At resumption of session after a decision-writing recess, the SC justices decided to hear on June 25 the writ of kalikasan case filed through the Integrated Bar of the Philippines seeking issuance of a writ of continuing mandamus to protect, preserve and rehabilitate the environment in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, Ayungin Shoal and Panganiban (Mischief) Reef.
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SC sets oral arguments on kalikasan writ on WPS
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - June 5, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday set oral arguments on the petition of fishermen from Palawan and Zambales to compel the government to protect shoals and other land features in the West Philippine Sea where Chinese fishermen have reportedly been harvesting marine resources.

At resumption of session after a decision-writing recess, the SC justices decided to hear on June 25 the writ of kalikasan case filed through the Integrated Bar of the Philippines seeking issuance of a writ of continuing mandamus to protect, preserve and rehabilitate the environment in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, Ayungin Shoal and Panganiban (Mischief) Reef.

Meanwhile, The STAR learned that Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has opted to inhibit in this case.

While Carpio has been vocal on the Duterte administration’s policy on the issue, he has not made any public statement on the arguments raised in this kalikasan petition.

Last May 3, the Court ordered the government to answer the petition filed by the group led by Monico Abogado last April 16.

Petitioners sought relief from the SC against what they called “neglect of performance of the duties of the government in violation of environmental laws resulting in environmental destruction of damage in the shoals.”

They specifically accused respondents — Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police and Department of Justice – of “failure to perform their duties as mandated in the above-mentioned environmental laws and regulations.”

They said the government specifically failed to act on environmentally destructive activities of Chinese fishermen in Philippine waters as well as island building activities of Chinese forces, particularly on Panganiban reef.

The group explained that Ayungin Shoal and Panganiban Reef are part of the country’s exclusive economic zone as reaffirmed in the 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

They said Panatag Shoal, on the other hand, is part of the EEZ under Republic Act 9522 or the Philippine Baselines Law.

Since the three areas are part of the country’s EEZ, they should be covered by environmental laws of the country such as the Philippine Fisheries Code, petitioners said.

They also said they turned to the SC for help because they “have no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy” for the inaction of government agencies which are “supposed to be upholding Philippine environmental laws and protecting the environment and resources in Philippine territory.”

FISHERMEN SUPREME COURT WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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