IBP wants Calida’s accusation expunged
MANILA, Philippines — Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno and two others from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) have asked the Supreme Court to strike off from the records the government’s accusation that they misled a group of fishermen into asking for court protection of the fishing grounds in the West Philippine Sea that have been seized by China.
Diokno, with IBP lawyers Andre Palacios and Gil Aquino, formally withdrew on July 19 the writ of kalikasan petition they filed on behalf of 27 fishermen from Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in Palawan and from Subic, Zambales.
The lawyers informed the court that the fishermen have either told them they wanted to withdraw the case, or could no longer be reached.
They, however, did not offer a reason for their clients’ change of heart, except for a handwritten letter from six Palawan fishermen telling the lawyers to withdraw the case “nang sa gayon ay maging tahimik na ang aming mga buhay (so our lives can return to normal).”
The 20 other fishermen could not be contacted because they are either still in Pag-asa Island or they have left their homes that have been claimed by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
Diokno and the two IBP lawyers joined Solicitor General Jose Calida in asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the writ of kalikasan case.
But they also complained how the chief government counsel “attacked the[ir] integrity and credibility” during the oral arguments on July 2, and asked the Supreme Court to expunge Calida’s formal manifestation “in order to preserve the sanctity and integrity of the judicial process.” —Dona Z. Pazzibugan
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