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

Robie de Guzman   •   July 12, 2019   •   1344

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.”

DND: ‘Green Aura’ issue must not be blown out of proportion

Maris Federez   •   November 3, 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

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Sunday (November 3) downplayed reports in certain news outlets that a commercial vessel with Filipino crew aboard, the “Green Aura”, was repeatedly challenged by Chinese Coast Guard vessels near Bajo de Masinloc on September 30, 2019.

In a statement, the DND said, “Since the Green Aura, a Liberian ship, was able to safely reach its intended port of destination unimpeded, we believe that what happened should not be blown out of proportion or sensationalized.”

The defense department further said that an official report of the incident has been forwarded to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) for its appropriate action.

The DND has also reiterated its call “for all countries to exercise prudence and respect freedom of navigation and passage in the WPS.”

It stressed that Bajo de Masinloc is well within the Philippine EEZ and that the 2016 arbitral ruling declared it as a common fishing area.

The DND also called on the Chinese government to “respect international maritime laws if it wants to earn the respect of the international community.” (with details from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

IBP vows cooperation, hopes for faster resolution of cases under CJ Peralta

Robie de Guzman   •   October 24, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has welcomed the appointment of Diosdado Peralta as the country’s new Chief Justice, saying this honors the tradition of seniority in the Supreme Court.

In a statement, IBP national president Domingo Cayosa said Peralta served the longest as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court among the three aspirants shortlisted by the Judicial and Bar Council.

Peralta replaced former chief justice Lucas Bersamin, who retired last week after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Cayosa expressed hope that the judiciary will resolve cases “much faster” under the leadership of newly-installed top magistrate.  

“We are hopeful that under his leadership the judiciary will resolve cases much faster inasmuch as his 25 years as magistrate are notable for speedy disposition of cases and innovations to expedite court processes,” he said.

He also vowed that the IBP will work and cooperate with Peralta to achieve “Justice Bilis.”

Born in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Peralta started his career in government service when he was appointed Third Assistant City Fiscal in 1987 then went on to become a trial court judge and later a Sandiganbayan Justice before he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2009.

Prior to his SC appointment, he was a professor, lecturer, resource person, and Bar reviewer in Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Remedial Law, and Trial Techniques in various universities.

He is an alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law.

Peralta will be sitting as the chief magistrate until he retires at the age of 70 on March 27, 2022.

All eyes on PH as Duterte arrives in China to discuss sea row

Marje Pelayo   •   August 29, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in China on Wednesday evening (August 28) for a three-day working visit and meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Palace is confident that China will hear the President once he opens up The Hague’s arbitral ruling over the territorial dispute in the West Philippines Sea considering the solid bond that the two countries have already established.

The discussion, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, aims to prevent further escalation of tension and violence at sea due to the decade-long maritime dispute.

“I think China will have an open ear, after all they kept on saying that we’re friends and friends can always talk on anything,” Panelo said.

“Moreover, it’s really about time to talk about it since if the concern is maritime security, and peace in the region, then they really have to talk because this has been a source of some irritants between the two countries as well as other countries,” he added.

Also, included in the agenda of the President’s visit is the proposed joint exploration with China in the WPS under the ’60-40 sharing scheme.’ This means that the Philippines will get 60% of the profit while China will receive the remaining 40%.

“It’s mutually beneficial because both countries are agreeing on a modus vivendi with respect to the exploitation of natural resources,” Panelo said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang has accepted the recent apology of the owner of the Chine vessel to the involved Filipino fishermen in the June 9 maritime incident in Recto Bank.

“We accept the recent apology extended by the owner of the Chinese vessel to our fishermen affected by the incident,” Panelo said.

“We likewise welcome the owner’s humility to take responsibility and acknowledgment that compensation must be provided to cover the actual loss,” he added.

Duterte and Xi will meet on Thursday evening (August 29) and shall witness the signing of certain agreements between the two countries.

Joining President Duterte in China are nine of his Cabinet officials to include:

  1. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.
  2. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea
  3. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III
  4. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
  5. Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez
  6. Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato Dela Pena
  7. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi
  8. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon
  9. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

Also included in the President’s delegation are Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Prospero De Vera III and Customs Commissioner Rey Guerrero. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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