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NUPL asks SC: Protect us from gov’t

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The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to review and reverse the decision of Court of Appeals (CA) which refused to issue to the group a protection order against the government.

“The continued vilification, harassment and threats to the lives, security and liberty of the petitioners by any act of the respondents, including but not limited to issuing public statements maligning and vilifying the petitioners and their activities as human rights lawyers must stop now. We ask your Honors to stand by your lawyers,” read NUPL’s petition for review.

“If members of the bar cannot avail of these legal remedies, what more for the ordinary victims of state-sponsored violence and impunity. As members of the bar, we do not only serve justice, we also seek it. We do not seek protection for ourselves alone; we seek protection so we can perform our sworn duty to serve our clients effectively,” the NUPL added.

The NUPL filed the petition for review after the CA turned down its appeal for the issuance of writs of amparo and habeas data.

The writ of amparo provide immediate judicial relief for the protection of a person’s constitutional right to life and liberty, while, the writ of habeas data is designed to protect the person’s right to informational privacy.

The the NUPL sought the writs to prevent President Rodrigo Duterte, the police and the military from threatening and harming NUPL members who have been tagged as being affiliated with communist rebels.

“To be linked to the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army), considered an enemy of the state, is, for petitioners, equivalent to a carte blanche authority to state forces to ‘neutralize’ them without due regard to their rights. To be considered a combatant, in the context of war, is to be a target in deadly counter-insurgency operations,” the NUPL lamented.

In its ruling, the CA pointed out “the alleged threats imputed against the respondents herein are not supported by substantial evidence, thus, stand on nebulous grounds.”

“Where the restraints and threats allegedly made lack corroboration and are not supported by independent and credible evidence, the privilege of the writ may rightly be denied,” it ruled.

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