Philippine Supreme Court, En Banc, Denies Petition for Writ of Kalikasan and Environmental Protection Order Against Mining Company

September 11, 2018

In a decision issued on April 24, 2018 the Philippine Supreme Court (SC), deciding en banc, denied the appeal by NGO Ang Aroroy ay Alagaan, Inc. and certain individuals, for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan against Filminera Resources Corporation, and its directors and officers. The petitioners have claimed that Filminera, which operates in the Philippine province of Masbate, had been causing environmental damage in the conduct of its mining operations in violation of local law, and that a writ of kalikasan should be issued.

The SC resolution ruled that the petitioners failed to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals (CA) committed any reversible error when it found in its March 8, 2017 decision that the petitioners had not established that Filminera had committed any violations of applicable laws that caused the alleged environmental damage, and that Filminera had rebutted the claims of the petitioners with overwhelming countervailing evidence showing that Filminera conducts its mining operations in full compliance with applicable environmental laws, regulations, and best practices in the mining industry.

On April 4, 2017, the petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the Decision, which was denied by the CA in a resolution dated August 2, 2017. The petitioners appealed the case to the Supreme Court on August 29, 2017.

The ruling is an interesting development in the current legal milieu in the Philippines for mining, where the administration has strongly expressed pro-environment policies and there has been a recent push to audit and close mining companies.

The petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the SC Resolution on July 25, 2018, which is pending resolution in the Supreme Court.

SyCipLaw represented Filminera with the team composed of partners Rolando V. Medalla, Jr., Ramon G. Songco, Ronald Mark C. Lleno, and associates Bennet A. Gubat, April Gayle U. Soller, Loubelle L. Razon, and Jo Margarette W. Remollo.