Filipino lawyer who survived assassination wins Baldwin Medal of Liberty

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2022 03:05 AM

Filipino human rights lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen. Photo from lawyersforlawyers.org
Filipino human rights lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen. Photo from lawyersforlawyers.org

MANILA — A Filipino human rights lawyer who survived an assassination attempt in 2021 has won the 2022 Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty, according to a rights group.

Human Rights First in a statement on Monday said the medal will be presented to rights defender Angelo Karlo Guillen at an event in the US this year. 

“For more than 30 years, the Baldwin Medal has brought recognition and support to extraordinary activists who are advancing the protection of human rights at great personal risk,” said Michael Breen, Human Rights First President and CEO. 

“Angelo Guillen is a courageous and effective advocate whose work has made a difference in the lives of his fellow Filipinos and put a spotlight on abuses and calling for accountability.”

Guillen, a secretary-general in the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), lives and works on Panay island where he documents abuses and teaches farmers and indigenous communities about their rights under domestic and international law. 

“I am honored to accept the Baldwin Medal, which I do on behalf of all Filipino human rights lawyers and defenders,” Guillen said after learning he won the accolade. 

“I am especially glad this award could be announced on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which is also National Indigenous Peoples Day in the Philippines. Indigenous peoples, like the Tumandok community, as well as farmers, labor leaders, and activists, have borne the brunt of unjust arrests, extrajudicial killings, and other human rights violations committed by state security forces that, to this day, still take place throughout the country. Their rights must be protected, and we hope that this recognition will help bring attention to their plight," he said.

Last year, Guillen, who was attacked in Iloilo City after being red-tagged, sustained multiple stab wounds in the head and on his back when two masked men assaulted him as he was getting off his car.

Guillen has handled several political cases, including the case of the Tumandok tribespeople who were arrested last year in police and military operations, where nine indigenous leaders were killed.

He was also part of the team that conducted a fact-finding mission in Sagay City, Negros Occidental following the killings of nine sugarcane farmers in October 2018.

According to HRF, the Baldwin Medal of Liberty is named after Roger N. Baldwin, principal founder of both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the International League for Human Rights. 

"The award, which was established in 1989, is presented in alternating years by Human Rights First, which awards human rights advocates outside the United States, and the ACLU, which awards advocates in the United States," it said.

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