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G.R. Nos.

L-31666, L-31667 and L-31668 April 30, 1979


LEPANTO CONSOLIDATED MINING COMPANY, petitioner,
vs.
MANUEL DUMYUNG, THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF BAGUIO CITY, and the
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF BAGUIO CITY (BRANCH I), respondents.
LEPANTO CONSOLIDATED MINING COMPANY, petitioner,
vs.
FORTUNATO DUMYUNG, THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF BAGUIO CITY , and the
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF BAGUIO CITY (BRANCH I), respondents.
LEPANTO CONSOLIDATED MINING COMPANY, petitioner,
vs.
DUMYUNG BONAYAN, THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF BAGUIO CITY, and the
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF BAGUIO CITY (BRANCH I), respondents.
Sycip, Salazar, Luna, Manalo & Feliciano, Jesus B. Santos and Hill & Associates for petitioner.
Floro B. Bugnosen for private respondents.
FERNANDEZ, J.:
This is a petition to review the order of the Court of First Instance of Baguio City, Branch I,
dismissing the three complaints for annulment of titles in Civil Cases Nos. 1068, 1069 and 1070
entitled "Republic of the Philippines, Plaintiff, versus, Manuel Dumyung, et al., Defendants,
Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company, Intervenor" for being without merit. 1
The Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Director of Lands, commenced in the Court
of First Instance of Baguio City Civil Cases Nos. 1068, 1069 and 1070 for annulment of Free
Patents Nos. V-152242, V-155050 and V-152243, and of the corresponding Original Certificates
of Title Nos. P-208, P-210 and P-209, on the ground of misrepresentation and false data and
informations furnished by the defendants, Manuel Dumyung, Fortunate Dumyung and Dumyung
Bonayan, respectively. the land embraced in the patents and titles are Identified as Lots 1, 2 and
3 of survey plan Psu-181763 containing a total area of 58.4169 hectares, more or less, and
situated in the Municipal District of Mankayan, Sub-province of Benguet, Mountain Province.
The Register of Deeds of Baguio City was made a formal party defendant.
The complaints in Civil Cases Nos. 1068, 1069 and 1070 are all dated September 22, 196 l. 2
The defendants filed their respective answers. 3
The Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company, petitioner herein, filed motions for intervention
dated February 5, 1962 in the three (3) civil cases 4 which were granted. 5
The complaints in intervention alleged that a portion of the titled lands in question-.ion is within
the intervenor's ordinary timber license No. 140-'62 dated July 7, 1961 expiring and up for
renewal on June 30, 1962 and another portion of said lands is embraced in its mineral claims. 6
The defendants in the three (3) civil cases filed an amended joint answer with counterclaim to the
complaint in intervention. 7 The said amended joint answer was admitted in an order dated
September 10, 1972. 8
Before the hearing on the merits of the three (3) civil cases, the plaintiff, Republic of the
Philippines represented by the Director of Lands, filed in the Court of First Instance of Baguio
City three (3) criminal cases for falsification of public document. 9, docketed as Criminal Cases

Nos. 2358, 2359 and 2360, against the defendants Manuel Dumyung, Fortunato Dumyung and
Dumyung Bonayan, private respondents herein, for allegedly making untrue statements in their
applications for free patents over the lands in question. The proceedings on the three (3) civil
cases were suspended pending the outcome of the criminal cases.
After the presentation of evidence by the prosecution in the three (3) criminal cases, the defense
filed a motion to dismiss the same on the ground that the accused had complied with all the legal
requirements in the acquisition of their patents which were duly issued by the Director of Lands
and that they are not guilty of the alleged falsification of public documents.
In an order dated December 6, 1967, the trial court sustained the theory of the defense and
dismissed the three (3) criminal cases, with costs de officio, for insufficiency of evidence to
sustain the conviction of the three (3) accused. 9
Thereupon, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss dated October 12, 1968 in Civil Cases Nos.
1068, 1069 and 1070 on the following grounds: (1) extinction of the penal action carries with it
the extinction of the civil action when the extinction proceeds from a declaration that the fact
from which the civil might arise did not exist; (2) the decision of the trial court acquitting the
defendants of the crime charged renders these civil cases moot and academic, (3) the trial court
has no jurisdiction to order cancellation of the patents issued by the Director of Lands; (4) the
certificates of title in question can no longer be assailed; and (5) the intervenor Lepanto has no
legal interest in the subject matter in litigation. 10
The Court of First Instance of Baguio, Branch I, dismissed the three (3) civil cases because:
After a careful examination and deliberation of the MOTION TO DISMISS, these civil cases
filed by the defendants as well as the two OPPOSITIONS TO MOTION TO DISMISS filed by
both plaintiff and intervenor Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company and the of all the three civil
cases, it clearly shows that upon the issuance of said Free Patents on November 26, 1960, the
same were duly registered with the office of the Register of Deeds of Baguio and Benguet,
pursuant to the provisions of Sec. 122 of Act 496, as amended, and consequently, these
properties became the private properties of the defendants, under the operation of Sec. 38 of said
Act; hence, these titles enjoy the same privileges and safeguards as Torrens titles (Director of
Lands vs. Heirs of Ciriaco Carle, G. R. No. L-12485, July 31, 1964). It is therefore clear that
OCT Nos. P-208, P-209 and P-210 belonging to the defendants are now indefeasible and this
Court has no power to disturb such indefeasibility of said titles, let alone cancel the same.
The records of this case further disclose that the defendants are ignorant natives of Benguet
Province and are members of the so-called Cultural Minorities of Mountain Province, who are
the same persons accused in the dismissed criminal cases, based on the same grounds. It should
be noted that these cases fall squarely under Sec. 3 of Rule III of the New Rules of Court. 11
They plaintiff, Republic of the Philippines represented by the Director of Lands, and the
intervenor, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company,, filed separate motions for reconsideration
of the order dismissing Civil Cases Nos. 1068, 1069 and 1070. 12 Both motion for
reconsideration were denied by the trial court. 13 Thereupon the intervenor, Lepanto
Consolidated Mining Company, filed the instant petition.
The petitioner assigns the following errors:
I

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE ORIGINAL CERTIFICATE OF


TITLE OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS WERE 'INDEFEASIBLE' SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY
WERE ISSUED PURSUANT TO THE REGISTRATION OF THE FREE PATENTS OF THE
PRIVATE RESPONDENTS.
II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS ARE
ENTITLED TO THE BENEFITS OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 3872.
III
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE ACQUITTAL OF THE PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS IN THE CRIMINAL CASES FOR FALSIFICATION OF PUBLIC
DOCUMENTS BARRED THE CIVIL ACTIONS FOR ANNULMENT OF THE FREE
PATENTS AND CANCELLATION OF THE ORIGINAL CERTIFICATES OF TITLE OF THE
PRIVATE RESPONDENTS. 14
Timber and mineral lands are not alienable or disposable. The pertinent provisions of the Public
Land Act, Commonwealth Act No. 141, provide:
Sec. 2. The provisions of this Act shall apply to the lands of the public domain; but timber and
mineral lands shag be governed by special laws and nothing in this Act provided shall be
understood or construed to change or modify the administration and disposition of the lands
commonly called 'friar lands' and those which being privately owned, have reverted to or become
the property of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, which administration and disposition shall
be governed by the laws at present in force or which may hereafter be enacted.
Sec. 6. The President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce,
shall from time to time classify the lands of the public domain into
(a) Alienable or disposable,
(b) Timber, and
(c) Mineral lands,
and may at any time and in a like manner transfer such lands from one class to another, for the
purposes of their administration and disposition.
The principal factual issue raised by the plaintiff, Republic of the Philippines represented by the
Director of Lands, and the intervenor, petitioner herein, is that the lands covered by the patents
and certificates of title are timber lands and mineral lands and, therefore, not alienable. Without
receiving evidence, the trial court dismissed the three (3) cases on the ground that upon the
issuance of the free patents on November 26, 1960, said patents were duly registered in the
Office of the Registry of Deeds of Baguio pursuant to Section 122 of Act 496, as amended, and
said properties became the private properties of the defendants under the operation of Section 38
of the Land Registration Act. The trial court concluded that these titles enjoy the same privileges
and safeguards as the torrens title, and Original Certificates of Title Nos. P-208, P-209 and P-210
of the defendants are now indefeasible.
In its order denying the motion for reconsideration the trial court said,
On the ground of lack of jurisdiction on the part of the Director of Lands to dispose of the
properties since they are within the forest zone, the court finds Republic Act No. 3872, to clear
this point. Section 1, amending Section 44 of the Land Act in its second paragraph states:

A member of the national cultural, minorities who has continuously occupied and cultivated,
either by himself or through his predecessors-in- interest, a tract or tracts of land, whether
disposable or not since July 4, 1955, shall be entitled to the right granted in the preceding
paragraph of this section: PROVIDED, that at the time he files his free patent application, he is
not the owner of any real property secured or disposable under this provision of the Public Land
Law.
The 'preceding paragraph' refers to the right of a person to have a free patent issued to him,
provided he is qualified, which in this case the Director of Lands has the jurisdiction to dispose,
whether the land be disposable or not. This provision of law, certainly, applies to herein
defendants. The reason for this law is explicit and could very well be seen from its
EXPLANATORY NOTE, which reads:
'Because of the aggresiveness of our more enterprising Christian brothers in Mindanao,
Mountain Province, and other places inhabited by members of the National Cultural Minorities,
there has be-en an exodus of the poor and less fortunate non-christians from their ancestral
homes during the t ten years to the fastnesses of the wilderness where they have settled in peace
on portions of agricultural lands, unfortunately, in most cases, within the forest zones. But this is
not the end of the tragedy of the national cultural minorities. Because of the grant of pasture
leases or permits to the more agressive Christians, these National Cultural Minorities who have
settled in the forest zones for the last ten years have been harassed and jailed or threatened with
harassment and imprisonment.
The thesis behind the additional paragraph to Section 44 of the Public Land Act is to give the
national culture, minorities a fair chance to acquire lands of the public domain' ...
It is for this reason that is, to give these national cultural minorities who were driven from
their ancestral abodes, a fair chance to acquire lands of the public domain that Republic Act
3872 was passed. This is the new government policy on liberation of the free patent provisions of
the Public Land Act emphasizing more consideration to and sympathy on the members of the
national cultural minorities, which our courts of justice must uphold. 15
The trial court assumed without any factual basis that the private respondents are entitled to the
benefits of Republic Act 3872. The pertinent provision of Republic Act No, 3872 reads:
SECTION 1. A new paragraph is hereby added 1--o Section 44 of Commonwealth Act
Numbered One Hundred-d forty-one, to read as follows:
SEC. 44. Any natural-born citizen of the Philippines who is not the owner of more than twentyfour hectares and who since July fourth, ninth hundred and twenty-six or prior thereto, has
continuously occupied and cultivated, either by, himself' or through his predecessors-in-interest.
a tract or tracts of agricultural public lands subject to disposition- or who shall have paid the real
estate tax thereon while the same has, not been occupied by any person shall be entitled, under
the provision of this chapter, to have a free patent issued to him for such tract or tracts of such
land not to exceed twenty-four hectares.
A member of the national cultural minorities who has continuously occupied and cultivated,
either by himself or through his predecessors-in- interest, a tract or tracts of land, whether
disposable or not since July 4, 1955, shall be entitled to the right granted in the preceding
paragraph of this section: Provided, That at the time he files his free patent application he is not

the owner of any real property secured or disposable under this provision of the Public Land
Law.
There is no evidence that the private respondents are members of the National Cultural
Minorities; that they have continously occupied and cultivated either by themselves or through
their predecessors-in-interest the lands in question since July 4, 1955; and that they are not the
owner of any land secured or disposable under the Public Land Act at the time they filed the free
patent applications. These qualifications must be established by evidence. Precisely, the
intervenor, petitioner herein, claims that it was in possession of the lands in question when the
private respondents applied for free patents thereon.
It was premature for the trial court to rule on whether or not the titles based on the patents
awarded to the private respondents have become indefeasible. It is well settled that a certificate
of title is void when it covers property of public domain classified as forest or timber and mineral
lands. Any title issued on non-disposable lots even in the hands of alleged innocent purchaser for
value, shall be cancelled. 16 In Director of lands vs. Abanzado 17 this Court said:
4. To complete the picture, reference may be made to the learned and scholarly opinion of Justice
Sanchez in Director of Forestry v. Muoz, a 1968 decision. After a review of Spanish legislation,
he summarized the present state of the law thus: 'If a Spanish title covering forest land is found
to be invalid, that land is public forest land, is part of the public domain, and cannot be
appropriated. Before private interests have intervened, the government may decide for i what
Portions of the public domain shall be set aside and reserved as forest land. Possession of forest
lands, however long, cannot ripen into private ownership.' Nor is this all He reiterated the basic
state objective on the matter in clear and penetrating language: 'The view this Court takes of the
cages at bar is but in adherence to public policy that should be followed with respect to forest
lands. many have written much, and many more have spoken, and quite often, above the pressing
need for forest preservation, conservation. protection, development and reforestation. Not
without justification For, forests constitute a vital segment of any country's natural resources. It
is of common knowledge by now that absence of the necessary green cover on our lands
produces a number Of adverse or ill effects of serious proportions. Without the trees, watersheds
dry up; rivers and lakes which they supply are emptied of their contents. The fish disappears.
Denuded areas become dust bowls. As waterfalls cease to function, so will hydroelectric plants.
With the rains, the fertile topsoil is washed away; geological erosion results. With erosion come
the dreaded floods that wreak havoc and destruction to property crops, livestock, houses and
highways not to mention precious human lives, ...'
The acquittal of the private respondents in the criminal cases for falsification is not a bar to the
civil cases to cancel their titles. The only issue in the criminal cases for falsification was whether
there was evidence beyond reasonable doubt that the private respondents had committed the acts
of falsification alleged in the informations. The factual issues of whether or not the lands in
question are timber or mineral lands and whether or not the private respondents are entitled to the
benefits of Republic Act No. 3872 were not in issue in the criminal case.
There is need to remand these cases to the trial court for the reception of evidence on (1) whether
or not the lands in question are timber and mineral lands; and (2) whether the private respondents
belong to the cultural minorities and are qualified under Republic Act 3872 to be issued free
patents on said lands.

WHEREFORE, the order dismissing Civil Cases Nos. 1968, 1969 and 1970 of the Court of First
Instance of Baguio City is hereby set aside and said cases are remanded to the trial court for
further proceedings, without pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 68166. February 12, 1997]
HEIRS OF EMILIANO NAVARRO, petitioner, vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE
COURT AND HEIRS OF SINFOROSO PASCUAL, respondents.
DECISION
HERMOSISIMA, JR., J.:
Unique is the legal question visited upon the claim of an applicant in a Land Registration case by
oppositors thereto, the Government and a Government lessee, involving as it does ownership of
land formed by alluvium.
The applicant owns the property immediately adjoining the land sought to be registered. His
registered property is bounded on the east by the Talisay River, on the west by the Bulacan River,
and on the north by the Manila Bay. The Talisay River and the Bulacan River flow down towards
the Manila Bay and act as boundaries of the applicant's registered land on the east and on the
west.
The land sought to be registered was formed at the northern tip of the applicant's land.
Applicant's registered property is bounded on the north by the Manila Bay.
The issue: May the land sought to be registered be deemed an accretion in the sense that it
naturally accrues in favor of the riparian owner or should the land be considered as foreshore
land?
Before us is a petition for review of: (1) the decision[if !supportFootnotes][1][endif] and (2) two
subsequent resolutions[if !supportFootnotes][2][endif] of the Intermediate Appellate Court[if !supportFootnotes][3]
[endif] (now the Court of Appeals) in Land Registration Case No. N-84,[if !supportFootnotes][4][endif] the
application over which was filed by private respondents' predecessor-in-interest, Sinforoso
Pascual, now deceased, before the Court of First Instance[if !supportFootnotes][5][endif] (now the
Regional Trial Court) of Balanga, Bataan.
There is no dispute as to the following facts:
On October 3, 1946, Sinforoso Pascual, now deceased, filed an application for foreshore lease
covering a tract of foreshore land in Sibocon, Balanga, Bataan, having an area of approximately
seventeen (17) hectares. This application was denied on January 15, 1953. So was his motion for
reconsideration.
Subsequently, petitioners' predecessor-in-interest, also now deceased, Emiliano Navarro, filed a
fishpond application with the Bureau of Fisheries covering twenty five (25) hectares of foreshore
land also in Sibocon, Balanga, Bataan. Initially, such application was denied by the Director of
Fisheries on the ground that the property formed part of the public domain. Upon motion for
reconsideration, the Director of Fisheries, on May 27, 1988, gave due course to his application
but only to the extent of seven (7) hectares of the property as may be certified by the Bureau of
Forestry as suitable for fishpond purposes.
The Municipal Council of Balanga, Bataan, had opposed Emiliano Navarro's application.
Aggrieved by the decision of the Director of Fisheries, it appealed to the Secretary of Natural

Resources who, however, affirmed the grant. The then Executive Secretary, acting in behalf of
the President of the Philippines, similarly affirmed the grant.
On the other hand, sometime in the early part of 1960, Sinforoso Pascual filed an application to
register and confirm his title to a parcel of land, situated in Sibocon, Balanga, Bataan, described
in Plan Psu-175181 and said to have an area of 146,611 square meters. Pascual claimed that this
land is an accretion to his property, situated in Barrio Puerto Rivas, Balanga, Bataan, and
covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 6830. It is bounded on the eastern side by the Talisay
River, on the western side by the Bulacan River, and on the northern side by the Manila Bay. The
Talisay River as well as the Bulacan River flow downstream and meet at the Manila Bay thereby
depositing sand and silt on Pascual's property resulting in an accretion thereon. Sinforoso
Pascual claimed the accretion as the riparian owner.
On March 25, 1960, the Director of Lands, represented by the Assistant Solicitor General, filed
an opposition thereto stating that neither Pascual nor his predecessors-in-interest possessed
sufficient title to the subject property, the same being a portion of the public domain and,
therefore, it belongs to the Republic of the Philippines. The Director of Forestry, through the
Provincial Fiscal, similarly opposed Pascual's application for the same reason as that advanced
by the Director of Lands. Later on, however, the Director of Lands withdrew his opposition. The
Director of Forestry become the sole oppositor.
On June 2, 1960, the court a quo issued an order of general default excepting the Director of
Lands and the Director of Forestry.
Upon motion of Emiliano Navarro, however, the order of general default was lifted and, on
February 13, 1961, Navarro thereupon filed an opposition to Pascual's application. Navarro
claimed that the land sought to be registered has always been part of the public domain, it being
a part of the foreshore of Manila Bay; that he was a lessee and in possession of a part of the
subject property by virtue of a fishpond permit issued by the Bureau of Fisheries and confirmed
by the Office of the President; and that he had already converted the area covered by the lease
into a fishpond.
During the pendency of the land registration case, that is, on November 6, 1960, Sinforoso
Pascual filed a complaint for ejectment against Emiliano Navarro, one Marcelo Lopez and their
privies, alleged by Pascual to have unlawfully claimed and possessed, through stealth, force and
strategy, a portion of the subject property covered by Plan Psu-175181. The defendants in the
case were alleged to have built a provisional dike thereon: thus they have thereby deprived
Pascual of the premises sought to be registered. This, notwithstanding repeated demands for
defendants to vacate the property.
The case was decided adversely against Pascual. Thus, Pascual appealed to the Court of First
Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Balanga, Bataan, the appeal having been docketed as
Civil Case No. 2873. Because of the similarity of the parties and the subject matter, the appealed
case for ejectment was consolidated with the land registration case and was jointly tried by the
court a quo.
During the pendency of the trial of the consolidated cases, Emiliano Navarro died on November
1, 1961 and was substituted by his heirs, the herein petitioners.
Subsequently, on August 26, 1962, Pascual died and was substituted by his heirs, the herein
private respondents.

On November 10, 1975, the court a quo rendered judgment finding the subject property to be
foreshore land and, being a part of the public domain, it cannot be the subject of land registration
proceedings.
The decision's dispositive portion reads:
"WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered:
(1) Dismissing plaintiff [private respondent] Sinforoso Pascual's complaint for ejectment in Civil
Case No. 2873;
(2) Denying the application of Sinforoso Pascual for land registration over the land in question;
and
(3) Directing said Sinforoso Pascual, through his heirs, as plaintiff in Civil Case No. 2873 and as
applicant in Land Registration Case No. N-84 to pay costs in both instances."[if !supportFootnotes][6]
[endif]

The heirs of Pascual appealed and, before the respondent appellate court, assigned the following
errors:
"1. The lower court erred in not finding the land in question as an accretion by the action of the
Talisay and Bulacan Rivers to the land admittedly owned by applicants-appellants [private
respondents].
2. The lower court erred in holding that the land in question is foreshore land.
3. The lower court erred in not ordering the registration of the and is controversy in favor of
applicants-appellants [private respondents].
4. The lower court erred in not finding that the applicants-appellants [private respondents] are
entitled to eject the oppositor-appellee [petitioners]."[if !supportFootnotes][7][endif]
On appeal, the respondent court reversed the findings of the court a quo and granted the petition
for registration of the subject property but excluding therefrom fifty (50) meters from corner 2
towards corner 1; and fifty meters (50) meters from corner 5 towards corner 6 of the Psu-175181.
The respondent appellate court explained the reversal in this wise:
"The paramount issue to be resolved in this appeal as set forth by the parties in their respective
briefs is whether or not the land sought to be registered is accretion or foreshore land, or, whether
or not said land was formed by the action of the two rivers of Talisay and Bulacan or by the
action of the Manila Bay. If formed by the action of the Talisay and Bulacan rivers, the subject
land is accretion but if formed by the action of the Manila Bay then it is foreshore land.
xxx
It is undisputed that applicants-appellants [private respondents] owned the land immediately
adjoining the land sought to be registered. Their property which is covered by OCT No. 6830 is
bounded on the east by the Talisay River, on the west by the Bulacan River, and on the north by
the Manila Bay. The Talisay and Bulacan rivers come from inland flowing downstream towards
the Manila Bay. In other words, between the Talisay River and the Bulacan River is the property
of applicants with both rivers acting as the boundary to said land and the flow of both rivers
meeting and emptying into the Manila Bay. The subject land was formed at the tip or apex of
appellants' [private respondents'] land adding thereto the land now sought to be registered.
This makes this case quite unique because while it is undisputed that the subject land is
immediately attached to appellants' [private respondents'] land and forms the tip thereof, at the
same time, said land immediately faces the Manila Bay which is part of the sea. We can

understand therefore the confusion this case might have caused the lower court, faced as it was
with the uneasy problem of deciding whether or not the subject land was formed by the action of
the two rivers or by the action of the sea. Since the subject land is found at the shore of the
Manila Bay facing appellants' [private respondents'] land, it would be quite easy to conclude that
it is foreshore and therefore part of the patrimonial property of the State as the lower court did in
fact rule x x x .
xxx
It is however undisputed that appellants' [private respondents'] land lies between these two rivers
and it is precisely appellants' [private respondents'] land which acts as a barricade preventing
these two rivers to meet. Thus, since the flow of the two rivers is downwards to the Manila Bay
the sediments of sand and silt are deposited at their mouths.
It is, therefore, difficult to see how the Manila Bay could have been the cause of the deposit
thereat for in the natural course of things, the waves of the sea eat the land on the shore, as they
suge [sic] inland. It would not therefore add anything to the land but instead subtract from it due
to the action of the waves and the wind. It is then more logical to believe that the two rivers
flowing towards the bay emptied their cargo of sand, silt and clay at their mouths, thus causing
appellants' [private respondents'] land to accumulate therein.
However, our distinguished colleage [sic], Mr. Justice Serrano, do [sic] not seem to accept this
theory and stated that the subject land arose only when x x x Pascual planted 'palapat' and
'bakawan' trees thereat to serve as a boundary or strainer. But we do not see how this act of
planting trees by Pascual would explain how the land mass came into being. Much less will it
prove that the same came from the sea. Following Mr. Justice Serrano's argument that it were the
few trees that acted as strainers or blocks, then the land that grew would have stopped at the
place where the said trees were planted. But this is not so because the land mass went far beyond
the boundary, or where the trees were planted.
On the other hand, the picture-exhibits of appellants' [private respondents'] clearly show that the
land that accumulated beyond the so-called boundary, as well as the entire area being applied for
is dry land, above sea level, and bearing innumerable trees x x x. The existence of vegetation on
the land could only confirm that the soil thereat came from inland rather than from the sea, for
what could the sea bring to the shore but sand, pebbles, stones, rocks and corrals? On the other
hand, the two rivers would be bringing soil on their downward flow which they brought along
from the eroded mountains, the lands along their path, and dumped them all on the northern
portion of appellants' [private respondents'] land.
In view of the foregoing, we have to deviate from the lower court's finding. While it is true that
the subject land is found at the shore of the Manila Bay fronting appellants' [private respondents']
land, said land is not foreshore but an accretion from the action of the Talisay and Bulacan rivers.
In fact, this is exactly what the Bureau of Lands found out, as shown in the following report of
the Acting Provincial Officer, Jesus M. Orozco, to wit:
'Upon ocular inspection of the land subject of this registration made on June 11, 1960, it was
found out that the said land is x x x sandwitched [sic] by two big rivers x x x These two rivers
bring down considerable amount of soil and sediments during floods every year thus raising the
soil of the land adjoining the private property of the applicant [private respondents]. About fourfifth [sic] of the area applied for is now dry land whereon are planted palapat trees thickly

growing thereon. It is the natural action of these two rivers that has caused the formation of said
land x x x subject of this registration case. It has been formed, therefore, by accretion. And
having been formed by accretion, the said land may be considered the private property of the
riparian owner who is the applicant herein [private respondents'] x x x .
In view of the above, the opposition hereto filed by the government should be withdrawn, except
for the portion recommended by the land investigator in his report dated May 2, 1960, to be
excluded and considered foreshore. x x x'
Because of this report, no less than the Solicitor General representing the Bureau of Lands
withdrew his opposition dated March 25, 1960, and limited 'the same to the northern portion of
the land applied for, compromising a strip 50 meters wide along the Manila Bay, which should be
declared public land as part of the foreshore' x x x.[if !supportFootnotes][8][endif]
Pursuant to the aforecited decision, the respondent appellate court ordered the issuance of the
corresponding decree of registration in the name of private respondents and the reversion to
private respondents of the possession of the portion of the subject property included in Navarro's
fishpond permit.
On December 20, 1978, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the aforecited decision.
The Director of Forestry also moved for the reconsideration of the same decision. Both motions
were opposed by private respondents on January 27, 1979.
On November 21, 1980, respondent appellate court promulgated a resolution denying the motion
for reconsideration filed by the Director of Forestry. It, however, modified its decision, to read,
viz:
"(3). Ordering private oppositors Heirs of Emiliano Navarro to vacate that portion included in
their fishpond permit covered by Plan Psu-175181 and hand over possession of said portion to
applicants-appellants, if the said portion is not within the strip of land fifty (50) meters wide
along Manila Bay on the northern portion of the land subject of the registration proceedings and
which area is more particularly referred to as fifty (50) meters from corner 2 towards corner 1;
and fifty (50) meters from corner 5 towards corner 6 of Plan Psu-175181. x x x[if !supportFootnotes][9]
[endif]

On December 15, 1980, we granted the Solicitor General, acting as counsel for the Director of
Forestry, an extension of time within which to file in this court, a petition for review of the
decision dated November 29, 1978 of the respondent appellate court and of the aforecited
resolution dated November 21, 1980.
Thereafter, the Solicitor General, in behalf of the Director of Forestry, filed a petition for review
entitled, "The Director of Forestry vs. the Court of Appeals."[if !supportFootnotes][10][endif] We, however,
denied the same in a minute resolution dated July 20, 1981, such petition having been
prematurely filed at a time when the Court of Appeals was yet to resolve petitioners' pending
motion to set aside the resolution dated November 21, 1980.
On October 9, 1981, respondent appellate court denied petitioners' motion for reconsideration of
the decision dated November 29, 1978.
On October 17, 1981, respondent appellate court made an entry of judgment stating that the
decision dated November 29, 1978 had become final and executory as against herein petitioners
as oppositors in L.R.C. Case No. N-84 and Civil Case No. 2873 of the Court of First Instance
(now the Regional Trial Court) of Balanga, Bataan.

On October 26, 1981, a second motion for reconsideration of the decision dated November 29,
1978 was filed by petitioners' new counsel.
On March 26, 1982, respondent appellate court issued a resolution granting petitioners' request
for leave to file a second motion for reconsideration.
On July 13, 1984, after hearing, respondent appellate court denied petitioners' second motion for
reconsideration on the ground that the same was filed out of time, citing Rule 52, Section 1 of the
Rules of Court which provides that a motion for reconsideration shall be made ex-parte and filed
within fifteen (15) days from the notice of the final order or judgment.
Hence this petition where the respondent appellate court is imputed to have palpably erred in
appreciating the facts of the case and to have gravely misapplied statutory and case law relating
to accretion, specifically, Article 457 of the Civil Code.
We find merit in the petition.
The disputed property was brought forth by both the withdrawal of the waters of Manila Bay and
the accretion formed on the exposed foreshore land by the action of the sea which brought soil
and sand sediments in turn trapped by the palapat and bakawan trees planted thereon by
petitioner Sulpicio Pascual in 1948.
Anchoring their claim of ownership on Article 457 of the Civil Code, private respondents
vigorously argue that the disputed 14-hectare land is an accretion caused by the joint action of
the Talisay and Bulacan Rivers which run their course on the eastern and western boundaries,
respectively, of private respondents' own tract of land.
Accretion as a mode of acquiring property under said Article 457, requires the concurrence of the
following requisites: (1) that the accumulation of soil or sediment be gradual and imperceptible;
(2) that it be the result of the action of the waters of the river; and (3) that the land where the
accretion takes place is adjacent to the bank of the river.[if !supportFootnotes][11][endif] Accretion is the
process whereby the soil is deposited, while alluvium is the soil deposited on the estate fronting
the river bank;[if !supportFootnotes][12][endif] the owner of such estate is called the riparian owner.
Riparian owners are, strictly speaking, distinct from littoral owners, the latter being owners of
lands bordering the shore of the sea or lake or other tidal waters.[if !supportFootnotes][13][endif] The
alluvium, by mandate of Article 457 of the Civil Code, is automatically owned by the riparian
owner from the moment the soil deposit can be seen[if !supportFootnotes][14][endif] but is not
automatically registered property, hence, subject to acquisition through prescription by third
persons.[if !supportFootnotes][15][endif]
Private respondents' claim of ownership over the disputed property under the principle of
accretion, is misplaced.
First, the title of private respondents' own tract of land reveals its northeastern boundary to be
Manila Bay. Private respondents' land, therefore, used to adjoin, border or front the Manila Bay
and not any of the two rivers whose torrential action, private respondents insist, is to account for
the accretion on their land. In fact, one of the private respondents, Sulpicio Pascual, testified in
open court that the waves of Manila Bay used to hit the disputed land being part of the bay's
foreshore but, after he had planted palapat and bakawan trees thereon in 1948, the land began to
rise.[if !supportFootnotes][16][endif]
Moreover, there is no dispute as to the location of: (a) the disputed land; (b) private respondents'
own tract of land; (c) the Manila Bay; and, (d) the Talisay and Bulacan Rivers. Private

respondents' own land lies between the Talisay and Bulacan Rivers; in front of their land on the
northern side lies now the disputed land where before 1948, there lay the Manila Bay. If the
accretion were to be attributed to the action of either or both of the Talisay and Bulacan Rivers,
the alluvium should have been deposited on either or both of the eastern and western boundaries
of private respondents' own tract of land, not on the northern portion thereof which is adjacent to
the Manila Bay. Clearly lacking, thus, is the third requisite of accretion, which is, that the
alluvium is deposited on the portion of claimant's land which is adjacent to the river bank.
Second, there is no dispute as to the fact that private respondents' own tract of land adjoins the
Manila Bay. Manila Bay is obviously not a river, and jurisprudence is already settled as to what
kind of body of water the Manila Bay is. It is to be remembered that we held that:
"Appellant next contends that x x x Manila Bay cannot be considered as a sea. We find said
contention untenable. A bay is part of the sea, being a mere indentation of the same:
'Bay. An opening into the land where the water is shut in on all sides except at the entrance; an
inlet of the sea; an arm of the sea, distinct from a river, a bending or curbing of the shore of the
sea or of a lake.' 7 C.J. 1013-1014."[if !supportFootnotes][17][endif]
The disputed land, thus, is an accretion not on a river bank but on a sea bank, or on what used to
be the foreshore of Manila Bay which adjoined private respindents' own tract of land on the
northern side. As such, the applicable law is not Article 457 of the Civil Code but Article 4 of the
Spanish Law of Waters of 1866.
The process by which the disputed land was formed, is not difficult to discern from the facts of
the case. As the trial court correctly observed:
"A perusal of the survey plan x x x of the land subject matter of these cases shows that on the
eastern side, the property is bounded by Talisay River, on the western side by Bulacan River, on
the southern side by Lot 1436 and on the northern side by Manila Bay. It is not correct to state
that the Talisay and Bulacan Rivers meet a certain portion because the two rivers both flow
towards Manila Bay. The Talisay River is straight while the Bulacan River is a little bit
meandering and there is no portion where the two rivers meet before they end up at Manila Bay.
The land which is adjacent to the property belonging to Pascual cannot be considered an
accretion [caused by the action of the two rivers].
Applicant Pascual x x x has not presented proofs to convince the Court that the land he has
applied for registration is the result of the settling down on his registered land of soil, earth or
other deposits so as to be rightfully be considered as an accretion [caused by the action of the
two rivers]. Said Art. 457 finds no applicability where the accretion must have been caused by
action of the bay."[if !supportFootnotes][18][endif]
The conclusion formed by the trial court on the basis of the foregoing observation is that the
disputed land is part of the foreshore of Manila Bay and therefore, part of the public domain. The
respondent appellate court, however, perceived the fact that petitioners' own land lies between
the Talisay and Bulacan Rivers, to be basis to conclude that the disputed land must be an
accretion formed by the action of the two rivers because private respondents' own land acted as a
barricade preventing the two rivers to meet and that the current of the two rivers carried
sediments of sand and silt downwards to the Manila Bay which accumulated somehow to a 14hectare land. These conclusions, however, are fatally incongruous in the light of the one
undisputed critical fact: the accretion was deposited, not on either the eastern or western portion

of private respondents' land where a river each runs, but on the northern portion of petitioners'
land which adjoins the Manila Bay. Worse, such conclusions are further eroded of their practical
logic and consonance with natural experience in the light of Sulpicio Pascual's admission as to
having planted palapat and bakawan trees on the northern boundary of their own land. In
amplification of this, plainly more reasonable and valid are Justice Mariano Serrano's
observations in his dissenting opinion when he stated that:
"As appellants' (titled) land x x x acts as a barricade that prevents the two rivers to meet, and
considering the wide expanse of the boundary between said land and the Manila Bay, measuring
some 593.00 meters x x x it is believed rather farfetched for the land in question to have been
formed through 'sediments of sand and salt [sic] . . . deposited at their [rivers'] mouths.'
Moreover, if 'since the flow of the two rivers is downwards to the Manila Bay the sediments of
sand and silt are deposited at their mouths,' why then would the alleged cargo of sand, silt and
clay accumulate at the northern portion of appellants' titled land facing Manila Bay instead of
merely at the mouths and banks of these two rivers? That being the case, the accretion formed at
said portion of appellants' titled [land] was not caused by the current of the two rivers but by the
action of the sea (Manila Bay) into which the rivers empty.
The conclusion x x x is not supported by any reference to the evidence which, on the contrary,
shows that the disputed land was formed by the action of the sea. Thus, no less than Sulpicio
Pascual, one of the heirs of the original applicant, testified on cross-examination that the land in
dispute was part of the shore and it was only in 1948 that he noticed that the land was beginning
to get higher after he had planted trees thereon in 1948. x x x
x x x it is established that before 1948 sea water from the Manila Bay at high tide could reach as
far as the dike of appellants' fishpond within their titled property, which dike now separates this
titled property from the land in question. Even in 1948 when appellants had already planted
palapat and bakawan trees in the land involved, inasmuch as these trees were yet small, the
waves of the sea could still reach the dike. This must be so because in x x x the survey plan of
the titled property approved in 1918, said titled land was bounded on the north by Manila Bay.
So Manila Bay was adjacent to it on the north. It was only after the planting of the aforesaid trees
in 1948 that the land in question began to rise or to get higher in elevation.
The trees planted by appellants in 1948 became a sort of strainer of the sea water and at the same
time a kind of block to the strained sediments from being carried back to the sea by the very
waves that brought them to the former shore at the end of the dike, which must have caused the
shoreline to recede and dry up eventually raising the former shore leading to the formation of the
land in question."[if !supportFootnotes][19][endif]
In other words, the combined and interactive effect of the planting of palapat and bakawan trees,
the withdrawal of the waters of Manila Bay eventually resulting in the drying up of its former
foreshore, and the regular torrential action of the waters of Manila Bay, is the formation of the
disputed land on the northern boundary of private respondents' own tract of land.
The disputed property is an accretion on a sea bank, Manila Bay being an inlet or an arm of the
sea; as such, the disputed property is, under Article 4 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, part
of the public domain.
At the outset, there is a need to distinguish between Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay.

While we held in the case of Ignacio v. Director of Lands and Valeriano[if !supportFootnotes][20][endif]
that Manila Bay is considered a sea for purposes of determining which law on accretion is to be
applied in multifarious situations, we have ruled differently insofar as accretions on lands
adjoining the Laguna de Bay are concerned.
In the cases of Government of the P.I v. Colegio de San Jose,[if !supportFootnotes][21][endif] Republic v.
Court of Appeals,[if !supportFootnotes][22][endif] Republic v. Alagad[if !supportFootnotes][23][endif], and Meneses v.
Court of Appeals,[if !supportFootnotes][24][endif] we categorically ruled that Laguna de Bay is a lake the
accretion on which, by the mandate of Article 84 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, belongs
to the owner of the land contiguous thereto.
The instant controversy, however, brings a situation calling for the application of Article 4 of the
Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, the disputed land being an accretion on the foreshore of Manila
Bay which is, for all legal purposes, considered a sea.
Article 4 of the Spanish Law of Waters of August 3, 1866 provides as follows:
"Lands added to the shores by accretions and alluvial deposits caused by the action of the sea,
form part of the public domain. When they are no longer washed by the waters of the sea and are
not necessary for purposes of public utility, or for the establishment of special industries, or for
the coast-guard service, the Government shall declare them to be the property of the owners of
the estates adjacent thereto and as increment thereof."
In the light of the aforecited vintage but still valid law, unequivocal is the public nature of the
disputed land in this controversy, the same being an accretion on a sea bank which, for all legal
purposes, the foreshore of Manila Bay is. As part of the public domain, the herein disputed land
is intended for public uses, and "so long as the land in litigation belongs to the national domain
and is reserved for public uses, it is not capable of being appropriated by any private person,
except through express authorization granted in due form by a competent authority."[if !
supportFootnotes][25][endif] Only the executive and possibly the legislative departments have the right
and the power to make the declaration that the lands so gained by action of the sea is no longer
necessary for purposes of public utility or for the cause of establishment of special industries or
for coast guard services.[if !supportFootnotes][26][endif] Petitioners utterly fail to show that either the
executive or legislative department has already declared the disputed land as qualified, under
Article 4 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, to be the property of private respondents as
owners of the estates adjacent thereto.
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition for Review is hereby GRANTED.
The decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals) in CA G.R. No.
59044-R dated November 29, 1978 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The resolution dated
November 21, 1980 and March 28, 1982, respectively, promulgated by the Intermediate
Appellate Court are likewise REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
The decision of the Court of First Instance (now the Regional Trial Court), Branch 1,
Balanga, Bataan, is hereby ORDERED REINSTATED.
Costs against private respondents.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-37682 March 29, 1974

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Represented by the DIRECTOR OF LANDS,


petitioner,
vs.
HON. PEDRO SAMSON ANIMAS, in his capacity as Judge of CFI South Cotabato,
Branch I, General Santos City, ISAGANI DU TIMBOL and the REGISTER OF DEEDS
OF GENERAL SANTOS CITY, respondent.
Office of the Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Assistant Solicitor General Santiago M.
Kapunan and Solicitor Patricio M. Patajo for petitioner.
Quitain Law Office for private respondent.
ESGUERRA, J.:p
Petition to review the order of the Court of First Instance of South Cotabato, Branch I, General
Santos City, dated June 22, 1973, dismissing the complaint in its Civil Case No. 1253, entitled
"Republic of the Philippines, Plaintiff, vs. Isagani Du Timbol and the Register of Deeds of
General Santos City, Defendants", instituted by the plaintiff to declare null and void Free Patent
No. V-466102 and Original Certificate of Title (O.C.T.) No. P-2508 based thereon issued in the
name of defendant Isagani Du Timbol; to order the aforesaid defendant to surrender the owner's
duplicate of O.C.T. No. P-2508 and the defendant Register of Deeds to cancel the same; to
decree the reversion of the land in question to the mass of public domain, and granting such
further relief as may be just and equitable in the premises.
The land covered by the free patent and title in question was originally applied for by Precila
Soria, who on February 23, 1966, transferred her rights to the land and its improvements to
defendant Isagani Du Timbol who filed his application therefor on February 3, 1969, as a
transferee from Precila Soria.
On December 12, 1969, free Patent No. V-466102 was issued by the President of the Philippines
for the land in question, and on July 20, 1970, after transmittal of the patent to the Register of
Deeds of General Santos City, Original Certificate of Title (O.C.T.) No. P-2508 was issued in the
name of defendant Isagani Du Timbol.
On August 5, 1971, the Republic of the Philippines, at the instance of the Bureau of Forestry,
filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Cotabato, Branch I, General Santos City (Civil
Case No. 1253), to declare free patent No. V-466102 and Original Certificate of Title No. P-2508
in the name of defendant Isagani Du Timbol null and void ab initio and to order the reversion of
the land in question to the mass of public domain. The action is based on the ground that the land
covered thereby is a forest or timber land which is not disposable under the Public Land Act; that
in a reclassification of the public lands in the vicinity where the land in question is situated made
by the Bureau of Forestry on March 7, 1958, the said land was plotted on Bureau of Forestry
map L.C. 700 to be inside the area which was reverted to the category of public forest, whereas
the application for free patent by Isagani Du Timbol was filed on June 3, 1969, or more than
eleven years thereafter; that the said patent and title were obtained fraudulently as private
respondent Isagani Du Timbol never occupied and cultivated the land applied for.
Invoking the case of Ramirez vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. L-28591, 30 SCRA 207-301),
holding that a certificate of title fraudulently secured is not null and void ab initio, unless the
fraud consisted in misrepresenting that the land covered by the application is part of the public

domain when it is not, the respondent court dismissed the complaint on the ground that
Certificate of Title based on the patent had became indefeasible in view of the lapse of the oneyear period prescribed under Section 38 of the Land Registration Act for review of a decree of
title on the ground of fraud. From this order of June 22, 1973, dismissing the complaint, plaintiff
Republic of the Philippines has appealed to this Court for review.
After careful deliberation, this Court grants the petition on the ground that the area covered by
the patent and title is not disposable public land, it being a part of the forest zone and, hence the
patent and title thereto are null and void.
The defense of indefeasibility of a certificate of title issued pursuant to a free patent does not lie
against the state in an action for reversion of the land covered thereby when such land is a part of
a public forest or of a forest reservation. As a general rule, timber or forest lands are not alienable
or disposable under either the Constitution of 1935 or the Constitution of 1973. Although the
Director of Lands has jurisdiction over public lands classified as agricultural under the
constitution, or alienable or disposable under the Public Land Act, and is charged with the
administration of all laws relative thereto, mineral and timber lands are beyond his jurisdiction. It
is the Bureau of Forestry that has jurisdiction and authority over the demarcation, protection,
management, reproduction, occupancy and use of all public forests and forest reservations and
over the granting of licenses for the taking of products therefrom, including stone and earth
(Section 1816 of the Revised Administrative Code). That the area in question is a forest or timber
land is clearly established by the certification made by the Bureau of Forest Development that it
is within the portion of the area which was reverted to the category of forest land, approved by
the President on March 7, 1958. When the defendant Isagani Du Timbol filed his application for
free patent over the land in question on June 3, 1969, the area in question was not a disposable or
alienable public land but a public forest. Titles issued to private parties by the Bureau of Lands
when the land covered thereby is not disposable public land but forest land are void ab initio. In
Gatchalian vs. Pavilen, et al., L-17619, Oct. 31, 1962, 6 SCRA p. 508, 512, this Court said:
And if it be true that the Bureau of Lands had no jurisdiction to issue a patent because the land
involved was still inalienable forest land when granted, then it may be plausibly contended that
the patent title would be ab initio void, subject to attack at any time by any party adversely
affected. (Gatchalian vs. Pavilen, et al., L-17619, Oct. 31, 1962, supra, citing Civil Code Arts.
1409 and 1421; Vao vs. Insular Gov't., 41 Phil. 161; Aderable vs. Director of Forestry, L-13663,
March 25, 1960).
A patent is void at law if the officer who issued the patent had no authority to do so (Knight vs.
Land Ass., 142 U.S. 161, 12 Sup. Ct., 258, 35L ED. 974; emphasis supplied). If a person obtains
a title under the Public Land Act which includes, by mistake or oversight, lands which cannot be
registered under the Torrens System, or when the Director of Lands did not have jurisdiction
over the same because it is a public forest, the grantee does not, by virtue of said certificate of
title alone, become the owner of the land illegally included. (See Ledesma vs. Municipality of
Iloilo, 49 Phil. 769)
The case of Ramirez vs. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. L-28591, Oct. 31, 1969, 30 SCRA 297,
relied upon by respondent Court in dismissing this case, is not controlling. In that case no forest
land was involved but agricultural public land which was first covered by a patent issued to one
party and later registered under the Torrens System by the other party. The litigation was between

private parties where the party who registered it under Act No. 496 sought the nullity of the title
of the patentee under the Public Land Act. In the case at bar the party seeking the nullity of the
title and reversion of the land is the state itself which is specifically authorized under Section 101
of the Public Land Act to initiate such proceedings as an attribute of sovereignty, a remedy not
available to a private individual.
The complaint alleges in its paragraph 8 that applicant Isagani Du Timbol was never in
possession of the property prior to his filing the application, contrary to the provisions of law that
the applicant must have been in possession or cultivation thereof for at least 30 years; that the
applicant, after diligent search by the Acting Chief of the Survey-Party, Francisco R. Alcones, in
South Cotabato, could not be contacted because he is a resident of Davao City; that there are no
existing signs of improvements found in the area in question as it is not under cultivation but
covered with grasses, bushes and small trees; that it is being used as ranch for grazing cows by
the heirs of Hermogenes Chilsot; that no monuments were placed on the area surveyed which
goes to show that there was no actual survey thereof; that the property in question is inside the
ranch of the heirs of Hermogenes Chilsot under Pasture Lease Agreement No. 1244 and,
therefore, inside the forest zone; and that said ranch has a fence around it to show that other
persons could not enter and cultivate the same, and that the signature of then Acting District
Land Officer Elias de Castro of South Cotabato has been forged to facilitate the issuance of
patent in favor of Isagani Du Timbol.
The above alleged circumstances are indicative of fraud in the filing of the application and
obtaining title to the land, and if proven would override respondent Judge's order dismissing the
case without hearing. The misrepresentations of the applicant that he had been occupying and
cultivating the land and residing thereon are sufficient grounds to nullify the grant of the patent
and title under Section 91 of the Public Land Law which provides as follows:
That statements made in the application shall be considered as essential conditions or parts of
any concession, title or permit issued on the basis of such application, and any false statement
thereon or omission of facts, changing, or modifying the consideration of the facts set forth in
such statement, and any subsequent modification, alteration, or change of the material facts set
forth in the application shall ipso facto produce the cancellation of the concession, title or permit
granted. ...
A certificate of title that is void may be ordered cancelled. A title will be considered void if it is
procured through fraud, as when a person applies for registration of the land under his name
although the property belongs to another. In the case of disposable public lands, failure on the
part of the grantee to comply with the conditions imposed by law is a ground for holding such
title void (Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. L-17696, May 19, 1966, 17
SCRA, 71, 79-80; emphasis supplied). The lapse of the one year period within which a decree of
title may be reopened for fraud would not prevent the cancellation thereof, for to hold that a title
may become indefeasible by registration, even if such title had been secured through fraud or in
violation of the law, would be the height of absurdity. Registration should not be a shield of fraud
in securing title. (J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. vs. Macalindog, L-15398, December 29, 1962, 6
SCRA 938, page 38).
Considering that it is the state is seeking the cancellation of the title of respondent Isagani Du
Timbol, said title has not become indefeasible for prescription cannot be invoked against the

state. A title founded on fraud may be cancelled, notwithstanding the lapse of one year from the
issuance thereof, through a petition filed in court by the Solicitor General, (Sumail vs. Court of
First Instance of Cotabato, 51 O.G. p. 2414 Phil. L-8278. 96 Phil. 946: Eugenio, et al., vs.
Perdido, et al., G. R. No. L-7083, May 19, 1955; De los Santos vs. Roman Catholic Church of
Midsayap G.R. No. L-6088, Feb. 24, 1954, 94 Phil. 405).
Public land fraudulently included in patents or certificates of title may be recovered or reverted
to the state in accordance with Section 101 of the Public Land Act (Director of Lands vs. Jugado
et al., G.R. No. L-14707, May 23, 1961). Prescription does not lie against the state in such cases
for the Statute of Limitations does not run against the state (Article 1108, paragraph 4 of the New
Civil Code). The right of reversion or reconveyance to the state is not barred prescription
(Republic of the Philippines vs. Ramona Ruiz, et al., G.R. No. L-23712, April 29, 1968, 23
SCRA 348. People vs. Ramos, G.R. No. L-15484, Jan. 31, 1963, 47 SCRA 12; Government of
the Philippines vs. Monte de Piedad 35 Phil. 728; 751-753).
Even granting that the title of private respondent Isagani Du Timbol can no longer be reopened
under the Land Registration Act, the land covered thereby may be reconveyed to the state in an
action for reconveyance under Section 101 of Commonwealth Act 141 (Public Land Act), for the
remedy of reconveyance is adequately covered by the prayer of the complaint for the grant of
such other relief as may be just and equitable in the premises.
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, the order of the respondent court, dated June 22, 1973,
dismissing the complaint, and that of September 29, 1973, denying the motion for its
reconsideration, both issued in Civil Case No. 1253 of the respondent court, are hereby annulled
and set aside. The respondent court shall proceed to hear said Civil Case and render judgment
thereon accordingly.
Costs against respondent Isagani Du Timbol.

