southeast of the southernmost extension of the Davao River Fault and forty-five (45) kilometers west of the Eastern Mindanao Fault; and is outside the required minimum buffer zone of five (5) meters from a fault zone. The trial court, after a consideration of the evidence, found that the Artica Sports Dome is not within an environmentally critical area. Neither is it an environmentally critical project. It is axiomatic that factual findings of the trial court, when fully supported by the evidence on record, are binding upon this Court and will not be disturbed on appeal.[17] This Court is not a trier of facts.[18] There are exceptional instances when this Court may disregard factual findings of the trial court, namely: a) when the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculations, surmises, or conjectures; b) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible; c) where there is a grave abuse of discretion; d) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; e) when the findings of fact are conflicting; f) when the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same are contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; g) when the findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court; h) when the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; i) when the finding of fact of the Court of Appeals is premised on the supposed absence of evidence but is contradicted by the evidence on record; and j) when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties and which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion.[19] None of these exceptions, however, obtain in this case. The Environmental Impact Statement System, which ensures environmental protection and regulates certain government activities affecting the environment, was established by Presidential Decree No. 1586. Section 2 thereof states: There is hereby established an Environmental Impact Statement System founded and based on the environmental impact statement required under Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 1151, of all agencies and instrumentalities of the national government, including government-owned or controlled corporations, as well as private corporations, firms and entities, for every proposed project and undertaking which significantly affect the quality of the environment. Section 4 of PD 1151, on the other hand, provides: Environmental Impact Statements. Pursuant to the above enunciated policies and goals, all agencies and instrumentalities of the national government, including government-owned or controlled corporations, as well as private

corporations, firms and entities shall prepare, file and include in every action, project or undertaking which significantly affects the quality of the environment a detailed statement on (a) undertaking the environmental impact of the proposed action, project or

(b) any adverse environmental effect which cannot be avoided should the proposal be implemented (c) alternative to the proposed action

(d) a determination that the short-term uses of the resources of the environment are consistent with the maintenance and enhancement of the long-term productivity of the same; and (e) whenever a proposal involves the use of depletable or nonrenewable resources, a finding must be made that such use and commitment are warranted. Before an environmental impact statement is issued by a lead agency, all agencies having jurisdiction over, or special expertise on, the subject matter involved shall comment on the draft environmental impact statement made by the lead agency within thirty (30) days from receipt of the same. Under Article II, Section 1, of the Rules and Regulations Implementing PD 1586, the declaration of certain projects or areas as environmentally critical, and which shall fall within the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement System, shall be by Presidential Proclamation, in accordance with Section 4 of PD 1586 quoted above. Pursuant thereto, Proclamation No. 2146 was issued on December 14, 1981, proclaiming the following areas and types of projects as environmentally critical and within the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement System established under PD 1586: A. I. a. b. c. d. II. a. b. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. c. 1. III. Environmentally Critical Projects Heavy Industries Non-ferrous metal industries Iron and steel mills Petroleum and petro-chemical industries including oil and gas Smelting plants Resource Extractive Industries Major mining and quarrying projects Forestry projects Logging Major wood processing projects Introduction of fauna (exotic-animals) in public/private forests Forest occupancy Extraction of mangrove products Grazing Fishery Projects Dikes for/and fishpond development projects Infrastructure Projects

a. Major dams b. Major power plants (fossil-fueled, nuclear fueled, hydroelectric or geothermal) c. Major reclamation projects d. Major roads and bridges B. Environmentally Critical Areas

1. All areas declared by law as national parks, watershed reserves, wildlife preserves and sanctuaries; 2. Areas set aside as aesthetic potential tourist spots; 3. Areas which constitute the habitat for any endangered or threatened species of indigenous Philippine Wildlife (flora and fauna); 4. Areas of unique historic, archaeological, or scientific interests;

5. Areas which are traditionally occupied by cultural communities or tribes; 6. Areas frequently visited and/or hard-hit by natural calamities (geologic hazards, floods, typhoons, volcanic activity, etc.); 7. Areas with critical slopes; 8. Areas classified as prime agricultural lands; 9. Recharged areas of aquifers; 10. Water bodies characterized by one or any combination of the following conditions; a. tapped for domestic purposes b. within the controlled and/or protected areas declared by appropriate authorities c. which support wildlife and fishery activities 11. Mangrove areas characterized by one or any combination of the following conditions: a. with primary pristine and dense young growth; b. adjoining mouth of major river systems; c. near or adjacent to traditional productive fry or fishing grounds; d. which act as natural buffers against shore erosion, strong winds and storm floods; e. on which people are dependent for their livelihood. 12. Coral reefs, characterized by one or any combinations of the following conditions: a. b. c. with 50% and above live coralline cover; spawning and nursery grounds for fish; which act as natural breakwater of coastlines.

In this connection, Section 5 of PD 1586 expressly states: Environmentally Non-Critical Projects. All other projects, undertakings and areas not declared by the President as environmentally critical shall be considered as non-critical and shall not be required to submit an environmental impact statement. The National Environmental Protection Council, thru the Ministry of Human Settlements may however require noncritical projects and undertakings to provide additional environmental safeguards as it may deem necessary. The Artica Sports Dome in Langub does not come close to any of the projects or areas enumerated above. Neither is it analogous to any of them. It is clear, therefore, that the said project is not classified as environmentally critical, or within an environmentally critical area. Consequently, the DENR has no choice but to issue the Certificate of Non-Coverage. It becomes its ministerial duty, the performance of which can be compelled by writ of mandamus, such as that issued by the trial court in the case at bar. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is DENIED. The decision of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 33, in Civil Case No. 28,133-2000, granting the writ of mandamus and directing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to issue in favor of the City of Davao a Certificate of Non-Coverage, pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1586 and related laws, in connection with the construction of the Artica Sports Dome, is AFFIRMED.

