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LAW ON ENVIRONMENT

AND NATURAL RESOURCES

FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ (PETITIONER) VS NHA ET AL. (RESPONDENT)

G.R. NO. 164527 AUG 15, 2007


ISSUE:

WHETHER RESPONDENTS NHA AND


RBI WERE GIVEN THE POWER AND
AUTHORITY BY DENR TO RECLAIM
FORESHORE AND SUBMERGED
LANDS.
RULE:
 Section 17, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution
“ The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully
executed.

 Taule v. Santos
“ The President is assigned the task of seeing to it that all laws are faithfully executed. Control, in administrative law, means the
power of an officer to alter, modify, nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer has done in the performance of his duties and to
substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter.”

 Chavez v. Romulo citing EO 292, Book IV, Chapter 7


“Whenever a specific function is entrusted by law or regulation to her subordinate, she may act directly or merely direct the
performance of a duty x x x. Such act is well within the prerogative of her office (emphasis supplied.”

 Section 14, Revised Administrative Code of 1987


“Power to Reserve Lands of the Public and Private Domain of the Government.(1) The President shall have the power to reserve for
settlement or public use, and for specific public purposes, any of the lands of the public domain, the use of which is not otherwise
directed by law. The reserved land shall thereafter remain subject to the specific public purpose indicated until otherwise provided
by law or proclamation”

 Memorandum Order No. 415


“DIRECTING THE NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY TO IMPLEMENT THE SMOKEY MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT PLAN AND UNDERTAKE
THE RECLAMATION OF THE AREA ACROSS R-10 AND CREATING AN EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE TO OVERSEE ITS IMPLEMENTATION”

 Proclamation No. 39
“RESERVING CERTAIN PARCELS OF LAND OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN SITUATED IN THE DISTRICT OF TONDO, CITY OF MANILA, FOR
HOUSING AND RELATED COMMERCIAL/INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT.”
 Proclamation No. 465
WHEREAS, the National Housing Authority has presented a viable conceptual plan to convert the Smokey Mountain dumpsite into a habitable
housing project, inclusive of the reclamation of the area across Road Radial 10 (R-10) adjacent to the Smokey Mountain as the enabling component
of the project;
These parcels of land of public domain are hereby placed under the administration and disposition of the National Housing Authority to develop,
subdivide and dispose to qualified beneficiaries, as well as its development for mix land use (commercial/industrial) to provide employment
opportunities to on-site families and additional areas for port-related activities.
In order to facilitate the early development of the area for disposition, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through the Lands
and Management Bureau, is hereby directed to approve the boundary and subdivision survey and to issue a special patent and title in the name of
the National Housing Authority, subject to final survey and private rights, if any there be.

 Patents Nos. 3591, 3592, and 3598


These patents conveyed the lands to be reclaimed to the NHA and granted to said agency the administration and disposition of said lands for
subdivision and disposition to qualified beneficiaries and for development for mix land use (commercial/industrial) to provide employment
opportunities to on-site families and additional areas for port related activities. Such grant of authority to administer and dispose of lands of public
domain under the SMDRP is of course subject to the powers of the EXECOM of SMDRP, of which the DENR is a member.

 Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC)


Any project in the Philippines that poses a potential environmental risk or impact (such as mining, agriculture projects, and construction) is required to
secure an ECC from from the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Board.

