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G.R. No. 129546 December 13, 2005 property but also cause loss of lives.

Protection of watersheds is an
“intergenerational” responsibility that needs to be answered now.”
PROVINCE OF RIZAL, MUNICIPALITY OF SAN MATEO, PINTONG BOCAUE
MULTIPURPOSE COOPERATIVE, CONCERNED CITIZENS OF RIZAL, INC., Same; Same; Same; Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
ROLANDO E. VILLACORTE, BERNARDO HIDALGO, ANANIAS EBUENGA, was mandated to be the primary government agency responsible for the
VILMA T. MONTAJES, FEDERICO MUNAR, JR., ROLANDO BEÑAS, SR., ET conservation, management, development and proper use of the country’s
AL., and KILOSBAYAN, INC., Petitioners, environment and natural resources specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral
vs. resources including those in reservation and watershed areas and lands of the
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL public domain.—The state is, and always has been, zealous in preserving as much
RESOURCES, LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, SECRETARY OF of our natural and national heritage as it can, enshrining as it did the obligation to
PUBLIC WORKS & HIGHWAYS, SECRETARY OF BUDGET & MANAGEMENT, preserve and protect the same within the text of our fundamental law. It was with
METRO MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY and THE HONORABLE COURT this objective in mind that the respondent DENR was mandated by then President
OF APPEALS,Respondents. Corazon C. Aquino, under Section 4 of Executive Order No. 192, otherwise known
as “The Reorganization Act of the Department of Environment and Natural
DECISION Resources,” to be “the primary government agency responsible for the
conservation, management, development and proper use of the country’s
Civil Law; Contracts; The freedom of contract under our system of government is environment and natural resources, specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral
not meant to be absolute.—In Abe vs. Foster Wheeler Corp., this Court stated: “The resources, including those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of the
freedom of contract, under our system of government, is not meant to be absolute. public domain.
The same is understood to be subject to reasonable legislative regulation aimed at
the promotion of public health, moral, safety and welfare. In other words, the Same; Same; Same; The right to a balance and healthful ecology is a fundamental
constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of obligations of contract is limited by the legal right that carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the
exercise of the police power of the State, in the interest of public health, safety, environment.—We expounded on this matter in the landmark case of Oposa v.
moral and general welfare.” The reason for this is emphatically set forth in Nebia vs. Factoran, where we held that the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is a
New York,quoted in Philippine American Life Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General, to fundamental legal right that carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from
wit: “ ‘Under our form of government the use of property and the making of impairing the environment. This right implies, among other things, the judicious
contracts are normally matters of private and not of public concern. The general management and conservation of the country’s resources, which duty is reposed in
rule is that both shall be free of governmental interference. But neither property the DENR under the aforequoted Section 4 of Executive Order No. 192.
rights nor contract rights are absolute; for government cannot exist if the citizen
may at will use his property to the detriment of his fellows, or exercise his freedom Same; Same; Same; Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
of contract to work them harm. Equally fundamental with the private right is that of was entrusted with the guardianship and safekeeping of the Marikina Watershed
the public to regulate it in the common interest.’ ” In short, the non-impairment Reservation and our other natural treasures.—The Administrative Code of 1987
clause must yield to the police power of the state. and Executive Order No. 192 entrust the DENR with the guardianship and
safekeeping of the Marikina Watershed Reservation and our other natural treasures.
Same; Same; Natural Resources; The protection of watersheds ensures an However, although the DENR, an agency of the government, owns the Marikina
adequate supply of water for future generations and the control of flashfloods that Reserve and has jurisdiction over the same, this power is not absolute, but is
not only damage to property but also cause loss of lives.—Water is life, and must defined by the declared policies of the state, and is subject to the law and higher
be saved at all costs. In Collado v. Court of Appeals, we had occasion to reaffirm authority. Section 2, Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, while
our previous discussion in Sta. Rosa Realty Development Corporation v. Court of specifically referring to the mandate of the DENR, makes particular reference to the
Appeals, on the primordial importance of watershed areas, thus: “The most agency’s being subject to law and higher authority, thus: SEC. 2. Mandate.—(1)
important product of a watershed is water, which is one of the most important The Department of Environment and Natural Resources shall be primarily
human necessities. The protection of watersheds ensures an adequate supply of responsible for the implementation of the foregoing policy. (2) It shall, subject to law
water for future generations and the control of flashfloods that not only damage and higher authority, be in charge of carrying out the State’s constitutional mandate
to control and supervise the exploration, development, utilization, and conservation
of the country’s natural resources.
Same; Same; Same; Under the Local Government Code, two requisites must be 2. Upon signing of this Agreement, the DPWH shall commence the
met before a national project that affects the environmental and ecological balance construction/development of said dumpsite.
of local communities can be implemented: prior consultation with the affected local
communities and prior approval of the project by the appropriate 3. The MMC shall: a) take charge of the relocation of the families within and around
sanggunian.—Under the Local Government Code, two requisites must be met the site; b) oversee the development of the areas as a sanitary landfill; c)
before a national project that affects the environmental and ecological balance of coordinate/monitor the construction of infrastructure facilities by the DPWH in the
local communities can be implemented: prior consultation with the affected local said site; and d) ensure that the necessary civil works are properly undertaken to
communities, and prior approval of the project by the appropriate sanggunian. safeguard against any negative environmental impact in the area.
Absent either of these mandatory requirements, the project’s implementation is
illegal. Province of Rizal vs. Executive Secretary, 477 SCRA 436, G.R. No. 129546 On 7, 8 and 10 February 1989, the Sangguniang Bayan of San Mateo wrote Gov.
December 13, 2005 Elfren Cruz of the MMC, Sec. Fiorello Estuar of the DPWH, the Presidential Task
Force on Solid Waste Management, Executive Secretary Catalino Macaraig, and
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: Sec. Fulgencio Factoran, Jr., pointing out that it had recently passed a Resolution
banning the creation of dumpsites for Metro Manila garbage within its jurisdiction,
The earth belongs in usufruct to the living.1 asking that their side be heard, and that the addressees "suspend and temporarily
hold in abeyance all and any part of your operations with respect to the San Mateo
At the height of the garbage crisis plaguing Metro Manila and its environs, parts of Landfill Dumpsite." No action was taken on these letters.
the Marikina Watershed Reservation were set aside by the Office of the President,
through Proclamation No. 635 dated 28 August 1995, for use as a sanitary landfill It turns out that the land subject of the MOA of 17 November 1988 and owned by
and similar waste disposal applications. In fact, this site, extending to more or less the DENR was part of the Marikina Watershed Reservation Area. Thus, on 31 May
18 hectares, had already been in operation since 19 February 19902 for the solid 1989, forest officers of the Forest Engineering and Infrastructure Unit of the
wastes of Quezon City, Marikina, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Pateros, Pasig, and Community Environment and Natural Resource Office, (CENRO) DENR-IV, Rizal
Taguig.3 Province, submitted a Memorandum5 on the "On-going Dumping Site Operation of
the MMC inside (the) Upper Portion of Marikina Watershed Reservation, located at
This is a petition filed by the Province of Rizal, the municipality of San Mateo, and Barangay Pintong Bocaue, San Mateo, Rizal, and nearby localities." Said
various concerned citizens for review on certiorari of the Decision of the Court of Memorandum reads in part:
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 41330, denying, for lack of cause of action, the petition
for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with application for a temporary restraining Observations:
order/writ of preliminary injunction assailing the legality and constitutionality of
Proclamation No. 635. 3.1 The subject area is arable and agricultural in nature;

The facts are documented in painstaking detail. 3.2 Soil type and its topography are favorable for agricultural and forestry
productions;
On 17 November 1988, the respondent Secretaries of the Department of Public
Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Environment and Natural ...
Resources (DENR) and the Governor of the Metropolitan Manila Commission
(MMC) entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA),4 which provides in part: 3.5 Said Dumping Site is observed to be confined within the said Watershed
Reservation, bearing in the northeastern part of Lungsod Silangan Townsite
1. The DENR agrees to immediately allow the utilization by the Metropolitan Manila Reservation. Such illegal Dumping Site operation inside (the) Watershed
Commission of its land property located at Pintong Bocaue in San Mateo, Rizal as a Reservation is in violation of P.D. 705, otherwise known as the Revised
sanitary landfill site, subject to whatever restrictions that the government impact Forestry Code, as amended. . .
assessment might require.
Recommendations:
5.1 The MMC Dumping Site Inside Marikina Watershed Reservation, particularly undertake or operate any such declared environmentally critical project or area
at Brgy. Pintong Bocaue, San Mateo, Rizal and at Bo. Pinugay, Baras/Antipolo, without first securing an Environmental Compliance Certificate." Proclamation No.
Rizal which are the present garbage zones must totally be stopped and 2146, passed on 14 December 1981, designates "all areas declared by law as
discouraged without any political intervention and delay in order to save our national parks, watershed reserves, wildlife preserves, and sanctuaries" as
healthy ecosystems found therein, to avoid much destruction, useless efforts "Environmentally Critical Areas."
and lost (sic) of millions of public funds over the land in question; (Emphasis
ours) On 09 March 1990, respondent Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA),
through its Acting General Manager, sent a letter8 to the MMA, which reads in part:
On 19 June 1989, the CENRO submitted another Investigation Report6 to the
Regional Executive Director which states in part that: Through this letter we would like to convey our reservation on the choice of the sites
for solid waste disposal inside the watershed of Laguna Lake. As you may already
1. About two (2) hectares had been excavated by bulldozers and garbage dumping know, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has
operations are going on. scheduled the abstraction of water from the lake to serve the needs of about
1.2 million residents of Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Las Pinas and Bacoor, Cavite
2. The dumping site is without the concurrence of the Provincial Governor, Rizal by 1992. Accordingly, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) is
Province and without any permit from DENR who has functional jurisdiction over accelerating its environmental management program to upgrade the water
the Watershed Reservation; and quality of the lake in order to make it suitable as a source of domestic water
supply the whole year round. The said program regards dumpsites as
3. About 1,192 families residing and cultivating areas covered by four (4) incompatible within the watershed because of the heavy pollution, including
Barangays surrounding the dumping site will adversely be affected by the dumping the risk of diseases, generated by such activities which would negate the
operations of MMC including their sources of domestic water supply. x x x x government’s efforts to upgrade the water quality of the lake. Consequently,
please consider our objection to the proposed location of the dumpsites within the
watershed. (Emphasis supplied by petitioners)
On 22 January 1990, the CENRO submitted still another Investigation Report 7 to
the Regional Executive Director which states that:
On 31 July 1990, less than six months after the issuance of the ECC,
Undersecretary Roque suspended the ECC in a letter9 addressed to the
Findings show that the areas used as Dumping Site of the MMC are found to be
respondent Secretary of DPWH, stating in part that:
within the Marikina Watershed which are part of the Integrated Social Forestry
Project (ISF) as per recorded inventory of Forest Occupancy of this office.
Upon site investigation conducted by Environmental Management Bureau staff on
development activities at the San Mateo Landfill Site, it was ascertained that
It also appears that as per record, there was no permit issued to the MMC to utilize
ground slumping and erosion have resulted from improper development of
these portions of land for dumping purposes.
the site. We believe that this will adversely affect the environmental quality in the
area if the proper remedial measures are not instituted in the design of the landfill
It is further observed that the use of the areas as dumping site greatly affects the site. This is therefore contradictory to statements made in the Environmental Impact
ecological balance and environmental factors in this community. Statement (EIS) submitted that above occurrences will be properly mitigated.

