One Year Later


One year after the world’s deadliest attack against journalists, the families of the 58 victims of the Ampatuan massacre continue to hope that their quest for justice will not be in vain.
Time, though, does not appear to be on their side. A year later, the numbers are dire: both the prosecution and defense have told the court that they will present the testimonies of at least 500 witnesses. After a year of trial, only 13 witnesses have thus been presented, many of whom may still recalled for cross-examination since almost all of those who have testified did so only in opposition to the Petition for Bail filed by a principal suspect in the case, Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr.

Worse, of the 196 accused of perpetrating the massacre, one has since been absolved, and only 79 have been apprehended by the authorities. An overwhelming number of those indicted for the massacre continue to be at large, including no less than 21 members of the Ampatuan clan. Of

those already in custody, only 51 have been arraigned. The patriarch, Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, have both not been arraigned because they still have pending petitions in the Court of Appeals questioning the existence of probable cause against them. Meanwhile, at least three witnesses, including self-confessed gunman, Suwaid Upham, have been killed and silenced. Many other witnesses, including their immediate families, are on the run fearing that their testimonies may endanger their own lives and limbs, including those of their loved ones.

There are some good news. To begin with, at least five members of the Ampatuan family, including the patriarch and his two sons, are in jail while the trial drags on. “ There is at least consolation in the fact that although they have not been found guilty, the Ampatuans are already paying for their sins in jail”, said Myrna Reblando, whose husband, Alejandro or “Bong”, was the only full-time employee of a national daily newspaper, the Manila Bulletin, killed in the massacre. There too is the fact that according to witness Rainier Ebus, it was Andal “Unsay” Jr., his cousin Datu Kanor, who is still at large, and several other gunmen, majority of whom are members of the Ampatuan’s private army, who shot and killed all 58 victims at close range using high powered firearms. Ebus’ testimony corroborated to the letter the narration of Upham, the witness who was killed. “Somehow, this truth on who actually killed my son aggravates the pain”, said Cristine Nuñez, mother of Victor Nuñez, a cameraman of UNTV who was killed in the massacre.

There have also been at least two witnesses who positively identified the patriarch, the former ARRM governor and other members of the Ampatuan family as taking part in the planning of the massacre. Witness Lakmudin Saliao, a former household helper of the Ampatuans, testified that he was present in at least two meetings where the clan agreed that their own relative, Esmael “Toto” Mangundadatu should not be allowed to challenge their rein in Maguindanao. According to the witness, the decision was unanimous: kill “Toto” and whoever would be with him when he files his certificate of candidacy. At one point, the patriarch was quoted by this witness as having ordered his son “Unsay” to spare the journalists and women who were part of the convoy. But the same witness related how the old man relented after being told by his son that the survivors may give evidence to the crime if their lives would be spared.

More importantly, the witnesses presented thus far have testified on attempts to cover up this massacre beyond the earlier attempt to bury all of its victims and the vehicles that they were on. The former house help testified how immediately after the carnage, the patriarch authorized the release of P400 million (roughly $10 million) to pay off prosecutors, investigators, and witnesses whom they wanted to retract their earlier testimonies. Worse, the witness also testified how no less than a Cabinet member of the former Arroyo regime, Jesus Dureza, who ironically was a former journalist himself, was ordered to be given at least P20 million pesos ($500, 000) albeit for still unclear reasons. What is clear though that it was to the same Jesus Dureza to whom the Ampatuan clan surrendered the custody of “Unsay” Ampatuan, after allegedly agreeing that no less then former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will ultimately exercise custody over the patriarch’s apparently favorite son and heir- apparent. This bolstered the fears of many of the victims that justice against the killers would have been impossible under the past regime given the Ampatuans’ close personal and political ties with the former president.

Meanwhile, the relatives of the victims continue to grapple with both the emotional pain and financial pressures brought about by the loss of their loved ones, many of whom were the sole breadwinners of their families. While the Philippine government has given each of the victims at least $6,000 by way of financial assistance, this could hardly compensate them for both the economic loss and the emotional pain created by the massacre. “I have to be strong for the sake of my child. I have to invest the little financial assistance I have received to raise my son’, declared Arlene Umpad, live-in partner of McGilbert Arriola, a camera man for UNTV who was among those killed. Arlene has invested part of the money she has received to raise cows in the province of Quezon where she and her child relocated for security reasons. Arlene, apart from tending to her cows, now also has to raise her child alone. Her son was merely three months old when the massacre happened. Her deceased partner was the youngest victim of the massacre.

Many families of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre have opted not to attend the commemoration of the tragedy at the scene of the massacre. “I will be busy tending to the grave of my husband”, said Zenaida Duhay. Another widow, Noemi Parcon, expressed apprehension about the very safety of the commemoration itself since days before, a bomb exploded in the national highway leading to the massacre site. Noemi added: “what is more important is for government to hasten the prosecution so we can obtain justice soon”.

As the Philippines and the world commemorate the worst attack on journalists in modern history, the families of the victims will light candles in the tombs of their loved ones. A candle, in the Philippines, is a symbol of remembrance. To some it also is a means of sending a message that they are not departed.

Kin of massacre victims explore U.N. help on court case


By Yahoo! Southeast Asia Editors – November 23rd, 2010Email Facebook Twitter Print

By Mylah Roque, VERA Files
For Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Relatives of victims of the year-old Maguindanao massacre on Monday sought the help of the visiting United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression in speeding up prosecution of members of the Ampatuan family and more than a hundred others charged with the multiple killings that have been described as the country’s worst election-related violence.

“Can you be a bridge to our government as our justice is so delayed?” Catherine Nunez, mother of one of the 32 journalists and media workers killed in the massacre, asked Special Rapporteur Frank William La Rue during a lecture-dialog held at the University of the Philippines College of Law.

Nunez specifically asked if the U.N. could facilitate with the Philippine government a speedier resolution of the prosecution of the case.

La Rue is in Manila not on an official visit but to participate in activities marking the first anniversary of the massacre. But he told Nunez, “As a matter of principle, impunity often comes (not just) as denial of justice but also as slowness of justice.”

La Rue expresed optimism over the prospect of coming to the Philippines on a formal visit, but at the same time said it could happen only after requests and invitations are made by a broad spectrum of affected individuals and institutions.

He would need a formal invitation from the Philippine government to conduct a formal factfinding.

The last time such an official invitation was issued was in February 2007, when Philip Alston, then the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, visited and issued a report characterized by a strong disapproval of the many executions that occurred during the Arroyo government.

As special rapporteur, La Rue has a mandate from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct factfinding missions relating to violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, discrimination, threats and violence against journalists or other professionals in the field of information.

La Rue noted that it is in the Philippines that the highest number of journalists killed in a single instance happened.

The 2010 Impunity Index of the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked the Philippines third worldwide, after Iraq and Somalia, among the countries where journalists are killed regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes.

At the lecture-dialog sponsored by CenterLaw, Media Legal Defence Initiative and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, La Rue talked about his experience as a Guatemalan human rights lawyer and how mechanisms such as the U.N.-sponsored International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala could be a useful model for other countries.

Besides Nunez, relatives of massacre victims who attended the lecture-dialog were Myrna Reblando, Editha Tiamzon, Julieta Evardo, Zenaida Duhay and Ma. Cipiriana Gatchalian.

Aside from them, two Filipino comfort women— Isabelita Vinuya and Perla Balingit—spoke with La Rue.

