SC to hold oral argument on fisherfolk petition for WPS protection — source
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) will conduct an oral argument on the petition filed by fisherfolk from Palawan and Zambales calling for government to protect the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
The oral argument will happen on June 25, a source said during Tuesday’s en banc session.
The 34-page petition filed on April 16 by the fisherfolk, represented by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), calls for the issuance of the Writ of Kalikasan and the Writ of Continuing Mandamus.
Under the 1987 Constitution, a Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy that provides protection of one’s Constitutional right to a healthy environment. Meanwhile, a Writ of Continuing Mandamus is issued on environmental case that would direct a government agency to perform an act until the judgment is fully met.
The petition calls for the SC to compel government to strictly implement environmental laws protecting the Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, Ayungin Shoal, and the Mischief Reef or the Panganiban Reef.
The group of fisherfolk said the three areas are all a part of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country, thus they should be covered by environmental laws in the country, particularly the Fisheries Code.
The petition was filed amid the reported harvesting of giant clams of China from Scarborough Shoal, which the Philippines claims to be part of its territory.
“Chinese fishermen harvested endangered and threatened species and used cyanide and explosives in their fishing… the marine environment and resources in the above-mentioned areas were damaged severely and extensively in spite of adequate Philippine laws to protect them. Clearly, the damage is brought upon by the lack of enforcement of Philippine environmental laws by respondents,” the petitioners said. (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)