MANILA - The Supreme Court has dismissed the plea of Filipino fishermen seeking to protect the marine environment in the West Philippine Sea.
The high court junked the Writ of Kalikasan petition based on the request of petitioners to withdraw their signatures and on the motion filed by respondents, according to SC Public Information Office chief Brian Hosaka.
Of 40 fishermen, a total of 25 had withdrawn from the petition in July. This was after Solicitor General Jose Calida revealed during the oral arguments that 19 of the fishermen have executed affidavits disowning the petition.
A fisherman later said he was “pressured” into withdrawing from the petition, while two fishermen said they were approached by a lawyer of the Philippine Navy.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), counsel of the petitioners, has accused the Office of the Solicitor General of committing a breach of legal ethics while the OSG accused the IBP of deceiving its clients.
The resolution, penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, warned counsels that "they should be ready with the necessary evidence before they seek the issuance of extraordinary writs," the high court said in a statement.
Leonen said counsels should establish and maintain communication with their clients at all times.
"Mere difficulty in contacting a client should not be used by counsels as an excuse to renege on their duties and to disengage from their commitments," the high court's statement read.
"Counsels for petitioners were sternly warned that the commission of the same or similar infractions in the future would be dealt with more severely."
The high court had ordered the IBP to exert more efforts to reach their clients and provide proof that the remaining petitioners actually knew about the contents of the petition. - Report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News