On 19 February 1990, the DENR Environmental Management Bureau, through In view of this, we are forced to suspend the Environmental Compliance Certificate
Undersecretary for Environment and Research Celso R. Roque, granted the Metro (ECC) issued until appropriate modified plans are submitted and approved by this
Manila Authority (MMA [formerly MMC]) an Environmental Compliance Certificate Office for implementation. (Emphasis ours)
(ECC) for the operation of a two-and-a-half-hectare garbage dumpsite.
On 21 June 1993, the Acting Mayor of San Mateo, Enrique Rodriguez, Jr.,
The ECC was sought and granted to comply with the requirement of Presidential Barangay Captain Dominador Vergara, and petitioner Rolando E. Villacorte,
Decree No. 1586 "Establishing an Environmental Impact Statement System," Chairman of the Pintong Bocaue Multipurpose Cooperative (PBMC) wrote10then
Section 4 of which states in part that, "No persons, partnership or corporation shall President Fidel V. Ramos expressing their objections to the continued operation of
the MMA dumpsite for causing "unabated pollution and degradation of the Marikina 2. The proposed Integrated Social Forestry Project be pushed through or be
Watershed Reservation." approved. ISF project will not only uplift the socio-economic conditions of the
participants but will enhance the rehabilitation of the Watershed considering that
On 14 July 1993, another Investigation Report11 submitted by the Regional fruit bearing trees are vigorously growing in the area. Some timber producing
Technical Director to the DENR Undersecretary for Environment and Research species are also planted like Mahogany and Gmelina Arboiea. There are also
contained the following findings and recommendations: portions where dipterocarp residuals abound in the area.

Remarks and Findings: 3. The sanitary landfill should be relocated to some other area, in order to avoid any
conflict with the local government of San Mateo and the nearby affected residents
.... who have been in the area for almost 10-20 years.

5. Interview with Mr. Dayrit, whose lot is now being endangered because soil On 16 November 1993, DENR Secretary Angel C. Alcala sent MMA Chairman
erosion have (sic) caused severe siltation and sedimentation of the Dayrit Creek Ismael A. Mathay, Jr. a letter12 stating that "after a series of investigations by field
which water is greatly polluted by the dumping of soil bulldozed to the creek; officials" of the DENR, the agency realized that the MOA entered into on 17
November 1988 "is a very costly error because the area agreed to be a garbage
dumpsite is inside the Marikina Watershed Reservation." He then strongly
6. Also interview with Mrs. Vilma Montajes, the multi-grade teacher of Pintong
recommended that all facilities and infrastructure in the garbage dumpsite in
Bocaue Primary School which is located only about 100 meters from the landfill site.
Pintong Bocaue be dismantled, and the garbage disposal operations be transferred
She disclosed that bad odor have (sic) greatly affected the pupils who are
to another area outside the Marikina Watershed Reservation to protect "the health
sometimes sick with respiratory illnesses. These odors show that MMA have (sic)
and general welfare of the residents of San Mateo in particular and the residents of
not instituted/sprayed any disinfectant chemicals to prevent air pollution in the area.
Metro Manila in general."
Besides large flies (Bangaw) are swarming all over the playground of the school.
The teacher also informed the undersigned that plastic debris are being blown
whenever the wind blows in their direction. On 06 June 1995, petitioner Villacorte, Chairman of the PBMC, wrote13 President
Ramos, through the Executive Secretary, informing the President of the issues
involved, that the dumpsite is located near three public elementary schools, the
7. As per investigation report … there are now 15 hectares being used as landfill
closest of which is only fifty meters away, and that its location "violates the
disposal sites by the MMA. The MMA is intending to expand its operation within the
municipal zoning ordinance of San Mateo and, in truth, the Housing and Land Use
50 hectares.
Regulatory Board had denied the then MMA chairman’s application for a locational
clearance on this ground."
8. Lots occupied within 50 hectares are fully planted with fruit bearing trees like
Mangoes, Santol, Jackfruit, Kasoy, Guyabano, Kalamansi and Citrus which are
On 21 August 1995, the Sangguniang Bayan of San Mateo issued a Resolution14
now bearing fruits and being harvested and marketed to nearby San Mateo Market
"expressing a strong objection to the planned expansion of the landfill operation in
and Masinag Market in Antipolo.
Pintong Bocaue and requesting President Ramos to disapprove the draft
Presidential Proclamation segregating 71.6 Hectares from Marikina Watershed
.... Reservation for the landfill site in Pintong Bocaue, San Mateo, Rizal."

Recommendations: Despite the various objections and recommendations raised by the government
agencies aforementioned, the Office of the President, through Executive Secretary
1. As previously recommended, the undersigned also strongly recommend(s) that Ruben Torres, signed and issued Proclamation No. 635 on 28 August 1995,
the MMA be made to relocate the landfill site because the area is within the "Excluding from the Marikina Watershed Reservation Certain Parcels of Land
Marikina Watershed Reservation and Lungsod Silangan. The leachate treatment Embraced Therein for Use as Sanitary Landfill Sites and Similar Waste Disposal
plant ha(s) been eroded twice already and contaminated the nearby creeks which is Under the Administration of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority." The
the source of potable water of the residents. The contaminated water also flows to pertinent portions thereof state:
Wawa Dam and Boso-boso River which also flows to Laguna de Bay.
WHEREAS, to cope with the requirements of the growing population in Metro Section 3. Technical Description – Specifically, the areas being hereby excluded
Manila and the adjoining provinces and municipalities, certain developed and open from the Marikina Watershed Reservation consist of two (2) parcels, with an
portions of the Marikina Watershed Reservation, upon the recommendation of the aggregate area of approximately ONE MILLION SIXTY THOUSAND FIVE
Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should now be HUNDRED TWENTY NINE (1,060,529) square meters more or less, as follows: x x
excluded form the scope of the reservation; xx

WHEREAS, while the areas delineated as part of the Watershed Reservations are Section 4. Reservations – The development, construction, use and/or operation of
intended primarily for use in projects and/or activities designed to contain and any facility that may be established within the parcel of land herein excluded from
preserve the underground water supply, other peripheral areas had been included the Marikina Watershed Reservation shall be governed by existing laws, rules and
within the scope of the reservation to provide for such space as may be needed for regulations pertaining to environmental control and management. When no longer
the construction of the necessary structures, other related facilities, as well as other needed for sanitary landfill purposes or the related waste disposal activities, the
priority projects of government as may be eventually determined; parcels of land subject of this proclamation shall revert back as part of the Marikina
Watershed Reservation, unless otherwise authorized.
WHEREAS, there is now an urgent need to provide for, and develop, the necessary
facilities for the disposal of the waste generated by the population of Metro Manila On 06 September 1995, Director Wilfrido S. Pollisco of the Protected Areas and
and the adjoining provinces and municipalities, to ensure their sanitary and /or Wildlife Bureau wrote the DENR Secretary to express the bureau’s stand against
hygienic disposal; the dumpsite at Pintong Bocaue, and that "it is our view . . . that the mere presence
of a garbage dumpsite inside a watershed reservation is definitely not compatible
WHEREAS, to cope with the requirements for the development of the waste with the very purpose and objectives for which the reservation was established."
disposal facilities that may be used, portions of the peripheral areas of the Marikina
Watershed Reservation, after due consideration and study, have now been On 24 November 1995, the petitioners Municipality of San Mateo and the residents
identified as suitable sites that may be used for the purpose; of Pintong Bocaue, represented by former Senator Jovito Salonga, sent a letter to
President Ramos requesting him to reconsider Proclamation No. 635. Receiving no
WHEREAS, the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural reply, they sent another letter on 02 January 1996 reiterating their previous request.
Resources has recommended the exclusion of these areas that have been so
identified from the Marikina Watershed Reservation so that they may then be On 04 March 1996, then chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority
developed for the purpose; (MMDA [formerly MMA]) Prospero I. Oreta addressed a letter to Senator Salonga,
stating in part that:
NOW, THEREFORE, for and in consideration of the aforecited premises, I, Fidel V.
Ramos, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, ….
do hereby ordain:
2. Considering the circumstances under which we are pursuing the project, we are
Section 1. General – That certain parcels of land, embraced by the Marikina certain you will agree that, unless we are prepared with a better alternative, the
Watershed Reservation, were found needed for use in the solid waste disposal project simply has to be pursued in the best interest of the greater majority of the
program of the government in Metropolitan Manila, are hereby excluded from that population, particularly their health and welfare."
which is held in reserve and are now made available for use as sanitary landfill and
such other related waste disposal applications. 2.1 The San Mateo Sanitary Landfill services, at least, 38% of the waste disposal
site requirements of Metro Manila where an estimated 9 million population reside.
Section 2. Purpose – The areas being excluded from the Marikina Watershed
Reservation are hereby placed under the administration of the Metropolitan Manila 2.2 Metro Manila is presently estimated to be generating, at least, 15,700 cubic
Development Authority, for development as Sanitary Landfill, and/or for use in the meters of household or municipal waste, a 1.57 hectare of land area will be filled in
development of such other related waste disposal facilities that may be used by the a month’s time with a pile 31 meters high of garbage, or in a year, the accumulated
cities and municipalities of Metro Manila and the adjoining province of Rizal and its volume will require 18.2 hectares.
municipalities.
.... 4.32 It was likewise too far from the nearest body of water, the Laguna Lake, and
the distance, plus the increasing accumulation of water from other tributaries
4. The sanitary landfill projects are now on their fifth year of implementation. The toward the lake, would serve to dilute and mitigate any contamination it may emit, in
amount of effort and money already invested in the project by the government case one happened.
cannot easily be disregarded, much more set aside in favor of the few
settlers/squatters who chose to ignore the earlier notice given to them that the area 4.33 To resolve the recurring issue regarding its being located within the Marikina
would be used precisely for the development of waste disposal sites, and are now Watershed Reservation, the site had been recommended by the DENR, and
attempting to arouse opposition to the project. approved by the President, to already be excluded from the Marikina Watershed
reservation and placed under the administration of MMDA, since the site was
4.2 There is no place within the jurisdiction of Metro Manila, with an area big deemed to form part of the land resource reserve then commonly referred to as
enough to accommodate at least 3 to 5 years of waste disposal requirements. x x x buffer zone.
x
5. Contrary to the impression that you had been given, relocating the site at this
4.21 The present site at San Mateo was selected because, at the time point and time would not be easy, if not impracticable, because aside from the
consideration was being made, and up to the present, it is found to have the investments that had been made in locating the present site, further investments
attributes that positively respond to the criteria established: have been incurred in:

