Unity Statement

NUPL group photo

We — lawyers, law students, paralegals and legal workers from all over the Philippines — have come together to establish the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) as a nationwide voluntary association committed to the active defense, protection, and promotion of civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights, especially of the poor and the oppressed.

The present dismal state of human rights in our country demands a more organized approach in rendering competent legal services, with the use of our legal education, skills, training, knowledge and experience, to the marginalized sectors for the upholding and promotion of their rights and freedoms.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the escalating extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, tortures, massacres, illegal arrests and detention, militarization, religious profiling, political persecution, and other forms of State terrorism and repression.

We indict the existing socio-politico-economic system that has spawned the decades of exploitation and oppression of the farmers, workers, fisherfolk, urban poor, women, youth, students, children, migrant workers, indigenous peoples, Moro people, minority groups, political activists and human rights defenders.

We have organized the NUPL as a vehicle for collaboration, coordination, assistance and facilitation of legal services in the local and national levels. We have set up the NUPL as a venue for advocacy on issues affecting the rights of the people and an arena to serve them even more effectively and efficiently.

Our active defense, protection and promotion of human rights cover the peoples’ civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights, including the advocacy and assertion of their inherent right to self-determination.

We condemn and oppose foreign intervention and all efforts to impose international and national legislation, legal measures and enactments that curtail these liberties under any guise.

We consider the US Global ‘War on Terror’ and Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Plan Freedom Watch) I and II and its implementing measures including the draconian Anti-Terrorism Law (euphemistically called the Human Security Act of 2007) as a present and continuing violation of the peoples’ rights and freedoms.

The NUPL shall prioritize its services and programs in favor of the rights, interests and welfare of the poor and the oppressed in Philippine society — the farmers, workers, fisherfolk, urban poor, women, youth, students, children, migrant workers, indigenous peoples, Moro people, minority groups, political activists and human rights defenders.

We shall vigorously pursue and avail all kinds of legal remedies and fora in the national and international arena, including the mechanisms arising from the peace process, to hold accountable the perpetrators of human rights violations. We will propose specific recommendations and tools to ensure respect for human rights and to contribute to the removal of impunity.

Consistent with our belief that there must be a just and lasting peace for our peoples, we support the peace process and condemn all efforts to sabotage or obstruct the meaningful resolution of the root causes of the country’s armed conflicts. We denounce the political persecution of those involved in the search for peace based on justice.

We shall campaign, advocate and lobby for the liberties, freedoms and rights of our people as well as those of other oppressed peoples of the world.

We shall continue to close ranks for the protection of our colleagues under threat and attack by virtue of the exercise of our profession, especially those of us in the field of human rights advocacy. We do the same as well for the welfare of the families of our colleagues who have been killed or attacked.

We in NUPL are not and shall not be cowed. We will struggle and stand by our clients and their democratic rights. We shall continue to organize and speak out.

We shall promote human rights lawyering as a viable professional alternative, provide avenues for research, professional and political education, development, cooperation and mutual support for our members.

We shall continue in establishing and strengthening solidarity linkages with other national and international individuals, groups or organizations of lawyers and non-lawyers.

Having united under the theme of our Founding Congress towards a more relevant response to escalating human rights violations, we enjoin our sisters and brothers in the legal profession, including law students particularly those who are taking the present Bar examinations, paralegals and legal workers, to come and join us in the service of the many who need most our legal services in our common search for a just and humane society. #

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) Founding Congress

16 September 2007, Cebu City, Philippines.

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