Carpio inhibits from Kalikasan writ plea for parts of West Philippine Sea
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is part of the Philippines' legal team that won the 2016 landmark ruling on the West Philippine Sea.
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Carpio inhibits from Kalikasan writ plea for parts of West Philippine Sea

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - July 2, 2019 - 12:46pm

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2; 2:39 p.m.)  — Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio will stay out of deliberations on the pending plea for a Writ of Kalikasan over areas in the West Philippine Sea.

The STAR reported that Carpio, who has disagreed in public with government policy in the West Philippine Sea, will inhibit from the plea and will not participate in the oral arguments on it.

Carpio, in a message to Philstar.com, said while he did not find "compulsory ground" to recuse himself from the case, he is doing so for "the peace of mind of the solicitor general." 

The senior justice was part of the legal team that fought for, and won, the landmark tribunal ruling on the arbitration case that the Philippines filed in 2013 against China's sweeping claim over the South China Sea, part of which is in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

Even before the 2016 tribunal ruling on China's sweeping nine-dash-line claim in the South China Sea, Carpio had been saying that the West Philippine Sea will be won through constant engagement with the international community. He has also said that that it is a task that will take generations of Filipinos to do.

RELATED: Youth stand behind Filipino fishermen, for sovereignty — Elago

Solicitor General Jose Calida sought Carpio's recusal, citing the senior justice’s “personal bias and manifest partiality.”

The petition filed by a 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.

Calida: It’s just ‘right’ for Carpio to inhibit

Calida welcomed Carpio’s inhibition from the case and said it was just “right” for the senior justice to do so.

"He knows already all the facts of the case because of the West Philippine Sea arbitration. He was part of the legal team, so it’s just right that he inhibited," Calida told reporters.

Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza,himself a former solicitor general, was also part of the Philippines’ legal team in the landmark arbitration case, but Calida did not move for his inhibition from deliberations on the plea.

The solicitor general explained that Jardeleza “never said anything in public... unlike Justice Carpio who is very active.”

Lawyer Jose Manuel "Chel" Diokno, who is representing the fisherfolk-petitioners in the case, said they respect Carpio’s decision as he noted that the senior justice is someone who “pays attention to delicadeza (propriety).”

"Given his familiarity with the issue and his expertise about the history of the West Philippine Sea and its legal framework, it would have been great for him to be part of the case, but we have to respect his decision," he added.

The SC is set to tackle the petition through oral arguments Tuesday afternoon. —  with reports from The STAR/Edu Punay

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