Human rights lawyers seek help of SC anew for protection
A group of human rights lawyers has renewed its appeal to the Supreme Court for the issuance of a protection order against alleged continuing harassment by the government.
In an eight-page manifestation filed by mail on Wednesday, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) updated the court on the military’s “Red-tagging” of its members and a newspaper article claiming that the group, along with several media organizations and journalists, was aiming to “blacken” President Duterte’s image.
NUPL members were included in the “matrix” of association between leftists and journalists for a supposed plot to unseat President Duterte, which in turn, was allegedly instigated by a series of online videos of a certain Bikoy linking the President, members of his family and his associates to illegal drugs.
The matrix and accompanying article about the plot was published by the Manila Times and written by its publisher, Dante Ang, who is also the President’s special envoy for international public relations.
The NUPL described Ang’s piece as “ludicrous,” claiming that the names of its members in the diagram were “obviously” lifted from its brochure.
“These malicious statements and dangerous claims, as well as the contrived ‘matrix,’ baseless and reckless as they are, compel [us] to again seek at this time for the Honorable Court’s protection and reiterate [our] prayer for temporary protection order,” the group said.
The petitioners said they “simply chose to practice the ideals of the legal profession by rendering services to the underprivileged as mandated by our oath and by legal, constitutional and international principles.”
“Very few lawyers have taken up the cause of the marginalized and underprivileged. And those who have chosen to do so have become targets themselves. The continued vilification, harassment and threats to the life, security and liberty of the petitioners must stop now. We ask Your Honors to stand by your lawyers,” the NUPL said.
The group has a pending petition in the court for the issuance of writs of amparo and habeas data to prohibit state forces from threatening to commit or committing, directly or indirectly, acts that violate the rights of its members.
It also asked the high tribunal to order the respondents, led by Mr. Duterte and the military chief, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., to disclose, submit and destroy all information gathered about the petitioners.
Incidents of harassment
The NUPL cited incidents of alleged harassment of its officers and members by military officers who were “tagged, threatened, vilified or subjected to surveillance.”
It said the respondents had threatened the rights to life, liberty and security of its members.
The group’s latest pleading referred to the recent pronouncements of Major Gen. Antonio Parlade of the National Task Force to End Localized Armed Conflict that the NUPL’s case was a “smokescreen” to stop the government’s investigation on the “Salugpungan” schools in Mindanao.
The schools were allegedly operated by communist rebels and funded by donations supposedly collected by the NUPL from European governments and private donors.
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