Posted by: Elmer Brabante | May 21, 2011

Reviewer on the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases


 RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CASES

(AM No. 09-6-8-SC)

 

  1. Scope and applicability of the Rule

 

(1)     These Rules shall govern the procedure in civil, criminal and special civil actions before the Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts involving enforcement or violations of environmental and other related laws, rules and regulations such as but not limited to the following:

(a)     Act  3572, Prohibition Against Cutting of Tindalo, Akli, and Molave Trees;

(b)     PD 705, Revised Forestry Code;

(c)     PD 856, Sanitation Code;

(d)     PD 979, Marine Pollution Decree;

(e)     PD 1067, Water Code;

(f)      PD1151, Philippine Environmental Policy of 1977;

(g)     PD 1433, Plant Quarantine Law of 1978;

(h)     PD 1586, Establishing an Environmental Impact Statement System Including Other Environmental Management Related Measures and for Other Purposes;

(i)       RA 3571, Prohibition Against the Cutting, Destroying or Injuring of Planted or Growing Trees, Flowering Plants and Shrubs or Plants of Scenic Value along Public Roads, in Plazas, Parks, School Premises or in any Other Public Ground;

(j)       RA  4850, Laguna Lake Development Authority Act;

(k)     RA 6969, Toxic Substances and Hazardous Waste Act;

(l)       RA 7076, People’s Small-Scale Mining Act;

(m)   RA 7586, National Integrated Protected Areas System Act including all laws, decrees, orders, proclamations and issuances establishing protected areas;

(n)     RA 7611, Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan Act;

(o)     RA 7942, Philippine Mining Act;

(p)     RA 8371, Indigenous Peoples Rights Act;

(q)     RA 8550, Philippine Fisheries Code;

(r)      RA 8749, Clean Air Act;

(s)     RA 9003, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act;

(t)      RA 9072, National Caves and Cave Resource Management Act;

(u)     RA 9147, Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act;

(v)     RA 9175, Chainsaw Act;

(w)    RA 9275, Clean Water Act;

(x)     RA 9483, Oil Spill Compensation Act of 2007; and

(y)     Provisions in CA 141, The Public Land Act;

(z)     R.A. No. 6657, Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988;

(aa)  RA 7160, Local Government Code of 1991;

(bb)  RA 7161, Tax Laws Incorporated in the Revised Forestry Code and Other Environmental Laws (Amending the NIRC);

(cc) RA 7308, Seed Industry Development Act of 1992;

(dd) RA 7900, High-Value Crops Development Act;

(ee) RA 8048, Coconut Preservation Act;

(ff)    RA 8435, Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997;

(gg) RA 9522, The Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law;

(hh) RA 9593, Renewable Energy Act of 2008;

(ii)     RA 9637, Philippine Biofuels Act; and

(jj)     Other existing laws that relate to the conservation, development, preservation, protection and utilization of the environment and natural resources.

 

 

  1. Civil Procedure

 

Prohibition against Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction (Sec. 10, Part 2, Rule 2)

 

(1)     Except the Supreme Court, no court can issue a TRO or writ of preliminary injunction against lawful actions of government agencies that enforce environmental laws or prevent violations thereof (Sec. 10, Part 2, Rule 2).

(2)     The formulation of this section is derived from the provisions of PD 605 and likewise covers the provisions of PD 1818. To obviate future conflict between the present provision and these two laws, the prohibition on the issuance of TRO remains the general rule while its issuance is the exception. In availing of the exception, the movants must overcome the presumption of regularity in the performance of a duty by the respondent government agency or official. The judge must then require a higher standard and heavier burden of proof. This section is formulated to support government and its agencies in their responsibilities and tasks. Therefore, in the absence of evidence overcoming this presumption of regularity, no court can issue a TRO or injunctive writ. It is only the SC which can issue a TRO or an injunctive writ in exceptional cases.

 

 

Pre-trial Conference; Consent Decree (Sec. 5, Rule 3)

 

(1)     The judge shall put the parties and their counsels under oath, and they shall remain under oath in all pre-trial conferences.  The judge shall exert best efforts to persuade the parties to arrive at a settlement of the dispute. The judge may issue a consent decree approving the agreement between the parties in accordance with law, morals, public order and public policy to protect the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology. Evidence not presented during the pre-trial, except newly discovered evidence, shall be deemed waived.

