Case Digest on Environmental Law
case digest on Environmental Law EN BANC[G.R. No. 195482 : June 21, 2011]ELIZA M. HERNANDEZ, ET AL. V. PLACER DOME, INC."G.R. No. 195482 (ELIZA M. HERNANDEZ, ET AL. v. PLACER DOME, INC.) Nota Bien: If you were to search this case using the above-cited G.R. No., you will see a mere resolution of the Court without any defined statement of facts, issues or ruling. So what I did was to research on the factual antecedents which culminated into this petition. Please, verify it if you cannot understand the following discussions. Antecedent Facts: Placer Dome is the parent corporation of Marcopper Mining Company. It is engaged in the mining operations in Marinduque from 1964 –1997. In May 2006, Placer Dome merged with Barrick Gold Corporation, a foreign entity. In March 1996, the disaster came about. A fracture in the drainage tunnel of a large pit containing leftover mine tailings led to a discharge of toxic mine waste into the Makulapnit-Boac river system and caused flash floods in areas along the river. Barangay Hinapulan, was buried in six feet of muddy floodwater, causing damage to people and their families, as well as livestock, marine resources and maritime life. Placer Dome entered into a contract with then President Fidel V. Ramos to rehabilitate the waters of Marinduque. It did not reach fruition. Start of Court Process: In 2011, three residents of Marinduque, Eliza M. Hernandez, Mamerto M. Lanete and Godofredo L. Manoy, represented by Father Joaquin Bernas, filed a petition for writ of kalikasan. In their petition, they argued that said Placer Dome should be held liable for expelling some 2 million cubic meters of toxic industrial waste into the Boac river when a drainage plug holding toxic mining waste from its operations ruptured. The writ of Kalikasan was granted. In March 2011, the Court issued a resolution which referred the case to the Court of Appeals for hearing, reception of evidence, and rendition of judgment. CA then issued a resolution requiring the petitioners to issue a subpoena against Placer Dome. Issue: After receiving the resolution issued by CA, Barrick Gold, currently the owner of Placer Dome, filed a Clarificatory Manifestation to clarify which court exercises jurisdiction over the case in order to shed light to the procedural paths available to the parties. Supreme Court Resolution: Pursuant to Section 3, Rule VII of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, petitions for the Writ of Kalikasan "shall be filed with the Supreme Court or with any of the stations of the Court of Appeals." It was in consonance with this provision that, on 8 March 2011, the Court issued the Resolution which, after granting the Writ of Kalikasan sought by petitioners, referred the case to the CA for hearing, reception of evidence and rendition of judgment. Considering said referral of the case to the CA, its re-docketing of the petition as CA-G.R. SP No. 00001 and its conduct of proceedings relative thereto, it is imperative that the various motions and incidents filed by the parties, together with the entire records of the case, be likewise referred to said Court in observance of the doctrine of hierarchy of courts and in the interest of the orderly and expeditious conduct of the proceedings in the case.
G.R. No. 194239 : November 22, 2011 WEST TOWER CONDOMINIUM CORPORATION, ON BEHALF OF THE RESIDENTS OF WEST TOWER CONDO., AND IN REPRESENTATION OF BARANGAY BANGKAL, AND OTHERS, INCLUDING MINORS AND GENERATIONS YET UNBORN V. FIRST PHILIPPINE INDUSTRIAL CORPORATION, FIRST GEN CORPORATION AND THEIR RESPECTIVE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS, JOHN DOES AND RICHARD ROES
Sirs/Mesdames: Please take notice that the Court en banc issued a Resolution dated May 31, 2011which reads as follows: "G.R. No. 194239 (West Tower Condominium Corporation, on behalf of the Residents of West Tower Condo., and in representation of Barangay Bangkal, and others, including minors and generations yet unborn v. First Philippine Industrial Corporation, First Gen Corporation and their respective Board of Directors and Officers, John Does and Richard Roes) RESOLUTION I On November 15, 2010, petitioners filed their Petition for Issuance of a Writ ofKalikasan.
