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Forum on environmental justice


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Forum on environmental justice

  1. 1. Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court Manila FROM THE DESK OF: A J TTY. OSE M IDAS . PM ARQUEZ CHIEF OF STAFF, OFFICE OF THE CHIEF JUSTICE CHIEF, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE ASSISTANT COURT ADMINISTRATOR 12 March 2009 MR. PIPALAWAN O. NAGA Technical Director Save Lake Lanao Movement (SALLAM) 12-B 6th Street, MSU Main Campus Marawi City 9700 PHILIPPINES Dear MR. NAGA: The Supreme Court is spearheading a Forum on Environmental Justice: Upholding the Right to a Balanced and Healthful Ecology on 16 – 17 April 2009, to be held simultaneously in three sites nationwide through videoconferencing—University of the Cordilleras (Baguio City), University of the Philippines Visayas (Iloilo City), and Ateneo de Davao University (Davao City). The main site of the forum is Baguio City because the vigorous and continuing debates on Baguio’s environmental issues make it an especially apt venue for the forum. The forum will be an ideal activity as a run-up to Earth Day on 22 April 2009. This forum completes the circle of rights initiatives of the Supreme Court which began in July 2007 with the conduct of the National Consultative Summit on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances. That same year, the Supreme Court promulgated the Rules on the Writ of Amparo and the Writ of Habeas Data which are both aimed at protecting the first generation rights in the form of individual and civil rights. The following year, the Supreme Court conducted the Forum on Increasing Access to Justice for the Poor which focused on the second generation of human rights and resulted, among others, the formulation of the Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases, and the Enhanced Justice on Wheels Program (EJOW), and the Rule on Mandatory Legal Aid Service for Practicing Lawyers among others. In this regard, on behalf of the Supreme Court, may we invite you to attend the two-day forum at the Ateneo de Davao University, 8016 Roxas Avenue, Davao City? We are sending herewith the Forum Program and Guide for your information and perusal. May we also request you to accomplish the attached registration form and fax to (02) 552-9628. There will be no registration fees. Transportation costs, meals and hotel accommodation will be provided during the forum. We look forward to seeing you in April. Very truly yours, JOSE MIDAS P. MARQUEZ
  2. 2. Supreme Court of the Philippines Manila Forum on Environmental Justice: Upholding the Right to a Balanced & Healthful Ecology 16 – 17 April 2009 (Thursday to Friday) University of the Cordilleras, Baguio City University of the Philippines Visayas, Iloilo City Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City FORUM GUIDE A. BACKGROUND The Rule of Law and the Environment. On August 2002, in the Global Judges Symposium on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Johannesburg Principles were drafted by the attending representatives of the judiciaries all over the world holding that “an independent judiciary and judicial process is vital for the implementation, development and enforcement of environmental law….” It further emphasized that “the fragile state of the global environment requires the Judiciary, as the guardian of the Rule of Law, to boldly and fearlessly, implement and enforce applicable international and national laws, which, in the field of environment and sustainable development will assist in alleviating poverty and sustaining an enduring civilization, and ensuring that the present generation will enjoy and improve the quality of life of all peoples, while also ensuring that the inherent rights and interests of succeeding generations are not compromised.” Environmental degradation and climate change increasingly receive international coverage within the context of human rights issues. Recognition of the link between the abuse of the human rights of various vulnerable communities and related damage to their environment is expressed under the term environmental justice. In both the industrialised and developing parts of the world, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that poor and other disenfranchised groups have been the greatest victims of environmental degradation. Environmental Justice. The concept of environmental justice embraces two objectives. The first is to ensure that rights and responsibilities regarding the utilisation of environmental resources are distributed with greater fairness among communities, both globally and domestically. This entails ensuring that poor and marginalised communities do not suffer a disproportionate burden of the costs associated with the development of resources, while not enjoying equivalent benefits from their utilisation. The second is to reduce the overall amount of environmental damage domestically and globally. The Right to a Healthy Environment. Section 16 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution, provides 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.” In Section 15 of the same Article, it is provided that: “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.” The right to a healthy environment requires a healthy human habitat, including clean water, air, and soil that are free from toxins or hazards that threaten human health. The right to a healthy environment entails the obligation of governments to refrain from interfering directly or indirectly with the enjoyment of the right to a healthy environment; prevent third parties such as corporations from interfering in any way with the enjoyment of the right to a healthy environment; and adopt the necessary measures to achieve the full realisation of the right to a healthy environment. Within the Judiciary, the Supreme Court has, for several years, now been implementing a comprehensive judicial reform program, which focuses on the development of systems, institutions, and resources. On the issue of environmental justice in particular, the Supreme Court has taken steps to address delays in the resolution of environment cases, lack of information, stringent requirements in litigation, lack of environmental (“green”) courts and other barriers to environmental justice. While these measures are continuing, there is a need to assess their impact, consolidate gains, further enhance their effectiveness, identify and obviate constraints, and to launch innovative initiatives, through the Court’s singular rule-making power under the Constitution concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure on all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged. [Art. VIII, § 5 (5)]