(2)     Consent Decree refers to a judicially-approved settlement between concerned parties based on public interest aspect in environmental cases and encourages the parties to expedite the resolution of litigation (Sec. 4[b], Rule 1, Part 1).

(3)     Sec. 5, Rule 3 encourages parties to reach an agreement regarding settlement through a consent decree, which gives emphasis to the public interest aspect in the assertion of the right to a balances and healthful ecology.

 

Prohibited Pleadings and Motions (Sec. 2, Rule 2)

 

(1)     The following pleadings or motions shall not be allowed:

(a)     Motion to dismiss the complaint;

(b)     Motion for a bill of particulars;

(c)     Motion for extension of time to file pleadings, except to file answer, the extension not to exceed fifteen (15) days;

(d)     Motion to declare the defendant in default;

(e)     Reply and rejoinder; and

(f)      Third party complaint.

(2)     While the enumeration have been adopted in part from the Rule on Summary Procedure in response to the question of delay which often accompanies regular cases, summary procedure is not adopted in its entirety given the complex and wide range of environmental cases. Procedural safeguards have been introduced for truly complex cases which may necessitate further evaluation from the court. Among these the exclusion of the motions for postponement, new trial and reconsideration, as well as the petition for relief from the prohibition.

(3)     Motion for postponement, motion for new trial and petition for relief from judgment shall only be allowed in certain conditions of highly meritorious cases or to prevent a manifest miscarriage of justice. The satisfaction of these conditions is required since these motions are prone abuse during litigation.

(4)     Motion for intervention is permitted in order to allow the public to participate in the filing and prosecution of environmental cases, which are imbued with public interest. Petitions for certiorari are likewise permitted since these raise fundamentally questions of jurisdiction. Under the Constitution, the SC may not be deprived of its certiorari jurisdiction.

 

Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO)

 

(1)     Issuance of Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO).—If it appears from the verified complaint with a prayer for the issuance of an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) that the matter is of extreme urgency and the applicant will suffer grave injustice and irreparable injury, the executive judge of the multiple sala court before raffle or the presiding judge of a single-sala court

as the case may be, may issue ex parte a TEPO effective for only seventy-two (72) hours from date of the receipt of the TEPO by the party or person enjoined. Within said period, the court where the case is assigned, shall conduct a summary hearing to determine whether the TEPO may be extended until the termination of the case. The court where the case is assigned, shall periodically monitor the existence of acts that are the subject matter of the TEPO even if issued by the executive judge, and may lift the same at any time as circumstances may warrant. The applicant shall be exempted from the posting of a bond for the issuance of a TEPO (Sec. 8, Rule 2).

(2)     The Rules provide that an applicant who files for the issuance of a TEPO is exempt from the posting of a bond, but the Rules also provide for safeguards for the possible pernicious effects upon the party or person sought to be enjoined by the TEPO:

(a)     A TEPO may only be issued in matters of extreme urgency and the applicant will suffer grave injustice and irreparable injury, the TEPO effective for only 72 hours; and

(b)     The court should periodically monitor the existence of acts which are the subject matter of the TEPO, the TEPO can be lifted anytime as the circumstances may warrant.

(3)     While the TEPO may be issued ex parte, this is more of the exception. The general rule on the conduct of a hearing pursuant to due process remains.

 

Judgment and Execution (Rule 5)

 

(1)     Any judgment directing the performance of acts for the protection, preservation or rehabilitation of the environment shall be executory pending appeal unless restrained by the appellate court (Sec.

(2)     A judgment rendered pursuant to these Rules is immediately executor. It may not be stayed by the posting of a bond under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court and the sole remedy lies with the appellate court. the appellate court can issue a TRO to restrain the execution of the judgment and should the appellate court act with grave abuse of discretion in refusing to act on the application for a TRO, a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 can be brought before the Supreme Court.

 

Reliefs in a Citizen’s Suit (Sec. 5, Rule 2; Sec. 1, Rule 5)

 

(1)     Any Filipino citizen in representation of others, including minors or generations yet unborn, may file an action to enforce rights or obligations under environmental laws. Upon the filing of a citizen suit, the court shall issue an order which shall contain a brief description of the cause of action and the reliefs prayed for, requiring all interested parties to manifest their interest to intervene in the case within fifteen (15) days from notice thereof. The plaintiff may publish the order once in a newspaper of a general circulation in the Philippines or furnish all affected barangays copies of said order. Citizen suits filed under R.A. No. 8749 and R.A. No. 9003 shall be governed by their respective provisions (Sec. 5, Rule 2).

