Nature’s place in PH Constitution,” (Opinion, 2/6/18) by Filipino sustainability scientist Dr. Laurence Delina of Boston University provides us with examples of how Latin American countries value the environment. In the case of Ecuador, the people awarded “inalienable rights to nature” by ratifying their Constitution in 2008. Subsequently, neighboring Bolivia instituted the “Law of Mother Earth” (Ley de la Tierra Madre) in 2010.
The 1987 Constitution broke ground when it proclaimed in Section 16 of Article II (“Declaration of Principles and State Policies”), the following landmark provision: “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.” The environment occupies pride of place in the fundamental law of the land; we, the people, must defend it and ensure that it is truly honored.
The Philippine Supreme Court, moreover, has been a staunch defender of our fragile ecosystem issuing the trailblazing “writ of kalikasan,” creating specialized Environmental Courts and Tribunals (ECT) and providing Temporary Environmental Protection Orders. In its landmark ruling in the Oposa case now analyzed by students of law, the Court defines the phrase “in accord with the rhyme and rhythm of nature” (of Section 16) as the “judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the country’s forests, minerals, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, offshore areas and other natural resources to the end that their exploitation, development and utilization be equitably accessible to the present as well as future generations.”
Communities in watershed areas, particularly, our youth and children in our beautiful island country, have felt the brunt of aggressive extractive industries. It is the right of citizens living in diverse “frontline areas” to ensure that their lives thrive by the vigilance of citizens. The Philippines has received abundant gifts of nature; our Charter enjoins us to care for our earth, air and waters which are to be fully enjoyed by both people and nature.
framer of the 1987 Constitution,
of the provision
on the environment
in Article II of the Charter
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