MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Supreme Court (SC) en banc decided on Tuesday, June 4, to hold oral arguments on the writ of kalikasan which was issued to local fishermen who complained about the Philippine government’s “neglect” of the West Philippine Sea.
A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy that upholds a citizen’s right to a healthy environment.
Oral arguments on it will be held on July 2, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday, June 18. It was initially scheduled for June 25.
“The oral argument on G.R. No. 246209 (Monico A. Abogado, et al. vs. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Represented by Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, et al.) set this Friday, June 25, 2019, has been moved to July 2, 2019, Tuesday,” the SC said on Tuesday.
The SC issued a writ of kalikasan on May 3 to a group of fishermen from Palawan and Zambales, who were aided by human rights lawyer Chel Diokno and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
The writ ordered the Duterte administration to make a return, or to answer the complaint on the government’s supposed failure to enforce environmental laws in 3 areas in the West Philippine Sea.
The petition wants to compel the Duterte administration to protect the maritime environment in Panatag Shoal, Ayungin Shoal, and Panganiban Reef.
The petition noted China’s construction and other aggressive activities that have “caused severe, irreparable harm to the coral reef ecosystem.”
The respondents are heads of the agencies tasked by the fisheries code to enforce the laws, namely: Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, Fisheries Director Eduardo Gongona, Navy Flag Officer Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, Coast Guard Admiral Elson Hermogino, Police General Oscar Albayalde, Police Maritime Group Director Chief Superintendent Rodelio Jocson, and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. – Rappler.com