“Mr. Sumalbag and the other victims of the violent dispersal wish not to be approached, interviewed and/or asked for any statements without our presence and assistance as their counsels.”
MANILA – “Talk to us, their lawyers.”
This was the message to the Philippine National Police (PNP) by Ephraim Cortez, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), the group which stands as legal counsel of the protesters in the Oct. 19 violent dispersal at the US embassy.
In its “Advisory to the PNP,” NUPL expressed concern over attempts made by policemen to talk to those who were injured in the dispersal, without their lawyers’ presence.
On Oct. 22, Cortez said several policemen went to the house of jeepney driver Raymart Sumalbag (earlier posted as Raymark). They asked him questions and tried to make him sign a document. Policemen also visited the Kampuhan (people’s camp) in the University of the Philippines Diliman in Quezon City and asked who were injured in the dispersal.
“Mr. Sumalbag was the jeepney driver who was mercilessly brutalized by policemen just as he was fleeing the violent dispersal. For obvious reasons, he felt threatened and harassed and is now in fear for his life and safety after such visit. The other victims also feel the same,” Cortez said.
Bulatlat learned that on Oct. 20, policemen also came and tried to talk to Baling Catubigan (earlier posted as Valeria), the 61-year-old Mamanwa who remains confined at the the Philippine General Hospital. The health workers assisting her, however, did not allow them in.
“Mr. Sumalbag and the other victims of the violent dispersal wish not to be approached, interviewed and/or asked for any statements without our presence and assistance as their counsels. Hence, from this point on, all communications must be directed to us. We expect your cooperation,” Cortez said.