+++

VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look into current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

THE NATIONAL IHL MOOT COURT COMPETITION


I’m back. After a whole semester that seemed like an eternity, I’m back behind the teachers’ desk at the UP College of Law. And because it is the Centennial of the College this year, I was spared from the normal 12 hours of teaching a week and lieu thereof; I get to teach only two subjects but with the commitment to publish at least two books as part of the commemoration.

This also means that I am back as well to the many curricular activities that I used to take more seriously in the past. High up in the list is mooting, or competitions where law students simulate court proceedings either before the International Court of Justice in the Jessup Moot Court competition, or the International Criminal Court for the Philipppine International Humanitarian Law Moot Court Competition sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The IHL moot competition in fact begins today with a welcome dinner and launch of the third volume of the Asia-Pacific Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law at Barbara’s in Intramuros tonight.

I am particularly proud of the IHL moot competition because I founded it in 2005 when I was then the Director of the Institute of International Legal Studies of the UP Law Center. It used to be that the Manila delegation of the ICRC would send both the UP and the Ateneo moot court teams to Hong Kong to compete in the Regional IHL moot court competition sponsored by the Hong Kong Red Cross. I was the coach for UP when in 2004, we won both first and second place in this regional competition prompting the organizers to change the rules of the competition, To prevent a repeat of our feat in 2004 where both UP teams representing the prosecution and the defense went against each other in the final round, creating thus a dilemma for me on which side to cheer; subsequent competitions would hence require the same students to argue both sides of the given problem. In this manner, no two teams from one school could now ever go against each other at the final
round. That was the first and only time the Philippines won that competition in Hong Kong. In the previous year in 2003, another team which I coached, whose members included Diane Desierto now of the ICJ and Yale Law School, Neil Silva of the Department of Justice, and Ruben Acebedo, also made history when they became the first ever Asian team to win the English round of the Jean Pictet IHL Competition in France, sharing the grand prize with the team from Cambridge University. That feat has also not been repeated although the National University of Singapore has since also won in the English session of the Pictet.

In any case, fresh from our twin and unprecedented victory in Hong Kong, I decided that the dissemination of IHL could be better served if more schools are made to join the IHL moot competition. Since the Manila ICRC could not send more than two teams to Hong Kong annually, I suggested that we hold a national IHL moot court competition. The winner, as a prize, would then be sent as the Philippine team to the Hong Kong Regional moot competition, And so in November of 2005, with funding provided by the Manila ICRC delegation and with the cooperation of the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court, we held the very first Philippine National IHL Moot Court Competition.

We only had 6 teams competition on the first ever competition. This, I thought, was still an improvement over the number of schools participating in the Philip Jessup Moot Court competition. At its best, Jessup attracted only three schools which inevitably, was from UP, Ateneo and a third school, normally a choice between UST or De La Salle. Since its humble beginnings, the Philippine National IHL Moot Competition has been attracting an average of 16 schools annually. This year, there will only be 14 schools competition with at least 2 schools withdrawing from this year’s competition.

IHL is not only my field of specialization. It is also of utmost importance to the Philippines. As a lex specialis applicable in times of armed conflicts and with the avowed goal of limiting human sufferings in times of armed hostilities, IHL literally could mean the difference between life or death for civilians and other protected individuals.

This year’s problem for the competition is the criminal liability of one Colonel Potter for:

1) Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;

2) Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects;

3) Employing weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering or which are inherently indiscriminate in violation of the international law of armed conflict.

The prosecutors need to establish all the elements of the crime charged, including the basis for the colonel’s criminal responsibility, either for directly ordering the acts or on the basis of command responsibility. As is the case in the real world, the task is very hard for the prosecutor since it has to prove all the elements of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt. Defense counsel, on the other hand, has the relatively easier task of introducing reasonable doubt. The downside for the defense is that since this is sponsored by the ICRC which stands for adherence with the letter and intent of the law, the accused will normally be viewed as villains.

To all the participants and coaches to this year’s Philippine National Moot Court Competition, welcome and may the best team win! See you in the final round of the competition on the 19th of this month at the session hall of the Supreme Court.#30#

Motion For Reconsideration in IN THE MATTER OF THE CHARGES OF PLAGIARISM, ETC., AGAINST ASSOCIATE JUSTICE MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO (A.M. NO. 10-7-17- SC)


attached please find a copy of the motion for reconsideration which we filed this afternoon in the Supreme Court involving the plagiarism case of Justice Mariano Del Castillo. The blotted portions refer to confidential mattes taken up during the ethics committee hearing.

http://www.mediafire.com/?x4952qljaf4mz65

First ever “Writ of Kalikasan” filed in CA vs. MERALCO


In the first ever case for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan, residents of Pasay and Makati are seeking the dismantling of electricity transmission poles and lines near their houses.

The residents of Barangay 183 in Villamor, Pasay City and Magallanes Village in Makati City filed their petition before the Court of Appeals, arguing that the erection of electricity poles carrying 115-kilovolt transmission lines near their residences was cleared by their barangay officials without consulting them and without studying the possible adverse effects of the lines to their health.

The petitioners are citing scientific studies that have shown that the energy produced by the electricity running through the lines will bring hazardous effects to the health and safety of the people living nearby.

Atty. Harry Roque, counsel for the petitioners, said that the local government officials failed to comply with the legal requirements in the construction and installation of these structures.

“Under Article II, Section 15 and 16 of the Constitution, they have a duty to protect and promote the right of the people to good health and balanced ecology,” said Roque. He added that the failure to conduct prior public consultation is a violation of Section 27 of the Local Government Code.

As an injunctive measure, the petitioners have asked the Court of Appeals to issue a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO), which is a feature introduced by the new Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (AM No. 09-6-8-SC), under which their petition was filed. A TEPO will prohibit the further installation of new poles and transmission lines while the case is pending with the court.

AM No. 09-6-8-SC, which governs the issuance of the writ of kalikasan, was promulgated early this year to hasten the resolution of environmental cases. #

HERE’S the text of the Petition:

Republic of the Philippines
COURT OF APPEALS
Manila

GEMMA C. DELA CRUZ, FIDEL E. AMOYO, VIOLETA M. CRUZ, ZENAIDA C. MANGUNDAYAO, ANDRES M. COMIA, MARJORIE N. PABLO, MARIA TERESITA R. CANON, JOEL JULIUS A. MARASIGAN, GINALYN V. CACALDA, BABY LYNN E. TAGUPA, LYDIA B. RAYOS, JESUS R. PUENTE, JACINTO R. RICAPLAZA, ARMANDO P. PADILLA, FLORENTINO MARTINEZ, MARIE AMELITA R. MICIANO, LYDIA R. MICIANO, MA. LOURDES U. LACSON, JUAN CARLOS C. GAON, MA. BLEZIE C. GAON, AUREA A. PARAS, REMEDIOS Z. MORENO, MARIA JUANA N. CARRION, ALICIA K. KATIGBAK, JEDEDIA M. TUMALE, VICENTA M. MORALES, REYNALDO G. MARQUEZ, MARIA LUISA V. GORDON, NOEMI M. GOMEZ, MARIA CHRISTINA D. RIVERA, CATHERINE D. ROMERO-SALAS, MERCEDITA O. BELGADO, REV. FR. EDWIN EUGENIO MERCADO, MA. CONCEPCION M. YABUT, REYNALDO Z. SANTAYANA, ANGELO D. SULIT, ALFREDO A. GLORIA, JR., MICHAEL L. DE JESUS, JUSTIN MARC CHIPECO, KAREN HAZEL GANZON and JIMMY FAMARANCO,
Petitioners,

