Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay – A group is mulling to file a petition for a Writ of Kalikasan before the Court of Appeals in connection with the destruction in part of the Dona Josefa Watershed and Protected Area.
The source, who asked not be named yet because he is not yet authorized to speak to media, said “there is no other remedy for those who wish to stop the destruction of the watershed but to seek relief from the court in the form of the Writ.”
The Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy provided for in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Section 16 of Article II which guarantees one’s right to “a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”
In 2010, the Supreme Court under the then Chief Justice Reynato Puno made a provision for the Writ of Kalikasan under Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases as a Special Civil Action because the Constitutional provision is not a self-executing provision.
The Sangguniang Bayan of Ipil, in its special session early this month, had ordered the contractor to stop the road construction and concreting work in the area.
Dionisio Rago, chief of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, in his report to the Regional Office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had also recommended the stoppage of the project until such time the contractor can secure the Environmental Compliance Certificate.
“Our group sees the need for a more permanent action to stop all development works inside the watershed area through the writ,” the source explained.
The same legal remedy was recommended by Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin.
Speaking before a public forum of stakeholders of the Dona Josefa Watershed and Protected Area last February 19 at the Diocese Pastoral Center, this town, Villarin told the forum convenors and participants that the group can “file the petition for a Writ of Kalikasan.”
The partylist congressman had even pledged his support if the group will consider filing the writ.
Villarin had filed before the House of Representatives the resolution to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation on the reported destruction of the watershed.
House Resolution No. 2513 directing the House Committee on Natural Resources to conduct the investigation in aid of legislation.
Villarin cited several reports suggesting that “a government construction project has damaged portions of the watershed.”
The resolution said the 5.6-kilometer road opening and concreting project, funded by the Department of Tourism, had caused the destruction of “fauna and flora, heightened the risk of landslides, caused erosion and siltation and loss of water supply” in the area. The project was implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
The partylist congressman said both the DOT and DPWH must “answer this alleged environmental damage to the Dona Josefa watershed.”
The writ is “our most feasible and doable option because the magnitude of the environmental damage inflicted upon the watershed has threatened the life, health, and properties” of the people in the eight barangays.
The 2,500-hectare watershed encompasses the 6 barangays of this town and 2 barangays of the nearby town of R.T. Lim.
“At this time, we don’t want to finger point who are the people or agency answerable to the destruction but we see the urgency of filing the petition for the writ be issued by the court so that the road project be permanently stopped,” the source said. (Antonio Manaytay-MindanaoSun)