Laguna Lake Development Authority v. Court of Appeals and Ors.

G.R. No. 110120
Download Judgment: English

The City Government of Caloocan disposed of approximately 350 tons of garbage daily in Tala Estate, Barangay Camarin against the wishes of local residents, who were concerned about the environmental and health impact of the dumpsite. In March 1991, the Task Force Camarin Dumpsite of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish filed a complaint with the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA). The complaint sought to end the operation of the dumpsite, because of the dumpsite’s “harmful effects on the health of the residents and the possibility of pollution of the water content of the surrounding area.”

An LLDA investigation found that the City Government of Caloocan was maintaining the dumpsite without a legally required Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC). Subsenquently, the LLDA issued a Cease and Desist Order tothe City Government of Caloocan, asking them, the Metropolitan Manila Authority, and any contractors or other entities to stop operating the Camarin dumpsite. The dumping stopped for a few months, but resumed again in August 1992. The LLDA filed another Cease and Desist Order that month, and in September went so far as to prohibit entry of all garbage dump trucks into Tala Estate.

In September of 1992, The City Government of Caloocan filed a petition seeking to be declared “the sole authority empowered to promote the health and safety and enhance the right of the people in Caloocan City to a balanced ecology within its territorial jurisdiction.” This order would render any LLDA Cease and Desist Orders against the City Government of Caloocan null and void. The trial court and the Court of Appeal granted the City Government of Caloocan this order and ruled that the Lake Laguna Development Authority had no power and authority to issue a cease and desist order enjoining the dumping of garbage. The LLDA appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Court held that the LLDA had the authority to issue a cease and desist order enjoining the dumping of garbage in Tala Estate.  Republic Act No. 4850 explicitly authorized the LLDA to “make, alter or modify order requiring the discontinuance or pollution.” While the LLDA was not expressly granted a power to make ex parte Cease and Desist Orders, such a power was necessarily implied from its broad powers to make orders stopping pollution. Otherwise, the LLDA would “be reduced to a ‘toothless’ paper agency.”

The Court also emphasized that Article II, section16 of the Constitution guaranteed a right to “a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature,” and that there was a declared state policy to protect and promote the right to health, which had been recognized as a fundamental right in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration of Alma-Ata.

“This is but in consonance with the declared policy of the state ‘to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.’ It is to be borne in mind that the Philippines is party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Alma Conference Declaration of 1978 which recognize health as a fundamental human right.” Page 9.

“The issuance, therefore, of the cease and desist order by the LLDA, as a practical matter of procedure under the circumstances of the case, is a proper exercise of its power and authority under its charter and its amendatory laws. Had the cease and desist order issued by the LLDA been complied with by the City Government of Caloocan as it did in the first instance, no further legal steps would have been necessary.” Page 9.

View full summary and print   |   Download summary as PDF