Alfredo Tano, Baldomero Tano, Danilo Tano, Romualdo Tano, Teocenes Midello, Angel De Mesa, Eulogio Tremocha, Felipe Ongonion, Jr., Andres Linijan, Robert Lim, Virginia Lim, Felimon De Mesa, Generoso Aragon, Teodorico Andre, Romulo Del Rosario, Cholito Andre, Erick Montano, Andres Oliva, Vittorio Salvador, Leopoldo Aragon, Rafael Riba, Alejandro Leonila, Jose Damacinto, Ramiro Manaeg, Ruben Margate, Roberto Reyes, Danilo Pangarutan, Noe Golpan,Estanislao Romero, Nicanor Domingo, Roldan Tabang, Panganiban, Adriano Tabang, Freddie Sacamay, Miguel Trimocha, Pacencio Lababit, Pablo H. Ompad, Celestino A. Abano, Allan Almodal, Billy D. Bartolay, Albino D. Lique, Melchor J. Layson, Melani Amante, Claro E. Yatoc, Mergeldo B. Baldeo, Edgar M. Almaset A., Joselito Manaeg, Liberato Andrada, Jr., Roberto Berry, Ronald Villanueva, Eduardo Valmoria, Wildredo Mendoza, Napoleon Babanga, Roberto Tadepa, Ruben Asingua, Silverio Gabo, Jerry Romero, David Pangagarutan, Daniel Panggarutan, Romeo Agawin, Fernando Equiz, Dito Lequiz, Ronilo Oderable, Benedicto Torres, Rosito A. Valdez, Cresencio A. Sayang, Nicomedes S. Acosta, Ereneo A. Segarino, Jr., Wildredo A. Rauto, Diosdado A. Acosta, Bonifacio G. Sismo, Tacio Aluba, Daniel B. Baterzal, Eliseo Ybaez, Diosdado E. Hanchic, Eddie Escalicas, Eleazar B. Baterzal, Dominador Halichic, Roosevelt Rismo-an, Robert C. Mercader, Tirso Aresgado, Daniel Chavez, Danilo Chavez, Victor Villaroel, Ernesto C. Yabanez, Armando T. Santillan, Rudy S. Santillan, Jodjen Ilustrisimo, Nestor Salangron, Alberto Salangron, Roger L. Roxas, Francisco T. Anticano, Pastor Salangron, Bienvenido Santillan, Gilbuena Laddy, Fidel Benjamin Jovelito Belgano, Honey Pariol, Antonio Salangron, Nicasio Salangron, & Airline Shippers Association Of Palawan, petitioners, vs. Gov. Salvador P. Socrates, Members Of Sanggunian Panlalawigan Of Palawan, City Mayor Edward Hagedorn, Members Of Sangguniang Panlungsod Ng Puerto Princesa, All Members Of Bantay Dagat, Members Of Philippine National Police Of Palawan, Provincial And City Prosecutors Of Palawan And Puerto Princesa City, And All Judges Of Palawan, Regional, Municipal And Metropolitan, respondents. [G.R. No. 110249. August 21, 1997] DAVIDE, JR., J.: Petitioners caption their petition as one for Certiorari, Injunction With Preliminary Mandatory Injunction,with Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order and pray that this Court: (1) declare as unconstitutional: (a) Ordinance No. 15-92, dated 15 December 1992, of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Puerto Princesa; (b) Office Order No. 23, Series of 1993, dated 22 January 1993, issued by Acting City Mayor Amado L. Lucero of Puerto Princesa City; and (c) Resolution No. 33, Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993, dated 19 February 1993, of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan; (2) enjoin the enforcement thereof; and (3) restrain respondents Provincial and City Prosecutors of Palawan and Puerto Princesa City and Judges of Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts[1] and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Palawan from assuming jurisdiction over and hearing cases concerning the violation of the Ordinances and of the Office Order. More appropriately, the petition is, and shall be treated as, a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition. The following is petitioners summary of the factual antecedents giving rise to the petition: 1. On December 15, 1992, the Sangguniang Panlungsod ng Puerto Princesa City enacted Ordinance No. 15-92 which took effect on January 1, 1993 entitled: AN ORDINANCE BANNING THE SHIPMENT OF ALL LIVE FISH AND LOBSTER OUTSIDE PUERTO PRINCESA CITY FROM JANUARY 1, 1993 TO JANUARY 1, 1998 AND PROVIDING EXEMPTIONS, PENALTIES AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES THEREOF, the full text of which reads as follows: Section 1. Title of the Ordinance. - This Ordinance is entitled: AN ORDINANCE BANNING THE SHIPMENT OF ALL LIVE FISH AND LOBSTER OUTSIDE PUERTO PRINCESA CITY FROM JANUARY 1, 1993 TO JANUARY 1, 1998 AND PROVIDING EXEMPTIONS, PENALTIES AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES THEREOF. Section 2. Purpose, Scope and Coverage. - To effectively free our City Sea Waters from Cyanide and other Obnoxious substance, and shall cover all persons and/or entities operating within and outside the City of Puerto Princesa who is are [sic] directly or indirectly in the business or shipment of live fish and lobster outside the City. Section 3. Definition of terms. - For purpose of this Ordinance the following are hereby defined:

A. SEA BASS - A kind of fish under the family of Centropomidae, better known as APAHAP; B. CATFISH - A kind of fish under the family of Plotosidae, better known as HITO-HITO; C. MUDFISH - A kind of fish under the family of Orphicaphalisae better known as DALAG D. ALL LIVE FISH - All alive, breathing not necessarily moving of all specie[s] use for food and for aquarium purposes. E. LIVE LOBSTER - Several relatively, large marine crustaceans of the genus Homarus that are alive and breathing not necessarily moving. Section 4. It shall be unlawful [for] any person or any business enterprise or company to ship out from Puerto Princesa City to any point of destination either via aircraft or seacraft of any live fish and lobster except SEA BASS, CATFISH, MUDFISH, AND MILKFISH FRIES. Section 5. Penalty Clause. - Any person/s and or business entity violating this Ordinance shall be penalized with a fine of not more than P5,000.00 or imprisonment of not more than twelve (12) months, cancellation of their permit to do business in the City of Puerto Princesa or all of the herein stated penalties, upon the discretion of the court. Section 6. If the owner and/or operator of the establishment found vilating the provisions of this ordinance is a corporation or a partnership, the penalty prescribed in Section 5 hereof shall be imposed upon its president and/or General Manager or Managing Partner and/or Manager, as the case maybe [sic]. Section 7. Any existing ordinance or any provision of any ordinance inconsistent to [sic] this ordinance is deemed repealed. Section 8. This Ordinance shall take effect on January 1, 1993. SO ORDAINED. xxx 2. To implement said city ordinance, then Acting City Mayor Amado L. Lucero issued Office Order No. 23, Series of 1993 dated January 22, 1993 which reads as follows: In the interest of public service and for purposes of City Ordinance No. PD426-14-74, otherwise known as AN ORDINANCE REQUIRING ANY PERSON ENGAGED OR INTENDING TO ENGAGE IN ANY BUSINESS, TRADE, OCCUPATION, CALLING OR PROFESSION OR HAVING IN HIS POSSESSION ANY OF THE ARTICLES FOR WHICH A PERMIT IS REQUIRED TO BE HAD, TO OBTAIN FIRST A MAYORS PERMIT and City Ordinance No. 15-92, AN ORDINANCE BANNING THE SHIPMENT OF ALL LIVE FISH AND LOBSTER OUTSIDE PUERTO PRINCESA CITY FROM JANUARY 1, 1993 TO JANUARY 1, 1998, you are hereby authorized and directed to check or conduct necessary inspections on cargoes containing live fish and lobster being shipped out from the Puerto Princesa Airport, Puerto Princesa Wharf or at any port within the jurisdiction of the City to any point of destinations [sic] either via aircraft or seacraft. The purpose of the inspection is to ascertain whether the shipper possessed the required Mayors Permit issued by this Office and the shipment is covered by invoice or clearance issued by the local office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and as to compliance with all other existing rules and regulations on the matter. Any cargo containing live fish and lobster without the required documents as stated herein must be held for proper disposition. In the pursuit of this Order, you are hereby authorized to coordinate with the PAL Manager, the PPA Manager, the local PNP Station and other offices concerned for the needed support and cooperation. Further, that the usual courtesy and diplomacy must be observed at all times in the conduct of the inspection. Please be guided accordingly. xxx