- versus – CA-G.R. SP. NO. ________________
(Petition for Writ of Kalikasan with prayer for Temporary Environmental Protection Order [TEPO])

MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY (MERALCO), BARANGAY CHAIRMAN CESAR S. TOLEDANES, in his capacity as Barangay Chairman of Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor, Pasay City, BARANGAY COUNCIL OF BARANGAY 183, ZONE 20, VILLAMOR AIR BASE, PASAY CITY, RUTH M. CORTEZ, RICARDO R. DIMAANO, LEONARDO A. ABAD, NORMITA CASTILLO and AMANTE C. CACACHO, in their capacity as Members of the Barangay Council of Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor, Pasay City and MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY (MIAA),
Respondents.
x————————————————–x

PETITION FOR WRIT OF KALIKASAN
WITH PRAYER FOR THE ISSUANCE OF A TEMPORARY ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ORDER (TEPO)

Petitioners, through the undersigned counsel, and to this Honorable Court, respectfully state that:

PREFATORY STATEMENT

1. What use will modernization serve if it proves to be a scourge on an individual’s fundamental right, not just to health and safety, but, ostensibly, to life preservation itself, in all of its desired quality?[1]

NATURE OF THE PETITION

2. This is a petition for the issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan, filed with this Honorable Court pursuant to Rule 7 of A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC, otherwise known as the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, concerning as it is the violation of the constitutional rights of the residents of the Cities of Pasay and Makati to a balanced and healthful ecology.

PARTIES

3. Petitioners are residents and inhabitants of Barangay 183-Villamor, Zone 20, Pasay City andMagallanes Village, Makati City, all of legal age, Filipinos, with capacity to sue, and residents of the following addresses, respectively:
Name
Address
GEMMA C. DELA CRUZ
40 Mata St. cor. Manlunas Extension, Barangay Villamor, Pasay City
FIDEL E. AMOYO
P 36-08 9th cor. 2nd Sts., Barangay Villamor, Pasay City
VIOLETA M. CRUZ
Barangay Villamor, Pasay City
ZENAIDA C. MANGUNDAYAO
F11 4th 21st St., Villamor Air Base,Pasay City
ANDRES M. COMIA
P36-10 9th St., Villamor Air Base,Pasay City
MARJORIE N. PABLO
B85 L9, 12-27th St., Villamor Air Base,Pasay City
MARIA TERESITA R. CANON
P-11-24 3rd St., Villamor Air Base,Pasay City
JOEL JULIUS A. MARASIGAN
U203 EAM Apratments 6th St., Villamor Air Base, Pasay City
GINALYN V. CACALDA
P57-05 17th St., Villamor Air Base,Pasay City
BABY LYNN E. TAGUPA
F1 4th St., Barangay Villamor, PasayCity
LYDIA B. RAYOS
P18-03 7th-12th St., AM’s Village, Barangay Villamor, Pasay City
JESUS R. PUENTE
P35-09 9th St., Airmen’s Village, Barangay Villamor, Pasay City
JACINTO R. RICAPLAZA
Block 72 Lot 25, 17th St., Villamor Air Base, Pasay City
ARMANDO P. PADILLA
18 Sta. Rosa St., Magallanes Village,Makati City
FLORENTINO L. MARTINEZ
20 Magdalena Circle, MagallanesVillage, Makati City
MARIE AMELITA R. MICIANO
23 Humabon St., Magallanes Village,Makati City
LYDIA R. MICIANO
23 Humabon St., Magallanes Village,Makati City
MA. LOURDES U. LACSON
29 Humabon St., Magallanes Village,Makati City
JUAN CARLOS C. GAON
AA 428 Galeria de Magallanes,Magallanes Village, Makati City
MA. BLEZIE C. GAON
AA 428 Galeria de Magallanes,Magallanes Village, Makati City
AUREA G. PARAS
16 Encarnacion St., MagallanesVillage, Makati City
REMEDIOS Z. MORENO
14 Socorro St., Magallanes Village,Makati City
MARIA JUANA N. CARRION
AB 105 Galeria de Magallanes,Magallanes Village, Makati City
ALICIA K. KATIGBAK
35 Limasawa St., Magallanes Village,Makati City
JEDEDIA M. TUMALE
38 Trinidad St., Magallanes Village,Makati City
VICENTA M. MORALES
43 Magdalena St., MagallanesVillage, Makati City
REYNALDO G. MARQUEZ
B102 Galeria de Magallanes,Magallanes Village, Makati City
MARIA LUISA V. GORDON
60 San Gregorio St., MagallanesVillage, Makati City
NOEMI M. GOMEZ
22 Humabon St., Magallanes Village,Makati City
MARIA CHRISTINA D. RIVERA
18 Homonhon St., MagallanesVillage, Makati City
CATHERINE D. ROMERO-SALAS
4 San Pablo St., Magallanes Village,Makati City
MERCEDITA O. BELGADO
30 Magdalena St., MagallanesVillage, Makati City
REV. FR. EDWIN E. MERCADO
St. Alphonsus Mary de Ligouri Church, Humabon St., MagallanesVillage, Makati City
MA. CONCEPCION M. YABUT,
Magallanes Village, Makati City
REYNALDO Z. SANTAYANA,
20 Limasawa St., Magallanes Village,Makati City
ANGELO D. SULIT
37 Homonhon St., MagallanesVillage, Makati City
ALFREDO A. GLORIA, JR.
24 Mactan St., Magallanes Village,Makati City
MICHAEL L. DE JESUS
Asia Pacific College, Humabon St.,Magallanes Village, Makati City
JUSTIN MARC CHIPECO
36 Magdalena St., MagallanesVillage, Makati City
KAREN HAZEL GANZON
36 Magdalena St., MagallanesVillage, Makati City
JIMMY FAMARANCO
Magallanes Village, Makati City

Petitioners may be served with the orders, resolutions, notices and processes of this Honorable Court through their counsel of record, Atty. H. Harry L. Roque, Jr., at Roque and Butuyan Law Offices, 1904 Antel Corporate Centre, 121 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City, Philippines.

4. Respondent MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY (MERALCO) is a domestic corporation created and organized pursuant to the laws of the Republic of the Philippines with principal office address atMERALCO Building, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City, where it may be served with summons and other processes of this Honorable Court.

5. Respondent BARANGAY CHAIRMAN CESAR S. TOLEDANES is the Barangay Chairman of Bgy. 183, Zone 20, Villamor, Pasay City where he may be served with summons and other processes of the Honorable Court.

6. Respondent BARANGAY COUNCIL OF BARANGAY 183, ZONE 20, VILLAMOR, PASAYCITY, composed of:
a. Respondent RUTH M. CORTEZ, of legal age, Filipino;
b. Respondent RICARDO R. DIMAANO, of legal age, Filipino;
c. Respondent LEONARDO A. ABAD, of legal age, Filipino;
d. Respondent NORMITA CASTILLO, of legal age, Filipino; and
e. Respondent AMANTE C. CACACHO, of legal age, Filipino,
are holding office at the Barangay Hall of Barangay 183 located at Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor, PasayCity, where they may be served with summons and other processes of this Honorable Court.

7. Respondent MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY (MIAA) is a government agency created and organized pursuant to the laws of the Republic of the Philippines, vested with the power to administer and operate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport III (NAIA 3), and with principal office address at MIAA Administration Building, NAIA Complex Pasay City, where it may be served with summons and other processes of the Honorable Court.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

8. Barangay 183 Zone 20, Villamor, Pasay City (hereinafter referred to as “Barangay 183”, for brevity) used to be part of the Villamor Air Base. It was thereafter converted into a private residential land pursuant to Republic Act No. 7227, otherwise known as “An Act Accelerating the Conversion of Military Reservations Into Other Productive Uses, Creating the Bases Conversion And Development Authority For This Purpose, Providing Funds Therefor And For Other Purposes”. As such, the said parcel of land was subdivided and afterwards sold and awarded to its inhabitants, including herein Petitioners.

