The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has welcomed a Supreme Court (SC) circular officials believe would speed up the litigation of environment cases.
The circular, issued on April 4 through the Office of the Court Administrator, directed all judges to strictly observe laws prohibiting the issuance of injunctions against violators of environmental laws.
It cited Section 10 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, which provides that only the SC can issue a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against unlawful actions of government agencies that enforce environmental laws.
“We want to thank the SC for issuing Circular 87-2016. This will definitely hasten the prosecution of hundreds of cases filed against violators of environmental laws, particularly illegal loggers,” DENR Secretary Ramon Paje said.
Since the imposition of the total log ban in 2011, the DENR has filed a total of 1,833 cases against suspected violators of forestry laws and regulations. So far, the agency was able to secure the conviction of 214 respondents.
Meanwhile, lawyer Mike Matias of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) said the circular is consistent with the 1991 SC decision in the case of the Pollution Adjudication Board against the Court of Appeals and Solar Textile Finishing Corp.
In that ruling, the high tribunal said: “Stopping the continuous discharge of pollutive and untreated effluents into the rivers and other inland waters of the Philippines cannot be made to wait until protracted litigation over the ultimate correctness or propriety of such orders has run its full course, including multiple and sequential appeal… which may take several years.”
Through the EMB, the DENR enforces environmental laws including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.