SC asked to direct gov’t execs to enforce environmental laws in West PH Sea
ILOILO CITY — Farmers and fisherfolk of Palawan and Zambales and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) have asked the Supreme Court to compel government officials and agencies to enforce environmental laws in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
In a 36-page petition filed on Tuesday, members of the Kalayaan, Palawan Farmers and Fisherfolk Association and IBP sought for the issuance of a writ of Kalikasan and for a writ of continuing mandamus.
Among those named respondents were Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and the chiefs of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard.
The petitioners said their legal action “stems from the violations against the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology committed by respondents in their continued refusal or failure to discharge their statutory duty to prevent the commission, prosecute the perpetrators, and mitigate the effects, of wanton and large-scale violations of Philippine environmental and fisheries laws committed in the Philippine (Exclusive Economic Zone)in the West Philippine Sea.”
They asked the high court to direct the respondents to “permanently cease and desist from neglecting the performance of their duties in violation of environmental laws resulting in environmental destruction or damage.”
The petition also asked the court to “direct respondents to protect, preserve, rehabilitate or restore the environment in Panatag Shoal, Ayungin Shoal, and Panganiban Reef.”
They said the respondents have “failed to perform their duties as mandated in the above-mentioned environmental laws and regulations.”
IBP national president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo said their petition was based on the evidence submitted by the Philippines in the South China Sea arbitration between the Philippines and China.
“The Philippines won the arbitration on 12 July 2016, but the Philippine government has failed or refuses to enforce the ruling in a manner that is beneficial to Filipinos, particularly our fisherfolk,” Fajardo said in a statement.
“The arbitral tribunal categorically found that the artificial island building activities of the Chinese in the West Philippine Sea have led to severe environmental damage.
The Philippine government submitted several pieces of evidence to support its claim, and the same pieces of evidence will be brought before the Supreme Court,” he said.
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