G.R. No. 101083 July 30, 1993


JUAN ANTONIO, ANNA ROSARIO and JOSE ALFONSO, all surnamed OPOSA, minors,
and represented by their parents ANTONIO and RIZALINA OPOSA, ROBERTA
NICOLE SADIUA, minor, represented by her parents CALVIN and ROBERTA SADIUA,
CARLO, AMANDA SALUD and PATRISHA, all surnamed FLORES, minors and
represented by their parents ENRICO and NIDA FLORES, GIANINA DITA R. FORTUN,
minor, represented by her parents SIGRID and DOLORES FORTUN, GEORGE II and
MA. CONCEPCION, all surnamed MISA, minors and represented by their parents
GEORGE and MYRA MISA, BENJAMIN ALAN V. PESIGAN, minor, represented by his
parents ANTONIO and ALICE PESIGAN, JOVIE MARIE ALFARO, minor, represented
by her parents JOSE and MARIA VIOLETA ALFARO, MARIA CONCEPCION T.
CASTRO, minor, represented by her parents FREDENIL and JANE CASTRO,
JOHANNA DESAMPARADO,
minor, represented by her parents JOSE and ANGELA DESAMPRADO, CARLO
JOAQUIN T. NARVASA, minor, represented by his parents GREGORIO II and
CRISTINE CHARITY NARVASA, MA. MARGARITA, JESUS IGNACIO, MA. ANGELA
and MARIE GABRIELLE, all surnamed SAENZ, minors, represented by their parents

ROBERTO and AURORA SAENZ, KRISTINE, MARY ELLEN, MAY, GOLDA


MARTHE and DAVID IAN, all surnamed KING, minors, represented by their parents
MARIO and HAYDEE KING, DAVID, FRANCISCO and THERESE VICTORIA, all
surnamed ENDRIGA, minors, represented by their parents BALTAZAR and TERESITA
ENDRIGA, JOSE MA. and REGINA MA., all surnamed ABAYA, minors, represented by
their parents ANTONIO and MARICA ABAYA, MARILIN, MARIO, JR. and
MARIETTE, all surnamed CARDAMA, minors, represented by their parents MARIO and
LINA CARDAMA, CLARISSA, ANN MARIE, NAGEL, and IMEE LYN, all surnamed
OPOSA, minors and represented by their parents RICARDO and MARISSA OPOSA,
PHILIP JOSEPH, STEPHEN JOHN and ISAIAH JAMES, all surnamed QUIPIT, minors,
represented by their parents JOSE MAX and VILMI QUIPIT, BUGHAW CIELO,
CRISANTO, ANNA, DANIEL and FRANCISCO, all surnamed BIBAL, minors,
represented by their parents FRANCISCO, JR. and MILAGROS BIBAL, and THE
PHILIPPINE ECOLOGICAL NETWORK, INC., petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., in his capacity as the Secretary of
the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and THE HONORABLE
ERIBERTO U. ROSARIO, Presiding Judge of the RTC, Makati, Branch 66, respondents.
Oposa Law Office for petitioners.
The Solicitor General for respondents.
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of Filipinos to a balanced and healthful
ecology which the petitioners dramatically associate with the twin concepts of "intergenerational responsibility" and "inter-generational justice." Specifically, it touches on the issue
of whether the said petitioners have a cause of action to "prevent the misappropriation or
impairment" of Philippine rainforests and "arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital
life support systems and continued rape of Mother Earth."
The controversy has its genesis in Civil Case No. 90-77 which was filed before Branch 66
(Makati, Metro Manila) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital Judicial Region.
The principal plaintiffs therein, now the principal petitioners, are all minors duly represented and
joined by their respective parents. Impleaded as an additional plaintiff is the Philippine
Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI), a domestic, non-stock and non-profit corporation organized for
the purpose of, inter alia, engaging in concerted action geared for the protection of our
environment and natural resources. The original defendant was the Honorable Fulgencio S.
Factoran, Jr., then Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
His substitution in this petition by the new Secretary, the Honorable Angel C. Alcala, was
subsequently ordered upon proper motion by the petitioners. 1 The complaint 2 was instituted as a
taxpayers' class suit 3 and alleges that the plaintiffs "are all citizens of the Republic of the
Philippines, taxpayers, and entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource
treasure that is the country's virgin tropical forests." The same was filed for themselves and
others who are equally concerned about the preservation of said resource but are "so numerous
that it is impracticable to bring them all before the Court." The minors further asseverate that

they "represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn." 4 Consequently, it is prayed
for that judgment be rendered:
. . . ordering defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to
(1) Cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country;
(2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber
license agreements.
and granting the plaintiffs ". . . such other reliefs just and equitable under the premises." 5
The complaint starts off with the general averments that the Philippine archipelago of 7,100
islands has a land area of thirty million (30,000,000) hectares and is endowed with rich, lush and
verdant rainforests in which varied, rare and unique species of flora and fauna may be found;
these rainforests contain a genetic, biological and chemical pool which is irreplaceable; they are
also the habitat of indigenous Philippine cultures which have existed, endured and flourished
since time immemorial; scientific evidence reveals that in order to maintain a balanced and
healthful ecology, the country's land area should be utilized on the basis of a ratio of fifty-four
per cent (54%) for forest cover and forty-six per cent (46%) for agricultural, residential,
industrial, commercial and other uses; the distortion and disturbance of this balance as a
consequence of deforestation have resulted in a host of environmental tragedies, such as (a)
water shortages resulting from drying up of the water table, otherwise known as the "aquifer," as
well as of rivers, brooks and streams, (b) salinization of the water table as a result of the intrusion
therein of salt water, incontrovertible examples of which may be found in the island of Cebu and
the Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite, (c) massive erosion and the consequential loss of soil fertility
and agricultural productivity, with the volume of soil eroded estimated at one billion
(1,000,000,000) cubic meters per annum approximately the size of the entire island of
Catanduanes, (d) the endangering and extinction of the country's unique, rare and varied flora
and fauna, (e) the disturbance and dislocation of cultural communities, including the
disappearance of the Filipino's indigenous cultures, (f) the siltation of rivers and seabeds and
consequential destruction of corals and other aquatic life leading to a critical reduction in marine
resource productivity, (g) recurrent spells of drought as is presently experienced by the entire
country, (h) increasing velocity of typhoon winds which result from the absence of windbreakers,
(i) the floodings of lowlands and agricultural plains arising from the absence of the absorbent
mechanism of forests, (j) the siltation and shortening of the lifespan of multi-billion peso dams
constructed and operated for the purpose of supplying water for domestic uses, irrigation and the
generation of electric power, and (k) the reduction of the earth's capacity to process carbon
dioxide gases which has led to perplexing and catastrophic climatic changes such as the
phenomenon of global warming, otherwise known as the "greenhouse effect."
Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and detrimental consequences of continued and
deforestation are so capable of unquestionable demonstration that the same may be submitted as
a matter of judicial notice. This notwithstanding, they expressed their intention to present expert
witnesses as well as documentary, photographic and film evidence in the course of the trial.
As their cause of action, they specifically allege that:
CAUSE OF ACTION
7. Plaintiffs replead by reference the foregoing allegations.

8. Twenty-five (25) years ago, the Philippines had some sixteen (16) million hectares of
rainforests constituting roughly 53% of the country's land mass.
9. Satellite images taken in 1987 reveal that there remained no more than 1.2 million hectares of
said rainforests or four per cent (4.0%) of the country's land area.
10. More recent surveys reveal that a mere 850,000 hectares of virgin old-growth rainforests are
left, barely 2.8% of the entire land mass of the Philippine archipelago and about 3.0 million
hectares of immature and uneconomical secondary growth forests.
11. Public records reveal that the defendant's, predecessors have granted timber license
agreements ('TLA's') to various corporations to cut the aggregate area of 3.89 million hectares for
commercial logging purposes.
A copy of the TLA holders and the corresponding areas covered is hereto attached as Annex "A".
12. At the present rate of deforestation, i.e. about 200,000 hectares per annum or 25 hectares per
hour nighttime, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays included the Philippines will be bereft of
forest resources after the end of this ensuing decade, if not earlier.
13. The adverse effects, disastrous consequences, serious injury and irreparable damage of this
continued trend of deforestation to the plaintiff minor's generation and to generations yet unborn
are evident and incontrovertible. As a matter of fact, the environmental damages enumerated in
paragraph 6 hereof are already being felt, experienced and suffered by the generation of plaintiff
adults.
14. The continued allowance by defendant of TLA holders to cut and deforest the remaining
forest stands will work great damage and irreparable injury to plaintiffs especially plaintiff
minors and their successors who may never see, use, benefit from and enjoy this rare and
unique natural resource treasure.
This act of defendant constitutes a misappropriation and/or impairment of the natural resource
property he holds in trust for the benefit of plaintiff minors and succeeding generations.
15. Plaintiffs have a clear and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and are
entitled to protection by the State in its capacity as the parens patriae.
16. Plaintiff have exhausted all administrative remedies with the defendant's office. On March 2,
1990, plaintiffs served upon defendant a final demand to cancel all logging permits in the
country.
A copy of the plaintiffs' letter dated March 1, 1990 is hereto attached as Annex "B".
17. Defendant, however, fails and refuses to cancel the existing TLA's to the continuing serious
damage and extreme prejudice of plaintiffs.
18. The continued failure and refusal by defendant to cancel the TLA's is an act violative of the
rights of plaintiffs, especially plaintiff minors who may be left with a country that is desertified
(sic), bare, barren and devoid of the wonderful flora, fauna and indigenous cultures which the
Philippines had been abundantly blessed with.
19. Defendant's refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is manifestly contrary to the public
policy enunciated in the Philippine Environmental Policy which, in pertinent part, states that it is
the policy of the State
(a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive
in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other;

(b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of
Filipinos and;
(c) to ensure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conductive to a life of dignity and
well-being. (P.D. 1151, 6 June 1977)
20. Furthermore, defendant's continued refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is
contradictory to the Constitutional policy of the State to
a. effect "a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income and wealth" and "make full and
efficient use of natural resources (sic)." (Section 1, Article XII of the Constitution);
b. "protect the nation's marine wealth." (Section 2, ibid);
c. "conserve and promote the nation's cultural heritage and resources (sic)" (Section 14, Article
XIV, id.);
d. "protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with
the rhythm and harmony of nature." (Section 16, Article II, id.)
21. Finally, defendant's act is contrary to the highest law of humankind the natural law and
violative of plaintiffs' right to self-preservation and perpetuation.
22. There is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in law other than the instant action to
arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life support systems and continued rape of
Mother Earth. 6
On 22 June 1990, the original defendant, Secretary Factoran, Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss the
complaint based on two (2) grounds, namely: (1) the plaintiffs have no cause of action against
him and (2) the issue raised by the plaintiffs is a political question which properly pertains to the
legislative or executive branches of Government. In their 12 July 1990 Opposition to the Motion,
the petitioners maintain that (1) the complaint shows a clear and unmistakable cause of action,
(2) the motion is dilatory and (3) the action presents a justiciable question as it involves the
defendant's abuse of discretion.
On 18 July 1991, respondent Judge issued an order granting the aforementioned motion to
dismiss. 7 In the said order, not only was the defendant's claim that the complaint states no
cause of action against him and that it raises a political question sustained, the respondent
Judge further ruled that the granting of the relief prayed for would result in the impairment of
contracts which is prohibited by the fundamental law of the land.
Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised
Rules of Court and ask this Court to rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the ground that
the respondent Judge gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the action. Again, the parents of
the plaintiffs-minors not only represent their children, but have also joined the latter in this case. 8
On 14 May 1992, We resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to
submit their respective Memoranda after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a
Comment in behalf of the respondents and the petitioners filed a reply thereto.
Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly and unmistakably states a cause of action as it
contains sufficient allegations concerning their right to a sound environment based on Articles
19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code (Human Relations), Section 4 of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 192
creating the DENR, Section 3 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental
Policy), Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution recognizing the right of the people to a
balanced and healthful ecology, the concept of generational genocide in Criminal Law and the

concept of man's inalienable right to self-preservation and self-perpetuation embodied in natural


law. Petitioners likewise rely on the respondent's correlative obligation per Section 4 of E.O. No.
192, to safeguard the people's right to a healthful environment.
It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent Secretary's alleged grave abuse of discretion
in granting Timber License Agreements (TLAs) to cover more areas for logging than what is
available involves a judicial question.
Anent the invocation by the respondent Judge of the Constitution's non-impairment clause,
petitioners maintain that the same does not apply in this case because TLAs are not contracts.
They likewise submit that even if TLAs may be considered protected by the said clause, it is well
settled that they may still be revoked by the State when the public interest so requires.
On the other hand, the respondents aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a
specific legal right violated by the respondent Secretary for which any relief is provided by law.
They see nothing in the complaint but vague and nebulous allegations concerning an
"environmental right" which supposedly entitles the petitioners to the "protection by the state in
its capacity as parens patriae." Such allegations, according to them, do not reveal a valid cause
of action. They then reiterate the theory that the question of whether logging should be permitted
in the country is a political question which should be properly addressed to the executive or
legislative branches of Government. They therefore assert that the petitioners' resources is not to
file an action to court, but to lobby before Congress for the passage of a bill that would ban
logging totally.
As to the matter of the cancellation of the TLAs, respondents submit that the same cannot be
done by the State without due process of law. Once issued, a TLA remains effective for a certain
period of time usually for twenty-five (25) years. During its effectivity, the same can neither
be revised nor cancelled unless the holder has been found, after due notice and hearing, to have
violated the terms of the agreement or other forestry laws and regulations. Petitioners'
proposition to have all the TLAs indiscriminately cancelled without the requisite hearing would
be violative of the requirements of due process.
Before going any further, We must first focus on some procedural matters. Petitioners instituted
Civil Case No. 90-777 as a class suit. The original defendant and the present respondents did not
take issue with this matter. Nevertheless, We hereby rule that the said civil case is indeed a class
suit. The subject matter of the complaint is of common and general interest not just to several,
but to all citizens of the Philippines. Consequently, since the parties are so numerous, it, becomes
impracticable, if not totally impossible, to bring all of them before the court. We likewise declare
that the plaintiffs therein are numerous and representative enough to ensure the full protection of
all concerned interests. Hence, all the requisites for the filing of a valid class suit under Section
12, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court are present both in the said civil case and in the instant
petition, the latter being but an incident to the former.
This case, however, has a special and novel element. Petitioners minors assert that they represent
their generation as well as generations yet unborn. We find no difficulty in ruling that they can,
for themselves, for others of their generation and for the succeeding generations, file a class suit.
Their personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding generations can only be based on the concept
of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is
concerned. Such a right, as hereinafter expounded, considers

the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature means the created world in its entirety. 9 Such
rhythm and harmony indispensably include, inter alia, 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 to the end that their exploration,
development and utilization be equitably accessible to the present as well as future generations.
10 Needless to say, every generation has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and
harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. Put a little differently, 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.
The locus standi of the petitioners having thus been addressed, We shall now proceed to the
merits of the petition.
After a careful perusal of the complaint in question and a meticulous consideration and
evaluation of the issues raised and arguments adduced by the parties, We do not hesitate to find
for the petitioners and rule against the respondent Judge's challenged order for having been
issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The pertinent portions of
the said order reads as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
After a careful and circumspect evaluation of the Complaint, the Court cannot help but agree
with the defendant. For although we believe that plaintiffs have but the noblest of all intentions,
it (sic) fell short of alleging, with sufficient definiteness, a specific legal right they are seeking to
enforce and protect, or a specific legal wrong they are seeking to prevent and redress (Sec. 1,
Rule 2, RRC). Furthermore, the Court notes that the Complaint is replete with vague
assumptions and vague conclusions based on unverified data. In fine, plaintiffs fail to state a
cause of action in its Complaint against the herein defendant.
Furthermore, the Court firmly believes that the matter before it, being impressed with political
color and involving a matter of public policy, may not be taken cognizance of by this Court
without doing violence to the sacred principle of "Separation of Powers" of the three (3) co-equal
branches of the Government.
The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction,
grant the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements
in the country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or
approving new timber license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of
contracts" abhored (sic) by the fundamental law. 11
We do not agree with the trial court's conclusions that the plaintiffs failed to allege with sufficient
definiteness a specific legal right involved or a specific legal wrong committed, and that the
complaint is replete with vague assumptions and conclusions based on unverified data. A reading
of the complaint itself belies these conclusions.
The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right the right to a balanced and
healthful ecology which, for the first time in our nation's constitutional history, is solemnly
incorporated in the fundamental law. Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution explicitly
provides:
Sec. 16. 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.

This right unites with the right to health which is provided for in the preceding section of the
same article:
Sec. 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health
consciousness among them.
While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of
Principles and 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
self-perpetuation 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 well-founded 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 the correlative duty to refrain from
impairing the environment. During the debates on this right in one of the plenary sessions of the
1986 Constitutional Commission, the following exchange transpired between Commissioner
Wilfrido Villacorta and Commissioner Adolfo Azcuna who sponsored the section in question:
MR. VILLACORTA:
Does this section mandate the State to provide sanctions against all forms of pollution air,
water and noise pollution?
MR. AZCUNA:
Yes, Madam President. The right to healthful (sic) environment necessarily carries with it the
correlative duty of not impairing the same and, therefore, sanctions may be provided for
impairment of environmental balance. 12
The said right implies, among many other things, the judicious management and conservation of
the country's forests.
Without such forests, the ecological or environmental balance would be irreversiby disrupted.
Conformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and healthful ecology and the right to
health, as well as the other related provisions of the Constitution concerning the conservation,
development and utilization of the country's natural resources, 13 then President Corazon C.
Aquino promulgated on 10 June 1987 E.O. No. 192, 14 Section 4 of which expressly mandates
that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources "shall be the primary government
agency responsible for the conservation, management, development and proper use of the
country's environment and natural resources, specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral,
resources, including those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of the public domain, as
well as 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." Section 3 thereof 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 the 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.
This policy declaration is substantially re-stated it Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code
of 1987, 15 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." Section 2 of the same Title, on the
other hand, specifically speaks of the mandate of the DENR; however, it makes particular
reference to the fact of the agency's being subject to law and higher authority. Said section
provides:
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.
Both E.O. NO. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 have set the objectives which will serve
as the bases for policy formulation, and have defined the powers and functions of the DENR.
It may, however, be recalled that even before the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, specific
statutes already paid special attention to the "environmental right" of the present and future
generations. On 6 June 1977, P.D. No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy) and P.D. No.
1152 (Philippine Environment Code) were issued. The former "declared a continuing policy of
the State (a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature
can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other, (b) to fulfill the social,
economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos, and (c) to insure
the attainment of an environmental quality that is conducive to a life of dignity and well-being."
16 As its goal, it speaks of the "responsibilities of each generation as trustee and guardian of the
environment for succeeding generations." 17 The latter statute, on the other hand, gave flesh to
the said policy.

Thus, the right of the petitioners (and all those they represent) to a balanced and healthful
ecology is as clear as the DENR's duty under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and
functions under E.O. No. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 to protect and advance the
said right.
A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the corelative duty or obligation to respect
or protect the same gives rise to a cause of action. Petitioners maintain that the granting of the
TLAs, which they claim was done with grave abuse of discretion, violated their right to a
balanced and healthful ecology; hence, the full protection thereof requires that no further TLAs
should be renewed or granted.
A cause of action is defined as:
. . . an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal right or rights of the other; and its
essential elements are legal right of the plaintiff, correlative obligation of the defendant, and act
or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right. 18
It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the complaint
fails to state a cause of action, 19 the question submitted to the court for resolution involves the
sufficiency of the facts alleged in the complaint itself. No other matter should be considered;
furthermore, the truth of falsity of the said allegations is beside the point for the truth thereof is
deemed hypothetically admitted. The only issue to be resolved in such a case is: admitting such
alleged facts to be true, may the court render a valid judgment in accordance with the prayer in
the complaint? 20 In Militante vs. Edrosolano, 21 this Court laid down the rule that the judiciary
should "exercise the utmost care and circumspection in passing upon a motion to dismiss on the
ground of the absence thereof [cause of action] lest, by its failure to manifest a correct
appreciation of the facts alleged and deemed hypothetically admitted, what the law grants or
recognizes is effectively nullified. If that happens, there is a blot on the legal order. The law itself
stands in disrepute."
After careful examination of the petitioners' complaint, We find the statements under the
introductory affirmative allegations, as well as the specific averments under the sub-heading
CAUSE OF ACTION, to be adequate enough to show, prima facie, the claimed violation of their
rights. On the basis thereof, they may thus be granted, wholly or partly, the reliefs prayed for. It
bears stressing, however, that insofar as the cancellation of the TLAs is concerned, there is the
need to implead, as party defendants, the grantees thereof for they are indispensable parties.
The foregoing considered, Civil Case No. 90-777 be said to raise a political question. Policy
formulation or determination by the executive or legislative branches of Government is not
squarely put in issue. What is principally involved is the enforcement of a right vis-a-vis policies
already formulated and expressed in legislation. It must, nonetheless, be emphasized that the
political question doctrine is no longer, the insurmountable obstacle to the exercise of judicial
power or the impenetrable shield that protects executive and legislative actions from judicial
inquiry or review. The second paragraph of section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution states that:
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving
rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has
been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any
branch or instrumentality of the Government.

Commenting on this provision in his book, Philippine Political Law, 22 Mr. Justice Isagani A.
Cruz, a distinguished member of this Court, says:
The first part of the authority represents the traditional concept of judicial power, involving the
settlement of conflicting rights as conferred as law. The second part of the authority represents a
broadening of judicial power to enable the courts of justice to review what was before forbidden
territory, to wit, the discretion of the political departments of the government.
As worded, the new provision vests in the judiciary, and particularly the Supreme Court, the
power to rule upon even the wisdom of the decisions of the executive and the legislature and to
declare their acts invalid for lack or excess of jurisdiction because tainted with grave abuse of
discretion. The catch, of course, is the meaning of "grave abuse of discretion," which is a very
elastic phrase that can expand or contract according to the disposition of the judiciary.
In Daza vs. Singson, 23 Mr. Justice Cruz, now speaking for this Court, noted:
In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection becomes even less tenable and decisive.
The reason is that, even if we were to assume that the issue presented before us was political in
nature, we would still not be precluded from revolving it under the expanded jurisdiction
conferred upon us that now covers, in proper cases, even the political question. Article VII,
Section 1, of the Constitution clearly provides: . . .
The last ground invoked by the trial court in dismissing the complaint is the non-impairment of
contracts clause found in the Constitution. The court a quo declared that:
The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction,
grant the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements
in the country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or
approving new timber license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of
contracts" abhored (sic) by the fundamental law. 24
We are not persuaded at all; on the contrary, We are amazed, if not shocked, by such a sweeping
pronouncement. In the first place, the respondent Secretary did not, for obvious reasons, even
invoke in his motion to dismiss the non-impairment clause. If he had done so, he would have
acted with utmost infidelity to the Government by providing undue and unwarranted benefits and
advantages to the timber license holders because he would have forever bound the Government
to strictly respect the said licenses according to their terms and conditions regardless of changes
in policy and the demands of public interest and welfare. He was aware that as correctly pointed
out by the petitioners, into every timber license must be read Section 20 of the Forestry Reform
Code (P.D. No. 705) which provides:
. . . Provided, That when the national interest so requires, the President may amend, modify,
replace or rescind any contract, concession, permit, licenses or any other form of privilege
granted herein . . .
Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is not a
contract, property or a property right protested by the due process clause of the Constitution. In
Tan vs. Director of Forestry, 25 this Court held:
. . . A timber license is an instrument by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition
of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. A timber license is not a contract
within the purview of the due process clause; it is only a license or privilege, which can be
validly withdrawn whenever dictated by public interest or public welfare as in this case.

A license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and is not a
contract between the authority, federal, state, or municipal, granting it and the person to whom it
is granted; neither is it property or a property right, nor does it create a vested right; nor is it
taxation (37 C.J. 168). Thus, this Court held that the granting of license does not create
irrevocable rights, neither is it property or property rights (People vs. Ong Tin, 54 O.G. 7576).
We reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe Ysmael, Jr. & Co., Inc. vs. Deputy Executive
Secretary: 26
. . . Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal instruments by which the
State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is
promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the
State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the
particular concession area and the forest products therein. They may be validly amended,
modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief Executive when national interests so require. Thus,
they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law clause [See Sections
3(ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry, G.R. No.
L-24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302].
Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which reads:
Sec. 10. No law impairing, the obligation of contracts shall be passed. 27
cannot be invoked.
In the second place, even if it is to be assumed that the same are contracts, the instant case does
not involve a law or even an executive issuance declaring the cancellation or modification of
existing timber licenses. Hence, the non-impairment clause cannot as yet be invoked.
Nevertheless, granting further that a law has actually been passed mandating cancellations or
modifications, the same cannot still be stigmatized as a violation of the non-impairment clause.
This is because by its very nature and purpose, such as law could have only been passed in the
exercise of the police power of the state for the purpose of advancing the right of the people to a
balanced and healthful ecology, promoting their health and enhancing the general welfare. In Abe
vs. Foster Wheeler
Corp. 28 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, 29 quoted in Philippine
American Life Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General, 30 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. 31

Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court did, how the non-impairment clause could
apply with respect to the prayer to enjoin the respondent Secretary from receiving, accepting,
processing, renewing or approving new timber licenses for, save in cases of renewal, no contract
would have as of yet existed in the other instances. Moreover, with respect to renewal, the holder
is not entitled to it as a matter of right.
WHEREFORE, being impressed with merit, the instant Petition is hereby GRANTED, and the
challenged Order of respondent Judge of 18 July 1991 dismissing Civil Case No. 90-777 is
hereby set aside. The petitioners may therefore amend their complaint to implead as defendants
the holders or grantees of the questioned timber license agreements.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 104988 June 18, 1996


MUSTANG LUMBER, INC., petitioner,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., Secretary,
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and ATTY. VINCENT A.
ROBLES, Chief, Special Actions and Investigations Division, DENR, respondents.
G.R. No. 106424 June 18, 1996
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
vs.
HON. TERESITA DIZON-CAPULONG, in her capacity as the Presiding Judge, Regional
Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch 172, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, and
RI CHUY PO, respondents.
G.R. No. 123784 June 18, 1996
MUSTANG LUMBER, INC., petitioner,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ATTY. VINCENT A. ROBLES, Chief, Special Actions and
Investigation Division, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),
ATTY. NESTOR V. GAPUSAN, TIRSO P. PARIAN, JR., and FELIPE H. CALLORINA,
JR., respondents.
DAVIDE, JR., J.:p
The first and third case, G.R. No. 104988 and G.R. No. 123784, were originally assigned to the
Second and Third Divisions of the Court, respectively. They were subsequently consolidated
with the second, a case of the Court en banc.
Petitioner, a domestic corporation with principal office at Nos. 1350-1352 Juan Luna Street,
Tondo, Manila, and with a Lumberyard at Fortune Street, Fortune Village, Paseo de Blas,
Valenzuela, Metro Manila, was duly registered as a lumber dealer with the Bureau of Forest
Development (BFD) under Certificate of Registration No. NRD-4-092590-0469. Its permit as
such was to expire on 25 September 1990.

Respondent Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., and respondent Atty. Vincent A. Robles were,
during all the time material to these cases, the Secretary of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR) and the Chief of the Special Actions and Investigation Division
(SAID) of the DENR, respectively.
The material operative facts are as follows:
On 1 April 1990, acting on an information that a huge stockpile of narra flitches, shorts, and
slabs were seen inside the lumberyard of the petitioner in Valenzuela, Metro Manila, the SAID
organized a team of foresters and policemen and sent it to conduct surveillance at the said
lumberyard. In the course thereof, the team members saw coming out from the lumberyard the
petitioner's truck, with Plate No. CCK-322, loaded with lauan and almaciga lumber of assorted
sizes and dimensions. Since the driver could not produce the required invoices and transport
documents, the team seized the truck together with its cargo and impounded them at the DENR
compound at Visayas Avenue, Quezon City. 1 The team was not able to gain entry into the
premises because of the refusal of the owner. 2
On 3 April 1990, the team was able to secure a search warrant from Executive Judge Adriano R.
Osorio of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Valenzuela, Metro Manila. By virtue thereof, the
team seized on that date from the petitioner's lumberyard four truckloads of narra shorts,
trimmings, and slabs; a negligible number of narra lumber; and approximately 200,000 board
feet of lumber and shorts of various species including almaciga and supa. 3
On 4 April 1990, the team returned to the premises of the petitioner's lumberyard in Valenzuela
and placed under administrative seizure the remaining stockpile of almaciga, supa, and lauan
lumber with a total volume of 311,000 board feet because the petitioner failed to produce upon
demand the corresponding certificate of lumber origin, auxiliary invoices, tally sheets, and
delivery receipts from the source of the invoices covering the lumber to prove the legitimacy of
their source and origin. 4
Parenthetically, it may be stated that under an administrative seizure the owner retains the
physical possession of the seized articles. Only an inventory of the articles is taken and signed by
the owner or his representative. The owner is prohibited from disposing them until further orders.
5

On 10 April 1990, counsel for the petitioner sent a letter to Robles requesting an extension of
fifteen days from 14 April 1990 to produce the required documents covering the seized articles
because some of them, particularly the certificate of lumber origin, were allegedly in the
Province of Quirino Robles denied the motion on the ground that the documents being required
from the petitioner must accompany the lumber or forest products placed under seizure. 6
On 11 April 1990, Robles submitted his memorandum-report recommending to Secretary
Factoran the following:
1. Suspension and subsequent cancellation of the lumber Dealer's Permit of Mustang Lumber,
Inc. for operating an unregistered lumberyard and resaw mill and possession of Almaciga
Lumber (a banned specie) without the required documents;
2. Confiscation of the lumber seized at the Mustang Lumberyard including the truck with Plate
No. CCK-322 and the lumber loaded herein [sic] now at the DENR compound in the event its
owner fails to submit documents showing legitimacy of the source of said lumber within ten days
from date of seizure;

3. Filing of criminal charges against Mr. Ri Chuy Po, owner of Mustang Lumber Inc. and Mr.
Ruiz, or if the circumstances warrant for illegal possession of narra and almaciga lumber and
shorts if and when recommendation no. 2 pushes through;
4. Confiscation of Trucks with Plate No. CCS-639 and CDV. 458 as well as the lumber loaded
therein for transport lumber using "recycled" documents. 7
On 23 April 1990, Secretary Factoran issued an order suspending immediately the petitioner's
lumber-dealer's permit No. NRD-4-092590-0469 and directing the petitioner to explain in
writing within fifteen days why its lumber-dealer's permit should not be cancelled.
On the same date, counsel for the petitioner sent another letter to Robles informing the latter that
the petitioner had already secured the required documents and was ready to submit them. None,
however, was submitted. 8
On 3 May 1990, Secretary Factoran issued another order wherein, after reciting the events which
took place on 1 April and 3 April 1990, he ordered "CONFISCATED in favor of the government
to be disposed of in accordance with law" the approximately 311,000 board feet of lauan, supa,
and almaciga lumber, shorts, and sticks found inside the petitioner's lumberyard. 9
On 11 July 1990, the petitioner filed with the RTC of Manila a petition for certiorari and
prohibition with a prayer for a restraining order or preliminary injunction against Secretary
Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., and Atty. Vincent A. Robles. The case (hereinafter, the FIRST CIVIL
CASE) was docketed as Civil Case No. 90-53648 and assigned to Branch 35 of the said court.
The petitioner questioned therein (a) the seizure on 1 April 1990, without any search and seizure
order issued by a judge, of its truck with Plate No. CCK-322 and its cargo of assorted lumber
consisting of apitong, tanguile, and lauan of different sizes and dimensions with a total value of
P38,000.00; and (b) the orders of Secretary Factoran of 23 April 1990 for lack of prior notice and
hearing and of 3 May 1990 for violation of Section 2, Article III of the Constitution.
On 17 September 1990, in response to reports that violations of P.D. No. 705 (The Revised
Forestry Code of the Philippines), as amended, were committed and acting upon instruction of
Robles and under Special Order No. 897, series of 1990, a team of DENR agents went to the
business premises of the petitioner located at No. 1352 Juan Luna Street, Tondo, Manila. The
team caught the petitioner operating as a lumber dealer although its lumber-dealer's permit had
already been suspended or 23 April 1990. Since the gate of the petitioner's lumberyard was open,
the team went inside and saw an owner-type jeep with a trailer loaded with lumber. Upon
investigation, the team was informed that the lumber loaded on the trailer was to be delivered to
the petitioner's customer. It also came upon the sales invoice covering the transaction. The
members of the team then introduced themselves to the caretaker, one Ms. Chua, who turned out
to be the wife of the petitioner's president and general manager, Mr. Ri Chuy Po, who was then
out of town. The team's photographer was able to take photographs of the stockpiles of lumber
including newly cut ones, fresh dust around sawing or cutting machineries and equipment, and
the transport vehicles loaded with lumber. The team thereupon effected a constructive seizure of
approximately 20,000 board feet of lauan lumber in assorted sizes stockpiled in the premises by
issuing a receipt
therefor. 10

As a consequence of this 17 September 1990 incident, the petitioner filed with the RTC of
Manila a petition for certiorari and prohibition. The case (hereinafter, the SECOND CIVIL
CASE) was docketed as Civil Case No. 90-54610 and assigned to Branch 24 of the said court.
In the meantime, Robles filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) a complaint against the
petitioner's president and general manager, Ri Chuy Po, for violation of Section 68 of P.D. No.
705, as amended by E.O. No. 277. After appropriate preliminary investigation, the investigating
prosecutor, Claro Arellano, handed down a resolution 11 whose dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is hereby recommended that an information be filed
against respondent Ri Chuy Po for illegal possession of approximately 200,000 bd. ft. of lumber
consisting of almaciga and supa and for illegal shipment of almaciga and lauan in violation of
Sec. 68 of PD 705 as amended by E.O. 277, series of 1987.
It is further recommended that the 30,000 bd. ft. of narra shorts, trimmings and slabs covered by
legal documents be released to the rightful owner, Malupa. 12
This resolution was approved by Undersecretary of Justice Silvestre H. Bello III, who served as
Chairman of the Task Force on Illegal Logging." 13
On the basis of that resolution, an information was filed on 5 June 1991 by the DOJ with Branch
172 of the RTC of Valenzuela, charging Ri Chuy Po with the violation of Section 58 of P.D. No.
705, as amended, which was docketed as Criminal Case No. 324-V-91 (hereinafter, the
CRIMINAL CASE). The accusatory portion of the information reads as follows:
That on or about the 3rd day of April 1990, or prior to or subsequent thereto, within the premises
and vicinity of Mustang Lumber, Inc. in Fortune Village, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there wilfully,
feloniously and unlawfully have in his possession truckloads of almaciga and lauan and
approximately 200,000 bd. ft. of lumber and shorts of various species including almaciga and
supa, without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and
regulations. 14
On 7 June 1991, Branch 35 of the RTC of Manila rendered its decision 15 in the FIRST CIVIL
CASE, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment in this case is rendered as follows:
1. The Order of Respondent Secretary of the DENR, the Honorable Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr.,
dated 3 May 1990 ordering the confiscation in favor of the Government the approximately
311,000 board feet of Lauan, supa, end almaciga Lumber, shorts and sticks, found inside and
seized from the Lumberyard of the petitioner at Fortune Drive, Fortune Village, Paseo de Blas,
Valenzuela, Metro Manila, on April 4, 1990 (Exhibit 10), is hereby set aside and vacated, and
instead the respondents are required to report and bring to the Hon. Adriano Osorio, Executive
Judge, Regional Trial Court, NCR, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, the said 311,000 board feet of
Lauan, supa and almaciga Lumber, shorts and sticks, to be dealt with as directed by Law;
2. The respondents are required to initiate and prosecute the appropriate action before the proper
court regarding the Lauan and almaciga lumber of assorted sizes and dimensions Loaded in
petitioner's truck bearing Plate No. CCK-322 which were seized on April 1, 1990;
3. The Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued by the Court on August 2, 1990 shall be rendered
functus oficio upon compliance by the respondents with paragraphs 1 and 2 of this judgment;.

4. Action on the prayer of the petitioner that the Lauan, supa and almaciga lumber, shorts and
sticks mentioned above in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this judgment be returned to said petitioner is
withheld in this case until after the proper court has taken cognizance and determined how those
Lumber, shorts and sticks should be disposed of; and
5. The petitioner is ordered to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.
In resolving the said case, the trial court held that the warrantless search and seizure on 1 April
1990 of the petitioner's truck, which was moving out from the petitioner's lumberyard in
Valenzuela, Metro Manila, loaded with large volumes of lumber without covering document
showing the legitimacy of its source or origin did not offend the constitutional mandate that
search and seizure must be supported by a valid warrant. The situation fell under one of the
settled and accepted exceptions where warrantless search and seizure is justified, viz., a search of
a moving vehicle. 16 As to the seizure of a large volume of almaciga, supa, and lauan lumber and
shorts effected on 4 April 1990, the trial court ruled that the said seizure was a continuation of
that made the previous day and was still pursuant to or by virtue of the search warrant issued by
Executive Judge Osorio whose validity the petitioner did not even question. 17 And, although the
search warrant did not specifically mention almaciga, supa, and lauan lumber and shorts, their
seizure was valid because it is settled that the executing officer is not required to ignore
contrabands observed during the conduct of the
search. 18
The trial court, however, set aside Secretary Factoran's order of 3 May 1990 ordering the
confiscation of the seized articles in favor of the Government for the reason that since the articles
were seized pursuant to the search warrant issued by Executive Judge Osorio they should have
been returned to him in compliance with the directive in the warrant.
As to the propriety of the 23 April 1990 order of Secretary Factoran, the trial court ruled that the
same had been rendered moot and academic by the expiration of the petitioner's lumber dealer's
permit on 25 September 1990, a fact the petitioner admitted in its memorandum.
The petitioner forthwith appealed from the decision in the FIRST CIVIL CASE to the Court of
Appeals, which docketed the appeal as CA-G.R. SP No. 25510.
On 7 July 1991, accused Ri Chuy Po filed in the CRIMINAL CASE a Motion to Quash and/or to
Suspend Proceedings based on the following grounds: (a) the information does not charge an
offense, for possession of lumber, as opposed to timber, is not penalized in Section 68 of P.D.
No. 705, as amended, and even granting arguendo that lumber falls within the purview of the
said section, the same may not be used in evidence against him for they were taken by virtue of
an illegal seizure; and (b) Civil Case No. 90-53648 of Branch 35 of the RTC of Manila, the
FIRST CIVIL CASE, then pending before the Court of Appeals, which involves the legality of
the seizure, raises a prejudicial question. 19
The prosecution opposed the motion alleging that lumber is included in Section 68 of P.D. No.
705, as amended, and possession thereof without the required legal documents is penalized
therein. It referred to Section 3.2 of DENR Administrative Order No. 19, series of 1989, for the
definitions of timber and lumber, and then argued that exclusion of lumber from Section 68
would defeat the very purpose of the law, i.e., to minimize, if not halt, illegal logging that has
resulted in the rapid denudation of our forest resources. 20

In her order of 16 August 1991 in the CRIMINAL CASE, 21 respondent Judge Teresita DizonCapulong granted the motion to quash and dismissed the case on the ground that "possession of
lumber without the legal documents required by forest laws and regulations is not a crime. 22
Its motion for reconsideration having been denied in the order of 18 October 1991, 23 the People
filed a petition for certiorari with this Court in G.R. No. 106424, wherein it contends that the
respondent Judge acted with grave abuse of discretion in granting the motion to quash and in
dismissing the case.
On 29 November 1991, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision 24 in CA-G.R. SP No. 25510
dismissing for lack of merit the petitioner's appeal from the decision in the FIRST CIVIL CASE
and affirming the trial court's rulings on the issues raised. As to the claim that the truck was not
carrying contraband articles since there is no law punishing the possession of lumber, and that
lumber is not timber whose possession without the required legal documents is unlawful under
P.D. No. 705, as amended, the Court of Appeals held:
This undue emphasis on lumber or the commercial nature of the forest product involved has
always been foisted by those who claim to be engaged in the legitimate business of lumber
dealership. But what is important to consider is that when appellant was required to present the
valid documents showing its acquisition and lawful possession of the lumber in question, it failed
to present any despite the period of extension granted to it. 25
The petitioner's motion to reconsider the said decision was denied by the Court of Appeals in its
resolution of 3 March 1992. 26 Hence, the petitioner came to this Court by way of a petition for
review on certiorari in G.R. No. 104988, which was filed on 2 May 1992. 27
On 24 September 1992, Branch 24 of the RTC of Manila handed down a decision in the
SECOND CIVIL CASE dismissing the petition for certiorari and prohibition because (a) the
petitioner did not exhaust administrative remedies; (b) when the seizure was made on 17
September 1990 the petitioner could not lawfully sell lumber, as its license was still under
suspension; (c) the seizure was valid under Section 68-A of P.D. No. 705, as amended; and (d)
the seizure was justified as a warrantless search and seizure under Section 80 of P.D. No. 705, as
amended.
The petitioner appealed from the decision to the Court of Appeals, which docketed the appeal as
CA-G.R. SP No. 33778.
In its decision 28 of 31 July 1995, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petitioner's appeal in CAG.R. SP No. 33778 for lack of merit and sustained the grounds relied upon by the trial court in
dismissing the SECOND CIVIL CASE. Relying on the definition of "lumber" by Webster, viz.,
"timber or logs, especially after being prepared for the market," and by the Random House
Dictionary of the English Language, viz., "wood, esp. when suitable or adapted for various
building purposes," the respondent Court held that since wood is included in the definition of
forest product in Section 3(q) of P.D. No. 705, as amended, lumber is necessarily included in
Section 68 under the term forest product.
The Court of Appeals further emphasized that a forest officer or employee can seize the forest
product involved in a violation of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705 pursuant to Section 80 thereof, as
amended by P.D. No. 1775, which provides in part as follows:
Sec. 80. Arrest, Institution of Criminal Actions. -- A forest officer or employee of the Bureau or
any personnel of the Philippine Constabulary/Integrated National Police shall arrest even without

warrant any person who has committed or is committing in his presence any of the offenses
defined in this chapter. He shall also seize and confiscate, in favor of the Government, the tools
and equipment used in committing the offense, or the forest products cut, gathered or taken by
the offender in the process of committing the offense.
Among the offenses punished in the chapter referred to in said Section 80 are the cutting,
gathering, collection, or removal of timber or other forest products or possession of timber or
other forest products without the required legal documents.
Its motion to reconsider the decision having been denied by the Court of Appeals in the
resolution of 6 February 1996, the petitioner filed with this Court on 27 February 1996 a petition
for review on certiorari in G.R. No. 123784.
We shall now resolve these three cases starting with G.R. No. 106424 with which the other two
were consolidated.
G.R. No. 106424
The petitioner had moved to quash the information in Criminal Case No. 324-V-91 on the ground
that it does not charge an offense. Respondent Judge Dizon-Capulong granted the motion
reasoning that the subject matter of the information in the CRIMINAL CASE is LUMBER,
which is neither "timber" nor "other forest product" under Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as
amended, and hence, possession thereof without the required legal documents is not prohibited
and penalized under the said section.
Under paragraph (a), Section 3, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, an information may be quashed
on the ground that the facts alleged therein do not constitute an offense. It has been said that "the
test for the correctness of this ground is the sufficiency of the averments in the information, that
is, whether the facts alleged, if hypothetically admitted, constitute the elements of the
offense, 29 and matters aliunde will not be considered." Anent the sufficiency of the information,
Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court requires, inter alia, that the information state the acts
or omissions complained of as constituting the offense.
Respondent Ri Chuy Po is charged with the violation of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended
by E.O. No. 277, which provides:
Sec. 68. Cutting, Gathering and/or collecting Timber, or Other Forest Products Without License.
-- Any person who shall cut, gather, collect, remove timber or other forest products from any
forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land, without any
authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required
under existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished with the penalties imposed under
Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code: Provided, That in the case of partnerships,
associations, or corporations, the officers who ordered the cutting, gathering, collection or
possession shall be liable, and if such officers are aliens, they shall, in addition to the penalty, be
deported without further proceedings on the part of the Commission on Immigration and
Deportation.
The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any
forest products cut, gathered, collected, removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery,
equipment, implements and tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products
are found.

