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China to use Recto Bank incident to check Phl reaction when similar incident happens in WPS

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

A lawmaker believes that what happened in Recto Bank (or Reed Bank) is connected with the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (or South China Sea).

Senator Panfilo Lacson said he received information that the incident is China’s means to check on how the Philippines will react.

“Not from a local source na hindi ko tinanong kung ano ang basis. Ang sinasabi doon is it was a test of how far back we can go. Kasi kung alam nilang urong tayo ng urong, sulong sila ng sulong,” Lacson added.

Lacson said the report he received showed that a Chinese Militia vessel rammed the Filipino fishing boat.

China had claimed almost the entire South China Sea based on the Nine-Dash Line Theory it adopted.

It also showed interest on Recto or Reed Bank as the area is rich in oil and gas deposits.

The senator said the country can always use the Mutual Defense Treaty it has with the United States to prevent China’s bullying at the West Philippine Sea.

Lacson said this is a means to maintain balance of power.

“I’m not saying we implement it. Pero hihintayin pa ba nating magkaroon ng armed attack? Lalong escalation yun. Mas maganda na ginamit natin yung treaty to act proactively,” he reiterates.

Lacson also called out Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo for his seeming partiality with China and for not taking sides with the Filipino fishermen whose lives were thrown in danger.

To which, Panelo was quick to respond, pointing out that what the senator was saying was far from the truth.

He also stressed that President Duterte is not taking China’s side.

“The President is a thinking, cautious and responsible President. Not an irresponsible and reckless President that others would (label) him to be,“ Panelo said.

He added, “I’m echoing the line of the President when he says let us wait for the final findings of facts of the investigation being conducted by both countries.” (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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SC grants IBP request to talk with fishermen in West PH Sea Kalikasan suit

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday granted the request of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for more time to talk with Zambales and Palawan fishermen who were involved in a petition for the West Philippine Sea.

SC Public Information chief Brian Keith Hosaka said the high court has decided to grant the IBP’s motion for extension of time to confer with clients to comply with SC’s order to move in the premises in the Writ of Kalikasan suit.

“Supreme Court En Banc has granted the ‘motion for extension of time to confer with clients and obtain special authority’ filed by the IBP on behalf of the petitioners in the case of Abogado et al. vs DENR et al. GR No. 246209 last July 12, 2019,” Hosaka said.

A “move in the premises” resolution means that the parties involved are obliged to inform the Court of pertinent developments to the case which may be of help to the Court in its immediate disposition.

The IBP earlier asked the SC to give them time to confer with the fishermen in Zambales and in Palawan so “they can more appropriately act on the developments in the case” after the government claimed fishermen involved in the case have disowned the petition.

READ: IBP wants time to talk with fishermen in West PH Sea Kalikasan petition

Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier said 19 of the fishermen who were named as petitioners backed out from the case, saying they had no knowledge of the Writ of Kalikasan suit seeking for the protection of the West Philippine Sea. Of the total 37 petitioners, 13 said they did not sign their affidavits while 24 signed but presented no identification.

A Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy available to persons or groups whose right to a balanced and healthy ecology is threatened or violated.

The IBP was given until July 19 (Friday) to talk with their clients and comply with the SC’s order.

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3 years after PH arbitral win vs. China: Duterte admin did nothing to enforce it —Carpio

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – July 12, 2019, marks the third anniversary of the Philippine’s arbitral win against China’s historical claims on the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s landmark ruling thus invalidated China’s so-called ‘Nine-Dash Line’ – the undefined demarcation line that encircles as much as 90 percent of the disputed waters in the area.

The Duterte administration downplayed the victory in hopes of building stronger ties with China and preferred to offer diplomacy rather than further escalating the tension by sending military troops to the disputed waters, even amid reports of harassment against Filipino fishermen and the Chinese destroying and exploiting the Philippines’ marine resources.

Maritime expert Jay Batongbacal expressed deep concern on the continuous deterioration and massive destruction of the marine environment in the West Philippine Sea.

“This has to stop and we have to get serious,” the Director of the University of the Philippines Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea appealed.

“And we’re not talking about going to war. We’re talking about simple things like stopping the destruction of a common pool resource that would benefit us all,” he added.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, meanwhile, acknowledge that war is not an option in the West Philippine Sea row as the Constitution forbids.

But Carpio blamed the Duterte administration’s inaction, accusing it of using such provision of the law to instill fear among Filipinos as if the Philippines has no other option but to obey with what China offers.

“This administration has done nothing whatsoever to enforce the arbitral award,” Carpio said.

 “I don’t see positive in the enforcement of the award,” he added.

The magistrate appealed to President Duterte not to formalize his verbal agreement with China’s Xi Jinping in his upcoming state of the nation address (SONA) that allows Chinese fishermen to fish within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country in the WPS.

Carpio said, once Duterte formalizes the agreement, the Philippines would be bound and that would weaken the Arbitral ruling.

“If the President will confirm it in his SONA, I mean, we cannot get out of that anymore. So, we’re bound by that, we have to honor that. So, that means China can fish in an area 59 times larger than Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio argued.

Malacañang stressed that the President considers his agreement with Xi as legally binding, but Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. insisted that it cannot be executed because there is no written document to attest the deal.

For her part, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the issue will still depend on how the President delivers the matter during his SONA.

She calls on Filipinos to stand for the country’s rights no matter what happens.

“Let us not be scared by all the propaganda that we hear. Because if we do, walang mangyayari (nothing will happen),” Morales said.

“Be brave,” she concluded. – with details from Harlene Delgado

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IBP wants time to talk with fishermen in West PH Sea Kalikasan petition

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

A fisherman repairs his boat overlooking fishing boats that fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, at Masinloc, Zambales, in the Philippines April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo

MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Friday said it will request the Supreme Court (SC) for time to talk with Zambales and Palawan fishermen involved in a petition for the West Philippine Sea.

The IBP issued the statement days after the government claimed fishermen involved in the suit have disowned the petition.

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday said 19 of the fishermen who were named as petitioners backed out from the case, saying they had no knowledge of the writ of kalikasan suit seeking for the protection of the West Philippine sea.

A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy available to persons or groups whose right to a balanced and healthy ecology is threatened or violated.

He added that apart from the 19 who allegedly recanted their statements, 13 of the total 37 petitioners did not sign their affidavits while 24 signed but had no identification.

Due to Calida’s claims, the oral arguments were suspended and Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin called for a closed-door meeting of the parties.

After the conference, Calida said the government and the petitioners’ lawyers agreed that the case be dismissed. Both the petitioners’ side and the Supreme court did not confirm Calida’s claim.

In a statement, the IBP said lawyers handling the case will seek time to confer with the fishermen.

“Considering the new allegations by the Office of the Solicitor General, the handling lawyers will request the Supreme Court for time to confer with the fishermen in Zambales and in Palawan so that they can more appropriately act on the developments in the case,” the IBP said in a statement signed by its president, Domingo Egon Cayosa.

“The IBP stands firmly with the fishermen, IBP chapters, and the lawyers involved in the petition for a writ of kalikasan filed before the Supreme Court,” it added.

The IBP also reiterated its advocacy for the “enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the rights and welfare of fisherfolks and securing the territory and patrimony of our country in the West Philippine Sea.”

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