CHR exec says lawyers are mocking the law, human rights
“Justice, human rights, and the rule of law are being mocked by a lawyer aided and abetted by other lawyers.”
This, in gist, is the political condition that the country is facing, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Roberto Cadiz said in a press conference in Pasig City on Monday.
Citing the spate of killings in the country amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs, Cadiz urged lawyers to stand up for the rule of law and human rights.
“We now have a President who openly advocates Extra-Judicial Killings – let us not beat around the bush on this – and who has been very successful in creating the narrative that Human Rights is an obstacle to his anti-drug campaign,” the CHR commissioner said during his speech.
Duterte, a lawyer, has denied accusations of ordering extrajudicial killing, while reiterating that policemen may act in self-defense and kill drug suspects that violently resist arrest.
Cadiz also pointed out the government’s foiled attempts to abolish CHR, and to give it a measly P1,000 budget.
The CHR commissioner also noted Senator Leila De Lima’s imprisonment, and the impeachment case against Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and the threats of impeachment against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales as some of the attacks against independent institutions which are mandated to assure checks and balances in the government.
“A Senator, a human rights crusader and a political critic, is in jail on trumped-up charges of involvement in illegal drugs,” Cadiz said.
“The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is about to be impeached in the Lower House where now seems to prevail the law of the jungle, or what might be euphemistically referred to as the law of the super-majority. The sword of Damocles hangs over the head of the Ombudsman, as well,” he added.
De Lima is facing drug charges and in police detention that has recently been upheld by the SC.
Sereno is facing impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives, which would reportedly include some SC associate justices as witnesses against her.
Aside from him, lawyers from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), and various alternative legal groups such as the Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag), Alternative Law Groups (ALG), Artikulo Tres, Center for International Law (Centerlaw), National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Association of Law Students of the Philippines (ALSP), and the Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (Ideals), gathered on Monday to urge fellow lawyers to take a more active role in standing by their solemn oath to be advocates of justice and human rights.
“The challenge to Human Rights defenders and the legal profession today, first and foremost, is to be brave – to be brave in speaking truth to power; to go beyond legalese or legal gobbledygook; to realize the relevance of the legal profession, rather than rationalize its limitations,” Cadiz said. /cbb
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