Punished then in this section are (1) the cutting, gathering, collection, or removal of timber or
other forest products from the places therein mentioned without any authority; and (b)
possession of timber forest products without the legal documents as required under existing
forest laws and regulations.
Indeed, the word lumber does not appear in Section 68. But conceding ex gratia that this
omission amounts to an exclusion of lumber from the section's coverage, do the facts averred in
the information in the CRIMINAL CASE validly charge a violation of the said section?
A cursory reading of the information readily leads us to an infallible conclusion that lumber is
not solely its subject matter. It is evident therefrom that what are alleged to be in the possession
of the private respondent, without the required legal documents, are truckloads of
(1) almaciga and lauan; and
(2) approximately 200,000 bd. ft. of lumber and shorts of various species including almaciga and
supa.
The "almaciga and lauan" specifically mentioned in no. (1) are not described as "lumber." They
cannot refer to the "lumber" in no. (2) because they are separated by the words "approximately
200,000 bd. ft." with the conjunction "and," and not with the preposition "of." They must then be
raw forest products or, more specifically, timbers under Section 3(q) of P.D. No. 705, as
amended, which reads:
Sec. 3. Definitions. -xxx xxx xxx
(q) Forest product means timber, firewood, bark, tree top, resin, gum, wood, oil, honey, beeswax,
nipa, rattan, or other forest plant, the associated water, fish game, scenic, historical, recreational
and geological resources in forest lands.
It follows then that lumber is only one of the items covered by the information. The public and
the private respondents obviously miscomprehended the averments in the information.
Accordingly, even if lumber is not included in Section 68, the other items therein as noted above
fall within the ambit of the said section, and as to them, the information validly charges an
offense.
Our respected brother, Mr. Justice Jose C. Vitug, suggests in his dissenting opinion that this
Court go beyond the four corners of the information for enlightenment as to whether the
information exclusively refers to lumber. With the aid of the pleadings and the annexes thereto,
he arrives at the conclusion that "only lumber has been envisioned in the indictment."
The majority is unable to subscribe to his view. First, his proposition violates the rule that only
the facts alleged in the information vis-a-vis the law violated must be considered in determining
whether an information charges an offense.
Second, the pleadings and annexes he resorted to are insufficient to justify his conclusion. On the
contrary, the Joint Affidavit of Melencio Jalova, Jr., and Araman Belleng, which is one of the
annexes he referred to, 30 cannot lead one to infer that what the team seized was all lumber.
Paragraph 8 thereof expressly states:
8. That when inside the compound, the team found approximately four (4) truckloads of narra
shorts, trimmings and slabs and a negligible amount of narra lumber, and approximately 200,000
bd. ft. of lumber and shorts of various species including almaciga and supa which are classified
as prohibited wood species. (emphasis supplied)

In the same vein, the dispositive portion of the resolution 31 of the investigating prosecutor,
which served as the basis for the filing of the information, does not limit itself to lumber; thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is hereby recommended that an information be filed
against respondent Ri Chuy Po for illegal possession of 200,000 bd. ft. of lumber consisting of
almaciga and supa and for illegal shipment of almaciga and lauan in violation of Sec. 63 of PD
705 as amended by E.O. 277, series of 1987. (emphasis supplied)
The foregoing disquisitions should not, in any manner, be construed as an affirmance of the
respondent Judge's conclusion that lumber is excluded from the coverage of Section 68 of P.D.
No. 705, as amended, and thus possession thereof without the required legal documents is not a
crime. On the contrary, this Court rules that such possession is penalized in the said section
because lumber is included in the term timber.
The Revised Forestry Code contains no definition of either timber or lumber. While the former is
included in forest products as defined in paragraph (q) of Section 3, the latter is found in
paragraph (aa) of the same section in the definition of "Processing plant," which reads:
(aa) Processing plant is any mechanical set-up, machine or combination of machine used for the
processing of logs and other forest raw materials into lumber, veneer, plywood, wallbond,
blockboard, paper board, pulp, paper or other finished wood products.
This simply means that lumber is a processed log or processed forest raw material. Clearly, the
Code uses the term lumber in its ordinary or common usage. In the 1993 copyright edition of
Webster's Third New International Dictionary, lumber is defined, inter alia, as "timber or logs
after being prepared for the market." 32 Simply put, lumber is a processed log or timber.
It is settled that in the absence of legislative intent to the contrary, words and phrases used in a
statute should be given their plain, ordinary, and common usage meaning. 33 And insofar as
possession of timber without the required legal documents is concerned, Section 68 of P.D. No.
705, as amended, makes no distinction between raw or processed timber. Neither should we. Ubi
lex non distinguere debemus.
Indisputably, respondent Judge Teresita Dizon-Capulong of Branch 172 of the RTC of
Valenzuela, Metro Manila, committed grave abuse of discretion in granting the motion to quash
the information in the CRIMINAL CASE and in dismissing the said case.
G.R. No. 104988
We find this petition to be without merit. The petitioner has miserably failed to show that the
Court of Appeals committed any reversible error in its assailed decision of 29 November 1991.
It was duly established that on 1 April 1990, the petitioner's truck with Plate No. CCK-322 was
coming out from the petitioner's lumberyard loaded with lauan and almaciga lumber of different
sizes and dimensions which were not accompanied with the required invoices and transport
documents. The seizure of such truck and its cargo was a valid exercise of the power vested upon
a forest officer or employee by Section 80 of P.D. No. 705, as amended by P.D. No. 1775. Then,
too, as correctly held by the trial court and the Court of Appeals in the FIRST CIVIL CASE, the
search was conducted on a moving vehicle. Such a search could be lawfully conducted without a
search warrant.
Search of a moving vehicle is one of the five doctrinally accepted exceptions to the constitutional
mandate 34 that no search or seizure shall be made except by virtue of a warrant issued by a judge
after personally determining the existence of probable cause. The other exceptions are (3) search

as an incident to a lawful arrest, (2) seizure of evidence in plain view, (3) customs searches, and
(4) consented warrantless search. 35
We also affirm the rulings of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals that the search on 4
April 1990 was a continuation of the search on 3 April 1990 done under and by virtue of the
search warrant issued on 3 April 1990 by Executive Judge Osorio. Under Section 9, Rule 126 of
the Rules of Court, a search warrant has a lifetime of ten days. Hence, it could be served at any
time within the said period, and if its object or purpose cannot be accomplished in one day, the
same may be continued the following day or days until completed. Thus, when the search under
a warrant on one day was interrupted, it may be continued under the same warrant the following
day, provided it is still within the ten-day period. 36
As to the final plea of the petitioner that the search was illegal because possession of lumber
without the required legal documents is not illegal under Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as
amended, since lumber is neither specified therein nor included in the term forest product, the
same hardly merits further discussion in view of our ruling in G.R. No. 106424.
G.R. No. 123784
The allegations and arguments set forth in the petition in this case palpally fail to shaw prima
facie that a reversible error has been committed by the Court of Appeals in its challenged
decision of 31 July 1995 and resolution of 6 February 1996 in CA-G.R. SP No. 33778. We must,
forthwith, deny it for utter want of merit. There is no need to require the respondents to comment
on the petition.
The Court of Appeals correctly dismissed the petitioner's appeal from the judgment of the trial
court in the SECOND CIVIL CASE. The petitioner never disputed the fact that its lumberdealer's license or permit had been suspended by Secretary Factoran on 23 April 1990. The
suspension was never lifted, and since the license had only a lifetime of up to 25 September
1990, the petitioner has absolutely no right to possess, sell, or otherwise dispose of lumber.
Accordingly, Secretary Factoran or his authorized representative had the authority to seize the
Lumber pursuant to Section 68-A of P.D. No. 705, as amended, which provides as follows:
Sec. 68-A Administrative Authority of the Department Head or his Duly Authorized
Representative to Order Confiscation. -- In all cases of violations of this Code or other forest
laws, rules and regulations, the Department Head or his duly authorized representative may order
the confiscation of any forest products illegally cut, gathered, removed, or possessed or
abandoned. . . .
The petitioner's insistence that possession or sale of lumber is not penalized must also fail view
of our disquisition and ruling on the same issue in G.R. No. 106424. Besides, the issue is totally
irrelevant in the SECOND CIVIL CASE which involves administrative seizure as a consequence
of the violation of the suspension of the petitioner's license as lumber dealer.
All told then, G.R. No. 104988 and G.R. No. 123784 are nothing more than rituals to cover up
blatant violations of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines (P.D. No. 705), as amended.
They are presumably trifling attempts to block the serious efforts of the DENR to enforce the
decree, efforts which deserve the commendation of the public in light of the urgent need to take
firm and decisive action against despoilers of our forests whose continuous destruction only
ensures to the generations to come, if not the present, an inheritance of parched earth incapable
of sustaining life. The Government must not tire in its vigilance to protect the environment by

prosecuting without fear or favor any person who dares to violate our laws for the utilization and
protection of our forests.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered
1. (a) GRANTING the petition in G.R. No. 106424; (b) SETTING ASIDE and ANNULLING,
for having been rendered with grave abuse of discretion, the challenged orders of 16 August
1991 and 18 October 1991 of respondent Judge Teresita Dizon-Capulong, Branch 172, Regional
Trial Court of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, in Criminal Case No. 324-V-91, entitled "People of the
Philippines vs. Ri Chuy Po"; (c) REINSTATING the information in the said criminal case; and
(d) DIRECTING the respondent Judge or her successor to hear and decide the case with
purposeful dispatch; and
2. DENYING the petitions in G.R. No. 104988 and in G. R. No. 123784 for utter failure of the
petitioner to show that the respondent Court of Appeals committed any reversible error in the
challenged decisions of 29 November 1991 in CA-G.R. SP No. 25510 in the FIRST CIVIL
CASE and of 31 July 1995 in CA-G.R. SP No. 33778 on the SECOND CIVIL CASE.
Costs against the petitioner in each of these three cases.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 111107. January 10, 1997]
LEONARDO A. PAAT, in his capacity as Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Regional Executive
Director (RED), Region 2 and JOVITO LAYUGAN, JR., in his capacity as Community
Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO), both of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS,
HON. RICARDO A. BACULI in his capacity as Presiding Judge of Branch 2, Regional
Trial Court at Tuguegarao, Cagayan, and SPOUSES BIENVENIDO and VICTORIA DE
GUZMAN, respondents.
DECISION
TORRES, JR., J.:
Without violating the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies, may an action for
replevin prosper to recover a movable property which is the subject matter of an administrative
forfeiture proceeding in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources pursuant to
Section 68-A of P. D. 705, as amended, entitled The Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines?
Are the Secretary of DENR and his representatives empowered to confiscate and forfeit
conveyances used in transporting illegal forest products in favor of the government?
These are two fundamental questions presented before us for our resolution.
The controversy on hand had its incipiency on May 19, 1989 when the truck of private
respondent Victoria de Guzman while on its way to Bulacan from San Jose, Baggao, Cagayan,
was seized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR, for brevity)
personnel in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya because the driver could not produce the required documents
for the forest products found concealed in the truck. Petitioner Jovito Layugan, the Community
Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) in Aritao, Cagayan, issued on May 23,
1989 an order of confiscation of the truck and gave the owner thereof fifteen (15) days within
which to submit an explanation why the truck should not be forfeited. Private respondents,
however, failed to submit the required explanation. On June 22, 1989,[if !supportFootnotes][1][endif]

Regional Executive Director Rogelio Baggayan of DENR sustained petitioner Layugans action
of confiscation and ordered the forfeiture of the truck invoking Section 68-A of Presidential
Decree No. 705 as amended by Executive Order No. 277. Private respondents filed a letter of
reconsideration dated June 28, 1989 of the June 22, 1989 order of Executive Director Baggayan,
which was, however, denied in a subsequent order of July 12, 1989.[if !supportFootnotes][2][endif]
Subsequently, the case was brought by the petitioners to the Secretary of DENR pursuant to
private respondents statement in their letter dated June 28, 1989 that in case their letter for
reconsideration would be denied then this letter should be considered as an appeal to the
Secretary.[if !supportFootnotes][3][endif] Pending resolution however of the appeal, a suit for replevin,
docketed as Civil Case 4031, was filed by the private respondents against petitioner Layugan and
Executive Director Baggayan[if !supportFootnotes][4][endif] with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 2 of
Cagayan,[if !supportFootnotes][5][endif] which issued a writ ordering the return of the truck to private
respondents.[if !supportFootnotes][6][endif] Petitioner Layugan and Executive Director Baggayan filed a
motion to dismiss with the trial court contending, inter alia, that private respondents had no
cause of action for their failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The trial court denied the
motion to dismiss in an order dated December 28, 1989.[if !supportFootnotes][7][endif] Their motion for
reconsideration having been likewise denied, a petition for certiorari was filed by the petitioners
with the respondent Court of Appeals which sustained the trial courts order ruling that the
question involved is purely a legal question.[if !supportFootnotes][8][endif] Hence, this present petition,[if !
supportFootnotes][9][endif] with prayer for temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction,
seeking to reverse the decision of the respondent Court of Appeals was filed by the petitioners on
September 9, 1993. By virtue of the Resolution dated September 27, 1993,[if !supportFootnotes][10][endif]
the prayer for the issuance of temporary restraining order of petitioners was granted by this
Court.
Invoking the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, petitioners aver that the trial
court could not legally entertain the suit for replevin because the truck was under administrative
seizure proceedings pursuant to Section 68-A of P.D. 705, as amended by E.O. 277. Private
respondents, on the other hand, would seek to avoid the operation of this principle asserting that
the instant case falls within the exception of the doctrine upon the justification that (1) due
process was violated because they were not given the chance to be heard, and (2) the seizure and
forfeiture was unlawful on the grounds: (a) that the Secretary of DENR and his representatives
have no authority to confiscate and forfeit conveyances utilized in transporting illegal forest
products, and (b) that the truck as admitted by petitioners was not used in the commission of the
crime.
Upon a thorough and delicate scrutiny of the records and relevant jurisprudence on the matter,
we are of the opinion that the plea of petitioners for reversal is in order.
This Court in a long line of cases has consistently held that before a party is allowed to seek the
intervention of the court, it is a pre-condition that he should have availed of all the means of
administrative processes afforded him. Hence, if a remedy within the administrative machinery
can still be resorted to by giving the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to decide
on a matter that comes within his jurisdiction then such remedy should be exhausted first before
courts judicial power can be sought. The premature invocation of courts intervention is fatal to
ones cause of action.[if !supportFootnotes][11][endif] Accordingly, absent any finding of waiver or estoppel

the case is susceptible of dismissal for lack of cause of action.[if !supportFootnotes][12][endif] This
doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies was not without its practical and legal reasons,
for one thing, availment of administrative remedy entails lesser expenses and provides for a
speedier disposition of controversies. It is no less true to state that the courts of justice for
reasons of comity and convenience will shy away from a dispute until the system of
administrative redress has been completed and complied with so as to give the administrative
agency concerned every opportunity to correct its error and to dispose of the case. However, we
are not amiss to reiterate that the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies as tested by
a battery of cases is not an ironclad rule. This doctrine is a relative one and its flexibility is called
upon by the peculiarity and uniqueness of the factual and circumstantial settings of a case.
Hence, it is disregarded (1) when there is a violation of due process,[if !supportFootnotes][13][endif] (2)
when the issue involved is purely a legal question,[if !supportFootnotes][14][endif] (3) when the
administrative action is patently illegal amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction,[if !supportFootnotes]
[15][endif] (4) when there is estoppel on the part of the administrative agency concerned,[if !
supportFootnotes][16][endif] (5) when there is irreparable injury,[if !supportFootnotes][17][endif] (6) when the
respondent is a department secretary whose acts as an alter ego of the President bears the implied
and assumed approval of the latter,[if !supportFootnotes][18][endif] (7) when to require exhaustion of
administrative remedies would be unreasonable,[if !supportFootnotes][19][endif] (8) when it would amount
to a nullification of a claim,[if !supportFootnotes][20][endif] (9) when the subject matter is a private land in
land case proceedings,[if !supportFootnotes][21][endif] (10) when the rule does not provide a plain, speedy
and adequate remedy, and (11) when there are circumstances indicating the urgency of judicial
intervention.[if !supportFootnotes][22][endif]
In the case at bar, there is no question that the controversy was pending before the Secretary of
DENR when it was forwarded to him following the denial by the petitioners of the motion for
reconsideration of private respondents through the order of July 12, 1989. In their letter of
reconsideration dated June 28, 1989,[if !supportFootnotes][23][endif] private respondents clearly recognize
the presence of an administrative forum to which they seek to avail, as they did avail, in the
resolution of their case. The letter, reads, thus:
xxx
If this motion for reconsideration does not merit your favorable action, then this letter should be
considered as an appeal to the Secretary.[if !supportFootnotes][24][endif]
It was easy to perceive then that the private respondents looked up to the Secretary for the review
and disposition of their case. By appealing to him, they acknowledged the existence of an
adequate and plain remedy still available and open to them in the ordinary course of the law.
Thus, they cannot now, without violating the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies,
seek courts intervention by filing an action for replevin for the grant of their relief during the
pendency of an administrative proceedings.
Moreover, it is important to point out that the enforcement of forestry laws, rules and regulations
and the protection, development and management of forest lands fall within the primary and
special responsibilities of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. By the very
nature of its function, the DENR should be given a free hand unperturbed by judicial intrusion to
determine a controversy which is well within its jurisdiction. The assumption by the trial court,
therefore, of the replevin suit filed by private respondents constitutes an unjustified

encroachment into the domain of the administrative agencys prerogative. The doctrine of primary
jurisdiction does not warrant a court to arrogate unto itself the authority to resolve a controversy
the jurisdiction over which is initially lodged with an administrative body of special competence.
[if !supportFootnotes][25][endif] In Felipe Ismael, Jr. and Co. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary,[if !
supportFootnotes][26][endif] which was reiterated in the recent case of Concerned Officials of MWSS vs.
Vasquez,[if !supportFootnotes][27][endif] this Court held:
Thus, while the administration grapples with the complex and multifarious problems caused by
unbriddled exploitation of these resources, the judiciary will stand clear. A long line of cases
establish the basic rule that the courts will not interfere in matters which are addressed to the
sound discretion of government agencies entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under
the special technical knowledge and training of such agencies.
To sustain the claim of private respondents would in effect bring the instant controversy beyond
the pale of the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies and fall within the ambit of
excepted cases heretofore stated. However, considering the circumstances prevailing in this case,
we can not but rule out these assertions of private respondents to be without merit. First, they
argued that there was violation of due process because they did not receive the May 23, 1989
order of confiscation of petitioner Layugan. This contention has no leg to stand on. Due process
does not necessarily mean or require a hearing, but simply an opportunity or right to be heard.[if !
supportFootnotes][28][endif] One may be heard , not solely by verbal presentation but also, and perhaps
many times more creditably and practicable than oral argument, through pleadings.[if !
supportFootnotes][29][endif] In administrative proceedings moreover, technical rules of procedure and
evidence are not strictly applied; administrative process cannot be fully equated with due process
in its strict judicial sense.[if !supportFootnotes][30][endif] Indeed, deprivation of due process cannot be
successfully invoked where a party was given the chance to be heard on his motion for
reconsideration,[if !supportFootnotes][31][endif] as in the instant case, when private respondents were
undisputedly given the opportunity to present their side when they filed a letter of
reconsideration dated June 28, 1989 which was, however, denied in an order of July 12, 1989 of
Executive Director Baggayan. In Navarro III vs. Damasco,[if !supportFootnotes][32][endif] we ruled that :
The essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative
proceedings, an opportunity to explain ones side or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of
the action or ruling complained of. A formal or trial type hearing is not at all times and in all
instances essential. The requirements are satisfied when the parties are afforded fair and
reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy at hand. What is frowned upon is
the absolute lack of notice or hearing.
Second, private respondents imputed the patent illegality of seizure and forfeiture of the truck
because the administrative officers of the DENR allegedly have no power to perform these acts
under the law. They insisted that only the court is authorized to confiscate and forfeit
conveyances used in transporting illegal forest products as can be gleaned from the second
paragraph of Section 68 of P.D. 705, as amended by E.O. 277. The pertinent provision reads as
follows:
SECTION 68. xxx
xxx

The court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any
forest products cut, gathered, collected, removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery,
equipments, implements and tools illegaly [sic] used in the area where the timber or forest
products are found. (Underline ours)
A reading, however, of the law persuades us not to go along with private respondents thinking
not only because the aforequoted provision apparently does not mention nor include conveyances
that can be the subject of confiscation by the courts, but to a large extent, due to the fact that
private respondents interpretation of the subject provision unduly restricts the clear intention of
the law and inevitably reduces the other provision of Section 68-A , which is quoted herein
below:
SECTION 68-A. Administrative Authority of the Department or His Duly Authorized
Representative To Order Confiscation. In all cases of violation of this Code or other forest laws,
rules and regulations, the Department Head or his duly authorized representative, may order the
confiscation of any forest products illegally cut, gathered, removed, or possessed or abandoned,
and all conveyances used either by land, water or air in the commission of the offense and to
dispose of the same in accordance with pertinent laws, regulations and policies on the matter.
(Underline ours)
It is, thus, clear from the foregoing provision that the Secretary and his duly authorized
representatives are given the authority to confiscate and forfeit any conveyances utilized in
violating the Code or other forest laws, rules and regulations. The phrase to dispose of the same
is broad enough to cover the act of forfeiting conveyances in favor of the government. The only
limitation is that it should be made in accordance with pertinent laws, regulations or policies on
the matter. In the construction of statutes, it must be read in such a way as to give effect to the
purpose projected in the statute.[if !supportFootnotes][33][endif] Statutes should be construed in the light of
the object to be achieved and the evil or mischief to be suppressed, and they should be given
such construction as will advance the object, suppress the mischief, and secure the benefits
intended.[if !supportFootnotes][34][endif] In this wise, the observation of the Solicitor General is
significant, thus:
But precisely because of the need to make forestry laws more responsive to present situations
and realities and in view of the urgency to conserve the remaining resources of the country, that
the government opted to add Section 68-A. This amendatory provision is an administrative
remedy totally separate and distinct from criminal proceedings. More than anything else, it is
intended to supplant the inadequacies that characterize enforcement of forestry laws through
criminal actions. The preamble of EO 277-the law that added Section 68-A to PD 705-is most
revealing:
WHEREAS, there is an urgency to conserve the remaining forest resources of the country for the
benefit and welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos;
WHEREAS, our forest resources may be effectively conserved and protected through the vigilant
enforcement and implementation of our forestry laws, rules and regulations;
WHEREAS, the implementation of our forestry laws suffers from technical difficulties, due to
certain inadequacies in the penal provisions of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines; and
WHEREAS, to overcome this difficulties, there is a need to penalize certain acts more
responsive to present situations and realities;

It is interesting to note that Section 68-A is a new provision authorizing the DENR to confiscate,
not only conveyances, but forest products as well. On the other hand, confiscation of forest
products by the court in a criminal action has long been provided for in Section 68. If as private
respondents insist, the power on confiscation cannot be exercised except only through the court
under Section 68, then Section 68-A would have no purpose at all. Simply put, Section 68-A
would not have provided any solution to the problem perceived in EO 277, supra.[if !supportFootnotes]
[35][endif]

Private respondents, likewise, contend that the seizure was illegal because the petitioners
themselves admitted in the Order dated July 12, 1989 of Executive Director Baggayan that the
truck of private respondents was not used in the commission of the crime. This order, a copy of
which was given to and received by the counsel of private respondents, reads in part , viz. :
xxx while it is true that the truck of your client was not used by her in the commission of the
crime, we uphold your claim that the truck owner is not liable for the crime and in no case could
a criminal case be filed against her as provided under Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal
Code. xxx[if !supportFootnotes][36][endif]
We observed that private respondents misread the content of the aforestated order and obviously
misinterpreted the intention of petitioners. What is contemplated by the petitioners when they
stated that the truck "was not used in the commission of the crime" is that it was not used in the
commission of the crime of theft, hence, in no case can a criminal action be filed against the
owner thereof for violation of Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code. Petitioners did not
eliminate the possibility that the truck was being used in the commission of another crime, that
is, the breach of Section 68 of P.D.705 as amended by E.O. 277. In the same order of July 12,
1989, petitioners pointed out:
xxx However, under Section 68 of P.D.705 as amended and further amended by Executive Order
No.277 specifically provides for the confiscation of the conveyance used in the transport of
forest products not covered by the required legal documents. She may not have been involved in
the cutting and gathering of the product in question but the fact that she accepted the goods for a
fee or fare the same is therefor liable. xxx[if !supportFootnotes][37][endif]
Private respondents, however, contended that there is no crime defined and punishable under
Section 68 other than qualified theft, so that, when petitioners admitted in the July 12, 1989 order
that private respondents could not be charged for theft as provided for under Articles 309 and
310 of the Revised Penal Code, then necessarily private respondents could not have committed
an act constituting a crime under Section 68. We disagree. For clarity, the provision of Section 68
of P.D. 705 before its amendment by E.O. 277 and the provision of Section 1 of E.O. No.277
amending the aforementioned Section 68 are reproduced herein, thus:
SECTION 68. Cutting, gathering and/or collecting timber or other products without license. Any person who shall cut , gather , collect , or remove timber or other forest products from any
forest land, or timber from alienable and disposable public lands, or from private lands, without
any authority under a license agreement, lease, license or permit, shall be guilty of qualified theft
as defined and punished under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code xxx.
(Underscoring ours; Section 68, P.D.705 before its amendment by E.O.277 )
SECTION 1. Section 68 of Presidential Decree No.705, as amended, is hereby amended to read
as follows:

Section 68. Cutting, gathering and/or collecting timber or other forest products without license. Any person who shall cut, gather, collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forest
land, or timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land, without any
authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required
under existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished with the penalties imposed under
Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code xxx." (Underscoring ours; Section 1, E.O No.
277 amending Section 68, P.D. 705 as amended)
With the introduction of Executive Order No. 277 amending Section 68 of P.D. 705, the act of
cutting, gathering, collecting, removing, or possessing forest products without authority
constitutes a distinct offense independent now from the crime of theft under Articles 309 and 310
of the Revised Penal Code, but the penalty to be imposed is that provided for under Article 309
and 310 of the Revised Penal Code. This is clear from the language of Executive Order No. 277
when it eliminated the phrase shall be guilty of qualified theft as defined and punished under
Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code and inserted the words shall be punished with
the penalties imposed under Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code . When the statute is
clear and explicit, there is hardly room for any extended court ratiocination or rationalization of
the law.[if !supportFootnotes][38][endif]
From the foregoing disquisition, it is clear that a suit for replevin can not be sustained against the
petitioners for the subject truck taken and retained by them for administrative forfeiture
proceedings in pursuant to Section 68-A of the P. D. 705, as amended. Dismissal of the replevin
suit for lack of cause of action in view of the private respondents failure to exhaust
administrative remedies should have been the proper course of action by the lower court instead
of assuming jurisdiction over the case and consequently issuing the writ ordering the return of
the truck. Exhaustion of the remedies in the administrative forum, being a condition precedent
prior to ones recourse to the courts and more importantly, being an element of private
respondents right of action, is too significant to be waylaid by the lower court.
It is worth stressing at this point, that a suit for replevin is founded solely on the claim that the
defendant wrongfully withholds the property sought to be recovered. It lies to recover possession
of personal chattels that are unlawfully detained.[if !supportFootnotes][39][endif] To detain is defined as to
mean to hold or keep in custody,[if !supportFootnotes][40][endif] and it has been held that there is tortuous
taking whenever there is an unlawful meddling with the property, or an exercise or claim of
dominion over it, without any pretense of authority or right; this, without manual seizing of the
property is sufficient.[if !supportFootnotes][41][endif] Under the Rules of Court, it is indispensable in
replevin proceedings, that the plaintiff must show by his own affidavit that he is entitled to the
possession of property, that the property is wrongfully detained by the defendant, alleging the
cause of detention, that the same has not been taken for tax assessment, or seized under
execution, or attachment, or if so seized, that it is exempt from such seizure, and the actual value
of the property.[if !supportFootnotes][42][endif] Private respondents miserably failed to convince this Court
that a wrongful detention of the subject truck obtains in the instant case. It should be noted that
the truck was seized by the petitioners because it was transporting forest products with out the
required permit of the DENR in manifest contravention of Section 68 of P.D. 705 as amended by
E.O 277. Section 68-A of P.D. 705, as amended, unquestionably warrants the confiscation as well
as the disposition by the Secretary of DENR or his duly authorized representatives of the

conveyances used in violating the provision of forestry laws. Evidently, the continued possession
or detention of the truck by the petitioners for administrative forfeiture proceeding is legally
permissible, hence , no wrongful detention exists in the case at bar.
Moreover, the suit for replevin is never intended as a procedural tool to question the orders of
confiscation and forfeiture issued by the DENR in pursuance to the authority given under P.D.
705, as amended. Section 8 of the said law is explicit that actions taken by the Director of the
Bureau of Forest Development concerning the enforcement of the provisions of the said law are
subject to review by the Secretary of DENR and that courts may not review the decisions of the
Secretary except through a special civil action for certiorari or prohibition. It reads :
SECTION 8 . REVIEW - All actions and decisions of the Director are subject to review, motu
propio or upon appeal of any person aggrieved thereby, by the Department Head whose decision
shall be final and executory after the lapse of thirty (30) days from the receipt of the aggrieved
party of said decision, unless appealed to the President in accordance with Executive Order No.
19, Series of 1966. The Decision of the Department Head may not be reviewed by the courts
except through a special civil action for certiorari or prohibition.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED; the Decision of the respondent Court of
Appeals dated October 16, 1991 and its Resolution dated July 14, 1992 are hereby SET ASIDE
AND REVERSED; the Restraining Order promulgated on September 27, 1993 is hereby made
permanent; and the Secretary of DENR is directed to resolve the controversy with utmost
dispatch.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 2869


March 25, 1907
MATEO CARIO, petitioner-appellant,
vs.
THE INSULAR GOVERNMENT, respondent-appellee.
Coudert Brothers for appellant.
Office of the Solicitor-General Araneta for appellee.
ARELLANO, C.J.:
Mateo Cario, the appellant herein, on the 23d of February, 1904, filed his petition in the Court
of Land Registration praying that there be granted to him title to a parcel of land consisting of 40
hectares, 1 are, and 13 centares, and situated in the town of Baguio, Province of Benguet,
together with a house erected thereon and constructed of wood and roofed with rimo, and
bounded as follows: On the north, in lines running 1,048 metes and 20 decimeters with the lands
of Sepa Cario, H. Phelps Whitmarsh, and Calsi; on the east, in lines running 991 meters and 50
decimeters with the land of Kuidno, Esteban Gonzales, and of the Civil Government; on the
south, in lines of 115 meters and 60 decimeters, with the lands of Talaca; and on the west, in
lines running 982 meters and 20 decimeters, with the lands of Sisco Cario and Mayengmeng.
By order of the court the hearing of this petition, No. 561, and that of Antonio Rebollo and
Vicente Valpiedad filed under No. 834, were heard together for the reason that the latter petition
claimed a small portion of land included in the parcel set out in the former petition.

The Insular Government opposed the granting of these petitions, alleging that the whole parcel of
land is public property of the Government and that the same was never acquired in any manner
or through any title of egresion from the State.
After trial, and the hearing of documentary and oral proof, the court of Land Registration
rendered its judgment in these terms:
Therefore the court finds that Cario and his predecessors have not possessed exclusively and
adversely any part of the said property prior to the date on which Cario constructed the house
now there that is to say, for the years 1897 and 1898, and Cario held possession for some
years afterwards of but a part of the property to which he claims title. Both petitions are
dismissed and the property in question is adjudged to be public land. (Bill of exceptions, p. 15.)
The conclusions arrived at the set forth in definite terms in the decision of the court below are the
following:
From the testimony given by Cario as well as from that of several of the witnesses for the
Government it is deduced, that in or about the year 1884 Cario erected and utilized as a
domicile a house on the property situated to the north of that property now in question, property
which, according to the plan attached to expediente No. 561, appears to be property belonging to
Donaldson Sim; that during the year 1893 Cario sold said house to one Cristobal Ramos, who
in turn sold the same to Donaldson Sim, moving to and living on the adjoining property, which
appears on the plan aforesaid to be the property of H. Phelps Whitmarsh, a place where the father
and the grandfather of his wife, that is to say, Ortega and Minse, had lived . . ..
In or about the years 1898 Cario abandoned the property of Whitmarsh and located on the
property described in the plan attached to expediente No. 561, having constructed a house
thereon in which he now lives, and which house is situated in the center of the property, as is
indicated on the plan; and since which time he has undoubtedly occupied some portion of the
property now claimed by him. (Bill of exceptions, pp. 11 and 12.)
1. Therefore it is evident that this court can not decree the registration of all of the superficial
extension of the land described in the petition and as appears on the plan filed herein, such
extension containing 40 hectares, 1 are, and 13 centares, inasmuch as the documentary evidence
accompanying the petition is conclusive proof against the petitioners; this documentary proof
consists of a possessory information under date of March 7, 1901, and registered on the 11th day
of the same month and year; and, according to such possessory information, the land therein
described contains an extension of only 28 hectares limited by "the country road to the barrio of
Pias," a road appearing on the plan now presented and cutting the land, as might be said, in half,
or running through its center from north to south, a considerable extension of land remaining on
the other side of the said road, the west side, and which could not have been included in the
possessory information mentioned.
2. As has been shown during the trial of this case, this land, of which mention is made in said
possessory information, and upon which is situated the house now actually occupied by the
petitioner, all of which is set forth as argument as to the possession in the judgment, is "used for
pasture and sowing," and belongs to the class called public lands.
3. Under the express provisions of law, a parcel of land, being of common origin, presumptively
belonged to the State during its sovereignty, and, in order to perfect the legitimate acquisition of
such land by private persons, it was necessary that the possession of the same pass from the

State. And there is no evidence or proof of title of egresion of this land from the domain of the
Spanish Government, nor is there any possessory information equivalent to title by composicion
or under agreement. 4, The possessory information filed herein is not the title to property
authorized in substitution for that of adjustment by the royal decree of February 13, 1894, this
being the last law or legal disposition of the former sovereignty applicable to the present subjectmatter of common lands: First, for the reason that the land referred to herein is not covered nor
does it come within any one of the three conditions required by article 19 of the said royal
decree, to wit, that the land has been in an uninterrupted state of cultivation during a period of six
years last past; or that the same has been possessed without interruption during a period of
twelve years and has been in a state of cultivation up to the date of the information and during
the three years immediately preceding such information; or that such land had been possessed
openly without interruption during a period of thirty or more years, notwithstanding the land had
not been cultivated; nor is it necessary to refer to the testimony given by the two witnesses to the
possessory information for the following reason: Second, because the possessory information
authorized by said royal decree or last legal disposition of the Spanish Government, as title or for
the purpose of acquiring actual proprietary right, equivalent to that of adjustment with the
Spanish Government and required and necessary at all times until the publication of said royal
decree was limited in time to one year, in accordance with article 21, which is as follows: " A
period of one year, not to be extended, is allowed to verify the possessory informations which are
referred to in articles 19 and 20. After the expiration of this period of the right of the cultivators
and persons in possession to obtain gratuitous title thereto lapses and the land together with full
possession reverts to the state, or, as the case may be, to the community, and the said possessors
and cultivators or their assigns would simply have rights under universal or general title of
average in the event that the land is sold within a period of five years immediately following the
cancellation. The possessors not included under this chapter can only acquire by time the
ownership and title to unappropriated or royal lands in accordance with common law."
5. In accordance with the preceding provisions, the right that remained to Cario, if it be certain
that he was the true possessor of the land in question, was the right of average in case the
Government or State could have sold the same within the period of five years immediately
following for example, if the denouncement of purchase had been carried out by Felipe Zafra or
any other person, as appears from the record of the trial of the case. Aside from this right, in such
event, his possession as attested in the possessory information herein could not, in accordance
with common law, go to show any right of ownership until after the expiration of twenty years
from the expiration of twenty years from the verification and registry of the same in conformity
with the provisions of article 393 of the Mortgage Law and other conditions prescribe by this
law.
6. The right of possession in accordance with common law that is to say, civil law remains
at all times subordinate to the Spanish administrative law, inasmuch as it could only be of force
when pertaining to royal transferable or alienable lands, which condition and the determination
thereof is reversed to the government, which classified and designated the royal alienable lands
for the purpose of distinguishing them from those lands strictly public, and from forestry lands
which could at no time pass to private ownership nor be acquired through time even after the
said royal decree of February 13, 1894.

7. The advent of the new sovereignty necessarily brought a new method of dealing with lands
and particularly as to the classification and manner of transfer and acquisition of royal or
common lands then appropriated, which were thenceforth merely called public lands, the
alienation of which was reserved to the Government, in accordance with section 12 and 13 of the
act of Congress of July 1, 1902,1 and in conformity with other laws enacted under this act of
Congress by the Philippine Commission prescribing rules for the execution thereof, one of which
is Act No. 648,2 herein mentioned by the petitioner, in connection with Act No. 627,3 which
appears to be the law upon which the petition herein is founded.
8. Section 6 of Act No. 627 admits prescription, in accordance with the provisions contained in
Act No. 190, as a basis for obtaining the right of ownership. "The petitioners claims title under
the period of prescription of ten years established by that act, as well as by reason of his
occupancy and use thereof from time immemorial." (Allegation 1.) But said act admits such
prescription for the purpose of obtaining title and ownership to lands "not exceeding more that
sixteen hectares in extent." (Sec. 6 of said act.) The land claimed by Cario is 40 hectares in
extent, if we take into consideration his petition, or an extension of 28 hectares, according to the
possessory information, the only thing that can be considered. Therefore, it follows that the
judgment denying the petition herein and now appealed from was strictly in accordance with the
law invoked herein.
9. And of the 28 hectares of land as set out in the possessory information, one part of same,
according to the testimony of Cario, belongs to Vicente Valpiedad, the extent of which is not
determined. From all of which it follows that the precise extent has not been determined in the
trial of this case on which judgment might be based in the event that the judgment and title be
declared in favor of the petitioner, Mateo Cario. And we should not lose sight of the fact that,
considering the intention of Congress in granting ownership and title to 16 hectares, that Mateo
Cario and his children have already exceeded such amount in various acquirements of lands, all
of which is shown in different cases decided by the said Court of Land Registration, donations or
gifts of land that could only have been made efficacious as to the conveyance thereof with the
assistance of these new laws.
By reason of the findings set forth it is clearly seen that the court below did not err:
1. In finding that Mateo Cario and those from whom he claims his right had not possessed and
claimed as owners the lands in question since time immemorial;
2. In finding that the land in question did not belong to the petitioner, but that, on the contrary, it
was the property of the Government. (Allegation 21.)
Wherefore, the judgment appealed from is affirmed with the costs of this instance against the
appellant. After the expiration of twenty days from the notification of this decision let judgment
be entered in accordance herewith, and ten days thereafter let the case be remanded to the court
from whence it came for proper action. So ordered.

G.R. No. 194239

June 16, 2015

WEST TOWER CONDOMINIUM CORPORATION, on behalf of the Residents of West


Tower Condominium and in representation of Barangay Bangkal, and others, including
minors and generations yet unborn, Petitioners,
vs.
FIRST PHILIPPINE INDUSTRIAL CORPORATION, FIRST GEN CORPORATION and
their RESPECTIVE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS, JOHN DOES, and
RICHARD DOES, Respondents.
DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J.:
Nature of the Case
Before the Court is the Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan filed following the leak in
the oil pipeline owned by First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC) in Makati City. The
Facts
Respondent FPI C operates two pipelines since 1969, viz: ( 1) the White Oil Pipeline (WOPL)
System, which covers a 117-kilometer stretch from Batangas to the Pandacan Terminal in Manila
and transports diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and kerosene; and (b) the Black Oil Pipeline (BOPL)
System which extends 105 kilometers and transports bunker fuel from Batangas to a depot in
Sucat, Paraaque. These systems transport nearly 60% of the petroleum requirements of Metro
Manila and parts of the provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, and Rizal.
The two pipelines were supposedly designed to provide more than double the standard safety
allowance against leakage, considering that they are made out of heavy duty steel that can
withstand more than twice the current operating pressure and are buried at a minimum depth of
1.5 meters, which is deeper than the US Department of Transportation standard of 0.9 meters. In
May 2010, however, a leakage from one of the pipelines was suspected after the residents of
West Tower Condominium (West Tower) started to smell gas within the condominium. A search
made on July 10, 2010 within the condominium premises led to the discovery of a fuel leak from
the wall of its Basement 2. Owing to its inability to control the flow, West Tower's management
reported the matter to the Police Department of Makati City, which in turn called the city's
Bureau of Fire Protection.
What started as a two-drum leak at the initial stages became a 15-20 drum a day affair.
Eventually, the sump pit of the condominium was ordered shut down by the City of Makati to
prevent the discharge of contaminated water into the drainage system of Barangay Bangkal.
Eventually, the fumes compelled the residents of West Tower to abandon their respective units on
July 23, 2010 and the condo's power was shut down.
Petitioner FPIC initially disowned any leak from its oil pipeline. Thus, the residents of West
Tower shouldered the expenses of hauling the waste water from its basement, which eventually
required the setting up of a treatment plant in the area to separate fuel from the waste water. On
October 28, 2010, the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Geological Sciences
(UP-NIGS), which the City of Makati invited to determine the source of the fuel, found a leak in
FPIC's WOPL about 86 meters from West Tower.
A day after, or on October 29, 2010, FPIC admitted that indeed the source of the fuel leak is the
WOPL, which was already closed since October 24, 2010, but denied liability by placing blame
on the construction activities on the roads surrounding West Tower.

On November 15, 2010, West Tower Condominium Corporation (West Tower Corp.) interposed
the present Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan on behalf of the residents of West
Tower and in representation of the surrounding communities in Barangay Bangkal, Makati City.
West Tower Corp. also alleged that it is joined by the civil society and several people's
organizations, non-governmental organizations and public interest groups who have expressed
their intent to join the suit because of the magnitude of the environmental issues involved.1
In their petition, petitioners prayed that respondents FPIC and its board of directors and officers,
and First Gen Corporation (FGC) and its board of directors and officers be directed to: (1)
permanently cease and desist from committing acts of negligence in the performance of their
functions as a common carrier; (2) continue to check the structural integrity of the whole 117kilometer pipeline and to replace the same; (3) make periodic reports on their findings with
regard to the 117-kilometer pipeline and their replacement of the same; (4) rehabilitate and
restore the environment, especially Barangay Bangkal and West Tower, at least to what it was
before the signs of the leak became manifest; and (5) to open a special trust fund to answer for
similar and future contingencies in the future. Furthermore, petitioners pray that respondents be
prohibited from opening the pipeline and allowing the use thereof until the same has been
thoroughly checked and replaced, and be temporarily restrained from operating the pipeline until
the final resolution of the case.
To bolster their petition, petitioners argued that FPIC's omission or failure to timely replace. its
pipelines and to observe extraordinary diligence caused the petroleum spill in the City of Makati.
Thus, for petitioners, the continued use of the now 4 7-year old pipeline would not only be a
hazard or a threat to the lives, health, and property of those who live or sojourn in all the
municipalities in which the pipeline is laid, but would also affect the rights of the generations yet
unborn to live in a balanced and "healthful ecology," guaranteed under Section 16, Article II of
the 1987 Constitution.
On November 19, 2010, the Court issued the Writ of Kalikasan2 with a Temporary
Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) requiring respondents FPIC, FGC, and the members of
their Boards of Directors to file their respective verified returns. The TEPO enjoined FPIC and
FGC to: (a) cease and desist from operating the WOPL until further orders; (b) check the
structural integrity of the whole span of the 11 7-kilometer WOPL while implementing sufficient
measures to prevent and avert any untoward incident that may result from any leak of the
pipeline; and ( c) make a report thereon within 60 days from receipt thereof.
In compliance with the writ, FPIC directors Edgar Chua, Dennis Javier, Dennis Gamab and
Willie Sarmiento submitted a Joint Return3 praying for the dismissal of the petition and the
denial of the privilege of the Writ of Kalikasan. They alleged that: petitioners had no legal
capacity to institute the petition; there is no allegation that the environmental damage affected
the inhabitants of two (2) or more cities or provinces; and the continued operation of the pipeline
should be allowed in the interest of maintaining adequate petroleum supply to the public.
Respondents FPIC and its directors and officers, other than the aforementioned four ( 4)
directors, also filed a Verified Return4 claiming that not all requirements for the issuance of the
Writ of Kalikasan are present and there is no showing that West Tower Corp. was authorized by
all those it claimed to represent. They further averred that the petition contains no allegation that

respondents FPIC directors and officers acted in such a manner as to allow the piercing of the
corporate veil.
Meanwhile, on January 18, 201-1, FGC and the members of its Board of Directors and Officers
filed a Joint Compliance5 submitting the report required by the Writ of Kalikasan/TEPO. They
contended that they neither own nor operate the pipelines, adding that it is impossible for them to
report on the structural integrity of the pipelines, much less to cease and desist from operating
them as they have no capability, power, control or responsibility over the pipelines. They, thus,
prayed that the directives of the Writ of Kalikasan/TEPO be considered as sufficiently
performed, as to them.
On January 21, 2011, FPIC, in compliance with the writ, submitted its 4-page "Report on
Pipeline Integrity Check and Preventive Maintenance Program."6 In gist, FPIC reported the
following: (I) For the structural integrity of the 117-kilometer pipeline, (a) the DOE engaged the
services of UP-NIGS to do borehole testing on 81 pre-identified critical areas of the WQPL in
eight cities and municipalities-all the boreholes showed negative presence of petroleum vapors;
(b) pressure tests were conducted after the repair of the leak and results showed negative leaks
and the DOE's pipeline expert, Societe General de Surveillance, New Zealand, has developed a
pressure test protocol requiring a 24-hour operation of running a scraper pig through the pipeline
to eliminate air gap; (c) In-Line Inspection Test, was conducted by NDT through MFL and
ultrasonic. The NDT later cleared the WOPL from any damage or corrosion.
(II) For preventive maintenance measures, (a) Cathodic Protection Systems are installed
involving the use of anode materials and the introduction of electric current in the pipeline to
enhance prevention of corrosion; (b) Regular Scraper Runs through the pipeline to maintain
cleanliness and integrity of the pipelines' internal surface; (c) Daily Patrols every two hours of
the pipeline route to deter unauthorized diggings in the vicinity of the pipeline segments; ( d)
Regular coordination meetings with DPWH, MMDA and utility companies to monitor projects
that might involve digging or excavation in the vicinity of the pipeline segments; (e) Installation
of Security Warning Signs along the pipeline route with toll free number which can be called in
the event of an accident or emergency; (f) Emergency Response Procedure of the ERT is
activated by a call-out procedure; (g) Maintenance of Emergency Equipment and Repair Kit
which are always on standby; and, (h) Remotely controlled Isolation Valves are in place to shut
the pipeline when necessary.
On February 9, 2011, petitioners filed, and the Court eventually granted, their Motion to Set the
Case for Preliminary Conference and Hearing7 pursuant to Sec. 11, Rule 7 of the Rules of
Procedure for Environmental Cases.
On April 15, 2011, the Court conducted an ocular inspection of the WOPL in the vicinity of West
Tower to determine the veracity of the claim that there were two (2) additional leaks on FPIC's
pipeline. Results of the ocular inspection belied the claim.
In the meantime, petitioners also filed civil and criminal complaints against respondents arising
from the same incident or leakage from the WOPL.8
Since after the Court's issuance of the Writ of Kalikasan and the TEPO on November 19, 2010,
FPIC has ceased operations on both the WOPL and the BOPL. On May 31, 2011, however, the
Court, answering a query of the DOE, clarified and confirmed that what is covered by the Writ of

Kalikasan and TEPO is only the WOPL System of FPIC; thus, FPIC can resume operation of its
BOPL System.9
On July 7, 2011, petitioners filed an Omnibus Motion10 assailing the Court's May 31, 2011
Resolution, praying for the conduct of oral argument on the issue of reopening the BOPL
System. This was followed, on September 9, 2011, by a Manifestation (Re: Current
Developments) with Omnibus Motion11 wherein petitioners invoked the precautionary principle12
and asserted that the possibility of a leak in the BOPL System leading to catastrophic
environmental damage is enough reason to order the closure of its operation. They likewise
alleged that the entities contracted by FPIC to clean and remediate the environment are illegally
discharging waste water, which had not undergone proper treatment, into the Paraaque River.
Petitioners, thus, prayed that respondents be directed to comply with environmental laws in
rehabilitating the surroundings affected by the oil leak and to submit a copy of their work plan
and monthly reports on the progress thereof. To these omnibus motions, respondents were
directed to file their respective comments.
On September 28, 2011, respondent FPIC filed an Urgent Motion for Leave (To Undertake
"Bangkal Realignment" Project)13 in order to reduce stress on the WOPL System. FPIC sought to
construct a new realigned segment to replace the old pipe segment under the Magallanes
Interchange, which covers the portion that leaked. Petitioners were directed to file their comment
on FPIC's motion.
Report and Recommendation of the Court of Appeals
To expedite the resolution of the controversy, the Court remanded the case to the Court of
Appeals (CA). By this Court's Resolution dated November 22, 2011,14 the appellate court was
required to conduct hearings and, thereafter, submit a report and recommendation within 30 days
after the receipt of the parties' memoranda.
On March 21, 2012, the preliminary conference was continued before the CA wherein the parties
made admissions and stipulations of facts and defined the issues for resolution. In view of the
technical nature of the case, the CA also appointed15 several amici curiae,16 but only four (4)
filed their reports.17
On December 26, 2012, the CA Former 11th Division submitted to the Court its well-crafted and
exhaustive 156-page Report and Recommendation18 dated December 21, 2012 (CA Report).
Some highlights of the Report:
1. Anent petitioners' June 28, 2011 Omnibus Motion assailing the reopening of the BOPL
System, the CA directed respondent FPIC to submit the appropriate certification from the DOE
as to the safe commercial operation of the BOPL; otherwise, the operation of the BOPL must
also be enjoined.
2. On petitioners' September 9, 2011 Manifestation (Re: Current Developments) with Omnibus
Motion, the CA directed the Inter-Agency Committee on Health to submit its evaluation of the
remediation plan prepared by CH2M Hill Philippines, Inc. for FPIC. Further, the appellate court
directed FPIC to strictly comply with the stipulations contained in the permits issued by the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for its remediation activities in
Barangay Bangkal, Makati City. The DENR was in turn directed by the CA to:
(a) monitor compliance by respondent FPIC with applicable environmental laws and regulations
and conditions set forth in the permits issued;

(b) conduct independent analysis of end-products of the Multi-Phase Extraction System;


(c) conduct regular consultative meetings with the City of Makati, residents of Barangay Bangkal
and other stakeholders concerning the remediation activities; and,
(d) evaluate the viability of the recommendation of amicus Dr. Benjamin R. De Jesus, Jr. to
include the use of surfactants and oxygen-releasing compounds (ORCs) in the middle and
terminal portions of the remediation plan.
3. Respondent's September 27, 2011 Urgent Motion for Leave (To Undertake "Bangkal
Realignment" Project) was denied.
4. With regard to the March 29, 2012 Supplemental Manifestation (Re: List of Amici Curiae and
Recent Possible Leak in the Pipeline) filed by petitioners, the CA found that the existence of
another possible leak alleged by petitioners was not established. Nonetheless, to prevent such
event, the CA ordered FPIC to: (i) review, adopt and strictly observe appropriate safety and
precautionary measures; (ii) closely monitor the conduct of its maintenance and repair works;
and (iii) submit to the DOE regular monthly reports on the structural integrity and safe
commercial operation of the pipeline.
5. As to the merits of the case, the CA submitted the following recommendations:
(a) That the people's organizations, non-governmental organizations, and public interest groups
that indicated their intention to join the petition and submitted proof of juridical personality
(namely: the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines; Kilusang Makabansang
Ekonomiya, Inc.; Women's Business Council of the Philippines, Inc.; Junior Chambers
International Philippines, Inc. - San Juan Chapter; Zonta Club of Makati Ayala Foundations; and
the Consolidated Mansions Condominium Corporation) be allowed to be formally impleaded as
petitioners.
(b) That respondent FPIC be ordered to submit a certification from the DOE Secretary that the
WOPL is already safe for commercial operation. The certification should take into consideration
the adoption by FPIC of the appropriate leak detection system to be used in monitoring the entire
pipeline's mass input versus mass output. The certification must also consider the necessity of
replacing the pipes with existing patches and sleeves. In case of failure of respondent FPIC to
submit the required certification from the DOE Secretary within sixty (60) days from notice of
the Honorable Supreme Court's approval of this recommendation, the TEPO must be made
permanent.
(c) That petitioners' prayer for the creation of a special trust fund to answer for similar
contingencies in the future be denied for lack of sufficient basis.
d) That respondent FGC be not held solidarily liable under the TEPO.
(e) That without prejudice to the outcome of the civil and criminal cases filed against
respondents, the individual directors and officers of FPIC and FGC be not held liable in their
individual capacities.
On January 11, 2013, petitioners filed their Motion for Partial Reconsideration19 of the CA's
Report praying that (a) instead of the DOE, the required certification should be issued by the
DOST-Metal Industry Research and Development Center; (b) a trust fund be created to answer
for future contingencies; and ( c) the directors and officers of FPIC and FGC be held
accountable.

