John Philip Baltazar (4A) and Bernadette Eugenio (4A) speak to media about the Petition minutes before its filing. Photo by Clariesse Jami Chan

Young Filipinos file petition in SC to divide the roads in half

ON FEBRUARY 17 at around 7:30 a.m., a group of young Filipinos, fed up with traffic congestion, the high cost of transportation, and noise and air pollution, marched from Luneta Park to the Supreme Court in Padre Faura, Manila, initiating an unprecedented legal action to divide the roads in half—one half for public transport systems, and the other for all-weather bike lanes and sidewalks.

Collectively known as the Share the Roads Movement of the Philippines advocating safer, cleaner, and more reliable roads for travel, they pose the question, “Why should 98% of Filipinos have to pay for the roads when only 2% of the population who own cars can use them?” inspired by the mantra that those who have less in wheels must have more in roads.

Ateneo Law students from an elective class on International Environmental Regulations under Atty. Antonio Oposa were among those who helped in preparations and took part in the event dubbed “Walk to WoK (Writ of Kalikasan).”

Together with a team of young environmental lawyers from all over the country and across the globe, they filed a Petition for a Writ of Kalikasan and Continuing Mandamus to enforce the Road Sharing Principle embodied in Executive Order No. 774 (Reorganizing the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change), which requires the government to create a system that “shall favor non-motorized locomotion and collective transportation system[s] (walking, bicycling, and the man-powered mini-train).”

Impleaded as respondents are the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), for neglect of their respective mandates to “transform the road system to favor persons who have no motor vehicles,” as a result of which “they have violated the Filipino people’s basic human rights to health, to equal protection of the laws, and to their right to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of Nature,” the Petition read.

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