By Raymund Antonio
The Supreme Court’s issuance of writ for the restoration and protection of marine environment in three areas in the West Philippine Sea showed Filipinos are headed to the right direction, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Monday.
“Ito, tingin ko, mahalagang first step (I think this is an important first step),” Robredo, the leader of the opposition, told reporters in Nueva Ecija.
“Sana mas marami iyong involved, para iyong pamahalaan hindi siya, iyong term dito, nasi-sweep under the rug—na dahil sa napakaraming mga issues, kinakalimutan natin na mayroong mahahalagang mga ganito, na hindi nabibigyan ng tutok,” she said.
(I hope more people will be involved so the government, the term for this, won’t sweep under the rug—because of the many issues, we have forgotten something important like this, that we have not given much attention.)
The Vice President reacted to the writ of “kalikasan (environment)” issued by the SC to protect, preserve, rehabilitate, and restore Scarborough Shoal, Ayungin Shoal, and Panganiban Reef.
The writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy that citizens may seek to uphold their right to a healthy environment.
This involves “environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.”
Robredo lauded the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the groups of fishermen from Palawan and Zambales for their petition before the High Court.
The petition asked the SC to “direct respondents to permanently cease and desist from neglecting the performance of their duties in violation of environmental laws resulting in environmental destruction or damage.”
Named respondents were the top officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine National Police (PNP), and its Maritime Group.
“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa IBP, nagpapasalamat tayo sa mga mangingisda, na sila talaga iyong kumuha ng inisiyatibo na i-file iyong kaso (We thank the IBP and fishermen, who really initiated the filing of case),” said Robredo.
“At least now the Supreme Court has a response, somehow we are rest assured we are headed to the right direction,” she said.