Protecting marine ecosystem is top concern of gov’t – Palace
MANILA, Philippines — Protecting the marine environment of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is the government’s top concern, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement issued on Saturday.
“We stress that the essence of such writ of kalikasan, which is the protection of the marine ecosystem of the West Philippine Sea is already a top concern and agenda of the government,” Panelo said.
He made the statement after the Supreme Court issued on Friday a writ of kalikasan, directing the government to protect and rehabilitate marine areas in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) that were either seized by China or surrounded by Chinese vessels.
The writ— filed by the the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and fishermen from Palawan and Zambales — covers Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, and Panganiban (Mischief) Reef.
According to Panelo, however, Malacañang has not received the special court order.
“Given that there are governmental agencies impleaded in this case, coupled with the fact that the action is already being heard by the Judiciary, we will let the Office of the Solicitor General defend and explain the actions of this branch of the government before the High Court,” Panelo said.
He said the Duterte administration had already filed diplomatic protests to assert the Philippines’ sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea while being careful not to provoke China.
“While we promptly made a series of diplomatic protests using the mechanism of diplomacy to assert our rights, we also undertook protective measures,” Panelo said. “We are consciously cautious not to perform provocative acts that may trigger armed hostilities between the contesting countries which may risk the lives of our countrymen and cost irreparable damage to our land.”
Panelo stressed the administration’s commitment to protecting the sovereignty of Philippines.
“Whatever the outcome of the petition, we assure the nation that this Administration is committed to protect the sovereignty of our country and the protection of our marine environment against any and all who will attempt to assault or violate them,” he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.