On January 25, 2013, FPIC filed its Compliance (Re: Department of Energy Certification on the
Black Oil Pipeline)20 and submitted the required DOE Certification21 issued on January 22, 2013
by DOE Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla (Secretary Petilla). On March 14, 2013, petitioners
countered with a Manifestation with Motion22 asserting that FPIC's certification is not compliant
with the CA's requirement. Hence, petitioners moved that the certification should be disregarded,
the 30-day period be deemed to have lapsed, and FPIC be permanently enjoined from operating
the BOPL.
On July 30, 2013, the Court issued a Resolution adopting the recommendation of the CA in its
Report and Recommendation that FPIC be ordered to secure a certification from the DOE
Secretary before the WOPL may resume its operations. The pertinent portion of said Resolution
reads:
[FPIC] is hereby ORDERED to submit a certification from the DOE Secretary that the pipeline
is already safe for commercial operation. The certification should take into consideration the
adoption by FPIC of the appropriate leak detection system to be used in monitoring the entire
pipeline's mass input versus mass output. The certification must also consider the necessity of
replacing the pipes with existing patches and sleeves x x x.23
The DOE Secretary is DIRECTED to consult the [DOST] regarding the adoption of the
appropriate leak detection system and the necessity of replacing the pipes with existing patches
and sleeves.
On October 2, 2013, petitioners, in a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Clarification,
emphasized that the CA found FPIC's tests and maintenance program to be insufficient and
inconclusive to establish the WOPL' s structural integrity for continued commercial operation.24
Furthermore, petitioners point out that the DOE is biased and incapable of determining the
WOPL's structural integrity.
Respondents, for their part, maintain that the DOE has the technical competence and expertise to
assess the structural integrity of the WOPL and to certify the system's safety for commercial
operation.25 Respondents further allege that the DOE is the agency empowered to regulate the
transportation and distribution of petroleum products, and to regulate and monitor downstream
oil industry activities, including "product distribution" through pipelines.26
In compliance with the Court's July 30, 2013 Resolution, the DOE Secretary issued on October
25, 2013 a Certification,27 attesting that the WOPL is safe to resume commercial operations,
subject to monitoring or inspection requirements, and imposing several conditions that FPIC
must comply with. The Certification, in its entirety, reads:
This is to certify that based on the Pipeline Integrity Management Systems (PIMS) being
implemented by [FPIC] for its [WOPL] facility, the same is safe to resume commercial
operations. This certification is being issued after consultation with the [DOST] and on the basis
of the following considerations, to wit:
1. DOE noted the adoption by FPIC of the appropriate leak detection system to be used in
monitoring the pipeline's mass input versus mass output, as well as the other measures of leak
detection and prevention adopted by the latter;
2. DOE further noted that FPIC has already undertaken realignment and reinforcement works on
the current pipeline to remove majority of the patches. FPIC has likewise presented substantial

and adequate documentation showing that the remaining patches and sleeves are safe, and that
the use of such is recognized by the industry and complies with existing standards;
3. DOE finally noted the results of various tests and inspections done on the pipeline as indicated
in the Manifestation submitted by ,the DOE on March 31, 2012, in the civil case docketed as CA
GR SP No. 00008 and entitled West Tower Condominium, et al. [v.] First Philippine Industrial
Corporation, et al.
This certification is being issued subject to the condition that FPIC will submit itself to regular
monitoring and validation by the Oil Industry Management Bureau (OIMB) of the
implementation of its PIMS, particularly on the following: (a) mass or volume input versus mass
or volume output loss/gain accounting; (b) results of borehole monitoring, (c) inspection of the
pipeline cathodic protection and (d) pressure test.
Further, FPIC shall submit itself to any test or inspection that the DOE and DOST may deem
appropriate for purposes of monitoring the operations of the WOPL facility.
The Court is fully cognizant of the WOPL' s value in commerce and the adverse effects of a
prolonged closure thereof. Nevertheless, there is a need to balance the necessity of the immediate
reopening of the WOPL with the more important need to ensure that it is sound for continued
operation, since the substances it carries pose a significant hazard to the surrounding population
and to the environment.28 A cursory review of the most recent oil pipeline tragedies around the
world will readily show that extreme caution should be exercised in the monitoring and operation
of these common carriers:
(1) On August 1, 2014, a series of powerful explosions from underground pipeline systems
ripped up the streets of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, killing at least 28 people and injuring 299 more.
Further, 23 ,600, 2,268 and 6,000 households were left without gas, power and water,
respectively, in the 2-3 square kilometer blast area.29
(2) On November 22, 2013, an oil pipeline leaked, caught fire, and exploded in Qingdao,
Shangdao Province in China, killing 55 people and injuring more than a hundred more.30
(3) On September 14, 2011, a fuel pipeline exploded in Kenya's capital city, Nairobi, reducing
bodies to dust and flattening homes. At least 7 5 people died in the explosion, while more than a
hundred people were injured.31
(4) In September 2010, a natural gas pipeline ruptured and set off a fireball, killing eight (8)
people and leveling 3 8 homes in San Bruno, California in the United States.32
(5) On July 30, 2004, a rupture of an underground natural gas pipeline buried six (6) meters in
Ghislenghien, Belgium resulted in 24 deaths and over 120 injuries.33
On April 29 and 30, 2014, the DOE organized a dialogue between said government agencies and
the FPIC. There it was stated that during the dialogue, "the division heads and a high profile
team from FPIC, both from operation and management made presentations and answered
questions on pipeline pumping operation and product delivery, and a detailed explanation of the
FPIC PIMS' control measures, condition monitoring measures, and emergency measures, as well
as its various activities and projects implemented since 2010 such as pipeline replacement and
realignment in Pandacan and Bangkal, inspection and reinforcement of all patches in the WOPL,
inspection and reinforcement of a number of reported dents in the WOPL, conduct of successful
leak tests, and installation of boreholes that are gas-tested on a weekly basis, and the safety
systems that go with the daily pipeline operation and maintenance and project execution."34

On August 5, 2014, Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla of the DOE submitted a letter35
recommending activities and timetable for the resumption of the WOPL operations, to wit:
A. Preparatory to the Test Run
I. FPIC Tasks:
a. Continue submission of monitoring charts, data/reading, accomplishment reports, and project
status for all related activities/works. Respond to comments and prepare for site inspection.
b. Continue gas testing along the right-of-way using the monitoring wells or boreholes. Prepare
for inspection of right-of-way and observation of gas testing activities on monitoring wells and
boreholes.
c. Expound on the selection of borehole location. For example, identify those located in pipeline
bends, bodies of water, residential areas, repaired portions of the pipelines, dents and welded
joints.
d. Continue submitting status report relating to "Project Mojica" (an ongoing pipeline segment
realignment activity undertaken by FPIC to give way to a flood control project of MMDA in the
vicinity of Mojica St. and Pres. Osmea Highway in Makati City). Prepare for site inspection.
II. Inter-agency undertaking:
a. Conduct onsite inspection of right-of-way
b. Review/check remaining 22 patches that were already inspected and reinforced with
Clockspring sleeves.
i. Determine location of sleeves.
ii. Review of procedures on repair of sleeves.
iii. Random visual inspection of areas easily accessible.
c. Cathodic protection's onsite inspection on rectifier to check readings
i. Old readings
ii. Current Readings
iii. Segment covered
iv. Criteria for prioritization for corrective action
d. Observe and witness the running/operation of the cleaning pig.
e. Check and validate all calibration certificate of instruments
i. Instrument verification and calibration.
B. Actual Test Run (to be undertaken both by FPIC and inter-agency)
a. Perform Cleaning Pig Run
i. Witness launching and receiving of the cleaning pig.
ii. Handling of the residuals after cleaning.
b. Demonstrate Various Pressure Tests (already being conducted by FPIC)
i. Blocked-in pressure test (Leak Test, not in operation)
ii. In-operation (hourly reading)
c. Continue Current Gas Monitoring (boreholes)
i. Ocular inspection of selected areas
d. Demonstrate mass or volume balance computation during WOPL test run (already being
implemented in the BOPL)
i. 30 days baseline data generation
ii. 30 days computational analysis and monitoring

C. Commissioning or Return to Commercial Operation


I. FPIC Tasks:
a. Continue implementation of the PIMS. Review recommendations from DOE.
b. Continue monthly reporting of operations and maintenance activities with DOE.
c. Continue reporting and coordination with DOE and other government agencies for
implementation of projects.36
Secretary Petilla also recounted to the Court in his August 5, 2014 letter that the DOE, together
with the DPWH and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), observed the
different milestones of the realignment project being undertaken by FPIC in support of the
MMDA Flood Control Project and stated that the new line segment as laid was coated with
corrosion protection prior to the backfilling of the excavated portion.
On February 3, 2015, the Court required the parties to submit their comment on Sec. Petilla's
letter within ten (10) days from receipt of the Resolution. On various dates, respondents First
Gen Corporation, FPIC, and petitioner West Tower filed their respective comments37 in
compliance with the Court's resolution. The intervenors were unable to comply with the Court's
directive; hence, they are deemed to have waived their right to file their respective comments.
The Issues
Having received the October 25, 2013 Certification and the August 5, 2014 Letter from the DOE
on the state of the WOPL, as well as the parties' comments thereon, the following issues defined
by the parties during the March 21, 2012 preliminary conference are now ripe for adjudication:
1. Whether petitioner West Tower Corp. has the legal capacity to represent the other petitioners
and whether the other petitioners, apart from the residents of West Tower and Barangay Bangkal,
are real parties-in-interest;
2. Whether a Permanent Environmental Protection Order should be issued to direct the
respondents to perform or to desist from performing acts in order to protect, preserve, and
rehabilitate the affected environment;
3. Whether a special trust fund should be opened by respondents to answer for future similar
contingencies; and
4. Whether FGC and the directors and officers of respondents FPIC and FGC may be held liable
under the environmental protection order.38
The Court's Ruling
We adopt, with modifications, the recommendations of the CA and discuss the foregoing issues
in seriatim.
I.
Petitioners as Real Parties-in-Interest
On the procedural aspect, We agree with the CA that petitioners who are affected residents of
West Tower and Barangay Bangkal have the requisite concern to be real parties-in-interest to
pursue the instant petition.
Residents of West Tower and Barangay Bangkal
As defined, a real party-in-interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the
judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.39 Generally, every action must
be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real parties-in-interest.40 In other words, the action

must be brought by the person who, by substantive law, possesses the right sought to be
enforced.41 Alternatively, one who has no right or interest to protect cannot invoke the
jurisdiction of the court as party-plaintiff-in-action for it is jurisprudentially ordained that every
action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party-in-interest.42
In the case at bar, there can be no quibble that the oil leak from the WOPL affected all the
condominium unit owners and residents of West Tower as, in fact, all had to evacuate their units
at the wee hours in the morning of July 23, 2010, when the condominium's electrical power was
shut down. Until now, the unit owners and residents of West Tower could still not return to their
condominium units. Thus, there is no gainsaying that the residents of West Tower are real
parties-in-interest.
There can also be no denying that West Tower Corp. represents the common interest of its unit
owners and residents, and has the legal standing to file and pursue the instant petition. While a
condominium corporation has limited powers under RA 4 726, otherwise known as The
Condominium Act,43 it is empowered to pursue actions in behalf of its members. In the instant
case, the condominium corporation .is the management body of West Tower and deals with
everything that may affect some or all of the condominium unit owners or users.
It is of no moment that only five residents of West Tower signed their acquiescence to the filing
of the petition for the issuance of the Writ of Kalikasan, as the merits of such petition is, as aptly
put by the CA, not measured by the number of persons who signified their assent thereto, but on
the existence of a prima facie case of a massive environmental disaster.
Moreover, the fact that no board resolution was submitted by West Tower Corp. authorizing
Manuel Dy Chuaunsu, Jr. to sign the Verification and Certification of Non-forum Shopping is
irrelevant. The records show that petitioners submitted a notarized Secretary's Certificate44
attesting that the authority of Chuaunsu to represent the condominium corporation in filing the
petition is from the resolution of the total membership of West Tower Corp. issued during their
November 9, 2010 meeting with the requisite quorum. It is, thus, clear that it was not the Board
of West Tower Corp. which granted Chuaunsu the authority but the full membership of the
condominium corporation itself.
As to the residents of Barangay Bangkal, they are similarly situated with the unit owners and
residents of West Tower and are real parties-in-interest to the instant case, i.e., if they so wish to
join the petitioners.
Organizations that indicated their intention to join the petition
and submitted proof of juridical personality
Anent the propriety of including the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, Kilusang
Makabansang Ekonomiya, Inc., Women's Business Council of the Philippines, Inc., Junior
Chambers International Philippines, Inc. - San Juan Chapter, Zonta Club of Makati Ayala
Foundations, and the Consolidated Mansions Condominium Corporation, as petitioners in the
case, the Court already granted their intervention in the present controversy in the adverted July
30, 2013 Resolution.
This is so considering that the filing of a petition for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan under
Sec. 1, Rule 745 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases does not require that a
petitioner be directly affected by an environmental disaster. The rule clearly allows juridical

persons to file the petition on behalf of persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and
healthful ecology is violated, or threatened with violation.
Thus, as parties to the case, they are entitled to be furnished copies of all the submissions to the
Court, including the periodic reports of FPIC and the results of the evaluations and tests
conducted on the WOPL.
Having disposed of the procedural issue, We proceed to the bone of contention in the pending
motions. Suffice it to state in the outset that as regards the substantive issues presented, the
Court, likewise, concurs with the other recommendations of the CA, with a few modifications.
II.
Propriety of Converting the TEPO to PEPO or its Lifting in light of the
DOE Certification of the WOPL's Commercial Viability
To recall, petitioners' persistent plea is for the conversion of the November 19, 2010 TEPO into a
Permanent Environmental Protection Order (PEPO) pursuant to Sec. 3,46 Rule 5 of the Rules of
Procedure for Environmental Cases. For its part, respondent FPIC asserts that regular testing, as
well as the measures that are already in place, will sufficiently address any concern of oil leaks
from the WOPL.
With respect to leak detection, FPIC claims that it has in place the following systems: (a) regular
cleaning scraper runs, which are done quarterly; (b) pipeline integrity gauge (PIG) tests/
Intelligent PIG, now known as in-line inspections (ILI), which is done every five years; (c)
pressure monitoring valves; and ( d) 24-hour patrols. Additionally, FPIC asserted that it also
undertook the following: (a) monitoring of wells and borehole testing/vapor tests; (b) leak
tightness test, also known as segment pressure test; (c) pressure-controlled test; (d) inspection
and reinforcement of patches; (e) inspection and reinforcement of dents; and (f) Pandacan
segment replacement.47 Furthermore, in August 2010, with the oil leak hogging the headlines,
FPIC hired NDT Middle East FZE (NDT) to conduct ILI inspections through magnetic flux
leakage (MFL) and ultrasonic tests to, respectively, detect wall thinning of the pipeline and check
it for cracks.
The CA, however, observed that all of these tests and measures are inconclusive and insufficient
for purposes of leak detection and pipeline integrity maintenance. Hence, considering the
necessary caution and level of assurance required to ensure that the WOPL system is free from
leaks and is safe for commercial operation, the CA recommended that FPIC obtain from the DOE
a certification that the WOPL is already safe for commercial operation. This certification,
according to the CA, was to be issued with due consideration of the adoption by FPIC of the
appropriate leak detection systems to monitor sufficiently the entire WOPL and the need to
replace portions of the pipes with existing patches and sleeves. Sans the required certification,
use of the WOPL shall remain abated.
The Court found this recommendation of the appellate court proper. Hence, We required FPIC to
obtain the adverted DOE Certification in Our July 30, 2013 Resolution. We deemed it proper to
require said certification from the DOE considering that the core issue of this case requires the
specialized knowledge and special expertise of the DOE and various other administrative
agencies. On October 25, 2013, the DOE submitted the certification pursuant to the July 30,
2013 Resolution of the Court. Later, however, on August 5, 2014, DOE Secretary Carlos Jericho
I. Petilla submitted a letter recommending certain activities and the timetable for the resumption

of the WOPL operations after conducting a dialogue between the concerned government
agencies and FPIC.
After a perusal of the recommendations of the DOE and the submissions of the parties, the Court
adopts the activities and measures prescribed in the DOE letter dated August 5, 2014 to be
complied with by FPIC as conditions for the resumption of the commercial operations of the
WOPL. The DOE should, therefore, proceed with the implementation of the tests proposed in the
said August 5, 2014 letter. Thereafter, if it is satisfied that the results warrant the immediate
reopening of the WOPL, the DOE shall issue an order allowing FPIC to resume the operation of
the WOPL. On the other hand, should the probe result in a finding that the pipeline is no longer
safe for continued use and that its condition is irremediable, or that it already exceeded its
serviceable life, among others, the closure of the WOPL may be ordered.
The DOE is specially equipped to consider FPIC's proper implementation and compliance with
its PIMS and to evaluate the result of the various tests conducted on the pipeline. The DOE is
empowered by Sec. 12(b)(l), RA 7638 to formulate and implement policies for the efficient and
economical "distribution, transportation, and storage of petroleum, coal, natural gas."48 Thus, it
cannot be gainsaid that the DOE possesses technical knowledge and special expertise with
respect to practices in the transportation of oil through pipelines.
Moreover, it is notable that the DOE did not only limit itself to the knowledge and proficiency
available within its offices, it has also rallied around the assistance of pertinent bureaus of the
other administrative agencies: the ITDI49 of the DOST, which is mandated to undertake technical
services including standards, analytical and calibration services; the MIRDC,50 also of the DOST,
which is the sole government entity directly supporting the metals and engineering industry;51
the EMB52 of the DENR, the agency mandated to implement, among others, RA 6969 (Toxic
Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990) and RA 9275 (Philippine
Clean Water Act of 2004); and the BOD of the DPWH, which is mandated to conduct, supervise,
and review the technical design aspects of projects of government agencies.53
The specialized knowledge and expertise of the foregoing agencies must, therefore, be availed of
to arrive at a judicious decision on the propriety of allowing the immediate resumption of the
WOPL's operation. In a host of cases, this Court held that when the adjudication of a controversy
requires the resolution of issues within the expertise of an administrative body, such issues must
be investigated and resolved by the administrative body equipped with the specialized
knowledge and the technical expertise.54 Hence, the courts, although they may have jurisdiction
and power to decide cases, can utilize the findings and recommendations of the administrative
agency on questions that demand "the exercise of sound administrative discretion requiring the
special knowledge, experience, and services of the administrative tribunal to determine technical
and intricate matters of fact."55
Justice Leonen, in his dissent, is of the view that the petition should be denied and the TEPO
immediately lifted in light of the DOE's issuance of a certification attesting to the safety of the
WOPL for continued commercial operations, thereby rendering the instant petition moot and
academic, seeking, as it does, the checking of the pipeline's structural integrity. According to his
dissent, the writ of kalikasan issued by the Court has already served its functions and, therefore,
is functus officio. Moreover, he argues that directing the DOE and FPIC to repeat their previous
procedures is tantamount to doubting the agency's performance of its statutorily-mandated tasks,

over which they have the necessary expertise, and implies that said DOE certification is
improper, a breach, allegedly, of the principle of separation of powers.
He also contends that the majority ordered the repetition of the procedures and tests already
conducted on the WOPL because of the fear and uncertainty on its safeness despite the finding of
the DOE in favor of its reopening, taking into consideration the occurrence of numerous pipeline
incidents worldwide. The dissent argues that the precautionary principle should not be so strictly
applied as to unjustifiably deprive the public of the benefits of the activity to be inhibited, and to
unduly create other risks.
The dissent's contentions that the case is already moot and academic, that the writ of kalikasan
has already served its function, and that the delay in the lifting of the TEPO may do more harm
than good are anchored on the mistaken premise that the precautionary principle was applied in
order to justify the order to the DOE and the FPIC for the conduct of the various tests anew. The
following reasons easily debunk these arguments:
1. The precautionary principle is not applicable to the instant case;
2. The DOE certification is not an absolute attestation as to the WOPL's structural integrity and
in fact imposes several conditions for FPIC's compliance;
3. The DOE itself, in consultation with FPIC and the other concerned agencies, proposed the
activities to be conducted preparatory to the reopening of the pipeline; and
4 . There are no conclusive findings yet on the WOPL's structural integrity.
Section 1, Rule 20 of A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC or the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases,
on the Precautionary Principle, provides that "[ w ]hen there is lack of full scientific certainty in
establishing a causal link between human activity and environmental effect, the court shall apply
the precautionary principle in resolving the case before it."
According to the dissent, the directive for the repetition of the tests is based on speculations,
justified by the application of said principle. This, however, is not the case. Nowhere did We
apply the precautionary principle in deciding the issue on the WOPL's structural integrity.
The precautionary principle only applies when the link between the cause, that is the human
activity sought to be inhibited, and the effect, that is the damage to the environment, cannot be
established with full scientific certainty. Here, however, such absence of a link is not an issue.
Detecting the existence of a leak or the presence of defects in the WOPL, which is the issue in
the case at bar, is different from determining whether the spillage of hazardous materials into the
surroundings will cause environmental damage or will harm human health or that of other
organisms. As a matter of fact, the petroleum leak and the harm that it caused to the environment
and to the residents of the affected areas is not even questioned by FPIC.
It must be stressed that what is in issue in the instant petition is the WOPL's compliance with
pipeline structure standards so as to make it fit for its purpose, a question of fact that is to be
determined on the basis of the evidence presented by the parties on the WOPL's actual state.
Hence, Our consideration of the numerous findings and recommendations of the CA, the DOE,
and the amici curiae on the WOPL' s present structure, and not the cited pipeline incidents as the
dissent propounds.
Consider also the fact that it is the DOE itself that imposed several conditions upon FPIC for the
resumption of the operations of the WOPL. This, coupled with the submission by the DOE of its
proposed activities and timetable, is a clear and unequivocal message coming from the DOE that

the WOPL's soundness for resumption of and continued commercial operations is not yet fully
determined. And it is only after an extensive determination by the DOE of the pipeline's actual
physical state through its proposed activities, and not merely through a short-form integrity audit,
56 that the factual issue on the WOPL's viability can be settled. The issue, therefore, on the
pipeline's structural integrity has not yet been rendered moot and remains to be subject to this
Court's resolution. Consequently, We cannot say that the DOE's issuance of the certification
adverted to equates to the writ of kalikasan being functus officio at this point.
The dissent is correct in emphasizing that We defer to the findings of fact of administrative
agencies considering their specialized knowledge in their field. And We, as a matter of fact,
acceded to the DOE' s conclusions on the necessity of the conduct of the various activities and
tests enumerated in Sec. Petilla's letter to this Court dated August 5, 2014. Hence, Our directive
for the DOE to immediately commence the activities enumerated in said Letter, to determine the
pipeline's reliability, and to order its reopening should the DOE find that such is proper.
The dissent also loses sight of the fact that the petition not only seeks the checking of the
WOPL's structural integrity, but also prays for the rehabilitation of the areas affected by the leak,
the creation of a special trust fund, the imposition of liability upon the directors of FPIC, among
others. These issues, undoubtedly, are matters that are not addressed by the DOE certification
alone. Furthermore, these are issues that no longer relate to the WOPL' s structure but to its
maintenance and operations, as well as to the residues of the incident. It will, thus, be improper
for Us to simply dismiss the petition on the basis solely of the alleged resolution of only one of
several issues, which purportedly renders the issue on the WOPL' s soundness moot, without
disposing of the other issues presented.
Lastly, any delay in the reopening of the WOPL, if said delay is for the purpose of making sure
that the pipeline is commercially viable, is better than hastily allowing its reopening without an
extensive check on its structural integrity when experience shows that there were and may still
be flaws in the pipeline. Even the DOE, the agency tasked to oversee the supply and distribution
of petroleum in the country, is well aware of this and even recommended the checking of the
patched portions of the pipeline, among others. In this regard, the Court deems it best to take the
necessary safeguards, which are not similar to applying the precautionary principle as previously
explained, in order to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.
III.
Propriety of the Creation of a Special Trust Fund
Anent petitioners' prayer for the creation of a special trust fund, We note that under Sec. 1, Rule
5 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, a trust fund is limited solely for the
purpose of rehabilitating or restoring the environment. Said proviso pertinently provides:
SEC. 1. Reliefs in a citizen suit. - If warranted, the court may grant to the plaintiff proper reliefs
which shall include the protection, preservation or rehabilitation of the environment and the
payment of attorney's fees, costs of suit and other litigation expenses. It may also require the
violator to submit a program of rehabilitation or restoration of the environment, the costs of
which shall be borne by the violator, or to contribute to a special trust fund for that purpose
subject to the control of the court. (emphasis supplied)

Furthermore, Sec. 15( e ), Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases expressly
prohibits the grant of damages to petitioners in a petition for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan,
viz:
Section 15. Judgment. - Within sixty (60) days from the time the petition is submitted for
decision, the court shall render judgment granting or denying the privilege of the writ of
kalikasan.
The reliefs that may be granted under the writ are the following:
xxxx
(e) Such other reliefs which relate to the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology
or to the protection, preservation, rehabilitation or restoration of the environment, except the
award of damages to individual petitioners.
A reading of the petition and the motion for partial reconsideration readily reveals that the prayer
is for the creation of a trust fund for similar future contingencies. This is clearly outside the
limited purpose of a special trust fund under the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases,
which is to rehabilitate or restore the environment that has presumably already suffered. Hence,
the Court affirms with concurrence the observation of the appellate court that the prayer is but a
claim for damages, which is prohibited by the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases. As
such, the Court is of the considered view that the creation of a special trust fund is misplaced.
The present ruling on petitioners' prayer for the creation of a special trust fund in the instant
recourse, however, is without prejudice to the judgment/s that may be rendered in the civil and/or
criminal cases filed by petitioners arising from the same incident if the payment of damages is
found warranted.
IV.
Liability of FPIC, FGC and their respective Directors and Officers
On the last issue of the liability of FPIC, FGC and their respective directors and officers, the CA
found FGC not liable under the TEPO and, without prejudice to the outcome of the civil case
(Civil Case No. 11-256, RTC, Branch 58 in Makati City) and criminal complaint (ComplaintAffidavit for Reckless Imprudence, Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Makati City) filed
against them, the individual directors and officers of FPIC and FGC are not liable in their
individual capacities.
The Court will refrain from ruling on the finding of the CA that the individual directors and
officers of FPIC and FGC are not liable due to the explicit rule in the Rules of Procedure for
Environmental cases that in a petition for a writ of kalikasan, the Court cannot grant the award of
damages to individual petitioners under Rule 7, Sec. 15(e) of the Rules of Procedure for
Environmental Cases. As duly noted by the CA, the civil case and criminal complaint filed by
petitioners against respondents are the proper proceedings to ventilate and determine the
individual liability of respondents, if any, on their exercise of corporate powers and the
management of FPIC relative to the dire environmental impact of the dumping of petroleum
products stemming from the leak in the WOPL in Barangay Bangkal, Makati City.
Hence, the Court will not rule on the alleged liability on the part of the FPIC and FGC officials
which can, however, be properly resolved in the civil and criminal cases now pending against
them.
Other Matters

The CA's resolution on petitioners' September 9, 2011 Manifestation (Re: Current


Developments) with Omnibus Motion on the remediation plan in Barangay Bangkal by directing
the Inter-Agency Committee on Environmental Health to submit its evaluation of the said plan
prepared by CH2M Philippines, Inc., for FPIC to strictly comply with the stipulations embodied
in the permits issued by the DENR, and to get a certification from the DENR of its compliance
thereto is well taken. DENR is the government agency tasked to implement the state policy of
"maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting and enhancing the quality of the
environment"57 and to "promulgate rules and regulations for the control of water, air, and land
pollution."58 It is indubitable that the DENR has jurisdiction in overseeing and supervising the
environmental remediation of Barangay Bangkal, which is adversely affected by the leak in the
WOPL in 2010.
With regard to petitioners' March 29, 2012 Supplemental Manifestation about a recent possible
leak in the pipeline, the CA appropriately found no additional leak. However, due to the
devastating effect on the environs in Barangay Bangkal due to the 2010 leak, the Court finds it
fitting that the pipeline be closely and regularly monitored to obviate another catastrophic event
which will prejudice the health of the affected people, and to preserve and protect the
environment not only for the present but also for the future generations to come.
Petitioner's January 10, 2013 Motion for Partial Recommendation of the CA' s Report need not
be discussed and given consideration. As the CA' s Report contains but the appellate court's
recommendation on how the issues should be resolved, and not the adjudication by this Court,
there is nothing for the appellate court to reconsider.
As to petitioner's October 2, 2013 Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Clarification, the
matters contained therein have been considered in the foregoing discussion of the primary issues
of this case. With all these, We need not belabor the other arguments raised by the parties.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Motion for Partial Reconsideration is hereby DENIED.
The Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Clarification is PARTLY GRANTED. The
Court of Appeals' recommendations, embodied in its December 21, 2012 Report and
Recommendation, are hereby ADOPTED with the following MODIFICATIONS:
I. The Department of Energy (DOE) is hereby ORDERED to oversee the strict implementation
of the following activities:
A. Preparatory to the Test Run of the entire stretch of the WOPL:
1) FPIC shall perform the following:
a. Continue submission of monitoring charts, data/reading, accomplishment reports, and project
status for all related activities/works. Respond to comments and prepare for site inspection.
b. Continue gas testing along the right-of-way using the monitoring wells or boreholes. Prepare
for inspection of right-of-way and observation of gas testing activities on monitoring wells and
boreholes.
c. Explain the process of the selection of borehole location and identify those located in pipeline
bends, bodies of water, highways, residential areas, repaired portions of the pipelines, dents and
welded joints, as well other notable factors, circumstances, or exposure to stresses. d. Set up
additional boreholes and monitoring wells sufficient to cover the entire stretch of the WOPL, the
number and location of which shall be determined by the DOE.

e. Continue submitting status report to the concerned government agency/ies relating to "Project
Mojica," or the on-going pipeline segment realignment activity being undertaken by FPIC to
give way to a flood control project of the MMDA in the vicinity of Mojica St. and Pres. Osmea
Highway, and prepare for site inspection.
2) The DOE shall perform the following undertakings:
a. Conduct onsite inspection of the pipeline right-of-way, the area around the WOPL and the
equipment installed underground or aboveground.
b. Review and check the condition of the 22 patches reinforced with Clockspring sleeves by
performing the following:
i. Determine the location of the sleeves
ii. Review the procedure for the repair of the sleeves
iii. Inspect the areas where the affected portions of the WOPL are located and which are easily
accessible.
c. Inspect onsite the cathodic protection rectifier to check the following:
i. old and current readings
ii. the segment/s covered by the cathodic protection system
iii. review the criteria for prioritization of corrective action.
d. Observe and witness the running/operation of the intelligent and cleaning pigs.
e. Check and calibrate the instruments that will be used for the actual tests on the pipeline, and
validate the calibration certificates of these instruments.
B. During the Actual Test Run:
1) FPIC shall perform the following:
a. Perform Cleaning Pig run and witness the launching and receiving of the intelligent and
cleaning pigs.
b. Demonstrate and observe the various pressure and leakage tests, including the following:
i. "Blocked-in pressure test" or the pressure test conducted while all the WOPL's openings are
blocked or closed off; and
ii. "In-operation test" or the hourly monitoring of pressure rating after the pipeline is filled with
dyed water and pressurized at a specified rate.
c. Continue, inspect, and oversee the current gas monitoring system, or the monitoring of gas
flow from the boreholes and monitoring wells of the WOPL.
d. Check the mass or volume balance computation during WOPL test run by conducting:
i. 30 days baseline data generation
ii. Computational analysis and monitoring of the data generated.
II. After FPIC has undertaken the activities prescribed in the preceding paragraph 1, the DOE
shall determine if the activities and the results of the test run warrant the re-opening of the
WOPL. In the event that the DOE is satisfied that the WOPL is safe for continued commercial
operations, it shall issue an order allowing FPIC to resume the operations of the pipeline.
III. Once the WOPL is re-opened, the DOE shall see to it that FPIC strictly complies with the
following directives:
a. Continue implementation of its Pipeline Integrity Management System (PIMS), as reviewed
by the DOE, which shall include, but shall not be limited to:
1. the conduct of daily patrols on the entire stretch of the WOPL, every two hours;

2. continued close monitoring of all the boreholes and monitoring wells of the WOPL pipeline;
3. regular periodic testing and maintenance based on its PIMS; and
4. the auditing of the pipeline's mass input versus mass output;
b. submit to the DOE, within ten (10) days of each succeeding month, monthly reports on its
compliance with the above directives and any other conditions that the DOE may impose, the
results of the monitoring, tests, and audit, as well as any and all activities undertaken on the
WOPL or in connection with its operation. The concerned government agencies, namely: the
Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) and the Metals Industry Research and
Development Center (MIRDC), both under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST),
the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR), the Bureau of Design (BOD) of the Department of Public Works and
Highways (DPWH), the University of the Philippines - National Institute of Geological Science
(UP-NI GS) and University of the Philippines - Institute of Civil Engineering (UP-ICE), the
petitioners, intervenors and this Court shall likewise be furnished by FPIC with the monthly
reports. This shall include, but shall not be limited to: realignment, repairs, and maintenance
works; and
c. continue coordination with the concerned government agencies for the implementation of its
projects.1wphi1
IV. Respondent FPIC is also DIRECTED to undertake and continue the remediation,
rehabilitation and restoration of the affected Barangay Bangkal environment until full restoration
of the affected area to its condition prior to the leakage is achieved. For this purpose, respondent
FPIC must strictly comply with the measures, directives and permits issued by the DENR for its
remediation activities in Barangay Bangkal, including but not limited to, the Wastewater
Discharge Permit and Permit to Operate. The DENR has the authority to oversee and supervise
the aforesaid activities on said affected barangay.
V. The Inter-Agency Committee on Environmental Health under the City Government of Makati
shall SUBMIT to the DENR its evaluation of the Remediation Plan prepared by CH2M Hill
Philippines, Inc. within thirty (30) days from receipt hereof.
VI. Petitioners' prayer for the creation of a special trust fund to answer for similar contingencies
in the future is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 206510
September 16, 2014
MOST REV. PEDRO D. ARIGO, Vicar Apostolic of Puerto Princesa D.D.; MOST REV.
DEOGRACIAS S. INIGUEZ, JR., Bishop-Emeritus of Caloocan, FRANCES Q. QUIMPO,
CLEMENTE G. BAUTISTA, JR., Kalikasan-PNE, MARIA CAROLINA P. ARAULLO,
RENATO M. REYES, JR., Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, HON. NERI JAVIER
COLMENARES, Bayan Muna Partylist, ROLAND G. SIMBULAN, PH.D., Junk VF A
Movement, TERESITA R. PEREZ, PH.D., HON. RAYMOND V. PALATINO, Kabataan
Party-list, PETER SJ. GONZALES, Pamalakaya, GIOVANNI A. TAPANG, PH. D.,
Agham, ELMER C. LABOG, Kilusang Mayo Uno, JOAN MAY E. SALVADOR, Gabriela,
JOSE ENRIQUE A. AFRICA, THERESA A. CONCEPCION, MARY JOAN A. GUAN,
NESTOR T. BAGUINON, PH.D., A. EDSEL F. TUPAZ, Petitioners,

vs.
SCOTT H. SWIFT in his capacity as Commander of the US. 7th Fleet, MARK A. RICE in
his capacity as Commanding Officer of the USS Guardian, PRESIDENT BENIGNO S.
AQUINO III in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, HON. ALBERT F. DEL ROSARIO, Secretary, pepartment of Foreign Affair.s,
HON. PAQUITO OCHOA, JR., Executiv~.:Secretary, Office of the President, . HON.
VOLTAIRE T. GAZMIN, Secretary, Department of National Defense, HON. RAMON
JESUS P. P AJE, Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resoz!rces, VICE
ADMIRAL JOSE LUIS M. ALANO, Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command, Armed
Forces of the Philippines, ADMIRAL RODOLFO D. ISO RENA, Commandant, Philippine
Coast Guard, COMMODORE ENRICO EFREN EVANGELISTA, Philippine Coast Guard
Palawan, MAJOR GEN. VIRGILIO 0. DOMINGO, Commandant of Armed Forces of the
Philippines Command and LT. GEN. TERRY G. ROBLING, US Marine Corps Forces.
Pacific and Balikatan 2013 Exercise Co-Director, Respondents.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR, J.:
Before us is a petition for the issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan with prayer for the issuance of a
Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) under Rule 7 of A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC,
otherwise known as the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (Rules), involving
violations of environmental laws and regulations in relation to the grounding of the US military
ship USS Guardian over the Tubbataha Reefs.
Factual Background
The name "Tubbataha" came from the Samal (seafaring people of southern Philippines) language
which means "long reef exposed at low tide." Tubbataha is composed of two huge coral atolls the north atoll and the south atoll - and the Jessie Beazley Reef, a smaller coral structure about
20 kilometers north of the atolls. The reefs of Tubbataha and Jessie Beazley are considered part
of Cagayancillo, a remote island municipality of Palawan.1
In 1988, Tubbataha was declared a National Marine Park by virtue of Proclamation No. 306
issued by President Corazon C. Aquino on August 11, 1988. Located in the middle of Central
Sulu Sea, 150 kilometers southeast of Puerto Princesa City, Tubbataha lies at the heart of the
Coral Triangle, the global center of marine biodiversity.
In 1993, Tubbataha was inscribed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site. It was recognized as one of the Philippines'
oldest ecosystems, containing excellent examples of pristine reefs and a high diversity of marine
life. The 97,030-hectare protected marine park is also an important habitat for internationally
threatened and endangered marine species. UNESCO cited Tubbataha's outstanding universal
value as an important and significant natural habitat for in situ conservation of biological
diversity; an example representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes; and
an area of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.2
On April 6, 2010, Congress passed Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10067,3 otherwise known as the
"Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) Act of 2009" "to ensure the protection and conservation
of the globally significant economic, biological, sociocultural, educational and scientific values
of the Tubbataha Reefs into perpetuity for the enjoyment of present and future generations."

Under the "no-take" policy, entry into the waters of TRNP is strictly regulated and many human
activities are prohibited and penalized or fined, including fishing, gathering, destroying and
disturbing the resources within the TRNP. The law likewise created the Tubbataha Protected
Area Management Board (TPAMB) which shall be the sole policy-making and permit-granting
body of the TRNP.
The USS Guardian is an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship of the US Navy. In December
2012, the US Embassy in the Philippines requested diplomatic clearance for the said vessel "to
enter and exit the territorial waters of the Philippines and to arrive at the port of Subic Bay for
the purpose of routine ship replenishment, maintenance, and crew liberty."4 On January 6, 2013,
the ship left Sasebo, Japan for Subic Bay, arriving on January 13, 2013 after a brief stop for fuel
in Okinawa, Japan.1wphi1
On January 15, 2013, the USS Guardian departed Subic Bay for its next port of call in Makassar,
Indonesia. On January 17, 2013 at 2:20 a.m. while transiting the Sulu Sea, the ship ran aground
on the northwest side of South Shoal of the Tubbataha Reefs, about 80 miles east-southeast of
Palawan. No cine was injured in the incident, and there have been no reports of leaking fuel or
oil.
On January 20, 2013, U.S. 7th Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Scott Swift, expressed regret for
the incident in a press statement.5 Likewise, US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K.
Thomas, Jr., in a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on February 4, "reiterated
his regrets over the grounding incident and assured Foreign Affairs Secretazy Albert F. del
Rosario that the United States will provide appropriate compensation for damage to the reef
caused by the ship."6 By March 30, 2013, the US Navy-led salvage team had finished removing
the last piece of the grounded ship from the coral reef.
On April 1 7, 2013, the above-named petitioners on their behalf and in representation of their
respective sector/organization and others, including minors or generations yet unborn, filed the
present petition agairtst Scott H. Swift in his capacity as Commander of the US 7th Fleet, Mark
A. Rice in his capacity as Commanding Officer of the USS Guardian and Lt. Gen. Terry G.
Robling, US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific and Balikatan 2013 Exercises Co-Director ("US
respondents"); President Benigno S. Aquino III in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), DF A Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario, Executive
Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin (Department of National Defense),
Secretary Jesus P. Paje (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), Vice-Admiral Jose
Luis M. Alano (Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command, AFP), Admiral Rodolfo D. Isorena
(Philippine Coast Guard Commandant), Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista (Philippine Coast
Guard-Palawan), and Major General Virgilio 0. Domingo (AFP Commandant), collectively the
"Philippine respondents."
The Petition
Petitioners claim that the grounding, salvaging and post-salvaging operations of the USS
Guardian cause and continue to cause environmental damage of such magnitude as to affect the
provinces of Palawan, Antique, Aklan, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental,
Zamboanga del Norte, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, which events violate their constitutional
rights to a balanced and healthful ecology. They also seek a directive from this Court for the

institution of civil, administrative and criminal suits for acts committed in violation of
environmental laws and regulations in connection with the grounding incident.
Specifically, petitioners cite the following violations committed by US respondents under R.A.
No. 10067: unauthorized entry (Section 19); non-payment of conservation fees (Section 21 );
obstruction of law enforcement officer (Section 30); damages to the reef (Section 20); and
destroying and disturbing resources (Section 26[g]). Furthermore, petitioners assail certain
provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which they want this Court to nullify for
being unconstitutional.
The numerous reliefs sought in this case are set forth in the final prayer of the petition, to wit:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Petitioners respectfully pray that the Honorable Court:
1. Immediately issue upon the filing of this petition a Temporary Environmental Protection Order
(TEPO) and/or a Writ of Kalikasan, which shall, in particular,
a. Order Respondents and any person acting on their behalf, to cease and desist all operations
over the Guardian grounding incident;
b. Initially demarcating the metes and bounds of the damaged area as well as an additional buffer
zone;
c. Order Respondents to stop all port calls and war games under 'Balikatan' because of the
absence of clear guidelines, duties, and liability schemes for breaches of those duties, and require
Respondents to assume responsibility for prior and future environmental damage in general, and
environmental damage under the Visiting Forces Agreement in particular.
d. Temporarily define and describe allowable activities of ecotourism, diving, recreation, and
limited commercial activities by fisherfolk and indigenous communities near or around the
TRNP but away from the damaged site and an additional buffer zone;
2. After summary hearing, issue a Resolution extending the TEPO until further orders of the
Court;
3. After due proceedings, render a Decision which shall include, without limitation:
a. Order Respondents Secretary of Foreign Affairs, following the dispositive portion of Nicolas
v. Romulo, "to forthwith negotiate with the United States representatives for the appropriate
agreement on [environmental guidelines and environmental accountability] under Philippine
authorities as provided in Art. V[] of the VFA ... "
b. Direct Respondents and appropriate agencies to commence administrative, civil, and criminal
proceedings against erring officers and individuals to the full extent of the law, and to make such
proceedings public;
c. Declare that Philippine authorities may exercise primary and exclusive criminal jurisdiction
over erring U.S. personnel under the circumstances of this case;
d. Require Respondents to pay just and reasonable compensation in the settlement of all
meritorious claims for damages caused to the Tubbataha Reef on terms and conditions no less
severe than those applicable to other States, and damages for personal injury or death, if such had
been the case;
e. Direct Respondents to cooperate in providing for the attendance of witnesses and in the
collection and production of evidence, including seizure and delivery of objects connected with
the offenses related to the grounding of the Guardian;

f. Require the authorities of the Philippines and the United States to notify each other of the
disposition of all cases, wherever heard, related to the grounding of the Guardian;
g. Restrain Respondents from proceeding with any purported restoration, repair, salvage or post
salvage plan or plans, including cleanup plans covering the damaged area of the Tubbataha Reef
absent a just settlement approved by the Honorable Court;
h. Require Respondents to engage in stakeholder and LOU consultations in accordance with the
Local Government Code and R.A. 10067;
i. Require Respondent US officials and their representatives to place a deposit to the TRNP Trust
Fund defined under Section 17 of RA 10067 as a bona .fide gesture towards full reparations;
j. Direct Respondents to undertake measures to rehabilitate the areas affected by the grounding of
the Guardian in light of Respondents' experience in the Port Royale grounding in 2009, among
other similar grounding incidents;
k. Require Respondents to regularly publish on a quarterly basis and in the name of transparency
and accountability such environmental damage assessment, valuation, and valuation methods, in
all stages of negotiation;
l. Convene a multisectoral technical working group to provide scientific and technical support to
the TPAMB;
m. Order the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of National Defense, and the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources to review the Visiting Forces Agreement and
the Mutual Defense Treaty to consider whether their provisions allow for the exercise of erga
omnes rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and for damages which follow from any
violation of those rights;
n. Narrowly tailor the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement for purposes of protecting the
damaged areas of TRNP;
o. Declare the grant of immunity found in Article V ("Criminal Jurisdiction") and Article VI of
the Visiting Forces Agreement unconstitutional for violating equal protection and/or for violating
the preemptory norm of nondiscrimination incorporated as part of the law of the land under
Section 2, Article II, of the Philippine Constitution;
p. Allow for continuing discovery measures;
q. Supervise marine wildlife rehabilitation in the Tubbataha Reefs in all other respects; and
4. Provide just and equitable environmental rehabilitation measures and such other reliefs as are
just and equitable under the premises.7 (Underscoring supplied.)
Since only the Philippine respondents filed their comment8 to the petition, petitioners also filed a
motion for early resolution and motion to proceed ex parte against the US respondents.9
Respondents' Consolidated Comment
In their consolidated comment with opposition to the application for a TEPO and ocular
inspection and production orders, respondents assert that: ( 1) the grounds relied upon for the
issuance of a TEPO or writ of Kalikasan have become fait accompli as the salvage operations on
the USS Guardian were already completed; (2) the petition is defective in form and substance;
(3) the petition improperly raises issues involving the VFA between the Republic of the
Philippines and the United States of America; and ( 4) the determination of the extent of
responsibility of the US Government as regards the damage to the Tubbataha Reefs rests
exdusively with the executive branch.

The Court's Ruling


As a preliminary matter, there is no dispute on the legal standing of petitioners to file the present
petition.
Locus standi is "a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question."10 Specifically, it
is "a party's personal and substantial interest in a case where he has sustained or will sustain
direct injury as a result" of the act being challenged, and "calls for more than just a generalized
grievance."11 However, the rule on standing is a procedural matter which this Court has relaxed
for non-traditional plaintiffs like ordinary citizens, taxpayers and legislators when the public
interest so requires, such as when the subject matter of the controversy is of transcendental
importance, of overreaching significance to society, or of paramount public interest.12
In the landmark case of Oposa v. Factoran, Jr.,13 we recognized the "public right" of citizens to "a
balanced and healthful ecology which, for the first time in our constitutional history, is solemnly
incorporated in the fundamental law." We declared that the right to a balanced and healthful
ecology need not be written in the Constitution for it is assumed, like other civil and polittcal
rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, to exist from the inception of mankind and it is an issue of
transcendental importance with intergenerational implications.1wphi1 Such right carries with it
the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment.14
On the novel element in the class suit filed by the petitioners minors in Oposa, this Court ruled
that not only do ordinary citizens have legal standing to sue for the enforcement of
environmental rights, they can do so in representation of their own and future generations. Thus:
Petitioners minors assert that they represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn.
We find no difficulty in ruling that they can, for themselves, for others of their generation and for
the succeeding generations, file a class suit. Their personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding
generations can only be based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the
right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. Such a right, as hereinafter expounded,
considers the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature means the created world in its entirety.
Such rhythm and harmony indispensably include, inter alia, 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 to the end that their exploration,
development and utilization be equitably accessible to the present a:: well as future generations.
Needless to say, every generation has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and
harmony for the full 1:njoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. Put a little differently, 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.
15 (Emphasis supplied.)
The liberalization of standing first enunciated in Oposa, insofar as it refers to minors and
generations yet unborn, is now enshrined in the Rules which allows the filing of a citizen suit in
environmental cases. The provision on citizen suits in the Rules "collapses the traditional rule on
personal and direct interest, on the principle that humans are stewards of nature."16
Having settled the issue of locus standi, we shall address the more fundamental question of
whether this Court has jurisdiction over the US respondents who did not submit any pleading or
manifestation in this case.