(2)     If warranted, the court may grant to the plaintiff proper reliefs which shall include the protection, preservation or rehabilitation of the environment and the payment of attorney’s fees, costs of suit and other litigation expenses.  It may also require the violator to submit a program of rehabilitation or restoration of the environment, the costs of which shall be borne by the violator, or to contribute to a special trust fund for that purpose subject to the control of the court (Sec. 1, Rule 5).

 

Permanent Environmental Protection Order (Sec. 3, Rule 5)

 

(1)     Permanent EPO; writ of continuing mandamus.— In the judgment, the court may convert the TEPO to a permanent EPO or issue a writ of continuing mandamus directing the performance of acts which shall be effective until the judgment is fully satisfied. The court may, by itself or through the appropriate government agency, monitor the execution of the judgment and require the party concerned to submit written reports on a quarterly basis or sooner as may be necessary, detailing the progress of the execution and satisfaction of the judgment. The other party may, at its option, submit its comments or observations on the execution of the judgment.

(2)     In this provision, continuing mandamus is made available as a final relief. As a remedy, continuing mandamus is decidedly an attractive relief. Nevertheless, the monitoring function attached to the writ is decidedly taxing upon the court. Thus, it is meant to be an exceptional remedy. Among others, the nature of the case in which the judgment is issued will be a decisive factor in determining whether to issue a writ of continuing mandamus. A TEPO may be converted into a writ of continuing mandamus should the circumstances warrant.

 

Writ of Continuing Mandamus

 

(1)     Continuing mandamus is a writ issued by a court in an environmental case directing any agency or instrumentality of the government or officer thereof to perform an act or series of acts decreed by final judgment which shall remain effective until judgment is fully satisfied (Sec. 4[c], Rule 1, Part1).

(2)     The concept of continuing mandamus was originally enunciated in the case of Concerned Residents of Manila Bay vs. MMDA, GR 171947-98, Dec. 18, 2008. The Rules now codify the Writ of Continuing Mandamus as one of the principal remedies which may be availed of in environmental cases.

 

Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation

 

(1)     Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) refers to an action whether civil, criminal or administrative, brought against any person, institution or any government agency or local government unit or its officials and employees, with the intent to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that such person, institution or government agency has taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights (Sec. 4[g], Rule 1).

(2)     A legal action filed to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that any person, institution or the government has taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights shall be treated as a SLAPP and shall be governed by these Rules (Sec. 1, Rule 6).

(3)     SLAPP as a defense; how alleged.—In a SLAPP filed against a person involved in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment, or assertion of environmental rights, the defendant may file an answer interposing as a defense that the case is a SLAPP and shall be supported by documents, affidavits, papers and other evidence; and, by way of counterclaim, pray for damages, attorney’s fees and costs of suit. The court shall direct the plaintiff or adverse party to file an opposition showing the suit is not a SLAPP, attaching evidence in support thereof, within a non-extendible period of five (5) days from receipt of notice that an answer has been filed. The defense of a SLAPP shall be set for hearing by the court after issuance of the order to file an opposition within fifteen (15) days from filing of the comment or the lapse of the period (Sec. 2, Rule 6).

(4)     Summary hearing. The hearing on the defense of a SLAPP shall be summary in nature. The parties must submit all available evidence in support of their respective positions. The party seeking the dismissal of the case must prove by substantial evidence that his acts for the enforcement of environmental law is a legitimate action for the protection, preservation and rehabilitation of the environment. The party filing the action assailed as a SLAPP shall prove by preponderance of evidence that the action is not a SLAPP and is a valid claim (Sec. 3, Rule 6).

(5)     Resolution of the defense of a SLAPP. The defense of a SLAPP shall be resolved within thirty (30) days after the summary hearing. If the court dismisses the action, the court may award damages, attorney’s fees and costs of suit under a counterclaim if such has been filed. The dismissal shall be with prejudice. If the court rejects the defense of a SLAPP, the evidence adduced during the summary hearing shall be treated as evidence of the parties on the merits of the case. The action shall proceed in accordance with the Rules of Court (Sec. 4, Rule 6).

