Writ of Kalikasan

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Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy under Philippine law that provides protection of one’s constitutional right to a healthy environment, as outlined in Section 16, Article II of the Philippine Constitution, which states that 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.” Kalikasan is a Filipino word for “nature“.

The writ is comparable to the writ of amparo and the writ of habeas corpus. In contrast, this writ protects one’s right for a healthy environment rather than constitutional rights. The Writ of Kalikasan originated in the Philippines, whereas the two aforementioned writs have roots in European and Latin American law

The Writ of Kalikasan may be sought to deal with environmental damage of such magnitude that it threatens life, health, or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.

In September 2014, the Supreme Court of the Philippines ruled unanimously against issuing a Writ of Kalikasan against the United States Government over the grounding of the USS Guardian on the Tubbataha Reef in 2013

Generally, ‘Kalikasan’ in the Writ of Kalikasan is a Filipino vernacular word for ‘Nature.’ But no provision in the rules of procedure legally defines or describes what ‘kalikasan’ is for the Filipinos. Nevertheless, the use of the word complements the writ’s place of origin, the Philippines. Chief Justice Reynato Puno said that “the writ of kalikasan is proudly Philippine-made to deal with cases in the realm of ecology” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2014).

In Rule 7 of Part III (Special Civil Actions) of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (or hereby referred to as rules of procedure) the Writ of Kalikasan is described, to wit

Section 1. Nature of the writ. The writ is a remedy available to a natural or juridical person, entity authorized by law, people’s organization, non-governmental organization, or any public interest group accredited by or registered with any government agency, on behalf of persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity, involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces (Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines, 2010). environmental protection in 2009 in Baguio City then came out with the writ.

Section 15 (Judgment) expresses that the “court shall render judgment granting or denying the privilege of the writ of kalikasan” with the following reliefs “that may be granted under the writ”:

(a) Directing respondent to permanently cease and desist from committing acts or neglecting the performance of a duty in violation of environmental laws resulting in environmental destruction or damage;

(b) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, private person or entity to protect, preserve, rehabilitate or restore the environment;

(c) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, private person or entity to monitor strict compliance with the decision and orders of the court;

(d) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, or private person or entity to make periodic reports on the execution of the final judgment; and

(e) Such other reliefs which relate to the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology or to the protection, preservation, rehabilitation or restoration of the environment, except the award of damages to individual petitioners.

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