Lawyer warns of ‘wholesale violations’ if gov’t starts crackdown on CPP ‘legal fronts’
A human-rights lawyer warned on Saturday of “more vicious and wholesale violations” of basic rights when the government implements the crackdown on so-called “legal fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer (NUPL) President Edre Olalia took a swipe at President Rodrigo Duterte’s “persistent rants” against Left-leaning activist groups, saying there could not be “guilt by association,” or tagging an individual or organization as “terrorist” just because of their supposed links with the communist rebels.
This development came after Duterte vowed to crush the CPP’s legal fronts and the New People’s Army (NPA) once the Supreme Court issues a ruling that declares the communist groups as terrorists.
Such links, Olalia said, should need to be proven through a “specific, fair and appropriate judicial process.”
“’Legal fronts’ is such a subjective and malicious description of unarmed legitimate organizations who have their distinct advocacies, platforms and methods separate and distinct from what they are supposedly ‘fronting’ for,” Olalia said in a statement sent to INQUIRER.net.
“Hence, such reckless threats are legally questionable and worse, will erupt in even more vicious and wholesale violations and would also constrict whatever democratic breathing space there is,” he added.
In an interview upon his arrival from India on Friday, Duterte said that once the court declares the CPP as a terrorist group, the government would also go after its so-called “legal fronts.”
“Lahat… lahat ‘yang legal. Kayong mga legal, makinig kayo. Hindi kami torpe. I was once also handling an organ of the Nationalist Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy. ‘Yun ‘yung Karapatan ngayon,” Duterte said, referring to human rights group Karapatan.
(All…all of the legal fronts. Those of you in the legal struggle, listen. We are not stupid. I was once also handling an organ of the Nationalist Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy. It is today’s Karapatan.)
“So huwag tayong magbolahan. So I’m waiting for the decision of the Supreme Court. ‘Pag lumabas ‘yan as terrorist, which you are, really are. Imposing taxes here and there… Mabuti pa kayo, mas marami ang kita,” he added.
(So let us not fool ourselves. I’m waiting for the decision of the Supreme Court. When they declared you as terrorists, which you are, really are. Imposing taxes here and there…. Lucky you, you earn a lot more.)
Olalia said that cracking down on activist groups accused of “fronting” for the CPP would “undermine a slew of basic rights,” including: the right to due process; the right to free expression, association and assembly; the right against unreasonable searchers and seizures; as well as the right to bail and to travel, and the right against incommunicado detention.
He also reminded the President that under international law, there must be a clear distinction between armed combatants and civilians.
“To treat them as one and the same regresses us to the time when activists, progressive partylist members, indigenous peoples, farmers, religious, doctors and even lawyers were attacked because of the labelling and demonization which resulted in incitement to violence or actual violence against them,” Olalia said. /jpv