News Briefs: February 01, 2019
SC suspends lawyer for harassing Roque
A lawyer who harassed former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. 13 years ago has been suspended from practicing law for two years. The Supreme Court on Thursday announced it had suspended Rizal Balbin for unprofessional conduct and for using “underhanded tactics” against Roque, who was his opposing lawyer in a case in 2006. In a complaint he filed in the same year, Roque said that after his client won against Balbin’s client, the latter bombarded him with threats to have him disbarred and charged in court, and also besmirched his reputation. After an investigation, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines recommended to the Supreme Court Balbin’s suspension from practicing law for a year. But the high court increased the penalty to two years, saying Balbin aggravated his offense when he asked for more time to answer Roque’s complaint but did not file a comment anyway. His failure to comment prompted the high court to repeatedly fine him and order his arrest. Balbin’s “audacity” delayed the resolution of the case, the high court said. —DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN
Taal Lake fish kill spares endangered ‘tawilis’
The endangered freshwater sardine “tawilis” was not affected during the recent fish kill in Taal Lake, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). But around P5 million worth of “bangus,” or milkfish, died in fish cages due to a phenomenon called “sulfur upwelling” near Taal volcano. Willy Cruz, BFAR regional director, said the phenomenon was not new and that the agency had been monitoring its occurrence in the lake since 2000. Sulfur upwelling usually happens between November and February when winds are stronger, disturbing the sediments in the lake. This results in the upwelling of hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas that reduces dissolved oxygen in the water, thereby suffocating marine animals. —KARL R. OCAMPO
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