9. Magallanes Village (hereinafter referred to as “Magallanes Village”, for brevity) is a residential area located in Makati City adjacent to Barangay 183.

10. The Petitioners are existing residents and inhabitants of Barangay 183 and Magallanes Village. Some of them have likewise established their respective businesses and livelihood therein.

11. On 13 July 2009, without the prior authority from and approval by Respondent Barangay Council of Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City (hereinafter referred to as “Respondent Barangay Council”) and without the prior consultation with the constituents of the barangay, Respondent Barangay Chairman Cesar S. Toledanes (hereinafter referred to as “Respondent Toledanes”) issued a Barangay Working Permit Clearance “for the installation of 115 KV sub-transmission lines and poles at the10th and 12th Streets of Barangay 183.”[2]

12. Belatedly, however, on 02 September 2009, Respondent Barangay Council, composed of Respondents Cesar Toledanes, Ruth Cortez, Ricardo Dimaano, Leonardo Abad, Normita Castillo and Amante C. Cacho, passed Barangay Resolution No. 40-S-2009, authorizing Respondent Toledanes to issue a Barangay Permit authorizing respondent MERALCO to install high voltage power lines and poles at the 10thand 27th Streets of Barangay 183.[3] Similar to the Working Permit Clearance issued, Barangay Resolution No. 40-S-2009 was issued without a prior consultation with the constituents of the barangay.

13. Also, despite the close proximity of the installation of the high tension wires and poles to the nearby Magallanes Village in Makati City, the residents and inhabitants of the same were not notified or consulted with respect to such plans.

14. Thus, sometime in August 2010, Respondent MERALCO began erecting towering posts along the 10th, 12th and 27th streets of Barangay 183 and lining the perimeter wall between Barangay 183 andMagallanes Village.[4] The thirty (30) foot-high poles will hold the transmission lines that will supply more or less one hundred fifteen (115) Kilovolts (KV) of electricity to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport III (NAIA 3).

15. Petitioners were not informed that Respondent MERALCO was going to erect such posts in Barangay 183 either by Respondent MERALCO, Respondent MIAA, who administers and operates the Ninoy Aquino International Airport III (NAIA 3), and Respondents Toledanes, Ruth Cortez, Ricardo Dimaano, Leonardo Abad, Normita Castillo and Amante C. Cacacho, who are the barangay officials of Barangay 183. As such, Petitioners were surprised to find out Respondent MERALCO had already begun erecting the said posts without their knowledge and without public discussion.

16. The high tension transmission lines shall traverse the entire 10th and 12th streets of Bgy. 183, and shall pass along the concrete wall separating Barangay 183 of Pasay City and Magallanes Village of Makati City.

17. On 18 October 2010, Petitioner Gemma dela Cruz, on behalf of the other Petitioners, sent a letter to Respondents Toledanes, Cortez, Dimaano, Abad, Castillo and Cacacho, appealing for the recall of the Barangay Working Permit and Resolution No. 40-S-2009 earlier issued by them.[5] This, however, proved futile.

18. The alarming presence of the towering posts being erected in close proximity to–that is, as near as one (1) meter from–the respective properties of Petitioners-Residents of Bgy. 183 and less than ten (10) meters from the respective properties of Petitioners-Residents of Magallanes Village, and the hazardous effects of the high tension wires to their health and safety, bring Petitioners to seek the intervention of this Honorable Court.

19. Due to the urgency of the situation, as the installation and energizing of the high tension wires will be completed by December 2010, there is a need to protect the Petitioners from the hazardous and ill effects of the same.
GROUNDS FOR THE ALLOWANCE OF THE PETITION
– I -
THE INSTALLATION OF THE HIGH TENSION WIRES POSES DANGER TO THE LIVES, HEALTH AND PROPERTY OF THE RESIDENTS OF BARANGAY 183, PASAY CITY AND MAGALLANES VILLAGE, MAKATI CITY, INCLUDING HEREIN PETITIONERS;

- II -
THE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE THAT WILL BE CAUSED BY THE INSTALLATION OF SAID HIGH TENSION WIRES WILL AFFECT THE RESIDENTS OF BARANGAY 183, PASAY CITY ANDMAGALLANES VILLAGE, MAKATI CITY;

- III -
THE INSTALLATION OF THE SAID HIGH TENSION WIRES VIOLATES PETITIONER’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO A BALANCED AND HEALTHFUL ECOLOGY AS WELL AS ESTABLISHED ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS.

- IV -
THE ISSUANCE OF THE BARANGAY WORKING PERMIT CLEARANCE AND RESOLUTION NO. 40-S-2009 WAS TAINTED WITH IRREGULARITIES

- V -
THERE IS ANOTHER SUITABLE AND SAFER ROUTE FOR RESPONDENT MERALCO’S POWER TRANSMISSION PROJECT

DISCUSSION

I- THE INSTALLATION OF THE HIGH TENSION WIRES POSES DANGER TO THE LIVES, HEALTH AND PROPERTY OF THE RESIDENTS OF BARANGAY 183, PASAY CITY AND MAGALLANESVILLAGE, MAKATI CITY, INCLUDING HEREIN PETITIONERS
================================

20. Scientific studies and research have revealed that there are health risks involved in prolonged exposure to electromagnetic field or radiation. The risks include cancer, leukemia in children, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, miscarriages, headaches, memory loss and insomnia, to name a few.[6]

21. Alasdair and Jean Philips, in their book, The Powerwatch Handbook, published in 2006, noted that there are links between disease – such as leukaemia – and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and cites several instances of such, thus:
“In Abergavenny, in Wales, 4 neighbors living near powerlines developed brain tumours over a period of 18 months.

In the 8 houses closest to powerlines in Kilmarnock, Scotland, 9 people have died of cancer over the last 15 years.

In Dalmally, also in Scotland, in a small estate of 36 houses under a 275,000-volt powerline, 8 people died of cancer in 5 years, and 3 of motor neurone disease (MND).

A street in Exeter, Devon, where a 132,000-volt electricity pylon looms outside the homes of some of the residents has been dubbed ‘Death Road.’ In 28 houses, 23 people havedied from heart disease or cancer. In fact, the number of cancer deaths on the road is five times higher than the norm for Devon and Cornwall. Residents also complain of depression, headaches and memory loss.

x x x x x x x x x

In 1989, the Studholme family bought a bungalow in Great Manchester. An electricity meter in a cupboard in the hallway emitted a strong electromagnetic field through the wall into the front bedroom. Their son Simon slept with his head less than a yard from this meter. He started to complain of pains, but the doctors found nothing wrong. Within 18 months he had developed acute lymphatic leukaemia. He died in 1992 at the age of 13. Subsequent tests revealed that Simon had been sleeping in an electromagnetic field over 2.5 microtesla (a measurement of electromagnetic field strength), more than sixty times the average exposure level in UK homes. x x x”[7]

22. Moreover, there are also a good number of evidence that electromagnetic fields play a role not only in the development of brain and breast cancers but also of Alzheimer’s disease, depression and suicide, ALS or the Lou Gehrig’s disease which is a form of motor-neurone disease, incidents of miscarriages, and the development of the condition, known variously as electrosensitivity or electromagnetic hypersensitivity.[8]

23. Another concern that should be raised is the inevitable devaluation of the properties exposed to these high powered transmission lines. Because of their close proximity to the properties of Petitioners, the high voltage transmission lines would certainly restrict the height of the buildings, houses and structures that could be built on Petitioners’ properties. The presence itself of these gigantic steel posts, with huge cables strung to them, towering over Petitioners’ properties would surely scare away prospective buyers in case Petitioners decide to sell their properties. Undoubtedly, these circumstances mean a diminution of the value of their properties and loss of possible income and business opportunities.

