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Facts This case is unique in that it is a class suit brought by 44 children, through their parents, claiming that they

bring the case in the name of their generation as well as those generations yet unborn. Aiming to stop deforestation, it was filed against the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, seeking to have him cancel all the timber license agreements (TLAs) in the country and to cease and desist from accepting and approving more timber license agreements. The children invoked their right to a balanced and healthful ecology and to protection by the State in its capacity as parens patriae. The petitioners claimed that the DENR Secretary's refusal to cancel the TLAs and to stop issuing them was "contrary to the highest law of humankind-- the natural law-- and violative of plaintiffs' right to self-preservation and perpetuation." The case was dismissed in the lower court, invoking the law on non-impairment of contracts, so it was brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari. Issue Did the children have the legal standing to file the case? Ruling Yes. The Supreme Court in granting the petition ruled that the children had the legal standing to file the case based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility. Their right to a healthy environment carried with it an obligation to preserve that environment for the succeeding generations. In this, the Court recognized legal standing to sue on behalf of future generations. Also, the Court said, the law on nonimpairment of contracts must give way to the exercise of the police power of the state in the interest of public welfare. Relevance The case of Oposa vs. Factoran has been widely cited worldwide for its concept of intergenerational responsibility, particularly in cases related to ecology and the environment. For example: Oposa vs. Factoran's concept of "intergenerational responsibility" was cited in a case in Bangladesh.[1] The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) considers Oposa vs. Factoran a landmark case in judicial thinking for environmental governance.[2] In the book Public Health Law and Ethics by Larry O. Gostin, Oposa vs. Factoran is cited as a significant example of the justiciability of the right to health. [3] In the book The Law of Energy for Sustainable Development by the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Research Studies, a study cites Oposa vs. Factoran as basis for asserting that the right to breathe is part of the right to life as an acknowledged human right.[4]

Oposa et al. v. Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. et al (G.R. No. 101083) Nature of the case Class action seeking the cancellation and non-issuance of timber licence agreements which allegedly infringed the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology (Section 16); non-impairment of contracts; Environmental law; judicial review and the political question doctrine; inter-generational responsibility; Remedial law: cause of action and standing; Directive principles; Negative obligation on State Summary An action was filed by several minors represented by their parents against the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cancel existing timber license agreements in the country and to stop issuance of new ones. It was claimed that the resultant deforestation and damage to the environment violated their constitutional rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health (Sections 16 and 15, Article II of the Constitution). The petitioners asserted that they represented others of their generation as well as generations yet unborn. Finding for the petitioners, the Court stated that even though the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is under the Declaration of Principles and State Policies of the Constitution and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the rights enumerated in the latter: [it] concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation, the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions. The right is linked to the constitutional right to health, is fundamental, constitutionalised, self-executing and judicially enforceable. It imposes the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment. The court stated that the petitioners were able to file a class suit both for others of their generation and for succeeding generations as the minors' assertion of their right to a sound environment constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the generations to come. Significance of the case

This case has been widely-cited in jurisprudence worldwide, particularly in cases relating to forest/timber licensing. However, the approach of the Philippino Supreme Court to economic, social and cultural rights has proved somewhat inconsistent, with some judgments resulting in the enforcement of such rights (e.g., Del Rosario v Bangzon, 180 SCRA 521 (1989); Manila Prince Hotel v Government Service Insurance System, G. R. No. 122156 (3 February, 1997) but at least one instance in which the Court made a statement that economic, social and cultural rights are not real rights (see, Brigido Simon v Commission on Human Rights, G. R. No. 100150, 5 January 1994).