Lawyers voice support for colleagues: ‘Attack on any of us is an attack on all of us’

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MANILA, Philippines — Lawyers from different parts of the world have expressed support for their colleagues in the Philippines amid the heightened attacks against the profession in the country.

More than 70 lawyers signed a statement of support of solidarity on Sunday for their colleagues in the country following the release of a “matrix” which linked the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) to an alleged destabilization plot against President Rodrigo Duterte and his
administration.

NUPL has said the matrix was “absolutely false, totally baseless, and completely ludicrous” and that it was a “bait to engage in absurd and endless tit for tat to distract us.”

READ: Palace confirms existence of ‘Oust-Duterte plot’

The lawyers who signed the statement of support came from the Philippines, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, India, and Belgium, among others.

The lawyers defended the NUPL, saying the character of the human rights lawyers of the union is “beyond questionable.”

The “red-tagging” of the NUPL, the lawyers added, is against the rules of due process, adding that political harassment towards lawyers substitutes the rule of law with the rule of rulers.

“Dissent and criticism are an exercise of democratic rights,” the lawyers said in a statement.

“Labelling, discrediting, threatening, and attacking lawyers are against the basic principles of lawyering, the State’s duty to protect them and the delivery of justice,” the lawyers added.

The lawyers said the attacks against their peers “beg the fundamental question of whether there are valid reasons to dissent, criticize and advocate change.”

They added that those responsible for the attacks will be held accountable.

“We stand in solidarity with our fellow lawyers irrespective of the clients they professionally represent and the public interest advocacies they pursue,” the lawyers said.

“We support the cases and actions to defend NUPL and all lawyers under attack because of the exercise of their profession and the performance of their duties. An attack on any of us is an attack on all of us,” they added. /ee

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