3. On February 19, 1993, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Provincial Government of Palawan enacted Resolution No. 33 entitled: A RESOLUTION PROHIBITING THE CATCHING, GATHERING, POSSESSING, BUYING, SELLING AND SHIPMENT OF LIVE MARINE CORAL DWELLING AQUATIC ORGANISMS, TO WIT: FAMILY: SCARIDAE (MAMENG), EPINE PHELUS FASCIATUS (SUNO). CROMILEPTES ALTIVELIS (PANTHER OR SENORITA), LOBSTER BELOW 200 GRAMS AND SPAWNING, TRADACNA GIGAS (TAKLOBO), PINCTADA MARGARITEFERA (MOTHER PEARL, OYSTERS, GIANT CLAMS AND OTHER SPECIES), PENAEUS MONODON (TIGER PRAWN-BREEDER SIZE OR MOTHER), EPINEPHELUS SUILLUS (LOBA OR GREEN GROUPER) AND FAMILY: BALISTIDAE (TROPICAL AQUARIUM FISHES) FOR A PERIOD FIVE (5) YEARS IN AND COMING FROM PALAWAN WATERS, the full text of which reads as follows: WHEREAS, scientific and factual researches [sic] and studies disclose that only five (5) percent of the corals of our province remain to be in excellent condition as [a] habitat of marine coral dwelling aquatic organisms; WHEREAS, it cannot be gainsaid that the destruction and devastation of the corals of our province were principally due to illegal fishing activities like dynamite fishing, sodium cyanide fishing, use of other obnoxious substances and other related activities; WHEREAS, there is an imperative and urgent need to protect and preserve the existence of the remaining excellent corals and allow the devastated ones to reinvigorate and regenerate themselves into vitality within the span of five (5) years; WHEREAS, Sec. 468, Par. 1, Sub-Par. VI of the [sic] R.A. 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991 empowers the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to protect the environment and impose appropriate penalties [upon] acts which endanger the environment such as dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive fishing, among others. NOW, THEREFORE, on motion by Kagawad Nelson P. Peneyra and upon unanimous decision of all the members present; Be it resolved as it is hereby resolved, to approve Resolution No. 33, Series of 1993 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and to enact Ordinance No. 2 for the purpose, to wit: ORDINANCE NO. 2 Series of 1993 BE IT ORDAINED BY THE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN IN SESSION ASSEMBLED: Section 1. TITLE - This Ordinance shall be known as an Ordinance Prohibiting the catching, gathering, possessing, buying, selling and shipment of live marine coral dwelling aquatic organisms, to wit: 1. Family: Scaridae (Mameng), 2. Epinephelus Fasciatus (Suno), 3. Cromileptes altivelis (Panther or Senorita), lobster below 200 grams and spawning), 4. Tridacna Gigas (Taklobo), 5. Pinctada Margaretefera (Mother Pearl, Oysters, Giant Clams and other species), 6. Penaeus Monodon (Tiger Prawn-breeder size or mother), 7. Epinephelus Suillus (Loba or Green Grouper) and 8. Family: Balistidae (Topical Aquarium Fishes) for a period of five (5) years in and coming from Palawan Waters. Section II. PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS 1. Sec. 2-A (Rep. Act 7160). It is hereby declared, the policy of the state that the territorial and political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as self reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals. Toward this end, the State shall provide for [a] more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization whereby local government units shall be given more powers, authority, responsibilities and resources. 2. Sec. 5-A (R.A. 7160). Any provision on a power of [a] local Government Unit shall be liberaly interpreted in its favor, and in case of doubt, any question thereon shall be resolved in favor of devolution of powers and of the lower government units. Any fair and reasonable doubts as to the existence of the power shall be interpreted in favor of the Local Government Unit concerned.

3. Sec. 5-C (R.A. 7160). The general welfare provisions in this Code shall be liberally interpreted to give more powers to local government units in accelerating economic development and upgrading the quality of life for the people in the community. 4. Sec. 16 (R.A. 7160). General Welfare. - Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance; and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Section III. DECLARATION OF POLICY. - It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Province of Palawan to protect and conserve the marine resources of Palawan not only for the greatest good of the majority of the present generation but with [the] proper perspective and consideration of [sic] their prosperity, and to attain this end, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan henceforth declares that is [sic] shall be unlawful for any person or any business entity to engage in catching, gathering, possessing, buying, selling and shipment of live marine coral dwelling aquatic organisms as enumerated in Section 1 hereof in and coming out of Palawan Waters for a period of five (5) years; Section IV. PENALTY CLAUSE. - Any person and/or business entity violating this Ordinance shall be penalized with a fine of not more than Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00), Philippine Currency, and/or imprisonment of six (6) months to twelve (12) months and confiscation and forfeiture of paraphernalias [sic] and equipment in favor of the government at the discretion of the Court; Section V. SEPARABILITY CLAUSE. - If for any reason, a Section or provision of this Ordinance shall be held as unconditional [sic] or invalid, it shall not affect the other provisions hereof. Section VI. REPEALING CLAUSE. - Any existing Ordinance or a provision of any ordinance inconsistent herewith is deemed modified, amended or repealed. Section VII. EFFECTIVITY. - This Ordinance shall take effect ten (10) days after its publication. SO ORDAINED. xxx 4. The respondents implemented the said ordinances, Annexes A and C hereof thereby depriving all the fishermen of the whole province of Palawan and the City of Puerto Princesa of their only means of livelihood and the petitioners Airline Shippers Association of Palawan and other marine merchants from performing their lawful occupation and trade; 5. Petitioners Alfredo Tano, Baldomero Tano, Teocenes Midello, Angel de Mesa, Eulogio Tremocha, and Felipe Ongonion, Jr. were even charged criminally under criminal case no. 93-05-C in the 1st Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Cuyo-Agutaya-Magsaysay, an original carbon copy of the criminal complaint dated April 12, 1993 is hereto attached as Annex D; while xerox copies are attached as Annex D to the copies of the petition; 6. Petitioners Robert Lim and Virginia Lim, on the other hand, were charged by the respondent PNP with the respondent City Prosecutor of Puerto Princesa City, a xerox copy of the complaint is hereto attached as Annex E; Without seeking redress from the concerned local government units, prosecutors office and courts, petitioners directly invoked our original jurisdiction by filing this petition on 4 June 1993. In sum, petitioners contend that: First, the Ordinances deprived them of due process of law, their livelihood, and unduly restricted them from the practice of their trade, in violation of Section 2, Article XII and Sections 2 and 7 of Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution. Second, Office Order No. 23 contained no regulation nor condition under which the Mayors permit could be granted or denied; in other words, the Mayor had the absolute authority to determine whether or not to issue permit. Third, as Ordinance No. 2 of the Province of Palawan altogether prohibited the catching, gathering, possession, buying, selling and shipping of live

