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Port of Makassar, South Sulawesi Province, Republic of Indonesia

J une 25, 2013

First of all, I would like to thank the Philippine Coast Guard headed
by its Commandant, RADM Rodolfo Isorena, for bringing me here in this
beautiful City of Makassar, Indonesia to deliver a special message and share
with you the environmental undertakings of the judiciary, especially the
Philippine Supreme Court, the past several years.

I wish to thank, likewise, the host Country of Indonesia for
welcoming and accepting me as your speaker in tonights event. It is indeed
an Honor not only for me, but also for the Institution and the Country that I
represent in this rare occasion.

Constant economic growth is bringing new challenges in our ever
changing world. Our increasingly complex world has created huge demands
for goods and products which taxes our environment to near breaking point.
Changes in technology, ideology, competition, conflict, as well as political
and economic changes pose new challenges in protecting our environment.

As a consequence of the growing needs of humanity, we continue to
degrade the environment resulting in several environmental problems that
remain deeply embedded in the socio-economic fabric across the globe. The
Philippines is one of the countries that are victims of environmental
degradation caused by "uncontrolled deforestation in watershed areas,
degradation of its vast land and marine resources, air and water pollution in
the major cities, growing contamination of its water resources,
indiscriminate conversion of prime agricultural land into industrial and
residential land, dwindling coastal resources, and growing waste disposal
Do we really need to sacrifice our environment in the name of

Role of the Philippine J udicial Academy in Environmental Law Dissemination, Enforcement and
Adjudication by J ustice Oswaldo D. Agcaoili citing Former Chief J ustice Reynato S. Puno's Message

economic growth and a strong economy in our respective countries?
Gatherings like this present convention are important tools to express our
commitment to protect and preserve the environment, which is a
responsibility that is beyond borders and boundaries but is a shared
responsibility of every human being as inhabitants of the same planet.

In the case of environmental issues, we are faced with a type of harm
that is tied to the living conditions of man, flora and fauna, which is at times
difficult, if not impossible to reverse. Thus, the urgency to act on
environmental matters has taken a global approach, or is at least influenced
by global action. Part of the reason why we are gathered here today is
because we recognize that in order for this movement of environmental
protection to succeed, the rule of law must complement existing policy and
other modes of environmental regulation with innovative solutions.

Way back in 1993, The Supreme Court of the Philippines in the
landmark case of Oposa v. Factoran, Jr.
championed two (2) important
ideas for environmental justice: One, representatives of minors and
generations yet unborn have legal standing to enforce environmental rights;
and Two, these environmental rights are so fundamental, they need not be
enshrined in a Constitution, for they predate mankind.

In another landmark case, the Supreme Court in 2008 issued a
continuing Mandamus in the case Metro Manila Development Authority v.
Concerned Citizens of Manila,
when it ruled that government agencies were
obligated to clean our now polluted Manila Bay. The writ of continuing
mandamus commands a party to execute judgment and perform acts for an
unlimited period up until judgment is satisfied; the court can monitor, or
direct a government agency to monitor its execution through whatever
means necessary, including without limitation the submission of periodic

following the Presentation of the Token of Recognition to Former Chief J ustice Reynato S. Puno and
retired J ustice Ameurfina A. Melencio Herrera, J anuary 29, 2008.
G.R. No.101083, J uly 30, 1993, 224 SCRA 792.
G.R. Nos. 171947-48, December 18, 2008, 574 SCRA 661.

progress reports to the Court. Since the Supreme Court is acting in a
monitoring capacity, it created a Manila Bay Advisory Committee in order
to facilitate the obligations under the mandamus.

On April 13, 2010, the Supreme Court of the Philippines, under its
extraordinary constitutional powers, promulgated the Rules of Procedure for
Environmental Cases which serves as a significant element in implementing
reforms not only in environmental protection but also in litigation. There is
no other country, not even the United States of America, except the
Philippines that has come up with this type of procedural rules. In fact, the
members of the Philippine Supreme Court have been invited by our
neighboring countries to enlighten and inspire them on the promulgation of
their own set of environmental Rules. The only problem is that they do not
have similar provisions of law unlike in the Philippines where our 1987
Constitution empowers the Supreme Court with its expanded judicial power
to promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of
constitutional rights,
which includes the right of the people to a balanced
and healthful ecology.

The effort to formulate this separate set of rules is a response to the
long felt need for more specific rules that can sufficiently address the
procedural concerns that are peculiar to environmental cases.
innovations have been introduced such as two special writs which are in
themselves speedy remedies the Writs of Kalikasan, the term kalikasan
meaning nature or environment, and Continuing Mandamus.

The extraordinary writ of Kalikasan, as defined by the Rules of Court,
is a remedy available to a natural or juridical person, entity authorized by
law, peoples organization, non-governmental organization, or any public
interest group accredited by or registered with any government agency, on
behalf of persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful

Section 5 (5), Article VIII, 1987 Constitution.
Section 16, Article II, 1987 Constitution.
Annotation to the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases.

ecology is violated, or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or
omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity,
involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life,
health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces. Being
an extraordinary remedy, the underlying emphasis in the writ of kalikasan is
of great magnitude as it deals with damage that transcends political and
territorial boundaries.

The case of West Tower Condominium Corp., et al. v. First Philippine
Industrial Corp., et al.
is worthy of note, In November 2010, four months
after an oil leak was discovered in the basement of a condominium, the high
tribunal issued the countrys first Writ of kalikasan, leading to the temporary
closure of the FPIC pipeline which transports fuel products from one of the
provinces to an oil depot in Manila in the meantime that the Court of
Appeals was hearing the Petition.

