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G.R. No.

110249 August 21, 1997


ALFREDO TANO, et al.
vs.
HON. GOV. SALVADOR P. SOCRATES, et al.

FACTS
The Sangguniang Panlungsod ng Puerto Princesa City enacted Ordinance No. 15-92 which took
effect on January 1, 1993 entitled: An Ordinance Banning the Shipment of All Live Fish and Lobster
Outside Puerto Princesa City from January 1, 1993 to January 1, 1998 and Providing Exemptions,
Penalties and for Other Purposes Thereof. The purpose of the ordinance is to free the citys waters
from cyanide by prohibiting the ship out of any live fish and lobster except sea bass, catfish, mudfish,
and milkfish fries.
To implement the city ordinance, the acting mayor issued Office Order No. 23, Series of 1993
dated January 22, 1993, authorising the inspections on cargoes containing live fish and lobster being
shipped out from any port within the jurisdiction of the city to any point of destination either via aircraft
or sea craft. On February 19, 1993, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Provincial Government of
Palawan enacted Resolution No. 33 entitled: A Resolution Prohibiting the Catching, Gathering,
Possessing, Buying, Selling and Shipment of Live Marine Coral Dwelling Aquatic Organisms, to wit:
Family:Scaridae (Mameng), Epine pheleus fasciatus (Suno), Crompileptes altivelis (Panther or
Seorita), Lobster below 200 grams and spawning, Tridacna gigs (Taklobo), Pinctada margaritefera
(Mother pearl, Oysters, Giant clams and other species), Penaeus monsoon (Tiger Prawn-breeder
size or mother), Epinephelus Suillus (Loba or Green grouper) and Family: Balistidae (tropical
aquarium fishes) for a Period Five (5) years In and Coming from Palawan Waters prohibiting the
engagement in catching, gathering, possessing, buying, selling and shipment of live marine coral
dwelling aquatic organisms as enumerated, in and coming out of Palawan Waters for a period of five
(5) years.
Petitioners Alfredo Tano and seven others were criminally charged for violating the Sangguninang
Panlalawigan Resolution and the ordinances. The rest of the petitioners numbering 77, all of whom
except the Airline Shippers Association of Palawan an alleged private association of several
marine merchants are natural persons who claim to be fishermen. They directly invoked the
Supreme Courts original jurisdiction by filing this petition on 4 June 1993, without seeking redress
from the concerned local government units, prosecutor's office and courts. The primary interest of
the first set of petitioners is, of course, to prevent the prosecution, trial and determination of the
criminal cases until the constitutionality or legality of the Ordinances they allegedly violated shall
have been resolved. The second set of petitioners merely claim that being fishermen or marine
merchants, they would be adversely affected by the ordinance's.

ISSUE
1 Whether Ordinance No. 15-92, Office Order No. 23, Series of 1993, and Resolution No. 33,
Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993 are constitutional.

