The Alternative Law Groups (ALG) commends the Supreme Court for issuing the New Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases just before the Earth Day Celebration. The new rule will be effective on April 29, 2010.

"The new rules would greatly help in the immediate resolution of cases as the high court has provided new remedies for the protection of the environment and new rules that are expected to facilitate the resolution of these cases", said Atty. Marlon Manuel, coordinator of ALG.

The new rules of procedure for environmental cases adhere to the basic principle of protection and advancement of the constitutional right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology. The rules provide simplified, speedy and inexpensive procedure for the enforcement of environmental right and duties recognized under the Constitution, existing laws, rules and regulations and international agreements. The rules introduce innovations and best practices in ensuring the effective enforcement of remedies and redress for violation of environmental laws and in enabling the courts to monitor and exact compliance with orders and judgments in environmental cases.

"ALG members are currently handling more than one hundred (100) cases involving the environment, especially on mining, aerial spraying of pesticides and fungicides, coastal resource management, protection of watershed and river systems, water and air pollution, food security, protection of ancestral domains and indigenous peoples' rights, and biodiversity. The introduction of the Writ of Kalikasan is a good avenue to pursue in defending our cases and more importantly, a positive message to affected communities that their right to a healthy environment will be defended", Atty. Manuel added.

ALG also lauds the inclusion of the "precautionary principle" which gives the benefit of the doubt to the constitutional right of the people to a balanced and healthful when there is a lack of full scientific certainty in establishing a causal link between human activity and environmental effect.

"However, ALG is also cautious in putting all its trust in the new environmental rules as its issuance should be matched by the continued vigilance of the communities and willingness to pursue cases before the court.", Atty. Manuel ended.

The new Environmental Rules is a product of a yearlong consultation process that culminated in an Environmental

Justice Forum that was held last year with the participation of ALG and its partners. -Murin Velasco and Catherine Tiongson-Intalan