SC issues 'kalikasan' writ for Taal Lake

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 07 2012 04:34 PM | Updated as of Feb 08 2012 12:34 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has issued a Writ of Kalikasan ordering the Protected Area Management Board to "refrain from issuing clearances for fish cage operations in Taal Lake."

The writ was issued in today's en banc session.

The high tribunal also referred the petition filed by Agham Party List Rep. Angelo Palmones to the Court of Appeals(CA) in order for the appellate court to "hear and receive evidence" on the case.

Palmones asked the high tribunal to issue the protective writ last January 24, claiming that the "continued degradation of Taal Lake" brought about by the high number of fish cages must be immediately stopped.

Palmones stressed that the fish inventory of Taal Lake recorded 76 migratory and many endemic species in 1927, but noted that 50 years after, the inventory was down to a mere 15 migratory and 4 endemic species.

He added that the fish kill last year in the lake affected an estimated 2,105 metric tons of fish with an estimated amount of P148.7 million.

He said this should sound a "wake-up call" especially that Taal Volcano has been identified as a priority protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS).

The Writ of Kalikasan is "a remedy available to a natural or juridical person, entity authorized by law, people’s organization, non-governmental organization, or any public interest group accredited by or registered with any government agency, on behalf of persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity, involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces."

"In the case of Agham party list vs [DENR Sec.] Paje where the court issued a Writ of Kalikasan ordering the protected area mgt board to refrain from from issung clearances for fish cage operations in Taal Lake and referring the case to the CA whch should hear and receive evidence on this particular issue," Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said.