4.21.1 The site was a government property and would not require any outlay for it to 5.1 The conduct of the technical studies for the development being implemented.
be acquired. Through a grant-in-aid from the World Bank, US$600,000 was initially spent for the
conduct of the necessary studies on the area and the design of the landfill. This was
4.21.2 It is far from any sizeable community/settlements that could be affected by augmented by, at least, another P1.5 million from the government for the studies to
the development that would be introduced and yet, was within economic hauling be completed, or a total cost at the time (1990) of approximately P20 million.
distance from the areas they are designed to serve.
5.2. Additionally, the government has spent approximately P33 million in improving
4.21.21 At the time it was originally decided to locate the landfills at the present site, on the roadway to make the site accessible from the main road/highway.
there were not more that fifteen (15) settlers in the area and they had hardly
established themselves. The community settlements were located far from the site. 5.3 To achieve the necessary economies in the development of the site, the utilities
had been planned so that their use could be maximized. These include the access
4.21.22 The area was hardly accessible, especially to any public transport. The roads, the drainage system, the leacheate collection system, the gas collection
area was being served by a public utility jeep that usually made only two (2) trips system, and the waste water treatment system. Their construction are designed so
daily. During the rainy season, it could only be reached by equipping the vehicle that instead of having to construct independent units for each area, the use of
with tire chains to traverse the slippery muddy trail roads. existing facilities can be maximized through a system of interconnection. On the
average, the government is spending P14.8 million to develop a hectare of sanitary
landfill area.
4.21.3 There was, at least, seventy-three (73) hectares available at the site.

6. Despite the preparations and the investments that are now being made on the
4.3 While the site was within the Marikina Watershed Reservation under the
project, it is estimated that the total available area, at an accelerated rate of
administration of the DENR, the site was located at the lower periphery of the buffer
disposal, assuming that all open dump sites were to be closed, will only last for 39
zone; was evaluated to be least likely to affect the underground water supply; and
months.
could, in fact, be excluded from the reservation.

6.1 We are still hard pressed to achieve advanced development on the sites to
4.31 It was determined to be far from the main water containment area for it to pose
assure against any possible crisis in garbage from again being experienced in
any immediate danger of contaminating the underground water, in case of a failure
Metro Manila, aside from having to look for the additional sites that may be used
in any of the mitigating measures that would be installed.
after the capacities shall have been exhausted.
6.2 Faced with the prospects of having the 15,700 cubic meters of garbage The Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the respondents did not violate R.A. 7586
generated daily strewn all over Metro Manila, we are certain you will agree that it when they issued and implemented Proclamation No. 635 considering that the
would be futile to even as much as consider a suspension of the waste disposal withdrawal or disestablishment of a protected area or the modification of the
operations at the sanitary landfills. Marikina Watershed can only be done by an act of Congress.

