Lawyers’ Groups to Seek UN’s Help to Curb Attacks vs Lawyers, Judges

Saladero

The groups cited the case of labor lawyer Remigio Saladero, Jr.

Saladero was arrested on Oct. 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, along with 71 others, of multiple murder and attempted murder in Mindoro Oriental. Saladero is also among those charged of arson, conspiracy to commit rebellion and destruction of property in connection with the burning down of a Globe cell site in Lemery, Batangas.

The NUPL said, “This is nothing more than a ridiculous trumped up charge considering that Atty. Ming [Saladero’s nickname] is a columnist of a weekly news magazine, a high profile labor lawyer handling more than 700 cases and was, in fact, one of those who personally argued before the Supreme Court against the constitutionality of the repressive Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) policy of the Arroyo government. There could be no other reason for Atty. Saladero’s arrest than his human rights advocacy and scathing critique of President Gloria Arroyo.”

Colmenares said the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are guilty of violating Saladero’s rights. “These offices are under the executive [branch of government]. The Arroyo government must be held liable.”

Other forms of attacks

The groups revealed that attacks on lawyers and judges include death threats, surveillance, labeling and inclusion in the military’s order of battle, among others.

From 2001 to 2008, the NUPL said there are 15 lawyers and two lawyers’ groups who have either been told that they are included in the military’s order of battle (OB) or have been openly labeled as rebels.


Members of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) demand the immediate release of Atty. Remigio Saladero, Jr . (Photo by Bulatlat)

Two of the 15 have already been killed. They were Atty. Norman Bocar who was gunned down, September 1, 2005 in Borongan, Eastern Samar and Atty. Juvy Magsino who was shot dead on February 13, 2004 in Naujan, Mindoro Oriental.

In 2005, the long-defunct Protestant Lawyers League of the Philippines (PLLP) and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) are among the organizations listed by the military as ‘enemies of the state’ in its security briefing presentation titled “Knowing the Enemy”.

Others who are being linked to the revolutionary armed group the New People’s Army are Judge Romeo Capulong, Emil Bermas, Robert Tudayan, Jobert Pahilga, Tirsendo Poloyapoy, Pergentino Deri-on, Tonyboy Azarcon, Ernesto Peñaflor, David Erro and Harry Roque.

Colmenares and Olalia themselves were told that they are included in the military’s order of battle.

From 2001 to 2008, the NUPL and CODAL said at least 13 lawyers and a judge have been subjected to surveillance by suspected state agents and 11 received death threats.

Suspected intelligence agents have also frequented the offices of Public Interest Law Center (PILC), Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE) and Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), they said.

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