MANILA - A group of human rights lawyers on Monday asked the Supreme Court for protection against alleged threats and intimidation from state security forces.
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers asked the high court to issue a writ of amparo and writ of habeas data in favor of their members allegedly under threat.
A writ of amparo is a remedy available to a person whose right to life, liberty, and security is violated or threatened to be violated by a public official or a private entity.
The NUPL members claimed their lives are in danger because of statements linking them to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New Peoples’ Army (NPA).
"Lawyering is not terrorism. The cause of the client and the case we’re handling should not be associated with us," NUPL President Edre Olalia told reporters after the filing of the petition.
The NUPL petition cited statements made by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief of staff for civil military Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade, who allegedly tagged the lawyers' group as part of the international network of the CPP and NPA.
The group also cited a statement by President Duterte lumping lawyers together with their clients who are drug lords.
Aside from the President and Gen. Parlade, others named as respondents in the petition were National Security Adviser and National Security Council director Hermogenes Esperon, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, deputy commander for intelligence Brig. Gen. Fernando Trinidad, Intelligence Service chief Maj. Gen. Erwin Bernard Neri, and Philippine Army commanding general Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto.
The group also cited the killing of lawyer Benjamin Ramos, NUPL-Negros secretary-general, in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental in November 2018; the allegedly false charge of kidnapping against NUPL’s Women and Children Committee head lawyer Katherine Panguban who assisted a mother in retaining custody of the minor who survived the Sagay massacre; and the various threats as well as posters in Negros, Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro tagging NUPL members as members of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
The group claimed that attacks on lawyers and other members of the legal profession, particularly those involved in the handling of illegal drugs and human rights cases have increased since President Duterte took office.
The group asked SC to issue a temporary protection order (TPO) prohibiting the respondents from "threatening to commit or committing, personally or through another, any acts violative of the rights to life, liberty, and security" of petitioners.
The group also urged the high court to require respondents to disclose all information they might have on petitioners and to order them to destroy their databases.
Some 20 members and officers of NUPL held a picket in front of the SC while the petition was being filed.