24. Also, these high tension transmission lines shall transmit one hundred fifteen (115) Kilovolts of electricity to NAIA 3. However, the actual voltage may turn out to be higher considering the thirty (30) Megavolt (or 30,000 Kilovolt) requirement for the full operation of the NAIA 3. This increased electric currents passing through these high tension transmission lines would concomitantly result in the increased risk that the Petitioners and the other inhabitants of Barangay 183 and Magallanes Village are faced with.

25. Granting that the voltage that would be transmitted by these powerlines is only equivalent to 115KV, still the required distance for the electromagnetic field level to be within safe limits is around eighty seven (87) meters away.[9] In the instant case, the high tension transmission lines being erected by Respondent MERALCO are being constructed within a distance of less than one (1) meter from the houses and properties of the Petitioners-residents of Barangay 183 and less than ten (10) meters from the houses and properties of Petitioners-residents of Magallanes Village. Worse, there are two rows of these MERALCO posts holding the high tension wires and they are installed within close distance from each other, flanking residential houses, which will unfortunately absorb the concentrated EMFs that will be emitted by the transmission lines from both sides.

26. Sadly, if this kind of power transmission project is not immediately aborted, Barangay 183 and Magallanes Village, will one day have their own versions of the so-called “death roads” with their inhabitants as the “guinea pigs in this great electro-magnetic experiment.”[10]

27. The health risks linked to exposure to electromagnetic fields were raised by the residents ofDasmariñas Village, Makati as their battlecry in seeking an injunctive relief against the Power Transmission Project of the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) within the said Village in the case of Eduardo F. Hernandez, et al. v. National Power Corporation.[11]

28. In the aforementioned case, NAPOCOR’s 230 Kilovolt Sucat-Araneta-Balintawak Power Transmission Project was supposed to pass through the Sergio Osmeña, Sr. Highway (South Superhighway), the perimeter of Fort Bonifacio, and Dasmariñas Village proximate to Tamarind Road, where the Dasmariñas villagers’ homes are. Recognizing the health and safety risks posed by the high voltage transmission lines, the Supreme Court enjoined the NAPOCOR from further preparing and installing high voltage cables to the steel pylons erected near the villager’s homes and from energizing and transmitting high voltage electric current through said cables.

29. Living up to its reputation as the ultimate guardian and defender of the rights of the people, the Supreme Court, in all its wisdom and good judgment, declared:
“In the present case, the far-reaching irreversible effects to human safety should be the primordial concern over presumed economic benefits per se as alleged by the NAPOCOR.”[12] (emphasis, supplied)

30. In another case, the Supreme Court even observed that construction of residential structures in areas where there are high tension transmission lines, was declared to be unsafe and prohibited. Said the Supreme Court –
“It is not safely habitable. It is built in a subdivision area where there is an existing 30-meter right of way of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) with high-tension wires over the property, posing a danger to life and property. The construction of houses underneath the high tension wires is prohibited as hazardous to life and property because the line carries 115,000 volts of electricity, generates tremendous static electricity and produces electric sparks whenever it rained.[13] (Emphasis supplied.)

31. If because of the danger and hazard that high tension transmission lines pose, construction of residential houses is prohibited in areas where said transmission lines exist, then why allow the same hazardous transmission lines to be installed in established residential areas? Clearly, for health and safety reasons, high-voltage transmission lines and residential areas should never co-exist in the same place. By logical inference, high voltage transmission lines, which are hazardous to life and property, should be prohibited and should never be allowed in residential areas, especially in densely populated ones like the herein residences of Petitioners.

32. These health hazards linked to exposure to EMFs are not the only matters which cause alarm to the Petitioners.

33. Some of the posts which will carry the tremendous amount of electricity have not been erected properly. Thus, some of the posts are tilting in an apparently unstable position.[14] Thus, not only are the lives, health and property of the residents of Barangay 183 and Magallanes Village at risk of EMF radiation but also run the risk of being physically tumbled upon should these unstable and tilting posts give way.

34. Moreover, most if not all of the said posts erected by Respondent MERALCO encroach into the drainage canals of Barangay 183.[15] In case of heavy rains and typhoons, dangers of flooding will have to be expected in Barangay 183 which will certainly affect adjacent areas, including Magallanes Village. As a matter of fact, some areas of Barangay 183 which do not usually experience flooding caused by moderate rainfall are now experiencing slight inundation in their area.

35. By way of example, attached herewith as Annex “E” to E-1”, are photographs of the effects of Typhoon Ondoy in Barangay 183.

II- THE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE THAT WILL BE CAUSED BY THE INSTALLATION OF SAID HIGH TENSION WIRES WILL AFFECT THE RESIDENTS OF BARANGAY 183, PASAY CITY ANDMAGALLANES VILLAGE, MAKATI CITY
================================

36. Considering the high voltage that will run through the subject high tension wires, the environmental damage is expected to have adverse effects to the inhabitants of two (2) cities, Barangay 183 of Pasay City and Magallanes Village of Makati City. The construction of these posts by Respondent MERALCO transcends the boundaries of Barangay 183 in Pasay City and extends to Magallanes Village of Makati City. Presently, a 115KV a couple of electricity pylons have already been constructed very near the wall separating the two cities.[16] The distance separating these posts and the residential area of MagallanesVillage is only about four (4) to five (5) meters, which undoubtedly does not comply with the safe-distance requirement of at least 87 meters.

III- THE INSTALLATION OF SAID HIGH TENSION WIRES VIOLATES PETITIONER’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO A BALANCED AND HEALTHFUL ECOLOGY AS WELL AS ESTABLISHED ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS
================================

37. As shown hereinabove, the implementation of Respondent MERALCO’s project violates Petitioners’ right to health as enshrined in Section 15, Article II of the 1987 Constitution, viz.:
ARTICLE II
Declaration of Principles and State Policies

“Section 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.” (Emphasis supplied.)

38. In the same manner, Presidential Decree No. 856, otherwise known as the Code of Sanitation of the Philippines, categorically prohibits the installation of high tension transmission lines in residential areas. Its Implementing Rules, issued on 16 April 1998, in fact, provides in no uncertain terms that –
“7.3 Electric and Electronic Industries

7.3.1 High-tension transmission lines shall never pass overhead or underground ofresidential areas.” (emphasis, added)

39. P.D. No. 856 is cited in the recent Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC), promulgated on 29 April 2010, as one of the bases for filing cases involving enforcement or violations of environmental and other related laws, rules and regulations. On the basis of the above-quoted implementing rules of P.D. No. 856 alone, it follows that the implementiation of Respondent MERALCO’s high power transmission project in Barangay 183, a residential area, is illegal and should never be allowed.

40. Also, the fact that these MERALCO posts obstruct the drainage system of Barangay 183, is a clear violation of Commonwealth Act No. 548 otherwise known as the Regulation and Control of the Use of and Traffic on National Roads and Constructions, which effectively provides that –
“SECTION 2. It shall be unlawful for any person to convert any part of any national road to his private use or in any manner to obstruct or damage the same or any bridge, culvert, drainage ditch, road sign, or other appurtenance pertaining thereto.” (Emphasis supplied.)

