157580199 MMDA vs Concerned Citizens of Manila Bay Digest
MMDA vs Concened Residents of Manila Bay December 18, 2008; G.R. Nos. 171947-48 (Mickey)
Is the cleaning and/or restoration of Manila Bay a ministerial act of the
petitioners that can be compelled by mandamus? January 29, 1999, respondents Concerned Residents of Manila Bay (with
Does sec. 17 and 20 of PD 1152 pertain only to specific cleaning of pollution
Atty. Oposa as their lawyer) filed a complaint before the Regional Trial
and not cleaning in general?
Court (RTC) in Imus, Cavite against several government agencies, among
*Note: It is the MMDA and DPWH together with the lgus that are the
them the petitioners, for the cleanup, rehabilitation, and protection of the
primary agencies tasked to remove and demolish the nuisance structures and
Manila Bay. 2.
obstructions along the bay
The complaint alleges that the water quality of the Manila Bay had fallen way below the allowable standards set by law, specifically Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1152 or the Philippine Environment Code.
Yes, It is a ministerial act. a.
That the continued neglect of petitioners in abating the pollution of
duty. A ministerial duty is one that “requires neither the exercise of
the Manila Bay constitutes a violation of:
official discretion nor judgment.” It connotes an act in which nothing
is left to the discretion of the person executing it. It is a “simple,
Respondents’ constitutional right to life, health, and a balanced
definite duty arising under conditions admitted or proved to exist and
The Environment Code (PD 1152);
The Pollution Control Law (PD 984);
The Water Code (PD 1067);
The Sanitation Code (PD 856);
The Illegal Disposal of Wastes Decree (PD 825);
The Marine Pollution Law (PD 979);
landfill and solid waste and liquid disposal as well as other alternative
Executive Order No. 192;
garbage disposal systems is ministerial, its duty being a statutory
The Toxic and Hazardous Wastes Law (Republic Act No. 6969);
imposition. This is provided in Sec. 3(c) of Republic Act No. (RA) 7924
Civil Code provisions on nuisance and human relations;
The Trust Doctrine and the Principle of Guardianship; and
imposed by law.” b.
The court said that the obligation to perform their ( based on MMDA’s argument) duties as defined by law, on one hand, and how they are to carry out such duties, on the other, are two different concepts.
The MMDA’s duty to put up an adequate and appropriate sanitary
creating the MMDA. d.
A discretionary duty is one that “allows a person to exercise judgment and choose to perform or not to perform. Any suggestion
It was shown by the respondents that the amount of fecal coliform content
that the MMDA has the option whether or not to perform its solid waste
ranged from 50,000 to 80,000 most probable number (MPN)/ml when
disposal-related duties ought to be dismissed for want of legal basis.
what DENR Administrative Order No. 34-90 prescribed as a safe level for
A writ of mandamus lies to require the execution of a ministerial
bathing and other forms of contact recreational activities, or the “SB” level,
not to perform these duties DENR, MWSS, LWUA, DA,
is one not exceeding 200 MPN/100 ml.
DPWH, PCG, DILG, PPA, DOH, deped, DBM and MMDA.
The RTC held the petitioners and other agencies jointly and solidarily, to
(RA 7279), eviction or demolition may be allowed “when
classification to make it fit for swimming, skin-diving and other forms of
persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad
contact recreation. And within 6 months have a concerted, consolidated and
tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and
coordinated plan for the cleanup of the bay.
other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks and
The various agencies have been instructed to perform their
The MMDA, as lead agency, in coordination with
structures and other nuisances that obstruct the free flow of
the DPWH, lgus, and concerned agencies, can
waters to the bay. These nuisances discharge solid and liquid
dismantle and remove all structures, constructions,
wastes which eventually end up in Manila Bay. As the
and other encroachments built in breach of RA
construction and engineering arm of the government, DPWH is
7279 and other pertinent laws along the rivers,
ordered to actively participate in removing debris, such as
waterways, and esteros in Metro Manila.
carcass of sunken vessels, and other non-biodegradable garbage
Furthermore it is enshrined in RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean
in the bay.
