Posted by: nupl | August 10, 2009



The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) condemns the listing of human rights lawyers in the military’s Order of Battle through a power point presentation prepared and released by the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Southern Mindanao. We urge colleagues threatened in the Order of Battle to file Writ of Habeas data charges against the Philippine Army as we ask the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges to conduct a fact finding mission in the Philippines to address increasing attacks on the legal profession.

The power point presentation is entitled “3rd Quarter 2007 OB Validation Result”, and was prepared by the JCICC “Agila” under the office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the 10 Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.  Among the lawyers included in the order of battle are founding members of the NUPL and the Union of Peoples Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM)  Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad, Atty. Carlos Zarate,  Labor Arbiter  Beverly Selim-Musni  and Atty. Lilibeth Ladaga. The OB also listed many other members of people’s organizations in Mindanao.

The listing in the OB is consistent with the pattern of impunity that characterizes incidence of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. As consistently reported by human rights group Karapatan, and confirmed by the report of U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, incidents of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances were usually preceded by the vilification of the victims. They are labeled as communists thus making them targets for liquidation and abduction.  The timing of the release of the power point presentation cannot be ignored, coming as it does after the dismissal of the harassment cases filed against human rights lawyer and NUPL member Atty. Remigio  Saladero and several leaders of peoples’ and sectoral organizations in Mindoro and in Batangas.

The inclusion of human rights lawyers Atty. Trinidad, Atty. Zarate, Atty. Ladaga and Atty. Musni in the order of battle is also an act of harassment against lawyers providing legal services to victims of human rights violations.  This is not only an attack on the independent practice of the legal profession but also on the right of the people to access to courts as it sends a “chilling effect” on lawyers taking up cases of human rights abuses by the military. What is more frightening is the fact that the power point presentation was apparently prepared sometime in 2007, and that one of those leaders included in the order of battle, Celso Pojas, was killed gunmen on May 15, 2008.

Once again, the Arroyo administration is showing its utter lack of respect for the civil and political rights of the people, and its willingness to commit acts of repression if only to preserve the present dispensation and to perpetuate itself in power.  The NUPL condemns in the strongest possible term the labeling of NUPL and UPLM members, and the other leaders of peoples’ organizations in the order of battle. The NUPL will immediately report this latest harassment to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Leandro Despouy and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers with a request for these international bodies to conduct a fact finding mission in the Philippines to address the escalation of attacks against lawyers and the misuse of the legal system to harass those critical of the Arroyo government. We also urge our colleagues listed in the OB to file the necessary cases against the Philippine Army including the filing of a Petition of Writ of Habeas Data both for themselves and the other victims of this communist labeling in order to expose the illegal acts of the military.  We urge members of the legal profession including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to take action on this latest attack on lawyers for the exercise of their profession.

Published on 27 May 2009


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