G.R. No. 215988, April 10, 2019
CORDILLERA GLOBAL NETWORK, REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT, GLORIA ABAEO; CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE, REPRESENTED BY ITS SECRETARY-GENERAL, ABIGAIL B. ANONGOS; CORDILLERA INDIGENOUS PEOPLES LEGAL CENTER, REPRESENTED BY ITS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RHODA DALANG-GARCIA; CORDILLERA ECOLOGICAL PINE TREE CENTER, REPRESENTED BY ITS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DR. MICHAEL BENGWAYAN; LEON ALTOMONTE, GABRIELA ALTOMONTE, AND AENEAS ALTOMONTE, REPRESENTED BY THEIR FATHER, KARLO MARKO ALTOMONTE; KATHLEA FRANCYNN GAWANI D. YAÑGOT AND LEANDRO KIERAN LUGAT D. YAÑGOT III, REPRESENTED BY THEIR MOTHER, CHERYL L. DAYTEC-YAÑGOT; ZACHARY T. DISTOR AND AGATHA ZITA T. DISTOR, REPRESENTED BY THEIR FATHER, MILO S. DISTOR; JUSTICE YVONNE D. DONAAL, REPRESENTED BY HER FATHER, CHRISTOPHER DONAAL, TRICIA KATRINA M. ARNEDO AND MARGARET JALREYE M. ARNEDO, REPRESENTED BY THEIR MOTHER, MA. TERESA M. ARNEDO; KENSWORTH CORPUZ, REPRESENTED BY CARLITO C. TAAWAN; MARIE A. BALANGUE, MIGUEL ARVISU, GIDEON OMERO, PAUL ALLAIN R. ISICAN, KARMINN CHERYL DINNEY D. YANGOT, CRISTINA LAPPAO, NELSON LAPPAO, FLORENDA PEDRO, EDGAR Z. KAWIG, JUDITH G. FANAO, JULIO PUNAY, ARNOLD ABRIL, JEMELYN CORPUZ, MARY LEITH "SUMITRA" GUTIERREZ, ANDREA M. COSALAN, RHADA JUNE MANTILEZ, NELSON JOSEPH S. ALABANZA, RHIS BAYUCCA, JOSE OLARTE II, SONIA F. GALANG, SHIELO G. SABAOT, ANTHONY B. LAKING, DONATELA S.R. MOLINTAS, RUTH W. DEMOT, ROCKY A. CAJIGAN, RONALDO VILLAMOR, GLENN V. VILLAMOR, FIDEL DEMOT, SCOT MAGKACHI SABOY, ANNIELYN PUCKING, LUCIA B. RUIZ, CHESTER LAB-ING, MARISSA A. DERIJE FAITH MARIETTE DAO-AY, GABRIEL CRISTOBAL IV, ISIDRO GAYO, EDWIN A. NGINA, JASON DOMLING, J.P. PUNO, JULIA A. BAEYENS, WESLEY E. SAYUD, CLIFFORD M. LORENA, JERRY MAYONA, ZABRINA D. IBASCO, PRINCESS EUNICE CABURAO, ZITA J. GONGON, ALBERTO ROMAR R. ORDOÑA, MAURICIO PITAG, RYLYN JOHAN A. DANGANAN, JEFFREY C. CHIU, MICHAEL ANGELO A. SOTERO, LINDA ALISTO, GREGORY P. RUGAY, VANESSA B. OLARTE, BRIAN BATONG, MILAGROS LIWANAG JOSE, BABYLYNN M. DEGAY, EDEN JARLAWE T. VIRGINIO, IVY JOY D. BUENAOBRA, RICO M. GUTIERREZ, JOHN PAWI, CARMELLIE ANJOY M. SALVADO, JOAN MULLER, ROBERTO R. OCAMPO, DINAH DAYTEC AGCAOILI, CARMEN DAYTEC, ERVEEN ROSS PALMA, BUMBO VILLANUEVA, KHRISTINE E. MOLITAS, KATHLEEN G. BUGNOSEN, GLORIA B. LIMPIN, REY ANGELO E. AURELIO, RESTITUTO REFUERZO, MARCH FIANZA, FLORABEL M. SALES, DEAN MICHAEL CUANSO, BENJAMIN BIDANG, JR., JEANNIE MAY DAMOSLOG, JANICE M. DONAAL, CRISTOBAL SANTIAGO, ETHAN ANDREW VENTURA, MA. CRISTINA BALAJADIA, RODELIZA ABELLA ALTAMONTE, BEDE BAWAYAN, JR., CHRISTEL PAY SENG, PAUL LESTER DONAAL, VIROLABEL LADIO, HENDRIX SANCHEZ, GASPAR ELIZUR DONAAL, MICHAEL VINCENT CABRERA, SANTOS BAYUCCA, ELMER M. DATAYAN, ASH Y. VELASCO, POLEEN CARLA C. ROSITO, MIGHT GUPIT, JULIUS B. MANABENG, JENNY GRACE M. ABOEN, JOJO LA MARIA, VLADIMIR D. CAYABAS, JOHN LAKING, CHARLENE DAVID, GERALDINE D. CACHO, PERRY JOHN P. MENDOZA, HONORIO B. SAGMAYAO, RODOLFO "RUDZ" A. PARAAN, JOHN ERIC JOSEPH S. AGUILAR, CERI PAUL A. LOMAS-E, HECTOR ZARATE KAWIG, RICHARD DEAN F. BASA, MICHELLE B. SAMUEL, FERDY K. BAYASEN, AND SILVESTRE QUINTOS, PETITIONERS, v. SECRETARY RAMON J.P. PAJE, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES; ATTY. JUAN MIGUEL T. CUNA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE DIRECTOR OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT BUREAU OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES AND SM INVESTMENTS CORPORATION; SECRETARY ROGELIO SINGSON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS, RESPONDENTS.