marine coral dwelling organisms, without any distinction whether it was caught or gathered through lawful fishing method, the Ordinance took away the right of petitioners-fishermen to earn their livelihood in lawful ways; and insofar as petitioners-members of Airline Shippers Association are concerned, they were unduly prevented from pursuing their vocation and entering into contracts which are proper, necessary, and essential to carry out their business endeavors to a successful conclusion. Finally, as Ordinance No. 2 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is null and void, the criminal cases based thereon against petitioners Tano and the others have to be dismissed. In the Resolution of 15 June 1993 we required respondents to comment on the petition, and furnished the Office of the Solicitor General with a copy thereof. In their comment filed on 13 August 1993, public respondents Governor Socrates and Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan defended the validity of Ordinance No.2, Series of 1993, as a valid exercise of the Provincial Governments power under the general welfare clause (Section 16 of the Local Government Code of 1991 [hereafter, LGC]), and its specific power to protect the environment and impose appropriate penalties for acts which endanger the environment, such as dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive fishing under Section 447 (a) (1) (vi), Section 458 (a) (1) (vi), and Section 468 (a) (1) (vi), of the LGC. They claimed that in the exercise of such powers, the Province of Palawan had the right and responsibilty to insure that the remaining coral reefs, where fish dwells [sic], within its territory remain healthy for the future generation. The Ordinance, they further asserted, covered only live marine coral dwelling aquatic organisms which were enumerated in the ordinance and excluded other kinds of live marine aquatic organisms not dwelling in coral reefs; besides the prohibition was for only five (5) years to protect and preserve the pristine coral and allow those damaged to regenerate. Aforementioned respondents likewise maintained that there was no violation of due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution. As to the former, public hearings were conducted before the enactment of the Ordinance which, undoubtedly, had a lawful purpose and employed reasonable means; while as to the latter, a substantial distinction existed between a fisherman who catches live fish with the intention of selling it live, and a fisherman who catches live fish with no intention at all of selling it live, i.e., the former uses sodium cyanide while the latter does not. Further, the Ordinance applied equally to all those belonging to one class. On 25 October 1993 petitioners filed an Urgent Plea for the Immediate Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order claiming that despite the pendency of this case, Branch 50 of the Regional Trial Court of Palawan was bent on proceeding with Criminal Case No. 11223 against petitioners Danilo Tano, Alfredo Tano, Eulogio Tremocha, Romualdo Tano, Baldomero Tano, Andres Lemihan and Angel de Mesa for violation of Ordinance No. 2 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan. Acting on said plea, we issued on 11 November 1993 a temporary restraining order directing Judge Angel Miclat of said court to cease and desist from proceeding with the arraignment and pretrial of Criminal Case No. 11223. On 12 July 1994, we excused the Office of the Solicitor General from filing a comment, considering that as claimed by said office in its Manifestation of 28 June 1994, respondents were already represented by counsel. The rest of the respondents did not file any comment on the petition. In the resolution of 15 September 1994, we resolved to consider the comment on the petition as the Answer, gave due course to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective memoranda.[2] On 22 April 1997 we ordered impleaded as party respondents the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and required the Office of the Solicitor General to comment on their behalf. But in light of the latters motion of 9 July 1997 for an extension of time to file the comment which would only result in further delay, we dispensed with said comment. After due deliberation on the pleadings filed, we resolved to dismiss this petition for want of merit, on 22 July 1997, and assigned it to the ponente for the writing of the opinion of the Court. I

There are actually two sets of petitioners in this case. The first is composed of Alfredo Tano, Baldomero Tano, Danilo Tano, Romualdo Tano, Teocenes Midello, Angel de Mesa, Eulogio Tremocha, Felipe Ongonion, Jr., Andres Linijan, and Felimon de Mesa, who were criminally charged with violating Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution No. 33 and Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993, of the Province of Palawan, in Criminal Case No. 93-05-C of the 1st Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Palawan;[3] and Robert Lim and Virginia Lim who were charged with violating City Ordinance No. 15-92 of Puerto Princesa City and Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993, of the Province of Palawan before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Puerto Princesa.[4] All of them, with the exception of Teocenes Midello, Felipe Ongonion, Jr., Felimon de Mesa, Robert Lim and Virginia Lim, are likewise the accused in Criminal Case No. 11223 for the violation of Ordinance No. 2 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan, pending before Branch 50 of the Regional Trial Court of Palawan.[5] The second set of petitioners is composed of the rest of the petitioners numbering seventy-seven (77), all of whom, except the Airline Shippers Association of Palawan -- an alleged private association of several marine merchants -- are natural persons who claim to be fishermen. The primary interest of the first set of petitioners is, of course, to prevent the prosecution, trial and determination of the criminal cases until the constitutionality or legality of the Ordinances they allegedly violated shall have been resolved. The second set of petitioners merely claim that they being fishermen or marine merchants, they would be adversely affected by the ordinances. As to the first set of petitioners, this special civil for certiorari must fail on the ground of prematurity amounting to a lack of cause of action. There is no showing that the said petitioners, as the accused in the criminal cases, have filed motions to quash the informations therein and that the same were denied. The ground available for such motions is that the facts charged therein do not constitute an offense because the ordinances in question are unconstitutional. [6] It cannot then be said that the lower courts acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion to justify recourse to the extraordinary remedy of certiorari or prohibition. It must further be stressed that even if the petitioners did file motions to quash, the denial thereof would not forthwith give rise to a cause of action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. The general rule is that where a motion to quash is denied, the remedy therefrom is not certiorari, but for the party aggrieved thereby to go to trial without prejudice to reiterating special defenses involved in said motion, and if, after trial on the merits of adverse decision is rendered, to appeal therefrom in the manner authorized by law.[7] And , even where in an exceptional circumstance such denial may be the subject of a special civil action for certiorari, a motion for reconsideration must have to be filed to allow the court concerned an opportunity to correct its errors, unless such motion may be dispensed with because of existing exceptional circumstances.[8] Finally, even if a motion for reconsideration has been filed and denied, the remedy under Rule 65 is still unavailable absent any showing of the grounds provided for in Section 1 thereof.[9] For obvious reasons, the petition at bar does not, and could not have , alleged any of such grounds. As to the second set of petitioners, the instant petition is obviously one for DECLARATORY RELIEF, i.e., for a declaration that the Ordinances in question are a nullity ... for being unconstitutional.[10] As such, their petition must likewise fail, as this Court is not possessed of original jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory relief even if only questions of law are involved,[11] it being settled that the Court merely exercises appellate jurisdiction over such petitions.[12] II Even granting arguendo that the first set of petitioners have a cause of action ripe for the extraordinary writ of certiorari, there is here a clear disregard of the hierarchy of courts, and no special and important reason or exceptional or compelling circumstance has been adduced why direct recourse to us should be allowed. While we have concurrent jurisdiction with Regional Trial courts and with the Court of Appeals to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction, such concurrence gives petitioners no unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum, so we held in People v. Cuaresma:[13] This concurrence of jurisdiction is not to be taken as according to parties seeking any of the writs an absolute unrestrained freedom of choice of the court to which application therefor will be directed. There is after all hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy is determinative of the venue of appeals, and should also serve as a general determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for

