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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.

NATURE OF CASE:

Violation of Section 16, Article 2 of the 1987 Constitution which recognizes the right of the
Filipino people to a balanced and healthful ecology.

SC DECISION:

The Supreme Court decided to grant the petition and set aside the challenge order of the
respondent Judge. The petitioners were then allowed to amend their complaint to implead as defendants
the holders or grantees of the questioned timber license agreements.

LEGAL DOCTRINE:

Under the doctrine of intergenerational responsibility, every generation has the responsibility to
preserve the harmony and rhythm of nature so that the next generation can partake to its resources and
enjoy it fully as well. Hence, present generations can file a class suit for themselves and for the future
generations to defend and assert their right to a clean and sustainable environment.

FACTS:

A civil case was filed by a group of minors, accompanied and represented by their parents, in the
Regional Trial Court of NCR, Makati Branch, against the DENR, which was then represented by its
former Secretary, Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., and which allegedly violated Section 16, Article 2 of the
1987 Constitution, and other pertinent statutes, because of the widespread deforestation and destruction of
nature caused by numerous timber license agreements which the government agency approved through
the years.

The petitioners asserted that they represent their own generation and the generations yet unborn
and that as citizens of the Republic of the Philippines, they are all entitled by the Constitution for the full
benefit of its natural resources. They wanted the defendant to (1) cancel all existing timber license
agreements in the country and (2) cease and desist from receiving, accepting and processing, renewing or
approving new timber license agreements.

Sec. Factoran, Jr. filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint based on the grounds that (1) the
plaintiffs have no cause of action against him, and that (2) the issue raised in the case is political in nature.
Hence, the proper venue to enlighten them on the matter is either the legislative or the executive branch of
government, and not the judiciary. The petitioners opposed the motion by maintaining that (1) the
complaint showed a clear cause of action, (2) the motion to dismiss meant to cause delay and that (3) the
action presents a justiciable question.

The respondent judge ruled to grant the motion to dismiss, not only favouring the claims made by
the Secretary, but also remarking that “the relief prayed for would result in the impairment of contracts”
which is prohibited under the non-impairment clause of the Constitution.

The plaintiffs thus asked the Supreme Court to rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the
ground that the respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the action.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the petitioners have a cause of action to prevent the misappropriation or
impairment of the Philippine rainforests.

RULING:

 The Supreme Court ruled that the right to a balanced and healthful ecology was clearly highlighted by
the plaintiffs. Hence, the trial court erroneously concluded that the plaintiffs failed to allege in their
complaint the specific legal right involved or legal wrong committed. Said right is solemnly
incorporated in Sec. 16, Art. 2 of the 1987 Constitution and other pertinent laws such as PD Nos.
1151 and 1152, otherwise known as the Philippine Environmental Policy and the Philippine
Environment Code, respectively, Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, and EO
No. 192 which provided for the reorganization, mandates and powers of DENR.

 The Court then held that the statements under the introductory affirmative allegations as well as the
specific averments under the sub-heading as legitimate causes of action, since they are already
adequate enough to show the claimed violation of the plaintiffs’ rights. Also, the Court emphasized
that since Sec. 1, Art. VIII of the Constitution states that the judiciary has the power to settle
controversies involving rights and grave abuse of discretion committed by any government
instrumentality, then this case can be subjected to judicial inquiry.

 Furthermore, SC ruled that timber license agreements (TLAs) are not covered by the non-impairment
clause provided by Sec. 10 of the Constitution, which states that “no law impairing the obligation of
contracts shall be passed and cannot be invoked”, because (1) a TLA is not a contract, property or
property right. In fact, even PD 705 states that such licenses may be revoked or rescinded by
executive action of the President, when the national interest so requires, and (2) even if it is treated as
a contract, still, as stated in Nebia vs New York, it is not absolute and is subject to reasonable
legislative regulation aimed at the promotion of public health, moral, safety and welfare. Therefore,
the non-impairment clause must yield to the police power of the state.