On 22 July 1996, the petitioners filed before the Court of Appeals a civil action IV
for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with application for a temporary restraining
order/writ of preliminary injunction. The hearing on the prayer for preliminary The Court of Appeals erred and abused its discretion when it deliberately and
injunction was held on 14 August 1996. willfully brushed aside the unanimous findings and adverse recommendations of
responsible government agencies and non-partisan officials concerned with
On 13 June 1997, the court a quo rendered a Decision,15 the dispositive part of environmental protection in favor of the self-serving, gratuitous assertions found in
which reads: the unsolicited, partisan letter of former Malabon Mayor, now Chairman Prospero
Oreta of the MMDA who is an interested party in this case.
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with
application for a temporary restraining order/writ of preliminary injunction for lack of V
cause of action, is hereby DENIED.16
The Court of Appeals erred when it readily swallowed respondents’ assertion that
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari of the above decision on the following the San Mateo Dumpsite "is located in the ‘Buffer Zone’ of the reservation" and is
grounds: therefore outside of its boundaries, and even declared in its decision that it took
"serious note" of this particular argument.
I
VI
The Court of Appeals erred and abused its discretion in deliberately ignoring the
significant fact that Presidential Proclamation No. 635 was based on a brazen The Court of Appeals erred and abused its discretion when it encroached on the
forgery – it was supposedly issued, as stated in the proclamation itself and function of Congress by expressing its unjustified fear of mini-smokey mountains
repeatedly asserted by respondents in their comment, on the basis of the alleged proliferating in Metro Manila and justifying its decision in favor of "an integrated
recommendation of the DENR Secretary dated June 26, 1995 but which assertion system of solid waste management like the San Mateo Landfill.
was denounced by the then Secretary Angel C. Alcala himself – in a sworn
statement dated September 18, 1996 and again during the special hearing of the On 05 January 1998, while the appeal was pending, the petitioners filed a Motion
case in the Court of Appeals on November 13, 1996 – as a forgery since his for Temporary Restraining Order,17pointing out that the effects of the El
signature on the alleged recommendation had been falsified, as now admitted by Niño phenomenon would be aggravated by the relentless destruction of the
respondents themselves in their comment filed with the Court of Appeals, through Marikina Watershed Reservation. They noted that respondent MMDA had, in the
the Office of the Solicitor General. meantime, continued to expand the area of the dumpsite inside the Marikina
Watershed Reservation, cutting down thousands of mature fruit trees and forest
II trees, and leveling hills and mountains to clear the dumping area. Garbage disposal
operations were also being conducted on a 24-hour basis, with hundreds of metric
The Court of Appeals erred and abused its discretion in completely ignoring the tons of wastes being dumped daily, including toxic and infectious hospital wastes,
significant fact that the respondents are operating the landfill based on a spurious intensifying the air, ground and water pollution.18
Environmental Compliance Certificate.
The petitioners reiterated their prayer that respondent MMDA be temporarily
III enjoined from further dumping waste into the site and from encroaching into the
area beyond its existing perimeter fence so as not to render the case moot and
academic.
On 28 January 1999, the petitioners filed a Motion for Early Resolution, 19 calling San Mateo Landfill as of December 2000, and 2) whether or not the permanent
attention to the continued expansion of the dumpsite by the MMDA that caused the closure of the San Mateo landfill is mandated by Rep. Act No. 9003.
people of Antipolo to stage a rally and barricade the Marcos Highway to stop the
dump trucks from reaching the site for five successive days from 16 January 1999. We hold that the San Mateo Landfill will remain permanently closed.
On the second day of the barricade, all the municipal mayors of the province of
Rizal openly declared their full support for the rally, and notified the MMDA that they Although the petitioners may be deemed to have waived or abandoned the issues
would oppose any further attempt to dump garbage in their province.20 raised in their previous pleadings but not included in the memorandum, 29 certain
events we shall relate below have inclined us to address some of the more
As a result, MMDA officials, headed by then Chairman Jejomar Binay, agreed to pertinent issues raised in the petition for the guidance of the herein respondents,
abandon the dumpsite after six months. Thus, the municipal mayors of Rizal, and pursuant to our symbolic function to educate the bench and bar.30
particularly the mayors of Antipolo and San Mateo, agreed to the use of the
dumpsite until that period, which would end on 20 July 1999.21 The law and the facts indicate that a mere MOA does not guarantee the dumpsite’s
permanent closure.
On 13 July 1999, the petitioners filed an Urgent Second Motion for Early
Resolution22 in anticipation of violence between the conflicting parties as the date of The rally and barricade staged by the people of Antipolo on 28 January 1999, with
the scheduled closure of the dumpsite neared. the full support of all the mayors of Rizal Province caused the MMDA to agree that it
would abandon the dumpsite after six months. In return, the municipal mayors
On 19 July 1999, then President Joseph E. Estrada, taking cognizance of the allowed the use of the dumpsite until 20 July 1999.
gravity of the problems in the affected areas and the likelihood that violence would
erupt among the parties involved, issued a Memorandum ordering the closure of On 20 July 1999, with much fanfare and rhetoric, the Presidential Committee on
the dumpsite on 31 December 2000.23 Accordingly, on 20 July 1999, the Flagship Programs and Projects and the MMDA entered into a MOA with the
Presidential Committee on Flagship Programs and Projects and the MMDA entered Provincial Government of Rizal, the Municipality of San Mateo, and the City of
into a MOA with the Provincial Government of Rizal, the Municipality of San Mateo, Antipolo, whereby the latter agreed to an extension for the use of the dumpsite until
and the City of Antipolo, wherein the latter agreed to further extend the use of the 31 December 2000, at which time it would be permanently closed.
dumpsite until its permanent closure on 31 December 2000.24
Despite this agreement, President Estrada directed Department of Interior and
On 11 January 2001, President Estrada directed Department of Interior and Local Local Government Secretary Alfredo Lim and MMDA Chairman Binay to reopen the
Government Secretary Alfredo Lim and MMDA Chairman Binay to reopen the San San Mateo dumpsite on 11 January 2001, "in view of the emergency situation of
Mateo dumpsite "in view of the emergency situation of uncollected garbage in uncollected garbage in Metro Manila, resulting in a critical and imminent health and
Metro Manila, resulting in a critical and imminent health and sanitation epidemic."25 sanitation epidemic;" our issuance of a TRO on 24 January 2001 prevented the
dumpsite’s reopening.
Claiming the above events constituted a "clear and present danger of violence
erupting in the affected areas," the petitioners filed an Urgent Petition for Were it not for the TRO, then President Estrada’s instructions would have been
Restraining Order26 on 19 January 2001. lawfully carried out, for as we observed in Oposa v. Factoran, the freedom of
contract is not absolute. Thus:
On 24 January 2001, this Court issued the Temporary Restraining Order prayed for,
"effective immediately and until further orders."27 ….. In Abe vs. Foster Wheeler Corp., this Court stated: "The freedom of contract,
under our system of government, is not meant to be absolute. The same is
Meanwhile, on 26 January 2001, Republic Act No. 9003, otherwise known as "The understood to be subject to reasonable legislative regulation aimed at the
Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000," was signed into law by President promotion of public health, moral, safety and welfare. In other words, the
Estrada. constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of obligations of contract is limited by the
exercise of the police power of the State, in the interest of public health, safety,
Thus, the petitioners raised only two issues in their Memorandum28 of 08 February moral and general welfare." The reason for this is emphatically set forth in Nebia vs.
2005: 1) whether or not respondent MMDA agreed to the permanent closure of the New York, quoted in Philippine American Life Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General, to
wit: "'Under our form of government the use of property and the making of contracts cause loss of lives. Protection of watersheds is an "intergenerational" responsibility
are normally matters of private and not of public concern. The general rule is that that needs to be answered now.38
both shall be free of governmental interference. But neither property rights nor
contract rights are absolute; for government cannot exist if the citizen may at will Three short months before Proclamation No. 635 was passed to avert the garbage
use his property to the detriment of his fellows, or exercise his freedom of contract crisis, Congress had enacted the National Water Crisis Act39 to "adopt urgent and
to work them harm. Equally fundamental with the private right is that of the public to effective measures to address the nationwide water crisis which adversely affects
regulate it in the common interest.'" In short, the non-impairment clause must yield the health and well-being of the population, food production, and industrialization
to the police power of the state. (Citations omitted, emphasis supplied) process. One of the issues the law sought to address was the "protection and
conservation of watersheds."40
We thus feel there is also the added need to reassure the residents of the Province
of Rizal that this is indeed a final resolution of this controversy, for a brief review of In other words, while respondents were blandly declaring that "the reason for the
the records of this case indicates two self-evident facts. First, the San Mateo site creation of the Marikina Watershed Reservation, i.e., to protect Marikina River as
has adversely affected its environs, and second, sources of water should the source of water supply of the City of Manila, no longer exists," the rest of the
always be protected. country was gripped by a shortage of potable water so serious, it necessitated its
own legislation.
As to the first point, the adverse effects of the site were reported as early as 19
June 1989, when the Investigation Report of the Community Environment and Respondents’ actions in the face of such grave environmental consequences defy
Natural Resources Officer of DENR-IV-1 stated that the sources of domestic water all logic. The petitioners rightly noted that instead of providing solutions, they have,
supply of over one thousand families would be adversely affected by the dumping with unmitigated callousness, worsened the problem. It is this readiness to wreak
operations.31 The succeeding report included the observation that the use of the irrevocable damage on our natural heritage in pursuit of what is expedient that has
areas as dumping site greatly affected the ecological balance and environmental compelled us to rule at length on this issue. We ignore the unrelenting depletion of
factors of the community.32 Respondent LLDA in fact informed the MMA that the our natural heritage at our peril.
heavy pollution and risk of disease generated by dumpsites rendered the location of
a dumpsite within the Marikina Watershed Reservation incompatible with its I.
program of upgrading the water quality of the Laguna Lake. 33
The Reorganization Act of the DENR Defines and
The DENR suspended the site’s ECC after investigations revealed ground
slumping and erosion had resulted from improper development of the site.34
Limits Its Powers over the Country’s Natural Resources
Another Investigation Report35 submitted by the Regional Technical Director to the
DENR reported respiratory illnesses among pupils of a primary school located
approximately 100 meters from the site, as well as the constant presence of large The respondents next point out that the Marikina Watershed Reservation, and thus
flies and windblown debris all over the school’s playground. It further reiterated the San Mateo Site, is located in the public domain. They allege that as such,
reports that the leachate treatment plant had been eroded twice already, neither the Province of Rizal nor the municipality of San Mateo has the power to
contaminating the nearby creeks that were sources of potable water for the control or regulate its use since properties of this nature belong to the national, and
residents. The contaminated water was also found to flow to the Wawa Dam not to the local governments.
and Boso-boso River, which in turn empties into Laguna de Bay.
It is ironic that the respondents should pursue this line of reasoning.
This brings us to the second self-evident point. Water is life, and must be saved at
all costs. In Collado v. Court of Appeals,36 we had occasion to reaffirm our previous In Cruz v. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources,41 we had occasion to
discussion in Sta. Rosa Realty Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals,37 on observe that "(o)ne of the fixed and dominating objectives of the 1935
the primordial importance of watershed areas, thus: "The most important product of Constitutional Convention was the nationalization and conservation of the natural
a watershed is water, which is one of the most important human necessities. The resources of the country. There was an overwhelming sentiment in the convention
protection of watersheds ensures an adequate supply of water for future in favor of the principle of state ownership of natural resources and the adoption of
generations and the control of flashfloods that not only damage property but also the Regalian doctrine. State ownership of natural resources was seen as a
necessary starting point to secure recognition of the state’s power to control their of the country’s resources, which duty is reposed in the DENR under the
disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization."42 aforequoted Section 4 of Executive Order No. 192. Moreover:

The Regalian doctrine was embodied in the 1935 Constitution, in Section 1 of Section 3 (of E. O. No. 192) makes the following statement of policy:
Article XIII on "Conservation and Utilization of Natural Resources." This was
reiterated in the 1973 Constitution under Article XIV on the "National Economy and SEC. 3. Declaration of Policy. - It is hereby declared the policy of the State to
the Patrimony of the Nation," and reaffirmed in the 1987 Constitution in Section 2 of ensure the sustainable use, development, management, renewal, and
Article XII on "National Economy and Patrimony," to wit: conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, off-shore areas and other
natural resources, including the protection and enhancement of the quality of the
Sec. 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other environment, and equitable access of the different segments of the population to
mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora the development and use of the country's natural resources, not only for the
and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception present generation but for future generations as well. It is also the policy of the
of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The state to recognize and apply a true value system including social and environmental
exploration, development and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full cost implications relative to their utilization; development and conservation of our
control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such natural resources. (Emphasis ours)
activities or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing
agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per This policy declaration is substantially re-stated in Title XIV, Book IV of the
centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a Administrative Code of 1987, specifically in Section 1 thereof which reads:
period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five
years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of SEC. 1. Declaration of Policy. - (1) The State shall ensure, for the benefit of the
water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the Filipino people, the full exploration and development as well as the judicious
development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the
grant.43 country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other
natural resources, consistent with the necessity of maintaining a sound
Clearly, the state is, and always has been, zealous in preserving as much of our ecological balance and protecting and enhancing the quality of the
natural and national heritage as it can, enshrining as it did the obligation to preserve environment and the objective of making the exploration, development and
and protect the same within the text of our fundamental law. utilization of such natural resources equitably accessible to the different segments
of the present as well as future generations.
It was with this objective in mind that the respondent DENR was mandated by then
President Corazon C. Aquino, under Section 4 of Executive Order No. 192, 44 (2) The State shall likewise recognize and apply a true value system that takes into
otherwise known as "The Reorganization Act of the Department of Environment account social and environmental cost implications relative to the utilization,
and Natural Resources," to be "the primary government agency responsible for development and conservation of our natural resources.
the conservation, management, development and proper use of the country’s
environment and natural resources, specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral The above provision stresses "the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological
resources, including those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of balance and protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment."46 (Emphasis
the public domain. It is also responsible for the licensing and regulation of all natural ours.)
resources as may be provided for by law in order to ensure equitable sharing of
the benefits derived therefrom for the welfare of the present and future
In sum, the Administrative Code of 1987 and Executive Order No. 192 entrust the
generations of Filipinos."
DENR with the guardianship and safekeeping of the Marikina Watershed
Reservation and our other natural treasures. However, although the DENR, an
We expounded on this matter in the landmark case of Oposa v. Factoran,45 where agency of the government, owns the Marikina Reserve and has jurisdiction over the
we held that the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is a fundamental legal same, this power is not absolute, but is defined by the declared policies of the state,
right that carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment. and is subject to the law and higher authority. Section 2, Title XIV, Book IV of the
This right implies, among other things, the judicious management and conservation Administrative Code of 1987, while specifically referring to the mandate of the
DENR, makes particular reference to the agency’s being subject to law and higher The ambivalent reply of Director Uranza was brought to the fore when, at the height
authority, thus: of the protest rally and barricade along Marcos Highway to stop dump trucks from
reaching the site, all the municipal mayors of the province of Rizal openly declared
SEC. 2. Mandate. - (1) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources their full support for the rally and notified the MMDA that they would oppose any
shall be primarily responsible for the implementation of the foregoing policy. further attempt to dump garbage in their province. 48

