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OPOSA vs FACTORAN 224 SCRA 792 (JULY 13, 1993)

Facts: Principal petitioners, are all minors duly represented and joined by their respective parents. Impleaded as an additional plaintiff
is the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI, a domestic, non!stock and non!profit corporation organi"ed for the purpose of, inter
alia, engaging in concerted action geared for the protection of our environment and natural resources. #he original defendant was the
$onorable %ulgencio &. %actoran, 'r., then &ecretary of the (epartment of Environment and Natural )esources ((EN). $is
substitution in this petition by the new &ecretary, the $onorable *ngel +. *lcala, was subse,uently ordered upon proper motion by
the petitioners. #he complaint was instituted as a ta-payers. class suit and alleges that the plaintiffs /are all citi"ens of the )epublic of
the Philippines, ta-payers, and entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource treasure that is the country.s virgin
tropical forests./ #he same was filed for themselves and others who are e,ually concerned about the preservation of said resource but
are /so numerous that it is impracticable to bring them all before the +ourt./
0n 11 'une 2334, the original defendant, &ecretary %actoran, 'r., filed a 5otion to (ismiss the complaint based on two grounds,
namely6 the plaintiffs have no cause of action against him and, the issue raised by the plaintiffs is a political ,uestion which properly
pertains to the legislative or e-ecutive branches of 7overnment. In their 21 'uly 2334 0pposition to the 5otion, the petitioners
maintain that, the complaint shows a clear and unmistakable cause of action, the motion is dilatory and the action presents a justiciable
,uestion as it involves the defendant.s abuse of discretion.
0n 28 'uly 2332, respondent 'udge issued an order granting the aforementioned motion to dismiss. In the said order, not only was the
defendant.s claim that the complaint states no cause of action against him and that it raises a political ,uestion sustained, the
respondent 'udge further ruled that the granting of the relief prayed for would result in the impairment of contracts which is prohibited
by the fundamental law of the land.
Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari under )ule 9: of the )evised )ules of +ourt and ask this +ourt to
rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the ground that the respondent 'udge gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the
action. *gain, the parents of the plaintiffs!minors not only represent their children, but have also joined the latter in this case.
Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly and unmistakably states a cause of action as it contains sufficient allegations concerning
their right to a sound environment based on *rticles 23, 14 and 12 of the +ivil +ode ($uman )elations, &ection ; of E-ecutive 0rder
(E.0. No. 231 creating the (EN), &ection < of Presidential (ecree (P.(. No. 22:2 (Philippine Environmental Policy, &ection 29,
*rticle II of the 238= +onstitution recogni"ing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, the concept of generational
genocide in +riminal >aw and the concept of man.s inalienable right to self!preservation and self!perpetuation embodied in natural
law. Petitioners likewise rely on the respondent.s correlative obligation per &ection ; of E.0. No. 231, to safeguard the people.s right
to a healthful environment.
It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent &ecretary.s alleged grave abuse of discretion in granting #imber >icense
*greements (#>*s to cover more areas for logging than what is available involves a judicial ,uestion.
*nent the invocation by the respondent 'udge of the +onstitution.s non!impairment clause, petitioners maintain that the same does not
apply in this case because #>*s are not contracts. #hey likewise submit that even if #>*s may be considered protected by the said
clause, it is well settled that they may still be revoked by the &tate when the public interest so re,uires.
Issus:
(2 ?hether or not the petitioners have locus standi.
(1 ?hether or not the petiton is in a form of a class suit.
(< ?hether or not the #>*@s can be out rightly cancelled.
(; ?hether or not the petition should be dismissed.
!"#: *s to the matter of the cancellation of the #>*s, respondents submit that the same cannot be done by the &tate without due
process of law. 0nce issued, a #>* remains effective for a certain period of time A usually for twenty!five (1: years. (uring its
effectivity, the same can neither be revised nor cancelled unless the holder has been found, after due notice and hearing, to have
violated the terms of the agreement or other forestry laws and regulations. Petitioners. proposition to have all the #>*s
indiscriminately cancelled without the re,uisite hearing would be violative of the re,uirements of due process.
#he subject matter of the complaint is of common and general interest not just to several, but to all citi"ens of the Philippines.
+onse,uently, since the parties are so numerous, it, becomes impracticable, if not totally impossible, to bring all of them before the
court. #he plaintiffs therein are numerous and representative enough to ensure the full protection of all concerned interests. $ence, all
the re,uisites for the filing of a valid class suit under &ection 21, )ule < of the )evised )ules of +ourt are present both in the said civil
case and in the instant petition, the latter being but an incident to the former.