(6)     Since a motion to dismiss is a prohibited pleading, SLAPP as an affirmative defense should be raised in an answer along with other defenses that may be raised in the case alleged to be a SLAPP.

 

  1. Special Procedure

 

 

Writ of Kalikasan (Rule 7)

 

(1)     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 (Sec. 1, Rule 7).

(2)     Extraordinary remedy. The underlying emphasis in the Writ of Kalikasan is magnitude as it deals with damage that transcends political and territorial boundaries. Magnitude is thus measured according to the qualification set forth in this Rule—when there is environmental damage that prejudices the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.

(3)     Who may avail of the writ. The petition for the issuance of a WOK can be filed by any of the following: (a) a natural or juridical person; (b) entity authorized by law; (c) people’s organization, non-government 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…involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice life, health, or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.” Those who may file for this remedy must represent the inhabitants prejudiced by the environmental damage subject of the writ. The requirement of accreditation of a group or organization is for the purpose of verifying its existence. The accreditation is a mechanism to prevent “fly by night” groups from abusing the writ.

(4)     Acts covered by the writ. The WOK is a special remedy available against 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.

(5)     Where to file. To the SC or CA.

(6)     Exemption from payment of docket fees. The exemption from payment of docket fees is consistent with the character of the reliefs available under the writ, which excludes damages for personal injuries. This exemption also encourages public participation in availing of the remedy.

Prohibited pleadings and motions (Sec. 9, Rule 7)

 

(1)     The following pleadings and motions are prohibited:

(a)     Motion to dismiss;

(b)     Motion for extension of time to file return;

(c)     Motion for postponement;

(d)     Motion for a bill of particulars;

(e)     Counterclaim or cross-claim;

(f)      Third-party complaint;

(g)     Reply; and

(h)     Motion to declare respondent in default.

 

Discovery measures (Sec. 12, Rule 7)

 

(1)     A party may file a verified motion for the following reliefs:

(a)     Ocular Inspection; order.  The motion must show that an ocular inspection order is necessary to establish the magnitude of the violation or the threat as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces. It shall state in detail the place or places to be inspected. It shall be supported by affidavits of witnesses having personal knowledge of the violation or threatened violation of environmental law.

After hearing, the court may order any person in possession or control of a designated land or other property to permit entry for the purpose of inspecting or photographing the property or any relevant object or operation thereon. The order shall specify the person or persons authorized to make the inspection and the date, time, place and manner of making the inspection and may prescribe other conditions to protect the constitutional rights of all parties.

(b)     Production or inspection of documents or things; order. The motion must show that a production order is necessary to establish the magnitude of the violation or the threat as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.

After hearing, the court may order any person in possession, custody or control of any designated documents, papers, books, accounts, letters, photographs, objects or tangible things, or objects in digitized or electronic form, which constitute or contain evidence relevant to the petition or the return, to produce and permit their inspection, copying or photographing by or on behalf of the movant. The production order shall specify the person or persons authorized to make the production and the date, time, place and manner of making the inspection or production and may prescribe other conditions to protect the constitutional rights of all parties.

 

Writ of Continuing Mandamus (Rule 8)

 

(1)     Petition. When any agency or instrumentality of the government or officer thereof unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station in connection with the enforcement or violation of an environmental law rule or regulation or a right therein, or unlawfully excludes another from the use or enjoyment of such right and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty, attaching thereto supporting evidence, specifying that the petition concerns an environmental law, rule or regulation, and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the respondent to do an act or series of acts until the judgment is fully satisfied, and to pay damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the malicious neglect to perform the duties of the respondent, under the law, rules or regulations. The petition shall also contain a sworn certification of non-forum shopping.

(2)     Where to file the petition. The petition shall be filed with the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territory where the actionable neglect or omission occurred or with the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.

(3)     No docket fees. The petitioner shall be exempt from the payment of docket fees.

(4)     Order to comment. If the petition is sufficient in form and substance, the court shall issue the writ and require the respondent to comment on the petition within ten (10) days from receipt of a copy thereof. Such order shall be served on the respondents in such manner as the court may direct, together with a copy of the petition and any annexes thereto.

(5)     Expediting proceedings; TEPO. The court in which the petition is filed may issue such orders to expedite the proceedings, and it may also grant a TEPO for the preservation of the rights of the parties pending such proceedings.