  3. 3. On 28 January 2008, the Court issued SC Administrative Circular No. 23-2008, designating 117 environmental (“green”) courts. The designation of environmental courts is just one of the many steps in helping affected communities that have suffered adverse conditions resulting from environmental law violations. Currently, some judges may not be ready to try cases that involve technical procedures or terms; lack awareness on existing environmental laws; or fail to realize that a speedy trial is crucial, given that a number of environmental cases concern survival of species. With these scenarios in mind, there are succeeding steps that need to be undertaken to strengthen the courts and make them effective, foremost of which, is the capability training for judges handling the environmental courts. Another step would be the greening not only of the benches but also the other pillars of justice, namely the prosecution, enforcement, community, and penology. A multi- sectoral framework would be crucial because no environmental court will function fairly if one pillar is prejudiced against the other. The other pillars would also necessitate awareness trainings to fully understand the requirements of environmental justice. After 2007’s national consultative summit seeking solutions to the problem of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances that constitute a violation of our people’s civil and political rights, and 2008’s forum on increasing access to justice by the poor and marginalized groups, the Court now focuses its attention to what has been termed as “third generation” rights, particularly, environmental rights. The Forum will enable the Court to receive inputs directly from the different stakeholders in the justice system, particularly the sectors that are most vulnerable. The outputs from the Forum will also enable the Court and other allied pillars of justice to better fulfill their constitutional mandate in promoting, protecting and upholding the right to a balanced and healthful ecology. B. FORUM OBJECTIVES 1. To validate the draft Rule of Procedure for Environmental Cases; 2. To discuss the need for a mechanism/structure that will address the need to monitor environmental cases or issues and monitor compliance thereat; and 3. To identify best practices of some agencies/units and replicate in a particular situation. C. PARTICIPANTS AND OBSERVERS A estimated total of 560 participants and observers from the Judiciary, Executive and Legislative branch, Non-Governmental Organizations, Peoples’ Organization, the Academe, Development Partners, and Diplomatic Corps will be invited. The participants will then be distributed to each of the break-out groups to best represent the following sectors: 1. Forestry 5. Solid Waste 2. Water 6. Toxic Substances 3. Marine 7. Energy 4. Air D. WORKING LANGUAGE The working languages of the Forum are English and Filipino. Forum documents are available in English only. E. FORUM PROPER The Forum will be held for two days, from 16 – 17 April 2009, simultaneously in three sites — University of Cordilleras in Baguio City, University of the Philippines Visayas in Iloilo City, and Ateneo de Davao University in Davao City, which shall all be linked through video conferencing. Day 1: 16 April 2009 During the morning session, heads of government agencies will deliver a short message on how the courts can help in the protection and preservation of the environment and their agencies’ commitment on environmental justice. These messages will thereafter be followed by a short response from representatives of civil society. The culminating activity before lunch break will be a signing of Memorandum of Commitment on Environmental Justice by the different heads of government agencies, representatives of civil society, and the Judiciary. After lunch, participants will break out into their pre-determined groups to share their respective experiences and surface issues concerning environmental justice relating not only to the Court, but also regarding implementation, enforcement, legislation, monitoring, etc…The objectives of this group-sharing are: (1) to identify legal and non-legal issues on environmental justice in the participants’ respective areas of concern; (2) to identify gaps existing in substantive laws and rules concerning environmental justice; and (3) to identify 2
  4. 4. best practices in attaining environmental justice of some groups despite the absence or inadequacies of substantive laws and rules or the unresponsiveness of government agencies/prosecutors/other authorities. Each group will be assisted by a facilitator and a documentor. A synthesis of the groups discussion will be presented by region (Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao) on the 2nd day of the Forum. Day 1 of the forum will be concluded with a presentation on the proposed Rule of Procedure for Environmental Cases. Day 2: 17 April 2009 On Day 2, a synthesis of the group discussions of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao shall be presented during the plenary session. This will be followed by a workshop where participants will be requested to comment and share their insights on the proposed Rule of Procedure for Environmental Cases. The highlight of the afternoon session of Day 2 will be a presentation by each group of their respective reports and recommendations on the proposed Rule. The Court may adopt or refer to