IBP, fisherfolk withdraw Kalikasan writ plea
MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 6:49 p.m.) — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, lawyers of fisherfolk, withdrew its petition for Writ of Kalikasan over parts of the West Philippine Sea.
The IBP said it filed a motion on Friday, asking the SC that they and seven fishermen to be allowed to withdraw the petition.
The IBP and rights lawyer Chel Diokno also withdrew as counsels in the plea.
IBP National President Egon Cayosa, in a statement, said they moved for the withdrawal “[w]ith due regard to the plight and position of the fishermen-petitioners, the views and recommendations of the handling lawyers and the IBP Chapters involved, and the matters raised and guidance by the Honorable [SC].”
The petition seeks to compel the government to protect and rehabilitate the Scarborough Shoal, Ayungin Shoal and Mischief Reef, which China claims, and are in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
The writ of Kalikasan is a remedy formulated by the court to better protect the rights of the citizens to a balanced and healthful ecology as enshrined in the Constitution. It is a remedy available for persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity.
They asked the SC to compel the government to enforce environmental laws to “prevent and prosecute violations” in Philippine waters and exclusive economic zones.
Calida: Plea filed without fishermen’s consent
During the oral arguments on July 9, Calida told the SC that 19 of the fishermen manifested they are withdrawing the plea.
The solicitor general manifested to the tribunal that the IBP filed the petition without express consent and knowledge of fishermen from Palawan and Zambales.
The group’s leaders, Monico Abogado and Roberto Asiado, said in their respective affidavits that they were “deceived” into signing the petition.
Diokno, for his part, questioned the circumstances behind the fishermen’s withdrawal of their plea.
An ABS-CBN exclusive report said that two Palawan fishermen said members of the Philippine Navy approached them about the petition.