(6)     Proceedings after comment is filed. After the comment is filed or the time for the filing thereof has expired, the court may hear the case which shall be summary in nature or require the parties to submit memoranda. The petition shall be resolved without delay within sixty (60) days from the date of the submission of the petition for resolution.

(7)     Judgment. If warranted, the court shall grant the privilege of the writ of continuing mandamus requiring respondent to perform an act or series of acts until the judgment is fully satisfied and to grant such other reliefs as may be warranted resulting from the wrongful or illegal acts of the respondent. The court shall require the respondent to submit periodic reports detailing the progress and execution of the judgment, and the court may, by itself or through a commissioner or the appropriate government agency, evaluate and monitor compliance. The petitioner may submit its comments or observations on the execution of the judgment.

(8)     Return of the writ. The periodic reports submitted by the respondent detailing compliance with the judgment shall be contained in partial returns of the writ. Upon full satisfaction of the judgment, a final return of the writ shall be made to the court by the respondent. If the court finds that the judgment has been fully implemented, the satisfaction of judgment shall be entered in the court docket.

(9)     Procedurally, its filing before the courts is similar to the filing of an ordinary writ of mandamus. However, the issuance of a TEPO is made available as an auxillary remedy prior to the issuance of the writ itself. As a special civil action, the WoCMa may be availed of to compel the performance of an act specifically enjoined by law. It permits the court to retain jurisdiction after judgment in order to ensure the successful implementation of the reliefs mandated under the court’s decision. For this purpose, the court may compel the submission of compliance reports from the respondent government agencies as well as avail of other means to monitor compliance with its decision. Its availability as a special civil action likewise complements its role as a final relief in environmental civil cases and in the WOK, where continuing mandamus may likewise be issued should the facts merit such relief.

 

Writ of Continuing Mandamus vs. Writ of Kalikasan

 

(1)     Subject matter. WoCMa is directed against the unlawful neglect in the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station in connection with the enforcement or violation of an environmental law rule or regulation or a right therein; or (a) the unlawful exclusion of another from the use or enjoyment of such right and in both instances, there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. A writ of kalikasan is available against 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. In addition, magnitude of environmental damage is a condition sine qua non in a petition for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan and must be contained in the verified petition.

(2)     Who may file. A writ of continuing mandamus is available to a broad range of persons such as natural or juridical person, entity authorized by law, people’s organization, NGO, or any public interest group accredited by or registered with any government agency, on behalf of persons whose right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated or threatened to be violated.

(3)     Respondent. The respondent in a petition for continuing mandamus is only the government or its officers, unlike in a petition for writ of kalikasan, where the respondent may be a private individual or entity.

(4)     Exemption from docket fees. The application for either petition is exempted from the payment of docket fees.

(5)     Venue. A petition for the issuance of a writ of continuing mandamus may be filed in the following: (a) the RTC exercising jurisdiction over the territory where the actionable neglect or omission occurred; (b) the CA; or (c) the SC. Given the magnitude of the damage, the application for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan can only be filed with the SC or any station of the CA.

(6)     Discovery measures. The Rule on the WCM does not contain any provision for discovery measures, unlike the Rule on WOK  which incorporates the procedural environmental right of access to information through the use of discovery measures such as ocular inspection order and production order.

(7)     Damages for personal injury. The WCM allows damages for the malicious neglect of the performance of the legal duty of the respondent, identical Rule 65. In contrast, no damages may be awarded in a petition for the issuance of a WOK consistent with the public interest character of the petition. A party who avails of this petition but who also wishes to be indemnified for injuries suffered may file another suit for the recovery of damages since the Rule on WOK allows for the institution of separate actions.

 

  1. Criminal Procedure

 

Who May File (Sec. 1, Rule 9)

 

(1)     Any offended party, peace officer or any public officer charged with the enforcement of an environmental law may file a complaint before the proper officer in accordance with the Rules of Court (Sec. 1, Rule 9).

Institution of Criminal and Civil Action (Sec. 1, Rule 10)

 

(1)     When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged, shall be deemed instituted with the criminal action unless the complainant waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.  Unless the civil action has been instituted prior to the criminal action, the reservation of the right to institute separately the civil action shall be made during arraignment. In case civil liability is imposed or damages are awarded, the filing and other legal fees shall be imposed on said award in accordance with Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, and the fees shall constitute a first lien on the judgment award. The damages awarded in cases where there is no private offended party, less the filing fees, shall accrue to the funds of the agency charged with the implementation of the environmental law violated. The award shall be used for the restoration and rehabilitation of the environment adversely affected.

