THE Court of Appeals recently issued a Writ of Kalikasan “and other similar petitions” for the protection of Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak.

The writ is a legal remedy under Philippine law which provides for the protection of one's right to "a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature," as provided for in Section 16, Article II of the Philippine Constitution.

"In a 10-page decision dated November 28, 2013, the Court of Appeals in Cagayan de Oro, through Associate Justice Oscar V. Badelles closes and terminates the case… at the Supreme Court last July 2012 after the court has approved the Memorandum of Agreement prepared by all parties during the course of its October 2013 mediation process,” according to a press statement.

The case was filed by 15th Congress Representative Angelo B. Palmones of Agham (Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan, Inc.) party-list.

"We thank all parties for the support in aims to restore and rehabilitate the mountain," Palmones said.

"Filing this case for Mt. Apo’s protection shows us that we are not the only ones left to care for this natural-national treasure, we are conduits to reignite every person and every stakeholder to take part in being responsible, and value the mountain’s essence as an ecological hub, for it to be part of our remaining years and for the generations after us," he added.

Among the items included in the MOA are the commitments of partners such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to provide additional budget and any support necessary for the implementation of Mt. Apo Natural Park (MANP) projects, the need to expand and strengthen the role and capacity of the Protected Area and Management Bureau and other offices through training and additional manpower needs, the creation of a five-year work and financial plan, and revisiting Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) provisions to propose modifications to have a stringent process in the issuance of ECC.

Agham will lobby for the enactment of legislative measures such as Amendment of Republic Act No. 9237 or the MANP Act of 2003, by including a provision for Mt. Apo's regular budget allocation; and the amendment of Republic Act No. 7586 or the Nipas Act of 1992 aiming to have "stricter penalties for violations of the Nipas Act."

Agham will also "spearhead a legislation for the establishment of an Environmental School in a State University within the area."

On February 3, 2004, Mount Apo became a protected area under the category of Natural Park through Republic Act No. 9237. It has a total area of 54,974.87 hectares. Two peripheral areas of 2,571.73 hectares and 6,506.40 hectares as buffer zones were provided for its management and for other purposes.

Mount Apo is one of the richest botanical mountains in Asia and the Pacific region as it hosts hundreds of rare, endemic and threatened species of flora.

Identified floral species includes 629 species, 42 of which are endemic and 18 species are considered at risk.