JUDY LYN C. ADAJAR, RUBY C. ALTERADO, LEONOLYN M. ANAYASAN, MYLA A. APIGO, MARILOU N. ARAGON, LOIDA A. BACBAC, JULIET M. BADILLA, OLIVIA M. BALADLAD, ROXANNE K. BALANGCOD, MARIA JOCELYN J. BALDERAS, MARIVIC BALWAYAN, YVONNE F. BANGASAN, DIONISIA E. BANGLAY, RODEL E. BANIAGA, GRACIA D. BARIA, MA. ADA E. BASILIO, ESTRELLA C. BAUTISTA, EVA M. BAUTISTA, MARIBEL S. BINAY-AN, JOSEPHINE A. BORILLO, ANNIE MARIE B. BUENAFE, CHERRY H. BULONG, MARISOL B. CABUNAG, EDITH L. CALDITO, ANGELICA W. CAMBA, MARLON L. CAOILE, BRIGETTE M. CHALMAS, MYAN P. CUGA-AY, ELIZABETH A. DALAN, MA. GLENDA D. DE LA PENA, JESSICA A. DE VERA, JOHN PAUL A. DELA CRUZ, CARMILLA V. DELOS SANTOS, MARICRIS DIPASUPIL, BEATRIZ CONNIE M. ESCANO, DEBBIE B. ESGUERRA, PATRICIA PAULINE A. ESTOESTA, LADY DIANA D. ESTRADA, PRECILLA L. FUYAG, JANINA G. GALLEGOS, NOMER L. GINGO, JOCELYN T. BUMPENG, CECILIA G. GUNDRAN, JENNY M. HIPONA, LUNA C. IBAÑEZ, FLORIDA F. IDMILAO, JOE PIT R. LAURENCIO, AILENE M. LAYNO, JEANETTE S. MANANSALA, HILARIA M. MANUGUID, BRENNY MAY K. MENDOZA, DINAH D. NAVARRO, AMANDA M. PADER, SAMUEL A. PALEYAN, DENNIS JULIUS R. PANEDA, RUBY L. PARAZO, MARY GRACE A. PASTOR, DONNALYN F. PRADO, SHENNA APRIL V. QUINTO, ESPERANZA E. ROSIDO, ROSALINA N. SAMPAGA, JUDY P. SIA, MARY-AN L. SUPSUPIN, MARILOU A. TA-A, MARY ANN L. TABAO-EC, MICAH JOY H. MATAROMA, EUGENIA N. TAYABAN, RUBY L. TAYNEC, RITA M. TINIPAC, MICHELLE R. TUALLA, JOAN D. VALDEZ, RODRIGO B. VALDEZ, HAZEL P. VALENTIN, VICTORIA A. VENTURA, ESTELITA A. WALLANG, AND VERONICA P. ZARATE, PETITIONERS, v. SECRETARY RAMON J.P. PAJE, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES; ATTY. JUAN MIGUEL T. CUNA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE DIRECTOR OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT BUREAU OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES; DIRECTOR CLARENCE BAGUILAT, IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE REGIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES-CORDILLERA ADMINISTRATIVE REGION; SECRETARY ROGELIO SINGSON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS; HON. MAURICIO DOMOGAN, IN HIS CAPACITY AS MAYOR OF BAGUIO CITY; SM PRIME HOLDINGS AND SM SUPERMALLS, AND THEIR OFFICERS AND AGENTS ACTING ON THEIR BEHALF, RESPONDENTS.
D E C I S I O N
The depth, quality, and complexity of our forests' biodiversity is a marker of humanity's enlightenment. Every tree saved from being sacrificed in the name of profits matters.
Shortcuts in the processes prescribed by law to protect the endowments of nature should never be countenanced.
This resolves the Petition for Review on Certiorari1 filed by Cordillera Global Network, representing concerned residents of Baguio City, assailing the Court of Appeals December 12, 2014 Decision2 in CA-G.R. CV No. 100245. The Court of Appeals upheld the December 3, 2012 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case Nos. 7595-R, 7629-R, and 7626-R.
On September 13, 2001, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued Environmental Compliance Certificate CAR0106-047-1204 to SM Investments Corporation for its SM Pines Resort Project. This mix-use, eco-tourism project would span 8.5 hectares and cover a shopping mall, a hotel, service apartments, a multi-purpose entertainment center, and other related structures.5
Construction of SM City Baguio, located within the SM Pines Resort complex, was completed in November 2003. A few years later, SM City Baguio undertook to expand its existing mall on Luneta Hill (the Expansion Project) to increase parking and commercial spaces.6
On December 29, 2010,7 SM Investments Corporation submitted an Environmental Performance Report and Management Plan to the Environmental Management Bureau-Cordillera Administrative Region as part of its application to amend its Environmental Compliance Certificate.
On April 5, 2011,8 the Environmental Management Bureau-Cordillera Administrative Region requested that additional information on the inventory of the affected trees, among others, be included in the Environmental Performance Report and Management Plan.
On April 25, 2011,9 SM Investments Corporation submitted the revised Environmental Performance Report and Management Plan.10
On September 22, 2011,11 the Department of Environment and Natural Resources granted SM Investments Corporation's request for the amendment of its Environmental Compliance Certificate.
On October 27, 2011,12 the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera Administrative Region, with clearance13 from then Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje (Secretary Paje), granted SM Investments Corporation's request for a permit to cut and earth-ball the Benguet pine, Alnus trees, and saplings that would be affected by the Expansion Project. However, the permit's issuance was subject to several conditions, including the conduct of public consultations with stakeholders and the procurement of an environmental compliance certificate.14
On December 19, 2011,15 the City Planning and Development Office of Baguio City granted locational clearance for the Expansion Project.
