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Makabayan bloc to file TRO in SC vs Chico River Irrigation project

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Friday, March 29th, 2019

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc will challenge the legality of the loan agreement between the Philippine government and China for the P4.3 billion Chico River Irrigation project.

The group will file a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) at the Supreme Court (SC) to temporarily stop the implementation of the said project.

“Ang immediate na relief na hihingin ay ang TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) tapos idi-declare na unconstitutional (The immediate relief we will request is the TRO then the declaration of unconstitutionality)” Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said

They will also question the patrimonial assets of the Philippines which was reportedly going to be collateral in case the country is unable to pay its debts with China.

“Hindi pa dini-disclose ng gobyerno, ano pa ang mga assets niya na parang nilagay niya sa kaniyang collateral(The government still hasn’t disclosed the assets they are going to use as collateral),” Arilao said.

The Makabayan bloc also said the Philippines is at a disadvantage when it comes to the workforce of the project because a huge percentage of them will be Chinese.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said it is open to any move to question its actions.

“The Palace always welcomes any move to question its action, if they feel it’s not within the law,” presidential spokesperson and chief presidential legal counsel, Sec. Salvador Panelo said.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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IBP moves to withdraw West Philippine Sea Kalikasan case

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

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.

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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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SolGen Calida wants Justice Carpio to inhibit from West Philippine Sea case

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, July 1st, 2019

Solicitor General Jose Calida (L) and SC Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (R)

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has filed a motion before the Supreme Court (SC) asking SC Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to inhibit from participating in the petition urging the Duterte government to protect the marine resources in the West Philippine Sea.

Solicitor General Jose Calida cited ‘personal bias’ and ‘manifest partiality’ against Carpio for his active participation in the South China Sea Arbitral Proceedings in 2016 and for being critical of the Duterte Administration’s actions in relation to the issue in the West Philippine Sea.

Calida insisted that Carpio’s representation of the Philippines in the International Arbitral Tribunal is enough to disqualify him from holding the case.

In May, the SC upheld the Writ for Kalikasan petition filed by a fisherfolk group in Palawan and Zambales seeking protection of marine resources in the West Philippine Sea particularly the Scarborough Shoal or Panatag Shoal; the Ayungin Shoal, and the Panganiban Reef also known as the Mischief Reef.

Among the respondents in the case are the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); the Department of Agriculture; the Philippine Navy (PN); the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG); the Philippine National Police (PNP); and the Department of Justice (DOJ), which according to the petitioners, failed to protect the country’s territory from irresponsible fishing and damaging activities of Chinese fishermen.

The group also cited the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision considering Ayungin Shoal and the Panganiban Reef as part of the Philippines exclusive economic zone (EEZ) while based on Republic Act 95-22 also known as the Philippine Baselines Law, Panatag Shoal is also part of the country’s EEZ.

On the other hand, the SC cannot force a magistrate to inhibit from a case, said Attorney George Erwin Garcia of the Pamantasang ng Lungsod ng Maynila College of Law.

According to Garcia, it is the magistrate’s personal decision whether to inhibit or not from any case.

“It’s an absolute discretion din ng mismong huwes, ng mismong judge or justice na pinapa-inhibit ( It’s an absolute discretion of the judge or justice being requested to inhibit). Walang pwedeng mag-force sa kanya (Nobody can force him). It is best left to the sole discretion and wisdom of the judge subject of the motion for inhibition,” Garcia said.

Likewise, it is also inappropriate to cite “personal bias” as ground for inhibition.

The Canon 3 or impartiality provision of the New Code of Judicial Conduct states that: “Judges shall disqualify themselves from participating in any proceedings in which they are unable to decide the matter impartially or in which it may appear to a reasonable observer that they are unable to decide the matter impartially.”

These reasons include cases wherein the judge “has actual bias or prejudice concerning a party or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceedings; has served as a lawyer or was a material witness in the matter in controversy; has a member of his or her family who has an economic interest in the outcome of the matter in controversy; and has served as executor, trustee or lawyer in the case or matter in controversy.

“Minsan, to a certain extent, sasabihin, ‘ka-classmate kasi ‘yan nung college,’ o kaya ‘ninong kasi ‘yan nung anak nung lawyer’ (Sometimes, to a certain extent, people will say: ‘They’re classmates in college’ or ‘he is a godfather to the lawyer’s child’). So, madaming mga reason kung bakit pinapa-inhibit (A lot of reasons can be used to petition (a judge) to inhibit),” Garcia noted.

 Pero ‘yung pagiging partial, ‘yung pagiging bias, that’s the least ground that you can use. Kasi parang napaka-personal kasi noon. So meaning, kung ako ‘yun, ‘yung parang bias lang, perception of bias, mukhang hindi tamang ground for inhibition, (But being partial or biased, that is the least ground that you can use because it’ll appear very personal. So meaning, if I were in his shoes, if they use only perception of bias, I think that is inappropriate ground for inhibition),” he added.

As of this writing, Carpio has yet to respond on the issue. – with details from Harlene Delgado.

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