Lawyers urge high court to act on appeal to protect officers of the court

The NUPL said that while the petition is pending, their members continue to face threats to life, liberty and security committed by the respondents, state agents, their proxies, enablers and supporters in different forms and platforms.


MANILA – The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) is asking the Supreme Court to resolve its appeal to the Court of Appeals’ decision dismissing their petition for the writ of amparo and habeas corpus by filing a manifestation on Friday, Oct. 14.

The NUPL said that while the petition is pending, their members continue to face threats to life, liberty and security committed by the respondents, state agents, their proxies, enablers and supporters in different forms and platforms.

Respondents include former president Rodrigo Duterte, retired generals Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Delfin Lorenzana and Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. among other ranking officials of the military.

“Out of the 59 lawyers killed during the Duterte administration, three of them are NUPL members, with at least three others surviving specific threats to their lives,” the manifestation read.

Read: Lawyers’ group raises alarm against killings, attacks 
Read: A look at the attacks against lawyers and judges 

They also asked the SC to order the respondents to “cease and desist from red-tagging and vilifying the petitioners.”

Lawyers under the NUPL filed the petition before the high court in April 2019. However, the CA junked the NUPL’s petition for writ of amparo and habeas corpus on July 29, 2019 saying that there is “no substantial evidence of alleged violations, or threats of violations of rights to life, liberty and security.

The NUPL appealed the decision and filed a petition for review in August 2019. 

The NUPL said that after its filing of the petition, they have recorded 81 incidents of attacks against lawyers involving 43 NUPL member lawyers.

In 2021 alone, the NUPL said two of its members were killed and one survived an attempt on his life.

It will be remembered that on March 3, 2021, NUPL’s assistant vice president for Visayas Angelo Karlo Guillen was stabbed in the head, neck and shoulder by two unidentified men in Iloilo City. He survived the attack.

The NUPL said they are unaware of any development of the supposed investigation on Guillen’s case being conducted by the authorities.

Read: Human rights lawyer survives murder attempt

On Aug. 26, 2021, NUPL’s founding member Rex Jesus Mario Fernandez was killed in Cebu City. He represented CARBON Alliance, a union of 13 Carbon Market vendor’s associations who are protesting against the planned modernization of Cebu’s oldest and largest farmer’s market.

On Sept. 15, 2021, Atty. Juan Macababad, NUPL’s member and vice chairperson of the SOCCSKSARGEN chapter of the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) was gunned down outside his house by two unidentified gunmen. He received death threats before he was killed.

Read: Lawyer Rex Fernandez and his heart for the marginalized 
Read: Another peoples’ lawyer killed in Mindanao

Other forms of harassment and attacks such as surveillance and red-tagging against NUPL members continues.

Jobert Pahilga, NUPL founding member and executive director of the lawyers group Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and NUPL officer Maria Catherine Salucon reported being under surveillance.

Meanwhile NUPL President Edre Olalia, former Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate and Neri Colmenares, NUPL members Maria Sol Taule, Kristina Conti and NUPL officer Czarina Musni and others are constantly being linked to the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“The serious and continuing threats against Petitioners and other NUPL members and the failure to condemn and prosecute these acts of violence is an act of injustice in itself which equally erodes public trust and confidence in our justice system,” the manifestation read.

They added that these are clear violations of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers which mandates governments to ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.

“The acts of Respondent, state agents, their proxies, enablers and supporters also reveal the failure, or lack of will, to understand the basic principle that ‘Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions,’” the manifestation read.

Meanwhile, NUPL’s client Karapatan expressed their support for the lawyers and urged the high court to heed the lawyers’ call for legal protection.

In a statement, the rights group said that the persistent red-tagging by former spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Lorraine Badoy against Olalia, Public Interest Law Center’s Managing Counsel Atty. Rachel Pastores, and Taule who is also a legal counsel of Karapatan, “is not only defamatory but openly incites harm and violence against them.”

“These shady individuals are dishing out lies and threats against upstanding human rights defenders, on a television network owned by someone who was indicted and is wanted for labor and sex trafficking in the US. Such practices continue, despite so many complaints filed against them before the Ombudsman, the Commission on Human Rights and UN Special Procedures,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general. (RTS, RVO) (

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