SolGen: Some fishermen withdraw petition to protect WPS
Updated (5:40 p.m.)
MANILA, Philippines — Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday claimed that some fishermen from Palawan and Zambales withdrew their signature in the petition seeking to compel the government to protect the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
During the continuation of the oral argument on the petition, Calida moved to submit a “Pinagsamang Sinumpaang Salaysay” from 19 fishermen petitioners, some of whom have expressed that they are “not in support of the instant petition.”
“At the outset, the Office of the Solicitor General hereby submits several Affidavits where Petitioners from Palawan and Zambales in effect withdrew their signatures from the instant Petition,” Calida said.
The Solicitor General said a portion of the affidavit of the President of Palawan fisherfolk read: “Wala kaming alam dito at di namin suportado ang hinaing petisyon (We do not know anything about this and we do not support the petition).”
He likewise noted that an affidavit from one of the fishermen stated: “Isang malaking panlilinlang ito at paggamit lamang sa aming asosasyon (This is a big deception. They are just using our association).”
Another affidavit of a Zambales fisherfolk read: “Pinapatunayan namin na wala kaming kinalaman sa naturang Petisyon laban sa anumang ahensya ng gobyerno (We attest that we do not have anything to do with a petition against any government agency).”
Lawyer Chel Diokno, who serves as one of the lawyers for the petitioners, objected to the submissions of the affidavits, saying that “representations were made directly” to their clients, which is “unethical.”
The oral arguments were suspended as the counsels were invited for a “conference” in the en banc conference room.
Following the said conference, Calida said the lawyers of the petitioners and the respondents agreed that the petition be dismissed by the Supreme Court (SC).
“Petitioners and respondents agreed that the petition be dismissed by the Supreme Court,” Calida told reporters following the continuation of the oral argument of the petition.
Supreme Court Spokesperson lawyer Brian Keith Hosaka, however, said he “cannot confirm what was agreed upon by the parties and their counsels.”
“The Supreme Court decided to suspend the oral arguments in view of the submissions of the Solicitor General and the manifestations of counsels during today’s oral arguments,” Hosaka said in a text message. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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