SC affirms dismissal of kalikasan plea filed vs MWSS
The Supreme Court has denied a consumer group’s petition for a writ of kalikasan after it failed to prove its claim that the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and two concessionaires damaged the environment.
In a 19-page decision released on Thursday, Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando said the high court affirmed the 2013 and 2014 resolutions of the Court of Appeals (CA) denying the petition filed by Water for All Refund Movement Inc. (WARM), which identified itself as a group of MWSS consumers.
A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy under Philippine law, much like a writ of habeas corpus, that protects consumers’ constitutional right to “a balanced and healthful ecology.”
It is available to an individual, people’s organization, nongovernmental organization, or any public interest group accredited or registered with any government agency.
“Notably, [WARM’s] evidence consists of bare allegations of a supposed implementation by respondents of a combined drainage-sewerage system without the necessary permits, and the resulting environmental damage therefrom,” Hernando said in the ruling.
No evidence presented
He added that the group “glaringly did not present evidence” of the existence of the system supposedly being implemented by MWSS and concessionaires Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc., how it is objectionable, and the link between the operation of the system to the resulting environmental damage.
In its appeal to the CA, WARM argued that implementing the combined drainage-sewerage system guaranteed the continued dumping of raw sewage into waters, thus harming the environment.
It added that the sanitation and environmental charges that would be collected from consumers “[do] not actually go into actual remediation of the environment.”
However, the CA noted that WARM did not cite any scientific or expert studies in their petition to support their argument that a combined drainage-sewerage system could harm the environment.
Additionally, the appellate court said the cessation of environmental fee collection was not within the bounds of the writ of kalikasan.