(2) It shall, subject to law and higher authority, be in charge of carrying out the The municipal mayors acted within the scope of their powers, and were in fact
State's constitutional mandate to control and supervise the exploration, fulfilling their mandate, when they did this. Section 16 allows every local
development, utilization, and conservation of the country's natural resources. government unit to "exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily
implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its
With great power comes great responsibility. It is the height of irony that the public efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion
respondents have vigorously arrogated to themselves the power to control the San of the general welfare," which involve, among other things, "promot(ing) health
Mateo site, but have deftly ignored their corresponding responsibility as guardians and safety, enhance(ing) the right of the people to a balanced ecology, and
and protectors of this tormented piece of land. preserv(ing) the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants. "

II. In Lina , Jr. v. Paño,49 we held that Section 2 (c), requiring consultations with the
appropriate local government units, should apply to national government projects
affecting the environmental or ecological balance of the particular community
The Local Government Code Gives to Local Government Units All the Necessary
implementing the project. Rejecting the petitioners’ contention that Sections 2(c)
Powers to Promote the General Welfare of Their Inhabitants
and 27 of the Local Government Code applied mandatorily in the setting up of lotto
outlets around the country, we held that:
The circumstances under which Proclamation No. 635 was passed also violates
Rep. Act No. 7160, or the Local Government Code.
From a careful reading of said provisions, we find that these apply only to national
programs and/or projects which are to be implemented in a particular local
Contrary to the averment of the respondents, Proclamation No. 635, which was community. Lotto is neither a program nor a project of the national government, but
passed on 28 August 1995, is subject to the provisions of the Local Government of a charitable institution, the PCSO. Though sanctioned by the national
Code, which was approved four years earlier, on 10 October 1991. government, it is far fetched to say that lotto falls within the contemplation of
Sections 2 (c) and 27 of the Local Government Code.
Section 2(c) of the said law declares that it is the policy of the state " to require all
national agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate Section 27 of the Code should be read in conjunction with Section 26 thereof.
local government units, non-governmental and people's organizations, and other Section 26 reads:
concerned sectors of the community before any project or program is implemented
in their respective jurisdictions." Likewise, Section 27 requires prior consultations
SECTION 26. Duty of National Government Agencies in the Maintenance of
before a program shall be implemented by government authorities and the prior
Ecological Balance. It shall be the duty of every national agency or
approval of the sanggunian is obtained.
government-owned or controlled corporation authorizing or involved in the planning
and implementation of any project or program that may cause pollution, climatic
During the oral arguments at the hearing for the temporary restraining order, change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of crop land, range-land, or
Director Uranza of the MMDA Solid Waste Management Task Force declared forest cover, and extinction of animal or plant species, to consult with the local
before the Court of Appeals that they had conducted the required consultations. government units, nongovernmental organizations, and other sectors concerned
However, he added that "(t)his is the problem, sir, the officials we may have been and explain the goals and objectives of the project or program, its impact upon the
talking with at the time this was established may no longer be incumbent and this is people and the community in terms of environmental or ecological balance, and the
our difficulty now. That is what we are trying to do now, a continuing dialogue." 47 measures that will be undertaken to prevent or minimize the adverse effects
thereof.
Thus, the projects and programs mentioned in Section 27 should be maintenance, protection, and conservation of communal forests and
interpreted to mean projects and programs whose effects are among those watersheds, tree parks, greenbelts, mangroves, and other similar forest
enumerated in Section 26 and 27, to wit, those that: (1) may cause pollution; development projects ….and, subject to existing laws, establishing and providing
(2) may bring about climatic change; (3) may cause the depletion of for the maintenance, repair and operation of an efficient waterworks system to
non-renewable resources; (4) may result in loss of crop land, range-land, or supply water for the inhabitants and purifying the source of the water supply;
forest cover; (5) may eradicate certain animal or plant species from the face regulating the construction, maintenance, repair and use of hydrants, pumps,
of the planet; and (6) other projects or programs that may call for the eviction cisterns and reservoirs; protecting the purity and quantity of the water supply
of a particular group of people residing in the locality where these will be of the municipality and, for this purpose, extending the coverage of appropriate
implemented. Obviously, none of these effects will be produced by the introduction ordinances over all territory within the drainage area of said water supply and
of lotto in the province of Laguna. (emphasis supplied) within one hundred (100) meters of the reservoir, conduit, canal, aqueduct,
pumping station, or watershed used in connection with the water service; and
We reiterated this doctrine in the recent case of Bangus Fry Fisherfolk v. regulating the consumption, use or wastage of water." [Section 447 (5)(i) & (vii)]
Lanzanas,50 where we held that there was no statutory requirement for
the sangguniang bayan of Puerto Galera to approve the construction of a mooring Under the Local Government Code, therefore, two requisites must be met before a
facility, as Sections 26 and 27 are inapplicable to projects which are not national project that affects the environmental and ecological balance of local
environmentally critical. communities can be implemented: prior consultation with the affected local
communities, and prior approval of the project by the appropriate sanggunian.
Moreover, Section 447, which enumerates the powers, duties and functions of the Absent either of these mandatory requirements, the project’s implementation is
municipality, grants the sangguniang bayan the power to, among other things, illegal.
"enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate funds for the general
welfare of the municipality and its inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of th(e) Code." III.
These include:
Waste Disposal Is Regulated by the Ecological
(1) Approving ordinances and passing resolutions to protect the environment and
impose appropriate penalties for acts which endanger the environment, such Solid Waste Management Act of 2000
as dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive fishing, illegal logging and
smuggling of logs, smuggling of natural resources products and of endangered The respondents would have us overlook all the abovecited laws because the San
species of flora and fauna, slash and burn farming, and such other activities Mateo site is a very expensive - and necessary - fait accompli. The respondents
which result in pollution, acceleration of eutrophication of rivers and lakes, or cite the millions of pesos and hundreds of thousands of dollars the government has
of ecological imbalance; [Section 447 (1)(vi)] already expended in its development and construction, and the lack of any viable
alternative sites.
(2) Prescribing reasonable limits and restraints on the use of property within
the jurisdiction of the municipality, adopting a comprehensive land use plan for The Court of Appeals agreed, thus:
the municipality, reclassifying land within the jurisdiction of the city, subject to the
pertinent provisions of this Code, enacting integrated zoning ordinances in
During the hearing on the injunction, questions were also asked. "What will happen
consonance with the approved comprehensive land use plan, subject to existing
if the San Mateo Sanitary Landfill is closed? Where will the daily collections of
laws, rules and regulations; establishing fire limits or zones, particularly in populous
garbage be disposed of and dumped?" Atty. Mendoza, one of the lawyers of the
centers; and regulating the construction, repair or modification of buildings within
petitioners, answered that each city/municipality ‘must take care of its own.’
said fire limits or zones in accordance with the provisions of this Code; [Section 447
Reflecting on that answer, we are troubled: will not the proliferation of separate
(2)(vi-ix)]
open dumpsites be a more serious health hazard (which ha(s) to be addressed) to
the residents of the community? What with the galloping population growth and the
(3) Approving ordinances which shall ensure the efficient and effective delivery of constricting available land area in Metro Manila? There could be a ‘mini-Smokey
the basic services and facilities as provided for under Section 17 of this Code, and Mountain’ in each of the ten cities…comprising Metro Manila, placing in danger the
in addition to said services and facilities, …providing for the establishment, health and safety of more people. Damage to the environment could be aggravated
by the increase in number of open dumpsites. An integrated system of solid waste place. They should thus not be so lightly cast aside in the face of what is easy and
management, like the San Mateo Sanitary Landfill, appears advisable to a populous expedient.
metropolis like the Greater Metro Manila Area absent access to better technology.51
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in
We acknowledge that these are valid concerns. Nevertheless, the lower court CA-G.R. SP No. 41330, dated 13 June 1997, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
should have been mindful of the legal truism that it is the legislature, by its very temporary restraining order issued by the Court on 24 January 2001 is hereby
nature, which is the primary judge of the necessity, adequacy, wisdom, made permanent.
reasonableness and expediency of any law.52
SO ORDERED.
Moreover, these concerns are addressed by Rep. Act No. 9003. Approved on 26
January 2001, "The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000" was enacted G.R. No. L-23625 November 25, 1983
pursuant to the declared policy of the state "to adopt a systematic, comprehensive
and ecological solid waste management system which shall ensure the protection THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellant,
of public health and environment, and utilize environmentally sound methods that vs.
maximize the utilization of valuable resources and encourage resource MARIANO TERRADO, PEDRO TERRADO and CASIMIRO
conservation and recovery."53 It requires the adherence to a Local Government FLORES, defendants-appellees.
Solid Waste Management Plan with regard to the collection and transfer,
processing, source reduction, recycling, composting and final disposal of solid
G.R. No.L-23626 November 25, 1983
wastes, the handling and disposal of special wastes, education and public
information, and the funding of solid waste management projects.
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellant,
vs.
The said law mandates the formulation of a National Solid Waste Management
REMEDIOS GUNDRAN, PEDRO TERRADO, CASIMIRO FLORES, and BRUNO
Framework, which should include, among other things, the method and procedure
GUNDRAN, defendants-appellees.
for the phaseout and the eventual closure within eighteen months from effectivity of
the Act in case of existing open dumps and/or sanitary landfills located within an
aquifer, groundwater reservoir or watershed area.54 Any landfills subsequently G.R. No. L-23627 November 25, 1983
developed must comply with the minimum requirements laid down in Section 40,
specifically that the site selected must be consistent with the overall land use THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellants,
plan of the local government unit, and that the site must be located in an area vs.
where the landfill’s operation will not detrimentally affect environmentally GERTRUDES OBO, PEDRO TERRADO, CASIMIRO FLORES, and BRUNO
sensitive resources such as aquifers, groundwater reservoirs or watershed GUNDRAN. defendants-appellees.
areas.55
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
This writes finis to any remaining aspirations respondents may have of reopening
the San Mateo Site. Having declared Proclamation No. 635 illegal, we see no German G. Vilgera for defendants-appellees.
compelling need to tackle the remaining issues raised in the petition and the parties’
respective memoranda. Same; Same; Same; Penal statutes construed strictly against the State.—Penal
statutes, substantive and remedial or procedural are, by consecrated rule, to be
A final word. Laws pertaining to the protection of the environment were not drafted strictly applied against the government and liberally in favor of the accused. As it
in a vacuum. Congress passed these laws fully aware of the perilous state of both would be more favorable to the herein accused to apply Section 129 of
our economic and natural wealth. It was precisely to minimize the adverse impact Commonwealth Act 141 and Act 3326, as amended, in connection with the
humanity’s actions on all aspects of the natural world, at the same time maintaining prescriptive period of the offenses charged, the same should be applied.
and ensuring an environment under which man and nature can thrive in productive Considering, therefore, that the offenses were alleged to have been committed
and enjoyable harmony with each other, that these legal safeguards were put in during the period from May 15, 1952 to February 2, 1953, with respect to Criminal
Case No. 7613; from May 28, 1952 to August 18, 1952, with respect to Criminal documents containing false narration of facts, more particularly, the (1) applications
Case No. 7614; and from November 16, 1951 to February 21, 1952, with respect to for free patent; (2) notices of application for free patent; (3) final inspection reports;
Criminal Case No. 7615, and the informations were filed only on March 13, 1962, or and (4) first indorsements of District Land Officer Bruno Gundran, wherein they
more than eight (8) years after the said offenses were allegedly committed, the made it appear to the Director of Lands and the Secretary of Agriculture and
lower court correctly ruled that the crimes in question had already prescribed. Natural Resources that the applicants possessed all the necessary qualifications
People vs. Terrado, 125 SCRA 648, No. L-23625, No. L-23626, No. L-23627 and had complied with all the requirements of law to entitle them to a free patent,
November 25, 1983 when in truth and in fact, as they all fully well knew, all their manifestations were
false and fraudulent and that the said applicants had not complied with any or all of
CONCEPCION, JR., J.:ñé+.£ªwph!1 the requirements of the law to entitle them to a free patent. The informations further
alleged that Casimiro Flores and Bruno Gundran had taken advantage of their
APPEAL from the orders of the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur, all dated respective official positions in making the untruthful statements. Before the
April 15, 1963, which dismissed Criminal Case No. 7613 of said court, entitled: "The arraignment, the defendants filed separate motions to quash the informations on
