February 17, 2014
Antonio Oposa, Jr., with the support of Our Children's Trust, filed a petition in the Philippines Supreme Court in Manila on behalf of a group of young people and the 98% without cars. This petition came in the form of a uniquely Philippine legal instrument—a “writ of kalikasan”, which provides a remedy for Filipinos whose environmental rights have been violated. The writ demands that one-half of the roads be set aside for citizens who do not drive, because “roads are made for people, not for cars.” Indeed, an Executive Order issued in 2008 requires the Philippine government to implement this principle of “road sharing” so that citizens without cars can have access to safe roads. However, the government never acted upon this order; and so the young people of the Philippines are holding their leaders to task.
This petition is one example of an Atmospheric Trust action asserting the right of present and future generations to enjoy a livable planet. As the writ of kalikasan notes, the atmosphere is a “thing held in trust” as “a vital life-support system.” Even though no single State can stop global climate change by itself, sovereign governments such as the Philippine National Government have a public trust duty to do their part to protect the atmosphere. It has been twenty years since the Philippine Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling declaring that the State has the responsibility to protect the environment for present and future generations. Now today’s generation of young Filipinos is asking the Supreme Court in Manila to enforce these obligations.
The petitioners are not just asking their government to curb the emission of fossil fuels—they also seek to build a new Metro Manila equipped for the future instead of the past. These youth and their allies want a capital city that is made for humans instead of machines. In addition to fighting climate change, “road sharing” will create safe, open spaces for walking, bicycling, gardening, and gathering together as a community.
Fittingly, the petitioners did not drive to the courthouse to deliver their writ. Instead, they walked and biked from Rizal Park to the Supreme Court building. The petitioners have offered a bold vision of how to build a cleaner urban landscape and a cleaner world. As the young petitioners said in a statement: “We are not trying to change the roads, nor even the transportation system. We are trying to change the mindset that got us into the problems that we are in now—air pollution, traffic congestion, waste of money, flooding, and the climate crisis.”
It is heartening that these young Filipinos were joined on their walk to the Supreme Court by men and women, doctors, elderly friends, disabled friends, and 80 local law students. Just as these young people in Manila have allies, young people around the world need allies to walk with them to preserve the atmosphere for their generation and for generations to come.
April 22, 2013
CEBU, Philippines - Around 20 children from at least two barangays in the Municipality of Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu yesterday filed a petition before the municipal council asking for bike lanes.
The filing of the petitions formed part of the ground-level activities of the Road Sharing Movement which calls on the Philippine Government to transform the road and transportation system from the present car-based system to one that is fairer and more people-friendly.
The team of youth leaders and their lawyers are also set to send out a Nationwide Notice to Sue to the Philippine Government addressed to the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the sole policy-making body of the government tasked to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the programs and action plans of the government relating to climate change.
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