In 2017, a group of petitioners, including Children of the Future, filed a complaint with the Supreme Court of the Philippines, alleging that the government’s failure to fulfil its environmental responsibilities and violations of environmental laws had caused significant environmental damage, endangering the well-being, health, and property of all Filipinos. The petitioners claimed that the government’s lack of enforcement of environmental laws contributed to deteriorating air quality in Metro Manila, infringing upon their constitutional rights to a balanced and healthy environment and life. They also raised concerns about the unequal application of laws, especially in favour of car owners. The petitioners proposed measures to reduce fossil fuel consumption and sought writs of kalikasan, a legal remedy under the Philippines Constitution to protect environmental rights. The Court dismissed the application on the ground that the applicants failed to demonstrate how the authorities breached the relevant environmental law.
The petitioners requested that the Supreme Court review and consider their complaint against the government’s environmental practices. They asserted that the government’s actions violated their constitutional rights to a healthy environment and life. They claim that the government’s lack of enforcement of environmental laws and its prioritization of car owners have caused substantial harm to the environment and their well-being. They seek the issuance of writs of kalikasan to safeguard their environmental rights and request the Court’s intervention in compelling the government to implement measures to promote sustainability. The key question at hand is whether the Philippine government’s Climate Change Commission breached the constitution by not implementing ambitious climate-related transportation policies.
After a thorough review, the Supreme Court acknowledged the concerns of the petitioners and the significance of environmental protection. The court acknowledged that the Rule of Procedure for Environmental Cases provides leeway in terms of standing, making petitions like this permissible. However, in this specific case, the court found that the petitioners had not presented sufficient evidence to prove that the government has engaged in unlawful activities or infringed upon specific environmental laws, thereby violating their environmental rights. A petition for the writ of kalikasan must convincingly establish a clear violation of environmental statutes and regulations, rather than solely relying on the repeated assertion of constitutional rights and unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct.
The Court also took note of the government’s diligent efforts to enforce environmental laws and prioritize initiatives aimed at addressing and mitigating the effects of climate change. As a result, the petition was dismissed.
The case documents are accessible via Climate Case Chart: Click here.
Status of the case:
Supreme Court of the Philippines, Segovia et al. v. Climate Change Commission, G.R. No. 211010, 7 March 2017.
20 October 2023.