On February 27, 2012, Cordillera Global Network filed a Complaint16 (first environmental case) against SM Investments Corporation, Secretary Paje, Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna, the director of the Environmental Management Bureau, and Secretary Rogelio L. Singson of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Docketed as Civil Case No. 7595-R,17 the first environmental case prayed, among others, that a temporary environmental protection order be immediately issued to enjoin SM Investments Corporation from cutting and/or earth-balling the 182 Benguet pine and Alnus trees on Luneta Hill.18
On March 19, 2012,19 SM Investments Corporation reiterated its request to cut or earth-ball the affected trees. On April 4, 2012,20 Regional Executive Director Clarence L. Baguilat (Regional Executive Director Baguilat) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera Administrative Region gave the go-signal to earth-ball the trees.
On April 9, 2012, SM Investments Corporation began earth-balling the Benguet pine and Alnus trees.21
Meanwhile, the trial court had begun conducting hearings on the prayer for a temporary environmental protection order. As this was pending resolution, Cordillera Global Network filed on April 10, 2012 an Urgent Motion for the Issuance of the Temporary Environmental Protection Order with a Prayer for the Conduct of an Ocular Inspection.22
That same day, the trial court granted23 the Motion and issued a Temporary Environmental Protection Order effective for 72 hours.
Upon receipt of the Temporary Environmental Protection Order on April 11, 2012, SM Investments Corporation ceased its earth-balling and transplanting operations.24
On April 13, 2012, Cordillera Global Network filed a Motion to extend the Temporary Environmental Protection Order.25 That same day, the trial court26 extended the effectivity of the Temporary Environmental Protection Order to cover the pendency of the court proceedings in Case No. 7595-R.
Cordillera Global Network then filed a petition to cite SM Investments Corporation in contempt for violating the Temporary Environmental Protection Order. This was docketed as Civil Case No. 7626-R.27
On April 13, 2012, Judy Lyn Adajar and 75 other concerned Baguio City residents (Adajar, et al.) filed a new Complaint28 (the second environmental case) against SM Supermalls, SM Prime Holdings, Inc., and Regional Executive Director Baguilat. It was docketed as Civil Case No. 7629-R.
The two (2) environmental cases and the contempt petition were consolidated.29
Cordillera Global Network and Adajar, et al. both alleged that the cutting or earth-balling of the 182 trees on Luneta Hill would severely damage the environment and health of Baguio City residents. They also assailed the regularity of the permits issued, further claiming that the Expansion Project violated zoning and environmental laws.30
Defendants asserted that the pertinent permits were issued only after strict compliance with the relevant rules and regulations. The public officials added that a team had been created to monitor the cutting and earth balling of the trees. They also emphasized that they immediately complied with the Temporary Environmental Protection Order upon receipt from the trial court and directed private defendants to pursue remedial measures over the affected trees.31
In its December 3, 2012 Decision,32 the Regional Trial Court dismissed the consolidated cases.
The Regional Trial Court held that Cordillera Global Network and Adajar, et al. possessed the necessary personality to file the environmental cases under the principle of transcendental importance.33 However, their cases did not fall under any of the exceptions to the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies. Thus, the cases were dismissible on procedural grounds.34
Moreover, the trial court noted that while their witness, Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan, quantified the effects of removing 182 trees on Luneta Hill, his testimony appeared to be "mere conclusions of fact devoid of any scientific basis"35 and failed to prove that removing the trees would have a detrimental effect causing irreparable damage to the environment and Baguio City residents.36
In contrast, Dr. Armando Palijon, a common witness for both parties, testified that removing the trees would not cause irreparable damage to the environment, as the loss would be compensated by SM Investments Corporation's planned green building and the thousands of saplings it planted in Busol Watershed.37
The trial court also gave weight to the testimony of Engineer Cherry B. Rivera, witness for SM Prime Holdings, Inc. and an environmental engineer who was part of the team that conducted the Environmental Impact Assessment on the Expansion Project. She testified that the mitigation measures in the Environmental Performance Report and Management Plan had accounted for minimizing the project's environmental impact.38
Likewise, the trial court held that Cordillera Global Network and Adajar, et al. failed to substantiate their claims of irregularities in the cutting and earth-balling permits39 and building permits40 issued to Investments Corporation.
The trial court also set aside the challenges raised against the amended Environmental Compliance Certificate. It stated that the field of expertise Professor Cecilia M. Austria (Dr. Austria)—who questioned the reliability of the Environmental Performance Report and Management Plan—is zoology, not environmental science. This makes her incompetent to determine lapses in the Environmental Impact Assessment. On the other hand, the trial court found that SM Investments Corporation and its subsidiaries were able to prove that it had complied with the requirements to issue an environmental compliance certificate.41
The trial court ruled that there was no reason to prevent SM Investments Corporation and it's subsidiaries from pushing through with the Expansion Project.42
The dispositive of the Regional Trial Court Decision read:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered DISMISSING the Complaints dated February 23, 2012 and April 13, 2012 and the Amended Urgent Petition to Cite Defendant for Contempt dated April 20, 2012.
The Temporary Environmental Protection Order dated April 10, 2012 is hereby LIFTED.
SO ORDERED.43 (Emphasis in the original)
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.49 (Emphasis in the original)
SECTION 1. Filing of petition with Supreme Court. — A party desiring to appeal by certiorari from a judgment or final order or resolution of the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial Court or other courts whenever authorized by law, may file with the Supreme Court a verified petition for review on certiorari. The petition shall raise only questions of law which must be distinctly set forth. (Emphasis supplied)
SECTION 4. Verification. — Except when otherwise specifically required by law or rule, pleadings need not be under oath, verified or accompanied by affidavit.
A pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading and that the allegations therein are true and correct of his knowledge and belief.
A pleading required to be verified which contains a verification based on "information and belief," or upon "knowledge, information and belief," or lacks a proper verification, shall be treated as an unsigned pleading.
SECTION 2. Form and contents. — The petition shall be filed in seven (7) legible copies, with the original copy intended for the court being indicated as such by the petitioner, and shall (a) state the full names of the parties to the case, without impleading the lower courts or judges thereof either as petitioners or respondents; (b) indicate the specific material dates showing that it was filed on time; (c) set forth concisely a statement of the matters involved, the issues raised, the specification of errors of fact or law, or both, allegedly committed by the Regional Trial Court, and the reasons or arguments relied upon for the allowance of the appeal; (d) be accompanied by clearly legible duplicate originals or true copies of the judgments or final orders of both lower courts, certified correct by the clerk of court of the Regional Trial Court, the requisite number of plain copies thereof and of the pleadings and other material portions of the record as would support the allegations of the petition.
The petitioner shall also submit together with the petition a certification under oath that he has not theretofore commenced any other action involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals or different divisions thereof or any other tribunal or agency; if there is such other action or proceeding, he must state the status of the same; and if he should thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or different divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency, he undertakes to promptly inform the aforesaid courts and other tribunal or agency thereof within five (5) days therefrom. (Emphasis supplied)
In the present case, the signing of the verification by only 11 out of the 59 petitioners already sufficiently assures the Court that the allegations in the pleading are true and correct and not the product of the imagination or a matter of speculation; that the pleading is filed in good faith; and that the signatories are unquestionably real parties-in-interest who undoubtedly have sufficient knowledge and belief to swear to the truth of the allegations in the petition.
With respect to petitioners' certification against forum shopping, the failure of the other petitioners to sign as they could no longer be contacted or are no longer interested in pursuing the case need not merit the outright dismissal of the petition without defeating the administration of justice. The non-signing petitioners are, however, dropped as parties to the case.95 (Emphasis in the original)
For the guidance of the bench and bar, the Court restates in capsule form the jurisprudential pronouncements already reflected above respecting non-compliance with the requirements on, or submission of defective, verification and certification against forum shopping:1) A distinction must be made between non-compliance with the requirement on or submission of defective verification, and non- compliance with the requirement on or submission of defective certification against forum shopping.
2) As to verification, non-compliance therewith or a defect therein does not necessarily render the pleading fatally defective. The court may order its submission or correction or act on the pleading if the attending circumstances are such that strict compliance with the Rule may be dispensed with in order that the ends of justice may be served thereby.
3) Verification is deemed substantially complied with when one who has ample knowledge to swear to the truth of the allegations in the complaint or petition signs the verification, and when matters alleged in the petition have been made in good faith or are true and correct.
4) As to certification against forum shopping, non-compliance therewith or a defect therein, unlike in verification, is generally not curable by its subsequent submission or correction thereof, unless there is a need to relax the Rule on the ground of "substantial compliance" or presence of "special circumstances or compelling reasons".
5) The certification against forum shopping must be signed by all the plaintiffs or petitioners in a case; otherwise, those who did not sign will be dropped as parties to the case. Under reasonable or justifiable circumstances, however, as when all the plaintiffs or petitioners share a common interest and invoke a common cause of action or defense, the signature of only one of them in the certification against forum shopping substantially complies with the Rule.
6) Finally, the certification against forum shopping must be executed by the party-pleader, not by his counsel. If, however, for reasonable or justifiable reasons, the party-pleader is unable to sign, he must execute a Special Power of Attorney designating his counsel of record to sign on his behalf.96 (Citations omitted)
(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures . . .; (2) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible . . .; (3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion . . .; (4) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts . . .; (5) When the findings of fact are conflicting . . .; (6) When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee . . .; (7) The findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court. . .; (8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based . . .; (9) When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners' main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondents . . .; and (10) The finding of fact of the Court of Appeals is premised on the supposed absence of evidence and is contradicted by the evidence on record . . . .102 (Citations omitted)
Parties praying that this court review the factual findings of the Court of Appeals must demonstrate and prove that the case clearly falls under the exceptions to the rule. They have the burden of proving to this court that a review of the factual findings is necessary. Mere assertion and claim that the case falls under the exceptions do not suffice.104
It is not applicable (1) where the question in dispute is purely a legal one, or (2) where the controverted act is patently illegal or was performed without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction; or (3) where the respondent is a department secretary, whose acts as an alter ego of the President bear the implied or assumed approval of the latter, unless actually disapproved by him, or (4) where there are circumstances indicating the urgency of judicial intervention . . . .
Said principle may also be disregarded when it does not provide a plain, speedy and adequate remedy, . . . when there is no due process observed . . . or where the protestant has no other recourse . . . .114
Section 6. Appeal. —
Any party aggrieved by the final decision on the [Environmental Compliance Certificate]/[Certificate of Non-Coverage] applications may, within 15 days from receipt of such decision, file an appeal on the following grounds:
- Grave abuse of discretion on the part of the deciding authority, or
- Serious errors in the review findings.
The [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] may adopt alternative conflict/dispute resolution procedures as a means to settle grievances between proponents and aggrieved parties to avert unnecessary legal action. Frivolous appeals shall not be countenanced.