Arrest without Warrant; When Valid (Sec. 1, Rule 11)

 

(1)     A peace officer or an individual deputized by the proper government agency may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a)     When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing or is attempting to commit an offense; or

(b)     When an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it.  Individuals deputized by the proper government agency who are enforcing environmental laws shall enjoy the presumption of regularity under Section 3(m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court when effecting arrests for violations of environmental laws.

(2)     Warrant of arrest. All warrants of arrest issued by the court shall be accompanied by a certified true copy of the information filed with the issuing court.

Procedure in the Custody and Disposition of Seized Items (Sec. 2, Rule 12)

 

(1)     In the absence of applicable laws or rules promulgated by the concerned government agency, the following procedure shall be observed:

(a)     The apprehending officer having initial custody and control of the seized items, equipment, paraphernalia, conveyances and instruments shall physically inventory and whenever practicable, photograph the same in the presence of the person from whom such items were seized.

(b)     Thereafter, the apprehending officer shall submit to the issuing court the return of the search warrant within five (5) days from date of seizure or in case of warrantless arrest, submit within five (5) days from date of seizure, the inventory report, compliance report, photographs, representative samples and other pertinent documents to the public prosecutor for appropriate action.

(c)     Upon motion by any interested party, the court may direct the auction sale of seized items, equipment, paraphernalia, tools or instruments of the crime. The court shall, after hearing, fix the minimum bid price based on the recommendation of the concerned government agency. The sheriff shall conduct the auction.

(d)     The auction sale shall be with notice to the accused, the person from whom the items were seized, or the owner thereof and the concerned government agency.

(e)     The notice of auction shall be posted in three conspicuous places in the city or municipality where the items, equipment, paraphernalia, tools or instruments of the crime were seized.

(f)      The proceeds shall be held in trust and deposited with the government depository bank for disposition according to the judgment.

(2)     The foregoing provisions concern two aspects of seizure. The first aspect concerns the chain of custody of the seized items, equipment, paraphernalia, conveyances, and instruments. Subparagraphs (a) and (b) are meant to assure the integrity of the evidence after seizure, for later presentation at the trial. The second aspect deals with the disposition of the seized materials. This addresses the concern of deterioration of the materials, most of which are perishable, while in custodia legis. The provision contains procedural safeguards to assure the preservation of the value of the seized materials, should the case eventually be decided in favor of their owner or possessor. Subparagraph (b) makes the provision cover both seizures with warrant and warrantless seizures. The motion to direct the auction sale under subpara (c) may be filed by “any interested party” to obviate any oppressive use of seizure to the prejudice of any party.

Bail (Rule 14)

 

(1)     Bail, where filed. Bail in the amount fixed may be filed with the court where the case is pending, or in the absence or unavailability of the judge thereof, with any regional trial judge, metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge or municipal circuit trial judge in the province, city or municipality. If the accused is arrested in a province, city or municipality other than where the case is pending, bail may also be filed with any Regional Trial Court of said place, or if no judge thereof is available, with any metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge or municipal circuit trial judge therein. If the court grants bail, the court may issue a hold-departure order in appropriate cases.

(2)     Duties of the court. Before granting the application for bail, the judge must read the information in a language known to and understood by the accused and require the accused to sign a written undertaking, as follows:

(a)     To appear before the court that issued the warrant of arrest for arraignment purposes on the date scheduled, and if the accused fails to appear without justification on the date of arraignment, accused waives the reading of the information and authorizes the court to enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of the accused and to set the case for trial;

(b)     To appear whenever required by the court where the case is pending; and

(c)     To waive the right of the accused to be present at the trial, and upon failure of the accused to appear without justification and despite due notice, the trial may proceed in absentia.

(3)     A key innovation in this section is the execution of an undertaking by the accused and counsel, empowering the judge to enter a plea of not guilty, in the event the accused fails to appear at the arraignment. This authorization permits the court to try the case in absentia, within the period provided under these Rules. This addresses a fundamental concern surrounding the prosecution of criminal cases in general, where the accused jumps bail and the court unable to proceed with the disposition of the case in view of the absence of the accused and the failure to arraign the latter.

