Diokno asserts fisherfolk consented to West PHL Sea petition

FISHERFOLK FROM Palawan and Zambales consented to the petition for Writ of Kalikasan from the Supreme Court (SC) which sought the protection of the country’s territories in the West Philippine Sea, lawyer Jose Manuel I. Diokno assured. The statement came following the submission of the Office of the Solicitor General of affidavits by fishermen who withdrew from the petition. “Nagsampa ng petition for Writ of Kalikasan ang mga mangingisda ng Zambales at Palawan para protektahan sila ng gobyerno (Fisherfolk from Zambales and Palawan filed the petition for Writ of Kalikasan for them to be protected by the government). They did this with full knowledge and consent, dahil ang gusto lang naman nila eh makapangisda sa sarili nating dagat, at kumita ng sapat para mabuhay ang kanilang mga pamilya (because all they want is to fish in our own seas and earn sufficient money for their families),” he said in a statement. Mr. Diokno also claimed that the government could be behind the withdrawal of the petitioners as they have disowned it only after they talked with the legal counsel of the Philippine Navy, which he said was done covertly. “Labag din sa legal ethics ‘yan (That is against legal ethics),” he said, adding that it is similar to the case of the 22 fishermen in Recto Bank who recanted their original statement after government officials talked to them. Solicitor-General Jose C. Calida moved to submit 19 affidavits from the fisherfolk who are withdrawing their petition during the oral arguments last Tuesday, and told reporters after that both parties have agreed to dismiss the petition. SC Public Information Office Chief Brian Keith F. Hosaka, on the other hand, said the high court cannot confirm what was agreed upon by the parties. The SC suspended the oral arguments following the submission of the affidavits. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Hontiveros re-files divorce bill


A BILL instituting absolute divorce in the Philippines, which was not tackled in the 17th Congress, has been filed anew in the Senate. Under the “Divorce Act,” Senator Risa N. Hontiveros proposes to allow the legal termination of a marriage by a court, provided there is domestic violence, psychological abuse among other grounds. Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said last week that the bill has higher chances of being tackled and passed in the 18th Congress, considering Senator Pia S. Cayetano, a member of the majority, will chair the committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality. “Wine-welcome ko nga ‘yung statement ni SP Sotto, ang sinasabi nila ‘yung fate daw ng divorce bill ay nasa kamay na nung magiging chair ng Senate committee (I welcome the comment of SP Sotto, they are saying that the fate of the divorce bill lies in the hands of the committee chair),” Ms. Hontiveros told reporters in a briefing, Wednesday. The House of Representatives in the 17th Congress was able to approve the proposed “Absolute Divorce Act” on third reading. Albay-1st District Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, who was among its authors, re-filed the same last week. — Charmaine A. Tadalan