RULING
No.
Procedural: The case for the first set of petitioners must fail on the ground of prematurity amounting
to a lack of cause of action. There is no showing that they, as the accused in the criminal cases,
have filed motions to quash the informations therein and that the same were denied. The ground
available for such motions is that the facts charged therein do not constitute an offense because the
ordinances in question are unconstitutional. It cannot then be said that the lower courts acted without
or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion to justify recourse to the extraordinary
remedy of certiorari or prohibition. As to the second set of petitioners, the instant petition is obviously
one for DECLARATORY RELIEF, i.e., for a declaration that the Ordinances in question are a "nullity
. . . for being unconstitutional." As such, their petition must likewise fail, as this Court is not possessed
of original jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory relief even if only questions of law are involved,
it being settled that the Court merely exercises appellate jurisdiction over such petitions.
Notwithstanding the foregoing procedural obstacles the Supreme Court opted to resolve this
case on its merits considering that the lifetime of the challenged Ordinances is about to end. Alfredo
Tano, et al. specifically point to Section 2, Article XII and Sections 2 and 7, Article XIII of the
Constitution as having been transgressed by the Ordinances. They argue that these provisions grant
preferential rights to subsistence or marginal fishermen as to the use of the nations marine wealth.
There is absolutely no showing that any of the petitioners qualifies as a subsistence or
marginal fisherman. A marginal fisherman is an individual engaged in fishing whose margin of return
or reward in his harvest of fish as measured by existing price levels is barely sufficient to yield a
profit or cover the cost of gathering the fish, while a subsistence fisherman is one whose catch yields
but the irreducible minimum for his livelihood. In their petition, petitioner Airline Shippers Association
of Palawan is self-described as "a private association composed of Marine Merchants;" petitioners
Robert Lim and Virginia Lim, as "merchants;" while the rest of the petitioners claim to be "fishermen,"
without any qualification, however, as to their status.
Besides, Section 2 of Article XII aims primarily not to bestow any right to subsistence
fishermen, but to lay stress on the duty of the State to protect the nation's marine wealth. The only
provision of law which speaks of a preferential right of marginal fishermen is Section 149 of the LGC,
which pertinently provides: Fishery Rentals, Fees and Charges. . . .(b) The sangguniang bayan
may: (1) Grant fishery privileges to erect fish corrals, oyster, mussels or other aquatic beds or bangus
fry areas, within a definite zone of the municipal waters, as determined by it: Provided, however,
That duly registered organizations and cooperatives of marginal fishermen shall have the preferential
right to such fishery privileges . . . .
Anent Section 7 of Article XIII, it speaks not only of the use of communal marine and fishing
resources, but of their protection, development and conservation. the ordinances in question are
meant precisely to protect and conserve our marine resources to the end that their enjoyment may
be guaranteed not only for the present generation, but also for the generations to come.
The "preferential right" of subsistence or marginal fishermen to the use of marine resources
is not at all absolute. In accordance with the Regalian Doctrine, marine resources belong to the
State, and, pursuant to the first paragraph of Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, their
"exploration, development and utilization . . . shall be under the full control and supervision of the
State." Moreover, their mandated protection, development and conservation as necessarily
recognized by the framers of the Constitution, imply certain restrictions on whatever right of
enjoyment there may be in favor of anyone. A state policy is enshrined in the Constitution regarding
the duty of the State to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful
ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.
The LGC provision on general welfare states: Sec. 16. General Welfare. Every local
government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom,
as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and
those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Within their respective territorial
jurisdictions, local government units shall . . . enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology.
. .
The LGC vests municipalities with the power to grant fishery privileges in municipal waters
and impose rentals, fees or charges therefor; to penalize, by appropriate ordinances, the use of
explosives, noxious or poisonous substances, electricity, muro-ami, and other deleterious methods
of fishing; and to prosecute any violation of the provisions of applicable fishery laws. Further, the
sangguniang bayan, the sangguniang panlungsod and the sangguniang panlalawigan are directed
to enact ordinances for the general welfare of the municipality and its inhabitants, which shall include,
inter alia, ordinances that "protect the environment and impose appropriate penalties for acts which
endanger the environment such as dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive fishing . . . and
such other activities which result in pollution, acceleration of eutrophication of rivers and lakes, or of
ecological imbalance.
The centerpiece of LGC is the system of decentralization as expressly mandated by the
Constitution. Indispensable to decentralization is devolution. One of the devolved powers
enumerated in the section of the LGC on devolution is the enforcement of fishery laws in municipal
waters including the conservation of mangroves. This necessarily includes the enactment of
ordinances to effectively carry out such fishery laws within the municipal waters. These "fishery laws"
which local government units may enforce under Section 17(b)(2)(i) in municipal waters include: (1)
P.D. No. 704; (2) P.D. No. 1015 which, inter alia, authorizes the establishment of a "closed season"
in any Philippine water if necessary for conservation or ecological purposes; (3) P.D. No. 1219 which
provides for the exploration, exploitation, utilization and conservation of coral resources; (4) R.A. No.
5474, as amended by B.P. Blg. 58, which makes it unlawful for any person, association or corporation
to catch or cause to be caught, sell, offer to sell, purchase, or have in possession any of the fish
specie called gobiidae or "ipon" during closed season; and (5) R.A. No. 6451 which prohibits and
punishes electrofishing, as well as various issuances of the BFAR.
To those specifically devolved insofar as the control and regulation of fishing in municipal waters and
the protection of its marine environment are concerned, must be added the following:
1. Issuance of permits to construct fish cages within municipal waters;
2. Issuance of permits to gather aquarium fishes within municipal waters;
3. Issuance of permits to gather kapis shells within municipal waters;
4. Issuance of permits to gather/culture shelled mollusks within municipal waters;
5. Issuance of licenses to establish seaweed farms within municipal waters;
6. Issuance of licenses to establish culture pearls within municipal waters;
7. Issuance of auxiliary invoice to transport fish and fishery products; and
8. Establishment of "closed season" in municipal waters.
In light then of the principles of decentralization and devolution enshrined in the LGC and the
powers granted therein to local government units, which unquestionably involve the exercise of
police power, the validity of the questioned Ordinances cannot be doubted.
The destruction of coral reefs results in serious, if not irreparable, ecological imbalance, for
coral reefs are among nature's life-support systems. They collect, retain and recycle nutrients for
adjacent nearshore areas such as mangroves, seagrass beds, and reef flats; provide food for marine
plants and animals; and serve as a protective shelter for aquatic organisms. It is said that
"[e]cologically, the reefs are to the oceans what forests are to continents: they are shelter and
breeding grounds for fish and plant species that will disappear without them."
The prohibition against catching live fish stems, in part, from the modern phenomenon of live-fish
trade which entails the catching of so-called exotic species of tropical fish, not only for aquarium use
in the West, but also for "the market for live banquet fish [which] is virtually insatiable in ever more
affluent Asia. These exotic species are coral-dwellers, and fishermen catch them by "diving in
shallow water with corraline habitats and squirting sodium cyanide poison at passing fish directly or
onto coral crevices; once affected the fish are immobilized [merely stunned] and then scooped by
hand." The diver then surfaces and dumps his catch into a submerged net attached to the skiff.
Twenty minutes later, the fish can swim normally. Back on shore, they are placed in holding pens,
and within a few weeks, they expel the cyanide from their system and are ready to be hauled. They
are then placed in saltwater tanks or packaged in plastic bags filled with seawater for shipment by
air freight to major markets for live food fish. While the fish are meant to survive, the opposite holds
true for their former home as after the fisherman squirts the cyanide, the first thing to perish is the
reef algae, on which fish feed. Days later, the living coral starts to expire. Soon the reef loses its
function as habitat for the fish, which eat both the algae and invertebrates that cling to the coral. The
reef becomes an underwater graveyard, its skeletal remains brittle, bleached of all color and
vulnerable to erosion from the pounding of the waves." It has been found that cyanide fishing kills
most hard and soft corals within three months of repeated application.
The nexus then between the activities barred by Ordinance No. 15-92 of the City of Puerto
Princesa and the prohibited acts provided in Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993 of the Province of
Palawan, on one hand, and the use of sodium cyanide, on the other, is painfully obvious. In sum,
the public purpose and reasonableness of the Ordinances may not then be controverted.

