Lawyer group hopes for end of impunity under Duterte gov’t
An organization of human rights lawyers is hoping that people’s rights will be respected, the justice system will be accessible to the poor and impunity will end under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We want individual and collective rights of the people to be respected,” Atty. Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said, adding that they are hoping that Duterte’s “checkered and unique” leadership will be the antithesis of the previous administration.
Olalia said they are hoping that they will be “jobless” soon, spending less time defending human rights victims and dedicating their time nurturing rights and “reconstructing the wear and tear of so many ills and wrongs in society.”
Human rights groups’ have been calling on the government to release the political prisoners.
The previous administration denied the existence of political prisoners.
Karapatan, however, said that as of March 2016, there are 543 political prisoners detained on false criminal charges. Of the 543, 18 are National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants, whose protection under the GPH-NDFP agreement on safety and immunity guarantees, have been violated.
There are also 88 ailing and 48 elderly among the political prisoners, mostly poor peasants fighting for their land rights.
“We wish there will be political prisoners no more who face trumped up common crimes. We want a penology system to be humane. We wish an end to legal acrobatics that delay and frustrate justice for the poor and oppressed. We wish no more disappearances, illegal arrests, torture, labelling, demolitions and discrimination of the underdog,” Olalia said.
Duterte earlier promised an amnesty law that will grant freedom to political prisoners.
In his inaugural speech, he also pledged to observe the rule of law and due process and called on the people for support and cooperation.
NUPL assured that they will cooperate “in bringing change in the corridors of power, in the streets, factories, farms, schools and communities, across the negotiating table and even in the countryside into the cities if need be.”
“Yet we will be ever watchful, vigilant and principled,” Olalia said. CDG/rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.