New York-based Human Rights Watch has called on Philippine authorities to immediately release labor lawyer Atty. Remigio Saladero.
Saladero, legal counsel of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU-May First Movement) was arrested October 23 by combined elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Military Intelligence Group of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He was accused of multiple murder and attempted murder in Mindoro Oriental.
Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said, “Suddenly arresting a well-established activist lawyer for a two-year-old multiple murder case in another province should set off alarm bells.” “This smacks of harassment, pure and simple.”
The group expressed concern that Saladero was arrested because of the groups and individuals he has represented.
Pearson added, “Saladero’s arrest shows the Philippine government is not sincere in its pledges to stop harassing lawyers and activists.” “It’s not just Saladero’s rights that are undermined, but the rights of all Filipinos ever in need of a lawyer.”
The Human Rights Watch recalled several other cases that ‘bear similarities to Saladero’s arrest” which the courts have subsequently declared illegal. The group cited the case of the Tagaytay Five- Riel Custodio, Axel Pinpin, Aristides Sarmiento, Enrico Ybanez and Michael Masayes – advocates of farmers’ rights and the case of Pastor Berlin Guerrero of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).
The group has also called on the United States and the European Union to monitor Saladero’s case closely and to call for his immediate release. (Bulatlat.com)