The petition filed by the group led by Monico Abogado through the Integrated Bar of the Philippines sought the issuance of writ of continuing mandamus to protect, preserve and rehabilitate the environment in Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, Ayungin Shoal and Mischief or Panganiban Reef.
Michael Varcas
Writ of kalikasan hearings on WPS reset
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - June 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has reset oral arguments on the petition of fishermen from Palawan and Zambales to compel the government to protect disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea where Chinese fishermen have reportedly been harvesting marine resources.

In session yesterday, the SC justices decided to move the public hearing on the writ of kalikasan case from June 25 to July 2.

Insiders revealed that the magistrates moved the oral arguments to a later date to allow longer preparation by petitioners and respondents.

The petition filed by the group led by Monico Abogado through the Integrated Bar of the Philippines sought the issuance of writ of continuing mandamus to protect, preserve and rehabilitate the environment in Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, Ayungin Shoal and Mischief or Panganiban Reef.

Last May 3, the court ordered the government to answer the petition filed 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 activities of Chinese fishermen in those areas, which violate the country’s environmental laws. 

Petitioners also cited the island-building activities in Panganiban Reef as found by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in its 2016 ruling.

The group explained that Ayungin Shoal and Panganiban Reef are part of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as declared by the PCA. 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 said these should be covered by environmental laws of the country such as the Philippine Fisheries Code.

Petitioners said they sought relief from the SC because they “have no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy as petitioners are complaining of acts by the government agencies themselves who are supposed to be upholding Philippine environmental laws and protecting the environment and resources in Philippine territory.”   

FISHERMEN SUPREME COURT
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