PHILIPPINE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW
Introduction to the Philippines System of Government
The Philippines has a government of representative democracy based on the United States system. The 1987 constitution, adopted during the administration of Corazon Aquino reestablished a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary.
The President, the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate are elected by the populous. The President is limited to one six year term. The legislature is comprised of 24 Senators and 250 members of the House of Representatives The Judiciary is independent form the President and the Legislature. The Supreme Court is comprised of a Chief Justice and fourteen associate justices. The Supreme Court justices and the lower court justices are selected by the President from a list of nominees submitted by the Philippine Judicial and Bar Council. Only natural born citizens of the Philippines may hold judicial posts. Confirmation by the legislature of the President’s judicial appointments is not required.
Types of Laws and Regulations
Law Passed by Congress – this is referred to as Republic Act (R.A.). Similar to the United States a bill is initiated in either of legislative chambers or by the President. The bill is subject to review by a Congressional committee to hear out concerns on the bill. Thereafter, the bill is approved by the entire body. Once approved, the bill is referred to a Bicameral Conference Committee to reconcile any conflicting provisions. Once ratified, the bill is forwarded to the President for approval or veto. A two-thirds vote of Congress is needed to override a veto. Laws enacted by Congress have been the primary method of lawmaking since the 1987 Constitution was ratified.
Presidential Decree (P.D.) – during the period of the “Martial Law Years”(1972-1986) , legislative was made by Presidential fiat of then President Ferdinand Marcos. Many environmental laws were passed during this period and continue to be valid today. An example of a Presidential Decrees is the Forest Code of the Philippines (P.D. 705). Executive Order ( E.O.) – is a presidential act providing for rules of a general or permanent character in the implementation or execution of constitutional or statutory powers.
Administrative Order (DAO) – is an act of a Cabinet or Department Secretary which implements rules pursuant to his/her duties as administrative head of government. For example, the head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will issue implementing rules and regulations (IRR) under environment statutes in the form of a DAO.
Ordinance - is a local law passed by the local legislative body of the province, city, municipality, or village (barangay) and approved by the chief executive officer (i.e. the barangay chief) of the respective entity.
Environmental Law and the 1987 Constitution
The primary legal basis for protection of the environment may be found in the 1987 Constitution, Article II, section 16 which provides:
“the State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature”. Article II, Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution1 provides that “the State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health conscious among them” The Philippine Supreme Court2 has held that the Articles II, Sections 15 and 16 of the 1987 Constitution combined to create a right to a “balanced and healthful ecology”. The Court stated that such rights were said to exist from the inception of mankind, but that this principle was enumerated in the Constitution to bestow upon the State the obligation to protect a balanced and healthful ecology.
Article XII of the 1987 Constitution3, entitled “National Economy and Patrimony” provides for the efficient use and state ownership of natural resources. One...
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