G.R. No. 110286 April 2, 1997


THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
vs.
RENERIO P. VERGARA, ERNESTO T. CUESTRA, JR., PEDRO G. DAGAO and BERNARDO P.
CUESTRA

FACTS
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, Police Officers of the Palo PNP Station, Leyte,
Fish Wardens and a Fish Examiner 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 had on board Vergara, et al. The team saw Vergara 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. Moments later, they 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.
Vergara, et al. were charged in an information for violation of Section 33 of Presidential Decree
("P.D.") No. 704, as amended by P.D. No. 1508.

ISSUE

RULING

G.R. No. 110286 April 2, 1997


THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
vs.
RENERIO P. VERGARA, ERNESTO T. CUESTRA, JR., PEDRO G. DAGAO and BERNARDO P.
CUESTRA, accused. RENERIO P. VERGARA

FACTS
In the morning of 04 July 1992, authorities on board, "Bantay-Dagat," a pumpboat, on
"preventive patrol" along the municipal waters fronting barangays Baras and Candahug of Palo,
Leyte 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, et al. and was on parallel course
toward the general direction of Samar. Momentarily, the team saw Vergara 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. Moments later, they 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.
Vergara, et al. were charged in an information for violation of Section 33 of Presidential
Decree ("P.D.") No. 704, as amended by P.D. No. 1508.
The trial court found the accused guilty.
Defense: It was another unidentified group of fishermen who threw the bottle of explosives.