People of the Philippines, plaintiff, versus Mariano Terrado, et al., defendants"; the ground that the crimes charged in the informations do not constitute the offense
Criminal Case No. 7614, entitled: the People of the Philippines, plaintiff, versus of falsification of public documents, and that the same had already prescribed. After
Remedios Gundran, et al., defendants"; and Criminal Case No. 7615, entitled: proper hearing, the trial court dismissed the informations as aforesaid. Hence, the
"The People of the Philippines, plaintiff, versus Gertrudes Obo, et al., defendants", present recourse.
on the ground that "the crimes committed by the accused are either perjury defined
under Section 129 of the Commonwealth Act No. 141 and punished under Art. 183 While the informations sufficiently alleged the commission of falsification of public
of the Revised Penal Code, or offenses relating to 'unlawful occupation and documents under Art. 171 of the Revised Penal Code, the offenses alleged to have
destruction of public forest' defined and punished under Section 2751 of the been committed have already prescribed since the preparation and submission of
Revised Administrative code, as amended by Acts 115 and 171" and had already false affidavits in support of a petition or claim respecting lands of the public domain
prescribed. is also punishable as perjury under Sec. 129 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as
amended, which reads, as follows: têñ.£îhqwâ£
The appellant maintains that the facts charged in the informations constitute the
crimes of falsification of public documents, defined and penalized under Art. 171, Sec. 129. Any person who present or causes to be presented, or cooperates in the
par. 4, of the Revised Penal Code, and that the criminal actions have not Yet presentation of, any false application, declaration, or evidence, or makes or causes
prescribed. to be made or cooperates in the making of a false affidavit in support of any petition,
claim, or objection respecting lands of the public domain, shall be deemed guilty of
The records of the cases show that in November, 1951 and May, 1952, Gertrudes perjury and punished as such.
Obo, Remedios Gundran, and Mariano Terrado applied for, and were issued free
patents for contiguous parcels of land situated in Barrio Paculago Ragay, Falsification of public documents is punishable by prision mayor and a fine not to
Camarines Sur, each containing an area of more than 23 hectares, and more exceed P 5,000.00. 1 Prison mayor is an afflictive penalty, 2 and hence, prescribes
particularly known as Lots 7, 8 and 9 of Plan Psu-1 25902, respectively. As the said in 15 years. 3 Perjury, upon the other hand, is punishable by arresto mayor in its
parcels of land were allegedly forest land and, hence, not disposable, Mariano maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, 4 or from four (4)
Terrado, Remedios Gundran, and Gertrudes Obo were charged before the Court of months and one (1) day to two (2) years and four (4) months, which is correctional
First Instance of Camarines Sur on March 13, 1962, in three separate informations in nature,5 and prescribes in ten (10) years. 6 However, Public Act No. 3326, as
for falsification of public documents, defined and penalized under Art. 171 of the amended by Act 3585 and Act 3763, provides that "violations penalized by special
Revised Penal Code, docketed therein as Criminal Case Nos. 7613, 7614, and laws shall, unless otherwise provided in such acts, prescribe in accordance with the
7615, respectively, together with Pedro Terrado, a licensed private land surveyor; following rules: (a) after a year for offenses punished only by a fine or by
Casimiro Flores, a public land inspector of the Bureau of Lands; and Bruno imprisonment for not more than one month, or both; (b) after four years for those
Gundran, the District Land Officer of District No. 10 of the Bureau of Lands, for punished by imprisonment for more than one month, but less than two years; (c)
having conspired, confederated, cooperated together, and helped one another, after eight years for those punished by imprisonment for two years or more, but less
through false and fraudulent misrepresentations in wilfully, unlawfully, and than six years; and (d) after twelve years for any other offense punished by
feloniously with full knowledge of their falsity, preparing or causing to be prepared, imprisonment for six years or more, except the crime of treason, which shall
prescribe after twenty years", so that perjury which is punishable by imprisonment
of from four (4) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and four (4) months observation as to how the law should be applied in order that its objective could be
prescribes after eight years. realized and achieved, We cannot but find respondent judge’s reasons for his
denial of the petition for probation insufficient to justify a deviation from a policy of
Penal statutes, substantive and remedial or procedural are, by consecrated rule, to liberality with which the law should be applied.
be strictly applied against the government and liberally in favor of the accused. 7 As
it would be more favorable to the herein accused to apply Section 129 of
Commonwealth Act 141 and Act 3326, as amended, in connection with the Same; Same; The offender is more important in probation, not the crime;
prescriptive period of the offenses charged, the same should be applied. Reason.—For purpose of probation, what the law gives more importance to is the
Considering, therefore, that the offenses were alleged to have been committed offender, not the crime. The inquiry is more on whether probation will help the
during the period from May 15, 1952 to February 2, 1953, with respect to Criminal offender along the lines for which the probation system has been established, such
Case No. 7613; from May 28, 1952 to August 18, 1952, with respect to Criminal as giving the first-time offender a second chance to maintain his place in society
Case No. 7614; and from November 16, 1951 to February 21, 1952, with respect to through a process of reformation, which is better achieved, at least as to one who
has not committed a very serious offense, when he is not mixed with hardened
Criminal Case No. 7615, and the informations were filed only on March 13, 1962, or criminals in an atmosphere not conducive to soul-searching as within prison walls.
more than eight (8) years after the said offenses were allegedly committed, the The consciousness of the State’s benignity in giving him that second chance to
lower court correctly ruled that the crimes in question had already prescribed. continue in peaceful and cordial association with his fellowmen will advance, rather
than retard, the process of reformation in him.
WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from should be, as it is hereby, AFFIRMED.
Without costs.
Same; Same; Probation benefits extend to persons who committed estafa through
SO ORDERED.1äwphï1.ñët bouncing checks provided they are not disqualified offenders.—If therefore,
reformation is what the law is more, if not solely, concerned with, not the prevention
G.R. No. L-55130 January 17, 1983 by means of punitive measures, of the commission of the offense, it is readily seen
that the respondent judge has fallen into a wrong obsession. He would, in effect,
PEDRO SANTOS TO, petitioner, disqualify all those who commit estafa through bouncing checks from enjoying the
benefits of probation. He would thereby add to the crimes expressly mentioned in
vs.
the law which are not subject to probation. Thus, the only crimes mentioned in the
HON. ERNANI CRUZ-PAÑO, Presiding Judge, Court of First Instance of Rizal,
Quezon City Branch XVIII, and JUAN Y. OCAMPO, respondents. law based on the nature thereof are those against national security (Section 9,
paragraph b), the other crimes being those punished by more than six years
imprisonment, Respondent judge would thus be writing into the law a new ground
Dakila F. Castro & Associates for petitioner.
for disqualifying a first-offender from the benefits of probation, based on the nature
of the crime, not on the penalty imposed as is the main criterion laid down by the
Abundio J. Macarañas for private respondent. law in determining who may be granted probation. That crime would be estafa only
by issuing bouncing check, but not all forms of estafa, which, incidentally, is one
Criminal Procedure; Probation Law; Interpretation; Provisions of Probation Law offense the criminal liability for which is generally separated by a thin line from mere
liberally applied; Express enumeration of disqualified offenders means that, intent civil liability.
of law is to allow benefits of probation to apply to those not included in the
enumeration.—Under the abovequoted provision, petitioner may not be disqualified
from being entitled to the benefits of probation. Some other provisions have to be Same; Same; Denial of probation benefits to an offender for being allegedly not a
sought, if any, upon which to deny petitioner the benefits of probation which, from a penitent offender for his protestation of innocence even after his conviction by the
reading of the law in its entirety, should with liberality, rather than undue strictness, trial court and affirmance of his conviction by the Court of Appeals, not justified;
be extended to anyone not listed as disqualified. In expressly enumerating Reason.—If petitioner appealed the decision of the respondent judge to the Court
offenders not qualified to enjoy the benefits of probation, the clear intent is to allow of Appeals, he cannot be blamed for insisting on his version by which he could hope
said benefits to those not included in the enumeration. If only for the above either to be acquitted or at least given a lighter penalty that would entitle him to the
benefits of probation. The recourse he took has, indeed, proved to be well worth the petitioner is not among the offenders enumerated in the probation law (Presidential
effort. His penalty was reduced on appeal which placed him within the benign Decree No. 968) from availing of the benefits of probation. Under Section 9 of said
purpose of the Probation Law. By the move he took by which to achieve this law, the disqualified offenders are the following:
objective, acquittal not quite being within reach, petitioner cannot be said to be a
non-penitent offender, undeserving of probation benefits. Once the opportunity was (a) those sentenced to serve a maximum term of imprisonment of more than six
laid open to him, he grasped it; for instead of appealing further to the Supreme years;
Court, he promptly applied for probation, made possible only by the reduced
penalty imposed by the Court of Appeals. The penalty imposed by respondent court (b) those convicted of any offense against the security of the State;
placed petitioner beyond the pale of the Probation law. How can he be said to be a
non-penintent offender, as the law would judge one to be so, just because he
(c) those who have previously been convicted by final judgment of an offense
appealed, as he could not have then applied for probation even if he wanted to?
punished by imprisonment of not less than one month and one day and/or a fine of
Who knows but that if the penalty imposed by the trial court is that imposed by the
not less than two hundred pesos;
Court of Appeals petitioner would have applied for probation forthwith? Santos To
vs. Paño, 120 SCRA 8, No. L-55130 January 17, 1983
(d) those who have been once on probation under the provisions of the decree; and
DE CASTRO, J.:
(e) those who were already serving sentence at the time the substantive provisions
of the decree became applicable, pursuant to Section 33.
Petitioner was convicted by respondent judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal
(Quezon City Branch) of the crime of estafa for having issued a bouncing check for
P5,000.00, and sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of from seven years and Under the abovequoted provision, petitioner may not be disqualified from being
eight months of prision mayor as minimum, to nine years and four months of prision entitled to the benefits of probation. Some other provisions have to be sought, if any,
mayor, as maximum.1 He appealed to the Court of Appeals which reduced the upon which to deny petitioner the benefits of probation which, from a reading of the
penalty to one year and one day of prision correccional as minimum, to one year law in its entirety, should with liberality, rather than undue strictness, be extended to
and eight months as maximum.2 anyone not listed as disqualified. In expressly enumerating offenders not qualified
to enjoy the benefits of probation, the clear intent is to allow said benefits to those
not included in the enumeration.
Upon the Court of Appeals' decision becoming final, petitioner not having appealed
therefrom, he filed a petition for probation 3 with respondent judge, who, despite the
favorable recommendation of the Probation Office, denied the petition on July 24, If only for the above observation as to how the law should be applied in order that
1980, on the following grounds: its objective could be realized and achieved, We cannot but find respondent judge's
reasons for his denial of the petition for probation insufficient to justify a deviation
from a policy of liberality with which the law should be applied.
(a) to grant probation to petitioner will depreciate the seriousness of the offense
committed, and
The first reason given by the judge is that "probation win depreciate the
seriousness of the offense committed." According to him, the State has shown
(b) petitioner is not a penitent offender.
serious concern with the above of checks as a commercial paper, as shown by
various measures taken to curb the pernicious practice of issuing bouncing checks.
A motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner having been denied by the
respondent judge, the present proceeding was resorted to, petitioner averring that
For purpose of probation, what the law gives more importance to is the offender,
the respondent judge erred in denying his petition for probation despite the
not the crime. The inquiry is more on whether probation will help the offender along
recommendation for its approval by the Probation Office.
the lines for which the probation system has been established, such as giving the
first-time offender a second chance to maintain his place in society through a
We find for the petitioner. process of reformation, which is better achieved, at least as to one who has not
committed a very serious offense, when he is not mixed with hardened criminals in
At the outset, it might be stated that the Solicitor General whose comment was an atmosphere not conducive to soul-searching as within prison walls. The
required by this Court, recommends the granting of probation. As he points out,
consciousness of the State's benignity in giving him that second chance to continue reach, petitioner cannot be said to be a non-penitent offender, under serving of
in peaceful and cordial association with his fellowmen will advance, rather than probation benefits. Once the opportunity was laid open to him, he grasped it; for
retard, the process of reformation in him. instead of appealing further to the Supreme Court, he promptly applied for
probation, made possible only by the reduced penalty imposed by the Court of
If, therefore, reformation is what the law is more, if not solely, concerned with, not Appeals. The penalty imposed by respondent court placed petitioner beyond the
the prevention by means of punitive measures, of the commission of the offense, it pale of the Probation Law. How can he be said to be a non-penitent offender, as the
is readily seen that the respondent judge has fallen into a wrong obsession. He law would judge one to be so, just because he appealed, as he could not have them