The proponent or any stakeholder may file an appeal to the following:
Deciding Authority Where to file the appeal EMB Regional Office Director Office of the EMB Director EMB Central Office Office of the DENR Secretary DENR Secretary Office of the President115
As petitioner correctly pointed out, the appeal provided for under Section 6 of DENR DAO 2003-30 is only applicable, based on the first sentence thereof, if the person or entity charged with the duty to exhaust the administrative remedy of appeal to the appropriate government agency has been a party or has been made a party in the proceedings wherein the decision to be appealed was rendered.116
SECTION 5. DIVISION INTO ZONES OR DISTRICTS. To effectively carry out the provisions of this Ordinance, the City is hereby divided into the following land use zones:
- LOW DENSITY RESIDENTIAL ZONE (R-1)
- MEDIUM DENSITY RESIDENTIAL ZONE (R-2)
- HIGH DENSITY RESIDENTIAL ZONE (R-3)
- SOCIALIZED HOUSING ZONE (SHZ)
- LOW DENSITY COMMERCIAL ZONE (C-1)
- MEDIUM DENSITY COMMERCIAL ZONE (C-2)
- HIGH DENSITY COMMERCIAL ZONE (C-3)
- GENERAL INSTITUTIONAL ZONE
- PARKS AND RECREATION ZONE
- WATER ZONE
- OTHER ZONES
11.1. PLANNED UNIT DEVELOPMENT
11.1.1. EXPORT PROCESSING ZONE
11.1.2. SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE
11.2. UTILITIES ZONE
11.3. CEMETERIES/MEMORIAL PARKS ZONE
11.4. AIRPORT ZONE
11.5. FOREST ZONE
11.5.1. WATERSHED ZONE
11.5.2. PROTECTED FOREST ZONE
11.5.3. OPEN AREAS
11.6. ROADS ZONE
11.7. SLAUGHTERHOUSE ZONE120 (Emphasis in the original)
SECTION 9. GENERAL PROVISIONS. The following zones shall be principally used as follows:
. . . .
5. Low Density Commercial Zone (C-1). A C-1 shall principally be for trade, services and business activities ordinarily referred to as the Central Business District (CBD).
6. Medium Density Commercial Zone (C-2). A C-2 shall be for quasi-trade business activities and service industries performing complementary/supplementary functions to the CBD.
7. High Density Commercial Zone (C-3). A C-3 shall be for regional shopping centers which are regional in scope or where market activities generate traffic and require utilities and services that extend beyond local boundaries and requires metropolitan level development planning and implementation.121 (Emphasis in the original)
SECTION 10. PERMITTED USES. The uses indicated below are not exhaustive nor all-inclusive. The Local Zoning Board of Adjustment and Appeals (LZBAA) shall, subject to the requirements of this Section, allow other uses not enumerated hereunder provided that they are compatible with the uses expressly allowed. Allowance of further uses shall be based on the intrinsic qualities of the land and the socio-economic potential of the area with due regard to the maintenance of the essential qualities of the zone.
Specific uses/activities of lesser density within a particular zone (R-1) may be allowed within the zone of higher density (R-2, R-3) but not vice-versa, nor in another zone and its subdivisions except for uses expressly allowed in said zones, such that the cumulative effect of zoning shall be intra-zonal and not inter-zonal.
The following are permitted in the following zones:
. . . .
E. Low Density Commercial Zone (C-1)
- Offices like office building and office condominium
- General Retail Stores and Shops like:
- department store
- bookstore and office supply shop
- home appliance store
- car shop
- photo shop
- flower shop
- Food Markets and Shops like:
- bakery and bake shop
- wine store
- Personal Service Shops, like:
- beauty parlor
- barber shop
- sauna bath and massage clinic
- dressmaking and tailoring shop
- Recreational Center/ Establishments like:
- play court e.g. tennis court, bowling lane, billiard hall
- swimming pool
- day and night club
- stadium, coliseum, gymnasium
- other sports and recreational establishment
- Restaurant and other eateries
- Short term special education like:
- dancing schools
- school for self-defense
- driving schools
- speech clinics
- Storerooms but only as may be necessary for the efficient conduct of the business
- Commercial condominium (with residential units in upper floors)
- Commercial housing like:
- boarding house
- pension house
- club house
- filling and service stations
- vocational/ technical school
- convention center and related facilities
- messengerial services
- security agency
- janitorial service
- bank and other financial institution including money shop
- radio and television station
- building garage
- commercial job printing
- typing and photo engraving services
- repair of optical instruments & equipments and cameras
- repair of clocks and watches
- manufacture of ensignia, (sic) badges and similar emblems except metals
- transportation terminal/garages
- plant nurseries
- scientific, cultural and academic centers and research facilities except nuclear, radioactive, chemical and biological warfare facilities.
