The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones and environment officials to settle amicably the issue of the protection order being sought by the lawmaker to protect Taal lake.
In a two-page resolution, the appellate court directed Palmones, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and other government officials concerned to “first try meeting and ironing out their differences among themselves.”
“After all, they are united by a common desire to conserve and protect the Taal Lake Protected Area for themselves, the entire Filipino people and the future generations as well,” the resolution said.
On February 7, the Supreme Court granted Palmones’ petition for a writ of kalikasan to protect the world famous lake in Batangas from destructive human activities.
While the high tribunal did not issue a temporary environment protection order, it stopped the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Protected Areas Management Board from approving new permits for fish cage operators in Taal lake.
In his petition, Palmones said environmentalists had noted that the lake used to be home to more than 76 species of endemic and migratory birds. But fish pen operations and other economic activities in the area had brought down the number to 15 species of migratory and four endemic species of birds, he said.
The lawmaker said that even the number of tawilis, a species of small freshwater fish found only in Taal lake, had decreased by almost 80 percent in 2003.
Palmones said the failure of the government to implement the Philippine Fisheries Code and the National Integrated Protected Areas System law at the lake was one factor that led to the fish kills in the area. These laws call for the phaseout of fish cages and fish pens after the year 2000.
In its resolution, the court also instructed Assistant Solicitor General Renan Ramos to preside over the meetings between the individuals concerned “without prejudice to other meetings which the parties themselves may initiate.”
Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. and Associate Justice Sesinando Villon agreed with the resolution written by Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier. Marlon Ramos