Remedial Law

Monico Abogado et al. vs DENR, DA, BFAR, Philippine Navy, PCG, PNP, and DOJ

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G.R. No. 246209 – Remedial Law – Special Proceedings – Writ of Kalikasan – Petition must concretely allege cause of action; Writ of Kalikasan cannot be weaponized for political ends

Monico Abogado et al. (39 others) were fisherfolks near the Kalayaan Group of Islands. In 2019, they, with the help of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, filed a petition for writ of kalikasan to protect the areas over Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef), and Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal), located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

They alleged that the intrusion of the Chinese and their construction of artificial lands have caused severe environmental damage to the marine environment of these areas. They alleged that their “constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology” was being threatened and was being violated due to the “omissions, failure, and/or refusal of DENR et al. to enforce Philippine laws in Panatag Shoal, Ayungin Shoal, and Panganiban Reef.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Petition must be granted.

HELD: No. Nineteen of the forty fisherfolks executed affidavits that they do not understand what the Petition was for.

A writ of kalikasan cannot and should not substitute other remedies that may be available to the parties, whether legal, administrative, or political. Mere concern for the environment is not an excuse to invoke this Court’s jurisdiction in cases where other remedies are available.

The writ of kalikasan is not an all-embracing legal remedy to be wielded like a political tool. It is both an extraordinary and equitable remedy which assists to prevent environmental catastrophes. It does not replace other legal remedies similarly motivated by concern for the environment and the community’s ecological welfare. Certainly, when the petition itself alleges that remedial and preventive remedies have occurred, the functions of the writ cease to exist. In case of disagreement, parties need to exhaust the political and administrative arena. Only when a concrete cause of action arises out of facts that can be proven with substantial evidence may the proper legal action be entertained.

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