An ECC is issued by DENR-EMB after a positive review of the project’s application. This certificate indicates that the proposed project or undertaking will
not cause a significantly negative impact on the Philippine environment. The ECC contains specific measures and conditions that must be met by the
project proponent before and during the operation of the project. In some cases, conditions are listed to be performed during the project’s
abandonment phase to lessen identified potential environmental impacts.
ANALYSIS OF FACTS AND ARGUMENTS
On March 1, 1988, then-President Cory Aquino issued Memorandum order No. (MO) 161 approving and directing implementation of the Comprehensive and
Integrated Metropolitan Manila Waste Management Plan. During this time, Smokey Mountain, a wasteland in Tondo, Manila, are being made residence of
many Filipinos living in a subhuman state.
As presented in MO 161, NHA prepared feasibility studies to turn the dumpsite into low-cost housing project, thus, Smokey Mountain Development and
Reclamation Project (SMDRP), came into place. RA 6957 (Build-Operate-Transfer Law) was passed on July 1990 declaring the importance of private sectors as
contractors in government projects. Thereafter, Aquino proclaimed MO 415 applying RA 6957 to SMDRP, among others. The same MO also established
EXECOM and TECHCOM in the execution and evaluation of the plan, respectively, to be assisted by the Public Estates Authority (PEA).
Notices of public bidding to become NHA’s venture partner for SMDRP were published in newspapers in 1992, from which R-II Builders, Inc. (RBI) won the
bidding process. Then-President Ramos authorized NHA to enter into a Joint Venture Agreement with RBI.
Under the JVA, the project involves the clearing of Smokey Mountain for eventual development into a low cost housing complex and industrial/commercial
site. RBI is expected to fully finance the development of Smokey Mountain and reclaim 40 hectares of the land at the Manila Bay Area. The latter together
with the commercial area to be built on Smokey Mountain will be owned by RBI as enabling components.
To summarize, the SMDRP shall consist of Phase I and Phase II. Phase I of the project involves clearing, levelling-off the dumpsite, and construction of
temporary housing units for the current residents on the cleared and levelled site. Phase II involves the construction of a fenced incineration area for the on-
site disposal of the garbage at the dumpsite.
Due to the recommendations done by the DENR after evaluations done, the JVA was amended and restated (now ARJVA) to accommodate the design changes
and additional work to be done to successfully implement the project. The original 3,500 units of temporary housing were decreased to 2,992. The reclaimed
land as enabling component was increased from 40 hectares to 79 hectares, which was supported by the issuance of Proclamation No. 465 by President
Ramos. The revision also provided for the 119-hectare land as an enabling component for Phase II of the project.
Subsequently, the Clean Air Act was passed by the legislature which made the establishment of an incinerator illegal, making the off-site dumpsite at Smokey
Mountain necessary. On August 1, 1998, the project was suspended, to be later reconstituted by President Estrada in MO No. 33.
On August 27, 2003, the NHA and RBI executed a Memorandum of Agreement whereby both parties agreed to terminate the JVA and subsequent agreements.
Petitioner in his capacity as a tax payer, filed a case before the Supreme Court to declare the JVA as null and void, one of the grounds was that the respondents
were not given the authority by the DENR to reclaim foreshore and submerged land.
ARGUMENTS
PETITIONER RESPONDENTS

The petitioner relied on the ruling of PEA In PEA, there was no law or presidential
Case where it was held that it is proclamation classifying the lands to be
necessary to obtain an authorization reclaimed as alienable and disposal lands
from the DENR in order for the of public domain. In this RBI case, MO
government to validly reclaim foreshore 415 of former President Aquino and
and submerged lands. Proclamation No. 39 of then President
Ramos, coupled with Special Patents Nos.
3591, 3592, and 3598, classified the
reclaimed lands as alienable and
disposable
CONCLUSION:

NOTWITHSTANDING THE NEED FOR DENR PERMISSION, THE DENR IS DEEMED TO HAVE
GRANTED THE AUTHORITY TO RECLAIM IN THE SMOKEY MOUNTAIN PROJECT FOR THE
DENR IS ONE OF THE MEMBERS OF THE EXECOM WHICH PROVIDES REVIEWS FOR THE
PROJECT. ECCS AND SPECIAL PATENT ORDERS WERE GIVEN BY THE DENR WHICH ARE
EXERCISES OF ITS POWER OF SUPERVISION OVER THE PROJECT. FURTHERMORE, IT WAS
THE PRESIDENT VIA THE ABOVEMENTIONED MOS THAT ORIGINALLY AUTHORIZED THE
RECLAMATION. IT MUST BE NOTED THAT THE RECLAMATION OF LANDS OF PUBLIC
DOMAIN IS REPOSED FIRST IN THE PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT.