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CASE: MMDA, DENR, DECS, DOH, DA, DPWH, DBM, PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD,

PNP MARITIME GROUP AND DILG v. Concerned Citizens of Manila Bay (GR Nos.
171947-48)
Date: 18 December 2008 (Decision) 15 February 2011 (Resolution)
Ponente: J. Velasco, Jr.
DECISION
FACTS

On 29 January 1999, concerned citizens of Manila Bay (respondents) filed a complaint


before the RTC of Imus, Cavite against several government agencies, among them the
petitioners, for the cleanup, rehabilitation and protection of Manila Bay.
Respondents alleged that the water quality of the Manila Bay had fallen way below the
allowable standards set by Presidential Decree No. 1152 (PD 1152) of the Philippine
Environment Code. The continued neglect of the petitioners in abating the pollution in
Manila Bay constitutes a violation of numerous environmental laws. Thus, respondents
pray that petitioners be ordered to clean the Manila Bay and to submit a concrete plan of
action for the purpose.
The RTC ordered petitioners to clean up and rehabilitate Manila Bay. The dispositive
portion reads:
WHEREFORE, finding merit in the complaint, judgment is hereby rendered ordering
the abovenamed defendant-government agencies, jointly and solidarily, to clean up and
rehabilitate Manila Bay and restore its waters to SB classification to make it fit for
swimming, skin-diving and other forms of contact recreation. To attain this, defendantagencies, with defendant DENR as the lead agency, are directed, within six (6) months
from receipt hereof, to act and perform their respective duties by devising a consolidated,
coordinated and concerted scheme of action for the rehabilitation and restoration of the
bay.
In particular:
Defendant MWSS is directed to install, operate and maintain adequate [sewerage]
treatment facilities in strategic places under its jurisdiction and increase their capacities.
Defendant LWUA, to see to it that the water districts under its wings, provide, construct
and operate sewage facilities for the proper disposal of waste.
Defendant DENR, which is the lead agency in cleaning up Manila Bay, to install, operate
and maintain waste facilities to rid the bay of toxic and hazardous substances.
Defendant PPA, to prevent and also to treat the discharge not only of ship-generated
wastes but also of other solid and liquid wastes from docking vessels that contribute to
the pollution of the bay.
Defendant MMDA, to establish, operate and maintain an adequate and appropriate
sanitary landfill and/or adequate solid waste and liquid disposal as well as other
alternative garbage disposal system such as re-use or recycling of wastes.
Defendant DA, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, to revitalize the
marine life in Manila Bay and restock its waters with indigenous fish and other aquatic
animals.

Defendant DBM, to provide and set aside an adequate budget solely for the purpose of
cleaning up and rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
Defendant DPWH, to remove and demolish structures and other nuisances that obstruct
the free flow of waters to the bay. These nuisances discharge solid and liquid wastes
which eventually end up inManila Bay. As the construction and engineering arm of the
government, DPWH is ordered to actively participate in removing debris, such as carcass
of sunken vessels, and other non-biodegradable garbage in the bay.
Defendant DOH, to closely supervise and monitor the operations of septic and sludge
companies and require them to have proper facilities for the treatment and disposal of
fecal sludge and sewage coming from septic tanks.
Defendant DECS, to inculcate in the minds and hearts of the people through education
the importance of preserving and protecting the environment.
Defendant Philippine Coast Guard and the PNP Maritime Group, to protect at all costs
the Manila Bay from all forms of illegal fishing.

Before the CA, petitioners contend that the provisions of the Environment Code relate
only to the cleaning of specific pollution incidents and do not cover cleaning in general.
Also, cleaning of the Manila Bay is not a ministerial act which can be compelled by
mandamus.
CA affirmed the RTC decision in toto. Hence, the present petition.