In Cosalan, et al v. City of Baguio, et al.,
petitioner therein sought the
closure of a dumpsite following the death of six (6) people, including three
(3) children, when a trashslide buried them alive under a mountain of
trash. After hearing with the Court of Appeals, the parties and the local
government agreed to settle the case amicably and later entered into a
Consent Decree, wherein the local government undertook, among other
things, to permanently close the dumpsite and convert the area to an
environment-friendly Eco-Park. A writ of Kalikasan was thus granted and a
writ of Continuing Mandamus was issued ordering the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to strictly monitor compliance
of all concerned to the said decree.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines), et al. v. environmental Management Bureau of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, CA-G.R. SP No. 00013, May 17, 2013, p. 16.
G.R. No. 194239.
CA-G.R. SP No. 00006.

In Agham Party List, et al. v. Ramon Paje,
petitioners questioned
the use of and management of the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape
(TVPL). Considering that numerous fish cages were erected and several
livestock operators lined the banks of the Taal Lake, it was claimed that the
mishandling of these enterprises affected the water quality and health of the
Taal Lake. The parties therein entered into a Memorandum of Agreement,
which was approved by the Court of Appeals. Among other things, the
Protected Area Management Board of the Taal Volcano Protected
Landscape undertook to be strict in the issuance of appropriate clearances to
all projects in the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape. The Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also agreed to intensify its
efforts in monitoring the livestock density of fish cages in the area. A writ
of Continuing Mandamus was also issued requiring the parties to faithfully
and promptly comply with the conditions of the Memorandum of
Agreement, as well as, to submit a quarterly progressive report.

Another important innovation is the Application of the Precautionary
Principle. The formulation of evidence-related provisions was made with
the guidance of the precautionary principle in order to facilitate access to
courts in environmental cases and create a more relevant form of court
procedure tailored to the unique and complex characteristics of
environmental science.

The precautionary principle was recently applied by the Court of
Appeals in the case of Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines), et al. v.
Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources.
The Court of Appeals therein granted a petition filed
by environmental organizations and advocates to stop the nationwide field
trials of genetically modified eggplant. The Court of Appeals stated that the
precautionary principle is especially relevant since the controversy deals
with a genetically-modified organism that would be introduced into our

CA-G.R. SP No. 00007.
Rationale to the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, p. 81.
CA-G.R. SP No. 00013, May 17, 2013.

ecosystem and eventually to the Philippine market for human consumption.
In the end, the CA upheld the petitioners right to a balanced and healthful
ecology and opined that the field trials cannot be declared as safe to human
health and the environment since the over-all safety guarantee of the project
remains to be unknown.

The Rule on Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation or SLAPP
is likewise a new legal principle. Borrowed from U.S. state laws, this
concept protects persons from frivolous and vexatious lawsuits meant to
stifle their efforts to enforce environmental rights. Once proven that a case
filed against any person, institution or the government was only meant to
harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse taken or may
take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the
environment or assertion of environmental rights,
the court shall dismiss
the action and may award damages, attorneys fees and cost of suit to the
In fine, the Rules recognize that formidable challenges may be
mounted against those who seek to enforce environmental laws or to assert
environmental rights.

Since its effectivity, the Rules of Procedure have been widely used by
environmental groups and individuals in protecting the environment and in
asserting their environmental rights.

Latest data of the Supreme Court shows that 24 Writ of Kalikasan
petitions have been filed before the Court involving a wide range of cases,
including the above-mentioned cases. Being priority cases, these petitions
are tackled by the Court En Banc. After finding sufficient basis, the Court
issues the writ prayed for and refers the case to the Court of Appeals for
hearing. As of last week, the data shows that one (1) petition has already
been denied; one (1) was remanded; two (2) were dismissed; fourteen (14)

Section 1, Rule 6, Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases.
Section 4, Rule 6, Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases.
Annotation to the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, p. 130.

were referred to the Court of Appeals; and six (6) are pending before the
High Court.

As for the Court of Appeals, the appellate Court has already decided
and resolved five (5) of the cases that were referred to it.

Recently, a petition for a writ of Kalikasan was filed before the
Supreme Court of the Philippines relative to the grounding in the Tubbataha
Reef last J anuary 17, 2013 of USS Guardian, an Avenger-class mine
countermeasures ship of the United States Navy. The case was filed three
months after the ship ran aground in the protected area which is a UNESCO
World Heritage Site. Among the respondents in the said petition are officials
of the US Navy. Although the ship has already been removed, it is estimated
that thousands of square meters of coral reef have been damaged by the US
warship. To date, this is the first instance that foreign troops have been
impleaded as respondents in a Writ of Kalikasan petition.

In concluding, I have this to say:

The need for the continuing exchange of knowledge and partnership
with other nations is critical to the quest for the protection of our
environment. The paradigm must necessarily be that, notwithstanding
differences between governments and nations, openness to the ideas and
practices of other jurisdictions may be crucial to the development and
enforcement of environmental law, as well as, the preservation of our
ecology. I believe that an increase in inter-nation conventions and joint
environmental campaigns are essential to safeguarding and the perpetuation
of a well balanced, healthy, and sustainable bio-diversity in our planet. A
healthy ecology is not only essential to the present generation, but it is a
heritage and a birthright that should be preserved and nourished for the
future generations to come.

Thank you.