A future in harmony with nature
Congratulations to newly-appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, Diosdado Peralta.
Not many are aware that Chief Justice Peralta and his predecessor, Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, were members of the Supreme Court’s Committee on the Revision of Rules, under the stewardship of then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, which paved the way for the issuance of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases.
On April 13, 2010, the Puno Court promulgated the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, an unprecedented judicial intervention to protect our planet and uphold the rights of citizens to a healthy, safe, clean and sustainable environment.
Chief Justice Puno, who retired in May 2010, “left behind a sterling legacy in the advancement of human rights, participatory governance and environmental sustainability.”
Indeed, it is a lasting legacy to the world and the future generation not just of the Puno Court but of the country.
It is a matter of pride for us, Filipinos, that the Supreme Court has made significant contribution to the moral challenge of our era – the health and survival of our natural life support systems and the creatures that depend on such for survival.
In many rulings and rules promulgated, it has dared to be leap years ahead of its co-equal branch, the Executive Department, in the fulfillment of the State’s mandate to “protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”
As this columnist wrote in her article, “Innovative Procedural Rules on Environmental Cases in the Philippines: Ushering In a Golden Era for Environmental Rights Protection,”
“International recognition of its megadiversity but severely threatened status, a pro-environment and pro-people Constitution, numerous environmental laws, the signatory of several international agreements, a dynamic civil society and the globally-heralded Oposa v. Factoran case (Oposa case) on the trust doctrine of intergenerational responsibility and another trail-blazing ruling in the form of MMDA v. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay case (MMDA case), are no magic wands for stopping the wanton destruction and loss of the country’s dwindling natural resources. Unsustainable programs and the absence of much-needed political will to implement the laws and protect human rights and the environment compound the enormous challenges facing the Philippines.
Amid the lethargy of institutions and inhabitants, the Philippine Supreme Court emerged as the staunchest ally and defender of the people’s rights to life and a healthy environment. Its unwavering determination to perform its constitutionally mandated judicial and rule-making powers to protect human rights and the fragile ecosystems were brought to light by the landmark Oposa and MMDA cases, among others. These efforts were further buttressed by ground-breaking initiatives undertaken by the Supreme Court under the leadership of then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno.”
It is our hope that the Peralta Court will continue to be the zealous defender of our children’s right to a future in harmony with nature.
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