ISSUE
1. WON the cleaning or rehabilitation of the Manila Bay is not a ministerial act of
petitioners that can be compelled by mandamus
2. WON Sections 17 and 20 of PD 1152 relate only to the cleaning of specific pollution
incidents and do not cover cleaning in general
RULING
1. No. Petitioners argue that MMDAs duty to take measures and maintain adequate solid
waste and liquid disposal system necessarily involves policy evaluation and the exercise
of judgment on the part of the agency concerned.
On the other hand, respondents alleges that the statutory command for the
petitioners is clear and their duty to comply with and act according to the clear mandate
of the law does not require the exercise of discretion
The petitioners obligation to perform their duties as defined by law, on one hand,
and how they are to carry out such duties, on the other, are two different concepts. While
the implementation of the MMDAs mandated tasks may entail a decision-making
process, the enforcement of the law or the very act of doing what the law exacts to be
done is ministerial in nature and may be compelled by mandamus.

The MMDAs duty in the area of solid waste disposal,is set forth not only in the
Environment Code (PD 1152) and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA
9003), but in its charter as well. This duty of putting up a proper waste disposal system
cannot be characterized as discretionary, for discretion presupposes the power or right
given by law to public functionaries to act officially according to their judgment or
conscience. A discretionary duty is one that allows a person to exercise judgment and
choose to perform or not to perform. Any suggestion that the MMDA has the option
whether or not to perform its solid waste disposal-related duties ought to be dismissed for
want of legal basis.
The Petitioners enabling laws and issuances are in themselves clear, categorical,
and complete as to their obligations and mandate. The Court need not belabor the issue
that their tasks include the cleanup of the Manila Bay.
2. No. The disputed sections are quoted as follows:
Section 17. Upgrading of Water Quality.Where the quality of water has deteriorated to a
degree where its state will adversely affect its best usage, the government agencies
concerned shall take such measures as may be necessary to upgrade the quality of such
water to meet the prescribed water quality standards.
Section 20. Clean-up Operations.It shall be the responsibility of the polluter to contain,
remove and clean-up water pollution incidents at his own expense. In case of his failure
to do so, the government agencies concerned shall undertake containment, removal and
clean-up operations and expenses incurred in said operations shall be charged against the
persons and/or entities responsible for such pollution.

Section 16 of the Clean Water Act amended Section 20 of the Environment Code
in this wise:
SEC. 16. Cleanup Operations .Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 15 and 26
hereof, any person who causes pollution in or pollutes water bodies in excess of the
applicable and prevailing standards shall be responsible to contain, remove and clean up
any pollution incident at his own expense to the extent that the same water bodies have
been rendered unfit for utilization and beneficial use: Provided, That in the event
emergency cleanup operations are necessary and the polluter fails to immediately
undertake the same, the [DENR] in coordination with other government agencies
concerned, shall undertake containment, removal and cleanup operations. Expenses
incurred in said operations shall be reimbursed by the persons found to have caused such
pollution under proper administrative determination x x x. Reimbursements of the cost
incurred shall be made to the Water Quality Management Fund or to such other funds
where said disbursements were sourced.

Petitioners contend at every turn that Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment Code
concern themselves only with the matter of cleaning up in specific pollution incidents, as
opposed to cleanup in general. They aver that the twin provisions would have to be read
alongside the succeeding Sec. 62(g) and (h), which defines the terms cleanup operations
and accidental spills, as follows:
g. Clean-up Operations [refer] to activities conducted in removing the pollutants
discharged or spilled in water to restore it to pre-spill condition.

h. Accidental Spills [refer] to spills of oil or other hazardous substances in water that
result from accidents such as collisions and groundings.

