SC: SM Prime liable for discharging pollutants

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2010 05:30 PM | Updated as of Oct 04 2010 01:30 AM

…says LLDA right in imposing fine against mall owner

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court has upheld a Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) ruling that found SM Prime Holdings liable for discharging pollutive wastewater in February 2002.

In a 12-page decision penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, the second division of the high court said LLDA has the power to impose fines against establishments that have violated effluent standards for inland water.

These are rules and regulations that control the discharging of industrial wastewater.

In an order issued on October 2, 2002, LLDA directed the firm to pay P50,000 after its SM Manila City branch was found to have violated the standards.

The amount represents the accumulated daily penalty computed from February 4, 2002 until March 5, 2002.

SM Prime asked for a waiver of the fine, saying it immediately corrected the problem.

It added it is a responsible operator of malls and department stores. In fact, it was the first time that SM Manila failed to observe effluent standards, it said.

LLDA denied the plea. The case was elevated before the Court of Appeals.

The appellate court, however, said LLDA's charter, or Republic Act 4850, has not expressly provided such provision.

In reversing the ruling, SC said LLDA has the power to impose fines in the exercise of its function as a regulatory and quasi-judicial body with regard to pollution cases in the Laguna Lake region.

Citing section 4 (d) of Executive Order No. 927, SC said the agency has the power to “make, later, modify orders, requiring the discontinuance of pollution specifying the conditions and the time within which such discontinuance must be accomplished.”

“The intendment of the law…is to clothe the LLDA not only with the express powers granted to it, but also those which are implied or incident but, nonetheless, are necessary or essential for the full proper implementation of its purposes and functions,” the high court said.