F. Medium Density Commercial Zone (C-2)
- All uses allowed in C-1
- Repair shops like:
- house appliances
- motor vehicles and accessories
- home furnishing shops
- transportation terminal/garage with repair
- medium scale junk shop
- machinery display shop/center
- gravel and sand
- manufacture of ice, ice blocks, cubes, tubes, crush except dry ice
- manufacture of signs and advertising displays
- chicharon factory
- welding shops
- machine shop service operations (repairing, rebuilding or customer job orders)
- repair of motorcycles
- lechon or whole pig roasting
- biscuit factory
- doughnut and hopia factory
- other bakery products not elsewhere classified
- repacking of food products
- funeral parlors, mortuaries, and crematory services and memorial chapels
- parking lots, garage facilities
- Soda Fountain
G. High Density Commercial Zone (C-3)
- All uses allowed in C-1 and C-2
- regional shopping centers, e.g. large malls
- high rise hotels
- sports stadium or sports complexes122 (Emphasis in the original)
SECTION 11. ZONING DISTRICT BOUNDARIES. The zoning district boundaries for the City of Baguio as reflected in the official zoning map are specified in Appendix "B" and described as follows:
- Lot deep along Bokawkan Road
- Market Area including Magsaysay Avenue
- Session Road; Rizal Monument Barangay; AZCKO Barangay
- Malcolm Square; Kabayanihan; Kagitingan Barangay
- Upper and Lower Gen. Luna Road
- Right side of Bonifacio Street near St. Louis University
- T. Alonzo; New Lucban Barangay; Tabora Barangay
- Lot deep along M. Roxas St., Trancoville
- Kisad Legarda including Concorde and Europa Condominium
- Monticello Hotel at Camp 7 Barangay
- Along Siapno and Ambuclao Road near Pacdal Circle (Existing Satellite Market)
- From Junction Yandoc St. to Naguilian Road up to City Cemetery
- Part of Lourdes Subdivision and San Roque
- Along left side of M. Ponce St., Quezon Hill Proper Barangay
- One lot deep along left side of Trinidad Road
- Portion of Happy Homes Old Lucban Barangay
- Marcos Highway (from Junction North Sto. Tomas Road to Junction Balacbac Road)
- Part of Atab Road near Tuba Municipality
- One lot deep along Kennon Road Camp 7 (near Camp 7 Satellite Market)
- Portion of Irisan along Km. 4
- Baguio Country Club123 (Emphasis in the original)
[Court]: Which means that it conforms to all the requirements of your Office?
[Engr. Cayat]: Yes, Your Honor.
Q: That is why the clearance was issued?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
Q: Madam Witness, what are the requirements complied with?
A: As to the location, sir, we checked it in terms of evaluating if the proposed activity falls within the allowed zone.
Q: And in which zone does the proposed project located? (sic)
A: Commercial, C-1 zone, sir.
Q: The application is pursuant to C-1?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
What is the question[?]
Q: Madam Witness, what are the, aside from a C-1 commercial zone, what are the other classifications of commercial zones, if there are there? (sic)
A: We have commercial C-1, which identified allowed uses, as reflected in our ordinance. We also have commercial C-2, where it will already allow repair shops, transportation, publishing, junk shops, etc. That is for commercial C-2. And for C-3, this is already for regional shopping centers, high rise hotels, sports stadium and sports complex.
I have a question.
Q: Why was it that the application was made pursuant to C-1, when you said that C-3 is for high rise and commercial buildings?
A: C-1 is likewise for commercial, Your Honor. And for C-3, high density residential (sic) zone, may I read the general provision, Your Honor[?] "A C-3 shall be for a regional shopping center, which are in regional scope, or where market activities generate traffic, and require utilities and services that exten[d] beyond local boundaries and requires metropolitan level development planning and implementation."129
Clearly therefore, what were devolved to local government units were only the powers and responsibilities specifically stated in Section 1 of E.O. No. 71, as well the authority of the HLURB to issue locational clearance for locally significant projects as provided in Section 3 of E.O. No. 72. The power to act as appellate body over decisions and actions of local and regional planning and zoning bodies and deputized official of the board was retained by the HLURB and remained unaffected by the devolution under the Local Government Code.
Moreover, the fact that the Rules of Procedure of the HLURB does not categorically provide for a procedure on the remedy of appeal from decisions of local government units will not operate to divest the HLURB of the appellate jurisdiction specifically granted to it by law. It must be stressed that no rule or regulation may alter, amend, or contravene a provision of law. Implementing rules should conform, not clash, with the law that they implement.131 (Citations omitted)
The proposed structures will be located in the central area of the property where tree density is lower.
The building sites and shapes have been laid out and adjusted to minimize the requirement to remove mature trees. If it is possible to relocate smaller trees in a practical manner with a reasonable degree of success, they will be relocated. Trees that need to be removed will be cut in accordance with City and DENR regulations. Each tree cut will be replaced with at least 10 seedlings. Location for seedling planting will be coordinated with the Baguio Regreening Movement and the City Government and DENR.
Enhancement of vegetation around the building through landscaping.
