SC junks writ of kalikasan plea vs Camiguin diesel power plant

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THE Supreme Court  has unanimously junked the petition filed by environmental organizations and several residents who petitioned for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan and a writ of continuing mandamus to enjoin the establishment of a diesel power plant by a power generation company in Mambajao, Camiguin.

In an 11-page decision penned by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda, the Court en banc unanimously affirmed two resolutions of the Court of Appeals, which both dismissed the petition filed by Citizens for a Green and Peaceful Camiguin Sulog Inc., Save CDO (Cagayan de Oro) Now Movement Inc., Task Force Macajalar and several other individuals.

The Court held that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Appellate Court in dismissing the petition, which named King Energy Generation Inc., (KEGI) Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Barangay Balbagon of Mambajao, Camiguin, Municipal Government of Mambajao, Provincial Government of Camiguin and Camiguin Electric Cooperative (Camelco).

The petitioners argued that the construction of said power plant violates their constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and various environmental laws.

They added that the project should have not been approved due to its health, safety, and environmental hazards aside from KEGI’s failure to secure an environmental compliance certificate as required under Presidential Decree 1151 and Presidential Decree 1586.

Aside from these, the petitioners said the project did not have the approval of the President upon recommendation of the Philippine Tourism Authority as required under Proclamation 1801.

The construction, according to the petitioners, also failed to comply with the requirement of public consultation under Sections 26 and 27 of the Local Government Code and that the Sangguniang Bayan violated Memorandum Circular 54 when it caused the reclassification of the area where the power plant is to be located from agricultural to industrial land without conducting the necessary public hearings.

KEGI, on the other hand, disputed petitioners’ claim that diesel power plant technology is unsafe.

It cited the case of Mindanao, which houses several existing diesel power plants without having any reported environmental issues.

It also stressed that its project has complied with all licensing and permit requirements, including those under the Philippine Clean Water Act and the Philippine Clean Air Act.

In dismissing the petition, the Court reminded parties that seek the issuance of the writ of kalikasan carry the burden of substantiating its plea.

The SC said before filing the case, petitioners must be ready with the evidence necessary for the determination of the writ’s issuance.

In this case, the Court noted that the petitioners failed to prove that they were entitled for the issuance of the writ of kalikasan.

The SC pointed out that aside from citing a purported press release issued by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on the association between cancer and diesel exposure, as well as a Wikipedia article on the advantages and disadvantages of diesel engines compared to spark ignition engines, the petitioners offered no other evidence to support the alleged safety, health and environmental damage caused by the construction of the diesel power plant to the residents of Camiguin.

“In fine, we do not find that the CA committed reversible error in dismissing the petitions for issuance of a writ of kalikasan and writ of continuing mandamus in his case. Lest there be any misunderstanding, the Court shares petitioners’ concern for the environment. This concern, however, is not an excuse to invoke Court’s jurisdiction in cases where other remedies are available,” the SC said.

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