During the July 21, 2009 general membership of the Philippine Constitution Association I urged members of the PHILCONSA to defend the rule of law in an effort to promote order in the country and protect our environment and natural wealth.
In the speech which I delivered, I touched on a very important provision of the 1987 Constitution which clearly defines how the law is closely associated with nature. In Section 16 of Article II, it states that “it is the duty of the State to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”
Based on this stipulation it can be said that anyone who destroys the environment violates the Constitution and therefore, should be meted with punishment according to law.
The approval of City Ordinance No. 8187 in Manila, allowing the continuous stay of the oil depots of the Big Three in Pandacan, violates the Constitution because their continued stay in the area is a threat to human life and the well being of the people.
Section 15 of the Constitution also provides that “the State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”
These are the main reasons reason why I filed a case on June 5, 2009 at the Supreme Court against Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and majority councilors for approving the ordinance which allows highly pollutive and extremely hazardous industries, including the oil depots, to permanently stay in Manila. The case is still pending in court.
I also mentioned to the PHILCONSA members the ongoing streamlining of the DENR in its permitting procedures in order to simplify the issuance of environmental compliance certificates, including forestry and mining permits.
This will remove the unnecessary requirements and the restrictive rules that accompany the permitting system and block the flow of investments into the country.
These changes will not only reduce the processing time for the permits, but more importantly, will strengthen the accountability and efficiency of DENR personnel and remove opportunities for corruption.