The immunity of the State from suit, known also as the doctrine of sovereign immunity or nonsuability of the State,17 is expressly provided in Article XVI of the 1987 Constitution which
states:
Section 3. The State may not be sued without its consent.
In United States of America v. Judge Guinto,18 we discussed the principle of state immunity from
suit, as follows:
The rule that a state may not be sued without its consent, now expressed in Article XVI, Section
3, of the 1987 Constitution, is one of the generally accepted principles of international law that
we have adopted as part of the law of our land under Article II, Section 2. x x x.
Even without such affirmation, we would still be bound by the generally accepted principles of
international law under the doctrine of incorporation. Under this doctrine, as accepted by the
majority of states, such principles are deemed incorporated in the law of every civilized state as a
condition and consequence of its membership in the society of nations. Upon its admission to
such society, the state is automatically obligated to comply with these principles in its relations
with other states.
As applied to the local state, the doctrine of state immunity is based on the justification given by
Justice Holmes that ''there can be no legal right against the authority which makes the law on
which the right depends." [Kawanakoa v. Polybank, 205 U.S. 349] There are other practical
reasons for the enforcement of the doctrine. In the case of the foreign state sought to be
impleaded in the local jurisdiction, the added inhibition is expressed in the maxim par in parem,
non habet imperium. All states are sovereign equals and cannot assert jurisdiction over one
another. A contrary disposition would, in the language of a celebrated case, "unduly vex the
peace of nations." [De Haber v. Queen of Portugal, 17 Q. B. 171]
While the doctrine appears to prohibit only suits against the state without its consent, it is also
applicable to complaints filed against officials of the state for acts allegedly performed by them
in the discharge of their duties. The rule is that if the judgment against such officials will require
the state itself to perform an affirmative act to satisfy the same,. such as the appropriation of the
amount needed to pay the damages awarded against them, the suit must be regarded as against
the state itself although it has not been formally impleaded. [Garcia v. Chief of Staff, 16 SCRA
120] In such a situation, the state may move to dismiss the comp.taint on the ground that it has
been filed without its consent.19 (Emphasis supplied.)
Under the American Constitution, the doctrine is expressed in the Eleventh Amendment which
reads:
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or
equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State,
or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.
In the case of Minucher v. Court of Appeals,20 we further expounded on the immunity of foreign
states from the jurisdiction of local courts, as follows:
The precept that a State cannot be sued in the courts of a foreign state is a long-standing rule of
customary international law then closely identified with the personal immunity of a foreign
sovereign from suit and, with the emergence of democratic states, made to attach not just to the
person of the head of state, or his representative, but also distinctly to the state itself in its
sovereign capacity. If the acts giving rise to a suit arc those of a foreign government done by its

foreign agent, although not necessarily a diplomatic personage, but acting in his official capacity,
the complaint could be barred by the immunity of the foreign sovereign from suit without its
consent. Suing a representative of a state is believed to be, in effect, suing the state itself. The
proscription is not accorded for the benefit of an individual but for the State, in whose service he
is, under the maxim -par in parem, non habet imperium -that all states are soverr~ign equals and
cannot assert jurisdiction over one another. The implication, in broad terms, is that if the
judgment against an official would rec 1uire the state itself to perform an affirmative act to
satisfy the award, such as the appropriation of the amount needed to pay the damages decreed
against him, the suit must be regarded as being against the state itself, although it has not been
formally impleaded.21 (Emphasis supplied.)
In the same case we also mentioned that in the case of diplomatic immunity, the privilege is not
an immunity from the observance of the law of the territorial sovereign or from ensuing legal
liability; it is, rather, an immunity from the exercise of territorial jurisdiction.22
In United States of America v. Judge Guinto,23 one of the consolidated cases therein involved a
Filipino employed at Clark Air Base who was arrested following a buy-bust operation conducted
by two officers of the US Air Force, and was eventually dismissed from his employment when
he was charged in court for violation of R.A. No. 6425. In a complaint for damages filed by the
said employee against the military officers, the latter moved to dismiss the case on the ground
that the suit was against the US Government which had not given its consent. The RTC denied
the motion but on a petition for certiorari and prohibition filed before this Court, we reversed the
RTC and dismissed the complaint. We held that petitioners US military officers were acting in
the exercise of their official functions when they conducted the buy-bust operation against the
complainant and thereafter testified against him at his trial. It follows that for discharging their
duties as agents of the United States, they cannot be directly impleaded for acts imputable to
their principal, which has not given its consent to be sued.
This traditional rule of State immunity which exempts a State from being sued in the courts of
another State without the former's consent or waiver has evolved into a restrictive doctrine which
distinguishes sovereign and governmental acts (Jure imperil") from private, commercial and
proprietary acts (Jure gestionis). Under the restrictive rule of State immunity, State immunity
extends only to acts Jure imperii. The restrictive application of State immunity is proper only
when the proceedings arise out of commercial transactions of the foreign sovereign, its
commercial activities or economic affairs.24
In Shauf v. Court of Appeals,25 we discussed the limitations of the State immunity principle,
thus:
It is a different matter where the public official is made to account in his capacity as such for acts
contrary to law and injurious to the rights of plaintiff. As was clearly set forth by JustiGe
Zaldivar in Director of the Bureau of Telecommunications, et al. vs. Aligaen, etc., et al. :
"Inasmuch as the State authorizes only legal acts by its officers, unauthorized acts of government
officials or officers are not acts of the State, and an action against the officials or officers by one
whose rights have been invaded or violated by such acts, for the protection of his rights, is not a
suit against the State within the rule of immunity of the State from suit. In the same tenor, it has
been said that an action at law or suit in equity against a State officer or the director of a State
department on the ground that, while claiming to act for the State, he violates or invades the

personal and property rights of the plaintiff, under an unconstitutional act or under an assumption
of authority which he does not have, is not a suit against the State within the constitutional
provision that the State may not be sued without its consent." The rationale for this ruling is that
the doctrine of state immunity cannot be used as an instrument for perpetrating an injustice.
xxxx
The aforecited authorities are clear on the matter. They state that the doctrine of immunity from
suit will not apply and may not be invoked where the public official is being sued in his private
and personal capacity as an ordinary citizen. The cloak of protection afforded the officers and
agents of the government is removed the moment they are sued in their individual capacity. This
situation usually arises where the public official acts without authority or in excess of the powers
vested in him. It is a well-settled principle of law that a public official may be liable in his
personal private capacity for whatever damage he may have caused by his act done with malice
and in bad faith, or beyond the scope of his authority or jurisdiction.26 (Emphasis supplied.) In
this case, the US respondents were sued in their official capacity as commanding officers of the
US Navy who had control and supervision over the USS Guardian and its crew. The alleged act
or omission resulting in the unfortunate grounding of the USS Guardian on the TRNP was
committed while they we:re performing official military duties. Considering that the satisfaction
of a judgment against said officials will require remedial actions and appropriation of funds by
the US government, the suit is deemed to be one against the US itself. The principle of State
immunity therefore bars the exercise of jurisdiction by this Court over the persons of respondents
Swift, Rice and Robling.
During the deliberations, Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio took the position that the
conduct of the US in this case, when its warship entered a restricted area in violation of R.A. No.
10067 and caused damage to the TRNP reef system, brings the matter within the ambit of Article
31 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). He explained that while
historically, warships enjoy sovereign immunity from suit as extensions of their flag State, Art.
31 of the UNCLOS creates an exception to this rule in cases where they fail to comply with the
rules and regulations of the coastal State regarding passage through the latter's internal waters
and the territorial sea.
According to Justice Carpio, although the US to date has not ratified the UNCLOS, as a matter
of long-standing policy the US considers itself bound by customary international rules on the
"traditional uses of the oceans" as codified in UNCLOS, as can be gleaned from previous
declarations by former Presidents Reagan and Clinton, and the US judiciary in the case of United
States v. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Ltd.27
The international law of the sea is generally defined as "a body of treaty rules arid customary
norms governing the uses of the sea, the exploitation of its resources, and the exercise of
jurisdiction over maritime regimes. It is a branch of public international law, regulating the
relations of states with respect to the uses of the oceans."28 The UNCLOS is a multilateral treaty
which was opened for signature on December 10, 1982 at Montego Bay, Jamaica. It was ratified
by the Philippines in 1984 but came into force on November 16, 1994 upon the submission of the
60th ratification.
The UNCLOS is a product of international negotiation that seeks to balance State sovereignty
(mare clausum) and the principle of freedom of the high seas (mare liberum).29 The freedom to

use the world's marine waters is one of the oldest customary principles of international law.30 The
UNCLOS gives to the coastal State sovereign rights in varying degrees over the different zones
of the sea which are: 1) internal waters, 2) territorial sea, 3) contiguous zone, 4) exclusive
economic zone, and 5) the high seas. It also gives coastal States more or less jurisdiction over
foreign vessels depending on where the vessel is located.31
Insofar as the internal waters and territorial sea is concerned, the Coastal State exercises
sovereignty, subject to the UNCLOS and other rules of international law. Such sovereignty
extends to the air space over the territorial sea as well as to its bed and subsoil.32
In the case of warships,33 as pointed out by Justice Carpio, they continue to enjoy sovereign
immunity subject to the following exceptions:
Article 30
Non-compliance by warships with the laws and regulations of the coastal State
If any warship does not comply with the laws and regulations of the coastal State concerning
passage through the territorial sea and disregards any request for compliance therewith which is
made to it, the coastal State may require it to leave the territorial sea immediately.
Article 31
Responsibility of the flag State for damage caused by a warship
or other government ship operated for non-commercial purposes
The flag State shall bear international responsibility for any loss or damage to the coastal State
resulting from the non-compliance by a warship or other government ship operated for noncommercial purposes with the laws and regulations of the coastal State concerning passage
through the territorial sea or with the provisions of this Convention or other rules of international
law.
Article 32
Immunities of warships and other government ships operated for non-commercial purposes
With such exceptions as are contained in subsection A and in articles 30 and 31, nothing in this
Convention affects the immunities of warships and other government ships operated for noncommercial purposes. (Emphasis supplied.) A foreign warship's unauthorized entry into our
internal waters with resulting damage to marine resources is one situation in which the above
provisions may apply. But what if the offending warship is a non-party to the UNCLOS, as in
this case, the US?
An overwhelming majority - over 80% -- of nation states are now members of UNCLOS, but
despite this the US, the world's leading maritime power, has not ratified it.
While the Reagan administration was instrumental in UNCLOS' negotiation and drafting, the
U.S. delegation ultimately voted against and refrained from signing it due to concerns over deep
seabed mining technology transfer provisions contained in Part XI. In a remarkable, multilateral
effort to induce U.S. membership, the bulk of UNCLOS member states cooperated over the
succeeding decade to revise the objection.able provisions. The revisions satisfied the Clinton
administration, which signed the revised Part XI implementing agreement in 1994. In the fall of
1994, President Clinton transmitted UNCLOS and the Part XI implementing agreement to the
Senate requesting its advice and consent. Despite consistent support from President Clinton, each
of his successors, and an ideologically diverse array of stakeholders, the Senate has since

withheld the consent required for the President to internationally bind the United States to
UNCLOS.
While UNCLOS cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) during the 108th and
110th Congresses, its progress continues to be hamstrung by significant pockets of political
ambivalence over U.S. participation in international institutions. Most recently, 111 th Congress
SFRC Chairman Senator John Kerry included "voting out" UNCLOS for full Senate
consideration among his highest priorities. This did not occur, and no Senate action has been
taken on UNCLOS by the 112th Congress.34
Justice Carpio invited our attention to the policy statement given by President Reagan on March
10, 1983 that the US will "recognize the rights of the other , states in the waters off their coasts,
as reflected in the convention [UNCLOS], so long as the rights and freedom of the United States
and others under international law are recognized by such coastal states", and President Clinton's
reiteration of the US policy "to act in a manner consistent with its [UNCLOS] provisions relating
to traditional uses of the oceans and to encourage other countries to do likewise." Since Article
31 relates to the "traditional uses of the oceans," and "if under its policy, the US 'recognize[s] the
rights of the other states in the waters off their coasts,"' Justice Carpio postulates that "there is
more reason to expect it to recognize the rights of other states in their internal waters, such as the
Sulu Sea in this case."
As to the non-ratification by the US, Justice Carpio emphasizes that "the US' refusal to join the
UN CLOS was centered on its disagreement with UN CLOS' regime of deep seabed mining (Part
XI) which considers the oceans and deep seabed commonly owned by mankind," pointing out
that such "has nothing to do with its [the US'] acceptance of customary international rules on
navigation."
It may be mentioned that even the US Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps publicly endorses
the ratification of the UNCLOS, as shown by the following statement posted on its official
website:
The Convention is in the national interest of the United States because it establishes stable
maritime zones, including a maximum outer limit for territorial seas; codifies innocent passage,
transit passage, and archipelagic sea lanes passage rights; works against "jurisdictiomtl creep" by
preventing coastal nations from expanding their own maritime zones; and reaffirms sovereign
immunity of warships, auxiliaries anJ government aircraft.
xxxx
Economically, accession to the Convention would support our national interests by enhancing the
ability of the US to assert its sovereign rights over the resources of one of the largest continental
shelves in the world. Further, it is the Law of the Sea Convention that first established the
concept of a maritime Exclusive Economic Zone out to 200 nautical miles, and recognized the
rights of coastal states to conserve and manage the natural resources in this Zone.35
We fully concur with Justice Carpio's view that non-membership in the UNCLOS does not mean
that the US will disregard the rights of the Philippines as a Coastal State over its internal waters
and territorial sea. We thus expect the US to bear "international responsibility" under Art. 31 in
connection with the USS Guardian grounding which adversely affected the Tubbataha reefs.
Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that our long-time ally and trading partner, which has been
actively supporting the country's efforts to preserve our vital marine resources, would shirk from

its obligation to compensate the damage caused by its warship while transiting our internal
waters. Much less can we comprehend a Government exercising leadership in international
affairs, unwilling to comply with the UNCLOS directive for all nations to cooperate in the global
task to protect and preserve the marine environment as provided in Article 197, viz:
Article 197
Cooperation on a global or regional basis
States shall cooperate on a global basis and, as appropriate, on a regional basis, directly or
through competent international organizations, in formulating and elaborating international rules,
standards and recommended practices and procedures consistent with this Convention, for the
protection and preservation of the marine environment, taking into account characteristic
regional features.
In fine, the relevance of UNCLOS provisions to the present controversy is beyond dispute.
Although the said treaty upholds the immunity of warships from the jurisdiction of Coastal States
while navigating the.latter's territorial sea, the flag States shall be required to leave the territorial
'::;ea immediately if they flout the laws and regulations of the Coastal State, and they will be
liable for damages caused by their warships or any other government vessel operated for noncommercial purposes under Article 31.
Petitioners argue that there is a waiver of immunity from suit found in the VFA. Likewise, they
invoke federal statutes in the US under which agencies of the US have statutorily waived their
immunity to any action. Even under the common law tort claims, petitioners asseverate that the
US respondents are liable for negligence, trespass and nuisance.
We are not persuaded.
The VFA is an agreement which defines the treatment of United States troops and personnel
visiting the Philippines to promote "common security interests" between the US and the
Philippines in the region. It provides for the guidelines to govern such visits of military
personnel, and further defines the rights of the United States and the Philippine government in
the matter of criminal jurisdiction, movement of vessel and aircraft, importation and exportation
of equipment, materials and supplies.36 The invocation of US federal tort laws and even common
law is thus improper considering that it is the VF A which governs disputes involving US
military ships and crew navigating Philippine waters in pursuance of the objectives of the
agreement.
As it is, the waiver of State immunity under the VF A pertains only to criminal jurisdiction and
not to special civil actions such as the present petition for issuance of a writ of Kalikasan. In fact,
it can be inferred from Section 17, Rule 7 of the Rules that a criminal case against a person
charged with a violation of an environmental law is to be filed separately:
SEC. 17. Institution of separate actions.-The filing of a petition for the issuance of the writ of
kalikasan shall not preclude the filing of separate civil, criminal or administrative actions.
In any case, it is our considered view that a ruling on the application or non-application of
criminal jurisdiction provisions of the VF A to US personnel who may be found responsible for
the grounding of the USS Guardian, would be premature and beyond the province of a petition
for a writ of Kalikasan. We also find it unnecessary at this point to determine whether such
waiver of State immunity is indeed absolute. In the same vein, we cannot grant damages which
have resulted from the violation of environmental laws. The Rules allows the recovery of

damages, including the collection of administrative fines under R.A. No. 10067, in a separate
civil suit or that deemed instituted with the criminal action charging the same violation of an
environmental law.37
Section 15, Rule 7 enumerates the reliefs which may be granted in a petition for issuance of a
writ of Kalikasan, to wit:
SEC. 15. Judgment.-Within sixty (60) days from the time the petition is submitted for decision,
the court shall render judgment granting or denying the privilege of the writ of kalikasan.
The reliefs that may be granted under the writ are the following:
(a) Directing respondent to permanently cease and desist from committing acts or neglecting the
performance of a duty in violation of environmental laws resulting in environmental destruction
or damage;
(b) Directing the respondent public official, govemment agency, private person or entity to
protect, preserve, rehabilitate or restore the environment;
(c) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, private person or entity to
monitor strict compliance with the decision and orders of the court;
(d) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, or private person or entity to
make periodic reports on the execution of the final judgment; and
(e) Such other reliefs which relate to the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology
or to the protection, preservation, rehabilitation or restoration of the environment, except the
award of damages to individual petitioners. (Emphasis supplied.)
We agree with respondents (Philippine officials) in asserting that this petition has become moot
in the sense that the salvage operation sought to be enjoined or restrained had already been
accomplished when petitioners sought recourse from this Court. But insofar as the directives to
Philippine respondents to protect and rehabilitate the coral reef stn icture and marine habitat
adversely affected by the grounding incident are concerned, petitioners are entitled to these
reliefs notwithstanding the completion of the removal of the USS Guardian from the coral reef.
However, we are mindful of the fact that the US and Philippine governments both expressed
readiness to negotiate and discuss the matter of compensation for the damage caused by the USS
Guardian. The US Embassy has also declared it is closely coordinating with local scientists and
experts in assessing the extent of the damage and appropriate methods of rehabilitation.
Exploring avenues for settlement of environmental cases is not proscribed by the Rules. As can
be gleaned from the following provisions, mediation and settlement are available for the
consideration of the parties, and which dispute resolution methods are encouraged by the court,
to wit:
RULE3
xxxx
SEC. 3. Referral to mediation.-At the start of the pre-trial conference, the court shall inquire
from the parties if they have settled the dispute; otherwise, the court shall immediately refer the
parties or their counsel, if authorized by their clients, to the Philippine Mediation Center (PMC)
unit for purposes of mediation. If not available, the court shall refer the case to the clerk of court
or legal researcher for mediation.
Mediation must be conducted within a non-extendible period of thirty (30) days from receipt of
notice of referral to mediation.

The mediation report must be submitted within ten (10) days from the expiration of the 30-day
period.
SEC. 4. Preliminary conference.-If mediation fails, the court will schedule the continuance of the
pre-trial. Before the scheduled date of continuance, the court may refer the case to the branch
clerk of court for a preliminary conference for the following purposes:
(a) To assist the parties in reaching a settlement;
xxxx
SEC. 5. Pre-trial conference; consent decree.-The judge shall put the parties and their counsels
under oath, and they shall remain under oath in all pre-trial conferences.
The judge shall exert best efforts to persuade the parties to arrive at a settlement of the dispute.
The judge may issue a consent decree approving the agreement between the parties in
accordance with law, morals, public order and public policy to protect the right of the people to a
balanced and healthful ecology.
xxxx
SEC. 10. Efforts to settle.- The court shall endeavor to make the parties to agree to compromise
or settle in accordance with law at any stage of the proceedings before rendition of judgment.
(Underscoring supplied.)
The Court takes judicial notice of a similar incident in 2009 when a guided-missile cruiser, the
USS Port Royal, ran aground about half a mile off the Honolulu Airport Reef Runway and
remained stuck for four days. After spending $6.5 million restoring the coral reef, the US
government was reported to have paid the State of Hawaii $8.5 million in settlement over coral
reef damage caused by the grounding.38
To underscore that the US government is prepared to pay appropriate compensation for the
damage caused by the USS Guardian grounding, the US Embassy in the Philippines has
announced the formation of a US interdisciplinary scientific team which will "initiate discussions
with the Government of the Philippines to review coral reef rehabilitation options in Tubbataha,
based on assessments by Philippine-based marine scientists." The US team intends to "help
assess damage and remediation options, in coordination with the Tubbataha Management Office,
appropriate Philippine government entities, non-governmental organizations, and scientific
experts from Philippine universities."39
A rehabilitation or restoration program to be implemented at the cost of the violator is also a
major relief that may be obtained under a judgment rendered in a citizens' suit under the Rules,
viz:
RULES
SECTION 1. Reliefs in a citizen suit.-If warranted, the court may grant to the plaintiff proper
reliefs which shall include the protection, preservation or rehabilitation of the environment and
the payment of attorney's fees, costs of suit and other litigation expenses. It may also require the
violator to submit a program of rehabilitation or restoration of the environment, the costs of
which shall be borne by the violator, or to contribute to a special trust fund for that purpose
subject to the control of the court.1wphi1
In the light of the foregoing, the Court defers to the Executive Branch on the matter of
compensation and rehabilitation measures through diplomatic channels. Resolution of these
issues impinges on our relations with another State in the context of common security interests

under the VFA. It is settled that "[t]he conduct of the foreign relations of our government is
committed by the Constitution to the executive and legislative-"the political" --departments of
the government, and the propriety of what may be done in the exercise of this political power is
not subject to judicial inquiry or decision."40
On the other hand, we cannot grant the additional reliefs prayed for in the petition to order a
review of the VFA and to nullify certain immunity provisions thereof.
As held in BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) v. Exec. Sec. Zamora,41 the VFA was duly
concurred in by the Philippine Senate and has been recognized as a treaty by the United States as
attested and certified by the duly authorized representative of the United States government. The
VF A being a valid and binding agreement, the parties are required as a matter of international
law to abide by its terms and provisions.42 The present petition under the Rules is not the proper
remedy to assail the constitutionality of its provisions. WHEREFORE, the petition for the
issuance of the privilege of the Writ of Kalikasan is hereby DENIED.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
AGHAM PRATY LIST V. RAMON PAJE, PROTECTED AREA MANAGEMENT
BOARD OF THE TAAL VOLCANO PROTECTED LANDSCAPE

Agham party list grounded its action on the fact that its members were allegedly disturbed by the
proliferation of fish cages in Taal lake to a point of exceeding its established carrying capacity.
Also, despite efforts to improve the water quality, the same still fell below standards in the
vicinity of the fish cages. It likewise called attention to the abusive piggeries operating in the
area.

Agham explained the nature of Taal lake: that it has a ling retention time making it a very
sensitive ecosystem since its waters need 20 years or more to be flushed out or replaced; that
long water retention times means that in-lake changes are often gradual in nature, thereby
difficult to observe; that the expected improvements may take a long time to exhibit visible
results.

Agham also cited alarming incidents that happened in Taal:


1. May to June 2011 bangus fish kill due to a substantial temperature change in water and
2. December 10 2011 hog waste incident where a large volume of piggery waste covering at least
half a hectare was seen from the shores of Taal Lake fronting Lipute River in Batangas.

To convince the court, the party list argued that the writ of kalikasan is a favored remedy for
cases such as this since the rationale to the rules of procedure for environmental cases states that
the writwas refashioned as a tool to bridge the gap between allegation and proof by providing
remedy for would-be environmental litigants to compel the production of information within the
custody of the governmentthe scope of the fact-finding power could be: 1. Anything related to
the issuance, grant of a governmental permit issued or information contained in documents

The party list asserted that the continuing deterioration of the water quality of Taal lake coupled
with its nature makes it imperative that the best and fastest remedy is secured so that generations
to come may again experience the lake in its original state.

The Supreme Court GRANTED the petition by issuance of a temporary environmental


protection order (TEPO) or writ of kalikasan. The writ mandated the respondents to refrain from
issuing any PAMB clearances for fish cage operations within the Taal lake in compliance with
SEC 45 of RA 8550.

The petition for the issuance of the writ shall be filed with the Supreme Court or with any of the
stations of the Court of Appeals. It should contain all relevant and material evidence consisting
of the affidavits of witnesses, documentary evidence, scientific or other expert studies, and if
possible, object evidence. The petitioner shall be exempt from the payment of docket fees.
The hearing including the preliminary conference shall not extend beyond sixty (60) days and
shall be given the same priority as petitions for the writs of habeas corpus, amparo and habeas
data.
The court, in its judgment, may either grant or deny the privilege of the writ of kalikasan. Reliefs
that may be granted under the writ are:
(a) Directing respondent to permanently cease and desist from committing acts or
neglecting the performance of a duty in violation of environmental laws resulting in
environmental destruction or damage;
(b) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, private person or entity
to protect, preserve, rehabilitate or restore the environment;
(c) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, private person or entity
to monitor strict compliance with the decision and orders of the court;
(d) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, or private person or
entity to make periodic reports on the execution of the final judgment; and

(e) Such other reliefs which relate to the right of the people to a balanced and healthful
ecology or to the protection, preservation, rehabilitation or restoration of the environment, except
the award of damages to individual petitioners.
Within 15 days from the date of notice of the adverse judgment or denial of motion for
reconsideration, any party may appeal to the Supreme Court under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
The appeal may raise questions of fact.

[G.R. No. 110286. April 2, 1997]


THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. RENERIO P. VERGARA,
ERNESTO T. CUESTA, JR., PEDRO G. DAGAO and BERNARDO P. CUESTA,
accused. RENERIO P. VERGARA, accused-appellant.
DECISION
VITUG, J.:
From the decision, dated 10 February 1993, of the Regional Trial Court, 8th Judicial
Region, Branch 7, in Tacloban City, finding accused Renerio P. Vergara guilty beyond reasonable
doubt in Criminal Case No. 92-09-508 of a violation of Section 33 of Presidential Decree
("P.D.") No. 704, as amended by P.D. No. 1508, an appeal to this Court has been interposed.
Vergara was charged, together with his three co-accused, namely Ernesto T. Cuesta, Jr.,
Pedro G. Dagao and Bernardo P. Cuesta, on 25 September 1992, in an information that read:
"The undersigned Provincial Prosecutor of Leyte accuses Ernesto T. Cuesta, Jr., Pedro G. Dagao,
Renerio P. Vergara and Bernardo P. Cuesta of the crime of Violation of Section 33, Presidential
Decree No. 704, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1058, committed as follows:
"That on or about the 4th day of July, 1992, in the Municipal waters of Palo, Province of Leyte,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
without any authority of law, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping one
another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally catch, take and gather fish
belonging to the anchovies species known locally as 'bolinao', with the use of explosives
contained in a bottle and called in the vernacular as 'badil', which bottled explosives after being
ignited and hurled to the sea, produced explosion and caused the death of the said fish which
were hit or affected by such explosion.
"CONTRARY TO LAW."[if !supportFootnotes][1][endif]

Vergara alone was arraigned and brought to trial; his co-accused escaped and remained at
large.
It would appear that at about 7:30 in the morning of 04 July 1992, a team composed of
deputized Fish Warden and President of the Leyte Fish Warden Association Jesus P. Bindoy,
Police Officers Casimiro Villas and Diosdado Moron of the Palo PNP Station, Leyte, Fish
Wardens Mario Castillote and Estanislao Cabreros and Fish Examiner Nestor Aldas of the
Department of Agriculture were on board, "Bantay-Dagat," a pumpboat, on "preventive patrol"
along the municipal waters fronting barangays Baras and Candahug of Palo, Leyte, when they
chanced upon a blue-colored fishing boat at a distance of approximately 200 meters away. The
boat, 30 feet long, had on board appellant Renerio Vergara and his three co-accused Bernardo

Cuesta, Pedro Dagao and Ernesto Cuesta, Jr., and was on parallel course toward the general
direction of Samar.[if !supportFootnotes][2][endif] Momentarily, the team saw appellant throw into the sea
a bottle known in the locality as "badil" containing ammonium nitrate and having a blasting cap
on top which, when ignited and thrown into the water, could explode. The explosion would
indiscriminately kill schools and various species of fish within a certain radius. Approximately
three seconds after appellant had thrown the "badil" into the sea, the explosion occurred. Vergara
and Cuesta dove into the sea with their gear while Dagao and Cuesta, Jr., stayed on board to tend
to the air hose for the divers.[if !supportFootnotes][3][endif]
The team approached the fishing boat. SPO2 Casimiro Villas boarded the fishing boat
while Fish Warden Jesus Bindoy held on to one end of the boat. Moments later, Vergara and
Cuesta surfaced, each carrying a fishnet or "sibot" filled with about a kilo of "bolinao" fish
scooped from under the water. Having been caught red-handed, the four accused were
apprehended and taken by the patrol team to the "Bantay-Dagat" station at Baras, and later to the
police station in Palo, Leyte. The fishing boat and its paraphernalia, as well as the two fishnets of
"bolinao," were impounded. The accused, however, refused to sign and acknowledge the
corresponding receipts therefor.
On 10 February 1993, following the submission of the evidence, the trial court rendered
judgment convicting Vergara, viz:
"WHEREFORE, said Renerio Vergara is hereby sentenced to a penalty of Twenty (20) years to
life imprisonment as punished under Sec. 2, of PD 1058.
"This Court further orders the confiscation of the fishing boat of Mario Moraleta including the
following equipments: 1 air compressor, 3 sets of air hoses, and the 3 pieces of 'sibot' having
been found to be instruments of the crime.
"SO ORDERED "[if !supportFootnotes][4][endif]

In his appeal, Vergara submitted the following assignment of errors:


"1. THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF AUTHORITY WHEN IT
COMPLETELY IGNORED THE TESTIMONY OF EMILIO LINDE.
"2. THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF AUTHORITY WHEN IT GAVE
MUCH WEIGHT TO BIASED WITNESSES WHOSE TESTIMONIES WERE GLARINGLY
INCONSISTENT.
"3. THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF AUTHORITY WHEN IT
OPENLY SHOWED BIAS AGAINST THE ACCUSED DURING THE TRIAL OF THIS
CASE."[if !supportFootnotes][5][endif]
Emilio Linde sought to corroborate the claim of appellant that it was another unidentified
group of fishermen who threw the bottle of explosives at a school of "bolinao" fish. It was
obvious, however, said the trial court, that the statement of this defense witness was incredulous
since he apparently had not at all been on board the fishing boat in the company of the accused at
the time of the incident. Even the rather lengthy counter-affidavit of the four accused completely
missed to mention Linde. The court a quo went on to observe that the demeanor of the accused at
the witness stand and the substance of his testimony failed to elicit belief.
Trial courts are tasked to initially rule on the credibility of witnesses for both the
prosecution and the defense. Appellate courts seldom would subordinate, with their own, the
findings of trial courts which concededly have good vantage points in assessing the credibility of

those who take the witness stand. Nevertheless, it is not all too uncommon for this Court, in
particular, to peruse through the transcript of proceedings in order to satisfy itself that the records
of a case do support the conclusions of trial courts.
Fish Warden Jesus Bindoy gave a detailed account of the 4th July 1992 incident. Thus
"FISCAL DAGANDAN:

"Q In the morning of the 4th day of July, 1992 do you recall where you were?
"A We were on the sea fronting barangays Baras and Candahug.

"Q What municipality?

"A Palo, Leyte.

"Q Did you have anyone with you in this particular incident?

"A Yes, sir.


"Q Who were they?

"A Two policemen Casimiro Villas, Jr. and Diosdado Moron and my fellow fish
warden and one from the Department of Agriculture.

"Q Will you identify your co-fish warden who were present at that time?

"A Mario Castillote, Estanislao Cabreros, Jr.

"Q How about that employee from the Department of Agriculture, who was he?
"A Nestor Aldas.

"Q What were you doing at that particular time on this place fronting barangay
Baras and Barangay Candahug, Palo, Leyte?

"A We were watching for illegal fishers.


"Q What is your authority in this particular task?

"A We are the bantay dagat members of Palo.

Q Do you have any written authoriting evidencing that position?

"A Yes, maam, our deputized ID (witness is showing ID No. 1432-91)

"FISCAL DAGANDAN:
For the records your honor I will quote this ID: This is to certify that Jesus P.
Bindoy is a deputy fish warden vested with full power and authority to
enforce all existing fishery laws, rules and regulations (SGD) Leopoldo
Romano, [D]irector, Department of Agriculture, Region 8.

"FISCAL DAGANDAN:

"Q Since you claimed that you were on the sea fronting barangays Baras and
Candahug in what vehicle were you in at that moment?

"A We were in a motorized pumpboat.

"Q So, what unusual incident if any that transpired?


"A In that morning we saw a blue pump boat which is about 200 meters away from
us.

"COURT

What time in the morning?


"A About 7:30 in the morning more or less.

"FISCAL DAGANDAN:

"Q About how long is this colored blue pumpboat?

"A More or less 30 feet.

"Q At about this distance of 200 meters were you able to visualize or see if there
were any passengers in that blue colored pumpboat?
"A Yes, maam.

"Q Were you able to identify them?

"A Yes, sir.

"Q Who were they?

"A The one in front of the pumpboat was Renerio Vergara, Bernardo Cuesta, Pedro
Dagao and Ernesto Cuesta, Jr.
"Q You mentioned of Renerio Vergara, whom you saw in that blue colored
pumpboat and you identified earlier Renerio Vergara. Is he the same
person?

"A Yes, they are one and the same person.

"Q At the time you saw these persons loaded in that color blue pumpboat what were
they doing?

"A I saw them paddling.


"Q Towards what direction?

"A Towards the direction of Samar.

"Q And where were you in relation with that pumpboat that was paddled towards
Samar area?

"A We were situated parallel to them.

"Q So what happened at this particular time?


"A That was when we saw Renerio Vergara threw a bottle to the sea and after that
we heard an explosion.

"Q Did you come to know what particular bottle was it thrown to the sea?

"A It was a dynamite (badil).

"Q As a member of this bantay dagat are you familiar with this 'badil' which you
earlier mentioned?

"A Yes, sir.


"Q Will you describe this particular device?

"A This bottle is filled with ammonium nitrate and on top is a blasting cap.

"Q So in case this is used by fishermen, how do they operate this 'badil'?

"A It is ignited and then thrown to the sea and this result in the killing of fishes at
the sea.
"Q In this particular instance when you heard the explosion how far were you to
this blue pumpboat?

"A About 200 meters.

"Q So what did you do after you heard this explosion?

"A After the explosion we slowly approached them.

"Q From the time you saw this bottle being thrown to the sea by Vergara up to the
time you heard this explosion about how many minutes elapsed?
"A About 3 seconds.

"Q At about how near were you to this blue pumpboat?

"A We went near to a distance of one hundred meters.

"Q So, what did you do at this distance?

"A We kept on watching them first and after we knew that the two persons dived to
the sea that was the time that we approached the pumpboat.
"Q Were you able to recognize these two persons who dived?

"A Yes, maam.

"Q Who were they?

"A Renerio Vergara and Bernardo Cuesta.


"Q You said there were four persons loaded in that pumpboat. How about the other
two what were they doing?

"A The two persons were there, one watching the hose that was used by the two
persons who dived for breathing.

"Q So, what else did you do?

"A When we approached the pumpboat it was Casimiro Villas, a policeman who
boarded the pumpboat.

"Q How about you what did you do when Casimiro Villas boarded the pumpboat?
"A I was the one holding on to the blue pumpboat.

"Q So, what else was done if any by the members of your team?

"A While we were there we let the two persons who dived surface and they were
carrying with them fishnet filled with 'bolinao' fish and then we told
them that we will bring them to our temporary station at Baras, Palo.

"Q Do you know the specie of this bolinao?

"A Anchovies.
"Q About how heavy were these fishes of bolinao in the fishnet?

"A About one kilo per fishnet.

"Q How many contraption were carried by them?


"A Each one of them was carrying one 'sibot' (fishnet).

"COURT

So, two divers two nets?

"A Yes, sir.

"Q And each has a catch of one kilo?


"A Almost one kilo.

"Q So, two nets two kilos more or less?

"A Yes, sir.

"FISCAL DAGANDAN:

"Q So, after that what did you do?


"Q When we arrived at our temporary station at Baras, Palo we gave the fishes to
the fish examiner and we had the pumpboat inventoried and told them
to sign the receipt we made.

"Q Do you recall if you made an apprehension report of the incident you
witnessed?

"A Yes, maam.

"Q I show you a original copy of apprehension report dated July 4, 1992 addressed
to the Regional Director, Department of Agriculture, Tacloban City
stating that the following offenders namely Renerio Vergara y Prisno,
Pedro Dagao y Gadin, Ernesto Cueta y Tobilla and Bernardo Cuesta y
Pedrero were apprehended and the violation is fishing with the use of
dynamite, the original of which is found on page 4 of the records. Will
you examine the same and tell this court what relation has that to the
report you said you made?
"A This is the apprehension report that we prepared on July 4, 1992."[if !supportFootnotes]
[6][endif]

Nestor Aldas, an Agricultural Technologist and Fish Examiner working with the
Department of Agriculture, Palo, Leyte, who examined the fish samples taken from the accused,
testified that he was with the team patrolling, on 04 July 1992, the waters of San Pedro Bay,
Baras, Palo, Leyte, when he, like the other members of his team, witnessed the use of explosives
by the accused. Fish samples from the catch showed ruptured capillaries, ruptured and blooded
abdominal portion, and crushed internal organs indicating that explosives were indeed used.
The Court is convinced that the trial court has acted correctly in finding accused-appellant
guilty of the offense charged.
Sections 33 and 38 of P.D. No. 704, as amended by P.D. No. 1058, read:
"Sec. 33. Illegal fishing; illegal possession of explosives intended for illegal fishing; dealing in
illegally caught fish or fishery/aquatic products. It shall be unlawful for any person to catch,
take or gather or cause to be caught, taken or gathered fish or fishery/aquatic products in
Philippine waters with the use of explosives, obnoxious or poisonous substance, or by the
use of electricity as defined in paragraphs (1), (m) and (d), respectively, of section 3 hereof:
Provided, That mere possession of such explosives with intent to use the same for illegal fishing
as herein defined shall be punishable as hereinafter provided: Provided, That the Secretary may,
upon recommendation of the Director and subject to such safeguards and conditions he deems
necessary, allow for research, educational or scientific purposes only, the use of explosives,
obnoxious or poisonous substance or electricity to catch, take or gather fish or fishery/aquatic
products in specified area: Provided, further, That the use of chemicals to eradicate predators in
fishponds in accordance with accepted scientific fishery practices without causing deleterious
effects in neighboring waters shall not be construed as the use of obnoxious or poisonous
substance within the meaning of this section: Provided, finally, That the use of mechanical
bombs for killing whales, crocodiles, sharks or other large dangerous fishes, may be allowed,
subject to the approval of the Secretary.

"Section 38. (1) By the penalty of imprisonment ranging from twelve (12) years to twenty-five
(25) years in the case of mere possession of explosives intended for illegal fishing; by
imprisonment ranging from twenty (20) years to life imprisonment, if the explosive is actually
used: Provided, That if the use of the explosive results in 1) physical injury to any person, the
penalty shall be imprisonment ranging from twenty-five (25) years to life imprisonment, or 2) in
the loss of human life, then the penalty shall be life imprisonment to death."
WHEREFORE, the decision of the court a quo appealed from is affirmed in toto. Costs against
accused-appellant.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-25434 July 25, 1975
HONORABLE ARSENIO N. ROLDAN, JR., in his capacity as Acting Commissioner,
Philippine Fisheries Commission, and THE PHILIPPINE NAVY, petitioners,
vs.
HONORABLE FRANCISCO ARCA, as Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of
Manila (Branch 1) and MORABE, DE GUZMAN & COMPANY, respondents.
Office of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz and Solicitor Augusto M. Amores for petitioners.
J. C. Yuseco and A.R. Narvasa for private respondent.
MAKASIAR, J.:
A petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction to restrain respondent Judge
from enforcing his order dated October 18, 1965, and the writ of preliminary mandatory
injunction thereunder issued.
On April 3, 1964, respondent company filed with the Court of First Instance of Manila a civil
case docketed as No. 56701 against petitioner Fisheries Commissioner Arsenio N. Roldan, Jr.,
for the recovery of fishing vessel Tony Lex VI (one of two fishing boats in question) which had
been seized and impounded by petitioner Fisheries Commissioner through the Philippine Navy.
On April 10, 1964, respondent company prayed for a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction
with respondent court, but said prayer was, however, denied.
On April 28, 1964, the Court of First Instance of Manila set aside its order of April 10, 1964 and
granted respondent company's motion for reconsideration praying for preliminary mandatory
injunction. Thus, respondent company took Possession of the vessel Tony Lex VI from herein
petitioners by virtue of the abovesaid writ.
On December 10, 1964, the Court of First Instance of Manila dismissed Civil Case No. 56701
for failure of therein petitioner (respondent company herein) to prosecute as well as for failure of
therein defendants (petitioners herein)to appear on the scheduled date of hearing. The vessel,
Tony Lex VI or Srta. Winnie however, remained in the possession of respondent company.
On July 20, 1965, petitioner Fisheries Commissioner requested the Philippine Navy to apprehend
vessels Tony Lex VI and Tony Lex III, also respectively called Srta. Winnie and Srta. Agnes, for
alleged violations of some provisions of the Fisheries Act and the rules and regulations
promulgated thereunder.

On August 5 or 6, 1965, the two fishing boats were actually seized for illegal fishing with
dynamite. Fish caught with dynamite and sticks of dynamite were then found aboard the two
vessels.
On August 18, 1965, the Fisheries Commissioner requested the Palawan Provincial Fiscal to file
criminal charges against the crew members of the fishing vessels.
On September 30, 1965, there were filed in the court of First Instance of Palawan a couple of
informations, one against the crew members of Tony Lex III, and another against the crew
members of Tony Lex VI both for violations of Act No. 4003, as amended by Commonwealth
Acts Nos. 462, 659 and 1088, i.e., for illegal fishing with the use of dynamite. On the same day,
the Fiscal filed an ex parte motion to hold the boats in custody as instruments and therefore
evidence of the crime (p. 54, rec.), and cabled the Fisheries Commissioner to detain the vessels
(p. 56, rec.).
On October 2 and 4, likewise, the Court of First Instance of Palawan ordered the Philippine Navy
to take the boats in custody.
On October 2, 1965, respondent company filed a complaint with application for preliminary
mandatory injunction, docketed as Civil Case No. 62799 with the Court of First Instance of
Manila against herein petitioners. Among others, it was alleged that at the time of the seizure of
the fishing boats in issue, the same were engaged in legitimate fishing operations off the coast of
Palawan; that by virtue of the offer of compromise dated September 13, 1965 by respondent
company to the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the numerous violations of the
Fishery Laws, if any, by the crew members of the vessels were settled.
On October 9, 1965, petitioners, represented by the Solicitor General, opposed the abovementioned complaint, alleging among others, that: (1) the issuance of the writ would disrupt the
status quo of the parties and would render nugatory any decision of the respondent court
favorable to the defendant; (2) that the vessels, being instruments of a crime in criminal cases
Nos. 3416 and 3417 filed with the Court of First Instance of Palawan, the release of the vessels
sans the corresponding order from the above-mentioned court would deprive the same of its
authority to dispose of the vessels in the criminal cases and the Provincial Fiscal would not be
able to utilize said vessels as evidence in the prosecution of said cases; (3) that as petitioners
herein were in possession of one of the vessels in point, they cannot now be deprived of the legal
custody thereof by reason of the dismissal of Civil Case No. 56701; (4) that petitioner Fisheries
Commissioner has the power to seize and detain the vessels pursuant to Section 5 of Republic
Act No. 3215 in relation to Sections 903 and 2210 of the Revised Tariff and Customs Code; (5)
that respondents herein have not exhausted administrative remedies before coming to court; (6)
that the compromise agreement approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources
and indorsed to the Fisheries Commissioner is never a bar to the prosecution of the crime
perpetrated by the crew members of the vessels belonging to respondent company.
And again, on October 15, 1965, herein petitioners filed their memorandum praying for the
denial of the application for preliminary mandatory injunction. On the same day, October 15,
1965, herein petitioners filed an urgent motion to submit additional documentary evidence.
On October 18, 1965, herein petitioners, as defendants in said Civil Case No. 62799, filed their
answer to the complaint with affirmative defenses, reiterating the grounds in their opposition to
the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction and adding that herein private

respondent admitted committing the last violation when it offered in its letter dated September
21, 1965 to the Acting Commissioner of Fisheries, to compromise said last violation (Exh. 12,
pp. 60-61, rec.).
On said day, October 18, 1965, the respondent Judge issued the challenged order granting the
issuance of the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction and issued the preliminary writ upon
the filing by private respondent of a bond of P5,000.00 for the release of the two vessels(pp.
95-102, rec.).
On October 19, 1965, herein petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the order issuing
the preliminary writ on October 18, 1965 on the ground, among others, that on October 18, 1965
the Philippine Navy received from the Palawan Court of First Instance two orders dated October
2 and 4, 1965 requiring the Philippine Navy to hold the fishing boats in custody and directing
that the said vessels should not be released until further orders from the Court, and that the bond
of P5,000.00 is grossly insufficient to cover the Government's losses in case the two vessels,
which are worth P495,000.00, are placed beyond the reach of the Government, thus frustrating
their forfeiture as instruments of the crime (pp. 103-109, rec.).1wph1.t
On November 23, 1965, respondent Judge denied the said motion for reconsideration (p. 110,
rec.).
WE rule that the respondent Judge of the Manila Court of First Instance acted without
jurisdiction and with grave abuse of discretion when he issued on October 18, 1965 the order
directing the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction and when he refused to
reconsider the same.
I
When the respondent Judge issued the challenged order on October 18, 1965 and the writ of
preliminary mandatory injunction pursuant thereto, the fishing vessels were already under the
jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Palawan by virtue of its orders of October 2 and 4,
1965, upon motion of the Provincial Fiscal (pp. 54, 55, rec.), directing the Philippine Navy to
detain (pp. 108, 109, rec.) said vessels, which are subject to forfeiture as instruments of the
crime, to be utilized as evidence in Criminal Cases Nos. 3416 and 3417 for illegal fishing
pending in said court (pp. 54-55, rec.). The said vessels were seized while engaging in prohibited
fishing within the territorial waters of Palawan (pp. 45, 48,-53, rec.) and hence within the
jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Palawan, in obedience to the rule that "the place
where a criminal offense was committed not only determines the venue of the action but is an
essential element of jurisdiction"(Lopez vs. Paras, L-25795, Oct. 29, 1966, 18 SCRA 616, 619).
The jurisdiction over the vessels acquired by the Palawan Court of First Instance cannot be
interfered with by another Court of First Instance. The orders of October 2 and 4, 1965 by the
Palawan Court of First Instance expressly direct the Philippine Navy "to hold in custody" the two
vessels and that "same should not be released without prior order or authority from this
Court" (pp. 108, 109, rec.). Only the Palawan court can order the release of the two vessels. Not
even the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources nor the Fisheries Commissioner can
direct that the fishing boats be turned over to private respondent without risking contempt of
court.
The grave abuse of discretion committed by the respondent Judge was heightened by the fact that
he did not reconsider his order of October 18, 1965 after he was informed by petitioners in their

motion for reconsideration filed on October 19, 1965 that the Palawan Court of First Instance
had already issued the two orders dated October 2 and 4, 1965 directing the Philippine Navy to
hold in custody the fishing boats until further orders.
It is basic that one court cannot interfere with the judgments, orders or decrees of another court
of concurrent or coordinate jurisdiction having equal power to grant the relief sought by
injunction; because if coordinate courts were allowed to interfere with each other's judgments,
decrees or injunctions, the same would obviously lead to confusion and might seriously hinder
the administration of justice (Ongsinco, etc. vs. Tan, et al., 97 Phil. 330; PNB vs. Javellana, 92
Phil. 525; Montesa vs. Manila Cordage Company, 92 Phil. 25; Hubahib vs. Insular Drug
Company, 64 Phil. 119; Hacbang, et al. vs. The Leyte Auto Bus Company, et al., G.R. No.
L-17907, May 30, 1963, 8 SCRA, 103, 107-109; NPC vs. Hon. Jesus de Vera, G.R. No. L-15763,
Dec. 22, 1961, 3 SCRA, 646, 648; Cabigao vs. del Rosario, 44 Phil. 182; Araneta & Uy vs.
Commonwealth Insurance Company, 55 OG 431; Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol.
III, 1970 ed., p. 64).
As early as October 2 and 4, 1965, the two boats were already in custodia legis under the sole
control of the Palawan Court of First Instance. The Manila Court of First Instance cannot
interfere with and change that possession (Hacbang vs. Leyte Bus Co., Inc., supra; NPC vs. Hon.
Jesus de Vera, supra).
It is immaterial that the vessels were then in the Philippine Navy basin in Manila; for the same in
no way impugns the jurisdiction already vested in the Palawan court, which has custody thereof
through the Philippine Navy. This is analogous to the situation in Colmenares versus Villar
(L-27124, May 29, 1970, 33 SCRA 186, 188-9), wherein We ruled "where the illegal possession
of firearms was committed in the town where the Court sits, the fact that the firearms were
confiscated from the accused in another town does not affect the jurisdiction of the Court" (pp.
186, 189).
It is likewise of no moment that the herein respondents were not notified by the herein petitioners
of the seizure of the questioned vessels by the Philippine Navy, because such previous notice is
not required by law.
II
The dismissal on December 10, 1964 of the first Civil Case No. 56701 by the Court of First
Instance of Manila had the necessary effect of automatically dissolving the writ of preliminary
mandatory injunction issued therein on April 28, 1964, directing the return of fishing vessel Tony
Lex VI (pp. 156-157, rec.). Such a preliminary writ, like any other interlocutory order, cannot
survive the main case of which it was but an incident; because "an ancillary writ of preliminary
injunction loses its force and effect after the dismissal of the main petition" (National Sugar
Workers' Union, etc., vs. La Carlota Sugar Central, et al., L-23569, May 25, 1972, 45 SCRA 104,
109; Lazaro vs. Mariano, 59 Phil. 6Z7, 631; Saavedra vs. Ibaez, 56 Phil. 33, 37; Hi Caiji vs.
Phil. Sugar Estate and Development Company, 50 Phil. 592, 594).1wph1.t
Moreover, the writ of preliminary injunction issued on April 28, 1964 in Civil Case No. 56701
was directed against the detention of the vessel Tony Lex VI for violations committed prior to
August 5, 1965, and therefore cannot and does not extend to the seizure and detention of said
vessel for violations on August 5 or 6, 1965, which violations were not and could not possibly be
the subject-matter of said Civil Case No. 56701 which was filed on April 3, 1964 (p. 12, rec.).