On November 19, 2010, Chief Justice Renato C. Corona issued a Writ of Kalikasanwith a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO), requiring the First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC) and First Gen Corporation (FGC) to make a Verified Return within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days from receipt thereof pursuant to Section 8, Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases. The TEPO enjoined FPIC and FGC to: (a) cease and desist from operating the pipeline until further orders; (b) check the structural integrity of The whole span of the 117-kilometer pipeline while implementing sufficient measures to prevent and avert any untoward incidents that may result from any leak of the pipeline; and (c) make a Report thereon within 60 days from receipt thereof. Consequent to the Court's issuance of the Writ of Kalikasan and the accompanying TEPO, FPIC ceased operations on both (a) the White Oil Pipeline System (WOPL System), which extends 117 kilometers from Batangas to Pandacan Terminal in Manila and transports diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and kerosene; and (b) the Black Oil Pipeline System (BOPL System), which extends 105 kilometers and transports bunker fuel from Batangas to a depot in Sucat, Parañaque City. Through a letter dated May 9, 2011, Department of Energy (DOE) Undersecretary Atty. Jose M. Layug, Jr. seeks clarification and confirmation on the coverage of the Writ of Kalikasan and the accompanying TEPO, i.e., whether they cover both the WOPL and the BOPL. It is apparent from the Petition for Issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan that what petitioners sought to stop operating is the WOPL, where the leak was found, affecting the vicinity of West Tower Condominium. Only the WOPL is covered by the Writ ofKalikasan and the TEPO. WHEREFORE, the Court hereby clarifies and confirms that what is covered by the November 19, 2010 Writ of Kalikasan and TEPO is only the WOPL System of respondent FPIC. Consequently, the FPIC can resume operation of its BOPL System. II On March 29, 2011, the Court issued a Resolution setting the conduct of an ocular inspection on April 15, 2011 of the While Oil Pipeline System (WOPL System). On April 15, 2011, the ocular inspection in the vicinity and basement of West Tower Condominium was conducted in the presence of counsels of the parties, officers of respondent First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FP1C), and residents of petitioner West Tower Condominium, among others. As required by the Court, representatives of the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS) and the UP Institute of Civil Engineering attended the ocular inspection. After the ocular inspection, the Court asked the representatives of UP-N1GS and the UP Institute of Civil Engineering for their opinions and recommendations through a report, among others, on (1) the issue of whether to grant FPIC's urgent motion to temporarily lift the Temporary Environmental Protection Order for a period of not more than 48 hours in order to conduct pressure controlled leak tests to check the structural integrity of the WOPL which entails running a scraper pig to eliminate air gaps within the pipeline prior to the conduct of said test, as recommended by the international technical consultant of the Department of Energy; and (2) testing procedures that may be used by the FPIC regarding the maintenance and checking of the structural integrity of the WOPL. On May 10, 2011, the UP Institute of Civil Engineering sent a letter to the Court asking pertinent documents from FPIC relative to testing protocols undertaken by FPIC and other proposals, and that it be given one week within which to file its report after receipt of the documents. WHEREFORE, finding the request of the UP Institute of Civil Engineering to be meritorious, FPIC is hereby DIRECTED to submit documents regarding testing protocols it has undertaken to check for leaks and the structural integrity of the WOPL, the results thereof and other related proposals it has committed to undertake to the UP Institute of: Civil Engineering within five (5) days from notice. The UP Institute of Civil Engineering is granted one (1) week from receipt of the requested documents from FPIC within which to file its report. The Court further Resolved to (a) NOTE the Manifestation with Motion dated April 14, 2011 filed by counsel for petitioners, relative to the resolution of March 29, 2011; (b) NOTE the Letter (Report) dated April 21, 2011 of Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla, Director, National Institute of Geological Sciences, College of Science University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, in compliance with the resolution of March 29, 2011; and (c) NOTE the Letter dated May 24, 2011 of Atty. Justin Christopher C. Mendoza of Poblador Bautista & Reyes Law Offices, counsel for First Philippine Industrial Corporation, and GRANT his request for a copy of Dr. Carlo Arcilla's April 21, 2011 Report filed in compliance with the resolution of March 29, 2011."
