MANILA, Philippines – Integrated Bar of the Philippines or IBP's new national president Domingo Egon Cayosa said on Friday, July 12, that the organization stands by the highly-political West Philippine Sea petition filed before the Supreme Court.
"The IBP stands firmly with the fishermen, IBP chapters, and the lawyers involved in the petition for a writ of kalikasan filed before the Supreme Court," Cayosa said on Friday.
The petition is in limbo after Solicitor General Jose Calida managed to obtain affidavits of 19 fishermen out of the total 40 to disown the writ of kalikasan petition that accuses President Rodrigo Duterte's government of neglecting domestic laws in the West Philippine Sea.
The petition was filed by former national president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, who led the IBP in opposing some of the moves of the Duterte government, such as the quo warranto ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno and the attempt to revoke the amnesty of former senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
Calida had claimed that the IBP lawyers agreed in a closed-door meeting with the Supreme Court en banc to drop the petition altogether.
The en banc only publicly said that it had given parties until Friday to file a motion in the premises, or a motion to suggest to the Court what to do next. Chel Diokno, IBP's collaborating counsel, said they had agreed to explore the filing of a joint motion.
But Cayosa said they would want to talk to the fishermen first.
"Considering the new allegations by the Office of the Solicitor General, the handling lawyers will request the Supreme Court for time to confer with the fishermen in Zambales and in Palawan so that they can more appropriately act on the developments in the case," said Cayosa.
Diokno and IBP's handling lawyer Andre Palacios had admitted that they did not personally talk to all 40 fishermen who were named in the petition. They were slightly reprimanded by the Supreme Court for being "blind with their clients."
Diokno has slammed the Duterte government for its alleged clandestine moves to get the affidavits of their clients, calling the action unethical.
Aside from the update on the petition, the statement reflects a decision of solidarity by the IBP's new leadership which is inheriting criticisms from the Duterte government and its allies.
The IBP has been in hot water lately after it hosted the press conference of Peter Joemel Advincula, a former self-styled Duterte whistle-blower, but who has since changed his tune entirely to accuse the opposition of plotting against the first family.