Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ignored flood control law is test case for Philippine Supreme Court

Dona Pazzibugan in (Philippines): The Supreme Court's newly promulgated rules on the writ of kalikasan (environment) has its first test case. Invoking the new court rules on environmental suits, a group of environmental lawyers led by Ramon Magsaysay awardee Antonio Oposa Jr. asked the Supreme Court to order the government to implement a 21-year-old law on flood control measures.

…In a petition filed last April 23, the group called the Global Legal Action on Climate Change asked that concerned government agencies implement a 1989 law that called for the construction of rainwater collectors, water wells and springs in all the 42,000 barangay (villages). They dug up Republic Act 6716 or the Rainwater Collector and Springs Development Law whose implementation became the responsibility of local government units when the Local Government Code of 1991 or Republic Act 7160 was passed.

The landmark writ of kalikasan, which will take effect on April 29, is part of the Supreme Court's new rules of procedures for environmental cases. The rules also include provisions on citizen suits to force government to protect the environment, consent decree, environmental protection order, writ of continuing mandamus, strategic lawsuits against public participation and the precautionary principle.

…In their petition, the Global Legal Action on Climate Change took to task Malacañang, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Interior and Local Governments and the local government units for “gross negligence.” They said the DPWH only started constructing rainwater catchments in 2009 and has so far only completed four out of the 100,000 required by law.

“The anxiety of always alternating between flooding and water scarcity is too much to bear for us ordinary citizens. It must stop,” they said, citing the successful implementation of rainwater collection projects in Singapore and India...

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