Regime coerces fishermen to withdraw writ of kalikasan petition
ON JULY 9, lawyers of the Duterte regime coerced 40 fishermen from Masinloc, Zambales and Palawan to withdraw their petition for a writ of kalikasan in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Assisted by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the fishermen filed a petition at the Supreme Court last April against China’s destruction of coral reefs at the WPS. A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy used to compel the incumbent government to protect the constitutional right of Filipinos to a healthy environment in compliance with the 1987 Constitution.
The fishermen filed the petition to stop the China’s reclamation to erect its military structures within Philippine territory. The reclamation has resulted in massive destruction of reefs, especially in Zambales and Palawan.
The Supreme Court earlier issued a decision in favor of the fishermen last May. It ordered the Duterte regime to protect the WPS and take measures to stop the violation of environmental laws, especially in the exclusive economic maritime zones of the Philippines. Chel Diokno, the fishermen’s lawyer, stated that the decision proved that their petition is legitimate. He added that their withdrawal are a result of government intimidation. Because of this, the court cancelled the second hearing wherein the fishermen and government representatives were supposed to meet.
By coercing them to withdraw, the regime was able to remove a legal obstacle to Chinese exploitation in the Philippine seas.
Meanwhile on July 12, in commemoration of the third year since Arbitral Tribunal’s issuance of the decision in favor of the Philippines’ claim over the disputed West Philippine Sea, hundreds trooped to the Chinese Embassy to condemn the continuing intrusion of China in Philippine maritime territories.
According to P1NAS, the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal in 2016 may also be help other countries to fight Chinese intrusion in their respective maritime territories. As a result of the reclamation, China was able to complete the construction of a military base in the Philippine seas.