ISSUE: Do the petitioner-minors have a cause of action in filing a class suit to “prevent the misappropriation or impairment of Philippine rainforests?”
FACTS: A taxpayer’s class suit was filed by minors Juan Antonio Oposa, et al., representing their generation and generations yet unborn, and represented by their parents against Fulgencio Factoran Jr., Secretary of DENR. They prayed that judgment be rendered ordering the defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to: 1. Cancel all existing Timber Licensing Agreements (TLA) in the country; 2. Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing, or appraising new TLAs; and granting the plaintiffs “such other reliefs just and equitable under the premises.” They alleged that they have a clear and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and are entitled to protection by the State in its capacity as parens patriae. Furthermore, they claim that the act of the defendant in allowing TLA holders to cut and deforest the remaining forests constitutes a misappropriation and/or impairment of the natural resources property he holds in trust for the benefit of the plaintiff minors and succeeding generations. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the following grounds: 1. Plaintiffs have no cause of action against him; 2. The issues raised by the plaintiffs is a political question which properly pertains to the legislative or executive branches of the government.
RATIO DECIDENDI: Yes. Petitioner-minors assert that they represent their generation as well as generations to come. The Supreme Court ruled that they can, for themselves, for others of their generation, and for the succeeding generation, file a class suit. Their personality to sue in behalf of succeeding generations is based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. Such a right considers the “rhythm and harmony of nature” which indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the country’s forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, offshore areas and other natural resources to the end that their exploration, development, and utilization be equitably accessible to the present as well as the future generations. Needless to say, every generation has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. Put a little differently, the minor’s assertion of their right to a sound environment constitutes at the same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the generations to come.