CA denies appeal for ‘continuing mandamus’ over DENR’s ‘neglect’ in regulating coal power plants
The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed its June 4 decision not to issue a writ of continuing mandamus to force the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to do its duty of regulating coal-fired power plants.
In a recent 3-page resolution, the CA Former 8th Division denied an appeal by petitioners—including Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Inc. (ELAC) and Sanlakas, Inc.—accusing the DENR of neglecting its duty.
The CA said the petitioners had the burden to present evidence to establish their claim of neglect on the DENR’s part. Since there was lack of proof, the court said the presumption that official duties were regularly performed was not rebutted.
“Petitioners’ prayer for a writ of mandamus is anchored on their assertion that respondent DENR unlawfully failed or neglected its duties to implement the environmental laws alleged in the petition. Thus, it is imperative for petitioners to adduce or submit sufficient evidence in support of their claim,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Samuel Gaerlan.
The court added that the groups’ arguments were already “exhaustively passed on and discussed” in the June 4 decision.
ELAC, Sanlakas, the Philippine Earth Justice Center, Inc. (PEJC), and the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), as well as four residents of Palawan and Bataan, sued the DENR and the Department of Energy (DOE) for allegedly failing to perform their duties under the Philippine Clean Air Act, the Philippine Clean Water Act, and the Renewable Energy Act.
The CA’s June 4 decision only issued a mandamus against the DOE for failing to promulgate the Renewable Portfolio Standards Rules for Off-grid Areas and the Green Energy Option Program Rules within the period set by the Renewable Energy Act.
But, in the DENR’s case, the court said there was no concrete proof of its alleged failure to review the list of hazardous air pollutants and emission standards. In fact, the DENR issued several memorandum circulars and updated the list of controlled air pollutants and effluent standards.
The court also said the DENR may only be duty-bound to file administrative cases against coal-filed power plants with emissions monitoring systems only if violations were indeed established.