III
Herein petitioners can validly direct and/or effect the seizure of the vessels of private respondent
for illegal fishing by the use of dynamite and without the requisite licenses.
Section 4 of Republic Act No. 3512 approved on March 20, 1963 empowers the Fisheries
Commissioner to carry out the provisions of the Fisheries Act, as amended, and all rules and
regulations promulgated thereunder, to make searches and seizures personally or through his
duly authorized representatives in accordance with the Rules of Court, of "explosives such as ...
dynamites and the like ...; including fishery products, fishing equipment, tackle and other things
that are subject to seizure under existing fishery laws"; and "to effectively implement the
enforcement of existing fishery laws on illegal fishing."
Paragraph 5 of Section 4 of the same Republic Act 3512 likewise transferred to and vested in the
Philippine Fisheries Commission "all the powers, functions and duties heretofore exercised by
the Bureau of Customs, Philippine Navy and Philippine Constabulary over fishing vessels and
fishery matters ..."
Section 12 of the Fisheries Act, otherwise known as Republic Act No. 4003, as amended,
prohibits fishing with dynamites or other explosives which is penalized by Section 76 thereof
"by a fine of not less than P1,500.00 nor more than P5,000.00, and by imprisonment for not less
than one (1) year and six (6) months nor more than five (5) years, aside from the confiscation
and forfeiture of all explosives, boats, tackles, apparel, furniture, and other apparatus used in
fishing in violation of said Section 12 of this Act." Section 78 of the same Fisheries Law
provides that "in case of a second offense, the vessel, together with its tackle, apparel, furniture
and stores shall be forfeited to the Government."
The second paragraph of Section 12 also provides that "the possession and/or finding, of
dynamite, blasting caps and other explosives in any fishing boat shall constitute a presumption
that the said dynamite and/or blasting caps and explosives are being used for fishing purposes in
violation of this Section, and that the possession or discovery in any fishing boat or fish caught
or killed by the use of dynamite or other explosives, under expert testimony, shall constitute a
presumption that the owner, if present in the fishing boat, or the fishing crew have been fishing
with dynamite or other explosives." (Emphasis supplied).
Under Section 78 of the Fisheries Act, as amended, any person, association or corporation fishing
in deep sea fishery without the corresponding license prescribed in Sections 17 to 22 Article V of
the Fisheries Act or any other order or regulation deriving force from its provisions, "shall be
punished for each offense by a fine of not more than P5,000.00, or imprisonment, for not more
than one year, or both, in the discretion of the Court; Provided, That in case of an association or
corporation, the President or manager shall be directly responsible for the acts of his employees
or laborers if it is proven that the latter acted with his knowledge; otherwise the responsibility
shall extend only as far as fine is concerned: Provided, further, That in the absence of a known
owner of the vessel, the master, patron or person in charge of such vessel shall be responsible for
any violation of this Act: and Provided, finally, That in case of a second offense, the vessel
together with its tackle, apparel, furniture and stores shall be forfeited to the
Government" (Emphasis supplied).
Under Section 13 of Executive Order No. 389 of December 23, 1950, reorganizing the Armed
Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Navy has the function, among others, "to assist the

proper governmental agencies in the enforcement of laws and regulations pertaining to ...
fishing ..." (46 OG 5905, 5911).
Section 2210 of the Tariff and Customs Code, as amended by PD No. 34 of October 27, 1972,
authorized any official or person exercising police authority under the provisions of the Code, to
search and seize any vessel or air craft as well as any trunk, package, bag or envelope on board
and to search any person on board for any breach or violation of the customs and tariff laws.
When the Philippine Navy, upon request of the Fisheries Commissioner, apprehended on August
5 or 6, 1965 the fishing boats Tony Lex III and Tony Lex VI, otherwise known respectively as
Srta. Agnes and Srta. Winnie, these vessels were found to be without the necessary license in
violation of Section 903 of the Tariff and Customs Code and therefore subject to seizure under
Section 2210 of the same Code, and illegally fishing with explosives and without fishing license
required by Sections 17 and 18 of the Fisheries Law (pp. 46-47, rec.).1wph1.t
The operation of the fishing boat Tony Lex III was suspended pursuant to the order dated
January 28, 1964 issued by the Commissioner of Fisheries pending the final determination of the
case against it for illegal fishing with explosives on January 21, 1964 (p. 34, rec.) and remained
suspended until its apprehension on August 5 or 6, 1965 (p. 46, rec.).
For illegal fishing with explosives on March 23, 1963, the renewal of the fishing boat license of
Tony Lex VI was suspended for one year from the time said boat was moored at Pier 14 at North
Harbor, Manila, without prejudice to the institution of a criminal case against its owner and/or
operator, pursuant to the order dated May 19, 1964 issued by the Commissioner of Fisheries (pp.
35-36, rec.), the motion for reconsideration of which order was denied by the Commissioner of
Fisheries in an order dated August 17, 1964 (pp. 41-42, rec.).
For illegal fishing with dynamite on March 28, 1963, the operation of Tony Lex VI was
suspended by the Commissioner of Fisheries in an order dated April 1, 1963 (p. 62, rec.).
For illegal fishing again with explosives on April 25, 1963, the fishing boat Tony Lex VI together
with its tackle, apparel, furniture and all other apparatus used in fishing was ordered confiscated
and forfeited in favor of the Government and a fine in the amount of P5,000.00 was imposed on
its owners-operators, without prejudice to the filing of the necessary criminal action, pursuant to
the order of June 2, 1964 of the Commissioner of Fisheries(pp. 37-38, rec.).
Again, for comitting the same violation on June 19, 1963, a fine in the amount of P5,000.00 was
imposed on the owners-operators of fishing boat Tony Lex VI pursuant to the order of June 4,
1964 issued by the Commissioner of Fisheries (pp. 39-40, rec.)..
It appears, therefore, that since January 28, 1964, the fishing boat Tony Lex III was suspended
from operating and was ordered moored at Pier 14, North Harbor, Manila (pp. 34, 46-47, rec.);
and that the fishing vessel Tony Lex VI was suspended for one year from May 24, 1964 and was
actually ordered forfeited to the Government pursuant to the order of June 2, 1964 for repeated
violations of Section 12 of the Fisheries Act (pp. 37- 38. rec.).1wph1.t As a matter of fact,
when apprehended on August 5 or 6, 1965, both vessels were found to be without any license or
permit for coastwise trade or for fishing and unlawfully fishing with explosives, for which reason
their owners and crew were accordingly indicted by the Provincial Fiscal of Palawan for illegal
fishing with dynamite and without the requisite license (pp. 48-53, rec.).
As heretofore intimated, the two fishing boats were apprehended on numerous occasions for
fishing with dynamite from March 28, 1963 to March 11, 1964, which violations private

respondent, as owner-operator, sought to compromise by offering to pay a fine of P21,000.00 for


all said prior violations.
Such previous violations of Sections 12, 17 and 18 of the Fisheries Act committed by the two
fishing boats, Tony Lex III and Tony Lex VI, from March 28, 1963 until August 5 or 6, 1965,
rendered the said vessels subject to forfeiture under Sections 76 and 78 of the Fisheries Act, as
amended.
Search and seizure without search warrant of vessels and air crafts for violations of the customs
laws have been the traditional exception to the constitutional requirement of a search warrant,
because the vessel can be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the search
warrant must be sought before such warrant could be secured; hence it is not practicable to
require a search warrant before such search or seizure can be constitutionally effected (Papa vs.
Mago, L-27360, Feb. 28, 1968, 22 SCRA 857, 871-74; Magoncia vs. Palacio, 80 Phil. 770, 774;
Caroll vs. U.S. 267, pp. 132, 149, 158; Justice Fernando, The Bill of Rights, 1972 ed., p. 225;
Gonzales, Philippine Constitutional Law, 1966 ed., p. 300).
The same exception should apply to seizures of fishing vessels breaching our fishery laws. They
are usually equipped with powerful motors that enable them to elude pursuing ships of the
Philippine Navy or Coast Guard.
Another exception to the constitutional requirement of a search warrant for a valid search and
seizure, is a search or seizure as an incident to a lawful arrest (Alvero vs. Dizon, 76 Phil. 637;
Justice Fernando, The Bill of Rights, 1972 ed., p. 224). Under our Rules of Court, a police
officer or a private individual may, without a warrant, arrest a person (a) who has committed, is
actually committing or is about to commit an offense in his presence; (b) who is reasonably
believed to have committed an offense which has been actually committed; or (c) who is a
prisoner who has escaped from confinement while serving a final judgment or from temporary
detention during the pendency of his case or while being transferred from one confinement to
another (Sec. 6, Rule 113, Revised Rules of Court). In the case at bar, the members of the crew
of the two vessels were caught in flagrante illegally fishing with dynamite and without the
requisite license. Thus their apprehension without a warrant of arrest while committing a crime is
lawful. Consequently, the seizure of the vessel, its equipment and dynamites therein was equally
valid as an incident to a lawful arrest.
The alleged compromise approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources on
September 13, 1965 (pp. 63-64, 158-159, rec.) cannot be invoked by the respondents because the
said compromise referred to about thirty violations of the fisheries law committed by the private
respondent from March 28, 1963 to March 11, 1964. The violations by the two vessels of private
respondent by reason of which these vessels were apprehended and detained by the Philippine
Navy upon request of the Commissioner of Fisheries, were committed on August 5 or 6, 1965.
Moreover, the power to compromise would exist only before a criminal prosecution is instituted;
otherwise the Department Secretary or any of his sub-alterns can render criminal prosecutions
for violations of the fisheries law a mere mockery. It is not in the public interest nor is it good
policy to sustain the viewpoint that the Department Secretary can compromise criminal cases
involving public, not private, offenses after the indictment had been instituted in court. The
fishing vessels together with all their equipment and the dynamites found therein are not only
evidence of the crime of illegal fishing but also subject to forfeiture in favor of the Government

as instruments of the crime (Art. 45, Revised Penal Code, Sec. 78, Act No. 4003, as amended).
Section 80(j) of Act No. 4003, as amended, precludes such a compromise the moment the
Fisheries Commissioner decides to prosecute the criminal action in accordance with Sections 76
and 78 of the other penal provisions of the fisheries law. Furthermore, any compromise shall be
upon the recommendation of the Fisheries Commission (Section 80[i], Act No. 4003), which did
not recommend such a compromise for the violation on August 5 or 6, 1965 of Section 12 in
relation to Sections 76 and 78 of Act No. 4003, as amended. On the contrary, the Fisheries
Commissioner requested the Provincial Fiscal to institute the criminal cases (pp. 43-45, rec.) and
the Provincial Fiscal filed the corresponding informations docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 3416
and 3417 on September 30, 1965 against the owners and the members of the crew of the vessels
(pp. 48-53, rec.).
It should be noted that in the first indorsement dated September 13, 1965 of the Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources approving the compromise fine of P21,000.00 for the various
violations committed previous to August 5 or 6, 1965 (pp. 34-42, 47, 58-64, 149-155, 158-159,
rec.), the Department Secretary "believes that the offer made by the company was an implied
admission of violations of said provisions of the Fisheries Law and regulations, ..." (pp. 63, 158,
rec.). The said approval was granted after the private respondent filed a motion for
reconsideration of the indorsement dated March 5, 1965 of the Secretary of Agriculture and
Natural Resources disapproving the offer by private respondent to pay the fine by way of
compromise.
There can be no dispute that the term fishing boat (employed in the second paragraph of Section
12 of the Fisheries Act applies to the vessels Tony Lex III and Tony Lex VI. Even private
respondent refers to said fishing boats as fishing vessels "engaged in fishing operations" or "in
commercial fishing" in paragraph IV of its complaint in Civil Case No. 62799 (p. 18, rec.), as
well as in its various communications to the Fisheries Commissioner (pp. 60-61, 65, 82, rec.).
1wph1.t The two fishing vessels Tony Lex III and Tony Lex VI likewise fall under the term
vessel used in Sections 17, 76 and 78, as well as the term boats utilized in the second paragraph
of Section 76 of the Fisheries Act. They can also fall under the term fishing equipment employed
in Section 4 of Republic Act No. 3512; because a fishing equipment is never complete and
cannot be effectively used in off-shore or deep-sea fishing without the fishing boat or fishing
vessel itself. And these two vessels of private respondent certainly come under the term fishing
vessels employed in paragraph 5 of Section 4 of the same Republic Act 3512 creating the
Fisheries Commission.
Hence, no useful purpose can be served in trying to distinguish between boat and vessel with
reference to Tony Lex III and Tony Lex VI. As a matter of fact, the accepted definition of vessel
includes "every description of water craft, large or small, used or capable of being used as a
means of transportation on water" (Cope versus Vallete, etc., 199 U.S. 625; U.S. vs. Holmes, 104
Fed. 884; Charles Barnes Co. vs. One Dredge Boat, 169 Fed. 895; and Yu Con vs. Ipil, 41 Phil.
780).
The word boat in its ordinary sense, means any water craft (Monongahela River Construction,
etc. vs. Hardsaw, 77 NE 363, 365). The fishing boats Tony Lex III and Tony Lex VI are likewise
vessels within the meaning of the term vessel used in Sections 903 and 2210 of the Tariff and
Customs Code.

WHEREFORE, THE PETITION IS HEREBY GRANTED AND THE ORDER OF


RESPONDENT JUDGE DATED OCTOBER 18, 1965, THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY
MANDATORY INJUNCTION ISSUED THEREUNDER AND THE ORDER DATED
NOVEMBER 23, 1965, ARE HEREBY SET ASIDE AS NULL AND VOID, WITH COSTS
AGAINST PRIVATE RESPONDENT.
G.R. No. L-13678

November 20, 1959

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
MOISES CUBELO, defendant-appellant.
Assistant Solicitor General Esmeraldo Umali and Solicitor Pacifico P. de Castro for appellee.
Teodulo C. Tandayag for appellant.
MONTEMAYOR, J.:
In the Court of First Instance of Surigao, appellant Moises Cubelo was charged with the crime of
illegal fishing with explosives, allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about the 7th day of March, 1955, within the jurisdictional waters of the
municipality and province of Surigao, Philippines, and within the jursidiction of this
Honorable Court, the said accused did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
explode one stick of dynamite without permit to do so as a result of which a certain kind
of fish locally called tamban valued at P10.00 was disabled, killed and/or stupefied in
violation of Act 4003, as amended by Commonwealth Act No. 471 and further amended
by Republic Act No. 462.
He was arraigned on March 25, 1957, the information being read and translated to him in local
dialect. to the charged, he pleaded him guilty of illegal fishing with the use of explosives as
defined in Act. No. 4003, as amended and considering his plea of guilty as a mitigating
circumstance, sentenced him
.. to undergo the indeterminate penalty of one (1) year and six (6) months, as minimum,
to two (2) years, as maximum and to pay a fine in the amount of P1,500, or to serve
subsidiary imprisonment which shall not be more than one-third (1/3) of the principal
penalty or in any case to not more than one year; and to pay the costs.
However, in spite of his spontaneous plea of guilty, Cubelo appealed the decision to the Court of
Appeals which certified the case to us on the ground that it involved only question of law.
Appellant contends that he may not be convicted of illegal fishing with dynamite because the
information fails to allege the intention to fish with explosives.
Act. No. 4003, as amended by Commonwealth Act No. 471 and further amended by Republic
Act 462, under which appellant was accused and convicted, read as follows:
Rep. Act 462, par. 2 Any person who shall use explosives in fishing in violation of the
provisions of section twelve of this act shall be punished by a fine of not less than one
thousand five hundred pesos nor more than one year and six months nor more than five

thousand, and by imprisonment for not less than one year and six months nor more than
five years, aside from the confiscation and forfeiture of all explosives, boats, tackle,
apparel, furniture, and other apparatus used in fishing in violation of said section twelve
of this Act. (Approved June 9, 1950)
Defendant in support of his contention, relies upon the phrase "use explosives in fishing",
claiming that in order to hold him criminally liable, the information should make it clear that the
explosives or dynamite was used in fishing and not for any other purpose. Republic Act No. 462
is but an amendment of Section 76 of Act No. 4003, providing the penalty for violation of
Section 12 of said Act. The said section 12 reads thus:
Section 12, Act 4003 The use of dynamite or other explosives for the stupefying,
disabling, killing or taking of fish or other aquatic animals, or under water for any
purpose except in the execution of bona fide engineering work and destruction of wrecks
or obstacles to navigation, or the gathering by nay means of the fishes or other aquatic
animals stupefied, disabled or killed by the action of the dynamite or other explosives
shall be unlawful, provided, that the use of mechanical bombs for killing whales,
crocodiles, sharks, or other large dangerous fishes, may be allowed, subject to the
approval of the Sec. of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Sec. of Interior, and
provided further, that the Sec. of Agriculture and Natural Resources with the concurrence
of Sec. of Interior may issue permits for the use of explosive in taking fish or other
aquatic animals in limited numbers for scientific purposes only. Permittees must be ready
at all times to exhibit permits on demand by any peace officer or deputy authorized in
Sec. 5 hereof to enforce the provisions of this Act.
The act charged in the information against Cubelo that he willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
exploded one stick of dynamite, which explosion resulted in disabling, stupefying and killing a
certain kind of fish, known as tamban valued at ten pesos, comes under the provisions of Section
12 and par. 2 of Republic Act 462, above-quoted. Of course, the Fiscal filing the complaint, to
dissipate all doubt, should or could have inserted the phrase "for the purpose of fishing", thereby
avoiding any need of interpretation, including the reading of the information in connection with
Section 12 of Act 4003. But that Cubelo exploded the dynamite in order to fish, there can be no
doubt. To assume that he exploded the dynamite in the water just for fun, and that said
supposedly innocent pastime unexpectedly resulted in the killing of a large fish valued at ten
pesos, would involve an unreasonable presumption, as well as an extraordinary coincidence.
People do not usually assume the risk of handling explosives such as dynamite with its
consequent dangers to human life, and waste the value of said explosives which could otherwise
be utilized for legitimate purposes, just for fun. And fishes, like those called tamban, are not so
abundant and always near the surface of the sea that any explosion of a stick of dynamite thrown
at random, without any purpose other than for fun, and without aim or deliberation, could not but
hit them as a target with fatal results. The theory of appellant does not appeal to the credulity of
this Tribunal.
Moreover, the information in the present case is entitled "Illegal Fishing with Explosives", so
that there could have been no doubt in the mind of appellant who was then assisted by counsel,

that he was being charged with exploding dynamite for purposes of fishing illegally, this apart
from the fact that among the exhibits which the prosecution was going to present in evidence to
support the charge, evidently confiscated from the accused at the time he was caught in the act of
fishing with explosives, and which were listed in the information, were the following:
One (1) bag of dried fish
One (1) Goggles
One (1) fish nets
One (1) paddle, and
One (1) baroto
The last four articles clearly show that the accused was fishing. And as already stated, he pleaded
guilty to the charge. In addition, the intent may be rightly presumed from the result of the act.
Cubelo exploded a stick of dynamite in the water and killed a large fish valued at ten pesos. The
logical presumption is that the explosion was for the purpose of fishing, that is to say, to catch
that big fish which at the time he knew was near him or within the area where he threw the stick
of dynamite.
Appellant also claims that the trial court committed error in ordering him to serve subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency in the payment of the fine, contending that Act No. 4003
fails to provide for such subsidiary imprisonment, and being a special law, it is not subject to the
provisions of the Revised Penal Code. The second paragraph of Article 10 of said code provides
that "this Code shall be supplementary to such laws, unless the latter should specially provide the
contrary." In the cases of People vs. Dizon (G. R. No. L-8002, November 23, 1955) it has been
held that Articles 100 (civil liability) and 39 (subsidiary penalty) are applicable to offenses under
special laws, citing the case of People vs. Moreno (60 Phil., 178) and Copiaco vs. Luzon
Brokerage (66 Phil., 184).
In view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs.
United States v. Montoya de Hernandez, 473 U.S. 531 (1985)
United States v. Montoya de Hernandez
No. 84-755
Argued April 24, 1985
Decided July 1, 1985
473 U.S. 531
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE
NINTH CIRCUIT
Syllabus
Upon her arrival at Los Angeles International Airport on a flight from Bogota, Colombia,
respondent was detained by customs officials when after examination of her passport and the
contents of her valise and questioning by the officials, she was suspected of being a "balloon
swallower," i.e., one who attempts to smuggle narcotics into this country hidden in her
alimentary canal. She was detained incommunicado for almost 16 hours before the officials

sought a court order authorizing a pregnancy test (she having claimed to be pregnant), an x-ray,
and a rectal examination. During those 16 hours, she was given the option of returning to
Colombia on the next available flight, agreeing to an x-ray, or remaining in detention until she
produced a monitored bowel movement. She chose the first option, but the officials were unable
to place her on the next flight, and she refused to use the toilet facilities. Pursuant to the court
order, a pregnancy test was conducted at a hospital and proved negative, and a rectal examination
resulted in the obtaining of 88 cocaine-filled balloons that had been smuggled in her alimentary
canal. Subsequently, after a suppression hearing, the District Court admitted the cocaine in
evidence against respondent, and she was convicted of various federal narcotics offenses. The
Court of Appeals reversed, holding that respondent's detention violated the Fourth Amendment
because the customs officials did not have a "clear indication" of alimentary canal smuggling at
the time respondent was detained.
Held: The detention of a traveler at the border, beyond the scope of a routine customs search and
inspection, is justified at its inception if customs agents, considering all the facts surrounding the
traveler and her trip, reasonably suspect that the traveler is smuggling contraband in her
alimentary canal; here, the facts, and their rational inferences, known to the customs officials
clearly supported a reasonable suspicion that respondent was an alimentary canal smuggler. Pp.
473 U. S. 536-544.
(a) The Fourth Amendment's emphasis upon reasonableness is not consistent with the creation of
a "clear indication" standard to cover a case such as this as an intermediate standard between
"reasonable suspicion" and "probable cause." Pp. 473 U. S. 537-541.
(b) The "reasonable suspicion" standard effects a needed balance between private and public
interests when law enforcement officials must
Page 473 U. S. 532
make a limited intrusion on less than probable cause. It thus fits well into situations involving
alimentary canal smuggling at the border: this type of smuggling gives no external signs, and
inspectors will rarely possess probable cause to arrest or search, yet governmental interests in
stopping smuggling at the border are high. Pp. 473 U. S. 541-542.
(c) Under the circumstances, respondent's detention, while long, uncomfortable, and humiliating,
was not unreasonably long. Alimentary canal smuggling cannot be detected in the amount of
time in which other illegal activity may be investigated through brief stops. When respondent
refused an x-ray as an alternative to simply awaiting her bowel movement, the customs
inspectors were left with only two practical alternatives: detain her for such time as necessary to
confirm their suspicions or turn her loose into the interior of the country carrying the reasonably
suspected contraband drugs. Moreover, both the length of respondent's detention and its
discomfort resulted solely from the method that she chose to smuggle illicit drugs into this
country. And in the presence of an articulable suspicion of alimentary canal smuggling, the
customs officials were not required by the Fourth Amendment to pass respondent and her
cocaine-filled balloons into the interior. Pp. 473 U. S. 542-544.
731 F.2d 1369, reversed.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE,
BLACKMUN, POWELL, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion

concurring in the judgment, post, p. 473 U. S. 545. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in
which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 473 U. S. 545.
JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.
Respondent Rosa Elvira Montoya de Hernandez was detained by customs officials upon her
arrival at the Los Angeles Airport on a flight from Bogota, Colombia. She was found to be
smuggling 88 cocaine-filled balloons in her alimentary
Page 473 U. S. 533
canal, and was convicted after a bench trial of various federal narcotics offenses. A divided panel
of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed her convictions, holding that
her detention violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution because the
customs inspectors did not have a "clear indication" of alimentary canal smuggling at the time
she was detained. 731 F.2d 1369 (1984). Because of a conflict in the decisions of the Courts of
Appeals on this question and the importance of its resolution to the enforcement of customs laws,
we granted certiorari. 469 U.S. 1188. We now reverse.
Respondent arrived at Los Angeles International Airport shortly after midnight, March 5, 1983,
on Avianca Flight 080, a direct 10-hour flight from Bogota, Colombia. Her visa was in order, so
she was passed through Immigration and proceeded to the customs desk. At the customs desk,
she encountered Customs Inspector Talamantes, who reviewed her documents and noticed from
her passport that she had made at least eight recent trips to either Miami or Los Angeles.
Talamantes referred respondent to a secondary customs desk for further questioning. At this
desk, Talamantes and another inspector asked respondent general questions concerning herself
and the purpose of her trip. Respondent revealed that she spoke no English and had no family or
friends in the United States. She explained in Spanish that she had come to the United States to
purchase goods for her husband's store in Bogota. The customs inspectors recognized Bogota as
a "source city" for narcotics. Respondent possessed $5,000 in cash, mostly $50 bills, but had no
billfold. She indicated to the inspectors that she had no appointments with merchandise vendors,
but planned to ride around Los Angeles in taxicabs visiting retail stores such as J. C. Penney and
K-Mart in order to buy goods for her husband's store with the $5,000.
Respondent admitted that she had no hotel reservations, but stated that she planned to stay at a
Holiday Inn. Respondent could not recall how her airline ticket was purchased.
Page 473 U. S. 534
When the inspectors opened respondent's one small valise, they found about four changes of
"cold weather" clothing. Respondent had no shoes other than the high-heeled pair she was
wearing. Although respondent possessed no checks, waybills, credit cards, or letters of credit, she
did produce a Colombian business card and a number of old receipts, waybills, and fabric
swatches displayed in a photo album.
At this point, Talamantes and the other inspector suspected that respondent was a "balloon
swallower," one who attempts to smuggle narcotics into this country hidden in her alimentary
canal. Over the years, Inspector Talamantes had apprehended dozens of alimentary canal
smugglers arriving on Avianca Flight 080. See App. 42; United States v. Mendez-Jimenez, 709 F.
2d 1300, 1301 (CA9 1983).
The inspectors requested a female customs inspector to take respondent to a private area and
conduct a patdown and strip search. During the search, the female inspector felt respondent's

abdomen area and noticed a firm fullness, as if respondent were wearing a girdle. The search
revealed no contraband, but the inspector noticed that respondent was wearing two pairs of
elastic underpants with a paper towel lining the crotch area.
When respondent returned to the customs area and the female inspector reported her discoveries,
the inspector in charge told respondent that he suspected she was smuggling drugs in her
alimentary canal. Respondent agreed to the inspector's request that she be x-rayed at a hospital,
but in answer to the inspector's query, stated that she was pregnant. She agreed to a pregnancy
test before the x-ray. Respondent withdrew the consent for an x-ray when she learned that she
would have to be handcuffed en route to the hospital. The inspector then gave respondent the
option of returning to Colombia on the next available flight, agreeing to an x-ray, or remaining in
detention until she produced a monitored bowel movement that would confirm or rebut the
inspectors'
Page 473 U. S. 535
suspicions. Respondent chose the first option, and was placed in a customs office under
observation. She was told that, if she went to the toilet she would have to use a wastebasket in
the women's restroom in order that female customs inspectors could inspect her stool for
balloons or capsules carrying narcotics. The inspectors refused respondent's request to place a
telephone call.
Respondent sat in the customs office, under observation, for the remainder of the night. During
the night, customs officials attempted to place respondent on a Mexican airline that was flying to
Bogota via Mexico City in the morning. The airline refused to transport respondent because she
lacked a Mexican visa necessary to land in Mexico City. Respondent was not permitted to leave,
and was informed that she would be detained until she agreed to an x-ray or her bowels moved.
She remained detained in the customs office under observation, for most of the time curled up in
a chair leaning to one side. She refused all offers of food and drink, and refused to use the toilet
facilities. The Court of Appeals noted that she exhibited symptoms of discomfort consistent with
"heroic efforts to resist the usual calls of nature." 731 F.2d at 1371.
At the shift change at 4:00 o'clock the next afternoon, almost 16 hours after her flight had landed,
respondent still had not defecated or urinated or partaken of food or drink. At that time, customs
officials sought a court order authorizing a pregnancy test, an x-ray, and a rectal examination.
The Federal Magistrate issued an order just before midnight that evening, which authorized a
rectal examination and involuntary x-ray, provided that the physician in charge considered
respondent's claim of pregnancy. Respondent was taken to a hospital and given a pregnancy test,
which later turned out to be negative. Before the results of the pregnancy test were known, a
physician conducted a rectal examination and removed from respondent's rectum a balloon
containing a foreign substance. Respondent was then placed
Page 473 U. S. 536
formally under arrest. By 4:10 a.m. respondent had passed 6 similar balloons; over the next four
days, she passed 88 balloons containing a total of 528 grams of 80% pure cocaine hydrochloride.
After a suppression hearing, the District Court admitted the cocaine in evidence against
respondent. She was convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, 21 U.S.C.
841(a)(1), and unlawful importation of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. 952(a), 960(a).

A divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed respondent's
convictions. The court noted that customs inspectors had a "justifiably high level of official
skepticism" about respondent's good motives, but the inspectors decided to let nature take its
course rather than seek an immediate magistrate's warrant for an x-ray. 731 F.2d at 1372. Such a
magistrate's warrant required a "clear indication" or "plain suggestion" that the traveler was an
alimentary canal smuggler under previous decisions of the Court of Appeals. See United States v.
Quintero-Castro, 705 F.2d 1099 (CA9 1983); United States v. Mendez-Jimenez, 709 F.2d 1300,
1302 (CA9 1983); but cf. South Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U. S. 364, 428 U. S. 370, n. 5 (1976).
The court applied this required level of suspicion to respondent's case. The court questioned the
"humanity" of the inspectors' decision to hold respondent until her bowels moved, knowing that
she would suffer "many hours of humiliating discomfort" if she chose not to submit to the x-ray
examination. The court concluded that, under a "clear indication" standard,
"the evidence available to the customs officers when they decided to hold [respondent] for
continued observation was insufficient to support the 16-hour detention."
731 F.2d at 1373.
The Government contends that the customs inspectors reasonably suspected that respondent was
an alimentary canal smuggler, and this suspicion was sufficient to justify the detention. In
support of the judgment below, respondent
Page 473 U. S. 537
argues, inter alia, that reasonable suspicion would not support respondent's detention, and in any
event the inspectors did not reasonably suspect that respondent was carrying narcotics internally.
The Fourth Amendment commands that searches and seizures be reasonable. What is reasonable
depends upon all of the circumstances surrounding the search or seizure and the nature of the
search or seizure itself. New Jersey v. T. L. O., 469 U. S. 325, 469 U. S. 337-342 (1985). The
permissibility of a particular law enforcement practice is judged by "balancing its intrusion on
the individual's Fourth Amendment interests against its promotion of legitimate governmental
interests." United States v. Villamonte-Marquez, 462 U. S. 579, 462 U. S. 588 (1983); Delaware
v. Prouse, 440 U. S. 648, 440 U. S. 654 (1979); Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U. S. 523
(1967).
Here, the seizure of respondent took place at the international border. Since the founding of our
Republic, Congress has granted the Executive plenary authority to conduct routine searches and
seizures at the border, without probable cause or a warrant, in order to regulate the collection of
duties and to prevent the introduction of contraband into this country. See United States v.
Ramsey, 431 U. S. 606, 431 U. S. 616-617 (1977), citing Act of July 31, 1789, ch. 5, 1 Stat. 29.
This Court has long recognized Congress' power to police entrants at the border. See Boyd v.
United States, 116 U. S. 616, 116 U. S. 623 (1886). As we stated recently:
"'Import restrictions and searches of persons or packages at the national border rest on different
considerations and different rules of constitutional law from domestic regulations. The
Constitution gives Congress broad comprehensive powers '[t]o regulate Commerce with foreign
Nations,' Art. I, 8, cl. 3. Historically, such broad powers have been necessary to prevent
smuggling and to prevent prohibited articles from
Page 473 U. S. 538
entry.'"

Ramsey, supra, at 431 U. S. 618-619, quoting United States v. 12 200-Ft. Reels of Film, 413 U.
S. 123, 413 U. S. 125 (1973)
Consistently, therefore, with Congress' power to protect the Nation by stopping and examining
persons entering this country, the Fourth Amendment's balance of reasonableness is qualitatively
different at the international border than in the interior. Routine searches of the persons and
effects of entrants are not subject to any requirement of reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or
warrant, [Footnote 1] and first-class mail may be opened without a warrant on less than probable
cause, Ramsey, supra. Automotive travelers may be stopped at fixed checkpoints near the border
without individualized suspicion, even if the stop is based largely on ethnicity, United States v.
Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U. S. 543, 428 U. S. 562-563 (1976), and boats on inland waters with
ready access to the sea may be hailed and boarded with no suspicion whatever. United States v.
Villamonte-Marquez, supra.
These cases reflect longstanding concern for the protection of the integrity of the border. This
concern is, if anything, heightened by the veritable national crisis in law enforcement caused by
smuggling of illicit narcotics, see United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U. S. 544, 446 U. S. 561
(1980) (POWELL, J., concurring), and in particular by the increasing utilization of alimentary
canal smuggling. This desperate practice appears to be a relatively recent addition to the
smugglers' repertoire of deceptive practices, and it also appears to be exceedingly difficult
Page 473 U. S. 539
to detect. [Footnote 2] Congress had recognized these difficulties. Title 19 U.S.C. 1582
provides that
"all persons coming into the United States from foreign countries shall be liable to detention and
search authorized. . . [by customs regulations]."
Customs agents may "stop, search, and examine" any "vehicle, beast or person" upon which an
officer suspects there is contraband or "merchandise which is subject to duty." 482; see also
1467, 1481; 19 CFR 162.6, 162.7 (1984).
Balanced against the sovereign's interests at the border are the Fourth Amendment rights of
respondent. Having presented herself at the border for admission, and having subjected herself to
the criminal enforcement powers of the Federal Government, 19 U.S.C. 482, respondent was
entitled to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. But not only is the expectation of
privacy less at the border than in the interior, see, e.g., Carroll v. United States, 267 U. S. 267
U.S.
Page 473 U. S. 540
132, 154 (1925); cf. Florida v. Royer, 460 U. S. 491, 460 U. S. 515 (1983) (BLACKMUN, J.,
dissenting), the Fourth Amendment balance between the interests of the Government and the
privacy right of the individual is also struck much more favorably to the Government at the
border. Supra at 473 U. S. 538.
We have not previously decided what level of suspicion would justify a seizure of an incoming
traveler for purposes other than a routine border search. Cf. Ramsey, 431 U.S. at 431 U. S. 618,
n. 13. The Court of Appeals held that the initial detention of respondent was permissible only if
the inspectors possessed a "clear indication" of alimentary canal smuggling. 731 F.2d at 1372,
citing United States v. Quintero-Castro, 705 F.2d 1099 (CA9 1983); cf. United States v. MendezJimenez, 709 F.2d 1300 (CA9 1983). This "clear indication" language comes from our opinion in

Schmerber v. California, 384 U. S. 757 (1966), but we think that the Court of Appeals
misapprehended the significance of that phrase in the context in which it was used in Schmerber.
[Footnote 3] The Court of Appeals viewed "clear indication" as an intermediate standard between
"reasonable suspicion" and "probable cause." See Mendez-Jimenez, supra, at 1302. But we think
that the words in Schmerber were used to indicate the necessity for particularized suspicion that
the evidence sought might be found within the body of the individual, rather than as enunciating
still a third Fourth Amendment threshold between "reasonable suspicion" and "probable cause."
No other court, including this one, has ever adopted Schmerber's "clear indication" language as a
Fourth Amendment standard. See, e.g., 470 U. S. Lee, 470 U.S. 753,
Page 473 U. S. 541
470 U. S. 759-763 (1985) (surgical removal of bullet for evidence). Indeed, another Court of
Appeals, faced with facts almost identical to this case, has adopted a less strict standard based
upon reasonable suspicion. See United States v. Mosquera-Ramirez, 729 F.2d 1352, 1355 (CA11
1984). We do not think that the Fourth Amendment's emphasis upon reasonableness is consistent
with the creation of a third verbal standard in addition to "reasonable suspicion" and "probable
cause"; we are dealing with a constitutional requirement of reasonableness, not mens rea, see
United States v. Baley, 444 U. S. 394, 444 U. S. 403-406 (1980), and subtle verbal gradations
may obscure, rather than elucidate, the meaning of the provision in question.
We hold that the detention of a traveler at the border, beyond the scope of a routine customs
search and inspection, is justified at its inception if customs agents, considering all the facts
surrounding the traveler and her trip, reasonably suspect that the traveler is smuggling
contraband in her alimentary canal. [Footnote 4]
The "reasonable suspicion" standard has been applied in a number of contexts, and effects a
needed balance between private and public interests when law enforcement officials must make a
limited intrusion on less than probable cause. It thus fits well into the situations involving
alimentary canal smuggling at the border: this type of smuggling gives no external signs, and
inspectors will rarely possess probable cause to arrest or search, yet governmental interests in
stopping smuggling at the border are high indeed. Under this standard, officials at the border
must have a "particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person" of
alimentary
Page 473 U. S. 542
canal smuggling. United States v. Cortez, 449 U. S. 411, 449 U. S. 417 (1981); id. at 449 U. S.
418, citing Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1, 392 U. S. 21, n. 18 (1968).
The facts, and their rational inferences, known to customs inspectors in this case clearly
supported a reasonable suspicion that respondent was an alimentary canal smuggler. We need not
belabor the facts, including respondent's implausible story, that supported this suspicion, see
supra, at 473 U. S. 533-536. The trained customs inspectors had encountered many alimentary
canal smugglers, and certainly had more than an "inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or
hunch,'" Terry, supra, at 392 U. S. 27, that respondent was smuggling narcotics in her alimentary
canal. The inspectors' suspicion was a "`common-sense conclusio[n] about human behavior'
upon which `practical people,' -- including government officials, are entitled to rely." T. L. O.,
469 U.S. at 469 U. S. 346, citing United States v. Cortez, supra.

The final issue in this case is whether the detention of respondent was reasonably related in
scope to the circumstances which justified it initially. In this regard, we have cautioned that
courts should not indulge in "unrealistic second-guessing," United States v. Sharpe, 470 U. S.
675, 470 U. S. 686 (1985), and we have noted that
"creative judge[s], engaged in post hoc evaluations of police conduct, can almost always imagine
some alternative means by which the objectives of the police might have been accomplished."
Id. at 470 U. S. 686-687. But
"[t]he fact that the protection of the public might, in the abstract, have been accomplished by
'less intrusive' means does not, in itself, render the search unreasonable."
Id. at 470 U. S. 687, citing Cady v. Dombrowski, 413 U. S. 433, 413 U. S. 447 (1973).
Authorities must be allowed "to graduate their response to the demands of any particular
situation." United States v. Place, 462 U. S. 696, 462 U. S. 709, n. 10 (1983). Here, respondent
was detained incommunicado for almost 16 hours before inspectors sought a warrant; the
warrant then took a number of hours to procure, through no apparent fault
Page 473 U. S. 543
of the inspectors. This length of time undoubtedly exceeds any other detention we have approved
under reasonable suspicion. But we have also consistently rejected hard-and-fast time limits,
Sharpe, supra; Place, supra, at 462 U. S. 709, n. 10. Instead, "common sense and ordinary
human experience must govern over rigid criteria." Sharpe, supra, at 470 U. S. 685.
The rudimentary knowledge of the human body which judges possess in common with the rest of
humankind tells us that alimentary canal smuggling cannot be detected in the amount of time in
which other illegal activity may be investigated through brief Terry-type stops. It presents few, if
any, external signs; a quick frisk will not do, nor will even a strip search. In the case of
respondent, the inspectors had available, as an alternative to simply awaiting her bowel
movement, an x-ray. They offered her the alternative of submitting herself to that procedure. But
when she refused that alternative, the customs inspectors were left with only two practical
alternatives: detain her for such time as necessary to confirm their suspicions, a detention which
would last much longer than the typical Terry stop, or turn her loose into the interior carrying the
reasonably suspected contraband drugs.
The inspectors in this case followed this former procedure. They no doubt expected that
respondent, having recently disembarked from a 10-hour direct flight with a full and stiff
abdomen, would produce a bowel movement without extended delay. But her visible efforts to
resist the call of nature, which the court below labeled "heroic," disappointed this expectation,
and in turn caused her humiliation and discomfort. Our prior cases have refused to charge police
with delays in investigatory detention attributable to the suspect's evasive actions, see Sharpe,
470 U.S. at 470 U. S. 687-688; id. at 470 U. S. 697 (MARSHALL, J., concurring in judgment),
and that principle applies here as well. Respondent alone was responsible for much of the
duration and discomfort of the seizure.
Page 473 U. S. 544
Under these circumstances, we conclude that the detention in this case was not unreasonably
long. It occurred at the international border, where the Fourth Amendment balance of interests
leans heavily to the Government. At the border, customs officials have more than merely an

investigative law enforcement role. They are also charged, along with immigration officials, with
protecting this Nation from entrants who may bring anything harmful into this country, whether
that be communicable diseases, narcotics, or explosives. See 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(23), 1182(a)
(6), 1222; 19 CFR 162.4-162.7 (1984). See also 19 U.S.C. 482; 8 U.S.C. 1103(a). In this
regard, the detention of a suspected alimentary canal smuggler at the border is analogous to the
detention of a suspected tuberculosis carrier at the border: both are detained until their bodily
processes dispel the suspicion that they will introduce a harmful agent into this country. Cf. 8
U.S.C. 1222; 42 CFR pt. 34 (1984); 19 U.S.C. 482, 1582.
Respondent's detention was long, uncomfortable, indeed, humiliating; but both its length and its
discomfort resulted solely from the method by which she chose to smuggle illicit drugs into this
country. In Adams v. Williams, 407 U. S. 143 (1972), another Terry-stop case, we said that
"[t]he Fourth Amendment does not require a policeman who lacks the precise level of
information necessary for probable cause to arrest to simply shrug his shoulders and allow a
crime to occur or a criminal to escape."
Id. at 407 U. S. 145. Here, by analogy, in the presence of articulable suspicion of smuggling in
her alimentary canal, the customs officers were not required by the Fourth Amendment to pass
respondent and her 88 cocaine-filled balloons into the interior. Her detention for the period of
time necessary to either verify or dispel the suspicion was not unreasonable. The judgment of the
Court of Appeals is therefore
Reversed.
G.R. No. L-28021 December 15, 1977
JULIAN SANTULAN substituted by his children named PATROCINIO, ADORACION,
ARTURO, CONSTANCIA, and PEPITA, all surnamed SANTULAN and minor
grandchildren, JOCELYN, ROSAURO and ROBERTO, all surnamed SANTULAN
assisted by their guardian ad litem, PATROCINIO SANTULAN petitioners-appellants,
vs.
THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE AND
NATURAL RESOURCES, THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, and ANTONIO LUSIN,
substituted by his Heirs named TEODOSIA BALANZA (widow) and Children
LEOPOLDO, ARMANDO. ALFONSO, EMILIANO, MAGDALENA, ERLINDA and
ESTRELLA (ESTER), all surnamed LUSIN, and Heirs of CAROLINA LUSIN-LUCERO
named MANOLITO LUCERO and MARIO LUCERO, respondents-appellees.
Isidoro Crisostomo for appellants Heirs of Julian Santulan.
Romulo C. Felizmea for appellees Heirs of Antonio Lusin.
Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz Assistant Solicitor General Esmeraldo Umali and Solicitor
Conrado T. Limcaoco for The Executive Secretary, etc.
AQUINO, J.
This case is about the lease of a parcel of foreshore land of the public domain with an area of
about four and one-half hectares located at Barrio Kaingin, Kawit, Cavite abutting on Bacoor
Bay and the Ankaw Creek.

It is protracted controversy that has been pending for more than thirty years between the rival
claimants Julian Santulan plan and Antonio Lusin, who have been succeeded by their heirs.
Santulan claimed that foreshore land was an extension of his land, Lot No. 986 of the Kawit
cadastre, with an area of 17,301 square meters, registered in his name in 1937 under Original
Certificate of Title No. 6 which was issued by virtue of a free patent. The northern boundary of
Lot No. 986 is Bacoor (Manila) Bay (Exh. A). The said foreshore land was allegedly formed by
soil deposits accumulated by the alluvial action of the sea.
On December 5, 1942 Santulan caused the said land to be surveyed. The survey plan was
approved by the Director of Lands in 1944 (Exh. B). On December 29, 1942 Santulan, pursuant
to Lands Administrative Order No. 7-1, filed an application, F.L.A. No. V 562, to lease for five
years for agricultural purposes an area of 36,120 square meters of the said foreshore land (Exh.
F).
On that same date, December 29, 1942, Santulan, pursuant to Act No. 3077 and Lands
Administrative Order No. 8-3, filed with the Bureau of Lands an application for a revocable
permit to occupy the said land. He indicated therein that he would use the land for 11 capiz beds
and oyster beds, the planting of bakawan and pagatpat and later to be developed into a
fishpond" (Exh. G).
Seven years later, or on December 22, 1949, Santulan filed with the Bureau of Fisheries an
application for an ordinary fishpond permit or lease of the said foreshore land (Special Use
Permit, pp. A. No. 5114, Exh. H).
At the instance of the Director of Fisheries, the Director of Forestry investigated the condition of
the said foreshore land. The latter in his first indorsement dated June 19, 1950 found that it was
swampy "and not an improved fishpond as alleged by Antonio Lusin" and that it is within the
disposable areas for agricultural purposes under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Lands (Exh.
L-1).
The chief of the division of commercial fisheries sent a letter to Lusin dated April 28, 1950
apprising him that he was reported to have illegally entered the area covered by Santulan's
fishpond permit application and directing him to refrain from introducing improvements, with
the warning that court proceedings would be taken against him (Exh. J).
On January 12, 1951 an attorney, acting for the Director of Lands wrote the following letter to
Lusin advising him to vacate the disputed land and maintain the status quo:
Mr. Antonio Lusin
Caigin, Kawit, Cavite
S i r:
We have been informed that the area which is presently controverted by and between you and
Julian Santulan, under the applications noted above, was recently entered by you and some
companion and that you are destroying the dikes and other improvements previously constructed
thereon by said Julian Santulan.
If this information is true, and inasmuch as you are aware that the controversy is still pending
final adjudgment in this Office, is desired that you take proper advice and leave the area and its
existing improvements in status quo in order to avoid possible confusion of rights which ma
delay the final disposition of the area in question.

You are advised further that the acts imputed to you may make you liable to prosecution and
punishment under the law; and that whatever improvements you may make for yourself in the
premises will not legally accrue to your benefit, nor will they serve as basis for a claim to
preferential rights. (Paragraphing supplied, Exh, J-1).
Santulan declared the said foreshore land in his name for tax purposes. Tax Declaration No.
2923, which took effect in 1948 and which cancelled Tax Declaration No. 13816 also in
Santulan's name, shows that the land was assessed at P460. He paid the realty taxes due on the
said land for the years 1945-46, 1948-55 and 195760 (Exh. C, D and E, el seq.).
On the other hand, Antonio Lusin in 1942 and 1945 (he died in 1962) filed with the Bureau of
Lands applications for a revocable-permit and lease of a foreshore land, respectively, for the
purpose of producing salt on the said land. He claimed that he had been in the continuous and
exclusive possession of the land since 1920, when it was still under water, and that he had used it
as a site of his fish corrals.
He allegedly converted two hectares of the said land into a fishpond. The entire area was
enclosed with mud dikes and provided with a concrete sluice gate and another sluice gate made
of wood On the northern part of the land bordering the bay were bamboo stakes placed at close
intervals to serve as water breakers to protect the mud dikes from being washed away by the
action of the sea. Lusin introduced the alleged improvements from 1951 to 1953.
The 1942 foreshore lease applications of Santulan and Lusin gave rise to Bureau of Lands
Conflict No. 8 (N). The Director of Lands in his decision in that case dated February 1, 1951
found that the disputed land is foreshore land covered and uncovered by the flow and ebb of the
ordinary tides that it is an extension of Santulan's Lot No. 986 and it was formerly a part of the
sea; that Santulan was the first to enter the land and to make dikes thereon, and that Lusin
entered the land later and made dikes also (Exh. K made a part hereof for reference as Annex A).
The Director ruled that the disputed foreshore land was subject "to reparian rights which may he
invoked by Santulan as owner of the upland in accordance with section 32 of Lands
Administrative Order No. 7-1" (Exh. K). Hence the Director rejected Lusin's application for a
foreshore lease and for a revocable permit and gave due course to Santulan's foreshore lease
application.
Lusin filed a motion for reconsideration. The Director in his order of October 19, 1951 denied
that motion. lie found that Lusin was a possessor in bad faith: that it is not true that Lusin had
improved and possessed the said foreshore land for twenty years, that the disputed area is
covered by water, two to three feet deep during ordinary tides and is exposed land after the ebb
of the tides, and that Lusin's alleged possession and improvements could not nullify Santulan's
preferential right to lease the land by reason of his riparian rights. The Director ordered Lusin to
vacate the land within sixty days from notice (Exh. L made a part hereof for reference as Annex
B).
Lusin appealed to the Acting Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources who in his decision
of October 13, 1952 dismissed the appeal and affirmed the Director's 1951 decision (Exh. M
made a part hereof for reference as Annex C). Lusin's motion for reconsideration was denied in
the Secretary's order of February 28, 1953 (Exh. N made a part hereof for reference as Annex D).
Lusin asked for a reinvestigation of the case. His request was granted. The Department ordered a
reinvestigation on May 12, 1953.

