REACTION PAPER ON TRUST DOCTRINE OF INTERGENERATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY by Felrose Lynn V. Acenas We are poised right at the edge of some very major changes on Earth. Maybe it is indeed safe to say that we really are a geological force that’s changing the planet. Within the lifetimes of today’s children, scientists say, the climate could reach a state unknown in civilization. Whether we accept it or not, Climate Change is upon us. It is good to know that many of us are active in bringing about change and are concerned with the environment.
Climate Change is a major problem and various entities around the world are doing their best to address this problem. This is why Trust Doctrine is proposed, it is for the litigation of climate change issues with an emphasis on the rights of future generations. The public trust doctrine provides a method whereby environmental lawyers can bring suit against governments on behalf of current and future generations. Deriving from the common law of property, the public trust doctrine is the most fundamental legal mechanism to ensure that government safeguards natural resources necessary for public welfare and survival.
In the context of the climate crisis, which threatens the life of innumerable human beings into the future, the public trust doctrine functions as a judicial tool to ensure that the political branches of government protect the basic right to life held by citizens. An ancient yet enduring legal principle, it underlies modern statutory law. At the core of the doctrine is the principle that every sovereign government holds vital natural resources in “trust” for the public. As trustee, government must protect the natural trust for present and future generations.
It must not allow irrevocable harm to critical resources by private interests. In the Oposa Vs Factoran Case, the petitioners, all minors, sought the help of the Supreme Court to order the respondent, the Secretary of DENR, to cancel all existing Timber License Agreement in the country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving the new TLAs. They alleged that the massive commercial logging in the country is causing vast abuses on rainforest.
They furthered the rights of their generation and the rights of the generations yet unborn to a balanced and healthful ecology. The Supreme Court decided in the Affirmative. Under Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution it states that: 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. Needless to say, every generation has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology.
Put a little differently, the minor’s assertion to their right to a sound environment constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the generations to come. This is an eye opener, If these minors did their part, how much more those with discernment, and especially those who are legally knowledgeable. We must all remember that we all have an intergenerational responsibility to our future generations.