SC Justice: Guard WPS for 24 hours? Spend money on ‘more important' things | Inquirer News
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SC Justice: Guard WPS for 24 hours? Spend money on ‘more important’ things

/ 08:13 PM July 02, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Rather than spend money guarding the West Philippine Sea for 24 hours, a Supreme Court Associate Justice said on Tuesday there are more important things the country should focus on.

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Fisherfolk from Palawan and Zambales have filed a petition before the Supreme Court to compel the Executive Branch to protect the West Philippine Sea.

On Tuesday’s oral argument, Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes Jr. asked petitioners if the government should spend P5 million worth of gasoline for the airplanes and navy vessels if foreign fishermen are stealing P500,000 worth of marine resources every day.

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“Or would you just allow the Executive to manage the economy and the country it sees fit? If we have money to buy all these ships, can we not spend money to just rehabilitate Pasig River and spend P20 billion in Pasig River…instead of spending P20 billion to buy all these modern ships with all these monitoring capabilities,” Reyes added.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr. EDWIN BACASMAS/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The petitioners specifically want the high court to compel the government to exercise its prosecutorial arm against foreign vessels that intruded into the country in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Lawyer Andre C. Palacios said the government’s refusal to prosecute continues today.

“This is a writ of kalikasan, regarding enforcement of laws. This is not regarding the prosecution of a case. This is different. It is a wrong petition,” Reyes said.

“You know it’s embarrassing that [we] even discuss these things because your petition really falls down to the basic fact that we are not yet a well-developed country and the way your petition is drafted is as if you are the USA that the government can attend to every problem of the country,” he said.

He added that the petition might be “politically motivated to embarrass our country.”

“Even if we say yes, how can the government guard that shoal 24 hours a day and spend money on that when we have other important things to do in the country,” Reyes said. (Editor: Eden Estopace)

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RELATED STORY:
SC asked to direct gov’t execs to enforce environmental laws in West PH Sea

SC issues writ of kalikasan to protect contested WPS fishing grounds

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TAGS: Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes Jr., China, SC justice, Supreme Court, West Philippine Sea, writ of kalikasan
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