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IBP, fisherfolk groups ask high court to order gov’t to enforce laws protecting West Philippine Sea

ibp fisherfolk groups ask high court to order govt to enforce laws protecting west philippine sea 816x445 - IBP, fisherfolk groups ask high court to order gov’t to enforce laws protecting West Philippine Sea
West Philippine Sea 051418 - IBP, fisherfolk groups ask high court to order gov’t to enforce laws protecting West Philippine Sea

MEMBERS OF farmers and fisherfolks groups, together with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to direct the government to enforce laws protecting the country’s territories in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). In a petition for the issuance of Writ of Kalikasan, the Kalayaan Palawan Farmers, Fisherfolk Association, and the IBP said the government has refused to take legal action against violations of environmental laws committed specifically by Chinese at the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) and Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef). Respondents in the case are Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, Philippine Coast Guard Admiral Elson E. Hermogino, Philippine Navy Flag Officer-in-Command Robert A. Empredrad, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources National Director Eduardo B. Gongona, among others. “Respondents have failed to perform their duties as mandated in the above-mentioned environmental laws and regulations. Petitioners have no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy as Petitioners are complaining of acts by the government agencies themselves who are supposed to be upholding Philippine environmental laws and protecting the environment and resources in Philippine territory,” the petitioners said. They cited, among others, the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 which mandates the government to prosecute perpetrators of illegal acts. They also noted that the July 2016 international arbitral ruling won by the Philippines found that Chinese fishing vessels have been involved in harvesting threatened and endangered species in Panatag and Ayungin Shoals. It also found island-building activities led by China at the Panganiban Reef. They also said that in May 2013, two Chinese vessels accompanied by two Chinese Marine Surveillance ships were spotted near Ayungin Shoal gathering corals and clams and undertaking dredging activities. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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