EDITORIAL - Going to court, the wisdom and folly of it


Because officials in Cebu City, long divided along party lines, cannot settle among themselves a most urgent and important environmental and health issue on whether or not to keep the Inayawan dumpsite open, they have tossed the matter for resolution by another party  - the courts - after one councilor filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan.

Filing a petition for a writ of kalikasan in court is a good move in that it assures the core issue will be seen for what it is - a health and environmental concern. The politics that has enveloped the question and prevented its early resolution can now at least be stripped away and rendered irrelevant. The neutrality and objectivity of the court will address the matter based on pure hard facts, devoid of the political sentiments that have stymied all efforts to clear the matter up.

The writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy meant to protect a citizen's right to a clean and health environment. With the dumpsite being cited for a number of sanitation, health, and environmental violations, and the surrounding areas being exposed to health threats and real foul smell, it is truly a wonder why it is even an issue that had to reach the courts.

The petition while good, and its filing in court right, such things should not even have been a matter for the courts to determine. It will only add to the clogging of the court dockets, swamped as they are already with cases that are the natural consequences of a high crime rate, high population, and a seemingly natural predisposition to litigate.

While the courts are the ultimate arbiters of human legal conflicts, not everything ought to be settled in court or by the courts. There ought to be decisions rendered by other people in different positions of authority that should settle matters with finality. The health and environmental departments, for example, ought to have decisions that are enforceable by themselves.

In fact, the health and environmental departments are in a better position to make sense of health and environmental issues than are the courts. And yet, all too often, people hide off to the courts to have issues settled, in complete disregard of the possibility that the courts may not be the perfect authority to settle their issues.

The health and environmental departments, for example, ought to be the better and more competent authority to settle health and environmental issues than are the courts. But because people and nations have been made and structured to believe in the notion that the courts are the final arbiters of everything, health and environmental experts, for instance, are forced to defer to the wisdom of a judge who is steeped only in the law, and not on which germs can kill and which cannot.

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