Lawyer in fishers’ writ of kalikasan case: Gov’t sneaked behind our backs
MANILA, Philippines — A human rights lawyer representing fisherfolks in a case asking the Supreme Court (SC) to compel the government to protect the marine resources in the West Philippine Sea on Wednesday said government lawyers may have sneaked behind their backs to convince their clients to deny being part of the case.
The SC conducted oral arguments on the petition filed by fisherfolks from Palawan and Zambales. The fisherfolks filed a writ of kalikasan asking the high court to order the government to protect the marine resources in the West Philippine Sea and ensure the Filipino fisherfolks’ safety.
However, during Tuesday’s oral argument, Calida said the fisherfolks went to the Navy and talked to its lawyer disowning the petition.
Solicitor General Jose Calida said a portion of the affidavit of the leader of Palawan fisherfolks reads: “Wala kaming alam dito at ‘di namin suportado ang hinaing petisyon (We do not know anything about this and we do not support the petition).”
In a statement, Atty. Chel Diokno maintained that their clients have “full knowledge and consent” to file the petition before the Supreme Court.
“They did this with full knowledge and consent, dahil ang gusto lang naman nila eh makapangisda sa sarili nating dagat, at kumita ng sapat para mabuhay ang kanilang mga pamilya,” Diokno said.
“Ngayon, pagkatapos ‘makausap’ ng abogado ng Navy, umatras na daw ang mga mangingisda. Hindi raw kanila ang kaso. Hindi lang kahina-hinala na patagong nakipag-usap ang gobyerno sa mga kliyente namin, labag din sa legal ethics ‘yan. Mukhang na-Recto (Bank) 22 na naman ang mga Pilipino,” he added.
Petitioners in the case are the members of the Kalayaan Palawan Farmers and Fisherfolk Association, fishermen from Zambales, and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
Calida on Tuesday said both parties have agreed to dismiss the petition. The Supreme Court, however, refused to confirm Calida’s statement.
(Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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