SC justices in a bind over petition to protect West Philippine Sea
MANILA, Philippines — Justices of the Supreme Court are in a bind over a petition asking them to compel the government to protect the West Philippine Sea. One justice even said they may be “asking for the impossible.”
Fisherfolk from Palawan and Zambales want the high court to compel the government to run after Chinese vessels that intruded into the country in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Counsels for the petitioners said they do not have the names of the people inside the Chinese vessels that allegedly intruded into the country’s territory, but they have the names of the vessels.
“I am trying to understand exactly. I’m trying to understand the specifics and particulars of exactly what it is you want to happen […] to initiate criminal suits against these people in the vessels who did these things in 2012, 2013 and 2014?” Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa said.
One of the counsels for the petitioners, lawyer Andre C. Palacios said they are hoping this action “will create a deterrent against continuing violations in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone.”
“Are you not asking for the impossible?” Caguioa asked. “2012, 2013 and 2014 for these vessels that may no longer be there and you cannot even certify as a fact that they [vessels] are still there.”
Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza added that the petition “fails to state a cause of action.”
“Your allegation is lack of enforcement. You do not allege the ultimate facts — who did not do what, where…you have no allegations much less judicial affidavit,” he said.
Associate Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Diosdado Peralta also questioned the lack of a judicial affidavit of the fisherfolk who could have been used as evidence for a cause of action that the petitioners wanted to push.
For his part, Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando said the alleged inaction of the government does not refer to the current administration. He added that holding the government liable for their inaction should include Caguioa, who was a former Justice Secretary.
The oral argument will continue next Tuesday. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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