Seeking writ of ‘kalikasan’ directly from the High Court

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I am of the belief that good environmental laws in our country are not properly implemented. I head a group of advocates who are for the immediate implementation of these laws. May I directly file a petition for issuance of a writ of kalikasan before the Supreme Court because of the transcendental importance of our claim?
Sincerely yours,
Amir

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Dear Amir,
Fairly recent, is the case of Victoria Segovia, et al. v. The Climate Change Commission, et al. (G.R. No. 211010, March 7, 2017) penned by the Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, who clearly discussed the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction in direct filing of a petition for issuance of a writ of kalikasan, viz.:

“Under the RPEC [Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases], the writ of kalikasan is an extraordinary remedy covering environmental damage of such magnitude that will prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces. It is designed for a narrow but special purpose: to accord a stronger protection for environmental rights, aiming, among others, to provide a speedy and effective resolution of a case involving the violation of one’s constitutional right to a healthful and balanced ecology that transcends political and territorial boundaries, and to address the potentially exponential nature of large-scale ecological threats. At the very least, the magnitude of the ecological problems contemplated under the RPEC satisfies at least one of the exceptions to the rule on hierarchy of courts, as when direct resort is allowed where it is dictated by public welfare. Given that the RPEC allows direct resort to this court, it is ultimately within the Court’s discretion whether or not to accept petitions brought directly before it…” [Emphasis supplied]

Clearly, the Supreme Court clarified that the filing of the petition directly before it, is one of the exceptions to the rule on hierarchy of courts. Emphasis, however, should be made on the fact that the court still has the discretion on whether it will look upon the same, and thereafter grant the petition since the petitioner/s should first satisfy all the jurisdictional, formal and substantive requirements of law in filing the petition for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan.

Hence, provided that you are able to prove your standing in filing the petition and you are able to substantiate your claim, you may directly file the petition for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan before the Supreme Court.

Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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