Panelo: Diokno camp ‘manipulated’ fishermen on writ of kalikasan plea
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday turned the tables on human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, who earlier accused the government of using underhanded tactics on fishermen cited in a writ of kalikasan petition filed at the Supreme Court (SC).
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Diokno and his camp were the ones who “influenced or manipulated” the fishermen from Palawan and Zambales who supposedly filed the petition to compel the government to protect resources in the West Philippine Sea.
Diokno and lawyer Andre Palacios, both representing the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), filed the writ of kalikasan on behalf of the fishermen.
On Tuesday, however, Solicitor General Jose Calida announced that 19 of the fishermen have “disowned” the petition and are backing out of the case.
Diokno said the government has likely talked to his clients behind his back to urge the fishers to withdraw from the case. This move, Diokno noted, violates legal ethics.
READ: Gov’t hit over ‘secret talks’ with fishermen
But Panelo believed that Diokno should be the one to answer his own allegation.
“He should ask himself in the mirror because that question applies to him. Because if we are to believe the accusations of the fishermen, it’s them [Diokno’s camp] that influenced or manipulated them [fishermen],” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“I understand, the very reason why the fishermen went to them is [that] their house is being demolished and they have a problem, not in regard to that and then they were asked to sign documents ‘yun pala petition na (It turned out what they signed was a petition). ‘Yun ang istorya ng mga (That’s the story of the) fishermen,” he added.
IBP filed a writ of kalikasan to ask the SC to issue a special order for environmental protection of three Philippine reefs in the West Philippine Sea, including waters within the country’s exclusive economic zone.
The petition claims that the marine environment in and around these territories has been destroyed by China’s reclamation and poaching activities. /kga
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