Boracay Foundation, Inc. v. Province of Aklan G.R. No. 196870, June 26, 2012 FACTS:
Claiming that tourist arrivals to Boracay would reach 1 million in the future, respondent Province of Aklan planned to expand the port facilities at Barangay Caticlan, Municipality of Malay. Thus, on May 7, 2009, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan Province issued a resolution, authorizing Governor Carlito Marquez to file an application with respondent Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to reclaim the 2.64 hectares of foreshore area in Caticlan. In the same year, the Province deliberated on the possible expansion from its original proposed reclamation area of 2.64 hectares to forty (40) hectares in order to maximize the utilization of its resources. After PRA’s approval, on April 27, 2010, respondent Department of Environment and Natural ResourcesEnvironmental Management Bureau-Region VI (DENR-EMB RVI) issued to the Province Environmental Compliance Certificate-R6-1003-096-7100 (the questioned ECC) for Phase 1 of the Reclamation Project to the extent of 2.64 hectares to be done along the Caticlan side beside the existing jetty port. On May 17, 2010, the Province finally entered into a MOA with PRA which stated that the land use development of the reclamation project shall be for commercial, recreational and institutional and other applicable uses. It was at this point that the Province deemed it necessary to conduct a series of public consultation meetings. On the other hand, the Sangguniang Barangay of Caticlan, the Sangguniang Bayan of the Municipality of Malay and petitioner Boracay Foundation, Inc. (BFI), an organization composed of some 160 businessmen and residents in Boracay, expressed their strong opposition to the reclamation project on environmental, socioeconomic and legal grounds. Despite the opposition, the Province merely noted their objections and issued a notice to the contractor on December 1, 2010 to commence with the construction of the project. Thus, on June 1, 2011, BFI filed with the Supreme Court the instant Petition for Environmental Protection Order/Issuance of the Writ of Continuing Mandamus. Thereafter, the Court issued a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) and ordered the respondents to file their respective comments to the petition. The Petition was premised on the following grounds, among others: a) the Province failed to obtain the favorable endorsement of the LGU concerned; b) the Province failed to conduct the required consultation procedures as required by the Local Government Code (LGC). The Province responded by claiming that its compliance with the requirements of DENR-EMB RVI and PRA that led to the approval of the reclamation project by the said government agencies, as well as the recent enactments of the Barangay Council of Caticlan and the Sangguniang Bayan of the Municipality of Malay favorably endorsing the said project, had “categorically addressed all the issues” raised by the BFI in its Petition. It also considered the Petition to be premature for lack of cause of action due to the failure of BFI to fully exhaust the available administrative remedies even before seeking judicial relief.
ISSUES: WON the petition is premature because petitioner failed to exhaust administrative remedies before filing this case? WON there was proper, timely, and sufficient public consultation for the project?
RULING: On the issue of prematurity due to failure to exhaust administrative remedies The Court held that the petition is not premature for failing to exhaust administrative remedies and to observe the hierarchy of courts as claimed by the respondents. The Court reiterated their ruling in Pagara v. Court of Appeals where they clarified that the rule regarding exhaustion of administrative remedies is not a hard and fast rule. It is not applicable where, among others, there are circumstances indicating the urgency of judicial intervention such as in the instant case. The rule may also be disregarded when it does not provide a plain, speedy and adequate remedy or where the protestant has no other recourse. Meanwhile, the new Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC, provides a relief for petitioner under the writ of continuing mandamus, which is a special civil action that may be availed of “to compel the performance of an act specifically enjoined by law” and which provides for the issuance of a TEPO “as an auxiliary remedy prior to the issuance of the writ itself.” The writ of continuing mandamus allows an aggrieved party to file a verified petition in the proper court when any government agency or instrumentality or officer thereof “unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty xxx in connection with the enforcement or violation of an environmental law rule or regulation or a right therein, xxx and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.” Such proper court may be the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territory where the actionable neglect or omission occurred, the Court of Appeals, or the Supreme Court.
Here, the Court found that BFI had no other plain, speedy, or adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law to determine the questions of unique national and local importance raised that pertain to laws and rules for environmental protection.