41. Finally, as mentioned above, the distances alone at which these high tension transmission lines and posts are being constructed alongside the properties and homes of Petitioners and the inhabitants of Barangay 183 and Magallanes Village, do not pass the standards required therefor. Thus, the high tension transmission lines being erected by Respondent MERALCO are being constructed within a distance of less than one (1) meter from the houses and properties of the residents of said barangay contrary to the required distance for the electromagnetic field level to be within safe limits, which is around eighty seven (87) meters.

IV- THE ISSUANCE OF THE BARANGAY WORKING PERMIT CLEARANCE AND RESOLUTION NO. 40-S-2009 WAS TAINTED WITH IRREGULARITIES
===========================

42. Section 27 of the Local Government Code[17] was also breached when Respondent MERALCO and Respondent MIAA failed to comply with the requirements of prior consultation with the residents of Barangay 183 and Magallanes Village as regards the implementation of its project. As held in the similar case of Hernadez, et. al. vs. NAPOCOR (supra.) –
“To boot, petitioners, moreover, harp on respondent’s failure to conduct prior consultation with them, as the community affected by the project, in stark violation of Section 27 of the Local Government Code which provides: “no project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless the consultations mentioned are complied with, and prior approval of the Sanggunian concerned is observed.

x x x x x x x x x

Moreover, the Local Government Code, requires conference with the affected communities of a government project. NAPOCOR, palpably, made a shortcut to this requirement. In fact, there appears a lack of exhaustive feasibility studies on NAPOCOR’s part before making a go with the project on hand; otherwise, it should have anticipated the legal labyrinth it is now caught in.”

43. In the same vein, the Barangay Working Permit Clearance issued by Respondent Toledanes to Respondent MERALCO obviously suffers from patent irregularities.

44. First, the Barangay Working Permit Clearance was issued without the authority of the Respondent Barangay Council. The Respondent Barangay Council only approved Barangay Resolution No. 40-S-2009 on 02 September 2009 while the Barangay Working Permit was issued on 13 July 2009.

45. Second, the Working Permit issued by Respondent Toledanes allowed the installation of the high voltage wires power lines and poles at the 10th and 12th Streets of Barangay 183, while the Resolution of the Respondent Barangay Council only authorized the construction of power lines along 10th and 27thStreets, excluding 12th St.

46. Indubitably, Respondent Toledanes, in a series of meetings requested by Petitioners, admitted that he and the Respondent Barangay Council did not conduct any consultation with the affected constituents before they issued the subject permit. Thus, the Barangay Working Permit which actually gave life to the power transmission project of MERALCO should be struck down as illegal, issued in grave abuse of discretion and in excess of or without authority on the part of Respondent Toledanes.

V- THERE IS ANOTHER SUITABLE AND SAFER ROUTE FOR RESPONDENT MERALCO’S POWER TRANSMISSION PROJECT.
================================

47. Respondent MERALCO may very well install the subject transmission lines along Sales Street, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City, where there are no residential houses or buildings and which provides a shorter distance from Respondent MERALCO’s source of electricity as compared to the circuitous route along the 10th and 12th Streets of Barangay 183.

48. Thus, it makes no sense that the said high tension transmission lines are being erected in an inhabited and populous area, endangering the lives of the people therein, when it may be erected in an alternative location, which would result in a negligible effect on the Petitioners and the inhabitants of Barangay 183 and Magallanes Village.

ALLEGATIONS IN SUPPORT OF THE APPLICATION FOR A TEMPORARY ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ORDER (TEPO)

49. For reference, Petitioners replead all the foregoing allegations in support of their prayer for a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO);

50. The foregoing allegations undoubtedly demonstrate Petitioners’ clear and unmistakable right to a healthful ecology and to be protected against any unlawful acts involving environmental damage that tend to endanger their life, health and property;

51. Respondents MERALCO and MIAA are poised to continue with and complete the installation of the high tension wires along the entire stretch of 10th, 12th and 27th of Barangay 183 the soonest time possible as in fact Respondent MERALCO has been working almost twenty-four (24) hours within the said areas of Barangay 183 to hasten the completion of the acts complained of;

52. The acts complained of, aside from being unconstitutional, illegal and contrary to established environmental rules and regulations, are clearly in violation of the foregoing rights of the Petitioners;

53. The matter is thus of extreme urgency that, unless immediately restrained, will inevitably cause damage to the environment, the inhabitants of Magallanes Village of Makati City and of Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor of Pasay City, including the herein Petitioners who will all suffer grave injustice and irreparable injury;

54. If not curtailed, the continuous commission by the Respondents of the acts complained of might also render the final judgment granting the reliefs sought in the instant petition ineffectual.
55. An Affidavit of Merit in support of Petitioners’ application for the issuance of a Temporary Environmental Protection Order is hereto attached as Annex “F”.

EPILOGUE

56. Progress is desirable. The operation of the NAIA represents economic advancement. It promises convenience to international travelers. A way to attract foreign investors and bring more income for the government. The purpose is admirable, but to attain it at all costs, even at the expense of lives and well-being of people, for whom the desired economic development is intended in the first place, is unacceptable if not immoral. For then, the way of accomplishing it altogether defeats its purpose. Economic gain has never been more important than a person’s right to life and well-being.

PRAYER

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed of the Honorable Court that:

1. Immediately upon the filing of this petition, a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) and or a Writ of Kalikasan be issued, ordering Respondents and any person acting on their behalf, to cease and desist from conducting excavation works, installing poles and transmission lines along the entire stretch of 10th, 12th and 27th Streets of Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor, Pasay City and from energizing and transmitting high voltage electric current through the said powerlines.

2. After a summary hearing, issue a Resolution, extending the effectivity of the TEPO until the termination of this case; and

3. After due proceedings, a Decision be rendered–

(a) Making the TEPO and/or Writ of Kalikasan permanent, directing Respondents and any person acting on their behalf, to cease and desist from conducting excavation works, installing poles and transmission lines along the entire stretch of 10th, 12th and 27th Streets of Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor, Pasay City and from energizing and transmitting high voltage electric current through the said powerlines;
(b) Nullifying the Barangay Working Permit Clearance dated 13 July 2009 issued by Barangay 183 Respondent Chairman Cesar S. Toledanes in favor of Respondent MERALCO, for being unconstitutional, illegal and for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction or authority;
(c) Nullifying Resolution No. 40, S-2009 date 2 September 2009 issued by the Barangay Council of Barangay 183, authorizing its Respondent Barangay Chairman Cesar S. Toledanes, to issue a clearance/permit to Respondent MERALCO to construct/install the high tension transmission lines that will traverse the entire stretch of 10th and 27th Streets, for being unconstitutional, illegal and for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction or authority; and
(d) Directing the Respondents MIAA and MERALCO to remove or cause the removal of the installed MERALCO posts and transmission lines along 10th, 12th and 27th Streets of Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor, Pasay City, at the expense of said Respondents.

Petitioners pray for such other reliefs as are just and equitable under the premises.

Makati City for the City of Manila, 11 November 2010.