ISSUE
Whether Vergara, et al. are guilty for violation of PD 704.

RULING
Yes.
Sections 33 and 38 of P.D. No. 704, as amended by P.D. No. 1058, reads:
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.
Sec. 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.
The defense is not tenable. The detailed testimonial evidence of the prosecution is of more weight.
Furthermore, the fish samples from the catch showed ruptured capillaries, ruptured and blooded
abdominal portion, and crushed internal organs indicating that explosives were indeed used.

G.R. No. 119619 December 13, 1996


RICHARD HIZON, et al.
vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

FACTS
In September 1992, the 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. They immediately proceeded to the area and
found several men fishing in motorized sampans and a big fishing boat identified as F/B
Robinson.They boarded the F/B Robinson and inspected the boat. In the course of their inspection,
the police saw two foreigners in the captain's deck. SP03 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. They checked the
license of the boat and its fishermen and found them to be in order. Nonetheless, SP03 Enriquez
brought the boat captain, the crew and the fishermen to Puerto Princesa for further investigation.
The following day, the boat captain was directed to get random samples of fish from the fish cage of
F/B Robinson for laboratory examination. As instructed, the boat engineer delivered to the Maritime
Office four (4) live lapu-lapu fish inside a plastic shopping bag filled with water. The Maritime Officer
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. 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." They were received
at the NBI office at 8:00 in the evening of the same day. On October 5, 1992, the specimens arrived
in Manila and immediately brought 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.
In light of these findings, the PNP Maritime Command of Puerto Princesa City filed the complaint at
bar against Hizon, et al charging them with a violation of P.D. 704. As defense, Hizon, et al. claimed
that they are legitimate fishermen catching fish by the hook and line method. The RTC found the 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 of Appeals affirmed.

ISSUE
Whether the statutory presumption of guilt under Sec 33 of PD 704 prevails against the constitutional
presumption of innocence.

RULING

The offense of illegal fishing under Sec 33 of PD 704 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.
In 1916, the Supreme Court hald that 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.
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. To avoid
any constitutional infirmity, the inference of one from proof of the other must not be arbitrary and
unreasonable. In fine, the presumption must be based on facts and these facts must be part of the
crime when committed. P.D. 704 creates a presumption of guilt based on facts proved and hence is
not constitutionally impermissible.
However, the statutory presumption is merely prima facie and at no instance can the accused be
denied the right to rebut the presumption. Whether Hizon, et al. successfully rebutted the
presumption, the answer is in the affirmative. After a reexamination of another set of random lapu-
lapu fish from the same tank, 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.
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. Further, in the first examination, the time interval
from the taking of the fish samples and their actual examination fail to assure the impartial mind that
the integrity of the specimens had been properly safeguarded.
Lastly, "Muro ami" 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." This method of fishing needs approximately two
hundred (200) fishermen to execute. What the apprehending officers instead discovered were twenty
eight (28) fishermen in their sampans fishing by hook and line and found nothing on the boat that
would have indicated any form of illegal fishing.

G.R. Nos. 120865-71 December 7, 1995


LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE HERCULANO TECH, FLEET DEVELOPMENT, INC. and
CARLITO ARROYO; THE MUNICIPALITY OF BINANGONAN and/or MAYOR ISIDRO B. PACIS

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE AURELIO C. TRAMPE; MANILA MARINE LIFE BUSINESS
RESOURCES, INC. represented by, MR. TOBIAS REYNALD M. TIANGCO; MUNICIPALITY OF
TAGUIG, METRO MANILA and/or MAYOR RICARDO D. PAPA, JR.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE ALEJANDRO A. MARQUEZ; GREENFIELD VENTURES
INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION and R. J. ORION DEVELOPMENT
CORPORATION; MUNICIPALITY OF JALA-JALA and/or MAYOR WALFREDO M. DE LA VEGA