the extraordinary writs. A becoming regard for that judicial hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level (inferior) courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the latter, with the Court of Appeals. A direct invocation of the Supreme Courts original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition. This is established policy. It is a policy necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon the Courts time and attention which are better devoted to those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-crowding of the Courts docket. The Court feels the need to reaffirm that policy at this time, and to enjoin strict adherence thereto in the light of what it perceives to be a growing tendency on the part of litigants and lawyers to have their applications for the so-called extraordinary writs, and sometimes even their appeals, passed upon and adjudicated directly and immediately by the highest tribunal of the land. In Santiago v. Vasquez,[14] this Court forcefully expressed that the propensity of litigants and lawyers to disregard the hierarchy of courts must be put to a halt, not only because of the imposition upon the precious time of this Court, but also because of the inevitable and resultant delay, intended or otherwise, in the adjudication of the case which often has to be remanded or referred to the lower court, the proper forum under the rules of procedure, or as better equipped to resolve the issues since this Court is not a trier of facts. We reiterated the judicial policy that this Court will not entertain direct resort to it unless the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts or where exceptional and compelling circumstances justify availment of a remedy within and calling for the exercise of [its] primary jurisdiction. III Notwithstanding the foregoing procedural obstacles against the first set of petitioners, we opt to resolve this case on its merits considering that the lifetime of the challenged Ordinances is about to end. Ordinance No. 15-92 of the City of Puerto Princesa is effective only up to 1 January 1998, while Ordinance No. 2 of the Province of Palawan, enacted on 19 February 1993, is effective for only five (5) years. Besides, these Ordinances were undoubtedly enacted in the exercise of powers under the new LGC relative to the protection and preservation of the environment and are thus novel and of paramount importance. No further delay then may be allowed in the resolution of the issues raised. It is of course settled that laws (including ordinances enacted by local government units) enjoy the presumption of constitutionality.[15] To overthrow this presumption, there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not merely a doubtful or argumentative contradiction. In short, the conflict with the Constitution must be shown beyond reasonable doubt.[16] Where doubt exists, even if well founded, there can be no finding of unconstitutionality. To doubt is to sustain.[17] After a scrunity of the challenged Ordinances and the provisions of the Constitution petitioners claim to have been violated, we find petitioners contentions baseless and so hold that the former do not suffer from any infirmity, both under the Constitution and applicable laws. Petitioners specifically point to Section 2, Article XII and Sections 2 and 7, Article XIII of the Constitution as having been transgressed by the Ordinances. The pertinent portion of Section 2 of Article XII reads: SEC. 2. x x x

SEC. 7. The State shall protect the rights of subsistence fishermen, especially of local communities, to the preferential use of the communal marine and fishing resources, both inland and offshore. It shall provide support to such fishermen through appropriate technology and research, adequate financial, production, and marketing assistance, and other services. The State shall also protect, develop, and conserve such resources. The protection shall extend to offshore fishing grounds of subsistence fishermen against foreign intrusion. Fishworkers shall receive a just share from their labor in the utilization of marine and fishing resources. There is absolutely no showing that any of the petitioners qualifies as a subsistence or marginal fisherman. In their petition, petitioner Airline Shippers Association of Palawan is described as a private association composed of Marine Merchants; petitioners Robert Lim and Virginia Lim, as merchants; while the rest of the petitioners claim to be fishermen, without any qualification, however, as to their status. Since the Constitution does not specifically provide a definition of the terms subsistence or marginal fishermen,[18] they should be construed in their general and ordinary sense. A marginal fisherman is an individual engaged in fishing whose margin of return or reward in his harvest of fish as measured by existing price levels is barely sufficient to yield a profit or cover the cost of gathering the fish,[19] while a subsistence fisherman is one whose catch yields but the irreducible minimum for his livelihood.[20] Section 131(p) of the LGC (R.A. No. 7160) defines a marginal farmer or fisherman as an individual engaged in subsistence farming or fishing which shall be limited to the sale, barter or exchange of agricultural or marine products produced by himself and his immediate family. It bears repeating that nothing in the record supports a finding that any petitioner falls within these definitions. Besides, Section 2 of Article XII aims primarily not to bestow any right to subsistence fishermen, but to lay stress on the duty of the State to protect the nations marine wealth. What the provision merely recognizes is that the State may allow, by law, cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fishworkers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons. Our survey of the statute books reveals that the only provision of law which speaks of the preferential right of marginal fishermen is Section 149 of the LGC of 1991 which pertinently provides: SEC. 149. Fishery Rentals, Fees and Charges. -- x x x (b) The sangguniang bayan may: (1) Grant fishery privileges to erect fish corrals, oyster, mussels or other aquatic beds or bangus fry areas, within a definite zone of the municipal waters, as determined by it: Provided, however, That duly registered organizations and cooperatives of marginal fishermen shall have preferential right to such fishery privileges .... In a Joint Administrative Order No. 3, dated 25 April 1996, the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government prescribed the guidelines on the preferential treatment of small fisherfolk relative to the fishery right mentioned in Section 149. This case, however, does not involve such fishery right. Anent Section 7 of Article XIII, it speaks not only of the use of communal marine and fishing resources, but of their protection, development, and conservation. As hereafter shown, the ordinances in question are meant precisely to protect and conserve our marine resources to the end that their enjoyment by the people may be guaranteed not only for the present generation, but also for the generations to come. The so-called preferential right of subsistence or marginal fishermen to the use of marine resources is not at all absolute. In accordance with the Regalian Doctrine, marine resources belong to the State, and, pursuant to the first paragraph of Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, their exploration, development and utilization ... shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. Moreover, their mandated protection, development, and conservation as necessarily recognized by the framers of the Constitution, imply certain restrictions on whatever right of enjoyment there may be in favor of anyone. Thus, as to the curtailment of the preferential treatment of marginal fisherman, the following exchange between Commissioner Francisco Rodrigo and Commissioner Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr., took place at the plenary session of the Constitutional Commission: MR. RODRIGO:

The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens. The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fishworkers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons. Sections 2 and 7 of Article XIII provide: Sec. 2. The promotion of social justice shall include the commitment to create economic opportunities based on freedom of initiative and self-reliance. xxx

Let us discuss the implementation of this because I would not raise the hopes of our people, and afterwards fail in the implementation. How will this be implemented? Will there be a licensing or giving of permits so that government officials will know that one is really a marginal fisherman? Or if policeman say that a person is not a marginal fisherman, he can show his permit, to prove that indeed he is one. MR. BENGZON: Certainly, there will be some mode of licensing insofar as this is concerned and this particular question could be tackled when we discuss the Article on Local Governments -- whether we will leave to the local governments or to Congress on how these things will be implemented. But certainly, I think our Congressmen and our local officials will not be bereft of ideas on how to implement this mandate. x x x MR. RODRIGO: So, once one is licensed as a marginal fisherman, he can go anywhere in the Philippines and fish in any fishing grounds. MR. BENGZON: Subject to whatever rules and regulations and local laws that may be passed, may be existing or will be passed.[21] (underscoring supplied for emphasis). What must likewise be borne in mind is the state policy enshrined in the Constitution regarding the duty of the State to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.[22] On this score, in Oposa v. Factoran,[23] this Court declared: While the right to balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles the 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 selfperpetuation - 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 wellfounded 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 a correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment ... The LGC provisions invoked by private respondents merely seek to give flesh and blood to the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology. In fact, the General Welfare Clause, expressly mentions this right: SEC. 16. General Welfare.-- Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Within their respective territorial jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and support, among other things, the preservation and enrichment of culture, promote health and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology, encourage and support the development of appropriate and self-reliant scientific and technological capabilities, improve public morals, enhance economic prosperity and social justice, promote full employment among their residents, maintain peace and order, and preserve the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants. (underscoring supplied). Moreover, Section 5(c) of the LGC explicitly mandates that the general welfare provisions of the LGC shall be liberally interpreted to give more powers to the local government units in accelerating economic development and upgrading the quality of life for the people of the community.

