By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – At the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, Switzerland, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) submitted a complaint on the situation of the legal profession to the office of United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges Margaret Satterthwaite.
In this timeline, Bulatlat looks back at the attacks against lawyers and their efforts to hold perpetrators into account.
The NUPL has recorded a total of 262 work-related attacks in the past 15 years, including that of 86 lawyers, judges and prosecutors. Five of whom were members of the NUPL.
They added that 67 percent of the attacks against the officers of the court in the last 15 years took place under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Fifty-nine out of the 133 killings recorded since 1984 also occurred during the Duterte administration, most of which are unsolved,” the NUPL said.
The NUPL is known for assisting clients belonging to the marginalized sectors such as the indigenous peoples, peasants, farmers, workers, environment advocates, political prisoners and human rights defenders.
However, as they fulfill their duty to their clients, lawyers, including judges, were being linked to the revolutionary groups – the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.
The NUPL reiterated that attacks against officers of court did not end in the new administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The NUPL said lawyer members were being tagged as “urban operatives” of the underground movement while the NUPL itself has been profiled as a “communist terrorist group.”
Its officers were subjected to the incessant red-tagging by former anti-insurgency spokesperson Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz in their program at SMNI Network, owned by FBI’s most wanted for sex trafficking, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.
In its statement on the red-tagging of Manila Regional Trial Court Presiding Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malaga, the NUPL said attacks against the judiciary and its officers “intended to undermine public confidence in the justice system and to harass and intimidate those who choose to act independently to promote the rule of law.”
“These attacks on officers of the court have to stop once and for all. If lawyers are hampered from freely and independently exercising their profession and if judges are threatened for their judicial decisions, access to justice and judicial independence will suffer,” said NUPL Secretary General Josalee Deinla in a statement. (RTS, RVO)