MAC: Mines and Communities

Environmentalists praise Philippine's new rules for Environmental Cases

Published by MAC on 2010-04-24
Source: Kalikasan PNE, ALG statements (2010-04-15)

The Philippine Supreme Court issued New Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, just before the Earth Day Celebration. The new rules are based on the constitutional right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology. They theoretically extend the protection of the courts to activists from SLAPP law suits, which is a weclome provision for anti-mining activists in the country.

Environmental activists laud Supreme Court’s issuance of Writ of Kalikasan as an early Earth Day gift

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

15 April 2010

Environmental groups have reason to celebrate Earth day as the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday issued the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, the rules and regulation which will govern the procedure in legal actions involving enforcement or violations of environmental and related laws.

“We commend the SC for issuing an 'environment-friendly' Rules of Procedure. This early Earth Day reward is a result of grassroots communities’ arduous and untiring struggle to protect the environment and natural resources and uphold their basic rights,” said Clemente Bautista Jr. national coordinator of progressive environmental organization Kalikasan-PNE.

“The Rules of Procedure provisions on the Writ of Kalikasan, Writ of Continuing Mandamus, Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPP), and Precautionary Principle is very meaningful and useful. Through these provisions environmental advocates and ordinary citizens can further assert and defend their constitutional rights to life, a balanced and healthful ecology and their patrimony,” Mr. Bautista explained.

Under the rules, persons or organizations can immediately file a counter case to serve as a defense against SLAPP which filed by individual, organizations or corporations. Also the courts can now issue Environmental Protection Order (EPO) which directs or enjoins any person or government agency to perform or desist from performing an act in order to protect, preserve or rehabilitate the environment.

“These new rules of procedure will surely boost our legal battles for the environment. There are several environmental leaders and activists who have been harassed by legal cases filed by big businesses and private corporations. These harassments stem from their unrelenting opposition to environmentally destructive projects of both government and foreign transnational corporations such as large-scale mining and commercial logging,” said Frances Quimpo executive director of Center for Environmental Concerns- Philippines.

Ms. Quimpo is one of the several environmental activists who are facing a criminal case filed by Korean-owned mining company LG International and Korean Resources Co. because of their staunch opposition to government flagship mining project in Rapurapu island, Albay.

“We also hope this rule will aid the communities and activists in protecting the environment and people's rights,” Ms. Quimpo added.

Based on Kalikasan PNE data, there were already 27 environmental activists killed, two victims of enforced disappearance, and one attempted murder case as of March 2010. The group has also recorded more than 110 individuals facing SLAPP cases in court. Most of the killings and SLAPP cases involve activists opposing big mining and logging projects.

“We challenge the Supreme Court and the legislative bodies of the government to further strengthen the laws and rules that protect our environment and conserve our natural resources, it must take another foot forward in reviewing, reversing or junking laws that have been proven to be detrimental not only to our environment but to our people as well such as the Mining Act of 1995, Fisheries Code of 1998 and Forestry Code of 1975. As long as these laws remain, environmental destruction and resource depletion will have a legal basis and will continue unabated in the country.” Mr. Bautista ended.

Reference: Clemente Bautista Jr. National Coordinator, Kalikasan-PNE 09228449787

KALIKASAN People's Network for the Environment is a network of people's organizations (POs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental advocates. It believes that the struggle for the environment is a struggle of the people, thus all environmental action shall have the interest of the majority at their core.

--
CLEMENTE BAUTISTA
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Email: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com
Website: www.kalikasan.orgAlternative Law Groups (ALG) commends the Supreme


Court for issuing the New Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases just before the Earth Day Celebration

Alternative Law Groups (ALG) Press Release

22 April 2010

The Alternative Law Groups (ALG) commends the Supreme Court for issuing the New Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases just before the Earth Day Celebration. The new rule will be effective on April 29, 2010.

"The new rules would greatly help in the immediate resolution of cases as the high court has provided new remedies for the protection of the environment and new rules that are expected to facilitate the resolution of these cases", said Atty. Marlon Manuel, coordinator of ALG.

The new rules of procedure for environmental cases adhere to the basic principle of protection and advancement of the constitutional right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology. The rules provide simplified, speedy and inexpensive procedure for the enforcement of environmental right and duties recognized under the Constitution, existing laws, rules and regulations and international agreements. The rules introduce innovations and best practices in ensuring the effective enforcement of remedies and redress for violation of environmental laws and in enabling the courts to monitor and exact compliance with orders and judgments in environmental cases.

"ALG members are currently handling more than one hundred (100) cases involving the environment, especially on mining, aerial spraying of pesticides and fungicides, coastal resource management, protection of watershed and river systems, water and air pollution, food security, protection of ancestral domains and indigenous peoples' rights, and biodiversity. The introduction of the Writ of Kalikasan is a good avenue to pursue in defending our cases and more importantly, a positive message to affected communities that their right to a healthy environment will be defended", Atty. Manuel added.

ALG also lauds the inclusion of the "precautionary principle" which gives the benefit of the doubt to the constitutional right of the people to a balanced and healthful when there is a lack of full scientific certainty in establishing a causal link between human activity and environmental effect.

"However, ALG is also cautious in putting all its trust in the new environmental rules as its issuance should be matched by the continued vigilance of the communities and willingness to pursue cases before the court.", Atty. Manuel ended.

The new Environmental Rules is a product of a year-long consultation process that culminated in an Environmental Justice Forum that was held last year with the participation of ALG and its partners.

About ALG

The Alternative Law Groups or ALG is a coalition of non-government organizations with legal program components that adhere to the principles and values of alternative or developmental law. These organizations have distinct programs for developmental legal assistance that is primarily concerned with the pursuit of public interest, respect for human rights and promotion of social justice.

The ALG network is composed of nineteen (19) progressive institutions all geared towards providing alternative or developmental legal aid service addressing the needs of the marginalized sectors of society. These legal organizations have distinct programs for developmental, alternative, feminist, strategic and/or political legal interventions as a means to empower the disadvantaged sectors.

As a network, the ALG members offer diversity in terms of expertise in issues and services while employing common strategies such as strategic and progressive legal interventions. Each member of the ALG network has a clear physical base and clearly defined organizational structures for its operations, and established sustained links with law schools.

The members are AHRC, ALTERLAW, ASAP, BALAOD-Mindanaw, CLB, ELAC, EnGendeRights, FREELAVA, KAISAHAN. KANLUNGAN, LRC-KSK/FOEI-Phils.,PANLIPI, PBPF, PLRC, PROCESS-Panay, SALIGAN, TEBTEBBA, TK, WLB, WOMENLEAD,

Contact Person: Cathy Tiongson 0918 329 7880
Marlon Manuel 0917 532 6447

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