ROQUE AND BUTUYAN LAW OFFICES
Counsel for Petitioners
Unit 1904 Antel 2000 Corporate Centre
121 Valero Street, Salcedo Village
Makati City 1227
mail@roquebutuyan.com
Tel. No. 02 887 4445/887 3894
Fax No. 02 887 3893

By:

H. HARRY L ROQUE, JR.
Roll No. 36976
PTR No. 2115877, 01.13.10, Makati City
IBP No. 499912, Makati City, Lifetime Member
MCLE Exemption No. III-001000, 04.26.10
DEXTER DONNE B. DIZON
Roll No. 54013
PTR No. 2115880, 01.13.10, Makati City
IBP No. 811903, 01.12.10, Laguna
MCLE Compliance No. III-0013474, 04.21.10

Copy furnished:

MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY (MERALCO)
MERALCO Building
Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City

BARANGAY CHAIRMAN CESAR S. TOLEDANES
Barangay Hall
Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor
Pasay City

BARANGAY COUNCIL OF BARANGAY 183
Barangay Hall
Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor
Pasay City

RUTH M. CORTEZ
Barangay Hall
Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor
Pasay City

RICARDO R. DIMAANO
Barangay Hall
Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor
Pasay City

LEONARDO A. ABAD
Barangay Hall
Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor
Pasay City

NORMITA CASTILLO
Barangay Hall
Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor
Pasay City

AMANTE C. CACACHO
Barangay Hall
Barangay 183, Zone 20, Villamor
Pasay City

MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY (MIAA)
MIAA Administration Building
NAIA Complex Pasay City

EXPLANATION ON SERVICE BY REGISTERED MAIL

Due to distance, time constraints and lack of messengerial services, this Petition for Writ of Kalikasan is being served on the Respondents by registered mail.

DEXTER DONNE B. DIZON

[1] Eduardo F. Hernandez, et al. v. National Power Corporation, G.R. No. 145328, March 23 2006.
[2] A copy of the said Working Permit Clearance dated 13 July 2009 is hereto attached as Annex “A”.
[3] A copy of the said Resolution dated 02 September 2009 is hereto attached as Annex “B”.
[4] Attached herewith as Annex “C” to “C-24” are copies of the photographs of the electricity pylons already erected and currently being erected by Respondent MERALCO in Barangay 183.
[5] A copy of the letter is hereto attached as Annex “D”.
[6] Asmus, Richard, http://www.ehow.com/about_5506934_health-power-lines-near-houses.html, rerieved 11 November 2010.
[7] Alasdair and Philips, Jean, The Powerwatch Handbook, 2006, pp. 3-5, 248.
[8] Id., pp. 28-29, 248 citing the following references, California Report, a 560-page report. An Evaluation of the Possible Risks from Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFs) From Power Lines, Internal Wiring, Electrical Occupations and Appliances, 2002; Lee, G.M. et. al., A nested case-control study of residential and personal magnetic field measures and miscarriages, Epideomology Jan, 13(1):21-31, 2002; Perry, F.S., Environmental power-frequency magnetic fields and suicide, Health Physics, 41:267-277, 1981; Perry, F.S., Power Frequency magnetic field: depressive illness and myocardial infraction, Public Health, 103:177-180, 1989; Savitz, D.A., Prevalence of depression among electrical workers, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 25:165-176, 1994.
[9] Alasdair and Philips, Jean, The Powerwatch Handbook, supra., p. 43. The ratio of the recommended distance over the voltage of the powerlines having been computed at 0.76.
[10] Alasdair and Philips, Jean, The Powerwatch Handbook, supra., p. 2.
[11] G.R. No. 145328. March 23, 2006.

[12] Supra.
[13] Jumalon vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127767, 30 January 2002, citing the case of Cebu Shipyard and Engineering Works, Inc. vs. William Lines, Inc. (366 Phil. 439, 452 [1999]).

[14] Annex “C-8”.
[15] Annexes “C-9” to “C-14”.
[16] Annexes “C-17” to “C-22”.
[17] SEC. 27. Prior Consultations Required.- No project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless the consultations mentioned in Sections 2 (c) and 26 hereof are complied with, and prior approval of the sanggunian concerned is obtained: Provided, That occupants in areas where such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate relocation sites have been provided, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

Roque & Butuyan Law Offices
1904 Antel Corporate Center
121 Valero Street, Salcedo Village
1227 Makati City, Philippines
‘ +632.8873894 7 +632.8873893
: mail@roquebutuyan.com
http://www.roquebutuyan.com

Living with Terrorism


Living with terrorism
I can only be sympathetic to President Aquino’s complaint that the travel advisories issued by at least nine foreign governments against travel to the Philippines, including Metro-Manila, lack factual basis.

To begin with, existing United Nations General Assembly and Security Council Resolutions obligate states to cooperate with each other in the fight against terrorism. This means sharing information about possible terrorist attacks. Contrary hence to the remark of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the diplomatic missions of states that issued the advisories have the positive obligation to share with our authorities their intelligence information relating to possible terrorist attacks against the Philippines. Obviously, such cooperation is made even more necessary because of the sad reality that despite billions that we have appropriated for intelligence gathering, we are still the last to know about possible terrorist threats. Oftentimes, there is complete failure of intelligence. How many times have we woken up to news about terrorist attacks without being warned of an impending attack? This was what happened when the LRT was bombed on Rizal day several years back. This is also what happened to a series of kidnappings involving children and foreigners by the terrorist group, the Abu Sayaff.

But it is not just in intelligence, or the lack thereof, that we suffer a disability. It is also the case that we have created our own problems with terrorism. The Abu Sayaff is a concrete example. Veteran journalist Marites Vitug wrote in her book “Under the Crescent Moon” that this notorious terrorist group was in fact a creation of our very own Armed Forces of the Philippines.

According to Vitug, the group, whose name is literally translated as the “shining path”, was formed by the military to train Filipino Muslims fight the Russians when the latter occupied Afghanistan. They apparently were intended to be an elite group of “jihads” who simply had nothing else to do after their brief engagement in Central Asia. Maria Ressa, on the other hand, also asserted in her book , “Seeds of Terror” that the Arroyo administration knew that the Jemiah Islamiah (JI) and other notorious terrorist groups were training in Mindanao. Yet nothing was done to stop them. In legal parlance, this inaction is tantamount to acquiescence, if not complicity to terrorism. If what was written by these respected journalists is true, this may explain why foreign governments have not bothered sharing their intelligence with our own authorities: a belief that we are perhaps both complacent and complicit to terrorism.

Add to this what Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extralegal Killings, said was the root cause of impunity in the Philippines: the lack of political will to punish the perpetrators of international crimes in the country. What we thus have is a country that created its own terrorists, allowed its territory to be used to train these terrorists, and a legal system that would not work against terrorists.

To be fair, these unkind words about the lack of resolve to deal with impunity including terrorism refer to a sin of the Arroyo administration. Perhaps P-Noy’s administration would finally develop the will to deal with both impunity and terrorism. It helps that the President has at least reposed his trust on his Executive Secretary, Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa, to head the Anti-terrorism Council. This means that his most trusted alter ego will lead the fight against terrorism. Perhaps this will help build the resolve and facilitate preemptive responses against imminent terrorist threats.

To be fair again, and this will probably be my kindest words for the past dispensation, P-Noy’s fight against terrorism will be facilitated by recent congressional enactments, the Human Security Act and RA 9851, the 2009 International Humanitarian Law Act. While I have been critical of the HSA, as in fact, I am counsel to the only remaining challenge to the constitutionality of the law—a petition filed by my class in Constitutional Law 2 three years ago that is still pending in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court—the fact that authorities now have extraordinary powers to intercept and record communications, freeze bank deposits, classify organizations as being terrorist, and even the power to resort to indefinite pre-trial detention are the stuff that rightists and fascists wanted, nay demanded, as effective tools against terrorism. Why these powers have not been resorted to by law enforcement in dealing with real terrorists is a mystery. What has been clear though is that they have opted to use these extraordinary powers instead as tools in its on-going anti- insurgency campaign. The one and only person charged for “terrorism” is an aeta accused of being a fighter for the New Peoples Army.

