Federalism promoter is defense counsel for Russian charged with endangered turtle’s death

DUMAGUETE CITY — A staunch promoter of a federal form of government in the Philippines has announced that he will be lawyering for the Russian national recently charged for the death of an endangered Green Sea turtle in Dauin, Negros Oriental.

Lawyer Joel Obar, also a die-hard supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte’s federalism campaign, disclosed Sunday evening in an interview that a “common friend” in Manila referred the Russian national, Anton Likharev, to him.

Obar is chair and founder of the People’s Solidarity Federal Party, a group that rallies behind the President’s move for a shift to federal form of government.

It’s a “call of profession and I’m just doing my job”, said Obar, admitting it is a “difficult case (and) he (Likharev) was on bail already when he came to the office”.

Obar cited a provision of the law that stipulates “administrative adjudication for all fines and penalties”, saying he might “invoke the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies”.

The lawyer admits “there is a law violated”.

“The law will prevail. That is our job as lawyers. Emotions will not be the meter stick,” Obar went on to say.

He challenged environmentalists to “examine the law on the matter”, pointing out that the “framers made it a grave offense (and) at the same time made it sure that reparations to the environment is primordial”.

Obar was referring to environmentalists seeking justice for the death of the turtle with posts abounding on social media.

“For which reason administrative adjudication is provided under the law. Our job as lawyers is to see to it that the law is applied in its entirety”, said Atty. Obar.

When asked if he could guarantee that his client, Likharev, will not leave the country but remain here instead to answer the charges against him, Obar replied that in cases of this nature, the regional trial court immediately notifies the Bureau of Immigration.

“My assurance is only as good as the duty of (the Bureau of) Immigration”, Obar said.

Likharev, 35, single, of Vladivostok, Russia, and currently staying at an apartment in Dauin, Negros Oriental, was charged last Wednesday in relation to the death of an endangered sea turtle that he allegedly killed with a spear gun inside the protected marine sanctuary in Masaplod Sur, Dauin.

The Russian national claimed he did not see the turtle resting among the corals when he was going after some fish.

The turtle, weighing almost ten kilos, died of a fatal spear wound to his head.

Likharev was charged for violation of Sec. 9 of Republic Act 8550 or the Fisheries Code as amended by Sec. 102 of Republic Act 10654 or the Amended Fisheries Code of the Philippines.

He has posted bail but Judge Neciforo Enot of the RTC Branch 44 ordered that the Bureau of Immigration immediately issue a hold departure order against him. Judy Flores-Partlow/PNA-northboundasia.com