the necessary body for appropriate action the recommendations from the Forum. D. SPEAKERS All speakers are encouraged to prepare and submit a paper of any length with annexes if needed, detailing the significant inputs of their respective agencies / sectors. However, because of time constraints, each speaker is only allotted a maximum of 10 minutes to make their respective presentations. The moderator will remind the speakers of their remaining time. With permission from the speaker, his/her paper will be printed and distributed to the participants by the forum secretariat. It will also be uploaded in the Supreme Court of the Philippines website ( The speakers are requested to provide the secretariat with electronic copies of their respective papers together with their one-page profile with photo (jpeg format) on or before 16 March 2009 (Friday) through email at: The hard copies of the papers and one-page personal profiles of the speakers may likewise be received at the Public Information Office (PIO) of the Supreme Court, 3/F Annex Building, Supreme Court of the Philippines, Padre Faura Street, Manila. A computer and printer will be made available at a designated room where speakers may edit their presentation or rehearse should they wish to. During the forum proper, an LCD projector with screen and a computer operator will also be available. Should the speakers have any other requirements, please feel free to coordinate with the contact person listed below on or before 16 March 2009 (Friday). H. REGISTRATION Registration is required for all participants. Pre-registration can be done by sending the completed registration form through email at or fax to the following numbers: 1. Speakers, Government Agencies, Local Government Units (LGUs), and Media c/o Public Information Office at Tel. No. +632 526 8129 2. Development Partners, Diplomatic Corps, Judges, NGOs/POs c/o the Philippine Judicial Academy at Tel. No. +632 552 9628 On-site registration will commence on 15 April 2009 (Wednesday), beginning at 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the respective hotel lobbies. Registration on 16 April 2009 (Thursday) will commence from 08:00 to 08:30 a.m. at the University of Cordilleras, Baguio City, University of the Philippines Visayas, Iloilo City, and Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City. Participants who have pre-registered will be given their respective IDs, while those who have not yet pre-registered are requested to secure their IDs from the Forum Secretariat. Kits will be given at the registration counter upon presentation of the ID. All participants must wear their IDs for the duration of the forum. I. MEALS and HOTEL ACCOMMODATION The following hotel accommodations are provided for participants coming from the regions/provinces outside of Baguio City, Iloilo City and Davao City from 15 April to 18 April 2009: • Luzon participants, except those residing in Baguio City, shall be given hotel accommodation at the Hotel Veniz, Baguio City. 3
  5. 5. • Visayas participants, except those residing in Iloilo City, shall be given hotel accommodation at the Amigo Hotel, Iloilo City. • Mindanao participants, except those residing in Davao City, shall be given hotel accommodation at the Royal Mandaya Hotel, Davao City. Check-in time is 2:00 p.m. of 15 April and the latest check-out time is at 12:00 noon of 18 April. Participants arriving earlier than the designated check-in time on 15 April or those who wish to depart beyond 18 April will shoulder the additional costs of accommodation. The organizers have reserved rooms on sharing arrangements with breakfast. Participants are requested to observe room assignments strictly. The organizers cannot guarantee room preference. Accompanying persons not invited to attend the forum will have to shoulder the costs of their own accommodation. Use of mini bar and outgoing calls from the hotel rooms are not allowed. However, should the participants wish to avail of these and other hotel services, they may do so at their own personal expense. Meal arrangement at the hotel accommodations will be provided as follows: • 15 April, Wednesday: Dinner • 16 April, Thursday: Breakfast and Dinner • 17 April, Friday: Breakfast and Dinner • 18 April, Saturday: Breakfast Lunch and Snacks during the Forum will be provided at the respective venues. J. REIMBURSEMENT OF TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES (for NGOs and Pos, and Judges ONLY) Participants coming from the regions/provinces outside of Baguio City, Iloilo City and Davao City may reimburse their transportation expenses upon furnishing the Finance Group the following documents: • Completed Itinerary of Travel; and • Original transportation tickets such as but not limited to plane fare tickets with boarding pass, bus and boat tickets. The reimbursement process will be done based on the following schedule and venue: • 15 April, 2-4 PM, Hotel: Submission of requirements • 16 April, 8 AM -12 NN, Forum Venue: Submission of requirements • 16 April, 1 PM – 4 PM, Forum Venue: Release of reimbursements • 17 April, 8 AM - 4 PM, Forum Venue: Release of reimbursements Participants are encouraged to take the most economical means of transportation to the venue. Only direct transportation expenses will be reimbursed. The reimbursement process shall be done in accordance with existing government accounting and auditing rules and regulations. K. SEATING ARRANGEMENTS OF PARTICIPANTS Participants are requested to be guided by the signage in finding their respective seats. Ushers and usherettes will also be posted before the start of the sessions to assist the participants in finding their seats. L. FORUM SECRETARIAT Should you have any concerns during the forum, please feel free to approach any of the Secretariat team members who can be identified through their respective I.D.s. Should you have other questions and request for additional information please refer them to any of the following: The Forum Secretariat: Armida M. Salazar Charmaine C. Saltivan (02) 552.95.23 to 24 Abigail T. Sze (02) 522.50.94 0928.500.98.72 4