To respondents, petitioners parochial view on environmental issues, coupled with


their narrow reading of their respective mandated roles, has contributed to the worsening
water quality of the Manila Bay. Assuming, respondents assert, that petitioners are correct
in saying that the cleanup coverage of Sec. 20 of PD 1152 is constricted by the definition
of the phrase cleanup operations embodied in Sec. 62(g), Sec. 17 is not hobbled by such
limiting definition. As pointed out, the phrases cleanup operations and accidental spills do
not appear in said Sec. 17, not even in the chapter where said section is found.
The Court ruled that respondents are correct. For one thing, said Sec. 17 does
not in any way state that the government agencies concerned ought to confine themselves
to the containment, removal, and cleaning operations when a specific pollution incident
occurs. On the contrary, Sec. 17 requires them to act even in the absence of a specific
pollution incident, as long as water quality has deteriorated to a degree where its state
will adversely affect its best usage. This section, to stress, commands concerned
government agencies, when appropriate, to take such measures as may be necessary to
meet the prescribed water quality standards. In fine, the underlying duty to upgrade the
quality of water is not conditional on the occurrence of any pollution incident.
For another, a perusal of Sec. 20 of the Environment Code, as couched, indicates
that it is properly applicable to a specific situation in which the pollution is caused by
polluters who fail to clean up the mess they left behind. In such instance, the concerned
government agencies shall undertake the cleanup work for the polluters account.
The cleanup and/or restoration of the Manila Bay is only an aspect and the initial
stage of the long-term solution. The preservation of the water quality of the bay after the
rehabilitation process is as important as the cleaning phase.
It thus behooves the Court to put the heads of the petitioner-department-agencies
and the bureaus and offices under them on continuing notice about, and to enjoin them to
perform, their mandates and duties towards cleaning up the Manila Bay and preserving
the quality of its water to the ideal level. Under what other judicial discipline describes as
continuing mandamus. the Court may, under extraordinary circumstances, issue
directives with the end in view of ensuring that its decision would not be set to naught by
administrative inaction or indifference.
DISPOSITIVE PORTION
The petition is denied. The RTC decision is affirmed with modifications. In particular:
(1) The DENR is directed to fully implement its Operational Plan for the Manila Bay
Coastal Strategy for the rehabilitation, restoration, and conservation of the Manila Bay at
the earliest possible time. It is ordered to call regular coordination meetings with
concerned government departments and agencies to ensure the successful implementation
of the aforesaid plan of action.

(2) The DILG shall direct all LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan,
Pampanga, and Bataan to inspect all factories, commercial establishments, and private
homes along the banks of the major river systems in their respective areas of jurisdiction
to determine whether they have wastewater treatment facilities or hygienic septic tanks as
prescribed by existing laws, ordinances, and rules and regulations. If none be found, these
LGUs shall be ordered to require non-complying establishments and homes to set up said
facilities or septic tanks within a reasonable time to prevent industrial wastes, sewage
water, and human wastes from flowing into these rivers, waterways, esteros, and the
Manila Bay, under pain of closure or imposition of fines and other sanctions.
(3) The MWSS is directed to provide, install, operate, and maintain the necessary
adequate waste water treatment facilities in Metro Manila, Rizal, and Cavite where
needed at the earliest possible time.
(4) The LWUA, through the local water districts and in coordination with the DENR, is
ordered to provide, install, operate, and maintain sewerage and sanitation facilities and
the efficient and safe collection, treatment, and disposal of sewage in the provinces of
Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan where needed at the earliest possible
time.
(5) The DA, through the BFAR, is ordered to improve and restore the marine life of
the Manila Bay. It is also directed to assist the LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite,
Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan in developing, using recognized methods, the
fisheries and aquatic resources in the Manila Bay.
(6) The PCG and the PNP Maritime Group, in coordination with each other, shall
apprehend violators of PD 979, RA 8550, and other existing laws and regulations
designed to prevent marine pollution in the Manila Bay.
(7) The PPA is ordered to immediately adopt such measures to prevent the discharge and
dumping of solid and liquid wastes and other ship-generated wastes into
the Manila Bay waters from vessels docked at ports and apprehend the violators.
(8) The MMDA in coordination with the DPWH, DILG, affected LGUs, PNP Maritime
Group, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and other
agencies, shall dismantle and remove all structures, constructions, and other
encroachments established or built in violation of RA 7279, and other applicable laws
along the Pasig-Marikina-San Juan Rivers, the NCR (Paraaque-Zapote, Las Pias) Rivers,
the Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tenejeros Rivers, and connecting waterways
and esteros in Metro Manila. The DPWH in coordination with the DILG, affected LGUs,
PNP Maritime Group, HUDCC, and other concerned government agencies, shall remove
and demolish all structures, constructions, and other encroachments built in breach of RA
7279 and other applicable laws along the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando (Bulacan)
Rivers, the Talisay (Bataan) River, the Imus (Cavite) River, the Laguna De Bay, and other
rivers, connecting waterways, and esteros that discharge wastewater into the Manila Bay.
In addition, the MMDA is ordered to establish, operate, and maintain a sanitary landfill
within a period of one (1) year from finality of this Decision. On matters within its
territorial jurisdiction and in connection with the discharge of its duties on the
maintenance of sanitary landfills and like undertakings, it is also ordered to cause the
apprehension and filing of the appropriate criminal cases against violators of the
respective penal provisions on existing laws on pollution.
(9) The DOH shall, within one (1) year from finality of this Decision, determine if all
licensed septic and sludge companies have the proper facilities for the treatment and
disposal of fecal sludge and sewage coming from septic tanks. The DOH shall give the

