SC tells IBP: Prove fishermen knew of WPS petition
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to prove that the fishermen in the petition seeking to protect the West Philippine Sea had “actual knowledge” of the petition.
Last July 19, the IBP decided to withdraw the writ of kalikasan petition after Solicitor General Jose Calida accused it of defrauding the fishermen included in the petition. Some of the fishermen, Calida said, denied having knowledge of the petition.
The IBP also filed a motion to be discharged as counsels of 20 other fishermen in the petition.
While the court deferred acting on the IBP motion for withdrawal, it asked the IBP to “provide adequate proof that the 20 other clients have actual knowledge of the contents of their petition.”
The court asked the IBP to “exert more efforts to reach their clients through means of communication they have established when they engaged them as their clients” and to “provide legal justification that the Motion to Withdraw as Counsel may be granted while leaving most of the petitioners without representation.”
The court gave the IBP seven days to comply with the requirements.
The IBP earlier said it had decided to withdraw the petition after talking to some of the fishermen in Palawan and Zambales who were included the petition.
The IBP said it had tried to locate 20 other fishermen but failed.
In its motion to withdraw, the IBP said it had tried to comply with all the court directives of the court, but “unfortunately the Solicitor General has tainted the intended orderly proceedings of this case.”
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