POWER distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has urged the Supreme Court (SC) to revisit the ease of filing writ of kalikasan cases.
Meralco senior vice president Angelito Lantin said the ease of filing of such cases has become a stumbling block to the development of coal power plants in the country.
“The ease of filing writ of kalikasan cases needs to be revisited. It presents a significant risk and deterrent to the development of coal power plants in the Philippines,” Latin told the Coal Business and Policy Forum in Makati City.
The provision for the writ of kalikasan was written in 2010 by the Supreme Court. The writ is a legal remedy that protects the constitutional right of citizens to a balanced and healthful ecology.
The writ seeks to deal with environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.
During the forum, Lantin talked about the challenges facing the coal industry. In justifying his call, Lantin cited the writ of kalikasan case filed with the Supreme Court against the 600 megawatt coal- fired power plant project of Redondo Peninsula Energy (RP Energy) in July 2012.
He explained that case was filed, RP Energy was only few months away from starting construction on the plant as the project had already received an Environmental Compliance Certificate, an EPC contract had been executed and debt financing almost in place.
The Supreme Court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals (CA) for rendering of judgment.
In January 2013, the CA rendered judgment in favor of the petitioners.
The decision was appealed by RP Energy and writ petitioners but it was subsequently denied by the CA in May 2013.
In July 2013, RP Energy filed a motion for review with the Supreme Court but up to now, the latter has yet to issue a decision.
Lantin said the process of resolving a writ of kalikasan case takes so long and therefore affects the development of projects.
“Sixteen months have passed with no Supreme Court resolution. A total of 26 months of court process alone,” said Lantin, referring to the case filed against RP Energy.
“The coal power plant of RP Energy has not yet been built, so how can it be alleged to cause environmental damage?” asked Lantin.
Because of this, he asked the SC to revisit the ease of filing writ of kalikasan cases, saying this is being abused by some groups.
“As in most laws in the country, the intention of the writ of kalikasan is noble and well- meaning, but it has been abused and taken advantage of,” he said.