Parties agree to junk Writ of Kalikasan case on West PH Sea – SolGen

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 9)— The petition urging government officials to protect the West Philippine Sea has been dismissed, the government’s top lawyer said Tuesday.

Solicitor General Jose Calida, during the oral arguments for the case, claimed that the camps of both petitioners and respondents have agreed to dismiss the Writ of Kalikasan plea.

This comes after Calida revealed that 19 fishermen supposedly withdrew their signatures, and denied that they were part of the plea filed against the government.

“Wala kaming alam dito at hindi namin suportado ang inihaing petisyon,” Calida said, quoting an affidavit from the President of the Palawan Fisherfolk.

[Translation: We don’t know anything about this and we do not support this petition.]

Another fisherman’s affidavit read, “Isang malaking panlilinlang ito at paggamit lamang sa aming asosasyon,” while another stressed, “Pinapatunayan namin na wala kaming kinalaman sa naturang petisyon laban sa anumang ahensiya ng gobyerno.”

[Translation: This is a big deception, they’re just using our association... We will prove that we do not have anything to do with the petition against any government agency]

The Solicitor General said his office secured the copies of the affidavits from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

“These statements show deception, your honors. As for petitioner IBP, they did not even allege what capacity it is suing. Or what injury it has sustained,” Calida added, referring to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, which filed the petiton.

Calida slammed the petitioner for “bastardizing” the ideals of the IBP.

“They bastardized the lofty ideals of IBP when they used it as a battering ram to take down the Duterte administration. One thing's for sure, your Honor, they won't get away with impunity. For this defects alone, the petition must be dismissed,” he said.

IBP’s petition for a writ of kalikasan, which was filed alongside groups of fishermen from Palawan and Zambales, asked the government to preserve, restore, and rehabilitate Panatag Shoal, Ayungin Shoal, and Panganiban Reef amid the dispute with China. These areas, internationally known as Scarborough Shoal, Second Thomas Shoal, and Mischief Reef, are all part of the West Philippine Sea.

The petitioners noted the marine features have been heavily damaged due to China’s supposed artificial island building activities in the area.

RELATED: Carpio inhibits himself from Writ of Kalikasan case on West PH Sea

Calida said the government will continue to perform its "duties in protecting the environment pursuant to their corresponding mandates.”

The Supreme Court, however, has yet to confirm the development.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.