ATA petitioners urge SC to perform mandate to stop attacks vs lawyers
MANILA, Philippines–Petitioners and counsels questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 has prodded the Supreme Court to step up and do its mandate as guardian of civil liberties and protector of the legal profession and take measure to stop attacks on lawyers.
The call came following the attack against human rights lawyer Atty. Angelo Karlo “AK” Guillen, who was stabbed to the head using a screwdriver Wednesday evening. Guillen is a counsel in one of the 37 petitions against the Anti-Terror Law pending before the Supreme Court.
Guillen also represented advocacy groups and individuals arrested during raids in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental in 2019, and the case of the Tumandoks, an indigenous people’s community that was subject of a police operation late last year.
Petitioners and counsels against the Anti-Terror Law have been branded as supporters of the communist movement. Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales have raised the matter to the Supreme Court.
Aside from Guillen, Atty. Rafael Aquino of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) was red-tagged by a military unit as a CPP-NPA member while Atty. Evalyn Ursua is being stalked due to several instances of riding-in-tandems seen taking photos of her residence while former lawmaker Neri Colmenares and the Makabayan members are under surveillance, as confirmed by the military.
On the other hand, petitioners Chad Errol Booc, a volunteer teacher, and Windel Bolinget, chair of the Cordillera People’s Alliance. Booc was arrested along with 25 other individuals in the University of San Carlos following a rescue operation for lumad children. Bolinget, meanwhile, was a subject of a “shoot-to-kill” order from the Cordillera Police.
“We call on the Supreme Court as the constitutionally appointed guardian of civil liberties and protector of the legal profession to take immediate measures to stop these attacks. The issuance of a temporary restraining order on the enforcement of the ATA pending the final adjudication of the 37 petitions could help address this worsening situation,” read the joint statement of the lawyers of petitioners against the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Atty. Howard Calleja lamented that they have been asking the Supreme Court since July last year to issue a restraining order.
He said a restraining order could help stop the attack against petitioners and counsels.
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