would, in effect, disqualify all those who commit estafa through bouncing cheeks applied for probation even if he wanted to? Who knows but that if the penalty
from enjoying the benefits of probation. He would thereby add to the crimes imposed by the trial court is that imposed by the Court of Appeals petitioner would
expressly mentioned in the law which are not subject to probation. Thus, the only have applied for probation forthwith?
crimes mentioned in the law based on the nature thereof are those against national
security (Section 9, paragraph b), the other crimes being those punished by more Under the circumstances as just pointed out, We find no sufficient justification for
than six years imprisonment. Respondent judge would thus be writing into the law a respondent judge's holding petitioner to be a non-penitent offender. We find,
new ground for disqualifying a first-offender from the benefits of probation, based instead, that the liberality with which the Probation Law should be applied in favor of
on the nature of the crime, not on the penalty imposed as is the main criterion laid the applicant for its benefits affords the better means of achieving the purpose of
down by the law in determining who may be granted probation. That crime would be the law, as indicated in Our decision in the case of Balleta Jr. vs. Hon. Leviste, G.R.
estafa only by issuing bouncing check, but not all forms of estafa, which, No. L-49907, August 21, 1979, 92 SCRA 719, cited by the Solicitor-General who,
incidentally, is one offense the criminal liability for which is generally separated by a as earlier stated, recommends granting of the instant petition for probation.
thin line from mere civil liability.
WHEREFORE, the order of the respondent judge denying probation is set aside,
For those who would commit the offense a second time or oftener, or commit an and petitioner is hereby declared admitted to probation, subject to the terms and
offense of manifest gravity, it is the long prison term which must be served that will conditions as are prescribed by the law, and recommended by the probation officer.
act as deterrent to protect society. In protecting society, the family of the offender
which might be dependent or the latter to a greater or lesser extent for support or G.R. No. 131429 August 4, 1999
other necessities of life should not be lost sight of, it being the basic unit of that
society. By the relative lightness of the offense, as measured by the penalty OSCAR BERMUDEZ, ARTURO A. LLOBRERA and CLAUDIO L.
imposed, more than by its nature, as the law so ordains, the offender is not such a DAYAON, petitioners,
serious menace to society as to be wrested away therefrom, as the more vs.
dangerous type of criminals should be. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY RUBEN TORRES, BUDGET SECRETARY
SALVADOR ENRIQUEZ, JR., JUSTICE SECRETARY TEOFISTO GUINGONA,
The second reason of respondent judge for denying petition petitioner's bid for JR., and ATTY. CONRADO QUIAOIT, respondents.
probation, is that petitioner is allegedly not a penitent offender, as shown by his
protestation of innocence even after his conviction by the trial court and the Constitutional Law; Political Law; Appointment; Definition of an Appointment; In the
affirmance of his conviction by the Court of Appeals. exercise of the power of appointment; discretion is an integral part thereof.—An
“appointment” to a public office is the unequivocal act of designating or selecting by
We find the respondent judge, likewise, in error in assuming that petitioner has not one having the authority therefor of an individual to discharge and perform the
shown repentance in committing the crime of which he has been found guilty by duties and functions of an office or trust. The appointment is deemed complete
both the trial and appellate courts. If petitioner appealed the decision of the once the last act required of the appointing authority has been complied with and its
respondent judge to the Court of Appeals, he cannot be blamed for insisting on his acceptance thereafter by the appointee in order to render it effective. Appointment
version by which he could hope either to be acquitted or at least given a lighter necessarily calls for an exercise of discretion on the part of the appointing authority.
penalty that would entitle him to the benefits of probation.1äwphï1.ñët The recourse In Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, reiterated
he took has, indeed, proved to be well worth the effort. His penalty was reduced on in Flores vs. Drilon, this Court has held: “The power to appoint is, in essence,
appeal which placed him within the benign purpose of the Probation Law. By the discretionary. The appointing power has the right of choice which he may exercise
move he took by which to achieve this objective, acquittal not quite being within freely according to his judgment, deciding for himself who is best qualified among
those who have the necessary qualifications and eligibilities. It is a prerogative of The occurrence of a vacancy in the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Tarlac
the appointing power x x x” Indeed, it may rightly be said that the right of choice is impelled the main contestants in this case, petitioner Oscar Bermudez and
the heart of the power to appoint. In the exercise of the power of appointment, respondent Conrado Quiaoit, to take contrasting views on the proper interpretation
discretion is an integral part thereof. of a provision in the 1987 Revised Administrative Code. Bermudez, the First
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Tarlac and Officer-In-Charge of the Office of the
Same; Same; Same; The President can interfere in the exercise of discretion of Provincial Prosecutor, was a recommendee2 of then Justice Secretary Teofisto
officials under him or altogether ignore their recommendation.—When the Guingona, Jr., for the position of Provincial Prosecutor. Quiaoit, on the other hand,
Constitution or the law clothes the President with the power to appoint a would appear to have had the support of then Representative Jose Yap of the
subordinate officer, such conferment must be understood as necessarily carrying Second Legislative District of Tarlac.3 On 30 June 1997, Quiaoit emerged the victor
with it an ample discretion of whom to appoint. It should be here pertinent to state when he was appointed by President Ramos to the coveted office. Quiaoit received
that the President is the head of government whose authority includes the power of a certified xerox copy of his appointment and, on 21 July 1997, took his oath of
control over all “executive departments, bureaus and offices.” Control means the office before Executive Judge Angel Parazo of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 65)
authority of an empowered officer to alter or modify, or even nullify or set aside, of Tarlac, Tarlac. On 23 July 1997, Quiaoit assumed office and immediately
what a subordinate officer has done in the performance of his duties, as well as to informed the President, as well as the Secretary of Justice and the Civil Service
substitute the judgment of the latter, as and when the former deems it to be Commission, of that assumption. Bermudez refused to vacate the Office of
appropriate. Expressed in another way, the President has the power to assume Provincial Prosecutor claiming that the original copy of Quiaoit's appointment had
directly the functions of an executive department, bureau and office. It can not yet been released by the Secretary of Justice.4 Quiaoit, nonetheless, performed
accordingly be inferred therefrom that the President can interfere in the exercise of the functions and duties of the Office of Provincial Prosecutor by issuing office
discretion of officials under him or altogether ignore their recommendations. orders and memoranda, signing resolutions on preliminary investigations, and filing
several informations before the courts. Quiaoit had since been regularly receiving
Same; Same; Same; The phrase “upon recommendation of the Secretary,” should the salary, RATA and other emoluments of the office.
be interpreted as it is normally so understood, to be a mere advise, exhortation or
indorsement, who is essentially persuasive in character and not binding or On 17 September 1997, Bermudez and Quiaoit were summoned to Manila by
obligatory upon the party to whom it is made.—It is the considered view of the Court, Justice Secretary Guingona. The three met at the Department of Justice and,
given the above disquisition, that the phrase “upon recommendation of the following the conference, Bermudez was ordered to wind up his cases until 15
Secretary,” found in Section 9, Chapter II, Title III, Book IV, of the Revised October 1997 and to turn-over the contested office to Quiaoit the next
Administrative Code, should be interpreted, as it is normally so understood, to be a day.1âwphi1.nêt
mere advise, exhortation or indorsement, which is essentially persuasive in
character and not binding or obligatory upon the party to whom it is made. The In his First Indorsement, dated 22 September 1997, for the Chief State Prosecutor,
recommendation is here nothing really more than advisory in nature. The President, Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Nilo Mariano transmitted the original copy of
being the head of the Executive Department, could very well disregard or do away Quiaoit's appointment to the Regional State Prosecutor Carlos de Leon, Region III,
with the action of the departments, bureaus or offices even in the exercise of at San Fernando, Pampanga. In turn, in his Second Indorsement, dated 02 October
discretionary authority, and in so opting, he cannot be said as having acted beyond 1997, Regional State Prosecutor de Leon forwarded to Quiaoit said original copy of
the scope of his authority. his appointment. On the basis of the transmittal letter of Regional State Prosecutor
de Leon, Quiaoit, as directed, again so assumed office on 16 October 1997. On
VITUG, J.: even date, Bermudez was detailed at the Office of the Regional State Prosecutor,
Region III, in San Fernando Pampanga.
The validity and legality of the appointment of respondent Conrado Quiaoit to the
post of Provincial Prosecutor of Tarlac by then President Fidel V. Ramos is assailed In the meantime, on 10 October 1997, Bermudez together with his co-petitioners
in this petition for review on certiorari on a pure question of law which prays for the Arturo Llobrera and Claudio Dayaon, the Second Assistant Provincial Prosecutor
reversal of the Order,1 dated 20 October 1997, of the Regional Trial Court (Branch and the Fourth Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Tarlac, respectively, filed with the
63) of Tarlac, Tarlac, dismissing the petition for prohibition and/or injunction Regional Trial Court of Tarlac, a petition for prohibition and/or injunction,
and mandamus, with a prayer for the issuance of a writ of injunction/temporary and mandamus, with a prayer for the issuance of a writ of injunction/temporary
restraining order, instituted by herein petitioners. restraining order, against herein respondents, challenging the appointment of
Quiaoit primarily on the ground that the appointment lacks the recommendation of
the Secretary of Justice prescribed under the Revised Administrative Code of 1987. specific law in issue and the peculiar circumstances attendant to it. More often than
After hearing, the trial court considered the petition submitted for resolution and, in not, the problem, in the final analysis, is firmed up and addressed on a case-to-case
due time, issued its now assailed order dismissing the petition. The subsequent basis. The nature, structure and aim of the law itself is often resorted to in looking at
move by petitioners to have the order reconsidered met with a denial. the legislative intent. Generally, it is said that if no consequential rights or liabilities
depend on it and no injury can result from ignoring it, and that the purpose of the
Hence, the instant recourse. legislature can be accomplished in a manner other than that prescribed when
substantially the same results can be obtained, then the statute should be regarded
The core issue for consideration is whether or not the absence of a merely as directory, rather than as mandatory, in character.9
recommendation of the Secretary of Justice to the President can be held fatal to the
appointment of respondent Conrado Quiaoit. This question would, in turn, pivot on An "appointment" to a public office is the unequivocal act of designating or selecting
the proper understanding of the provision of the Revised Administrative Code of by one having the authority therefor of an individual to discharge and perform the
1987 (Book IV, Title III, Chapter II, Section 9) to the effect that — duties and functions of an office or trust.10 The appointment is deemed complete
once the last act required of the appointing authority has been complied with and its
All provincial and city prosecutors and their assistants shall be appointed by the acceptance thereafter by the appointee in order to render it effective.11 Appointment
President upon the recommendation of the Secretary. necessarily calls for an exercise of discretion on the part of the appointing
authority.12 In Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila vs. Intermediate Appellate
Court,13 reiterated in Flores vs. Drilon,14 this Court has held:
Petitioners contend that an appointment of a provincial prosecutor mandatorily
requires a prior recommendation of the Secretary of Justice endorsing the intended
appointment citing, by analogy, the case of San Juan vs. CSC 5where the Court The power to appoint is, in essence, discretionary. The appointing power has the
held: right of choice which he may exercise freely according to his judgment, deciding for
himself who is best qualified among those who have the necessary qualifications
and eligibilities. It is a prerogative of the appointing power . . .15
. . . The DBM may appoint only from the list of qualified recommendees nominated
by the Governor. If none is qualified, he must return the list of nominees to the
Governor explaining why no one meets the legal requirements and ask for new Indeed, it may rightly be said that the right of choice is the heart of the power to
recommendees who have the necessary eligibilities and qualifications. appoint.16 In the exercise of the power of appointment, discretion is an integral part
thereof.
The Provincial Budget Officer (PBO) is expected to synchronize his work with
DBM.6 (Emphasis supplied.) When the Constitution17 or the law18 clothes the President with the power to appoint
a subordinate officer, such conferment must be understood as necessarily carrying
with it an ample discretion of whom to appoint. It should be here pertinent to state
Insisting on the application of San Juan, petitioners call attention to the tenor of
that the President is the head of government whose authority includes the power of
Executive Order No. 1127 —
control over all "executive departments, bureaus and offices." Control means the
authority of an empowered officer to alter or modify, or even nullify or set aside,
Sec. 1. All budget officers of provinces, cities and municipalities shall be appointed what a subordinate officer has done in the performance of his duties, as well as to
henceforth by the Minister of Budget and Management upon recommendation of substitute the judgment of the latter,19 as and when the former deems it to be
the local chief executive concerned. . . . — appropriate. Expressed in another way, the President has the power to assume
directly the functions of an executive department, bureau and office. 20 It can
that, they claim, can be likened to the aforequoted provision of the Revised accordingly be inferred therefrom that the President can interfere in the exercise of
Administrative Code of 1987. Respondents argue differently. discretion of officials under him or altogether ignore their recommendations. 21

