MANILAGovernment lawyers have formally asked the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss the Writ of Kalikasan petition filed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) supposedly in behalf of Palawan and Zambales fisherfolk, in connection with the disputed portions of the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
In a five-page compliance, Solicitor General Jose Calida urged the High Court to dismiss the petition and consider the case closed and terminated.
He also asked that the petitioners' motion for extension of time to file a more appropriate pleading by the IBP be denied.
Calida said the "petition has effectively been withdrawn since the fisherfolk-petitioners disavowed their signatures, participation in the case and ultimately, their being represented by counsel as they deny being part of the case at all."
Out of 37 fisherfolk-petitioners from Palawan, only 24 signed the verification and certification of non-forum shopping and 13 did not.
Meanwhile, of the 24, there were four who executed handwritten statements while 14 executed affidavits.
As for three fisherfolk petitioners from Zambales, two executed affidavits attesting that they were only made to affix the signatures on a document that contained only their names.
One of the petitioners' counsel in open court admitted that he himself did not confer with the fisherfolk-petitioners and merely relied on the IBP local chapter lawyers, who allegedly talked to the fisherfolk petitioners.
Lawyer Manuel Diokno, on the other hand, said he met very briefly with the fisherfolk petitioners from Zambales at the IBP Office in Metro Manila.
"The stance of the IBP now in asking for time to confer with the fishermen is too late in the day and will not cure the infirmity that the petition was initiated by counsel without the full knowledge and understanding of the petitioners," Calida said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency