14 July 2015
In Defense of the Rights of our Progressive Government Union Members and Social Workers
As President Benigno Aquino III gears for the delivery of his last state of the nation address, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) has been engaged to bring to the attention of the Supreme Court one of the narratives that he is expected to skim over in favor of the half-truths peddled by the administration.
The petition for the issuance of the writs of amparo and habeas data filed mainly by members and officers of the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), as well as members of SALINLAHI and the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC), aims to raise the alarm once again against the persistent and systematic state repression faced by progressive voices in our society. Hounded by constant surveillance, threats, and harassment from suspected military and police intelligence personnel, members of the cited organizations were compelled to seek redress from the High Court to protect their rights to life, liberty, and security.
The accounts of the petitioners show the grisly pattern bearing the hallmarks of military and police intelligence operations conducted to stifle dissent. The petitioners consistently recounted receiving text messages or anonymous correspondences alleging that they are members of the New People’s Army or the Communist Party of the Philippines. Some of them were personally approached by people introducing themselves as soldiers who offered them “help” in light of an ambiguous threat to their lives. Some petitioners learned from neighbors or co-workers that unidentified men have been inquiring about them. These activities, according to human rights watchdog, KARAPATAN, often precede an extra-judicial killing or enforced disappearance. And with 238 cases of extra-judicial killings during the Aquino administration as of March 2015, as tallied by KARAPATAN, the acts of these suspected military and police operatives constitute a real and present threat to the lives, security, and liberty of the petitioners.
The cited modus operandi of military and police operatives is typical in a government which has proven to be impotent and incompetent in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict in the country such as poverty, inequality and landlessness. Wallowing in their impotence, state security forces continue to adhere to the tactics of previous administrations of blurring the line between armed struggle and above-ground activism by treating dissenters as enemy combatants and, hence, legitimate military or police targets. This approach has led to the brutal stifling of dissent all over the country. It is responsible for our persistently grim human rights situation. It is a grave injustice to a people who are mired in abject poverty and who are not even allowed to dissent when their situation calls for nothing but rage.
In the quest to uphold human rights, the NUPL is committed to assist the members and officers of COURAGE, SALINLAHI, and CRC in pursuing the legal remedies available to protect their rights to life, liberty, and security. The petition filed today, to echo one pronouncement of the High Court, serves to snatch away the “expectation of impunity” of military and police intelligence operatives who are engaged in the vicious attacks on the rights of the petitioners.
Atty. Julian F. Oliva Jr
NUPL – NCR – President, 09175465799
Atty. Carlos Montemayor Jr.
NUPL- NCR Secretary General, 09258681118
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
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“By calling yourselves the ‘people’s lawyer,’ you have made a remarkable choice. You decided not to remain in the sidelines. Where human rights are assaulted, you have chosen to sacrifice the comfort of the fence for the dangers of the battlefield. But only those who choose to fight on the battlefield live beyond irrelevance.”
– Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, in his message at the NUPL Founding Congress, September 15, 2007
“After long years of experience as a people’s lawyer, I can honestly say it has been a treasured journey of self-fulfillment and rewarding achievement. I know it will be the same for all others who choose to tread this path.”
– Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, NUPL founding chairperson, in his keynote address at the Fifth Conference of Lawyers in Asia Pacific ( COLAP V), September 18, 2010