Water Act of 2004. This law stresses that the State shall pursue
The petitioners appealed to the CA contending: 1. Arguing in the main that
a policy of economic growth in a manner consistent with the
the pertinent provisions of the Environment Code (PD 1152) relate only to
protection, preservation, and revival of the quality of our fresh,
the cleaning of specific pollution incidents and do not cover cleaning in general and 2. That the cleaning of the Manila Bay is not a ministerial act
Sec. 28 of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992
clean up and rehabilitate Manila Bay and restore its waters to SB
duties including defendant DPWH, to remove and demolish
The following agencies are therefore precluded from choosing
brackish, and marine waters. h.
Lastly the court said that said: “All told, the aforementioned
which can be compelled by mandamus.
enabling laws and issuances are in themselves clear, categorical,
CA affirmed in toto the trial court’s decision as it did not require petitioners
and complete as to what are the obligations and mandate of each
to do tasks outside of their usual basic functions under existing laws.
agency/petitioner under the law. We need not belabor the issue
emphasizes on the alarming quantity of lead and leachate or
that their tasks include the cleanup of the Manila Bay.”
II. Secs. 17 and 20 of the Environment Code Include Cleaning in General a.
The Court then calls for sufficient sanitary landfills
The Court finds for the respondents and their emphasis that Sec. 62(g) of RA
now more than ever be established as prescribed by
9275(Clean Water Act), far from being a delimiting provision, in fact even
the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA
enlarged the operational scope of Sec. 20, by including accidental spills as
9003). Particular note should be taken of the
among the water pollution incidents contemplated in Sec. 17 in relation to Sec.
blatant violations by some lgus and possibly the
20 of PD 1152. i.
MMDA. Also Sec. 17 requires them to act even in the absence of a
concerned executive departments and agencies to immediately
deteriorated to a degree where its state will adversely affect
act and discharge their respective official duties and obligations. i.
Jr. The Court stated that the right to a balanced and healthful
is not conditional on the occurrence of any pollution
ecology need not even be written in the Constitution for it is
assumed, like other civil and political rights guaranteed in the
The Court quoting the CA decision: “PD 1152 aims to
Bill of Rights, to exist from the inception of mankind and it is
introduce a comprehensive program of environmental
an issue of transcendental importance with intergenerational
protection and management. This is better served by
limiting them to specific pollution incidents.” The cleanup and/or restoration of the Manila Bay is only an aspect and the initial stage of the long-term solution. The preservation of the water quality of the bay after the rehabilitation process is as important as the cleaning phase. c.
It thus behooves the Court to put the heads of the petitionerdepartment-agencies and the bureaus and offices under them on continuing notice about, and to enjoin them to perform, their mandates and duties towards cleaning up the Manila Bay and preserving the quality of its water to the ideal level. Under what other judicial discipline describes as “continuing mandamus,” the Court may, under extraordinary circumstances, issue directives with the end in view of ensuring that its decision would not be set to naught by administrative inaction or indifference.
The Court can take judicial notice of the presence of shanties and other unauthorized structures which do not have septic tanks along drainage ways of the river system. i.
If there is one factor responsible for the pollution of the major river systems and the Manila Bay, these unauthorized structures would be on top of the list.
Art. 51 of PD 1067 or the Water Code prohibits the building of structures within a given length along banks of rivers and other waterways.
Judicial notice may likewise be taken of factories and other industrial establishments standing along or near the banks of the Pasig River,
waterways. They should have their waste treatment facilities or otherwise should be forced to transfer or shutdown. g.
Finally they reiterate what has been said in Oposa v. Factoran,
In fine, the underlying duty to upgrade the quality of water
making Secs. 17 & 20 of general application rather than
The Court wishes to emphasize the extreme necessity for all
specific pollution incident, as long as water quality “has
its best usage. ii.
The court then cites the ADB commissioned study on the garbage problem of Metro Manila in The Garbage Book which