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE MANUEL S. PADOLINA; IRMA FISHING & TRADING CORP.;
ARTM FISHING CORP.; BDR CORPORATION, MIRT CORPORATION and TRIM CORPORATION;
MUNICIPALITY OF BINANGONAN and/or MAYOR ISIDRO B. PACIS

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE ARTURO A. MARAVE; BLUE LAGOON FISHING CORP. and
ALCRIS CHICKEN GROWERS, INC.; MUNICIPALITY OF JALA-JALA and/or MAYOR WALFREDO
M. DE LA VEGA

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE ARTURO A. MARAVE; AGP FISH VENTURES, INC.,
represented by its PRESIDENT ALFONSO PUYAT; MUNICIPALITY OF JALA-JALA and/or MAYOR
WALFREDO M. DE LA VEGA

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE EUGENIO S. LABITORIA; SEA MAR TRADING CO. INC.;
EASTERN LAGOON FISHING CORP.; MINAMAR FISHING CORP.; MUNICIPALITY OF
BINANGONAN and/or MAYOR ISIDRO B. PACIS

FACTS
Republic Act No. 4850 created the "Laguna Lake Development Authority." This Government
Agency is supposed to carry out and effectuate the aforesaid declared policy, so as to accelerate
the development and balanced growth of the Laguna Lake area and the surrounding provinces, cities
and towns. Presidential Decree No. 813 of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos amended certain
sections of Republic Act No. 4850, adding thereto seven new paragraphs to be known as paragraphs
(j), (k), (l), (m), (n), (o), and (p). Par (k) gave LLDA . . .exclusive jurisdiction to issue new permit for
the use of the lake waters for any projects or activities in or affecting the said lake including
navigation, construction, and operation of fishpens, fish enclosures, fish corrals and the like, and to
impose necessary safeguards for lake quality control and management and to collect necessary fees
for said activities and projects. . . Executive Order No. 927 further defined and enlarged the functions
and powers of the Authority and named and enumerated the towns, cities and provinces
encompassed by the term "Laguna de Bay Region. It also included the sharing of fees: The
Authority is hereby empowered to collect fees for the use of the lake water and its tributaries for all
beneficial purposes including but not limited to fisheries, recreation, municipal, industrial, agricultural,
navigation, irrigation, and waste disposal purpose; Provided, that the rates of the fees to be collected,
and the sharing with other government agencies and political subdivisions, if necessary, shall be
subject to the approval of the President of the Philippines upon recommendation of the Authority's
Board, except fishpen fee, which will be shared in the following manner; 20 percent of the fee shall
go to the lakeshore local governments, 5 percent shall go to the Project Development Fund which
shall be administered by a Council and the remaining 75 percent shall constitute the share of LLDA.
However, after the implementation within the three-year period of the Laguna Lake Fishery Zoning
and Management Plan, the sharing will be modified as follows: 35 percent of the fishpen fee goes to
the lakeshore local governments, 5 percent goes to the Project Development Fund and the remaining
60 percent shall be retained by LLDA. . .
Then came Republic Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991. The municipalities
in the Laguna Lake Region interpreted the provisions of this law to mean that the newly passed law
gave municipal governments the exclusive jurisdiction to issue fishing privileges within their
municipal waters. Municipal governments thereupon assumed the authority to issue fishing
privileges and fishpen permits. Big fishpen operators took advantage of the occasion to establish
fishpens and fishcages to the consternation of the Authority. Unregulated fishpens and fishcages,
as of July, 1995, occupied almost one-third of the entire lake water surface area, increasing the
occupation drastically from 7,000 hectares in 1990 to almost 21,000 hectares in 1995. The Mayor's
permit to construct fishpens and fishcages were all undertaken in violation of the policies adopted
by the Authority on fishpen zoning and the Laguna Lake carrying capacity. In view of of the
aggravated environmental problems and ecological stress of Laguna Lake, the Authority served
notice to the general public: declaring outright as illegal all fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture
structures in the Laguna de Bay Region, which were not registered or to which no application for
registration and/or permit has been filed with Laguna Lake Development Authority as of March 31,
1993 and subjecting them to demolition.
Reacting thereto, the affected fishpen owners filed injunction cases against the Authority
before various regional trial courts. The Authority filed motions to dismiss the cases on jurisdictional
grounds. It was denied, hence this petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction, G.R. Nos.
120865-71, were filed with the Supreme Court. The SC referred the petitions to the Court of Appeals.
The CA dismissed the consolidated petitions.

