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Climate change petition ‘premature,’ say local execs

By Tetch Torres
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 10:37:00 07/05/2010

Filed Under: Climate Change, Environmental Issues, Government, Crime and Law and Justice

MANILA, Philippines?The petition of Ramon Magsaysay awardee, lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr., asking the Supreme Court for a special order to compel local government units to construct anti-flooding facilities before the rainy season is ?premature,? local executive said Monday.

In a 12-page opposition, the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) thus asked the high tribunal to dismiss the petition filed by Oposa?s Global Legal Action on Climate Change (GLACC). Its lawyer Gil Fernando Cruz said Oposa?s group failed to exhaust all legal remedies prior to the filing of the petition before the high court.

The LPP said GLACC should have first sent demand letters to respondents Leagues of Cities, Municipalities, Barangays (villages), and Provinces as a follow-up to their letter sent last year inquiring about their compliance with Republic Act 6716.

Based on the letter-reply of the local government units, only four rainwater collectors have been put up.

LPP said a demand letter is the legal remedy that GLACC should have taken first before going to the high court.

?On this premise alone, this petition should be dismissed for the failure of petitioners to exhaust all available legal remedies before going to Court,? LPP said.

RA 6716 mandates the creation of rainwater collection in every barangay for a more efficient nationwide flood control project.

But the LPP said Section 5 of the law is unconstitutional in so far as it directs and compels LGUs to automatically allocate a portion of its funds annually for the implementation of the law.

The LPP pointed that the 1987 Constitution ensures autonomy of local governments as well as fiscal independence.

The local executives added that RA 6716 had long lapsed because Section 5 provides that ?the total program shall be completed not later than June 30, 1991.?

Aside from the League, other respondents include Malacanang, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Last April, GLACC filed the petition in time for Earth Day. It seeks to compel the government to protect Mother Nature by enforcing a 21-year-old Philippine law requiring rainwater catchment ponds to be built in every barangay nationwide.

If the petition is granted, it will be the first time a ?writ of kalikasan (nature)? would be issued by the Supreme Court, a legal remedy under new Environment Rules of Court that took effect last April 29.



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