Lawyers Andre Palacios and Chel Diokno of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines represented the Kalayaan Palawan Farmers and Fisherfolk Association in their plea for writ of Kalikasan. Joy Patag
SC issues gag order vs SolGen, IBP in Kalikasan writ plea
Kristine Joy Patag ( - July 16, 2019 - 2:22pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court on Tuesday prohibited the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Solicitor General from speaking about the fisherfolk’s plea for Writ of Kalikasan in parts of the West Philippine Sea.

The STAR reported that the high court, in an en banc session, issued a gag order for the two parties in the case.

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.

In the same session, the SC also granted the IBP’s plea to be given more time to submit compliance in their plea, according to its spokesperson Brian Hosaka.

"Petitioners were given until July 19, 2019 to confer with their clients and comply with the Supreme Court’s order to move in the premises last July 9, 2019," Hosaka said in a statement.

During the oral arguments on July 9, the court gave parties to file a joint motion and “move in premises.”

Philippine jurisprudence defines a “move in the premises” as a directive for parties to inform the court of “developments pertinent to the case which may be of held to the Court in its immediate disposition.”

Calida told the court that 19 of the fishermen manifested they are withdrawing the plea.

READ: Fishermen withdraw from ‘kalikasan’ petition

The solicitor general submitted to the justices the affidavits of the 19 fishermen manifesting their withdrawal as petitioners in the case filed by the IBP’s Andre Palacios and rights lawyer Chel Diokno.

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.

READ: Diokno sees government hand in fishers' withdrawal from Kalikasan plea

Disbarment vs Diokno

Calida earlier floated the lawyers in the Kalikasan writ plea may face disbarment for allegedly "deceiving" the petitioners in the case.

Diokno, in a statement, said he remains unfazed and vowed to continue fighting for justice.

He stressed that threats from the powerful is “nothing new” for him.

“As a lawyer that has long been helping the poor, I am used to threats and scare tactics from the mouth of those in power,” he said in Filipino.

He also recalled: “In my youth, I saw my father unjustly imprisoned under Martial Law. He continued to fight for justice, and so will I.”

The rights lawyer is the son of Jose Diokno, founder of the Free Legal Assistance Group. He was detained and tortured for two years during the Marcos regime. — with report from The STAR/Edu Punay

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