Petitioners minors assert that they represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn. #heir personality to sue in behalf of the
succeeding generations can only be based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and
healthful ecology is concerned. Nature means the created world in its entirety. Every generation has a responsibility to the ne-t to
preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. #he minors. assertion of their right to a
sound environment constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the
generations to come.
#he complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right the right to a balanced and healthful ecology which, for the first time in
our nation.s constitutional history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law. &ection 29, *rticle II of the 238= +onstitution.
?hile the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the (eclaration of Principles and &tate Policies and not under
the Bill of )ights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and political rights enumerated in the latter. &uch a
right belongs to a different category of rights altogether for it concerns nothing less than self!preservation and self!perpetuation A
aptly and fittingly stressed by the petitioners the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions.
*s a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the +onstitution for they are assumed to e-ist from the inception of
humankind. If they are now e-plicitly mentioned in the fundamental charter, it is because of the well!founded fear of its framers that
unless the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health are mandated as state policies by the +onstitution itself, thereby
highlighting their continuing importance and imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to preserve the first and protect and advance
the second, the day would not be too far when all else would be lost not only for the present generation, but also for those to come
generations which stand to inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of sustaining life.
+onformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and healthful ecology and the right to health, as well as the other related
provisions of the +onstitution concerning the conservation, development and utili"ation of the country.s natural resources, then
President +ora"on +. *,uino promulgated on 24 'une 238= E.0. No. 231, &ection ; of which e-pressly mandates that the (epartment
of Environment and Natural )esources /shall be the primary government agency responsible for the conservation, management,
development and proper use of the country.s environment and natural resources, specifically forest and gra"ing lands, mineral,
resources, including those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of the public domain, as well as the licensing and regulation
of all natural resources as may be provided for by law in order to ensure e,uitable sharing of the benefits derived therefrom for the
welfare of the present and future generations of %ilipinos./ &ection < thereof makes the following statement of policy6
#he above provision stresses /the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting and enhancing the ,uality of the
environment./ &ection 1 of the same #itle, on the other hand, specifically speaks of the mandate of the (EN)C however, it makes
particular reference to the fact of the agency.s being subject to law and higher authority.
It may, however, be recalled that even before the ratification of the 238= +onstitution, specific statutes already paid special attention
to the /environmental right/ of the present and future generations. 0n 9 'une 23==, P.(. No. 22:2 and P.(. No. 22:1 were issued.
#hus, the right of the petitioners to a balanced and healthful ecology is as clear as the (EN).s duty under its mandate and by virtue of
its powers and functions under E.0. No. 231 and the *dministrative +ode of 238= to protect and advance the said right.
* denial or violation of that right by the other who has the correlative duty or obligation to respect or protect the same gives rise to a
cause of action. Petitioners maintain that the granting of the #>*s, which they claim was done with grave abuse of discretion, violated
their right to a balanced and healthful ecologyC hence, the full protection thereof re,uires that no further #>*s should be renewed or
granted.
It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the complaint fails to state a cause of actionC the
,uestion submitted to the court for resolution involves the sufficiency of the facts alleged in the complaint itself. No other matter
should be consideredC furthermore, the truth of falsity of the said allegations is beside the point for the truth thereof is deemed
hypothetically admitted. Policy formulation or determination by the e-ecutive or legislative branches of 7overnment is not s,uarely
put in issue. ?hat is principally involved is the enforcement of a right vis!a!vis policies already formulated and e-pressed in
legislation. It must, nonetheless, be emphasi"ed that the political ,uestion doctrine is no longer, the insurmountable obstacle to the
e-ercise of judicial power or the impenetrable shield that protects e-ecutive and legislative actions from judicial in,uiry or review.
In the second place, even if it is to be assumed that the same are contracts, the instant case does not involve a law or even an e-ecutive
issuance declaring the cancellation or modification of e-isting timber licenses. $ence, the non!impairment clause cannot as yet be
invoked. Nevertheless, granting further that a law has actually been passed mandating cancellations or modifications, the same cannot
still be stigmati"ed as a violation of the non!impairment clause. #his is because by its very nature and purpose, such as law could have
only been passed in the e-ercise of the police power of the state for the purpose of advancing the right of the people to a balanced and
healthful ecology, promoting their health and enhancing the general welfare.
%inally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court did, how the non!impairment clause could apply with respect to the prayer to enjoin
the respondent &ecretary from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber licenses for, save in cases of
renewal, no contract would have as of yet e-isted in the other instances. 5oreover, with respect to renewal, the holder is not entitled to
it as a matter of right.
Petition is hereby 7)*N#E(, and the challenged 0rder of respondent 'udge of 28 'uly 2332 dismissing +ivil +ase No. 34!=== is
hereby set aside. #he petitioners may therefore amend their complaint to implead as defendants the holders or grantees of the
,uestioned timber license agreements.