Carpio inhibits from oral arguments on kalikasan writ suit

The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday announced Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s decision not to take part in the oral arguments for the case seeking government action on the disputed Ayungin Shoal, Panganiban Reef, and Panatag Shoal.

SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka, in a press briefing, confirmed Carpio’s move to recuse himself from the proceedings.

Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier sought Carpio’s inhibition citing the latter’s publicly stated his bias and partiality on the issue of the West Philippine Sea.

Calida said the New Code of Judicial Conduct requires the disqualification of a judge who is unable to decide a case impartially, or who appears to a reasonable observer that he is unable to decide impartially.

“We thank him for inhibiting for reasons that he knows already all the facts of the case because of the West Philippine Sea Arbitration as part of the legal team. It’s just right he’s inhibiting. I agree with him,” Calida told reporters.

Among the substantive issues ordered by the court to be taken up by the parties is whether the issuance of a writ of kalikasan is the proper remedy for the enforcement of Philippine environmental laws against foreign nationals in the shoals and reefs, or is the remedy political or diplomatic in nature.

Among the procedural issues the parties have been asked to take up also include questions of whether the petitioners violated the doctrine of the hierarchy of courts when they filed the petition directly with the SC, instead of the Court of Appeals, which has concurrent jurisdiction over writs of kalikasan.

The parties will also take up whether the petitioners failed to exhaust administrative remedies when they failed to give notice to respondents, as required by Sec. 138 of the Philippine Fisheries Code, before the filing of the petition; and whether petitioners failed to comply with the rules of procedure for environmental cases considering that several petitioners failed to sign the verification which forms part of the suit.

Ultimately, the parties argued before the court whether the petitioners sufficiently discharged their burden of proof and evidence to support the grounds for their plea for a writ.

Aside from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the other petitioners in the case are individual members of the Kalayaan Palawan Farmers and Fisherfolk Association. PNA