CA junks bid to stop condo project along Manila estero
MANILA, Philippines—The Court of Appeals has dismissed an environment protection case filed by a human rights lawyer who questioned the Manila city government’s condominium project along the easements of Estero de San Antonio Abad in Malate.
The appellate court’s Special 10th Division denied the petition for the issuance of writ of kalikasan and temporary environmental protection order sought by Reynaldo Bagatsing, who warned that the project would result in flooding in the surrounding streets, including those near Manila Zoo.
Bagatsing was opposing a development initiated in 2008 by then Mayor Alfredo Lim after being authorized by the city council. Lim entered into an agreement with Empire East Properties Inc. for the construction of three medium-rise buildings with at least 700 housing units with an average area of 30 square meters each.
The lawyer argued that the area around the estero went underwater during the onslaught of Typhoon “Pedring” in 2011 and that illegal structures along the city’s 47 creeks were to blame for the recurring flash floods.
The local government had failed to enforce the no-build policy on the three-meter easement on the banks of these waterways despite its mandate under the National Building Code, he said.
Even repeated declogging and cleanup activities could not prevent floods as long as the easements are allowed to be occupied, he added.
Aside from Lim and Empire East officers, named respondents in the petition were city building officials, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
But in a decision dated Dec. 5 and penned by Justice Vicente Veloso, the Court of Appeals dismissed Bagatsing’s claims as “mere conjectures and speculations,” adding that it found no basis to grant his petition “after a careful study of the allegations… and the evidence presented.”
According to the court, the law requires that the prejudice to life, health or property caused by an unlawful act or omission of a public official, public employee, or a private individual or entity “must be felt in at least two cities or provinces” before a writ of kalikasan can be issued.
The other division members—Justices Edwin Sorongon and Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles—concurred in the ruling.
Bagatsing also sued Lim, the city councilors and other government officials, and developers in the Office of the Ombudsman, claiming that their approval of the condominium project was tainted with graft.
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