The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition filed by environmental organizations and several residents seeking the issuance of a writ of kalikasan and a writ of continuing mandamus to stop the construction of a diesel power plant by a power generation company in Mambajao, Camiguin.
In an en banc decision written by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda, the SC unanimously sustained the resolutions of the Court of Appeals on May 26, 2014 and June 27, 201 which also dismissed the petition filed by the Citizens for a Green and Peaceful Camiguin, Sulog, Inc., Save CDO (Cagayan de Oro) Now Movement Inc., Task Force Macajalar and several other individuals.
“We do not find that the CA committed reversible error in dismissing the petitions for issuance of a writ of kalikasan and writ of continuing mandamus in his case. Lest there be any misunderstanding, the Court shares petitioners’ concern for the environment. This concern, however, is not an excuse to invoke Court’s jurisdiction in cases where other remedies are available,” the SC said.
The high court held that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the appellate court in dismissing the petition against King Energy Generation Inc., (KEGI); the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; Barangay Balbagon of Mambajao, Camiguin; the Municipal Government of Mambajao; the Provincial Government of Camiguin and the Camiguin Electric Cooperative (Camelco).
The petitioners argued the construction of the power plant violates their constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and various environmental laws.
They added that the project should have not been approved due to its health, safety, and environmental hazards, aside from KEGI’s failure to secure an environmental compliance certificate as required under Presidential Decree No. 1151 and Presidential Decree 1586.
KEGI disputed the petitioners’ claim that diesel power plant technology is unsafe, citing the case of Mindanao which houses several existing diesel power plants without having any reported environmental issues.
The company also insisted that its project has complied with all licensing and permit requirements, including those under the Philippine Clean Water Act and the Philippine Clean Air Act.
In dismissing the petition, the tribunal reminded parties that seeking the issuance of the writ of kalikasan carry the burden of substantiating its plea.
The SC said before filing the case, petitioners must be ready with the evidence necessary for the determination of the writ’s issuance.
The SC said that aside from citing a purported press release issued by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on the association between cancer and diesel exposure, as well as a Wikipedia article on the advantages and disadvantages of diesel engines compared to spark ignition engines, the petitioners offered no other evidence to support their allegations.