BAGUIO CITY: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declared as unconstitutional the oil and gas exploration at the Tañon Strait between Negros and Cebu.
The petition was filed by environmental groups who claimed the exploration project endangered mammals and the livelihood of communities.
During the deliberations of the High Tribunal en banc, it ruled as illegal Service Contract No. 46, which was signed by the Department of Energy and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. (Japex) in 2004.
Japex Philippines Ltd., a subsidiary of Japanese oil and gas hunt company Japex Ltd., was formed on May 26, 2006 and tasked to supervise the oil and gas exploration in the strait. It had a paid up capital of 2.9 billion yen.
The project covered 521,018 hectares. Tañon Strait is the biggest marine protected area in the Philippines, and home to several species of dolphins, whales and popular diving sites such as Moalboal and Malapascua.
The contract went on for two years after Japex Philippines pulled out from the project on June 20, 2008, because there was not enough oil and gas deposits in the 2,580-square-kilometer area of the strait.
The High Tribunal argued that was not allowed by law, and the contract lacked the signature of the President and was never reported to Congress.
“For these reasons, Service Contract 46 violated the Constitution and is unconstitutional,” said lawyer Theodore Te, the spokesman of the High Tribunal.
In addition, the High Tribunal said the contract violated the National Integrated Protected Systems Act or Republic Act No. 7586, for not securing an environmental compliance certificate, which states that a project under consideration will not bring adverse effects to nature and the environment.