Victoria Segovia et al., as members of Carless People of the Philippines, filed a petition for writ of kalikasan with the SC against the respondents on the ground that they failed to implement relevant laws which resulted in the continued degradation of air quality, particularly in Metro Manila, in violation of the petitioners’ constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, and may even be tantamount to deprivation of life, and of life sources or “land, water, and air” by the government without due process of law. They also decry the “unequal” protection of laws in the prevailing scheme, claiming that ninety-eight percent (98%) of Filipinos are discriminated against by the law when the car-owning two percent (2%) is given almost all of the road space and while large budgets are allocated for construction and maintenance of roads, hardly any budget is given for sidewalks, bike lanes and non-motorized transportation systems.
The Office of the Solicitor General moved for the outright dismissal of the case on the ground that Segovia et al. failed to observe the hierarchy of courts when they filed immediately with the SC. The OSG likewise questioned the legal standing of the petitioners.
1. Whether or not petitioners violated the rule on hierarchy of courts.
2. Whether or not petitioners have legal standing to file the petition.
3. Whether or not the petition shall prosper.
1. No. A writ of kalikasan case may be filed either with the SC or CA. No hierarchy observed.
2. Yes. The Rules are to be interpreted liberally. It is sufficient that the person filing represents the inhabitants prejudiced by the environmental damage subject of the writ.
3. No. The petitioners failed to establish the requisites for the issuance of the writs prayed for.
For a writ of kalikasan to issue, the following requisites must concur:
1. there is an actual or threatened violation of the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology;
2. the actual or threatened violation arises from an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity; and
3. the actual or threatened violation involves or will lead to an environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.
It is well-settled that a party claiming the privilege for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan has to show that a law, rule or regulation was violated or would be violated.
In this case, apart from repeated invocation of the constitutional right to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology and bare allegations that their right was violated, the petitioners failed to show that public respondents are guilty of any unlawful act or omission that constitutes a violation of the petitioners’ right to a balanced and healthful ecology.
Notably, apart from bare allegations, petitioners were not able to show that respondents failed to execute any of the laws petitioners cited.
On the other hand, public respondents sufficiently showed that they did not unlawfully refuse to implement or neglect the laws, executive and administrative orders as claimed by the petitioners. Projects and programs that seek to improve air quality were undertaken by the respondents, jointly and in coordination with stakeholders, such as: priority tagging of expenditures for climate change adaptation and mitigation, the Integrated Transport System which is aimed to decongest major thoroughfares, Truck Ban, Anti-Smoke Belching Campaign, Anti-Colorum, Mobile Bike Service Programs, and Urban Re-Greening Programs.