The 2009 IHL Act on the other hand is an effective and ideal tool against “terrorist attacks that seek to spread terror and fear in the civilian population” in times of armed conflicts and when committed in a widespread or systematic manner. I consider the enactment of RA 9851 as the most effective tool against modern day terrorism since it can be used to prosecute all attacks against civilian populations. We can only hope that under P-Noy, the law will be implemented to the letter to ensure maximum protection to the lives and property of innocent civilians.

Meanwhile, we Filipinos can learn a lesson or two from countries that have had more experience in dealing with terrorist attacks, such as the United Kingdom. In the year that I lived as a student in London, I noticed the tools that the Brits used in fighting terrorism: omnipresent surveillance cameras, effective law enforcement agents who are both competent and visible, an efficient prosecution service that is able to convict, and a judiciary that is beyond reproach. Above all, there is a community that is both vigilant against terrorism and with the resolve to deny terrorists what they truly want: to be in a state of terror and panic by leaving their lives in the most normal manner that they can. In the shadow of terrorism, let’s live and let live!

***

Erratum: In my last column, I omitted legal luminary Pete Maniego, P-Noy’s Chairman of the National Renewable Energy Board, from the list of students responsible for the comfort women’s Petition, Vinuya v. Exceuitve Secretary. So sorry, Pete!

Dr. Christian Tams Calls on the Supreme Court to Withdraw its Show Cause Order to the UP Faculty of Law


Dr. Christian Tams, a professor of international law at the University of Glasgow and one of the three scholars whose work was plagiarized by Supreme Court Justice Mariano del Castillo, has written the following commentary at the European Journal of International Law.

Here is the link:

http://www.ejiltalk.org/philippine-supreme-court-silencing-dissent/#more-2767%22

Philippine Supreme Court Silencing Dissent?
Author: Christian Tams Filed under: EJIL Analysis
Tuesday, Nov 9,2010
Given the wide coverage of the Calvo-Goller/Weigend/Weiler saga, EJIL Talk readers will be well aware of the topic of challenges to academic freedom. This post seeks to draw readers’ attention to another instance involving risks of an altogether different degree, and to raise awareness for what seems to be a worrying attempt, by a court, to silence dissent among academics: the Court in question is the Philippine Supreme Court, which is threatening 37 members of the University of Philippine’s College of Law with disciplinary sanctions for contempt – a charge that may eventually result in the loss of their bar licenses. This is only the latest twist in legal proceedings that from the outside seem altogether surreal, but that involve risks of a very real nature to some of our colleagues. So what is it all about, and why should we care?

What it’s about

The contempt proceedings have their origin in the proceedings of Isabelita Vinuya et al. v. Executive Secretary et al., in which the plaintiffs sought an order requiring the Philippine government to seek reparations from Japan for the mistreatment of Philippine “comfort women” during World War II. The Supreme Court declined the request, and in the course of its decision discussed concepts such as jus cogens and obligations erga omnes. Its discussion was curious because it quoted passages from works by Dr Mark Ellis, Professors Evan Fox-Decent and Evan Criddle and myself without properly attributing them, and, it seems, without really having understood them – hence attempts to apply jus cogens or obligations erga omnes meaningfully were presented as evidence of their questionable status.

On the basis of this alleged “judicial plagiarism” and “misrepresentation,” the plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration. Members of the University of the Philippines College of Law (none of them acting as counsel in Isabelita Vinuya et al.) submitted a rather strongly-worded statement, which noted the complaints of plagiarism of the authors, requested the Court to provide guidance to the bench and bar, and called on the reporting judge to resign his office – “the UP Statement”].

On 15 October, the Supreme Court – against the dissent of two members – denied the plagiarism charge, finding that there either had been no unauthorised lifting of passages (in my case) or that unauthorised lifting had been by mistake (in the case of Ellis and Fox-Decent/Criddle) [see here for the majority opinion, and here for the dissent).

Four days later, on 19 October, this was followed by a seven-page order, in which a majority of the Court declared the signatories of the “UP statement” to be in contempt, until they could show sufficient cause for their conduct (“the disciplinary order”). This exposes them to disciplinary action including loss of rights to practise. It is this last aspect, rather than the strange dispute about plagiarism or the Supreme Court’s curious handling of it, that should make us think.

Why should we care?

Up until 18 October, this seemed a strange story, but not really worth our time. So, to give but one example, while I thought the Supreme Court “plagiarism whitewash” to be rather unconvincing, I did not for a moment consider wasting any more energy on it. Also, without being an expert on Philippine constitutional law, I should say that from the perspective of international law, I have sympathy for judgments cautiously interpreting the concept of diplomatic protection, and refusing to read it to impose upon governments specific instructions on how to pursue foreign policy.

But the disciplinary order of 19 October changes matters decisively. This, it seems to me, is really a dangerous step. Of course, courts must be able to impose disciplinary standards. And it may even be that in this case, the statement calling on the judge to resign went a step too far. However, this transgression (if any) pales in comparison to the disciplinary order threatening sanctions against the UP academics. Not only are the sanctions potentially far-reaching. The order also seems to be more than a usual “show cause order” that could be easily rebutted: it contains specific findings of fact and enumerates particular violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which, it seems, the majority of the Court considers to be violated. No wonder, then, that the dissenting judges criticised it as having prejudged the eventual outcome.

And this, of course, raises fundamental issues concerning the respective roles of courts and their critics. Evan Criddle and Evan Fox-Decent have made the point very clearly on Opinio Juris, and I fully agree with them that:

“it is not the place of a court to sanction individuals or institutions that have been critical of it. This principle is especially important in the case of a law school, where discussion of cases is an integral part of legal pedagogy”.

However, there is more to it than what courts should do, and whether they should be able to live with criticism. The role of lawyers is also protected by international human rights obligations incumbent on the Philippines, notably international fair trial guarantees. Art 14 CCPR eg might come into play, especially if read in the light of the UN’s Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which recognise the right of lawyers to express their opinions on matters of law and the administration of justice. While none of these rights is absolute, they are important and should be taken seriously, especially by courts – after all, their status is equally dependent on guarantees of the judicial process. So it is right that commentators from within the Philippines and abroad – have voiced their concern.

***

Looked at from a distance, the whole episode seems to have spiralled quite out of control. The ingredients were of course there from the beginning: an emotionally-charged case; accusations involving matters of professional honour; and all this within a deeply-divided society whose divisions are mirrored in the make-up of bar & bench. Having received, over the last months, dozens of letters, interview requests, official statements and petitions, I would think that neither side in this whole escalation has excelled in moderation or pulled punches. However, even in on-going processes of conflict escalation, some steps are more dangerous than others, and it seems to me that the disciplinary order of 19 October marks such a dangerous step. So far, it has prompted the usual (and to be expected) responses: petitions; further incriminations; angry debates in online fora. All this is unlikely to allow protagonists the breathing space which they will need to come to their senses and realize that this whole escalation, in the long run, will leave all sides tarnished: the UP academics just as the country’s highest court. One can only hope that Philippine lawyers – coming, after all, from a country with a great legal tradition – will be able to show the self-restraint and, perhaps, wisdom required to refrain from the pouring further oil into the flames. What is needed is some de-escalation, some conflict management. The Supreme Court might pave the way for such de-escalation by recalling the disciplinary order of 19 October.