 

Arraignment and Plea (Rule 15)

 

(1)     Arraignment. The court shall set the arraignment of the accused within fifteen (15) days from the time it acquires jurisdiction over the accused, with notice to the public prosecutor and offended party or concerned government agency that it will entertain plea-bargaining on the date of the arraignment.

(2)     Plea-bargaining. On the scheduled date of arraignment, the court shall consider plea-bargaining arrangements. Where the prosecution and offended party or concerned government agency agree to the plea offered by the accused, the court shall:

(a)     Issue an order which contains the plea-bargaining arrived at;

(b)     Proceed to receive evidence on the civil aspect of the case, if any; and

(c)     Render and promulgate judgment of conviction, including the civil liability for damages.

(3)     This provision requires the consent of the prosecutor, the offended party or concerned government agency in order to successfully arrive at a valid plea-bargaining agreement. Plea-bargaining is considered at arraignment in order to avoid the situation where an initial plea is changed in the course of the trial in view of a successful plea bargain.

 

Pre-trial (Rule 16)

 

(1)     Setting of pre-trial conference. After the arraignment, the court shall set the pre-trial conference within thirty (30) days. It may refer the case to the branch clerk of court, if warranted, for a preliminary conference to be set at least three (3) days prior to the pre-trial.

(2)     Preliminary conference.—The preliminary conference shall be for the following purposes:

(a)     To assist the parties in reaching a settlement of the civil aspect of the case;

(b)     To mark the documents to be presented as exhibits;

(c)     To attach copies thereof to the records after comparison with the originals;

(d)     To ascertain from the parties the undisputed facts and admissions on the genuineness and due execution of documents marked as exhibits;

(e)     To consider such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the case;

(f)      To record the proceedings during the preliminary conference in the Minutes of Preliminary Conference to be signed by the parties and counsel;

(g)     To mark the affidavits of witnesses which shall be in question and answer form and shall constitute the direct examination of the witnesses; and

(h)     To attach the Minutes and marked exhibits to the case record before the pre-trial proper.

The parties or their counsel must submit to the branch clerk of court the names, addresses and contact numbers of the affiants.

(3)     Pre-trial duty of the judge. During the pre-trial, the court shall:

(a)     Place the parties and their counsels under oath;

(b)     Adopt the minutes of the preliminary conference as part of the pre-trial proceedings, confirm markings of exhibits or substituted photocopies and admissions on the genuineness and due execution of documents, and list object and testimonial evidence;

(c)     Scrutinize the information and the statements in the affidavits and other documents which form part of the record of the preliminary investigation together with other documents identified and marked as exhibits to determine further admissions of facts as to:

  1. The court’s territorial jurisdiction relative to the offense(s) charged;
  2. Qualification of expert witnesses; and
  3. Amount of damages;

(d)     Define factual and legal issues;

(e)     Ask parties to agree on the specific trial dates and adhere to the flow chart determined by the court which shall contain the time frames for the different stages of the proceeding up to promulgation of decision;

(f)      Require the parties to submit to the branch clerk of court the names, addresses and contact numbers of witnesses that need to be summoned by subpoena; and

(g)     Consider modification of order of trial if the accused admits the charge but interposes a lawful defense.

(4)     Manner of questioning. All questions or statements must be directed to the court.

(5)     Agreements or admissions. All agreements or admissions made or entered during the pre-trial conference shall be reduced in writing and signed by the accused and counsel; otherwise, they cannot be used against the accused. The agreements covering the matters referred to in Section 1, Rule 118 of the Rules of Court shall be approved by the court.

(6)     Record of proceedings. All proceedings during the pre-trial shall be recorded, the transcripts prepared and the minutes signed by the parties or their counsels.

(7)     Pre-trial order. The court shall issue a pre-trial order within ten (10) days after the termination of the pre-trial, setting forth the actions taken during the pre-trial conference, the facts stipulated, the admissions made, evidence marked, the number of witnesses to be presented and the schedule of trial. The order shall bind the parties and control the course of action during the trial.

Subsidiary Liability (Rule 18)

 

(1)     In case of conviction of the accused and subsidiary liability is allowed by law, the court may, by motion of the person entitled to recover under judgment, enforce such subsidiary liability against a person or corporation subsidiarily liable under Article 102 and Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code.

SLAPP in Criminal Cases (Rule 19)

 

(1)     Motion to dismiss. Upon the filing of an information in court and before arraignment, the accused may file a motion to dismiss on the ground that the criminal action is a SLAPP.

