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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

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Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Saturday, November 12, 2005

JPE Timber Concession Legal?

Last 9 November 2005, the Inquirer came out with an article where a timber corporation owned by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile was granted a renewal license to cut almost a third of the trees found within the Samar Island Nature Park, a rich biodiversity park.

The grant to Sen. Enrile’s San Jose Timber Corporation by the Arroyo government has been severely criticized by environmentalist groups and political analysts as a beleaguered act of a beleaguered president to prop a beleaguered tenure, trading off the environment and the survival of the many in exchange for the one. Whether there is basis or not, this exemplies how Senator Gordon describe the president’s style of governance as “transactional leadership”.

In the Inquirer article, Atty. Fidel Exconde, Jr., the Environment Assistant Secretary for General Legal Services justified the grant with the following quote: “The question was: Is there anything that would stop the SJTC from logging in its TLA (timber licensing agreement) area? On paper, there is nothing; no document bans them from logging"

Really?

Has this 1998 bar examinee ever heard of the landmark case of OPOSA v. FACTORAN (G.R. No. 101083 July 30, 1993), the case penned by then Justice Hilario Davide that gave Philippine jurisprudence the concept of “intergenerational responsibility” and which further gave minors the right to sue on behalf of succeeding generations yet unborn to lay claim to their “right to a balanced and healthful ecology” as provided under Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution.

Justice Davide, moreover, emphasized the equal importance of a balanced ecology to other civil and political rights, to wit:

“While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles and State Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and political rights enumerated in the latter.

Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation — aptly and fittingly stressed by the petitioners — the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions. As a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for they are assumed to exist from the inception of humankind.

Didn’t Atty. Exconde, Jr. remember the legal truism that Supreme Court decisions form part of the law of the land and all laws are deemed weaved into a contract? Is not a Supreme Court decision written on paper? Justice Davide was so incensed with a possible ravage of the environment that he even brazenly stated that the right to a healthful ecology should have been presumed to exist since Adam and Eve were created.

And yet this gentleman myopically viewed the documents without taking into consideration the pertinent jurisprudence and proceeded to declare nothing wrong with the corporation’s documents. He further claimed that other documents were technical in nature and therefore, did not merit importance.

Did he consider the Oposa doctrine a mere technicality fit to be ignored? If he had read the Oposa case, he would realize that Justice Davide himself gave importance to the technical information surrounding the present state of the Philippine environment, including the ill “greenhouse effect”.

For a factotum in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, his cavalier treatment of the environmental facts surrounding the Samar Island Nature Park is shockingly deplorable.

Mr. Exconde is further quoted as follows: “A perfected mining claim is a vested right, and that is just a claim. How much more a logging contract? It is a source of property rights which cannot be revoked without due course of the law”

Really? Let’s hear what Justice Davide had to say in the Oposa case:

“Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal instruments by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the forest products therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law clause.

There you have it, contrary to what Atty. Exconde said, timber license agreements are not contracts within the purview of the due process of law clause. That means, it can be rescinded or revoked any time.

What am I trying to emphasize? That this government does not have the political will to protect the environment and the survival of the succeeding generations. That this government, through the president and Mike Defensor and his underlings, do not have the intellectual wherewithal to even put up a decent and cogent justification for the renewal of the timber license agreement. And that this government shall continue to trade our patrimonial rights to political allies to ensure a Darwinian victory.

The president could have easily denied the renewal of the timber license agreement given the present state of our environment. Did she have to watch Discovery Channel in order to be convinced that our environment has been raped and pillaged or is she playing fast and loose with our children’s future for the sake of her own political future?

Pray tell, how now shall we live?

2 Comments:

Blogger Punzi said...

It's a "concession" in more ways that one.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Rizalist said...

Ibang klase din si JPE. Masamang damo. Can u believe he's like 82?

7:13 PM  

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