The LGC vests municipalities with the power to grant fishery privileges in municipal waters and to impose rentals, fees or charges therefor; to penalize, by appropriate ordinances, the use of explosives, noxious or poisonous substances, electricity, muro-ami, and other deleterious methods of fishing; and to prosecute any violation of the provisions of applicable fishery laws.[24] Further, the sangguniang bayan, the sangguniang panlungsod and the sangguniang panlalawigan are directed to enact ordinances for the general welfare of the municipality and its inhabitants, which shall include, inter alia, ordinances that [p]rotect the environment and impose appropriate penalties for acts which endanger the environment such as dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive fishing ... and such other activities which result in pollution, acceleration of eutrophication of rivers and lakes or of ecological imbalance.[25] Finally, the centerpiece of LGC is the system of decentralization[26] as expressly mandated by the Constitution.[27] Indispensable thereto is devolution and the LGC expressly provides that [a]ny provision on a power of a local government unit shall be liberally interpreted in its favor, and in case of doubt, any question thereon shall be resolved in favor of devolution of powers and of the lower local government unit. Any fair and reasonable doubt as to the existence of the power shall be interpreted in favor of the local government unit concerned,[28] Devolution refers to the act by which the National Government confers power and authority upon the various local government units to perform specific functions and responsibilities.[29] One of the devolved powers enumerated in the section of the LGC on devolution is the enforcement of fishery laws in municipal waters including the conservation of mangroves.[30] This necessarily includes enactment of ordinances to effectively carry out such fishery laws within the municipal waters. The term municipal waters, in turn, include not only streams, lakes, and tidal waters within the municipality, not being the subject of private ownership and not comprised within the national parks, public forest, timber lands, forest reserves, or fishery reserves, but also marine waters included between two lines drawn perpendicularly to the general coastline from points where the boundary lines of the municipality or city touch the sea at low tide and a third line parallel with the general coastline and fifteen kilometers from it.[31] Under P.D. No. 704, the marine waters included in municipal waters is limited to three nautical miles from the general coastline using the above perpendicular lines and a third parallel line. These fishery laws which local government units may enforce under Section 17(b), (2), (i) in municipal waters include: (1) P.D. No. 704; (2) P.D. No. 1015 which, inter alia, authorizes the establishment of a closed season in any Philippine water if necessary for conservation or ecological purposes; (3) P.D. No. 1219 which provides for the exploration, exploitation, utilization, and conservation of coral resources; (4) R.A. No. 5474, as amended by B.P. Blg. 58, which makes it unlawful for any person, association, or corporation to catch or cause to be caught, sell, offer to sell, purchase, or have in possession any of the fish specie called gobiidae or ipon during closed season; and (5) R.A. No. 6451 which prohibits and punishes electrofishing, as well as various issuances of the BFAR. To those specifically devolved insofar as the control and regulation of fishing in municipal waters and the protection of its marine environment are concerned, must be added the following: 1. Issuance of permits to construct fish cages within municipal waters; 2. Issuance of permits to gather aquarium fishes within municipal waters; 3. Issuance of permits to gather kapis shells within municipal waters; 4. Issuance of permits to gather/culture shelled mollusks within municipal waters; 5. Issuance of licenses to establish seaweed farms within municipal waters; 6. Issuance of licenses to establish culture pearls within municipal waters; 7. Issuance of auxiliary invoice to transport fish and fishery products; and 8. Establishment of closed season in municipal waters. These functions are covered in the Memorandum of Agreement of 5 April 1994 between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior and Local Government. In light then of the principles of decentralization and devolution enshrined in the LGC and the powers granted to local government units under Section 16 (the General Welfare Clause), and under Sections 149, 447 (a) (1) (vi), 458 (a) (1) (vi) and 468 (a) (1) (vi), which unquestionably involve the exercise of police power, the validity of the questioned Ordinances cannot be doubted.

Parenthetically, we wish to add that these Ordinances find full support under R.A. No. 7611, otherwise known as the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan Act, approved on 19 July 1992. This statute adopts a comprehensive framework for the sustainable development of Palawan compatible with protecting and enhancing the natural resources and endangered environment of the province, which shall serve to guide the local government of Palawan and the government agencies concerned in the formulation and implementation of plans, programs and projects affecting said province.[32] At this time then, it would be appropriate to determine the relation between the assailed Ordinances and the aforesaid powers of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Puerto Princesa and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Palawan to protect the environment. To begin, we ascertain the purpose of the Ordinances as set forth in the statement of purposes or declaration of policies quoted earlier. It is clear to the Court that both Ordinances have two principal objectives or purposes: (1) to establish a closed season for the species of fish or aquatic animals covered therein for a period of five years, and (2) to protect the corals of the marine waters of the City of Puerto Princesa and the Province of Palawan from further destruction due to illegal fishing activities. The accomplishment of the first objective is well within the devolved power to enforce fishery laws in municipal waters, such as P.D. No. 1015, which allows the establishment of closed seasons. The devolution of such power has been expressly confirmed in the Memorandum of Agreement of 5 April 1994 between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior and Local Government. The realization of the second objective falls within both the general welfare clause of the LGC and the express mandate thereunder to cities and provinces to protect the environment and impose appropriate penalties for acts which endanger the environment.[33] The destruction of the coral reefs results in serious, if not irreparable, ecological imbalance, for coral reefs are among the natures life-support systems.[34] They collect, retain, and recycle nutrients for adjacent nearshore areas such as mangroves, seagrass beds, and reef flats; provide food for marine plants and animals; and serve as a protective shelter for aquatic organisms.[35] It is said that [e]cologically, the reefs are to the oceans what forests are to continents: they are shelter and breeding grounds for fish and plant species that will disappear without them.[36] The prohibition against catching live fish stems, in part, from the modern phenomenon of live-fish trade which entails the catching of so-called exotic tropical species of fish not only for aquarium use in the West, but also for the market for live banquet fish [which] is virtually insatiable in ever more affluent Asia.[37] These exotic species are coral-dwellers, and fishermen catch them by diving in shallow water with corraline habitats and squirting sodium cyanide poison at passing fish directly or onto coral crevices; once affected the fish are immobilized [merely stunned] and then scooped by hand.[38] The diver then surfaces and dumps his catch into a submerged net attached to the skiff . Twenty minutes later, the fish can swim normally. Back on shore, they are placed in holding pens, and within a few weeks, they expel the cyanide from their system and are ready to be hauled. Then they are placed in saltwater tanks or packaged in plastic bags filled with seawater for shipment by air freight to major markets for live food fish.[39] While the fish are meant to survive, the opposite holds true for their former home as [a]fter the fisherman squirts the cyanide, the first thing to perish is the reef algae, on which fish feed. Days later, the living coral starts to expire. Soon the reef loses its function as habitat for the fish, which eat both the algae and invertebrates that cling to the coral. The reef becomes an underwater graveyard, its skeletal remains brittle, bleached of all color and vulnerable to erosion from the pounding of the waves.[40] It has been found that cyanide fishing kills most hard and soft corals within three months of repeated application.[41] The nexus then between the activities barred by Ordinance No. 15-92 of the City of Puerto Princesa and the prohibited acts provided in Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993 of the Province of Palawan, on one hand, and the use of sodium cyanide, on the other, is painfully obvious. In sum, the public purpose and reasonableness of the Ordinances may not then be controverted. As to Office Order No. 23, Series of 1993, issued by Acting City Mayor Amado L. Lucero of the City of Puerto Princesa, we find nothing therein violative of any constitutional or statutory provision. The Order refers to the implementation of the challenged ordinance and is not the Mayors Permit.

The dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Josue N. Bellosillo relies upon the lack of authority on the part of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Puerto Princesa to enact Ordinance No. 15, Series of 1992, on the theory that the subject thereof is within the jurisdiction and responsibility of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) under P.D. No. 704, otherwise known as the Fisheries Decree of 1975; and that, in any event, the Ordinance is unenforceable for lack of approval by the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), likewise in accordance with P.D. No. 704. The majority is unable to accommodate this view. The jurisdiction and responsibility of the BFAR under P. D. no. 704, over the management, conservation, development, protection, utilization and disposition of all fishery and aquatic resources of the country is not all-encompassing. First, Section 4 thereof excludes from such jurisdiction and responsibility municipal waters, which shall be under the municipal or city government concerned, except insofar as fishpens and seaweed culture in municipal in municipal centers are concerned. This section provides, however, that all municipal or city ordinances and resolutions affecting fishing and fisheries and any disposition thereunder shall be submitted to the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources for appropriate action and shall have full force and effect only upon his approval.[42] Second, it must at once be pointed out that the BFAR is no longer under the Department of Natural Resources (now Department of Environment and Natural Resources). Executive Order No. 967 of 30 June 1984 transferred the BFAR from the control and supervision of the Minister (formerly Secretary) of Natural Resources to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food (MAF) and converted it into a mere staff agency thereof, integrating its functions with the regional offices of the MAF. In Executive Order No. 116 of 30 January 1987, which reorganized the MAF, the BFAR was retained as an attached agency of the MAF. And under the Administrative Code of 1987,[43] the BFAR is placed under the Title concerning the Department of Agriculture.[44] Therefore, it is incorrect to say that the challenged Ordinance of the City of Puerto Princesa is invalid or unenforceable because it was not approved by the Secretary of the DENR. If at all, the approval that should be sought would be that of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (not DENR) of municipal ordinances affecting fishing and fisheries in municipal waters has been dispensed with in view of the following reasons: (1) Section 534 (Repealing Clause) of the LGC expressly repeals or amends Section 16 and 29 of P.D. No. 704[45] insofar that they are inconsistent with the provisions of the LGC. (2) As discussed earlier, under the general welfare clause of the LGC, local government units have the power, inter alia, to enact ordinances to enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology. It likewise specifically vests municipalities with the power to grant fishery privileges in municipal waters, and impose rentals, fees or charges therefor; to penalize, by appropriate ordinances, the use of explosives, noxious or poisonous substances, electricity, muro-ami, and other deleterious methods of fishing; and to prosecute other methods of fishing; and to prosecute any violation of the provisions of applicable fishing laws.[46] Finally, it imposes upon the sangguniang bayan, the sangguniang panlungsod, and the sangguniang panlalawigan the duty to enact ordinances to [p]rotect the environment and impose appropriate penalties for acts which endanger the environment such as dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive fishing and such other activities which result in pollution, acceleration of eutrophication of rivers and lakes or of ecological imbalance.[47] In closing, we commend the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Puerto Princesa and Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Palawan for exercising the requisite political will to enact urgently needed legislation to protect and enhance the marine environment, thereby sharing in the herculean task of arresting the tide of ecological destruction. We hope that other local government units shall now be roused from their lethargy and adopt a more vigilant stand in the battle against the decimation of our legacy to future generations. At this time, the repercussions of any further delay in their response may prove disastrous, if not, irreversible. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit and the temporary restraining order issued on 11 November 1993 is LIFTED. No pronouncement as to costs.

Antonio G. Principe, petitioner, vs. Fact-finding & Intelligence, Bureau (FFIB), Office Of The Ombudsman, respondents. (G.R. No. 145973 | January 23, 2002) PARDO, J.: The Case The case is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals[1] affirming the Ombudsmans dismissal of petitioner from the government service for gross neglect of duty in connection with the collapse of the housing project at the Cherry Hills Subdivision, Antipolo City, on August 3, 1999. The Facts The facts, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows: August 28, 1990- Philjas Corporation, whose primary purposes, among others are: to own, develop, subdivide, market and provide low-cost housing for the poor, was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). February 19, 1991 - then City Mayor Daniel S. Garcia, endorsed to the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) the proposed CHS. Thereafter, or on 07 March 1991, based on the favorable recommendation of Mayor Garcia, respondent TAN, issued the Preliminary Approval and Locational Clearance (PALC) for the development of CHS. On July 5, 1991, then HLURB Commissioner respondent TUNGPALAN issued Development Permit No. 91-0216 for land development only for the entire land area of 12.1034 hectares covered by TCT No. 35083 (now TCT 208837) and with 1,003 saleable lots/units with project classification B. P. 220 Model A-Socialized Housing (p. 96, Records), with several conditions for its development. Three (3) days thereafter or on July 8, 1991, respondent JASARENO, allowed/granted the leveling/earth-moving operations of the development project of the area subject to certain conditions. On November 18, 1991, then HLURB Commissioner AMADO B. DELORIA issued Certificate of Registration No. 91-11-0576 in favor of CHS, with License to Sell No. 91-11-0592 for the 1,007 lots/units in the subdivision. Eventually, on December 10, 1991, respondent POLLISCO issued Small Scale Mining Permit (SSMP) No. IV-316 to Philjas to extract and remove 10,000 cu. meters of filling materials from the area where the CHS is located. Thereafter, or on January 12, 1994, Philjas applied for a Small Scale Mining Permit (SSMP) under P. D. 1899 with the Rizal Provincial Government to extract and remove 50,000 metric tons of filling materials per annum on CHS 2.8 hectares. Thus, on January 17, 1994, respondent MAGNO, informed ELIEZER I. RODRIGUEZ of Philjas that CHS is within the EIS System and as such must secure ECC from the DENR. Philjas was accordingly informed of the matter such that it applied for the issuance of ECC from the DENR-Region IV, on February 3, 1994. On March 12, 1994, an Inspection Report allegedly prepared by respondent BALICAS, attested by respondent RUTAQUIO and approved by respondent TOLENTINO re: field evaluation to the issuance of ECC, was submitted. Consequently, on April 28, 1994, upon recommendation of respondent TOLENTINO, Philjas application for ECC was approved by respondent PRINCIPE, then Regional Executive Director, DENR under ECC-137-RI212-94. A Mining Field Report for SSMP dated May 10, 1994 was submitted pursuant to the inspection report prepared by respondents CAYETANO, FELICIANO, HILADO and BURGOS, based on their inspection conducted on April 25 to 29, 1994. The report recommended, among others, that the proposed extraction of materials would pose no adverse effect to the environment.