(2)     Summary hearing The hearing on the defense of a SLAPP shall be summary in nature. The parties must submit all the available evidence in support of their respective positions. The party seeking the dismissal of the case must prove by substantial evidence that his acts for the enforcement of environmental law are a legitimate action for the protection, preservation and rehabilitation of the environment. The party filing the action assailed as a SLAPP shall prove by preponderance of evidence that the action is not a SLAPP.

(3)     Resolution. The court shall grant the motion if the accused establishes in the summary hearing that the criminal case has been filed with intent to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that any person, institution or the government has taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights. If the court denies the motion, the court shall immediately proceed with the arraignment of the accused.

 

  1. Evidence

 

Precautionary Principle (Rule 20)

 

(1)     Definition. Precautionary principle states that when human activities may lead to threats of serious and irreversible damage to the environment that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that threat (Sec. 4[f], Rule 1, Part 1).

(2)     The adoption of the precautionary principle as part of these Rules, specifically relating to evidence, recognizes that exceptional cases may require its application. the inclusion of a definition of this principle is an integral part of Part V, Rule on Evidence in environmental cases in order to ease the burden of the part of ordinary plaintiffs to prove their cause of action. In its essence, precautionary principle calls for the exercise of caution in the face of risk and uncertainty. While the principle can be applied in any setting in which risk and uncertainty are found, it has evolved predominantly in and today remains most closely associated with the environmental arena.

(3)     Applicability. When there is a lack of full scientific certainty in establishing a casual link between human activity and environmental effect, the court shall apply the precautionary principle in resolving the case before it. The constitutional right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology shall be given the benefit of the doubt (Sec. 1, Rule 20, Part V).

(4)     The precautionary principle bridges the gap in cases where scientific certainty in factual findings cannot be achieved. By applying this principle, the court may construe a set of facts as warranting either judicial action or inaction, with the goal of preserving and protecting the environment. This may be further evinced from the second paragraph of Sec. 1, Rule 20, where bias is created in favor of constitutional right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology. In effect, this principle shifts the burden of evidence of harm away from those likely to suffer harm and onto those desiring to change the status quo. This principle should be treated as a principle of last resort, where application of the regular Rules of Evidence would cause in an inequitable result for the environmental plaintiff:

(a)     Settings in which the risks of harm are uncertain;

(b)     Settings in which harm might be irreversible and what is lost is irreplaceable; and

(c)     Settings in which the harm that might result would be serious.

(5)     When these features—uncertainty, the possibility of irreversible harm, and the possibility of serious harm—coincide, the case for the precautionary principle is strongest. When in doubt, cases must be resolved in favor of the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology. Parenthetically, judicial adjudication is one of the strongest for a in which the precautionary principle may find applicability.

(6)     Standards for application. In applying the precautionary principle, the following factors, among others, may be considered: (a) threats to human life or health; (b) inequity to present or future generations; or (c) prejudice to the environment without legal consideration of the environmental rights of those affected (Sec. 2, Rule 20).

 

Documentary Evidence (Rule 21)

 

(1)     Photographic, video and similar evidence of events, acts, transaction of wildlife, wildlife by-products or derivatives, forest products or mineral resources subject of a case shall be admissible when authenticated by the person who took the same, by some other person present when said evidence was taken, or by any other person competent to testify on the accuracy thereof (Sec. 1).

(2)     Entries in official records made in the performance of his duty by a public officer of the Philippines, or by a person in performance of a duty especially enjoined by law, are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated (Sec. 2).

(3)     These provisions seek to address specific evidentiary concerns in environmental litigation, where evidence is often difficult to obtain and preserve. They supplement the main Rules on Evidence, which shall have full applicability to environmental cases.

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Responses

  1. salamat….salamat….salamat…. of great HELP talaga…! doing my review.

    Like

  2. CORRECTION n WRIT of COnt. Mandamus v. Writ of Kalikasan:

    Who may file.

    A Writ of Continuing Mandamus is available
    only to one who is personally aggrieved by the unlawful
    act or omission.

    On the other hand, a petition for the issuance of a
    Writ of Kalikasan is available to a broad range of persons
    such as 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 right to a balanced and healthful ecology
    is violated or threatened to be violated.

    Like

  3. Also, Special Proceeding, not Special Procedure.

    Thank you for this. 🙂

    Like


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