@nuplphilippines holds its 6th Congress in QC. @ColmenaresPH says attacks on lawyers continue. He calls on lawyers to defend people's rights and reclaim the truth amid widespread disinformation. pic.twitter.com/2ZIEfoK181
— Bulatlat (@bulatlat) October 15, 2022
By EMILY VITAL
MANILA — Amid the relentless attacks on lawyers and judges, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers has pledged to continue providing legal services to the marginalized and oppressed sectors.
From 2007 until 2022, NUPL documented 262 incidents of work-related attacks. The group noted that 117 incidents of attacks took place under the Duterte administration, including 59 cases of extrajudicial killings.
Since 1986, a total of 133 lawyers and judges have been killed, including five NUPL members.
Melanie Pinlac, NUPL assistant secretary general on protection and welfare of lawyers, said that vilification against people’s lawyers has intensified, with 77 recorded incidents since 2016.
Pinlac said that red-tagging translates to physical harm, citing the killing of Ben Ramos and the stabbing incident against Angelo Karlo Guillen.
NUPL President Edre Olalia said the attacks against NUPL “are evidently orchestrated to silence us simply because we are doing our job, duty and responsibility as lawyers and for passionately pushing advocacies for the rights and interests of the poor, the voiceless, the persecuted and the oppressed, which often run against the tide of government’s echo chambers.”
“In short, we are attacked because we take on cases, clients and issues which many others cannot or will not take on,” Olalia told more than 50 delegates of the 6th NUPL Congress in Quezon City.
NUPL members have taken on the cases of red-tagged activists, National Democratic Front peace consultants, labor organizers, among others who have been charged with criminal charges. A number of these trumped-up charges against human rights defenders have been dismissed.
NUPL also won landmark cases, including the conviction of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. for the disappearance of UP Students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, and the civil case filed by Bulatlat in 2019 against cyber attackers.
NUPL has engaged with the Supreme Court, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, other bar associations as well as international organizations to address the safety of law practitioners.
The group went to the high court yesterday to ask for protection against red-tagging and other forms of attack.
Olalia exhorted his fellow people’s lawyers to carry on. “By coming together again amidst all these attacks on our profession, on our chosen career, on our organization, on the so-called rule of law, on truth, and on the basic rights especially of those who are the least, lost and last in our society, you have affirmed the noble decision to make a difference,” he said.