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3 more groups seek writs of amparo

/ 05:30 AM May 07, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Three more groups that have complained of being unfairly tagged by Malacañang and the military as communist fronts have asked the Supreme Court for legal protection against threats to their lives.

Court protection

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Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and Gabriela followed suit with the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and filed a petition on Monday for writs of amparo (protection) and habeas data (access to information).

The groups asked for court protection against threats to the lives, liberty and security of their members through a writ of amparo.

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They asked the government to disclose and destroy all files or records gathered against their members through a writ of habeas data.

“This is a response to the worsening attacks, terrorist-tagging by the military and the ongoing smear campaign against human rights defenders,” Karapatan national chair Elisa Lubi said in a statement.

48 rights workers killed

Lubi said 48 Karapatan human rights workers have been killed by government forces from 2001 to 2019.

The latest victim was Escalante City Councilor Bernardino Patigas of Negros Occidental who was killed last April 23.

A longtime human rights advocate and a survivor of the 1985 Escalante massacre, Patigas was included in a police-disseminated poster of supposed communist rebel sympathizers.

Lubi said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay and Clarizza Singson of Karapatan Negros received death threats through text messages a few hours after Patigas was killed.

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Karapatan submitted to the Supreme Court six public speeches of President Duterte where he tagged the group as a communist front.

“Human rights advocacy is not a crime yet human rights workers are being killed, threatened, harassed and jailed on trumped up charges,” Lubi said.

The groups named the President, security officials and even Malacañang officials as respondents.

SC grants NUPL petition

Last Friday, the Supreme Court granted the petition of the NUPL and ordered the Court of Appeals to hear on May 14 the group’s petition for a protection order.

The high court ordered the President, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. to formally comment on the NUPL’s petition by May 8.

The appellate court was ordered to decide the case within 10 days after it was submitted to them.

Legal remedy

The writ of amparo was instituted by the Supreme Court in September 2007 as a legal remedy to any person who felt that his life, liberty and security was threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a government official.

The writ of habeas data was introduced by the Supreme Court in February 2008. It gives individuals the right to find out what information is being kept about them by the government, and to demand their updating, rectification or destruction.

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TAGS: Gabriela, Karapatan, NUPL, red-tagging, RMP, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, writ of amparo
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