THE Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by a taxpayer against the alleged illegal and unauthorized reclamation in the San Fernando Bay in La Union province.
In a full court ruling, the tribunal denied for lack of merit the “petition for a writ of continuing mandamus with prayer for issuance of Temporary Environmental Protection Order [TEPO] filed by Alfredo F. Tadiar[.]”
Impleaded in the petition are Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje, local officials and Soiltech Agricultural Products Corp.
The petition pointed to the failure and neglect of public officials to enforce environmental laws to halt illegal and unauthorized reclamation in the province.
Tadiar averred that the reclamation project violated the Foreshore Lease Agreement (FLA) entered into between DENR and Soiltech in August 2011 covered by the lease of a 5,590-square meter tract of land for a seaport development project in Barangay Catbangen, San Fernando City.
The contractor, Soiltech was slapped with a P50,000 penalty.
Based on the memorandum of the DENR chief, it was confirmed that as of December 2013, Soiltech had already halted its reclamation activities.
Local officials pointed out that Soiltech has already paid the applicable penalties imposed by the Environmental Management Bureau after the reclamation attempt was discovered.
Soiltech even averred that as a clear sign of good faith, it had no interest whatsoever in the perceived reclamation.
Tadiar claimed in his petition that he found concrete piles already produced and are ready to be driven into whatever place these may be intended. There was also a presence of a backhoe heavy equipment machine that may be used for pile driving.
It was however found that by the time Tadiar’s petition was filed, his concerns were already being investigated and acted upon by the concerned agencies.
“It appears that all the concerns of petitioner regarding the FLA project had already been addressed by the concerned government agencies, as in fact, petitioner even admitted in his 23 January 2014 report that “the reclamation activity[ies]were already suspended by the proponent.
“We find petitioner’s allegation merely speculative. The materials he saw in the work place are consistent with purposes other than reclamation,” the ruling read.
“These are materials used for construction and as such, may be used by Soiltech in any of its construction projects.”
The high court also directed Tadiar to address all his future concerns on the FLA directly to the DENR, Philippine Reclamation Authority, and the city government of San Fernando, La Union.