After receipt of the report of reinvestigation, the Undersecretary of Agriculture and Natural
Resources, by authority of the Secretary, in his order of December 14, 1954, reaffirmed the
rejection of Lusin's revocable permit and foreshore lease applications but ordered Santulan to
reimburse to Lusin the appraised value of his improvements (Exh. O made a part hereof for
reference as Annex E).
Lusin appealed to the President of the Philippines after his motion for reconsideration was denied
in the Undersecretary's order of May 19, 1955 (Exh. OO made a part hereof for reference as
Annex F).
Executive Secretary Juan C. Pajo, by authority of the President, held in his decision of April 10,
1958 that section 32 of Lands Administrative Order No. 7-1 (promulgated by the Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources on April 30, 1936 pursuant to Acts Nos. 2874 and 3038) was
"rendered obsolete" by section 67 of the Public Land Law which took effect on December 1,
1936 (Exh. P made a part hereof for reference as Annex G).
On the basis of the foregoing ruling and since the record is silent as to whether or not the land in
question has been declared by the President as not necessary for the public service and as open to
disposition (Sec. 61, Public Land Law), the Executive Secretary sustained Lusin's appeal and
reversed the orders of the Director of Lands and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
Resources in favor of Santulan. Secretary Pajo decided the case in the alternative as follows:
On the assumption that the land in question has been declared open for disposition and is not
necessary for the public service, this Office directs that an oral bidding for the leasing thereof to
interested parties pursuant to the provisions of Section 67 of Commonwealth Act .No. 141 be
conducted and the contract of lease awarded to the highest bidder whoever shall be the highest
bidder, if other than the appellant, shall be required to pay to the appellant the appraised value of
the improvements introduced by him on the land to be determined by that Department.
If the land in question has not been so declared, this Office directs that a revocable permit under
Section 68 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 be Id to the appellant requiring him to pay permit fees
since the year 1951.
Accordingly, the orders and decisions of that Department and the Bureau of Lands are hereby
revoked.
Santulan's case was distinguished from that of Gonzalo Monzon whose Lot No. 987 adjoins
Santulan's Lot No. 986. Executive Secretary Fred Ruiz Castro (now Chief Justice) in his decision
of May 10, 1954 upheld the preferential right of Monzon to lease the foreshore land north of his
lot, which foreshore land is adjacent to the foreshore land now in dispute in this case (Exh. Q
made a part hereof for reference as Annex H).
Santulan's motion for reconsideration was denied in the letter of the Acting Executive Secretary
dated August 20, 1959 (Exh. W).
On October 22, 1959 Santulan filed in the Court of First Instance of Cavite a petition for
certiorari wherein he alleged that the Executive Secretary committed a grave abuse of discretion
in misinterpreting certain provisions of Act No. 2874, Commonwealth Act No. 141, and Lands
Administrative Order No. 7-1.
In the lower court the parties agreed that the case Involves only a question of law. On August 18.
1961 the lower court dismissed the petition and affirmed the Executive Secretary's decision.
Santulan appealed to the Court of Appeals which in its resolution of July 21, 1967 elevated the

record to this Court on the ground that Santulan in his brief raised only the legal questions of
whether the Public Land Law repealed section 32 of Lands Administrative Order No. 7 1 and
whether the Executive Secretary's decision is "legally sound and correct" (CA-G. R. No. 30708R).
It should be emphasized that. as found by tile investigators of the Bureau of Lands, Santulan was
the prior possessor of the foreshore land in question. lie had it surveyed in 1942. The survey plan
Psu-115357) was approved by the Director of Lands in 1944. Santulan paid the realty taxes on
that land .
It should further be underscored that the regulations pie him a preferential right to lease the land
as a riparian owner. Lands Administrative Order No. 7-1 dated April 30. 1936. which was issued
by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources upon the recommendation of the Director
of Lands for the disposition of alienable lands of the public domain, provides:
32. Preference of the Reparian Owner The owner of the property adjoining foreshore lands,
marshy lands or lands covered with water bordering upon shores or banks of navigable lakes or
rivers, shall be given preference to apply for such lands adjoining his property as may not be
needed for the public service, subject to the laws and regulations governing lands of this nature,
provided that he applies therefor within sixty (60) days from the date he receives a
communication from the Director of Lands advising him of his preferential right.
Paragraph 32 quoted above is a substantial copy of paragraph 4 of Lands Administrative Order
No. 8-3 dated April 20, 1936, which was promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture and
Natural Resources upon the recommendation of the Director of Lands for issuance of temporary
permits of occupation and use of agricultural lands of the public domain.
The word "riparian" in paragraphs 32 and 4 of the departmental regulations is used in a broad
sense as referring to any property having a water frontage (Shepard's Point Land Co. vs. Atlantic
Hotel, 44 S. E. 39, 45, 132 N. C. 517, 65 C. J. S. 143, note 84). Strictly speaking, "riparian"
refers to rivers. A riparian owner is a person who owns land situated on the bank of a river.
But in paragraphs 32 and 4, the term "riparian owner" embraces not only the owners of lands on
the banks of rivers but also the littoral owners, meaning the owners of lands bordering the shore
of the sea or lake or other tidal waters. The littoral is the coastal region including both the land
along the coast and the water near the coast or the shore zone between the high and low
watermarks.
Therefore, on the basis of paragraphs 32 and 4 of the said administrative regulations, Santulan or
his heirs Should be allowed to leased or occupy the said foreshore land.
But the Executive Secretary ruled that paragraph 32 was rendered obsolete by Commonwealth
Act No. 141 or, as held by the trial court, Lands Administrative Order No. 7-1 was repealed by
the Public Land Law. Is that conclusion correct? We hold that it is wrong.
It is true that Lands Administrative Orders Nos. 7-1 and 8-3 were issued when the 1919 Public
Land Act was in force or before the present Public Land Law took effect on December 1, 1936.
But that circumstance would not necessarily mean that the said departmental regulations are not
good under the 1936 Public Land Law.
In rationalizing the alleged repeal of paragraph 32, the Executive Secretary cited the following
provisions of Act No. 2874, the 1919 Public Land Act (15 Public Land laws 24):

SEC. 64. The lease or sale shall be adjudicated to the highest bidder; and if there is no bidder
besides the applicant, it shall be adjudicated to him. The provisions of section twenty-seven of
this Act shall be applied wherever applicable. If all or part of the lots remain unleased or unsold
the Director of Lands Shall from time to time announce in the Offcial Gazette or otherwise the
lease or sale of those lots if necessary . (Section 27 refers to sealed bidding).
The Executive Secretary held that the above-quoted section 64 was by the for provisions of on
wealth Act No. 141 which took effect on December 1, 1936:
SEC. 67. The lease or sale shall be made through oral bidding-, and ajudication shall be made to
the highest bidder. However, where m applicant has made improvements on the land by virtue of
a permit issued to him by competent authority, the sale or lease shall be made by sealed bidding
as prescribed in section twenty-six of this Act, the provisions of which shall be applied wherever
applicable. If all or Dart of the lots remain unleased or unsold. the Director of Lands shall from
time to time announce in the Official Gazzate, or in any other newspapers of general circulation,
the lease or sale of those lots, if necessary. (Section 26, like section 27 of Act No. 2874, refers to
sealed bidding).
The Executive Secretary noted that under section 64 of Act No. 2874 sealed bidding was the
general rule of procedure in an award of a lease of foreshore land and that the t is entitled to
equal the bid of the highest bidder. On the other hand, under 67, oral bidding is the general rule.
Hence, the Executive Secretary assumed that, while under section 64 of the 1919 old Public
Land Act, the fact that the applicant has a preferential right to lease foreshore land was a crucial
factor it is thus under section 67 of the 1936 Public Land Law because in oral bidding the
appellant is not entitled to equal the bid of the highest bidder.
The Executive Secretary concluded that, because the preferential right of the applicant to lease
foreshore land was immaterial under 67 of the present Public Land Law, paragraph 32 of Lands
Administrative Order No. 7-1, which gives such preference. had become "idle and useless".
That conclusion is wrong because it is based on the erroneous hypothesis that section 64 of the
1919 Public Land Act is different from section 67 of the 1936 Public Land Law. They are not
different. The truth is that section 64 was amended by Act No. 3517 which took effect on
February 4, 1919 (24 Public Laws 416). Section 64, as thus amended, is substantially the same
as section 67 of the 1936 Public Land Law.
That fact was overlooked by the Executive Secretary. Hence, his conclusion, that paragraph 32 of
Lands Administrative Order No. 71 was repealed or rendered obsolete by section 67 of the
present Public Land Law, is wrong because its premise is wrong.
In other words, paragraph 32 of Lands Administrative Order No. 7-1, issued on April 30, 1936,
was promulgated under section 64 of the old Public Land Law, as amended. And since the
amended section 64 was substantially reproduced in section 67 of the 1936 Public Land Law, it
is glaringly incorrect to say that section 67 rendered obsolete the said paragraph 32. Paragraph 32
is still in force and is good under the existing Public Land Law.
The foregoing discussion reveals that the Executive Summary's rationalization of the alleged
repeal of paragraph 32 of Lands Administrative Order No. 7-1 (identical to paragraph 4 of Lands
Administrative Order No. 8-3) is not only deficient in clarity and cogency but is predicated on
the false assumption that section 64 of the 1919 Public Land Act is different from section 67 of

the present Public Land Law. Consequently, the aforementioned decision of Executive Secretary
Juan C. Pajo under review bas to be set aside.
This case is governed by the precedent established in the case of Gonzalo Monzon, which, as
already noted, is similar to this cm since the foreshore land involved in the Monzon case is
adjacent to the foreshore land involved in this case.
In the Monzon case, the Office of the President, applying the oft-cited paragraph 32 of Lands
Administrative Order No. 7-1 held that Monzon, the littoral owner of the registered land abutting
upon the foreshore land, has the preferential right to lease the foreshore land,
The location of the lots of Santulan and Monzon and the foreshore lands abutting thereon is
shown in the following sketch bawd on the plan, Psu-115357 (Exh. B):
Manila Bay or Bacoor Bay
Disputed Area
Psu-1 15357
Psu- 1 15358
Foreshore land
Forshore land
claimed by
leased to
Julian Santulan
Gonzalo Monzon
and
Antonio Lusin
Lot No. 986
Lot no. 987
Belonging to
Belonging to
Julian Santulan
Gonzalo Monzon
Considering that the foreshore land abutting upon Santolan's lot is in the same situation as the
foreshore land abutting upon Monzon's lot, there is no reason why Santulan should not enjoy,
with respect to the disputed foreshore land, the rights given to Monzon over the foreshore land
adjacent to his lot.
Now, then, is there any justification for giving to the littoral owner the preferential right to lease
the foreshore land abutting on his land?
That rule in paragraph 32 is in consonance with article 4 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866
which provides that, while lands added to the shores by accretions and alluvial deposits caused
by the action of the sea form part of the public domain, such lands, "when they are no longer
washed by the waters of the sea and are not necessary for purposes of public utility, or for the
establishment of special industries, or for the coast guard service", shall be declared by the

Government "to be the property of the owner of the estates adjacent thereto and as increment
thereof" (cited in Ignacio vs. Director of Lands, 108 Phil. 335, 338).
In other words, article 4 recognizes the preferential right of the littoral owner (riparian according
to paragraph 32) to the foreshore land formed by accretions or alluvial deposits due to the action
of the sea (Ker & Co. vs. Cauden 6 Phil. 732, 736, 223 U.S. 268, 56 L. Ed. 432, 435; Jover vs.
Insular Government, 10 Phil. 522, 40 Phil. 1094, 1100, 221 U.S. 623, 55 L. Ed. 884).
The reason for that preferential right is the same as the justification for giving accretions to the
riparian owner, which is that accretion compensates the riparian owner for the diminutions which
his land suffers by reason of the destructive force of the waters (Cortes vs. City of Manila, 10
Phil. 567). So, in the case of littoral lands, he who loses by the encroachments of the sea should
gain by its recession (Banks vs. Ogden 2 Wall. 57, 67, 17 L. Ed. 818, 821).
That preferential right is recognized in American jurisprudence where the rule is that the owner
of the land adjacent to navigable waters has certain riparian or littoral rights of a proprietary
nature not possessed by the general public which rights are incident to the ownership of the
banks or the uplands: riparian as respects the waters of a river and littoral as to sea waters or the
waters of a lake (65 C.J. S. 143-145).
It may be mentioned that the Director of Lands stated in his manifestation of October 26, 1977
that Lands Administrative Orders Nos. 7-1 and 8-3 are still in force and have not been
superseded by any later regulations and that the directive of the President of the Philippines to
the Director of Lands dated May 24, 1966, stopping the grant of foreshore leases all along
Manila Bay, towards Cavite and Bataan, has not rendered the instant case moot and academic
"because the foreshore lease application involved is pending award."
In view of the foregoing considerations, the trial court's decision and the decision of the
Executive Secretary dated April 10, 1958 are reversed and set aside and the order of the
Undersecretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources dated December 14, 1954 and the orders of
the Director of Lands dated February I and October 19, 1951 are affirmed.
The lease application of Julian Santulan mentioned in the order of February 1, 1951 should be
recorded in the names of his heirs and the obligation to make reimbursement mentioned in the
dispositive part of the Undersecretary's order should now devolve upon the heirs of Santolan.
The reimbursement should be made to the heirs of the late Antonio Lusin The obligation to
vacate the disputed land, as required in the Director's order of October 19, 1951 devolves upon
the heirs of Lusin Costs in both instances against respondent heirs of Lusin (As amended by
Resolution of February 17, 1977.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-17923
May 26, 1962
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
represented by ABRAHAM CAMPO, in his capacity as Commander in the Philippine
Navy, petitioner-appellant,
vs.
HON. ROMAN CANSINO JR., as Judge of the Municipal Court of Manila,
SHERIFF OF MANILA and MAGDAYO RAMIREZ, respondents-appellees.

Office of the Solicitor General for petitioner-appellant.


R. M. Angeles for respondents-appellees.
CONCEPCION, J.:
Appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila dismissing the petition for
prohibition and injunction in this case.
On October 3, 1960, Magdayo Ramirez filed with the Municipal Court of Manila, presided over
by respondent Judge, Hon. Roman Cansino, Jr., a complaint (Civil Case No. 81186 of said court)
for replevin against the manager of the Royal Cold Storage, located in Aviles Street, Manila, and
Philippine Navy Commander Abraham Campo, alleging that he (Ramirez) is the owner of 85
tubs of fish which were illegally seized by Campo and his agents or representatives on October
1, 1960 and impounded in the premises of said Royal Cold Storage. Upon the filing by Ramirez
of a P2,000 bond, said respondent Judge forthwith issued (on October 3, 1960) a warrant of
seizure, directing the Sheriff of Manila to take possession of said 85 tubs of fish, keep the same
for five (5) days and, thereafter, deliver it to Ramirez.
On October 7, 1960, Commander Campo filed with said municipal court an urgent petition for
the return of said fish, upon the ground that the same was taken from the fishing boat "TONY
LEX I" in the waters off Navotas, Rizal, by a unit of the Philippine Navy duly engaged in the
enforcement of our fishing laws, "after a finding by Fishery Product Examiner of the Bureau of
Fisheries from samples taken earlier that the fish in question had been killed or caught with the
use of dynamite, the mere possession of which" fish is a crime under Republic Act No. 428, as
amended; that, as consequence, two (2) criminal complaints copies of which were attached to
said petition were filed against Ramirez with the Justice of the Peace Court of Navotas, Rizal,
one for illegal possession of dynamited fish and another for disobedience to a person in
authority; that the fish aforementioned should not be delivered to Ramirez, at least, during the
pendency of said criminal case, because, among other reasons, said fish is the subject or proceeds
of a crime, because, in the event of the conviction of Ramirez, the forfeiture of the fish would be
frustrated, and because the prosecution would be deprived of a material evidence; and that since
the petition had been filed on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, it was unnecessary for
the same to file a redelivery bond.
When the urgent petition was heard on October 8, 1960, respondent Judge announced that, unless
said redelivery bond was posted by 4:00 p.m., on October 10, 1960, he would order the Sheriff to
turn the fish over to Ramirez.
Accordingly, on October 10, 1960, Commander Campo, acting on behalf of the Republic of the
Philippines, instituted the present action for prohibition and injunction in the Court of First
Instance of Manila (Case No. 44438 thereof) against respondent Judge, the Sheriff of Manila and
Ramirez, based upon the facts adverted to above, with the prayer that a writ of preliminary
injunction be issued restraining the delivery of the fish to Ramirez and that, after trial, said writ
be made permanent. On the same date the writ of preliminary injunction prayed for was issued. A
motion filed by Ramirez, on October 12, 1960, for the dissolution of said writ, was denied on
October 14, 1960. After service of summons, or on October 24, 1960, Ramirez filed his answer
to the complaint and a separate motion for reconsideration of the order of October 14, 1960. The
motion was granted on November 7, 1960, on which date the writ of preliminary injunction was
dissolved. A motion of the Government for the reconsideration of the order of November 7,

1960, was denied on December 10, 1960. On the same date, the lower court issued another order
dismissing the petition for prohibition and injunction. Consequently, the Government interposed
this appeal directly to the Supreme Court, only question of law being raised therein.
This case hinges on the applicability of the case at bar of the second paragraph of section 4 of
Republic Act No. 428, as amended by Republic Act No. 1535, reading:
Any officer or person mentioned in the preceding paragraph is authorized to take from among the
fishes or aquatic animals believed to have been stupefied or killed in violation of this Act the
necessary samples, in not more than one kilo, for examination; issuing a receipt therefore with
specification of the kind and the quality of fish or other aquatic animals taken by him as well as
their value obtaining in the market that day. If after the examination, such fish or aquatic animals
are found not to have been stupefied or killed in violation of this Act, the person from whom they
are taken as samples shall be paid their value as herein stated, said payment to be borne and
defrayed by the government office or agency to which the person or officer mentioned in the first
paragraph of this section is connected from funds appropriated for said purpose. The officer or
person in authority or agent of authority who does not submit the sample taken for examination
or does not give the person from whom it was taken a report of such examination within ten days
shall be punished upon conviction by a fine of not exceeding five hundred pesos, or by
imprisonment for not more than six months, or both such fine and imprisonment, in the
discretion of the court.
The lower court held that the issue herein is controlled by this provision; that pursuant thereto,
petitioner was entitled to take samples of the fish in question "in not more than one kilo"; and
that, accordingly, the seizure of 85 tubs of fish was illegal. It should be noted, however, that said
provision refers to "fishes . . . believed to have been . . . killed in violation" of said Act, and that
the same authorizes the officer entertaining said belief to take "the necessary samples, in not
more than one kilo, for examination of the kind and the quality of fish . . . taken by him".
Such is not the situation obtaining in the case at bar. In the urgent petition filed by the
Government with the municipal court on October 7, 1960, as well as in its petition for
prohibition and injunction in the present case, it is specifically alleged that, "after a finding made
by a Fishery Product Examiner of the Bureau of Fisheries from samples taken earlier that the
fish in question had been killed or caught with the use of dynamite", the "mere possession" of
which fish is "a crime" under "Republic Act No. 428, as amended by Republic Act No. 1535,"
said fish was seized by agents of the law, and the corresponding criminal complaints were filed
with the Justice of the Peace Court of Navotas, Rizal. The above quoted provision is, therefore,
inapplicable to the present case and the same is governed by the rule to the effect that the subject
of an offense and the proceeds thereof are proper objects of seizure, particularly when as it is
in the present case the mere possession of the objects seized constitutes a crime, for the holder
of said objects is then committing a crime in the presence of the officer effecting the seizure, and
the same is valid, despite the absence of a search warrant (Magoncia vs. Palacio, 80 Phil., 770,
772; 56 C.J. 1166).1wph1.t
Furthermore, respondent Judge erred in requiring the posting of a redelivery bond as a condition
precedent to the dissolution of the warrant of seizure issued by said officer, for petitioner is the
Republic of the Philippines and the same is exempt from the obligation to post such bond (De

Leon vs. Hon. Judge Macapanton, G.R. No. L-15394, April 29, 1961; Amparo Joaquin-Gutierrez
vs. Camus, G.R. No. L-6725, October 30, 1954).
WHEREFORE, the order appealed from is reversed and respondent Judge and the Sheriff of
Manila are hereby enjoined from proceeding with the delivery of the 85 tubs of fish in question
to respondent Magdayo Ramirez, unless otherwise directed by the court having jurisdiction over
the aforementioned criminal action against him for illegal possession of dynamited fish, with the
costs of both instances against said Magdayo Ramirez. It is so ordered.
[G.R. No. 119619. December 13, 1996]
RICHARD HIZON, SILVERIO GARGAR, ERNESTO ANDAYA, NEMESIO GABO,
RODRIGO ABRERA, CHEUNG TAI FOOK, SHEK CHOR LUK, EFREN
DELA PENA, JONEL AURELIO, GODOFREDO VILLAVERDE, ANGELITO
DUMAYBAG, DEOMEDES ROSIL, AMADO VILLANUEVA, FRANCISCO
ESTREMOS, ANGEL VILLAVERDE, NEMESIO CASAMPOL, RICHARD
ESTREMOS, JORNIE DELA PENA, JESUS MACTAN, MARLON
CAMPORAZO, FERNANDO BIRING, MENDRITO CARPO, LUIS DUARTE,
JOSEPH AURELIO, RONNIE JUEZAN, BERNARDO VILLACARLOS,
RICARDO SALES, MARLON ABELLA, TEODORO DELOS REYES,
IGNACIO ABELLA, JOSEPH MAYONADO, JANAIRO LANGUYOD,
DODONG DELOS REYES, JOLLY CABALLERO and ROPLANDO
ARCENAS, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and THE
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
DECISION
PUNO, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR
No. 15417 affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 52, Palawan in Criminal
Case No. 10429 convicting petitioners of the offense of illegal fishing with the use of obnoxious
or poisonous substance penalized under Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 704, the Fisheries Decree
of 1975.
In an Information dated October 15, 1992, petitioners were charged with a violation of P.D. 704
committed as follows:
That on or about the 30th day of September 1992, at Brgy. San Rafael, Puerto Princesa City,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused crew
members and fishermen of F/B Robinson owned by First Fishermen Fishing Industries, Inc.,
represented by Richard Hizon, a domestic corporation duly organized under the laws of the
Philippines, being then the owner, crew members and fishermen of F/B Robinson and with the
use of said fishing boat, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously the said accused
conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping one another catch, take or gather or
cause to be caught, taken or gathered fish or fishery aquatic products in the coastal waters of
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, with the use of obnoxious or poisonous substance (sodium
cyanide), of more or less one (1) ton of assorted live fishes which were illegally caught thru the
use of obnoxious/poisonous substance (sodium cyanide).[if !supportFootnotes][1][endif]

The following facts were established by the prosecution: In September 1992, the Philippine
National Police (PNP) Maritime Command of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan received reports of
illegal fishing operations in the coastal waters of the city. In response to these reports, the city
mayor organized Task Force Bantay Dagat to assist the police in the detection and apprehension
of violators of the laws on fishing.
On September 30, 1992 at about 2:00 in the afternoon, the Task Force Bantay Dagat reported to
the PNP Maritime Command that a boat and several small crafts were fishing by muro ami
within the shoreline of Barangay San Rafael of Puerto Princesa. The police, headed by SPO3
Romulo Enriquez, and members of the Task Force Bantay Dagat, headed by Benito Marcelo, Jr.,
immediately proceeded to the area and found several men fishing in motorized sampans and a
big fishing boat identified as F/B Robinson within the seven-kilometer shoreline of the city. They
boarded the F/B Robinson and inspected the boat with the acquiescence of the boat captain,
Silverio Gargar. In the course of their inspection, the police saw two foreigners in the captains
deck. SPO3 Enriquez examined their passports and found them to be mere photocopies. The
police also discovered a large aquarium full of live lapu-lapu and assorted fish weighing
approximately one ton at the bottom of the boat.[if !supportFootnotes][2][endif] They checked the license
of the boat and its fishermen and found them to be in order. Nonetheless, SPO3 Enriquez brought
the boat captain, the crew and the fishermen to Puerto Princesa for further investigation.
At the city harbor, members of the Maritime Command were ordered by SPO3 Enriquez to guard
the F/B Robinson. The boat captain and the two foreigners were again interrogated at the PNP
Maritime Command office. Thereafter, an Inspection/Apprehension Report was prepared and the
boat, its crew and fishermen were charged with the following violations:
1. Conducting fishing operations within Puerto Princesa coastal waters without
mayors permit;

2. Employing excess fishermen on board (Authorized--26; On board--36);


3. Two (2) Hongkong nationals on board without original passports.[if !supportFootnotes]
[3][endif]

The following day, October 1, 1992, SPO3 Enriquez directed the boat captain to get random
samples of fish from the fish cage of F/B Robinson for laboratory examination. As instructed, the
boat engineer, petitioner Ernesto Andaya, delivered to the Maritime Office four (4) live lapu-lapu
fish inside a plastic shopping bag filled with water. SPO3 Enriquez received the fish and in the
presence of the boat engineer and captain, placed them inside a large transparent plastic bag
without water. He sealed the plastic with heat from a lighter.[if !supportFootnotes][4][endif]
The specimens were brought to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) sub-office in the city
for examination to determine the method of catching the same for record or evidentiary purposes.
[if !supportFootnotes][5][endif] They were received at the NBI office at 8:00 in the evening of the same
day. The receiving clerk, Edna Capicio, noted that the fish were dead and she placed the plastic

bag with the fish inside the office freezer to preserve them. Two days later, on October 3, 1992,
the chief of the NBI sub-office, Onos Mangotara, certified the specimens for laboratory
examination at the NBI Head Office in Manila. The fish samples were to be personally
transported by Edna Capicio who was then scheduled to leave for Manila for her board
examination in Criminology.[if !supportFootnotes][6][endif] On October 4, 1992, Ms. Capicio, in the
presence of her chief, took the plastic with the specimens from the freezer and placed them
inside two shopping bags and sealed them with masking tape. She proceeded to her ship where
she placed the specimens in the ships freezer.
Capicio arrived in Manila the following day, October 5, 1992 and immediately brought the
specimens to the NBI Head Office. On October 7, 1992, NBI Forensic Chemist Emilia Rosaldes
conducted two tests on the fish samples and found that they contained sodium cyanide, thus:
FINDINGS:
Weight of Specimen 1.870 kilograms Examinations made on the above-mentioned specimen
gave POSITIVE RESULTS to the test for the presence of SODIUM CYANIDE x x x
REMARKS:
Sodium Cyanide is a violent poison.[if !supportFootnotes][7][endif]
In light of these findings, the PNP Maritime Command of Puerto Princesa City filed the
complaint at bar against the owner and operator of the F/B Robinson, the First Fishermen Fishing
Industries, Inc., represented by herein petitioner Richard Hizon, the boat captain, Silverio Gargar,
the boat engineer, Ernesto Andaya, two other crew members, the two Hongkong nationals and 28
fishermen of the said boat.
Petitioners were arraigned and they pled not guilty to the charge. As defense, they claimed that
they are legitimate fishermen of the First Fishermen Industries, Inc., a domestic corporation
licensed to engage in fishing. They alleged that they catch fish by the hook and line method and
that they had used this method for one month and a half in the waters of Cuyo Island. They
related that on September 30, 1992 at about 7:00 A.M., they anchored the F/B Robinson in the
east of Podiado Island in Puerto Princesa City. The boat captain and the fishermen took out and
boarded their sampans to fish for their food. They were still fishing in their sampans at 4:00 P.M.
when a rubber boat containing members of the PNP Maritime Command and the Task Force
Bantay Dagat approached them and boarded the F/B Robinson. The policemen were in uniform
while the Bantay Dagat personnel were in civilian clothes. They were all armed with guns. One
of the Bantay Dagat personnel introduced himself as Commander Jun Marcelo and he inspected
the boat and the boats documents. Marcelo saw the two foreigners and asked for their passports.
As their passports were photocopies, Marcelo demanded for their original. The captain explained
that the original passports were with the companys head office in Manila. Marcelo angrily
insisted for the originals and threatened to arrest everybody. He then ordered the captain, his
crew and the fishermen to follow him to Puerto Princesa. He held the magazine of his gun and
warned the captain Sige, huwag kang tatakas, kung hindi babarilin ko kayo![if !supportFootnotes][8][endif]
The captain herded all his men into the boat and followed Marcelo and the police to Puerto
Princesa.
They arrived at the city harbor at 7:45 in the evening and were met by members of the media. As
instructed by Marcelo, the members of the media interviewed and took pictures of the boat and
the fishermen.[if !supportFootnotes][9][endif]

The following day, October 1, 1992, at 8:00 in the morning, Amado Villanueva, one of the
fishermen at the F/B Robinson, was instructed by a policemen guarding the boat to get five (5)
fish samples from the fish cage and bring them to the pier. Villanueva inquired whether the
captain knew about the order but the guard replied he was taking responsibility for it. Villanueva
scooped five pieces of lapu-lapu, placed them inside a plastic bag filled with water and brought
the bag to the pier. The boat engineer, Ernesto Andaya, received the fish and delivered them to
the PNP Maritime Office. Nobody was in the office and Andaya waited for the apprehending
officers and the boat captain. Later, one of the policemen in the office instructed him to leave the
bag and hang it on a nail in the wall. Andaya did as he was told and returned to the boat at 10:00
A.M.[if !supportFootnotes][10][endif]
In the afternoon of the same day, the boat captain arrived at the Maritime office. He brought
along a representative from their head office in Manila who showed the police and the Bantay
Dagat personnel the original passports of the Hongkong nationals and other pertinent documents
of the F/B Robinson and its crew. Finding the documents in order, Marcelo approached the
captain and whispered to him Tandaan mo ito, kapitan, kung makakaalis ka dito, magkikita pa rin
uli tayo sa dagat, kung hindi kayo lulubog ay palulutangin ko kayo! It was then that SPO3
Enriquez informed the captain that some members of the Maritime Command, acting under his
instructions, had just taken five (5) pieces of lapu-lapu from the boat. SPO3 Enriquez showed the
captain the fish samples. Although the captain saw only four (4) pieces of lapu-lapu, he did not
utter a word of protest.[if !supportFootnotes][11][endif] Under Marcelos threat, he signed the Certification
that he received only four (4) pieces of fish.[if !supportFootnotes][12][endif]
Two weeks later, the information was filed against petitioners. The case was prosecuted against
thirty-one (31) of the thirty-five (35) accused. Richard Hizon remained at large while the
whereabouts of Richard Estremos, Marlon Camporazo and Joseph Aurelio were unknown.
On July 9, 1993, the trial court found the thirty one (31) petitioners guilty and sentenced them to
imprisonment for a minimum of eight (8) years and one (1) day to a maximum of nine (9) years
and four (4) months. The court also ordered the confiscation and forfeiture of the F/B Robinson,
the 28 sampans and the ton of assorted live fishes as instruments and proceeds of the offense,
thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused
SILVERIO GARGAR, ERNESTO ANDAYA, NEMESIO GABO, RODRIGO ABRERA,
CHEUNG TAI FOOK, SHEK CHOR LUK, EFREN DELA PENA, JONEL AURELIO,
GODOFREDO VILLAVERDE, ANGELITO DUMAYBAG, DEOMEDES ROSIL,
AMADO VILLANUEVA, FRANCISCO ESTREMOS, ARNEL VILLAVERDE,
NEMESIO CASAMPOL, JORNIE DELACRUZ, JESUS MACTAN, FERNANDO
BIRING, MENDRITO CARPO, LUIS DUARTE, RONNIE JUEZAN, BERNARDO
VILLACARLOS, RICARDO SALES, MARLON ABELLA, TEODORO DELOS
REYES, IGNACIO ABELLA, JOSEPH MAYONADO, JANAIRO LANGUYOD,
DODONG DELOS REYES, ROLANDO ARCENAS and JOLLY CABALLERO guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Illegal Fishing with the use of obnoxious or
poisonous substance commonly known as sodium cyanide, committed in violation of
section 33 and penalized in section 38 of Presidential Decree No. 704, as amended, and
there being neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances appreciated and applying

the provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, each of the aforenamed accused is
sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from a minimum of
EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY to a maximum of NINE (9) YEARS and FOUR
(4) MONTHS and to pay the costs.
Pursuant to the provisions of Article 45, in relation to the second sentence of Article 10 of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended:
a) Fishing Boat (F/B) Robinson;
b) The 28 motorized fiberglass sampans; and
c) The live fishes in the fish cages installed in the F/B Robinson, all of which have been
respectively shown to be tools or instruments and proceeds of the offense, are
hereby ordered confiscated and declared forfeited in favor of the government.
SO ORDERED.[if !supportFootnotes][13][endif]

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court. Hence, this petition.
Petitioners contend that:
I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE MERE
POSITIVE RESULTS TO THE TEST FOR THE PRESENCE OF SODIUM CYANIDE
IN THE FISH SPECIMEN, ALBEIT ILLEGALLY SEIZED ON THE OCCASION OF A
WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND ARREST, IS ADMISSIBLE AND SUFFICIENT
BASIS FOR THE PETITIONERS CONVICTION OF THE CRIME OF ILLEGAL
FISHING.
II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE
STATUTORY PRESUMPTION OF GUILT UNDER SEC. 33 OF PRESIDENTIAL
DECREE NO. 704 CANNOT PREVAIL AGAINST THE CONSTITUTIONAL
PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE, SUCH THAT THE GRAVAMEN OF THE
OFFENSE OF ILLEGAL FISHING MUST STILL BE PROVED BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT.
III
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT REVERSING THE JUDGMENT
OF THE TRIAL COURT AND ACQUITTING THE PETITIONERS.[if !supportFootnotes][14]
[endif]

The Solicitor General submitted a Manifestation in Lieu of Comment praying for petitioners
acquittal.[if !supportFootnotes][15][endif]
The petitioners, with the concurrence of the Solicitor General, primarily question the
admissibility of the evidence against petitioners in view of the warrantless search of the fishing
boat and the subsequent arrest of petitioners. More concretely, they contend that the NBI finding
of sodium cyanide in the fish specimens should not have been admitted and considered by the
trial court because the fish samples were seized from the F/B Robinson without a search warrant.
Our constitution proscribes search and seizure and the arrest of persons without a judicial
warrant.[if !supportFootnotes][16][endif] As a general rule, any evidence obtained without a judicial
warrant is inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. The rule is, however, subject to
certain exceptions. Some of these are:[if !supportFootnotes][17][endif] (1) a search incident to a lawful

arrest;[if !supportFootnotes][18][endif] (2) seizure of evidence in plain view; (3) search of a moving motor
vehicle;[if !supportFootnotes][19][endif] and (4) search in violation of customs laws.[if !supportFootnotes][20][endif]
Search and seizure without search warrant of vessels and aircrafts for violations of customs laws
have been the traditional exception to the constitutional requirement of a search warrant. It is
rooted on the recognition that a vessel and an aircraft, like motor vehicles, can be quickly moved
out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the search warrant must be sought and secured.
Yielding to this reality, judicial authorities have not required a search warrant of vessels and
aircrafts before their search and seizure can be constitutionally effected.[if !supportFootnotes][21][endif]
The same exception ought to apply to seizures of fishing vessels and boats breaching our fishery
laws. These vessels are normally powered by high-speed motors that enable them to elude
arresting ships of the Philippine Navy, the Coast Guard and other government authorities
enforcing our fishery laws.[if !supportFootnotes][22][endif]
We thus hold as valid the warrantless search on the F/B Robinson, a fishing boat suspected of
having engaged in illegal fishing. The fish and other evidence seized in the course of the search
were properly admitted by the trial court. Moreover, petitioners failed to raise the issue during
trial and hence, waived their right to question any irregularity that may have attended the said
search and seizure.[if !supportFootnotes][23][endif]
Given the evidence admitted by the trial court, the next question now is whether petitioners are
guilty of the offense of illegal fishing with the use of poisonous substances. Again, the
petitioners, joined by the Solicitor General, submit that the prosecution evidence cannot convict
them.
We agree.
Petitioners were charged with illegal fishing penalized under sections 33 and 38 of P.D. 704[if !
supportFootnotes][24][endif] which provide as follows:
Sec. 33. Illegal fishing, illegal possession of explosives intended for illegal fishing; dealing in
illegally caught fish or fishery/aquatic products. -- It shall be unlawful for any person
to catch, take or gather or cause to be caught, taken or gathered fish or fishery/aquatic
products in Philippine waters with the use of explosives, obnoxious or poisonous
substance, or by the use of electricity as defined in paragraphs (l), (m) and (d),
respectively, of section 3 hereof: Provided, That mere possession of such explosives
with intent to use the same for illegal fishing as herein defined shall be punishable as
hereinafter provided: Provided, That the Secretary may, upon recommendation of the
Director and subject to such safeguards and conditions he deems necessary, allow for
research, educational or scientific purposes only, the use of explosives, obnoxious or
poisonous substance or electricity to catch, take or gather fish or fishery/aquatic
products in the specified area: Provided, further, That the use of chemicals to eradicate
predators in fishponds in accordance with accepted scientific fishery practices without
causing deleterious effects in neighboring waters shall not be construed as the use of
obnoxious or poisonous substance within the meaning of this section: Provided, finally,
That the use of mechanical bombs for killing whales, crocodiles, sharks or other large
dangerous fishes, may be allowed, subject to the approval of the Secretary.

It shall, likewise, be unlawful for any person knowingly to possess, deal in, sell or in any manner
dispose of, for profit, any fish or fishery/aquatic products which have been illegally
caught, taken or gathered.
The discovery of dynamite, other explosives and chemical compounds containing combustible
elements, or obnoxious or poisonous substance, or equipment or device for electric
fishing in any fishing boat or in the possession of a fisherman shall constitute a
presumption that the same were used for fishing in violation of this Decree, and the
discovery in any fishing boat of fish caught or killed by the use of explosives,
obnoxious or poisonous substance or by electricity shall constitute a presumption that
the owner, operator or fisherman were fishing with the use of explosives, obnoxious or
poisonous substance or electricity.
xxxxxxxxx
Sec. 38. Penalties. -- (a) For illegal fishing and dealing in illegally caught fish or fishery/aquatic
products.-- Violation of Section 33 hereof shall be punished as follows:
xxxxxxxxx
(2) By imprisonment from eight (8) to ten (10) years, if obnoxious or poisonous substances are
used: Provided, That if the use of such substances results 1) in physical injury to any
person, the penalty shall be imprisonment from ten (10) to twelve (12) years, or 2) in
the loss of human life, then the penalty shall be imprisonment from twenty (20) years
to life or death;
x x x x x x x x x.[if !supportFootnotes][25][endif]

The offense of illegal fishing is committed when a person catches, takes or gathers or causes to
be caught, taken or gathered fish, fishery or aquatic products in Philippine waters with the use of
explosives, electricity, obnoxious or poisonous substances. The law creates a presumption that
illegal fishing has been committed when: (a) explosives, obnoxious or poisonous substances or
equipment or device for electric fishing are found in a fishing boat or in the possession of a
fisherman; or (b) when fish caught or killed with the use of explosives, obnoxious or poisonous
substances or by electricity are found in a fishing boat. Under these instances, the boat owner,
operator or fishermen are presumed to have engaged in illegal fishing.
Petitioners contend that this presumption of guilt under the Fisheries Decree violates the
presumption of innocence guaranteed by the Constitution.[if !supportFootnotes][26][endif] As early as
1916, this Court has rejected this argument by holding that:[if !supportFootnotes][27][endif]
In some States, as well as in England, there exists what are known as common law offenses. In
the Philippine Islands no act is a crime unless it is made so by statute. The state having
the right to declare what acts are criminal, within certain well-defined limitations, has
the right to specify what act or acts shall constitute a crime, as well as what proof shall
constitute prima facie evidence of guilt, and then to put upon the defendant the burden
of showing that such act or acts are innocent and are not committed with any criminal
intent or intention.[if !supportFootnotes][28][endif]
The validity of laws establishing presumptions in criminal cases is a settled matter. It is generally
conceded that the legislature has the power to provide that proof of certain facts can constitute
prima facie evidence of the guilt of the accused and then shift the burden of proof to the accused
provided there is a rational connection between the facts proved and the ultimate fact presumed.

[if !supportFootnotes][29][endif]

To avoid any constitutional infirmity, the inference of one from proof of


the other must not be arbitrary and unreasonable.[if !supportFootnotes][30][endif] In fine, the presumption
must be based on facts and these facts must be part of the crime when committed.[if !supportFootnotes]
[31][endif]

The third paragraph of section 33 of P.D. 704 creates a presumption of guilt based on facts
proved and hence is not constitutionally impermissible. It makes the discovery of obnoxious or
poisonous substances, explosives, or devices for electric fishing, or of fish caught or killed with
the use of obnoxious and poisonous substances, explosives or electricity in any fishing boat or in
the possession of a fisherman evidence that the owner and operator of the fishing boat or the
fisherman had used such substances in catching fish. The ultimate fact presumed is that the
owner and operator of the boat or the fisherman were engaged in illegal fishing and this
presumption was made to arise from the discovery of the substances and the contaminated fish in
the possession of the fisherman in the fishing boat. The fact presumed is a natural inference from
the fact proved.[if !supportFootnotes][32][endif]
We stress, however, that the statutory presumption is merely prima facie.[if !supportFootnotes][33][endif] It
can not, under the guise of regulating the presentation of evidence, operate to preclude the
accused from presenting his defense to rebut the main fact presumed.[if !supportFootnotes][34][endif] At no
instance can the accused be denied the right to rebut the presumption,[if !supportFootnotes][35][endif] thus:
The inference of guilt is one of fact and rests upon the common experience of men. But the
experience of men has taught them that an apparently guilty possession may be
explained so as to rebut such an inference and an accused person may therefore put
witnesses on the stand or go on the witness stand himself to explain his possession, and
any reasonable explanation of his possession, inconsistent with his guilty connection
with the commission of the crime, will rebut the inference as to his guilt which the
prosecution seeks to have drawn from his guilty possession of the stolen goods.[if !
supportFootnotes][36][endif]

We now review the evidence to determine whether petitioners have successfully rebutted this
presumption. The facts show that on November 13, 1992, after the information was filed in court
and petitioners granted bail, petitioners moved that the fish specimens taken from the F/B
Robinson be reexamined.[if !supportFootnotes][37][endif] The trial court granted the motion.[if !supportFootnotes]
[38][endif] As prayed for, a member of the PNP Maritime Command of Puerto Princesa, in the
presence of authorized representatives of the F/B Robinson, the NBI and the local Fisheries
Office, took at random five (5) live lapu-lapu from the fish cage of the boat. The specimens were
packed in the usual manner of transporting live fish, taken aboard a commercial flight and
delivered by the same representatives to the NBI Head Office in Manila for chemical analysis.
On November 23, 1992, Salud Rosales, another forensic chemist of the NBI in Manila conducted
three (3) tests on the specimens and found the fish negative for the presence of sodium cyanide,[if
!supportFootnotes][39][endif] thus:
Gross weight of specimen = 3.849 kg.
Examination made on the above-mentioned specimens gave NEGATIVE RESULTS to the tests
for the presence of SODIUM CYANIDE.[if !supportFootnotes][40][endif]
The Information charged petitioners with illegal fishing with the use of obnoxious or poisonous
substance (sodium cyanide), of more or less one (1) ton of assorted live fishes. There was more

or less one ton of fishes in the F/B Robinsons fish cage. It was from this fish cage that the four
dead specimens examined on October 7, 1992 and the five live specimens examined on
November 23, 1992 were taken. Though all the specimens came from the same source allegedly
tainted with sodium cyanide, the two tests resulted in conflicting findings. We note that after its
apprehension, the F/B Robinson never left the custody of the PNP Maritime Command. The
fishing boat was anchored near the city harbor and was guarded by members of the Maritime
Command.[if !supportFootnotes][41][endif] It was later turned over to the custody of the Philippine Coast
Guard Commander of Puerto Princesa City.[if !supportFootnotes][42][endif]
The prosecution failed to explain the contradictory findings on the fish samples and this omission
raises a reasonable doubt that the one ton of fishes in the cage were caught with the use of
sodium cyanide.
The absence of cyanide in the second set of fish specimens supports petitioners claim that they
did not use the poison in fishing. According to them, they caught the fishes by the ordinary and
legal way, i.e., by hook and line on board their sampans. This claim is buttressed by the
prosecution evidence itself. The apprehending officers saw petitioners fishing by hook and line
when they came upon them in the waters of Barangay San Rafael. One of the apprehending
officers, SPO1 Demetrio Saballuca, testified as follows:
ATTY. TORREFRANCA ON CROSS-EXAMINATION:

Q : I get your point therefore, that the illegal fishing supposedly conducted at San
Rafael is a moro ami type of fishing [that] occurred into your mind and
that was made to understand by the Bantay Dagat personnel?
A : Yes, sir.

Q : Upon reaching the place, you and the pumpboat, together with the two Bantay
Dagat personnel were SPO3 Romulo Enriquez and Mr. Benito Marcelo
and SPO1 Marzan, you did not witness that kind of moro ami fishing,
correct?

A : None, sir.

Q :In other words, there was negative activity of moro ami type of fishing on
September 30, 1992 at 4:00 in the afternoon at San Rafael?

A : Yes, sir.

Q : And what you saw were 5 motorized Sampans with fishermen each doing a
hook and line fishing type?

A : Yes, sir. More or less they were five.


Q : And despite the fact you had negative knowledge of this moro ami type of
fishing, SPO3 Enriquez together with Mr. Marcelo boarded the vessel
just the same?

A : Yes, sir.

x x x x x x x x x.[if !supportFootnotes][43][endif]

The apprehending officers who boarded and searched the boat did not find any sodium cyanide
nor any poisonous or obnoxious substance. Neither did they find any trace of the
poison in the possession of the fishermen or in the fish cage itself. An Inventory
was prepared by the apprehending officers and only the following items were
found on board the boat:
ITEMS QUANTITY REMARKS
F/B Robinson (1) unit operating
engine (1) unit ICE-900-BHP
sampans 28 units fiberglass
outboard motors 28 units operating
assorted fishes more or less 1 ton live
hooks and lines assorted
x x x.[if !supportFootnotes][44][endif]

We cannot overlook the fact that the apprehending officers found in the boat assorted hooks and
lines for catching fish.[if !supportFootnotes][45][endif] For this obvious reason, the Inspection/
Apprehension Report prepared by the apprehending officers immediately after the search did not
charge petitioners with illegal fishing, much less illegal fishing with the use of poison or any
obnoxious substance.[if !supportFootnotes][46][endif]
The only basis for the charge of fishing with poisonous substance is the result of the first NBI
laboratory test on the four fish specimens. Under the circumstances of the case, however, this
finding does not warrant the infallible conclusion that the fishes in the F/B Robinson, or even the
same four specimens, were caught with the use of sodium cyanide.
Prosecution witness SPO1 Bernardino Visto testified that for the first laboratory test , boat
engineer Ernesto Andaya did not only get four (4) samples of fish but actually got five (5) from
the fish cage of the F/B Robinson.[if !supportFootnotes][47][endif] This Certification that four (4) fish
samples were taken from the boat shows on its face the number of pieces as originally five (5)
but this was erased with correction fluid and four (4) written over it.[if !supportFootnotes][48][endif] The

specimens were taken, sealed inside the plastic bag and brought to Manila by the police
authorities in the absence of petitioners or their representative. SPO2 Enriquez testified that the
same plastic bag containing the four specimens was merely sealed with heat from a lighter.[if !
supportFootnotes][49][endif] Emilia Rosaldes, the NBI forensic chemist who examined the samples,
testified that when she opened the package, she found two ends of the same plastic bag knotted.[if
!supportFootnotes][50][endif] These circumstances as well as the time interval from the taking of the fish
samples and their actual examination[if !supportFootnotes][51][endif] fail to assure the impartial mind that
the integrity of the specimens had been properly safeguarded.
Apparently, the members of the PNP Maritime Command and the Task Force Bantay Dagat were
the ones engaged in an illegal fishing expedition. As sharply observed by the Solicitor General,
the report received by the Task Force Bantay Dagat was that a fishing boat was fishing illegally
through muro ami on the waters of San Rafael. Muro ami according to SPO1 Saballuca is made
with the use of a big net with sinkers to make the net submerge in the water with the fishermen
surround[ing] the net.[if !supportFootnotes][52][endif]
This method of fishing needs approximately two hundred (200) fishermen to execute.[if !
supportFootnotes][53][endif] What the apprehending officers instead discovered were twenty eight (28)
fishermen in their discovered were twenty eight (28) fishermen in their sampans fishing by hook
and line. The authorities found nothing on the boat that would have indicated any form of illegal
fishing. All the documents of the boat and the fishermen were in order. It was only after the fish
specimens were tested, albeit under suspicious circumstances, that petitioners were charged with
illegal fishing with the use of poisonous substances.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is granted and the decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR No. 15417 is reversed and set aside. Petitioners are acquitted of the crime of illegal
fishing with the use of poisonous substances defined under the Section 33 of Republic Act No.
704, the Fisheries Decree of 1975. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. L-6866. September 28, 1954.]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. SOTERO ANITO,
Defendant-Appellee.
Solicitor General Juan R. Liwag and Solicitor Esmeraldo Umali, for Appellant.
Benjamin C. Villarin, for Appellee.

