Fishermen run to SC to compel gov't officials to protect West PH Sea

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The Integrated Bar of the Philippines and a group of fishermen from Palawan and Zambales run to the Supreme Court to compel government officials "to save the environment in the West Philippine Sea."

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 16) — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines and a group of fishermen from Palawan and Zambales run to the Supreme Court to compel government officials "to save the environment in the West Philippine Sea."

They sought for a Writ of Kalikasan to direct government officials -- Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, and officials of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police -- to stop neglecting their duties.

The groups wanted them to protect and rehabilitate the environment in Panatag Shoal, Ayungin Shoal and Panganiban Reef, which they said were heavily damaged by China's artificial island building activities.

Petitioners anchored their factual allegations on the evidence submitted by the Philippines in the arbitration case against China.

The country won but they pointed out the government has failed or refuses to enforce the ruling that's beneficial to Filipino, particularly the fishermen.

They insisted the Philippine environmental laws are required to be enforced in Ayungin Shoal, Panganiban Reef and Panatag Shoal as those areas form part of the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The EEZ is the area within 200 nautical miles of the territorial shoreline over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction.

They also cite the 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands that Chinese fishing vessels have been involved in harvesting threatened or endangered species in Panatag and Ayungin Shoals.

Malacañang earlier said the Philippines has invoked the arbitral ruling, citing the President's suggestion to China to lay off Pag-asa Island as an example.