IBP moves to withdraw West Philippine Sea Kalikasan case

Robie de Guzman   •   July 19, 2019   •   1628

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the Pagasa (Hope) Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) located off the coast of western Philippines July 20, 2011. REUTERS/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL

MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said on Friday that it has filed a motion to withdraw its petition for Writ of Kalikasan, seeking for the protection of the environment in the West Philippine Sea.

In its motion, the IBP asked the Supreme Court to grant its request to withdraw the suit for eight of the petitioners, including the organization itself.

“With due regard to the plight and position of the fishermen-petitioners, the views and recommendations of the handling lawyers and the IBP Chapters involved, and the matters raised and guidance by the Honorable Supreme Court, a motion has been filed for the withdrawal or discharge of the counsels for the fishermen and for the withdrawal of the petition,” the IBP said in a statement, signed by its president Domingo Egon Cayosa.

The IBP’s motion is the latest in a series of case updates that followed after Solicitor General Jose Calida claimed last week that several Zambales and Palawan fishermen who were named as petitioners backed out from the case.

Petitioners of the case originally sought the Court to order the Duterte administration to stop neglecting its duty to protect the Ayungin Shoal, Panatag Shoal and Panganiban Reef, following reports of Chinese fishers harvesting endangered marine species in the area.

But Calida claimed, 19 fishermen have denied knowledge of the case, 13 of the total 37 petitioners also did not sign their affidavits while 24 signed but had no identification.

Calida’s claims led to the suspension of the oral arguments and Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin calling 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.

The petitioners’ side did not confirm Calida’s statement but requested the high court to give them time to confer with their clients on the developments of the case.

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

The SC later granted IBP’s motion for extension to comply with the order to move in the premises in the Writ of Kalikasan suit.

Oral arguments for petitions vs anti-terror law set in September – SC

Robie de Guzman   •   August 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will hold oral arguments on the petitions questioning the constitutionality of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act.

In a statement, the Supreme Court Public Information Office said the oral arguments are initially set for the third week of September “at the earliest.”

“The proper notices will be issued once the date is finalized,” Supreme Court Spokesperson Brian Hosaka said.

The Supreme Court En Banc also ordered the consolidation of the last six petitions with the earlier 19 petitions filed against the law. It also gave respondents 10 days to comment on new petitions.

In all, there are 25 petitions lodged against the measure which has yet to be fully enforced.

Petitioners argued that the vague and broad provisions of the law can be used to silence government critics for fear of being tagged as terrorists.

Lawmakers who authored and sponsored the measure, however, maintained that the law has enough safeguards against abuse.

SC suspends transfer of convicted inmates to BuCor due to COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the courts in the country to temporarily suspend the issuance of commitment order for the transfer of convicted inmates from detention facilities to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

In a circular posted on the Supreme Court’s Twitter page, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said that all convicted persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who should have been transferred to the BuCor should remain in the facilities of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) from July 29 to August 31, 2020.

This is in line with the request of BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag to the Office of the Court Administrator to temporarily suspend the issuance of commitment orders to BuCor to prevent the further contamination of COVID-19 and to minimize the movement of inmates.

Both the BuCor and the BJMP have recorded cases of COVID-19 in their facilities with reported fatalities.

Detained persons awaiting or facing trials are placed under the custody of the BJMP while those convicted are under the BuCor.

DOJ hopes SC will rule on merit, not personalities behind petitions vs anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   July 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday expressed hope that the Supreme Court will resolve the questions on the legality of Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020 based on the merits, and not the number and personalities behind lawsuits.

“All these petitions, no matter how many they are, will boil down to a common set of constitutional issues. The Supreme Court will resolve these issues on the merits of the arguments advanced by the parties concerned, and not on the basis of their number or personal or professional stature,” Guevarra said.

At least 16 petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court against the controversial measure which came into effect this month.

Among those who questioned the validity of the law were law professors and former officials of the Executive branch and retired Supreme Court Justices.

The petitioners questioned the vague and broad provisions of the law that may lead to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement and malicious prosecution of innocent people.

Petitioners also urged the high court to declare the entire law unconstitutional and to stop its implementation.

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