Bayan Muna hits Calbayog police’s request for list of activists’ lawyers
MANILA, Philippines — The Calbayog City Police Station’s request for a list of lawyers representing alleged members of communist groups in court cases “is a clear and present danger to the legal profession.”
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said this Friday as he surmised that the list might be used to further target lawyers given that human rights defenders and public interest attorneys have been victims of attacks from still unidentified assailants.
Earlier, a letter from the Calbayog City Police Station to Calbayog City’s Office of the Clerk of Court asking for a list of lawyers representing “communist terrorist groups” (CTGs) surfaced.
“This is a clear and present danger to the legal profession. This is an apparent hit list for targetting lawyers being prepared by the national PNP (Philippine National Police) down to its lower levels,” the lawmaker said.
“Are the attacks then on Atty. AK Gullien, Atty. Ben Ramos and other human rights lawyers part of a coordinated campaign?” he subsequently asked.
Zarate was referring to the March 4 stabbing of human rights lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen, and the killing of National Union of People’s Lawyer (NUPL) Negros Island secretary general Ben Ramos in 2018.
Based on the Calbayog City Police Station’s letter to the Office of the Clerk of Court, it made the request in “compliance from higher PNP offices regarding lawyers who represent Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) personalities in Court.”
The letter was relayed by the Calbayog City court to the Supreme Court (SC). The Calbayog City court said it has not made any action on the letter.
INQUIRER.net reached out to the Philippine National Police for its comments on the issue but has yet to receive any response as of posting time.
For Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares, this issue is enough reason for SC, which has been hearing oral arguments against the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act, to issue a temporary restraining order on the controversial law.
“If true then such a move by the PNP should not go unpunished and those who ordered them to constitute such a list should also be held to account. This type of operations should be investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as well as other international groups along with independent local ones,” Colmenares said.
“With this letter, we also hope that the Supreme Court would investigate if judges acceded to this demand by the PNP. The more reason now that the SC issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the terror law and act decisively on the orchestrated attack on Red-tagged individuals and their lawyers,” he added.
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