The legislative intent is, of course, primordial. There is no hard-and-fast rule in It is the considered view of the Court, given the above disquisition, that the phrase
ascertaining whether the language in a statute should be considered mandatory or "upon recommendation of the Secretary," found in Section 9, Chapter II, Title III,
directory, and the application of a ruling in one particular instance may not Book IV, of the Revised Administrative Code, should be interpreted, as it is normally
necessarily be apt in another8 for each must be determined on the basis of the so understood, to be a mere advise, exhortation or indorsement, which is
essentially persuasive in character and not binding or obligatory upon the party to SO ORDERED.
whom it is made.22 The recommendation is here nothing really more than advisory
in nature.23 The President, being the head of the Executive Department, could very
well disregard or do away with the action of the departments, bureaus or offices
even in the exercise of discretionary authority, and in so opting, he cannot be said
as having acted beyond the scope of his authority.

The doctrine in San Juan, relied upon by petitioners, is tangential. While the tenor
of the legal provision in Executive Order No. 112 has some similarity with the
provision in the 1987 Administrative Code in question, it is to be pointed out,
however, that San Juan,24 in construing the law, has distinctively given stress to the
constitutional mandate on local autonomy; thus:

The issue before the Court is not limited to the validity of the appointment of one
Provincial Budget Officer. The tug of war between the Secretary of Budget and
Management and the Governor of the premier province of Rizal over a seemingly
innocuous position involves the application of a most important constitutional policy
and principle, that of local autonomy. We have to obey the clear mandate on local
autonomy. Where a law is capable of two interpretations, one in favor of centralized
power in Malacañang and the other beneficial to local autonomy, the scales must
be weighed in favor of autonomy.

xxx xxx xxx

When the Civil Service Commission interpreted the recommending power of the
Provincial Governor as purely directory, it went against the letter and spirit of the
constitutional provisions on local autonomy. If the DBM Secretary jealously hoards
the entirety of budgetary powers and ignores the right of local governments to
develop self-reliance and resoluteness in the handling of their own funds, the goal
of meaningful local autonomy is frustrated and set back.25

The Court there has explained that the President merely exercises general
supervision over local government units and local officials,26 hence, in the
appointment of a Provincial Budget Officer, the executive department, through the
Secretary of Budget and Management, indeed had to share the questioned power
with the local government.

In the instant case, the recommendation of the Secretary of Justice and the
appointment of the President are acts of the Executive Department itself, and there
is no sharing of power to speak of, the latter being deemed for all intents and
purposes as being merely an extension of the personality of the President.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. No costs.1âwphi1.nêt