Fishers group will ask SC to expand writ of amparo to cover environmental issues

Fishers group will ask SC to expand writ of amparo to cover environmental issues
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Leaders of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday said they will ask Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno and other SC justices to expand the writ of amparo to cover environmental issues.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Pamalakaya Vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France, they would formally lodge the request for writ on amparo on environmental issues in the upcoming SC forum on environment scheduled on April 2009.

According to SC spokesperson Atty. Midas Marquez, the high court, after spearheading two successful multisectoral summits, will launch a forum that would seek ways the judiciary could take a more active role in protecting the environment.

The first SC summit dealt on extrajudicially killings and enforced disappearances that resulted in the promulgation of writs of amparo and habeas data. The second SC summit focused on the economic, social and cultural rights of the marginalized sectors that resulted in an expanded Justice on Wheels program.

“At this very early stage, we are informing the Chief Justice and other magistrates of the high tribunal that our group is pursuing a writ of amparo for the protection of environment including coastal areas, lakes and rivers being appropriated and sold by Malacañang for its’ short list of preferred transnational and local monopoly clients and all-time highest bidders,” the two leaders said in a press statement.

“The SC can promulgate a writ of amparo in the name of environmental protection. We will actively push for this legal instrument which we can effectively explore and utilize for the defense of our marine and general environment from the vicious attacks of Palace-backed transnational interests,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said his group will raise a number of clarificatory issues on the recent Supreme Court ruling on Manila Bay which directed the national government and its agencies to restore Manila Bay to its pristine state and keep it that way.

“Does the high court ruling allow the national government to reclaim thousands of coastal waters in Manila Bay to pave way for Las Vegas style casino and gambling areas, high rise condominiums, theme parks and shopping malls at the expense of the fisherfolk and ordinary people living along the bay?” he said.

Hicap also said Pamalakaya will raise the current development projects being undertaken in Laguna Lake encompassing 9 towns of Rizal, 18 towns of Laguna and parts of the National Capital Region namely Cainta, Pasig, Pateros, Taguig and Muntinlupa.

According to Hicap the national government and the Laguna Lake Development Authority recently announced the reclamation of 3,500 hectares in Taguig City to pave way for ambitious projects such as high rise condominiums and the equally ambitious Rizal International Airport in Taguig City.

“These projects will deliver the death warrant to the already fragile Laguna Lake, aside from the fact these projects will evict and kill the livelihood of not less than 50,000 fisherfolk and urban poor families in the NCR part of Laguna Lake,” Hicap added.

For his part, Pamalakaya’s France said his group will also raise the issue of rampant offshore mining in the country and its impact to fisherfolk livelihood and state of the country’s fishery resources and environment.

As of now, Pamalakaya has monitored active offshore mining activities in Cebu-Bohol Strait, a marine diversity area separating the provinces of Cebu and Bohol, in Palawan Sea, Ragay Gulf, Panay and other parts of Mindanao. #

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