CA denies Batangas residents’ bid to stop fence construction
MANILA, Philippines—The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the petition for a writ of kalikasan (environment) filed by several Batangas City residents to stop a petrochemical plant from constructing a perimeter fence around its compound.
In a nine-page decision written by Justice Nina Antonio-Valenzuela and released to the media last Friday, the appelate tribunal’s Former Special 13th Division ruled that there was no valid legal basis to issue a writ, mainly because the environmental damage only concerned two barangays (villages) in the city.
A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy for parties who believe that their “constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated or threatened with a violation” and to stop an environmentally destructive act or actions.
The appelate justices pointed out that one of the five requisites for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan, based on the rules of procedure for environmental cases, was that “the environmental damage is of a magnitude that prejudices the life, health or property of the inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.”
“Clearly, the fifth requisite…is absent,” the court ruled, pointing out that based on the petition, the supposed environmental damage being complained of affects only two barangays—Pinamucan and Simlong—which belong to one city only, namely, Batangas City.
The other division members, Justices Isaias Dicdican and Pedro Corales, concurred in the ruling.
Earlier, Pinamucan residents Aquilina Soriano, Maxima Guerra, Felipe Guerra, Rosario Furto and Redentor Ilagan sued JG Summit Petrochemical Corp. (JGSPC) and its contractors and affiliates to stop them from building perimeter fence around the plant and company compound in Batangas City.
The residents told the Supreme Court that the construction of perimeter fence would block the free flow of rainwater from their barangay, surrounding places and the mountains and flood their homes.
The construction of the fence should be stopped “until the canal JGSPC committed to build has been constructed, finished and operational to prevent the submerging and flooding of our homes,” they added.