The Dutch foundation Lawyers for Lawyers warns in an open letter to President Aquino of the Philippines about the continued labeling of lawyers as enemies of the state by the military. This month, Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes reportedly branded the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) as an ‘enemy’ in reaction to NUPL’s criticism on the promotion of an army general who is facing credible charges of human rights violations. Gen. Coballes was quoted as saying: “You don’t expect any positive statement from the enemy”.
The practice of labeling — combined with the culture of impunity and the military involvement in politics — has in the past been identified by national and international fact finding commissions as one of the main root causes for the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines since 2001.
At least 23 lawyers were killed from 2001 to 2009. Many of them were labeled as ‘enemies of the state’ prior to being attacked, apparently because they were identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of performing their professional duties. So far, only one person has been convicted for these killings and this occurred in 2006.
Lawyers for Lawyers also notes that Filipino lawyers increasingly fear being silenced by fabricated charges. There is an imminent threat that Edre Olalia, a prominent human rights lawyer and a founding member of NUPL, faces clearly false charges as a result of exercising his legal profession.
Atty. Olalia, together with other lawyers from the NUPL, deals with high profile cases in the field of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, demolitions of houses of the urban poor, privatization of government hospitals as well as cases related to various mass and people’s organizations.
Lawyers for Lawyers calls on the Philippine government to immediately and seriously protect and support all lawyers in the Philippines and take all measures necessary to stop the culture of impunity surrounding the acts of harassment and killings of members of the legal profession.
Militant groups sued over SONA protest
(The Philippine Star) | Updated August 1, 2013 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines – Leaders of militant groups, including former party-list lawmakers, have been slapped with criminal charges over the violent protest during President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address last July 22.
The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) on Monday filed before the prosecutor’s office a supplemental complaint for violation of Batas Pambansa 880, direct assault, malicious mischief and physical injuries against 14 persons.
Charged were former party-list representatives Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna, Liza Maza of Gabriela, Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna, and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis.
Also named respondents were Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), George San Mateo of Piston, Ferdinand Gaite of Courage, Antonio Tinio of ACT, Jerome Adonis of Kilusang Mayo Uno, Carlito Badion of Kadamay, Deunida Regalario of Kadamay, Willy Marbella of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, and Rasti Dalizo of Sanlakas.
Meanwhile, a Quezon City court yesterday junked the complaint filed against Mayor Herbert Bautista, QCPD director Chief Superintendent Richard Albano and Department of Public Order and Safety chief Elmo San Diego for denying Bayan’s application for a permit to hold rally near Batasang Pambansa last month. – Reinir Padua, Janvic Mateo