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G.R. No. 101083 – 224 SCRA 792 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Declaration of Principles and State Policies – Harmony in Nature – Inter-Generational Responsibility – Inter-Generational Justice
A taxpayer’s class suit was initiated by the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI) together with the minors Juan Antonio Oposa et al represented by their parents. They claimed that as taxpayers they have the right to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resources of the country’s rainforests. It was claimed that with the rate of deforestation that time (1990), the Philippines will lose its rainforests in a decade. Oposa et al anchored their case, among others, on the Constitutional provision that it is the State’s policy to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature They prayed that a judgment be rendered ordering Secretary Fulgencio Factoran, Jr., his agents, representatives, and other persons acting in his behalf to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country and cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license agreements, Factoran being the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Secretary Factoran filed a motion to dismiss averring that Oposa et al had no cause of action and that the issue is a political question.
The Regional Trial Court ruled in favor of Factoran.
ISSUE: Whether or not Oposa et al have a cause of action?
HELD: Yes, petitioners have a cause of action. The case at bar is of common interest to all Filipinos. The right to a balanced and healthy ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment. The said right implies the judicious management of the country’s forests. This right is also the mandate of the government through DENR. A 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. All licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. The judgment of the RTC was reversed and the case was remanded to the lower court.