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

Robie de Guzman   •   July 12, 2019   •   1489

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.”

Chinese Embassy slams Hontiveros over reparation claims for damages in West Philippine Sea

Marje Pelayo   •   April 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese Embassy did not take kindly Senator Risa Hontiveros’ claims that China owes the Philippines at least P200-B in reparations for the ecological damage it has caused the West Philippines Sea reef system during the past six years of its reclamation activities.

Hontiveros, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, said such amount could be used to help affected families and improve the country’s healthcare system amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Her claims, she said, was based on a study conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Marine Science Institute.

In response, the Chinese Embassy called such remarks by Hontiveros as ‘ridiculously absurd and irresponsible’ and was made “for the sole purpose of catching eyeballs and for selfish political gains.”

The Embassy added that “China and the Philippines are friendly neighbors across the sea” and so the latter commits “to continue to provide our support and assistance” to the Philippines.

Hontiveros, on the other hand, said: “It is more absurd and irresponsible to see that, indeed, in the middle of a global pandemic, China has continued to aggressively violate Philippine sovereignty in the region.”

Hontiveros added that China cannot claim to be a friendly ‘neighbor across the sea’ when it has continued its land reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.

“Friends help each other out, not occupy their islands and destroy their reefs,” the lady senator argued.

READ: DFA files two diplomatic protests against China

On Wednesday (April 22), the Philippines filed two diplomatic protest against China – one for its creation of new districts in the disputed territory in the WPS and for its alleged pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippine waters, as confirmed by Foreign Affairs Teddy Locsin Jr. MNP (with inputs from Harlene Delgado)

IBP offers free legal aid amid COVID-19 community quarantine

Robie de Guzman   •   April 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has offered to provide free online legal assistance to the public amid the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a Facebook post on Monday, the national organization of lawyers said it will give free legal advice to those who have concerns related to the enforcement of the community quarantine.

“Kabilang nito ang mga katanungan na may kinalaman sa pag-aresto kaugnay ng curfew, diskirminasyon sa mga health workers, at iba pa,” the IBP said.

The agency said questions and messages may be sent to its official Facebook page at 𝗳b.𝗰𝗼𝗺/𝗜𝗕𝗣𝗡𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗖𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗟𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗹𝗔𝗶𝗱 or via email at 𝗹𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗱@𝗶𝗯𝗽.𝗽h or via text 𝟬𝟵𝟬𝟲𝟬𝟳𝟵𝟵𝟮𝟮𝟲 (Atty. Eric C. Alajar).

The IBP earlier called out undue discrimination against medical personnel and other workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 fight, as well as individuals who showed symptoms and tested positive for the virus.

It urged the public not to succumb to fear that diminishes humanity, and to show support for the victims and frontliners amid the public health crisis.

“Precautionary measures are understandable and desirable but they should remain reasonable and within the bounds of law,” IBP National President Atty. Domingo Egon Cayosa said in a separate statement.

The Magna Carta of Patient’s Rights and Obligations, Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, and other laws or regulations remain effective and must temper and guide the actions and initiatives of everyone,” he added.

Drilon: Senate can look into ABS-CBN franchise compliance

Robie de Guzman   •   February 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asserted that the Senate can look into the compliance of the broadcast network ABS-CBN with the terms of its legislative franchise amid moves by the Office of the Solicitor General to file charges before the Supreme Court for its alleged franchise violations.

In a statement, Drilon insisted that in exercise of its oversight function, “the Congress, not the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review compliance by ABS-CBN, of the terms of the franchise granted by Congress, especially that there are pending bills seeking renewal of the franchise.”

“Given the gravity of the allegations against ABS-CBN and its implications, it would be a total disservice to the Filipino people if we fail to perform our oversight function,” he added.

The lawmaker backed Senator Grace Poe who earlier filed Senate Resolution 322 which seeks to review ABS-CBN’s compliance with its franchise following the allegations made by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Drilon said that while reviewing the network’s compliance with its franchise, the Senate could look into the allegations raised by the Solicitor General that ABS-CBN violated the terms of its legislative franchise.

“The hearings on the resolution can also be justified not only based on its oversight function but also by virtue of its power to investigate in aid of legislation – the investigation will enable the Senate to make a judgment on the proposed renewal of its franchise when it is transmitted by the House of Representatives,” he said.

The senator, however, clarified that taking up Senate Resolution 322 would not be a violation of the sub-judice rule, adding that under the resolution, the Senate is “simply being called to exercise its oversight functions.”

“Broadly defined, the power of oversight embraces all activities undertaken by Congress to enhance its understanding of and influence over the implementation of legislation it has enacted,” Drilon said. “The Congress is a co-equal branch that is simply performing its mandated and independent oversight functions.”

He also said that as the one that granted the franchise to ABS-CBN, “the Congress can carry out its oversight functions at any point in time.”

“Our role does not end with enacting laws. We have constitutional duty to monitor compliance with the law that Congress enacted,” he added.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday (February 11) directed the ABS-CBN to respond to Calida’s quo warranto petition within the period of 10 days.

The media giant has earlier denied the accusations, maintaining that it did not violate the law and has no outstanding tax liability.


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