Trees can be planted around the buildings to replace the cut trees and to fill in gaps. Ornamental plants can also be planted in the gardens to augment existing ones. The landscaping will therefore enhance the existing vegetation and bring the customers closer to nature.137
- All trees to be affected by the project shall be disposed off (sic) in accordance with existing Forestry Laws, Rules and Regulations. A replacement of at least 25 saplings for every tree cut shall be undertaken by the proponent. Tree planting should be done within the project site to maintain the ecological balance of the area. Planting site(s) outside the SM Property, in coordination with the concerned government agencies/units, shall be covered by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to be submitted to EMB, DENR-CAR by the proponent within sixty (60) days upon receipt of this certificate and prior to start of development[.]139
Inventory report on affected trees. The report should include at least a description of the affected trees in terms of number; species; diameter sizes; and, nature as to whether the same were planted or naturally grown. Said report will also serve as material reference and guidance document vis-à-vis the implications of Executive Order No. 23 (Declaring a Moratorium on the Cutting and Harvesting of Timber in the Natural Residual Forest and Creating the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force) issued by the President of the Philippines.142
- The permittee shall endeavor to conduct meetings or public consultations with LGUs, NGOs, and other stakeholders in the area to discuss the importance of the project, replacement of trees to be harvested, environment and social issues and other related concerns for their information;
- The permittee shall secure an Environmental Compliance Certificate before the start of any tree cutting and earth-balling operations;
- Only the forty three (43) planted Alnus trees with a total volume [of] 4.96 cubic meters shall be allowed to be cut. The ninety seven (97) naturally grown Benguet Pine trees including the forty two (42) saplings of Benguet Pine and Alnus trees shall be earth[-]balled;
- The trees to be earth-balled shall be transplanted to an adjacent open area within the SM City Baguio vicinity or within the area identified jointly by the DENR and the permittee free from future development of the area;
- Each tree to be cut and trees damaged during earth-balling operations shall be replaced with 30 saplings preferably of indigenous species and shall be planted by the permittee within the area identified jointly by the DENR and the permittee free from future development;
- Prior to tree cutting and earth-balling operations, placards or signboards with dimension of 4 feet by 4 feet should be installed at conspicuous places to inform the public that the tree cutting and earth-balling operations are authorized by the DENR. Such notice of particulars should indicate the name of the permittee, the purpose of the activities to be undertaken and the number of trees to be cut and earth-balled;
- The tree cutting and earth-balling operation shall at all times be under the direct supervision of the Regional Executive Director, DENR, CAR or his duly authorized representative(s);
- The logs and other wood materials derived from the cut trees shall be turned over to the DENR for proper disposal;
- The permittee shall be required to undertake measures during and after tree cutting and earth-balling operations to mitigate the negative impacts of the said activity to the locality; and
- The Tree Cutting and Earth-balling Permit shall have a duration of one (1) year.151 (Emphasis supplied)
H. Impact on Ecological Environment
There are a number of trees and plants of significant value that will be affected by the construction of the proposed project. The designer is considering the replanting of these trees to the open areas of the site as part of the project landscaping. Maximum effort shall be made to save existing vegetation especially those with economic and ecological importance. Careful balling out of the roots and relocating the fruit bearing and premium trees into a suitable pre-identified relocation site is recommended in order to preserve these species. Site landscaping shall consist predominantly of providing suitably shaped final ground surfaces and the establishment of grass and trees.
Tree planting and vegetation growth on the peripheral boundary will be done to improve the ecological environment. These strips of vegetation will also serve as buffer zones. Cutting of trees shall be avoided as much as possible.
Dust generated during construction stage may affect the nearby vegetation temporarily. Dust that usually settles on leaf surface results in the blocking of stomates. The stomates are pores in the epidermis of leaves. They are channels of gas exchange which is important for the physiological processes. If dust will be left uncontrolled during construction stage, it may result to the blocking of stomates and eventually to the disruption [of] normal physiological processes of the plants.
In line with the project's principal objective to be environmentally responsive, all activities from construction to implementation should prioritize preservation and improvement on all aspects of the existing natural environment particularly trees, vegetation and other landscape features.
Good vegetation practices and sound soil management programs shall be observed whenever practicable. Therefore, only when it is absolutely necessary shall vegetated land be cleared.153
SECTION 16. 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.
NOTICE OF JUDGMENT
Please take notice that on April 10, 2019 a Decision, copy attached herewith, was rendered by the Supreme Court in the above-entitled case, the original of which was received by this Office on June 17, 2019 at 11:26 a.m.Very truly yours,
(SGD.) EDGAR O. ARICHETA
Clerk of Court
1Rollo, pp. 12-92.
2 Id. at 93-124. The Decision was penned by Associate Justice Magdangal M. De Leon, and concurred in by Associate Justices Stephen C. Cruz and Zenaida T. Galapate-Laguilles of the Special Ninth Division, Court of Appeals, Manila.
3 Id. at 199-218. The Decision was penned by Presiding Judge Antonio M. Esteves of Branch 5, Regional Trial Court, Baguio City.
4 Id. at 1719-1722.
5 Id. at 1719.
6 Id. at 713.
7 Id. at 489, Affidavit of Engineer Bien C. Mateo.
8 Id. at 1826.
9 Id. at 491.
10 Id. at 704-1316.
11 Id. at 1786.
12 Id. at 231-232.
13 Id. at 289-290.
14 Id. at 231-232.
15 Id. at 1794.
16 Id. at 1988-2017.
18 Id. at 200, RTC Decision.
19 Id. at 1830.
20 Id. at 1830.
21 Id. at 1832.
22 Id. at 201.
23 Id. at 225-226. The Order in Civil Case No. 7595-R was penned by Pairing Judge Cleto R. Villacorta III of Branch 5, Regional Trial Court, Baguio City.
24 Id. at 1833.
25 Id. at 201.
26 Id. at 228-230. The Order was penned by Presiding Judge Antonio M. Esteves of Branch 5, Regional Trial Court, Baguio City.
27 Id. at 201.
28 Id. at 2019-2037.
29 Id. at 201.
30 Id. at 201-202.
31 Id. at 202.
32 Id. at 199-218.
33 Id. at 204.
34 Id. at 204-206.
35 Id. at 207.
37 Id. at 208.
39 Id. at 209-210.
40 Id. at 214-215.
41 Id. at 212-213.
42 Id. at 216.
43 Id. at 218.
44 Id. at 25.
45 Id. at 25 and 125-198. Adajar, et al.'s Appeal Brief was not in the rollo.
46 Id. at 93-124.
47 Id. at 109-110.
48 Id. at 110-111.
49 Id. at 122-123.
50 Id. at 12-92.
51 Id. at 415-419.
52 Id. at 420-464.
53 Id. at 613-702.
54 Id. at 605-610.
55 Id. at 2698-2736.
56 Id. at 2870-2889.
57 Id. at 2907-2921.
58 Id. at 2859-2864.
59 Id. at 2929-2942, SM Investments Corporation, and 2943-2962, SM Prime Holdings, Inc. and Shopping Center Management Corporation.
60 Id. at 2967-A-C.
61 Id. at 2967-B.
62 Id. at 2979-3033, 3034-3062, 3063-3141, and 3163-3247.
63 Id. at 17.
64 Id. at 17-18.
65 Id. at 21-22.
66 416 Phil. 438 (2001) [Per J. Quisumbing, Second Division].