ISSUE
1 Whether the Authority has exclusive jurisdiction over the Laguna Lake and its environs insofar as
the issuance of permits for fishery privileges is concerned.
2 Whether the Authority is a quasi-judicial agency.
3 Whether the Authority is co-equal to the Regional Trial Courts such that all actions against it may
only be instituted before the Court of Appeals.
RULING
1 Yes
Section 4 (k) of the charter of the Laguna Lake Development Authority, Republic Act No. 4850, the
provisions of Presidential Decree No. 813, and Section 2 of Executive Order No. 927, specifically
provide that the Laguna Lake Development Authority shall have exclusive jurisdiction to issue
permits for the use of all surface water for any projects or activities in or affecting the said region,
including navigation, construction, and operation of fishpens, fish enclosures, fish corrals and the
like. On the other hand, Republic Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991, has granted
to the municipalities the exclusive authority to grant fishery privileges in municipal waters. The
Sangguniang Bayan may grant fishery privileges to erect fish corrals, oyster, mussels or other
aquatic beds or bangus fry area within a definite zone of the municipal waters.
The provisions of Republic Act No. 7160 do not necessarily repeal the aforementioned laws
creating the Laguna Lake Development Authority and granting the latter water rights authority over
Laguna de Bay and the lake region. The charter of the Laguna Lake Development Authority
constitutes a special law. Republic Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991, is a general
law. It is basic in statutory construction that the enactment of a later legislation which is a general
law cannot be construed to have repealed a special law. Where there is a conflict between a general
law and a special statute, the special statute should prevail since it evinces the legislative intent more
clearly than the general statute. The special law is to be taken as an exception to the general law in
the absence of special circumstances forcing a contrary conclusion. This is because implied repeals
are not favored and as much as possible, effect must be given to all enactments of the legislature.
A special law cannot be repealed, amended or altered by a subsequent general law by mere
implication. Thus, the charter of the Authority should prevail over the Local Government Code of
1991.

2 Yes
In Laguna Lake Development Authority vs. Court of Appeals, 231 SCRA 304, 306, it has
been held that . . . As a general rule, the adjudication of pollution cases generally pertains to the
Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB), except in cases where the special law provides for another
forum. It must be recognized in this regard that the LLDA, as a specialized administrative agency, is
specifically mandated under Republic Act No. 4850 and its amendatory laws to carry out and make
effective the declared national policy of promoting and accelerating the development and balanced
growth of the Laguna Lake area. . . ; . . .the LLDA, by virtue of its special charter, obviously has the
responsibility to protect the inhabitants of the Laguna Lake region from the deleterious effects of
pollutants emanating from the discharge of wastes from the surrounding areas. . .; . . .While it is a
fundamental rule that an administrative agency has only such powers as are expressly granted to it
by law, it is likewise a settled rule that an administrative agency has also such powers as are
necessarily implied in the exercise of its express powers. In the exercise, therefore, of its express
powers under its charter, as a regulatory and quasi-judicial body with respect to pollution cases in
the Laguna Lake region, the authority of the LLDA to issue a "cease and desist order" is, perforce,
implied. Otherwise, it may well be reduced to a "toothless" paper agency.
Hence, there is no question that the Authority has express powers as a regulatory and quasi-
judicial body in respect to pollution cases with authority to issue a "cease and desist order" and on
matters affecting the construction of illegal fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures in
Laguna de Bay.

3 No
On actions necessitating the resolution of legal questions affecting the powers of the
Authority as provided for in its charter, the Regional Trial Courts have jurisdiction.
FACTS

ISSUE

RULING