IBP moves to withdraw West Philippine Sea Kalikasan case

Robie de Guzman   •   July 19, 2019   •   1399

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the Pagasa (Hope) Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) located off the coast of western Philippines July 20, 2011. REUTERS/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL

MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said on Friday that it has filed a motion to withdraw its petition for Writ of Kalikasan, seeking for the protection of the environment in the West Philippine Sea.

In its motion, the IBP asked the Supreme Court to grant its request to withdraw the suit for eight of the petitioners, including the organization itself.

“With due regard to the plight and position of the fishermen-petitioners, the views and recommendations of the handling lawyers and the IBP Chapters involved, and the matters raised and guidance by the Honorable Supreme Court, a motion has been filed for the withdrawal or discharge of the counsels for the fishermen and for the withdrawal of the petition,” the IBP said in a statement, signed by its president Domingo Egon Cayosa.

The IBP’s motion is the latest in a series of case updates that followed after Solicitor General Jose Calida claimed last week that several Zambales and Palawan fishermen who were named as petitioners backed out from the case.

Petitioners of the case originally sought the Court to order the Duterte administration to stop neglecting its duty to protect the Ayungin Shoal, Panatag Shoal and Panganiban Reef, following reports of Chinese fishers harvesting endangered marine species in the area.

But Calida claimed, 19 fishermen have denied knowledge of the case, 13 of the total 37 petitioners also did not sign their affidavits while 24 signed but had no identification.

Calida’s claims led to the suspension of the oral arguments and Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin calling for a closed-door meeting of the parties.

After the conference, Calida said the government and the petitioners’ lawyers agreed that the case be dismissed.

The petitioners’ side did not confirm Calida’s statement but requested the high court to give them time to confer with their clients on the developments of the case.

READ: IBP wants time to talk with fishermen in West PH Sea Kalikasan petition

The SC later granted IBP’s motion for extension to comply with the order to move in the premises in the Writ of Kalikasan suit.

PHL, Chinese Coast Guard hold joint maritime drills in Manila

Robie de Guzman   •   January 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard and Chinese Coast Guard on Wednesday conducted joint maritime drills on search and rescue and combating fire at sea in the waters off the Philippine capital.

In a statement, the PCG said participating Filipino and Chinese personnel were given a scenario involving a vessel that caught fire while transiting Manila waters.

In response, the PCG deployed its 44-meter multi-role response vessel 4401, BRP Tubbataha, while the Chinese team dispatched vessel 5204. Both ships were equipped with water cannons used in firefighting assistance.

Five passengers and eight crew aboard the distressed ship were also rescued using rigid hull inflatable boats with rescue swimmers to aid the victims.

The PCG said the drill allows coast guard personnel to exercise interoperability and strengthen their capabilities in responding to such crises.

The joint maritime drills on search and rescue, and combating fire at sea are part of the week-long activities of Chinese Coast Guard’s port call in Manila.

The visit aims to strengthen understanding, mutual trust, and cooperation between the Philippines and China Coast Guard in a bid to promote maritime security and maritime law enforcement amid the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

PH Supreme court affirms dismissal of petition for same-sex marriage

Robie de Guzman   •   January 6, 2020

Couples identified with the LGBT community hold a banner during a mass wedding ceremony in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 24 June 2018. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court upheld its decision to dismiss a petition seeking the legalization of same-sex marriage in the country.

In a notice sent to reporters on Monday, January 6, the Supreme Court en banc denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioners appealing the ruling issued in September.

“[T]he Court resolved to deny with finality the said motion for reconsideration as no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision,” the court said in a resolution dated December 10 but was only made public Monday.

Lawyer Jesus Falcis III and an LGBT group filed the petition asking the court to strike down as unconstitutional some of the provisions on the Family Code that limited marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

The high court in September ruled that the petition was deficient, lacked legal standing, and violated the principle of the hierarchy of courts.

DILG asks SC to probe incident of judge who helped release drunk cab driver

Robie de Guzman   •   January 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday called on the Supreme Court to investigate an incident involving a local judge who allegedly helped a purportedly drunk cab driver evade complaints for assaulting a police officer.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año asked Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta to probe a certain judge who allegedly bullied and shouted at police officers at the Baguio City Police Station to secure the immediate release of the taxi driver.

The DILG chief said, “There is a proper forum to secure the release of the suspect and that is not the police station.”

“He must wait for the police to process the case, the prosecutor to file charges against the suspect and for the case to be raffled to his sala before he can assume jurisdiction. The said judge has to follow the law, just like all of us,” he said.

“As guardian of the law, a judge must serve as an example in following the law and not in breaking it,” he added.

On Tuesday, internet user Jemar Skylar Pimentel posted a dashcam video showing a police officer, identified as Patrolman Julius Walang designated at the Baguio City Traffic Enforcement Unit, almost got run over as he tried to stop a cab driver who committed a traffic violation.

Walang accosted the cab driver and tried to issue a citation ticket for causing traffic along Abanao Street in Baguio City.

But instead of stopping, the taxi moved towards the police officer who had to cling onto the cab’s hood to prevent him from fleeing.

ayu imbag ta nalaing dytoi pulis nga nsan q… salamat sa kuha ng DASHCAM from #PONGTAO DASHCAM

Posted by Jemar Skylar Pimentel on Tuesday, 31 December 2019

The cab driver, identified as Jone Dominguez Buclay, was later on brought to the police station and was determined to be under the influence of alcohol.

During Buclay’s detention, police officers on duty claimed that a judge suddenly barged into the police station, intimidated and shouted at them without even asking what really transpired in the incident.

The judge was also allegedly seen leaving the premises of the police station together with the taxi driver-suspect.

Año said the judge’s disregard of the law and use of the “padrino system” should never be tolerated and is very unbecoming of him as an arbiter of the law. 

He also expressed hope that the SC would help them in investigating the judge.

“Sana ay matulungan tayo ng SC at maimbestigahan nila agad ang asal ng judge na ito,” he said.

“We should not let these people get away with abuse of power in our country,” he added.

In response to Año’s call, the SC’s Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) said it is now checking the case.

“The OCA is already looking into this issue,” Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said in a message to reporters Thursday.

“We would like to get all available information before we require the concerned judge to comment,” he added.

Meanwhile, the DILG commended the police officer for “bravely enforcing the law at the risk of his own life.”

“Salamat, Patronman Julius Walang, sa tapat at walang takot na pagtupad sa iyong tungkulin. Kailangan natin ng mga pulis na katulad mo na hindi nagdadalawang-isip na itaya ang buhay para sa tawag ng tungkulin. Mabuhay ka!,” Año said.

“May you be an inspiration, not just to the police officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP), but to all of us in law enforcement as we perform our duty on a daily basis,” he added.

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