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G.R. No.

131442 July 10, 2003Bangus Fry Fisherfolk VS LanzanasFACTS:Regional Executive Director


Antonio G. Principe ("RED Principe") of Region IV,Department of Environment and Natural Resources
("DENR"), issued an EnvironmentalClearance Certificate ("ECC") in favor of respondent National
Power Corporation("NAPOCOR"). The ECC authorized NAPOCOR to construct a temporary mooring
facility inMinolo Cove, Sitio Minolo, Barangay San Isidro, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro.
TheSangguniang Bayan of Puerto Galera has declared Minolo Cove, a mangrove area andbreeding
ground for bangus fry, an eco-tourist zone.The mooring facility would serve as the temporary docking
site of NAPOCOR'spower barge, which, due to turbulent waters at its former mooring site in Calapan,
OrientalMindoro, required relocation to a safer site like Minolo Cove. The 14.4 megawatts
powerbarge would provide the main source of power for the entire province of Oriental
Mindoropending the construction of a land-based power plant in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. The
ECCfor the mooring facility was valid for two years counted from its date of issuance or until 30June
1999. Petitioners, claiming to be fisherfolks from Minolo, San Isidro, Puerto Galera,sought
reconsideration of the ECC issuance. Petitioners filed a complaint with the RegionalTrial Court of
Manila, Branch 7, for the cancellation of the ECC and for the issuance of a writof injunction to stop
the construction of the mooring facility.Petitioners opposed the motion on the ground that there was
no need to exhaustadministrative remedies. They argued that the issuance of the ECC was in patent
violation of Presidential Decree No. 1605, 8 Sections 26 and 27 of Republic Act No. 7160, and
theprovisions of DENR Department Administrative Order No. 96-37 ("DAO 96-37") on
thedocumentation of ECC applications. Petitioners also claimed that the implementation of theECC
was in patent violation of its terms. TC dismissed complaint.ISSUE:Whether the trial court erred in
dismissing petitioners' complaint for lack of causeaction and lack of jurisdiction.HELD:Jurisdiction
over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law. Such jurisdictionis determined by the allegations
in the complaint, irrespective of whether the plaintiff isentitled to all or some of the reliefs sought.A
perusal of the allegations in the complaint shows that petitioners' principal cause of actionis the
alleged illegality of the issuance of the ECC. The violation of laws on environmentalprotection and on
local government participation in the implementation of environmentallycritical projects is an issue
that involves the validity of NAPOCOR's ECC. If the ECC is void, thenas a necessary consequence,
NAPOCOR or the provincial government of Oriental Mindorocould not construct the mooring facility.
The subsidiary issue of non-compliance withpertinent local ordinances in the construction of the
mooring facility becomes immaterial forpurposes of granting petitioners' main prayer, which is the
annulment of the ECC. Thus, if thecourt has jurisdiction to determine the validity of the issuance of
the ECC, then it has jurisdiction to hear and decide petitioners' complaint.Clearly, the Manila RTC has
jurisdiction to determine the validity of the issuance of the ECC, although it could not issue an
injunctive writ against the DENR or NAPOCOR.However, since the construction of the mooring facility
could not proceed without a valid ECC,the validity of the ECC remains the determinative issue in
resolving petitioners' complain