companies, if found to be non-complying, a reasonable time within which to set up the


necessary facilities under pain of cancellation of its environmental sanitation clearance.
(10) The DepEd shall integrate lessons on pollution prevention, waste management,
environmental protection, and like subjects in the school curricula of all levels.
(11) The DBM shall consider incorporating an adequate budget in the General
Appropriations Act of 2010 and succeeding years to cover the expenses relating to the
cleanup, restoration, and preservation of the water quality of the Manila Bay.
(12) The heads of petitioners-agencies MMDA, DENR, DepEd, DOH, DA, DPWH,
DBM, PCG, PNP Maritime Group, DILG, and also of MWSS, LWUA, and PPA, in line
with the principle of continuing mandamus, shall, from finality of this Decision, each
submit to the Court a quarterly progressive report of the activities undertaken in
accordance with this Decision.

RESOLUTION
BACKGROUND

The government agencies did not file any motion for reconsideration on the above
decision which became final in January 2009.
The Manila Bay Advisory Committee was created to receive and evaluate the quarterly
progressive reports on the activities undertaken by the agencies in the execution phase.
In the absence of specific completion periods, the Committee recommended that time
frames be set for the agencies to perform their assigned tasks.

ISSUE
1. WON the setting of time frames for the agencies to perform their assigned tasks may be
viewed as an encroachment over the powers and functions of the Executive Branch
RESOLUTION
1. No. The issuance of subsequent resolutions by the Court is simply an exercise of judicial
power under Art. VIII of the Constitution, because the execution of the Decision is but an
integral part of the adjudicative function of the Court. None of the agencies ever
questioned the power of the Court to implement the December 18, 2008 Decision nor has
any of them raised the alleged encroachment by the Court over executive functions.
While additional activities are required of the agencies like submission of plans of
action, data or status reports, these directives are but part and parcel of the execution
stage of a final decision under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.
Moreover, the submission of periodic reports is sanctioned by Secs. 7 and 8, Rule
8 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental cases:
Sec. 7. Judgment. If warranted, the court shall grant the privilege of the writ of
continuing mandamus requiring respondent to perform an act or series of acts until the

judgment is fully satisfied and to grant such other reliefs as may be warranted resulting
from the wrongful or illegal acts of the respondent. The court shall require the
respondent to submit periodic reports detailing the progress and execution of the
judgment, and the court may, by itself or through a commissioner or the
appropriate government agency, evaluate and monitor compliance. The petitioner
may submit its comments or observations on the execution of the judgment.
Sec. 8. Return of the writ. The periodic reports submitted by the respondent detailing
compliance with the judgment shall be contained in partial returns of the writ. Upon full
satisfaction of the judgment, a final return of the writ shall be made to the court by the
respondent. If the court finds that the judgment has been fully implemented, the
satisfaction of judgment shall be entered in the court docket. (Emphasis supplied.)

The writ of continuing mandamus issued means that until petition-government


agencies have shown full compliance with the Court orders, the Court exercises
continuing jurisdiction over them until full execution of the judgment.
In order to implement the decision, certain directives have been issued by the SC
to address the concerns of the Manila Bay Advisory Committee anent submission of
reports, deadlines, and difficulties encountered by the agencies in complying with the
court directives.