People can sue firms for violating environment laws

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Thursday, December 5, 2013


CHARGES can be filed against facilities and projects that not only caused degradation to the environment but also brought health risks to the community, said a lawyer for the environment Jennifer Ramos.

“It’s the right of the people to file charges against them,” said Ramos.

She added that we have laws like the Republic Act 8749 or the 1999 Philippine Clean Air Act that can be used as basis in suing violators of environmental laws.

Ramos added the people can also file lawsuits against the perpetrators of environmental destruction through the “Writ of Kalikasan.”

According to People’s Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance’s website, a “Writ of Kalikasan” is a legal remedy that protects the right of anyone to a “balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”

The writ is also provided under Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Even if a facility has not started its operations, Ramos said the “Writ of Kalikasan” will cover threats to a “balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”

“Since we already know the impacts of such facilities to the environment and the people, charges can be filed even if the operation of the facility has not yet started,” she said.

However, she added that facts are needed in order to file cases using the Clean Air Act and the writ.

Dubious

Some government officials are pushing for the establishment of coal-fired power plants in Cagayan de Oro City.

Arnold Alamon, who represented the Sociology department of Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), however, said he is against coal-fired power plants because it is not a reliable source of energy.

“It is not reliable so it is not a sustainable source of energy,” said Alamon, adding it is not renewable and eventually its supply will deplete.

He added that advanced countries made coal-fired power plants as the source of energy as an undesirable source because of the pollution.

However, he said that the establishment of coal-fired power plants in the Philippines is dubious.

“It is suspicious in certain city and provincial government are pushing for it, they’re usually backed by big business who wants to amass profit from power generation,” said Alamon.

Ramos said she is against coal-fired power plants and that the government should stop the issuance of environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) to them.

“The government should also retire the existing coal-fired power plants,” Ramos said, using the more technologically advanced countries as they discourage the use of these thermal power-generating facilities.

She added that there are a many studies available that discuss how coal fired power plants can cause harm to the people and environment.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 05, 2013.

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