SYLLABUS

1. CRIMINAL LAW; IILEGAL FISHING AND ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF EXPLOSIVES


ARE TWO DISTINCT OFFENSES. Fishing with the use of explosives without obtaining the
necessary permit, and possession of explosives without license are two distinct offenses

penalized by different statutes. A person fishing with the use of explosives may be guilty of
illegal fishing, without being guilty of illegal possession of explosives, if he has a permit of the
Chief of Constabulary.

DECISION

BENGZON, J.:

On April 15, 1953, Sotero Anito was caught in the act of fishing with dynamite in Manjuyod
Negros Oriental. In his pocket was found a package of explosive powder with blasting cap. But
he had no license either from the Secretary of Agriculture or the Chief of Constabulary.
Prosecuted for violation of Commonwealth Act No. 471 (illegal fishing) he pleaded not guilty. In
another information he was charged with illegal possession of the explosive powder and cap in
violation of Act No. 3023. He moved for dismissal of this second information, citing the first
prosecution for illegal fishing and contended that he was being placed in double jeopardy for one
single offense. The trial judge sustained the motion. Hence this appeal by the fiscal.
Having reviewed the papers, we find that the issue is covered by our decision in P. v. Tinamisan,
G. R. No. L-4801, promulgated January 29, 1952, the pertinent portion of which reads as
follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"On August 1, 1949, the accused Teodoro Tinamisan and Apolonio Bandao went out to fish in
the Zamboanga sea, bringing with them five bottles of explosives. After throwing one into the
water, they were caught and arrested, and the four bottles in the canoe seized. Charged with the
crime of illegal fishing with explosives in Criminal case No. 586 of the Court of First Instance,
they were convicted, the four bottles having been exhibited by the prosecution.
Prosecuted again for illegal possession of explosives in Criminal Case No. 899 of the same court,
they pleaded double jeopardy, on the ground that the explosives mentioned in the information are
the identical four bottles presented in the previous criminal case. After hearing both sides, the
judge sustained their plea and dismissed the second case.
Hence this appeal, wherein the single issue is whether the first prosecution bars the second.
The use of explosives in fishing except when permitted under special circumstances by the
Secretary of Agriculture is prohibited and penalized under Act No. 4003 as amended by Act No.
471.

The possession of dynamite or explosives without license from the Chief of Constabulary
is prohibited and punished by Act No. 2225 as amended by Act No. 3023.
One offense is distinct from the other. When a man fishes with explosives, he violates the first
mentioned law or the second, or both, or he may commit no offense at all. No offense, if he
obtained licenses from both the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of Constabulary. He
infringes the first (and not the second) if he has no license from the Agriculture Secretary, but he
has license from the Chief of Constabulary. He transgresses the second but not the first if he
holds no license from the Constabulary, but he wields a permit from the Agriculture Secretary.
He transgresses both laws as in this case, when he exhibits no license at all.
Wherefore, one violation of the law does not necessarily include and is not necessarily included
in the other. The double jeopardy rule does not attach.." . .
The trial judge reasoned out that "one cannot fish by the use of explosives without possessing the
explosives to be used" and "prior to actually committing the offense of illegal fishing the accused
must be technically liable for the offense of illegal possession." The error in this reasoning lies in
the assumption that anyone illegally fishing with explosives is necessarily guilty of illegal
possession of explosives. Such assumption is groundless, because as explained in the above
decision, a person may be guilty of the first, without being guilty of the second if he has a
permit of the Chief of Constabulary.
Judgment reversed. Case remanded for further proceedings.
G.R. No. L-41958 July 20, 1982
DONALD MEAD, petitioner,
vs.
HON. MANUEL A. ARGEL in his capacity as Presiding Judge in the Court of First
Instance of Rizal, Branch XXXV and the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Ozaeta, Romulo, De Leon & Reyes & Associates for petitioner.
Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Acting Solicitor General Hugo Gutierrez, Jr., Asst.
Solicitor General Octavio R. Ramirez and Solicitor Mariano M. Martinez for respondents.
VASQUEZ, J.:
The issue posed for determination in this case is whether or not a Provincial Fiscal has the
authority to file an information for a violation of Republic Act No. 3931, entitled "An Act
Creating a National Water and Air Pollution Control Commission."
On March 11, 1975, petitioner Donald Mead and a certain Isaac Arivas were charged by the
Provincial Fiscal of Rizal with a violation of Section 9, in relation to Section 10 of Republic Act
No. 3931, under an information reading as follows:
That on or about the 23rd day of August, 1972, and for some time prior and subsequent thereto,
in the municipality of Malabon, province of Rizal, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being then the president and the general manager,

respectively, of the Insular Oil Refinery Co. (INSOIL) a corporation duly organized in
accordance with existing laws, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping and
aiding one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously drain or otherwise
dispose into the highway canal and/or cause, permit, suffer to be drained or allow to seep into
such waterway the industrial and other waste matters discharged due to the operation of the said
Insular Oil Refinery Co. so managed and operated by them, thereby causing pollution of such
waterway with the resulting damage and/or destruction to the living plants in the vicinity and
providing hazard to health and property in the same vicinity.
The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. C-5984-75 and it was subsequently assigned to
Branch XXXV of the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Caloocan City) presided over by the
respondent Judge.
On August 11, 1975, petitioner Donald Mead, one of the accused in the criminal case, filed a
motion to quash on the grounds that the trial court has no jurisdiction and that the Provincial
Fiscal of Rizal has no legal personality to file the above-quoted information. The motion to
quash was denied by the respondent Judge in an Order dated September 5, 1975. A Motion For
Reconsideration filed by the petitioner was also denied by the respondent Judge in his Order of
November 10, 1965. Hence, this petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction to annul the
said orders of the respondent Judge who allegedly acted in excess of or without jurisdiction in
issuing the same.
In Our Resolution dated November 28, 1975, the respondents were required to comment on the
petition and a temporary restraining order was issued to enjoin the respondent Judge from
enforcing his questioned orders until otherwise directed by this Court.
It is the principal contention of the petitioner that the National Water and Air Pollution Control
Commission (hereinafter referred to as the "Commission") as created under Republic Act No.
3931 has the exclusive authority to determine the existence of "pollution" before a criminal case
can be filed for a violation of the said law; and that it has the exclusive authority to prosecute
violations of the same. Petitioner further avers that the Commission not having finally ruled that
the petitioner has violated Republic Act No. 3931, the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal lacks the
authority to prosecute the petitioner for a violation of said law.
The respondents, on the other hand, maintain that while Republic Act No. 3931 grants the power
and duty to the Commission to investigate and prosecute violations of Republic Act No. 3931,
such grant of power and authority is not exclusive, and does not deprive fiscals and other public
prosecutors of their authority to investigate and prosecute violations of the said law committed
within their respective jurisdictions.
Before discussing the main issue on its merits, We deem it necessary to resolve a procedural
question raised by the respondents in support of their prayer that the instant petition should not
be entertained. Respondents advert to the rule that when a motion to quash filed by an accused in
a criminal case shall be denied, the remedy of the accused- movant is not to file a petition for
certiorari or mandamus or prohibition, the proper recourse being to go to trial, without prejudice
to his right to reiterate the grounds invoked in his motion to quash if an adverse judgment is
rendered against him, in the appeal that he may take therefrom in the manner authorized by law.
(Mill vs. People, et al., 101 Phil. 599; Echarol us. Purisima, et al, 13 SCRA 309.)

There is no disputing the validity and wisdom of the rule invoked by the respondents. However,
it is also recognized that, under certain situations, recourse to the extraordinary legal remedies of
certiorari, prohibition or mandamus to question the denial of a motion to quash is considered
proper in the interest of "more enlightened and substantial justice", as was so declared in "Yap vs.
Lutero", G.R. No. L-12669, April 30, 1969, 105 Phil. 3007:
However, were we to require adherence to this pretense, the case at bar would have to be
dismissed and petitioner required to go through the inconvenience, not to say the mental agony
and torture, of submitting himself to trial on the merits in Case No. 16443, apart from the
expenses incidental thereto, despite the fact that his trial and conviction therein would violate
one of this constitutional rights, and that, an appeal to this Court, we would, therefore, have to set
aside the judgment of conviction of the lower court. This would, obviously, be most unfair and
unjust. Under the circumstances obtaining in the present case, the flaw in the procedure followed
by petitioner herein may be overlooked, in the interest of a more enlightened and substantial
justice.
To the same effect is the pronouncement in "Pineda and Ampil Manufacturing Co., vs.
Bartolome, et al.," 95 Phil., 930938, expressed as follows:
While a denial of a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction was held not to be a proper basis for
a petition for certiorari [Nico vs. Blanco, 46 Off. Gaz., Supp. (1) 88; 81 Phil., 2131, or an appeal
not certiorari is the proper remedy for correcting an error which a lower court may commit in
denying a motion to set aside a judgment, or in setting aside an order of dismissal, [Rios vs. Ros
et al., 45 Off. Gaz. (No. 3), 1265; 79 Phil. 243; Santos vs. Pecson, 45 Off. Gaz. (No. 3), 1278; 79
Phil.754] however, in some instances, the Supreme Court has departed from the general rule and
has entertained the writ notwithstanding the existence of an appeal. Thus, in one case the
Supreme Court took cognizance of a petition for certiorari notwithstanding the fact that the
accused could have appealed in due time when it found that the action was necessary to promote
public welfare and public policy (People vs. Zulueta, 89 Phil. 880). In another case, a petition for
certiorari to annul an order of the trial judge admitting an amended information was entertained
although the accused had an adequate remedy by appeal "inasmuch as the Surplus Property cases
have attracted nationwide attention, making it essential to proceed with dispatch in the
consideration thereof. (People vs, Zulueta, supra. Citing Arevalo vs. Nepomuceno, 63 Phil., 627.)
And still in another case, the writ was entertained where the appeal was found not to be adequate
remedy, as where the order which is sought to be reviewed is merely of interlocutory or
peremptory character, and the appeal therefrom can be interposed only after final judgment and
may therefore be of no avail. (Rocha vs. Crossfield, 6 Phil., 355; Leung Ben vs. O'Brien, 38
Phil., 182. See also Mendoza vs. Parungao, 49 Phil., 271; Dais vs. Court of First Instance, 51
Phil., 36).
For analogous reasons it may be said that the petition for certiorari interposed by the accused
against the order of the court a quo denying the motion to quash may be entertained, not only
because it was rendered in a criminal case, but because it was rendered, as claimed, with grave
abuse of discretion, as found by the Court of Appeals, it would be indeed unfair and unjust, if not
derogatory of their constitutional right, to force the accused to go to trial under an information
which, in their opinion, as was found, accuses them of multiple offenses in contravention of law.

And so, in our opinion, the respondent court did not err in entertaining the petition for certiorari
instead of dismissing it, as claimed.
The motion to quash filed by the accused in Yap vs. Lutero was on the ground of double
jeopardy. In Pineda vs. Bartolome, the ground invoked was duplicity of offenses charged in the
information. In the case at bar, the petitioner assails the very jurisdiction of the court wherein the
criminal case was filed, Certainly, there is a more compelling reason that such issue be resolved
soonest, in order to avoid the court's spending precious time and energy unnecessarily in trying
and deciding the case, and to spare the accused from the inconvenience, anxiety and
embarrassment, let alone the expenditure of effort and money, in undergoing trial for a case the
proceedings in which could possibly be annuled for want of jurisdiction. Even in civil actions,
We have counselled that when the court's jurisdiction is attacked in a motion to dismiss, it is the
duty of the court to resolve the same as soon as possible in order to avoid the unwholesome
consequences mentioned above.
It is also advanced that the present petition is premature, since respondent court has not definitely
ruled on the motion to dismiss, nor held that it has jurisdiction, but only argument is untenable.
The motion to dismiss was predicated on the respondent court's lack of jurisdiction to entertain
the action, and the rulings of this Court are that writs of certiorari or prohibition, or both, may
issue in case of a denial or deferment of action on such a motion to dismiss for lack of
jurisdiction.
If the question of jurisdiction were not the main ground for this petition for review by certiorari,
it would be premature because it seeks to have a review of an interlocutory order. But as it would
be useless and futile to go ahead with the proceedings if the court below had no jurisdiction this
petition was given due course.' (San Beda vs. CIA 51 O.G. 6636, 5638).
While it is true that action on a motion to dismiss may be deferred until the trial and an order to
that effect is interlocutory, still where it clearly appears that the trial judge or court is proceeding
in excess or outside of its jurisdiction, the remedy of prohibition would lie since it would be
useless and a waste of time to go ahead with the proceedings. (Philippine International Fair,
Inc., et al., vs. Ibanez, et al, 50 Off. Gaz. 1036; Enrique vs. Macadaeg, et all 47 Off. Gaz. 1207;
see also San Beda College vs. CIR, 51 Off. Gaz. 5636.) (University of Sto. Tomas vs. Villanueva,
L-13748, 30 October 1959.) (Time, Inc. vs. Reyes, 39 SCRA, pp. 315-316.)
An additional factor that induced Us to entertain the instant petition is the obvious merit We find
in the same. Our reading of the provisions of Republic Act No. 3931 has convinced Us that the
clear legislative intention is to vest in the Commission the exclusive authority to determine the
existence of "pollution" penalized thereunder and to prosecute violations of said law.
The information filed against the herein petitioner charges him with a violation of Section 9, in
relation to Section 10 of Republic Act No. 3931. More specifically, it alleges that the petitioner,
with his co-accused Isaac Arivas, "willfully, unlawfully and feloniously drain or otherwise
dispose into the highway canal and/or cause, permit, suffer to be drained or allow to seep into
such waterway the industrial and other waste matters discharged due to the operation of the said
Insular Oil Refinery Co. so managed and operated by them, thereby causing pollution of such
waterway with the resulting damage and/or destruction to the arriving plants in the vicinity and
providing hazard to health and property in the same vicinity."

Section 9 in its first paragraph, supposedly the criminal act being imputed to the petitioner, reads
as follows:
SEC. 9. Prohibitions. No person shall throw, run, drain, or otherwise dispose into any of the
water and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines, or cause, permit, suffer to be thrown, run, drain,
allow to see or otherwise dispose into such waters or atmospheric air, any organic or inorganic
matter or any substance in gaseous or liquid form that shall cause pollution of such waters or
atmospheric air.
It will be noted from the above-quoted provision that the prohibited act is to throw, run, drain or
otherwise dispose into any of the water and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines, any organic or
inorganic matter or substance "that shall cause pollution of such waters or atmospheric air."
Stated in simpler terms, the offense allegedly committed by the petitioner was the act of causing
pollution of a waterway (highway canal).
The term "pollution" as used in the law is not to be taken in its ordinary signification. In Section
2, paragraph (a), of Republic Act No. 3931, "pollution" is defined in these words:
(a) Pollution' means such alteration of the physical, chemical and/or biological properties of any
water and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines, or any such discharge of any liquid, gaseous or
solid substance into any of the waters and/or atmospheric air of the country as will or is likely to
create or render such waters and/or atmospheric air harmful or detrimental or injurious to public
health, safety or welfare, or to domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational or
other legitimate uses, or to livestock, wild animals, birds, fish or of her aquatic life.
The power to determine the existence of pollution is vested by the law in the Commission.
Section 6, among others, gives the Commission the authority to "determine whether a pollution
exists in any of the waters and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines." (Section 6(a), No. 1); to
"hold public hearings, ... make findings of facts and determinations all with respect to the
violations of this Act or orders issued by the Commission." (Ibid., No. 3); to "institute or cause to
be instituted in the court of competent jurisdiction legal proceedings to compel compliance with
the provisions of this Act" (Ibid, No. 5); and, "after due notice and hearing, revoke, suspend or
modify any permit issued under this Act whenever modifications are necessary to prevent or
abate pollution of any water and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines." (Ibid., No. 7.) Section 8
contains explicit provisions as to the authority of the Commission to determine the existence of
pollution and to take appropriate court actions to abate or prevent the same. It provides:
SEC. 8. Proceedings before the Commission . The Commission may, on its own motion, or
upon the request of any person, investigate or may inquire, in a manner to be determined by it, as
to any alleged act of pollution or the omission or failure to comply with any provisions of this
Act or any order of this Commission.
Whenever it appears to the Commission, after investigation, that there has been a violation of
any of the provisions of this Act or any order of the Commission, it may order whoever causes
such violation to show cause before said Commission why such discharge of industrial wastes or
any waste should not be discontinued. A notice shall be served on the offending party directing
him or it to show cause before the Commission, on a date specified in such notice, why an order
should not be made directing the discontinuance of such violation. Such notice shall specify the
time and the place where a public hearing will be held by the Commission or its authorized
representatives, and notice of such hearing shall be served personally or by registered mail, at

least ten days before said hearing; and in the case of a municipality or corporation such notice
shall be served upon the major or president thereof. The Commission shall take evidence with
reference to said matter and may issue an order to the party responsible for such violation,
directing that within a specified period of time thereafter, such violation be discontinued unless
adequate sewage works or industrial wastes disposal system be properly operated to prevent
further damage or pollution.
No investigation being conducted or ruling made by the Commission shall prejudice any action
which may be filed in court by any person in accordance with the provisions of the New Civil
Code on nuisance. On matters, however, not related to nuisance, no court action shall be initiated
until the Commission shall have finally ruled thereon and no order of the Commission
discontinuing the discharge of waste shall be stayed by the filing of said court action, unless the
court issues an injunction as provided for in the Rules of Court.
The last paragraph of the above-quoted provision delineates the authority to be exercised by the
Commission and by the ordinary courts in respect of preventing or remedying the pollution of
the waters or atmospheric air of the Philippines. The provision excludes from the authority of the
Commission only the determination of and the filing of court actions involving violations of the
New Civil Code on nuisance. It is expressly directed that on matters not related to nuisance "no
court action shall be initiated until the Commission shall have finally ruled thereon." This
provision leaves little room for doubt that a court action involving the determination of the
existence of pollution may not be initiated until and unless the Commission has so determined
the existence of what in the law is considered pollution.
It may not be argued that the above-cited provision refers only to the filing of civil actions, and
not to criminal cases as is the one herein involved, there being no basis either in the context in
law nor from a consideration of the purpose behind the enactment of the same upon which such a
distinction may be made. Indeed, respondents do not seriously question that the court action
contemplated in the last paragraph of Section 8 includes criminal proceedings. Respondents
merely aver that the aforementioned grant of authority to the Commission is not exclusive of the
power of Fiscals to file criminal actions for a violation of the provisions of Republic Act No.
3931.
We are likewise not in accord with the view that the law intended to give concurrent authority to
the Commission and Fiscals to prosecute violations of Republic Act No. 3931. It is true that there
is no provision expressly declaring that the authority vested in the Commission to prosecute
violations of Republic Act No. 3931 is exclusive. Using the same logic, there is neither a
provision declaring such authority to be concurrent or may be exercised jointly with Fiscals. The
absence of an explicit declaration as to the exclusive authority of the Commission to prosecute
violations of the subject law does not detract from the clear intention to make it so, as gathered
from the philosophy of the law itself and as gleaned from several provisions of the same. It is
clearly deducible from the provision of Section 8 expressly declaring that no court action shall be
initiated, except those related to nuisance, until the Commission shall have finally ruled on the
alleged act of pollution; and also from Section 6(a), No. 5, which authorizes the Commission to
"initiate or cause to be instituted in a court of competent jurisdiction legal proceedings to compel
compliance with the provisions of this Act."

As may be seen from the law, the determination of the existence of pollution requires
investigation, public hearings and the collection of various information relating to water and
atmospheric pollution. (Sections 6, 7, and 8.) The definition of the term "pollution" in itself
connotes that the determination of its existence requires specialized knowledge of technical and
scientific matters which are not ordinarily within the competence of Fiscals or of those sitting in
a court of justice. It is undoubtedly in recognition of this fact that in Section 4 of the law, it is
provided that "the basic personnel necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act shall be
engineers, chemists, biochemists, physicists, and other technicians"; and required in Section 3
that the Chairman of the Commission shall be the Chairman of the National Science
Development Board, one of the part-time commissioners shall be a recommendee of the
Philippine Council of Science and Technology, and one of the two full-time commissioner shall
be a sanitary engineer.
The vesting of authority in an administrative body to determine when to institute a criminal
action for a violation of the law entrusted to it for administration or enforcement, to the exclusion
of the regular prosecution service of the government, is not new in this jurisdiction. It is
recognized in Yao Lit vs. Geraldez et al., 106 Phil. 545 which upheld the exclusive authority of
the Commissioner of Immigration' to investigate and impose administrative fines upon violators
of the provisions of Republic Act No. 751 for the reason that said official "has better facilities
than the prosecuting officials to carry out the provisions of the said Act, the former official being
the keeper of the records pertaining to aliens." The same principle has been recognized with
respect to the prosecutions of violations of the Anti-Dummy Law (Republic Act No. 1131.) In
holding that the City Fiscal of Manila has no authority to prosecute such violations
independently of the Anti-Dummy Board, it was said:
Were the city fiscal or the provincial fiscals who have the power or right to prosecute violations
of all laws and ordinances allowed to prosecute violations of the Anti- Dummy Board, there
would be no order, concert, cooperation, and coordination between the said agencies of the
government. The function of coordination which is entrusted to the Anti-Dummy Board is
evident from all the above-quoted provisions of Republic Act No. 1130. There can be no
coordination as envisioned in the law unless the Anti-Dummy Board be given the power to direct
and control the city fiscal in the prosecutions of the violations of the Anti-Dummy Law. (Rollo,
p. 118; 5 SCRA 428,433.)
In R. B. Industrial Development Co., Ltd. vs. Enage (24 SCRA 365) involving the authority of
the Bureau of Forestry over the management and use of public forests and the transfer of licenses
for the taking of forest products, this Court has made this pronouncement:
A doctrine long recognized is that where the law confines in an administrative office the power
to determine particular questions or matters, upon the facts to be presented, the jurisdiction of
such office shall prevail over the courts. (p. 124, Rollo.)
It is our considered view that the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal lacked the authority to file the
information charging the petitioner with a violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 3931
there being no prior finding or determination by the Commission that the act of the petitioner had
caused pollution in any water or atmospheric air of the Philippines. It is not to be understood,
however, that a fiscal or public prosecutor may not file an information for a violation of the said
law at all. He may do so if the Commission had made a finding or determination that the law or

any of its orders had been violated. In the criminal case presently considered, there had been no
prior determination by the Commission that the supposed acts of the petitioner had caused
pollution to any water of the Philippines. The filing of the information for the violation of
Section 9 of the law is, therefore, premature and unauthorized. Concommittantly, the respondent
Judge is without jurisdiction to take cognizance of the offense charged therein.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted and the questioned Orders of the respondent Judge
are hereby annuled and set aside. The respondent Judge is ordered to dismiss Criminal Case No.
5984-75 for lack of jurisdiction. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 93891
March 11, 1991
POLLUTION ADJUDICATION BOARD, petitioner
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and SOLAR TEXTILE FINISHING CORPORATION,
respondents.
Oscar A. Pascua and Charemon Clio L. Borre for petitioner.
Leonardo A. Aurelio for respondent Solar Textile Finishing Corp.
RESOLUTION
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 Tullahan-Tinejeros 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 nonoperational 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 non-operational
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 TullahanTinejeros 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
Classification
xxx
xxx
xxx
Best usage
Class D
For agriculture, irrigation, livestock watering and industrial cooling and processing.
xxx
xxx
xxx
(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:
"Inland
Waters

(Class C & D7

November
1986
Report8
Station 1
September
1988
Report9
Station 1
a)
Color in
platinum
cobalt
units
100
a)
Color units
(Apparent
Color)
250
125
b)
pH
6-8.5
b)
pH
9.3
8.7
c)
Temperature in C
40
c)
Temperature
(C)

d)
Phenols in
mg.1
0.1

d)
Phenols in
mg./1.

e)
Suspended
solids in
mg./1.
75
e)
Suspended
solids in
mg./1.
340
80
f)
BOD in
mg./1.
80
f)
BOD (5-day)
mg./1
1,100
152
g)
oil/Grease
in mg./1.
10
g)
Oil/Grease
mg./1.

h)
Detergents
mg./1."
5
h)
Detergents
mg./1. MBAS
2.93

i)
Dissolved
oxygen, mg./1.
0

j)
Settleable
Matter, mg./1.
0.4
1.5

k)
Total Dis
solved Solids
mg./1.
800
610

l)
Total Solids
1,400
690

m)
Turbidity
NTU / ppm, SiO3
70
The November 1986 inspections report concluded that:
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 re- inspection/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:
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.1wphi1
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 reinspections 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
(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)
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.
G.R. No. 94759
January 21, 1991
TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPERS, INC., petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. NARCISO T. ATIENZA as Presiding Judge, Bulacan, RTC,
and HON. VICENTE CRUZ, Acting Mayor and the MUNICIPALITY OF STA. MARIA,
BULACAN, respondents.

Diosdado P. Peralta for petitioner.


GANCAYCO, J.:
The authority of the local executive to protect the community from pollution is the center of this
controversy.
The antecedent facts are related in the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals as follows:
Petitioner, a domestic private corporation engaged in the manufacture and export of charcoal
briquette, received a letter dated February 16, 1989 from private respondent acting mayor Pablo
N. Cruz, ordering the full cessation of the operation of the petitioner's plant located at Guyong,
Sta. Maria, Bulacan, until further order. The letter likewise requested Plant Manager Mr.
Armando Manese to bring with him to the office of the mayor on February 20, 1989 the
following: a) Building permit; b) Mayor's permit; c) Region III-Pollution of Environment and
Natural Resources Anti-Pollution Permit; and of other document.
At the requested conference on February 20, 1989, petitioner, through its representative,
undertook to comply with respondent's request for the production of the required documents. In
compliance with said undertaking, petitioner commenced to secure "Region III-Department of
Environmental and Natural Resources Anti-Pollution Permit," although among the permits
previously secured prior to the operation of petitioner's plant was a "Temporary Permit to
Operate Air Pollution Installation" issued by the then National Pollution Control Commission
(now Environmental Management Bureau) and is now at a stage where the Environmental
Management Bureau is trying to determine the correct kind of anti-pollution devise to be
installed as part of petitioner's request for the renewal of its permit.
Petitioner's attention having been called to its lack of mayor's permit, it sent its representatives to
the office of the mayor to secure the same but were not entertained.
On April 6, 1989, without previous and reasonable notice upon petitioner, respondent acting
mayor ordered the Municipality's station commander to padlock the premises of petitioner's
plant, thus effectively causing the stoppage of its operation.
Left with no recourse, petitioner instituted an action for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus with
preliminary injunction against private respondent with the court a quo which is presided by the
respondent judge. In its prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction, it
alleged therein that the closure order was issued in grave abuse of discretion.
During the hearing of the application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction on April
14, 1989, herein parties adduced their respective evidences. The respondent judge, April 19,
1989, found that petitioner is entitled to the issuance of the writ of preliminary mandatory
injunction, hence, it ordered as follows:
In view of the foregoing, upon petitioner's posting of a bond in the amount of P50,000.00 to
answer for such damages that respondents may sustain should petitioner eventually be found not
entitled to the injunctive relief hereby issued, let a PRELIMINARY MANDATORY
INJUNCTION issue ordering the respondent Hon. Pablo N. Cruz, and other person acting in his
behalf and stead to immediately revoke his closure order dated April 6, 1989, and allow
petitioner to resume its normal business operations until after the instant case shall have been
adjudicated on the merits without prejudice to the inherent power of the court to alter, modify or
even revoke this order at any given time.

SO ORDERED.
The writ of preliminary mandatory injunction was issued on April 28, 1989, upon petitioner's
posting a bond in the amount of P50,000.00.
Private respondent filed his motion for reconsideration dated May 3, 1989. Said motion for
reconsideration was heard on May 30, 1989. Petitioner's counsel failed to appear and the hearing
proceeded with the Provincial Prosecutor presenting his evidence. The following documents
were submitted:
a) Exhibit "A", Investigation report on the Technology Developers Inc., prepared by one Marivic
Guina, and her conclusion and recommendation read:
Due to the manufacturing process and nature of raw materials used, the fumes coming from the
factory may contain particulate matters which are hazardous to the health of the people. As such,
the company should cease operating until such a time that the proper air pollution device is
installed and operational.
b) Exhibits "B", "B-1", "B-2", three (3) sheets of coupon bond containing signatures of residents
of Barangay Guyong, Sta. Maria, Bulacan;
c) Exhibit "B-3", a letter addressed to Hon. Roberto Pagdanganan Governor of the Province of
Bulacan, dated November 22, 1988, complaining about the smoke coming out of the chimney of
the company while in operation.
Reassessing all the evidence adduced, the lower court, on June 14, 1989, issued an order (a)
setting aside the order dated April 28, 1989, which granted a Writ of Preliminary Mandatory
Injunction, and (b) dissolving the writ consequently issued.
A motion for reconsideration dated July 6, 1989 was filed by petitioner. Said motion drew an
opposition dated July 19, 1989 from private respondent.
Resolving the petitioner's motion for reconsideration, the respondent judge issued an order dated
August 9, 1989, denying said motion for reconsideration.1
Hence a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction was filed by petitioner
in the Court of Appeals seeking to annul and set aside (a) the order issued by the trial court on
June 14, 1989, setting aside the order dated April 28, 1989, and (b) the order of August 9, 1989,
denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the order of June 14, 1989. In due course the
petition was denied for lack of merit by the appellate court in a decision dated January 26, 1990.
2 A motion for reconsideration thereof filed by petitioner was denied on August 10, 1990.
Thus, the herein petition for review on certiorari filed with this Court. Six errors are alleged to
have been committed by the appellate court which may be synthesized into the singular issue of
whether or not the appellate court committed a grave abuse of discretion in rendering its question
decision and resolution.
The petition is devoid of merit.
The well-known rule is that the matter of issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction is
addressed to the sound judicial discretion of the trial court and its action shall not be disturbed on
appeal unless it is demonstrated that it acted without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction or
otherwise, in grave abuse of its discretion. By the same token the court that issued such a
preliminary relief may recall or dissolve the writ as the circumstances may warrant.
To the mind of the Court the following circumstances militate against the maintenance of the
writ of preliminary injunction sought by petitioner:

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 virture 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 emissions in the operation of the business.
2. The Acting Mayor, in a letter of February 16, 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:
(1) Building permit;
(2) Mayor's permit; and
(3) Region III-Department of Environment and Natural Resources Anti-Pollution permit. 3
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.4 The alleged
NBI finding that some of the signatures in the four-page petition were written by one person, 5
appears to be true in some instances, (particularly as among members of the same family), but on
the whole the many signatures appear to be written by different persons. The certification of the
barrio captain of said barrio that he has not received any complaint on the matter 6 must be
because the complaint was sent directly to the Governor through the Acting Mayor.
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.7
5. Petitioner failed to produce a building permit from the municipality of Sta. Maria, but instead
presented a building permit issued by an official of Makati on March 6,1987.8
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,
1988.9 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.
All these factors justify the dissolution of the writ of preliminary injunction by the trial court and
the appellate court correctly upheld the action of the lower court.
Petitioner takes note of the plea of petitioner focusing on its huge investment in this dollarearning industry.1wphi1 It must be stressed however, that concomitant with the need to promote
investment and contribute to the growth of the economy is the equally essential imperative of
protecting the health, nay the very lives of the people, from the deleterious effect of the pollution
of the environment.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, with costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 79538 October 18, 1990


FELIPE YSMAEL, JR. & CO., INC., petitioner,
vs.
THE DEPUTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT
AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF FOREST
D E V E L O P M E N T a n d T W I N P E A K S D E V E L O P M E N T A N D R E A LT Y
CORPORATION, respondents.
Taada, Vivo & Tan for petitioner.
Antonio E. Escober and Jurado Law Office for respondent Twin Peaks Development
Corporation.
COURTS, J.:
Soon after the change of government in February 1986, petitioner sent a letter dated March 17,
1986 to the Office of the President, and another letter dated April 2, 1986 to Minister Ernesto
Maceda of the Ministry of Natural Resources [MNR], seeking: (1) the reinstatement of its timber
license agreement which was cancelled in August 1983 during the Marcos administration; (2) the
revocation of TLA No. 356 which was issued to Twin Peaks Development and Realty
Corporation without public bidding and in violation of forestry laws, rules and regulations; and,
(3) the issuance of an order allowing petitioner to take possession of all logs found in the
concession area [Annexes "6" and "7" of the Petition; Rollo, pp. 54-63].
Petitioner made the following allegations:
(a) That on October 12, 1965, it entered into a timber license agreement designated as TLA No.
87 with the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, represented by then Secretary Jose
Feliciano, wherein it was issued an exclusive license to cut, collect and remove timber except
prohibited species within a specified portion of public forest land with an area of 54,920 hectares
located in the municipality of Maddela, province of Nueva Vizcaya * from October 12, 1965
until June 30, 1990;
(b) That on August 18, 1983, the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development [hereinafter
referred to as "Bureau"], Director Edmundo Cortes, issued a memorandum order stopping all
logging operations in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces, and cancelling the logging
concession of petitioner and nine other forest concessionaires, pursuant to presidential
instructions and a memorandum order of the Minister of Natural Resources Teodoro Pena
[Annex "5" of the Petition; Rollo, p. 49];
(c) that on August 25, 1983, petitioner received a telegram from the Bureau, the contents of
which were as follows:
PURSUANT TO THE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE PRESIDENT YOU ARE REQUESTED TO
STOP ALL LOGGING OPERATIONS TO CONSERVE REMAINING FORESTS PLEASE
CONDUCT THE ORDERLY PULL-OUT OF LOGGING MACHINERIES AND EQUIPMENT
AND COORDINATE WITH THE RESPECTIVE DISTRICT FORESTERS FOR THE
INVENTORY OF LOGS CUT PRIOR TO THIS ORDER THE SUBMISSION OF A
COMPLIANCE REPORT WITHIN THIRTY DAYS SHALL BE APPRECIATED [Annex "4"
of the Petition; Rollo, p. 48];

(d) That after the cancellation of its timber license agreement, it immediately sent a letter
addressed to then President Ferdinand Marcos which sought reconsideration of the Bureau's
directive, citing in support thereof its contributions to alleging that it was not given the forest
conservation and opportunity to be heard prior to the cancellation of its logging 531, but no
operations (Annex "6" of the Petition; Rollo, pp. 50 favorable action was taken on this letter;
(e) That barely one year thereafter, approximately one-half or 26,000 hectares of the area
formerly covered by TLA No. 87 was re-awarded to Twin Peaks Development and Reality
Corporation under TLA No. 356 which was set to expire on July 31, 2009, while the other half
was allowed to be logged by Filipinas Loggers, Inc. without the benefit of a formal award or
license; and,
(f) That the latter entities were controlled or owned by relatives or cronies of deposed President
Ferdinand Marcos. Acting on petitioner's letter, the MNR through then Minister Ernesto Maceda
issued an order dated July 22, 1986 denying petitioner's request. The Ministry ruled that a timber
license was not a contract within the due process clause of the Constitution, but only a privilege
which could be withdrawn whenever public interest or welfare so demands, and that petitioner
was not discriminated against in view of the fact that it was among ten concessionaires whose
licenses were revoked in 1983. Moreover, emphasis was made of the total ban of logging
operations in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Ifugao imposed on April
2, 1986, thus:
xxx xxx xxx
It should be recalled that [petitioner's] earlier request for reinstatement has been denied in view
of the total ban of all logging operations in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya,
Quirino and Ifugao which was imposed for reasons of conservation and national security.
The Ministry imposed the ban because it realizes the great responsibility it bear [sic] in respect to
forest t considers itself the trustee thereof. This being the case, it has to ensure the availability of
forest resources not only for the present, but also for the future generations of Filipinos.
On the other hand, the activities of the insurgents in these parts of the country are well
documented. Their financial demands on logging concessionaires are well known. The
government, therefore, is well within its right to deprive its enemy of sources of funds in order to
preserve itself, its established institutions and the liberty and democratic way of life of its people.
xxx xxx xxx
[Annex "9" of the Petition, pp. 2-4; Rollo, pp. 65-67.]
Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the aforestated order reiterating, among others. its
request that TLA No. 356 issued to private respondent be declared null and void. The MNR
however denied this motion in an order dated September 15, 1986. stating in part:
xxx xxx xxx
Regarding [petitioner's] request that the award of a 26,000 hectare portion of TLA No. 87 to
Twin Peaks Realty Development Corporation under TLA No. 356 be declared null and void,
suffice it to say that the Ministry is now in the process of reviewing all contracts, permits or
other form of privileges for the exploration, development, exploitation, or utilization of natural
resources entered into, granted, issued or acquired before the issuance of Proclamation No. 3,
otherwise known as the Freedom Constitution for the purpose of amending, modifying or
revoking them when the national interest so requires.

xxx xxx xxx


The Ministry, through the Bureau of Forest Development, has jurisdiction and authority over all
forest lands. On the basis of this authority, the Ministry issued the order banning all logging
operations/activities in Quirino province, among others, where movant's former concession area
is located. Therefore, the issuance of an order disallowing any person or entity from removing
cut or uncut logs from the portion of TLA No. 87, now under TLA No. 356, would constitute an
unnecessary or superfluous act on the part of the Ministry.
xxx xxx xxx
[Annex "11" of the Petition, pp. 3-4; Rollo, pp. 77-78.]
On November 26, 1986, petitioner's supplemental motion for reconsideration was likewise
denied. Meanwhile, per MNR Administrative Order No. 54, series of 1986, issued on November
26, 1986, the logging ban in the province of Quirino was lifted.
Petitioner subsequently appealed from the orders of the MNR to the Office of the President. In a
resolution dated July 6, 1987, the Office of the President, acting through then Deputy Executive
Secretary Catalino Macaraig, denied petitioner's appeal for lack of merit. The Office of the
President ruled that the appeal of petitioner was prematurely filed, the matter not having been
terminated in the MNR. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied on August 14, 1987.
Hence, petitioner filed directly with this Court a petition for certiorari, with prayer for the
issuance of a restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction, on August 27, 1987. On October
13, 1987, it filed a supplement to its petition for certiorari. Thereafter, public and private
respondents submitted their respective comments, and petitioner filed its consolidated reply
thereto. In a resolution dated May 22, 1989, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition.
After a careful study of the circumstances in the case at bar, the Court finds several factors which
militate against the issuance of a writ of certiorari in favor of petitioner.
1. Firstly, the refusal of public respondents herein to reverse final and executory administrative
orders does not constitute grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
It is an established doctrine in this jurisdiction that the decisions and orders of administrative
agencies have upon their finality, the force and binding effect of a final judgment within the
purview of the doctrine of res judicata. These decisions and orders are as conclusive upon the
rights of the affected parties as though the same had been rendered by a court of general
jurisdiction. The rule of res judicata thus forbids the reopening of a matter once determined by
competent authority acting within their exclusive jurisdiction [See Brillantes v. Castro, 99 Phil.
497 (1956); Ipekdjian Merchandising Co., Inc. v. Court of Tax Appeals, G.R. No. L-15430,
September 30, 1963, 9 SCRA 72; San Luis v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 80160, June 26, 1989].
In the case at bar, petitioner's letters to the Office of the President and the MNR [now the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) dated March 17, 1986 and April 2,
1986, respectively, sought the reconsideration of a memorandum order issued by the Bureau of
Forest Development which cancelled its timber license agreement in 1983, as well as the
revocation of TLA No. 356 subsequently issued by the Bureau to private respondents in 1984.
But as gleaned from the record, petitioner did not avail of its remedies under the law, i.e. Section
8 of Pres. Dec. No. 705 as amended, for attacking the validity of these administrative actions
until after 1986. By the time petitioner sent its letter dated April 2, 1986 to the newly appointed
Minister of the MNR requesting reconsideration of the above Bureau actions, these were already

settled matters as far as petitioner was concerned [See Rueda v. Court of Agrarian Relations, 106
Phil. 300 (1959); Danan v. Aspillera G.R. No. L-17305, November 28, 1962, 6 SCRA 609;
Ocampo v. Arboleda G.R. No. L-48190, August 31, 1987, 153 SCRA 374].
No particular significance can be attached to petitioner's letter dated September 19, 1983 which
petitioner claimed to have sent to then President Marcos [Annex "6" of Petition, Rollo, pp.
50-53], seeking the reconsideration of the 1983 order issued by Director Cortes of the Bureau. It
must be pointed out that the averments in this letter are entirely different from the charges of
fraud against officials under the previous regime made by petitioner in its letters to public
respondents herein. In the letter to then President Marcos, petitioner simply contested its
inclusion in the list of concessionaires, whose licenses were cancelled, by defending its record of
selective logging and reforestation practices in the subject concession area. Yet, no other
administrative steps appear to have been taken by petitioner until 1986, despite the fact that the
alleged fraudulent scheme became apparent in 1984 as evidenced by the awarding of the subject
timber concession area to other entities in that year.
2. Moreover, petitioner is precluded from availing of the benefits of a writ of certiorari in the
present case because he failed to file his petition within a reasonable period.
The principal issue ostensibly presented for resolution in the instant petition is whether or not
public respondents herein acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in refusing to overturn administrative orders issued by their predecessors in the past
regime. Yet, what the petition ultimately seeks is the nullification of the Bureau orders cancelling
TLA No. 87 and granting TLA No. 356 to private respondent, which were issued way back in
1983 and 1984, respectively.
Once again, the fact that petitioner failed to seasonably take judicial recourse to have the earlier
administrative actions reviewed by the courts through a petition for certiorari is prejudicial to its
cause. For although no specific time frame is fixed for the institution of a special civil action for
certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, the same must nevertheless be done
within a "reasonable time". The yardstick to measure the timeliness of a petition for certiorari is
the "reasonableness of the length of time that had expired from the commission of the acts
complained of up to the institution of the proceeding to annul the same" [Toledo v. Pardo, G.R.
No. 56761, November 19, 1982, 118 SCRA 566, 571]. And failure to file the petition for
certiorari within a reasonable period of time renders the petitioner susceptible to the adverse
legal consequences of laches [Municipality of Carcar v. Court of First Instance of Cebu, G.R.
No. L-31628, December 27, 1982, 119 SCRA 392).
Laches is defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to
do that which by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, or to assert a
right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled thereto has either
abandoned it or declined to assert it [Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, G.R. No. L-21450, April 15, 1968,
23 SCRA 29; Seno v. Mangubat, G.R. No. L-44339, December 2, 1987, 156 SCRA 113]. The
rule is that unreasonable delay on the part of a plaintiff in seeking to enforce an alleged right
may, depending upon the circumstances, be destructive of the right itself. Verily, the laws aid
those who are vigilant, not those who sleep upon their rights (Vigilantibus et non dormientibus
jura subveniunt) [See Buenaventura v. David, 37 Phil. 435 (1918)].

In the case at bar, petitioner waited for at least three years before it finally filed a petition for
certiorari with the Court attacking the validity of the assailed Bureau actions in 1983 and 1984.
Considering that petitioner, throughout the period of its inaction, was not deprived of the
opportunity to seek relief from the courts which were normally operating at the time, its delay
constitutes unreasonable and inexcusable neglect, tantamount to laches. Accordingly, the writ of
certiorari requiring the reversal of these orders will not lie.
3. Finally, there is a more significant factor which bars the issuance of a writ of certiorari in favor
of petitioner and against public respondents herein. It is precisely this for which prevents the
Court from departing from the general application of the rules enunciated above.
A cursory reading of the assailed orders issued by public respondent Minister Maceda of the
MNR which were ed by the Office of the President, will disclose public policy consideration
which effectively forestall judicial interference in the case at bar,
Public respondents herein, upon whose shoulders rests the task of implementing the policy to
develop and conserve the country's natural resources, have indicated an ongoing department
evaluation of all timber license agreements entered into, and permits or licenses issued, under the
previous dispensation. In fact, both the executive and legislative departments of the incumbent
administration are presently taking stock of its environmental policies with regard to the
utilization of timber lands and developing an agenda for future programs for their conservation
and rehabilitation.
The ongoing administrative reassessment is apparently in response to the renewed and growing
global concern over the despoliation of forest lands and the utter disregard of their crucial role in
sustaining a balanced ecological system. The legitimacy of such concern can hardly be disputed,
most especially in this country. The Court takes judicial notice of the profligate waste of the
country's forest resources which has not only resulted in the irreversible loss of flora and fauna
peculiar to the region, but has produced even more disastrous and lasting economic and social
effects. The delicate balance of nature having been upset, a vicious cycle of floods and droughts
has been triggered and the supply of food and energy resources required by the people seriously
depleted.
While there is a desire to harness natural resources to amass profit and to meet the country's
immediate financial requirements, the more essential need to ensure future generations of
Filipinos of their survival in a viable environment demands effective and circumspect action
from the government to check further denudation of whatever remains of the forest lands.
Nothing less is expected of the government, in view of the clear constitutional command to
maintain a balanced and healthful ecology. Section 16 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution
provides:
SEC. 16. The State shall protect and promote the right of the people to a balanced and healthful
ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.
Thus, while the administration grapples with the complex and multifarious problems caused by
unbridled exploitation of these resources, the judiciary will stand clear. A long line of cases
establish the basic rule that the courts will not interfere in matters which are addressed to the
sound discretion of government agencies entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under
the special technical knowledge and training of such agencies [See Espinosa v. Makalintal, 79
Phil. 134 (1947); Coloso v. Board of Accountancy, 92 Phil. 938 (1953); Pajo v. Ago, 108 Phil.

905 (1960); Suarez v. Reyes, G.R. No. L-19828, February 28, 1963, 7 SCRA 461; Ganitano v.
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, G. R. No. L-21167, March 31, 1966, 16 SCRA
543; Villegas v. Auditor General, G.R. No. L-21352, November 29, 1966, 18 SCRA 877; Manuel
v. Villena, G.R. No. L-28218, February 27, 1971, 37 SCRA 745; Lacuesta v. Herrera, G.R. No.
L-33646, January 28, 1975, 62 SCRA 115; Lianga Bay Logging Co., Inc. v. Enage, G.R. No.
L-30637, July 16, 1987, 152 SCRA 80]. More so where, as in the present case, the interests of a
private logging company are pitted against that of the public at large on the pressing public
policy issue of forest conservation. For this Court recognizes the wide latitude of discretion
possessed by the government in determining the appropriate actions to be taken to preserve and
manage natural resources, and the proper parties who should enjoy the privilege of utilizing these
resources [Director of Forestry v. Munoz, G.R. No. L-24796, June 28, 1968, 23 SCRA 1183;
Lim, Sr. v. The Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, G.R. No. L-26990, August 31,
1970, 34 SCRA 751]. Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal
instruments by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the
end that public welfare is promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a
privilege granted by the State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or
irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the forest products therein. They may be
validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief Executive when national interests
so require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law
clause [See Sections 3 (ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of
Forestry, G.R. No. L-24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302].
In fine, the legal precepts highlighted in the foregoing discussion more than suffice to justify the
Court's refusal to interfere in the DENR evaluation of timber licenses and permits issued under
the previous regime, or to pre-empt the adoption of appropriate corrective measures by the
department.
Nevertheless, the Court cannot help but express its concern regarding alleged irregularities in the
issuance of timber license agreements to a number of logging concessionaires.
The grant of licenses or permits to exploit the country's timber resources, if done in
contravention of the procedure outlined in the law, or as a result of fraud and undue influence
exerted on department officials, is indicative of an arbitrary and whimsical exercise of the State's
power to regulate the use and exploitation of forest resources. The alleged practice of bestowing
"special favors" to preferred individuals, regardless of merit, would be an abuse of this power.
And this Court will not be a party to a flagrant mockery of the avowed public policy of
conservation enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. Therefore, should the appropriate case be
brought showing a clear grave abuse of discretion on the part of officials in the DENR and
related bureaus with respect to the implementation of this public policy, the Court win not
hesitate to step in and wield its authority, when invoked, in the exercise of judicial powers under
the Constitution [Section 1, Article VIII].
However, petitioner having failed to make out a case showing grave abuse of discretion on the
part of public respondents herein, the Court finds no basis to issue a writ of certiorari and to
grant any of the affirmative reliefs sought.
WHEREFORE, the present petition is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.