Records further disclosed that on August 10, 1994, respondent BALICAS monitored the implementation of the CHS Project Development to check compliance with the terms and conditions in the ECC. Again, on August 23, 1995, she conducted another monitoring on the project for the same purpose. In both instances, she noted that the project was still in the construction stage hence, compliance with the stipulated conditions could not be fully assessed, and therefore, a follow-up monitoring inspection was the last one conducted by the DENR. On September 24, 1994, GOV. CASIMIRO I. YNARES, JR., approved the SSMP applied for by Philjas under SSMP No. RZL-012, allowing Philjas to extract and remove 50,000 metric tons of filling materials from the area for a period of two (2) years from date of its issue until September 6, 1996.[2] On November 15, 1999, the Ombudsman rendered a decision finding petitioner Principe administratively liable for gross neglect of duty and imposing upon him the penalty of dismissal from office. The dispositive portion of the decision reads: WHEREFORE, premises considered xxx xxx x x x the following respondents are hereby found GUILTY as charged and meted the respective penalties provided under Section 22, Rule XIV of the Omnibus Rules, Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, viz,: 1. xxx

5. Antonio G. Principe - Penalty of Dismissal from the Service for Gross Neglect of Duty. xxx SO ORDERED.[3] On January 4, 2000, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review assailing the decision of the Ombudsman.[4] On August 25, 2000, the Court of Appeals promulgated a decision denying the petition and affirming the decision of the Ombudsman.[5] Hence, this appeal.[6] The Issue The issue raised is whether the Ombudsman may dismiss petitioner from the service on an administrative charge for gross neglect of duty, initiated, investigated and decided by the Ombudsman himself without substantial evidence to support his finding of gross neglect of duty because the duty to monitor and inspect the project was not vested in petitioner. The Court's Ruling Republic Act No. 6770, Section 15, prescribed the powers of the Ombudsman, as follows: Section 15. Powers, Functions and Duties. - The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the following powers, functions and duties: (1) Investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. It has primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of this primary jurisdiction it may take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency of Government, the investigation of such cases; (2) Direct, upon complaint or at its own instance, any officer or employee of the Government, or of any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, as well as any government-owned or controlled corporations with original charter, to perform and expedite any act or duty required by law, or to stop, prevent, and correct any abuse or impropriety in the performance of duties; (3) Direct the officer concerned to take appropriate action against a public officer or employee at fault or who neglects to perform an act or discharge a duty required by law, and recommend his removal, suspension, demotion, fine, censure, or prosecution, and ensure compliance therewith; or enforce its

disciplinary authority as provided in Section 21[7] of this Act: Provided, That the refusal by any officer without just cause to comply with an order of the Ombudsman to remove, suspend, demote, fine, censure, or prosecute an officer or employee who is at fault or who neglects to perform an act or discharge a duty required by law shall be a ground for disciplinary action against said officer; (4) Direct the officer concerned, in any appropriate case, and subject to such limitations as it may provide in its rules of procedure, to furnish it with copies of documents relating to contracts or transactions entered into by his office involving the disbursement or use of public funds or properties, and report any irregularity to the Commission on Audit for appropriate action; (5) Request any government agency for assistance and information necessary in the discharge of its responsibilities, and to examine, if necessary, pertinent records and documents; (6) Publicize matters covered by its investigation of the matters mentioned in paragraphs (1), (2), (3) and (4) hereof, when circumstances so warrant and with due prudence: Provided, further, that any publicity issued by the Ombudsman shall be balance, fair and true; (7) Determine the causes of inefficiency, red tape, mismanagement, fraud, and corruption in the Government, and make recommendations for their elimination and the observance of high standards of ethics and efficiency; (8) Administer oaths, issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum, and take testimony in any investigation or inquiry, including the power to examine and have access to bank accounts and records; (9) Punish for contempt in accordance with the Rules of Court and under the same procedure and with the same penalties provided therein; (10) Delegate to the Deputies, or its investigators or representatives such authority or duty as shall ensure the effective exercise or performance of the powers, functions, and duties herein or hereinafter provided; (11) Investigate and initiate the proper action for the recovery of ill-gotten and/or unexplained wealth amassed after February 25, 1986 and the prosecution of the parties involved therein.[8] The Ombudsman without taking into consideration the lawfully mandated duties and functions attached to petitioners position, immediately concluded that as the signing and approving authority of the ECC issued to PHILJAS, it was incumbent upon petitioner to conduct actual monitoring and enforce strict compliance with the terms and conditions of the ECC. The applicable administrative orders provide that the function of monitoring environmental programs, projects and activities in the region is lodged with the Regional Technical Director, not with the Regional Executive Director, the position occupied by petitioner. Under DAO 38-1990, the following were the functions attached to the office of petitioner, to wit: I. REGULATORY MATTERS D. REGIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Clearly, there is no mention of the responsibility of a regional executive director to monitor projects. More apropos is the description of the functions of a regional technical director, to wit: E. REGIONAL TECHNICAL DIRECTOR 1. Forest Management 2. Land Management 3. Mines and Geo-Sciences Development 4. Environmental Management 4.1 Issues clearance certificate to vehicles which have passed the smokebelching test. 4.2 Issues pollution clearance and temporary permit to operate pollution control devices including the collection of corresponding fees/charges. 4.3 Conducts monitoring and investigation of pollution sources and control facilities. 4.4 Supervises, coordinates and monitors the implementation of environmental programs, projects and activities in the region.[10] [emphasis supplied] Furthermore, monitoring is defined in DAO No. 21, Series of 1992, as the activity designed to gauge the level of compliance with the conditions stipulated in the ECC,[11] and in the EIS[12] or PD[13] submitted.[14] This is the function of the PENR and CENR offices as mandated in DAO No. 37, Series of 1996.[15] Particularly, it provided that: Section 10. Compliance Monitoring x x x b. Monitoring of compliance with the proponents ECC issued pursuant to an IEE,[16] and applicable laws, rules and regulations, shall be undertaken by the concerned PENRO and CENRO with support from the Regional Office and/or EMB whenever necessary. Hence, how could petitioner be guilty of neglecting a duty, which is not even his to begin with? Administrative liability could not be based on the fact that petitioner was the person who signed and approved the ECC, without proof of actual act or omission constituting neglect of duty. In the absence of substantial evidence of gross neglect of petitioner, administrative liability could not be based on the principle of command responsibility.[17] The negligence of petitioners subordinates is not tantamount to his own negligence. It was not within the mandated responsibilities of petitioner to conduct actual monitoring of projects. The principles governing public officers under the Revised Administrative Code of 1987 clearly provide that a head of a department or a superior officer shall not be civilly liable for the wrongful acts, omissions of duty, negligence, or misfeasance of his subordinates, unless he has actually authorized by written order the specific act or misconduct complained of.[18] The investigation conducted by the Ombudsman refers to the tragic incident in Cherry Hills Subdivision, Antipolo Rizal, where several families lost lives and homes. Despite the fact that what was involved was a housing and land development project, petitioner, as the Regional Executive Director for Region IV, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, was found negligent because he was the one who signed and approved the ECC. As heretofore stated, the responsibility of monitoring housing and land development projects is not lodged with the office of petitioner. The Administrative Code of 1987 spelled out the mandate of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the agency that has authority over petitioner, which reads: Section 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 countrys forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural resources, consistent with the necessity of maintaining a

1. Forest Management 2. Land Management 3. Mines and Geo-Sciences Development 4. Environmental Management 4.1 Issues authority to construct and permit to operate pollution control equipment/devices including the collection of corresponding fees/charges. 4.2 Issues accreditation of pollution control office of industrial firms and local government entities. 4.3 Hears/gathers evidences or facts on pollution cases as delegated by the Pollution Adjudication Board. 4.4. Approves plans and issues permit for mine tailings disposal, including environmental rehabilitation plans.[9]

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. Section 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 States constitutional mandate to control and supervise the exploration, development, utilization, and conservation of the countrys natural resources.[19] However, pursuant to Executive Order No. 90,[20] the Human Settlements Regulatory Commission, which became the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), is the sole regulatory body for housing and land development.[21] The Fallo WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES the decision of the Court of Appeals. [22] In lieu thereof, the Court annuls the decision of the Ombudsman in OMB-ADM-09-661, dated December 1, 1999, dismissing the petitioner from the government service, and orders his reinstatement with back pay and without loss of seniority. No costs.