4 May 2019

MANILA — It’s a shame that it would still require the Supreme Court to use one of its two protective powers, the writ of kalikasan, to prod the Duterte administration to act against the damage and plunder being wrought by Chinese forces on our three reefs in the West Philippine Sea, said Otso Diretso senatorial candidate Erin Tañada Saturday.

The High Court on Friday issued a writ of kalikasan to “protect, preserve, rehabilitate, and to restore” the marine environment in Scarborough Shoal (also known as Panatag Shoal), Ayungin Shoal, and Panganiban Reef (also known as Mischief Reef).

“Ikinatutuwa natin ang napapanahon at napakahalagang aksyon ng Korte Suprema sa petisyong inihain ng mga miyembro ng Kalayaan Palawan Farmers and Fisherfolk Association na mga kasabi ng mangingisdang komunidad sa Munisipalidad ng Kalayaan, Probinsya ng Palawan, at iba pang mga resident ng Sitio Kinabukasan, Kawag, Zambales (We laud the timely and momentous action of the Supreme Court on the petition filed by members of the Kalayaan Palawan Farmers and Fisherfolk Association who are members of the fisherfolk community in the Municipality of Kalayaan, Province of Palawan, and some residents of Sitio Kinabukasa, Cawag, Zambales),” said Tañada.

“Dahil sa tatlong taong walang aksyon sa walang habas na pagnakaw ng likas na yaman sa West Philippine Sea at pananakot sa mga mangingisda na nakaapekto nang masama sa kanilang kabuhayan, nalagay sa panganib ang ating marine environment at ipinagkait sa mga tao natin ang karapatan nilang kumita nang malaki (Three years of inaction on the wanton plunder of our resources in the West Philippine Sea and the intimidation of our fishermen, to the detriment of their livelihood, have threatened our marine environment and deprived our people of the right to gainful income),” said Tañada.

Tañada also pointed out that the administration has been busy cozying up with China for so-called investments that turn out to be loans with high interest, lopsided and lacking in transparency.

“Naging panatag ang loob natin na mayroon pa tayong isang malakas na pwersa sa ating hanay, ang Korte Suprema, sa paggiit ng ating soberenya at karapatan sa ating mga karagatan. Sa ating pamahalaan, gampanan ang inyong tungkulin, protektahan ang ating mga mangingisda, protektahan ang ating kalikasan, protektahan ang ating teritoryo (We are relieved that we have one more potent force on our side, the Supreme Court, in asserting our sovereignty and rights over our seas. To our government, do your duty, protect our fishermen, protect our environment, protect our territory),” added Tañada.

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LORENZO ‘ERIN’ TAÑADA III is the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. He either authored or pushed for bills that helped improve the working and living conditions of Filipino workers and farmers and their families. Some of the more significant legislative measures advocated by Erin were: Peoples’ Survival Fund, Universal Healthcare Act, Condonation of SSS Penalties on Delinquent Contributions, among others. He intends to champion a nationwide minimum wage standard, apart from the Coco Levy Fund, when elected to the Senate.