67Rollo, pp. 43-44.
68 Id. at 67-72.
69 689 Phil. 218 (2012) [Per J. Leonardo-De Castro, En Banc].
70Rollo, pp. 40-42.
71 Id. at 420-464 and 613-702.
72 Id. at 420-421 and 645.
73 Id. at 648-649.
74 Id. at 650-651.
75 Id. at 676-678.
Id. at 2724.
77 Id. at 2724.
78 Id. at 2718-2719.
79 Id. at 2712-2713.
80 Id. at 659-660.
81 Id. at 660-662.
82 Id. at 428.
83 Id. at 428.
85 Id. at 441 and 2723.
86 Id. at 441, 673-674. 2728-2729.
87 Id. at 678-679.
88 Id. 676-678.
89 RULES OF COURT, Rule 45, sec. 5 provides:
SECTION 5. Dismissal or denial of petition. — The failure of the petitioner to comply with any of the foregoing requirements regarding the payment of the docket and other lawful fees, deposit for costs, proof of service of the petition, and the contents of and the documents which should accompany the petition shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal thereof.
The Supreme Court may on its own initiative deny the petition on the ground that the appeal is without merit, or is prosecuted manifestly for delay, or that the questions raised therein are too unsubstantial to require consideration.
90Rollo, pp. 647-650
91 Id. at 649.
92 594 Phil 246, 257-258 (2008) [Per J. Carpio Morales, En Banc].
93 579 Phil. 503 (2008) [Per J. Chico-Nazario, Third Division].
94Altres v. Empleo, 594 Phil 246, 258-260 (2008) [Per J. Carpio Morales, En Banc].
95 Id. at 260.
96 Id. at 261-262.
97 Id. at 262.
98 RULES OF COURT, Rule 45, sec. 6.
99 RULES OF COURT, Rule 45, sec 1.
100Quintos v. Nicolas, 736 Phil. 438, 451 (2014) [Per J. Velasco, Third Division].
101 269 Phil. 225 (1990) [Per J. Bidin, Third Division].
102 Id. at 232.
103 776 Phil. 167 (2016) [Per J. Leonen, Second Division].
104 Id. at 184.
105Rollo, pp. 3191-3195.
106 Id. at 3228-3230.
107Medina v. Mayor Asistio, Jr., 269 Phil. 225, 232 (1990) [Per J. Bidinm Third Division].
109Rollo, pp. 677-678, SM Prime Holding's Comment.
110 Id. at 2725-2728, Public respondent's Comment
111Republic v. Lacap, 546 Phil. 87, 96-97 (2007) [Per J. Austria-Martinez, Third Division].
112 Id. at 97.
113 325 Phil. 66 (1996) [Per J. Vitug, First Division].
114 Id. at 81 (1996) [Per J. Vitug, First Division].
115 Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order No. 2003-30 (2003), < http://policy.denr.gov.ph/2003/dao2003-30.pdf > (last accessed on March 30, 2017).
116 689 Phil. 218, 270 (2012) [Per J. Leonardo-De Castro, En Banc].
117Rollo, pp. 33-37.
118 Id. at 236-250.
119 Id. at 236.
120 Id. at 237.
121 Id. at 238.
122 Id. at 239-241.
123 Id. at 243.
124 Executive Order No. 72 (1993), sec. 3 provides:
SECTION 3. Plan implementation. — (a) The authority of the HLRB to issue low clearances for locally-significant projects is hereby devolved to cities and municipalities with comprehensive land use plans reviewed and approved in accordance with this Order. Such cities and municipalities shall likewise be responsible for the institution of other actions in the enforcement; of the provisions thereof. For this purpose, they may call on the HLRB and such other NGAs for any legal and technical assistance.
Based on established national standards and priorities, the HLRB shall continue to issue locational clearances for projects considered to be of vital and national or regional economic or environmental significance. Unless otherwise declared by the NEDA Board, all projects shall be presumed locally-significant.
b) All fees and other charges previously collected by the HLRB for the issuance of locational clearances shall now accrue entirely to the city or municipality concerned.
(c) Within sixty (60) days from the effectivity of this Order, the HLRB shall design and install an information system to monitor —
changes in the actual use of land resources; and
the implementation of comprehensive land use plans by LGUs with a view to ensuring compliance with national policies, standards, and guidelines.
126 Id. at 529-531.
127 Id. at 537-539.
129 Id. at 539-541, Testimony of Engineer Evelyn Cayat.
130 462 Phil 803 (2003) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division].
131 Id. at 817-818.
132Iloilo City Zoning Board of Adjustment and Appeals v. Gegato-Abecia Funeral Homes Inc., 462 Phil. 803, 818 (2003) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division].
133Rollo, p. 3079.
134 Id. at 1333-1696.
135 Id. at 1505-1506.
136 Id. at 1506.
137 Id. at 1505-1506.
138 Id. at 1719-1722.
139 Id. at 1720.
140 Id. at 713.
141 Id. at 1826.
142 Id. at 1826.
143 Id. at 704-1316.
144 Id. at 778-782.
145 Executive Order No. 23 (2011), sec. 1(1.2).
146 Declaring a Moratorium on the Cutting and Harvesting of Timber in the Natural and Residual forests and Creating the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force.
147 Executive Order No. 23 2011) http://forestry.denr.gov.ph/images/policies/2011/eo/executive_order_no._23_692.pdf (last accessed on March 25, 2019).
148 Rollo, p. 288.
150 Id. at 289-290.
151 Id. at 289-290.
152 Id. at 288.
153 Id. at 813.
154 Id. at 1895-1907.